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Happy Birthday John McDonald

Dave Sandford

John McDonald turns 39 today.

I wish I could feel happy for him getting to the playoffs and all, but you know, it's with the Red Sox. I like him, I like Brian Butterfield, but I can't feel happy for them. I saw a Red Sox fan on Twitter tell Joanna from Hum and Chuck that women shouldn't be commenting on sports yesterday, and it reminded me how much I dislike Red Sox fans.

John McDonald has had a pretty amazing career for a guy with a life time .235/.273/.326 slash line. How do you play 15 years with a bat like that. Well, for one thing, you have to be pretty amazing defensively. I asked Brian Butterfield about Mac.

Last year in Seattle we watched fielding practice in Seattle before the game and John McDonald is out there to the very end. That's why he's so good at it?

That's exactly right, he's the best I've ever been around, I've told this to several people in the game, he has the best work ethic and gets himself into the right position better than any infield that I've ever had and I've been blessed to be around some great ones. And it's not a mistake for me when he makes a play in the hole that brings the house down. I don't get as excited because it's something I expect from him because it's something he's rehearched so many times. He's rehearsed going into the hole and getting the ball in the air as quickly as he can. He rehearses it. He rehearses it at game speed. When you look at him after he is done taking ground balls he's got a lather, he's tired and he practices defense quickly at game speed the way you should. He's the best.

I watched McDonald take infield practice several times. I always enjoyed watching him practice, he goes so hard at it and he makes sure he throws every ball straight over top, not side arm, not 3/4. He is a great defensive player, not because he was gifted with great talent (though he has that) but he also works so hard.

That was part of why we liked him so much. We kind of got the feeling we could be McDonald, if, you know, we did all that work. Course, none of us are going to do that much work, but still.

Anyway, he played 7 seasons for us, and was a big time fan favorite, even though he was never a regular. We do tend to like the backups, it is harder to blame them for losing.

I think the other reason he has had such a long career, despite his bat, is that he  is a good guy. Every one seems to like him. When you see players players who's career last longer than you would expect from his numbers, generally are good guys. It is a pretty good life lesson, you want to last a long time in a career, be a good guy. I mean skill works too, but being someone that everyone likes? That can never hurt. When his playing career is over, I'm sure there are a number of teams that would gladly give him a job to coach.

When Cito was here, he worked on Mac on his batting and had him going all out pull. And it kind of worked for a bit. He hit 6 home runs, in 152 at bats, in 2010. I watched him in batting practice, pulling balls down the right field line, over and over. He had a great month, hitting .382/.417/.765 with 3 home runs, in 34 at bats, in August that year. After a bit, pitchers saw what he was doing and started giving him pitches that were harder to pull. In September he hit .200/.222/.300, but I still think it wasn't a bad idea for Mac, the 6 home runs he hit that season, the most he hit in his career and, I think, Cito, in time,  would have helped him figure out what to do with the outside pitches.

I was less thrilled with Cito using McDonald in the outfield, that didn't work so well.

His 'Father's Day' home run is one of my all-time favorite Blue Jays memories.

Happy birthday, John. Congratulations for making the playoffs, I wish it wasn't with that particular team, but glad you are happy. Enjoy your birthday.

Other Jays have their birthday today: Moises Sierra (25), Kevin Millar (42), Paul Spoliaric (43), and Jim Acker (55).