Rance Mulliniks turns 66 today.
Rance was one of my favourite players because he seemed to get the absolute most out of his natural abilities. He wasn’t big or fast. He wore glasses. A left-handed hitter, kind of geeky looking, wore glasses. How could I not like him?
You didn’t think ‘professional athlete’ when you looked at him. I often say he looked like an accountant (not meaning to insult him or accountants, I’d imagine there are many accountants in Canada who look more like an athlete than Rance did).
But he became a good baseball player because he worked hard and was smart.
I also consider him a success story for Cito Gaston, our hitting coach at the time. Cito had guys with whom he did not work well (Shawn Green, John Olerud) because he sometimes had a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy. But for some, I count Rance, Ernie Whitt among those, he worked great.
In Rance’s 5 part seasons before joining the Blue Jays, he hit .232/.288/.309 with 5 home runs in 619 PA. He hit .280/.365/.424 with 68 home runs in 3470 at-bats with the Jays. He became so much better, some much more patient. He learned how to turn on his pitch, and he was smart enough to wait for his pitch or take a walk if offered. I’m sure part of that was his ability to learn, that he was a smart baseball player, but part of it was learning from Cito. I’m not smart enough to know how much came from each.
He spent most of his time with the Jays in a platoon with Garth Iorg. I’m not sure that the team wouldn’t have been better off using Mulliniks as a full-time third baseman.
I wasn’t a fan of his work as an analyst on the Jays broadcasts. He knew the game, but he seemed afraid to allow any dead air. I prefer them to let the game breathe at times. But then I’m less of a fan of Pat Tabler. I try to remind myself that the analyst isn’t talking to you or me but talking more casual baseball fans.
The book “The Wax Pack” had a chapter on Rance. He called Rance “a scrappy overachiever with the physique of a librarian who managed to play sixteen seasons in the big leagues”. He told us that Rance was working as a realtor and he had a baseball academy.
Happy Birthday, Rance. I hope it is a good one.
It is Tim Mayza’s 30th birthday.
Tim was a 12th round draft pick in 2013. He made it to the majors in 2017 and spent that season and 2018 bouncing back and forth between Toronto and Buffalo.
In 2019 he spent the whole season in the Jays bullpen, or he did until September 13th, when he blew out his elbow on the mound, one of the ugliest injuries we’ve ever witnessed during a Jays game. After that, he didn’t pitch in 2020 after Tommy John.
His 2021 season was his best yet. Tim put up a 3.40 ERA, 5-2 record with a save. In 53 innings he had 57 strikeouts and held batters to a .206/.263/.309 line (lefties hit .181/.224/.222 against him).
Career, he has a 4.624 ERA in 185 relief appearances.
Happy Birthday, Tim.