Friday, December 30, 2005

Creighton 78, Missouri State 56

Wednesday featured a big night for sports in the Omaha area. Creighton recruit/phenom Antoine Young dropped 28 points in the high school Metro Holiday Tournament, Nebraska and Michigan squared off in an entertaining Alamo Bowl contest, and the beloved Bluejays beat up on Barry Hinson’s Missouri State Bears.

Arguments preceded the busy night in Omaha sports; which game would prove most important to the casual Creighton basketball fan? Would a couple thousand people stay home and watch both the Alamo Bowl and KM3 TV’s broadcast of the Jays-Bears game? Would the technologically advanced fans TiVo or digitally record the football game and watch it after returning from the Qwest Center?

These are very important questions, considering the affect of the home court crowd on this season’s Creighton basketball team. After defeating Missouri State, Dana Altman’s team stands at 7-2, with both loses coming on the road (where the Jays are 1-2 on the year). In two months, the Jays have lost Nate Funk, Jimmy Motz, Pierce Hibma, and Steve Smith to injuries, and the home crowd has been the saving grace for the younger Jays who’ve been forced into extended minutes due to these unfortunate setbacks.

Thursday morning, basking in the glow of a big Jays blowout and the Husker football comeback, I spent some time rehashing the previous night’s events with my friend Darren. A life-long Husker fan, and one of the most sports-knowledgeable people I know, he was quite excited about Nebraska’s win and he understood the importance of Creighton’s big victory.

We discussed the loss of Funk and the subsequent expanding roles of some of the newer, less experienced Jays, and he likened the situation to incubation (he is also an expecting father). He described little Bluejay eggs, incubating in the friendly confines of the Qwest Center, which serves as a great place to nurture the young Bluejays.

It is, without a doubt, a perfect description of the importance of a great home crowd. Altman and his staff spent the last couple of weeks trying to get Nick Porter, Brice Nengsu, Manny Gakou, and Dominic Bishop ready for larger chunks of minutes, especially as Altman was staring at the beginning of conference play.

An average of 13,810 people have cheered this learning curve in the last four Jays home games, featuring big wins against Nebraska, Xavier, and now Missouri State. These fans, 11,500 of which passed up watching Husker football for their beloved Bluejays, have allowed the younger Jays to gain experience in front of supportive and loud crowds. A team that needs to play inspired defense to win games needs boisterous fan support, and that is exactly what they’ve received.

The Jays will ring in the New Year in central Illinois, facing Illinois State and Bradley. While Creighton is still without the Wounded Four, Jays fans can feel better about the experience the young Jays will take with them on their first Valley road trip of the young season.

Behind the Box Score
  • Balance, balance, balance. That was the name of the game for the Jays, as Johnny Mathies (18), Anthony Tolliver (18), Dane Watts (13), and Nick Porter (10) all scored in double figures for Creighton. Freshman point guard Josh Dotzler also added 9 points, and all but one Bluejay who played scored. It was the best offensive performance for Creighton in a few games, as the Jays shot nearly 45% from the field and from three-point distance.

  • Speaking of Nick Porter, he had his best all-around game as a Jay. His 10 points mark the fifth time this season – and fourth time in the last five games – that he has scored double-figures, pushing his season average to 8 points per game. However, Nick also pushed and pulled and soared for 8 defensive rebounds, he hit two big three-point hoops, and played great defense on Missouri State standout Blake Ahern. It was the first game when some comparisons between Porter and Ben Walker seemed to be appropriate.

  • The rebounding effort increased again for Creighton, as they out-boarded MSU 39-35. Porter (8) and Jeff Day (10) led Creighton, and they were joined by Tolliver and Watts (4 each) as the Creighton frontcourt completely manhandled its opponent. This kind of effort will be needed night in and night out during conference play.

  • The Jays committed just 1 turnover in the second half.

  • The Jays shot about 73% from the charity stripe, bringing their season percentage to 68%.

  • The erasers down in the paint for the Jays continue their exceptional block party. Tolliver (18) and Day (13) rank in the top five in the Valley in blocked shots.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Creighton 63, Norfolk State 47


Last week’s victory against Norfolk State (2-9) signified Creighton’s first true letdown in almost a dozen days. On back-to-back Sundays, the Jays dismantled in-state rival Nebraska in front of 15,000-plus fans, and then came from behind to notch a hard-fought win against Xavier before 13,500 Jay backers.

The Spartans are a step below both the Huskers and Musketeers in talent, and with the game just a few days before the holiday season hit full tilt, who could blame the fans and the Jays for not being as excited for a middle-of-the-week showdown against a losing opponent? Anthony Tolliver led four Bluejays in double figures with 14 points, and the Jays seemed to coast along for much of the 40 minutes.

Well, just consider the relatively easy 63-47 win one last nap before two straight months of no sleep – and I’m not just talking about the coaching staff. Tonight marks the start of the Missouri Valley Conference season, which promises to be one of the toughest Valley seasons to date.

Already in the relatively short basketball season, the mighty Mo Valley has garnered plenty of publicity, mostly focusing on the conference’s RPI mark heading into the New Year.

From top to bottom, this Valley looks to be as deep (pun intended) as any in the recent past. There will be no easy games, no RPI-killers on the schedule, for the next two months, which will lead to many sleepless nights for coaches, and not allow for any sleepwalking by the Jays.

It all starts tonight against a 7-1 Missouri State team (the Artist formerly known as Southwest Missouri State) leading the Valley in scoring, rebounding, field-goal shooting, and three-point percentage. The always-animated Barry Hinson brings his experienced Bears squad to the Qwest Center for the conference opener, a place where Blake Ahern and the rest of last year’s Bears won a see-saw battle. A don’t think the Bears are going to be hibernating after playing a relatively easy non-conference schedule; they’ll be ready tonight in a hostile environment.

And so begins the tough Valley slate. With so much praise from national and regional media right now, the spotlight is on the Valley to fulfill what some soothsayers have predicted for this conference – three (and, um, possibly four) bids to this year’s NCAA tournament.

That is not a dream, it is reality. And it starts tonight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Creighton 61, Xavier 59

R.I.P. Jeffony Tolliday

Ladies and Gentlemen, we come together today to put to rest the very first (and maybe only?) inside joke spawned by Bluejay Basketball – Jeffony Tolliday.

During the last year and a half, Jeffony Tolliday has given readers numerous memories – both good and bad – and stands as a symbol of both promise and frustrations for the hundreds of readers who became familiar with Jeffony’s exploits on the basketball court.

It all started in last year’s win against High Point. Jeffony Tolliday was born, more out of necessity than any other reason. Just two games previous to the 19-point win against High Point, Anthony Tolliver recorded a double-double in Creighton’s overtime victory against Ohio State in the Guardians Classic championship game. This was Anthony’s first taste of success as a Bluejay, but unfortunately he would be unable to prolong that success for long stretches of last season.

After the High Point game, Jeff Day and Anthony Tolliver continued to share minutes in the post position. Day recorded his best game as a Jay in a loss against Missouri State, but it was just that – a loss. After the Jays dropped that game to the Bears, they lost only twice more in the regular season, and Jeffony Tolliday’s steady play had a lot to do with Creighton’s late-season success.

Tolliday disappeared in Creighton’s NCAA tournament loss to West Virginia, combining for just 4 points in 40 minutes.

Then the season was over, and Jays fans were left to ponder what part of Jeffony Tolliday – if any – would break the mold in 2005-2006. Luckily for Jays fans, it wouldn’t take long.

The “A-Train”

Don’t be sad, Jays fans. While we are losing a fictional character, a figment of our imaginations, we are gaining something much more powerful – an All-Valley post player.

Meet Anthony Tolliver. Not the Tolliver that slugged his way through his freshman year, slowed initially by injuries in preseason conditioning and two-a-day practices, and then by seemingly unending confusion during games. Rather, meet the Tolliver Jays coaches and insiders were extremely excited about when they signed the highly-touted recruit from Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo High School in 2003.

Meet the Tolliver Dana Altman challenged midway through last season, who responded starting with Creighton’s home win against Wichita State and started focusing on the fundamentals – rebounding, defense, being in the correct position to make things happen.

I’ve had two people talk about burying Jeffony Tolliday in the last two days, after Anthony’s career night against Xavier; the first, a fellow Jays fan who posts regularly on The Bluejay Café message board, and the second, my lovely girlfriend and fellow Jay fanatic.

And why not? All Anthony has done this season is average 12 points, 7 rebounds, and just under 2 blocked shots per game, while averaging 24 minutes on the court each night.

But the victory over Xavier put the final nail in Jeffony Tolliday’s coffin.

Anthony scored a career-high 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds (including 6 offensive boards), made 8 of 9 free-throw attempts, and helped shut down Xavier’s Brian Thornton, the Musketeers’ leading scorer.

The junior is becoming a fan favorite, due in part to an intoxicating concoction of enthusiasm (his condor-arm waves when the Jays need crowd support), intimidation (he’s wiped 12 opponent shots with blocks, and he has thrown down some nasty dunks), and hard work (he’s gotten stronger and better in every facet of his game).

Even the Creighton Athletic Department is jumping on the A-Train; before Anthony was headed to the free-throw line late in the game against Xavier, and as the Jays came out of an official’s time out, the Qwest Center DJ played The Quad City DJs’ 1996 hit “C'mon 'N Ride It (Da Train).” And you know what, it fit perfectly.

With Nate Funk injured and Johnny Mathies being asked to take on even more of the perimeter scoring, Altman needed a big fella to establish himself down in the paint. Anthony leapt out from the shadow of Jeffony Tolliday, and now he’s in position to become one of the best post players Altman’s had in his 12 years on the hilltop.

I remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that this is a day not to mourn, but to celebrate!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Creighton 70, Nebraska 44

(A side note: That title is not a typo. I just want to get that out of the way. People who watched the game yesterday might say something like, “I can’t believe that score.” Trust me, if you were at the game you would not only believe the score, but you’d be shaking your head, knowing that the Jays should have had at least 10 more points. At least.)

I want you all to know that I woke up early Sunday, with a stomach still full of Sgt. Peffer’s Italian sausage pizza, and prepared myself to write this piece two ways – win or lose.

I had never done that before. I never think the Jays are going to lose. Call me crazy, or a fanatic, but losing isn’t an option for me. I thought Creighton would beat Florida in 2002, and they did. And while most Jays fans were ecstatic with that win, I figured why shouldn’t they have won, they’re as good as the Gators. And when they lost to Illinois two days earlier, I felt the same way as I did when Tony Barone’s team lost to Seton Hall in the second round of the 1991 NCAA tournament – I honestly thought they would win.

So, anyway, I tried my hardest to prepare for a Jays team forced by injury to host in-state rival Nebraska with just 8 scholarship players – 9 total – on a Sunday afternoon in front of a record 15,621 basketball fans, and a state-wide audience on Nebraska Public Television. I knew it would be difficult, and the Jays were going to be fighting a battle against fatigue, foul trouble, and fairly talented opponents in the Huskers.

And then, as I sat down to scribble some notes, a Bluejay flew across the sky and passed right by my window.

I’m not making this up. It happened. For some reason, I live in a neighborhood that is highly trafficked by bluebirds.

So, I took it as a sign. The Jays would fly high, and win this game. Why get pessimistic now? Just because Nate Funk, Pierce Hibma, Jimmy Motz, and Steve Smith were all going to miss the game due to injuries, and Manny Gakou isn’t eligible until Dec. 21, doesn’t mean that Creighton couldn’t win. Maybe it was illogical, or maybe I’m overly positive, but I decided Creighton would win.

I didn’t think the Jays would throttle the Huskers, though. I mean, this game wasn’t as close as the score shows (even though it was a 26-point margin). It was ugly, but in the end heart and effort won.

You Will Suffer Humiliation When the Team from My Area Defeats the Team from Your Area – The Onion

That headline from The Onion always makes me laugh, and I was reminded of it when found it again on one of the first pages of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John. This book is about the fandom of Alabama Crimson Tide football, and I just started reading it last night.

My team from my area did humiliate the team from your (“your” being most of the state of Nebraska) area, and it is the “area” idea that is the tastiest of this quote … not the “humiliate.”

I could care less how many points Dana Altman’s team beats Nebraska by, I just want it to happen. Every year. Without fail. I figure it could happen each year that Barry Collier coaches the Huskers, as I profiled after last year’s last second Creighton win in Lincoln.

Here’s a quote from the final paragraph the piece I wrote last year:

“I will pick Creighton to beat Nebraska each and every time they play, and I won’t make that decision based on player talent, skill, height, or depth. I will go with the Jays every time because of Altman. He is the quintessential collegiate basketball head coach, and it is for this simple reason – he puts in as much effort and sweat for his team as he expects from them. He is the reason the Jays won today, and he is the reason the Jays will continue to win for years to come.”

He was at it again on Sunday, stomping his feet, yelling instructions and encouragement at his players, and never sitting from the opening tip until he probably got to the interview room at the Qwest Center OMAHA. Altman presumably knew that he would have to coach his remaining roster near perfection in order to maximize the effort and ability of the dwindling number of players on his bench.

And he did. And it is no surprise. No Bluejays flying across windows were needed, and no amount of blundered coaching by Collier. This was Altman, tried and true, getting the most from his players.

And it shouldn’t have ever been that close.

Behind the Box Score

  • You can’t begin to understand how jacked up the Jays were for this game by reading the box score. Anthony Tolliver came out to warm-ups with a shaved head. Dominic Bishop had a smile from ear-to-ear, slapped the floor in front of Huskers while he defended them, and jawed constantly while guarding Husker freshmen Marcus Walker. You just knew that Creighton came ready to play, thinking this was there game to win, and Nebraska just couldn’t answer that passion.

  • OK, so I’ll get back to the box score. How about Tolliver, who continues to evolve into an extremely solid post player. His numbers weren’t awe-inspiring from the field (1-7) but he brought hustle (6 rebounds) and timely defense (career-high 4 blocked shots, multiple shut-downs of Nebraska’s post-up offense) to a game where both elements were crucial for the Jays. Anthony got The Q rocking with a breakaway, one-handed slam, and continued to feed off the crowd’s energy.

  • The other half of Jeffony Tolliday, Jeffrey Day, played just 17 minutes but turned in his best hustle performance of the season. Day finished with 7 boards (although two of those came on his own misses point-blank at the hoop) and 2 blocked shots, along with 4 points. Combined, Jeffony Tolliday finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks, and just 1 turnover.

  • Speaking of rebounding, the Jays lost the battle of the boards 50-43, but individuals recorded meaningful totals on their own. In addition to Tolliver and Day, Dane Watts also hit the boards hard, bringing down a career-high 12 rebounds.

  • Dane finished with 9 points, and added 5 steals. Watts did a great job of stepping into the passing lanes and fronting some of the bigger wing players he was asked to guard. Now if he could just get a couple of those three-pointers to fall…

  • The game wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but one thing was absolutely beautiful: the play of Johnny Mathies. Mathies picked up where he left off in his last game at The Q, pouring in a career-high 29 points on 8-15 shooting from the field. He hit 5-8 from three-point range, 8-11 from the free-throw line, pulled down 4 rebounds, dished out 2 assists, grabbed 3 steals, and had no turnovers. That, folks, is a wonderful game, and hopefully breaks Johnny’s two-game slump just in time for a big showdown against Xavier.

  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention walk-on Dustin Sitzmann’s three-point bucket (his first points of the season) with 1:07 left in the game. Even though most Husker fans were gone, dreaming about volleyball and the Alamo, Jays fans went absolutely nuts – Bresnahan-style.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chattanooga 69, Creighton 64

Mark this game the beginning of a new season – Game 1, AI (After Injuries).

Sure, the Jays lost Nate Funk for the foreseeable future. But Pierce Hibma hurt his knee this week, and Steve Smith’s back is acting up again. With these three players on the bench in street clothes, and Manny Gakou unable to dress in the White and Blue until December 21, Dana Altman’s bench is a little thin (literally, with the 280 lbs. Gakou off the floor).

So this is a new time, a time to learn about this team while the team is learning about itself, too. The starting line-up still offers three familiar names from last season, but true freshman Josh Dotzler now mans the point guard position and junior college transfer Nick Porter is having his name called as the third guard in the starting five. There’s a lot for fans to learn about Dotzler and Porter, and a lot for Josh and Nick to learn about themselves as Division I basketball players.

But what about the other inexperienced, raw talents anchoring the pine next to Dana Altman? What do we really know about Brice Nengsu, other than that he is extremely athletic but still has yet to adjust to the on-court communication needed to succeed at this level. What do we really know about Dominic Bishop, other than that he is lightning quick but still has yet to adjust to the speed of the defenders around him and his teammates running the offense?

So many stories are told during the recruiting process about players’ supposed strengths, and their physical gifts and athletic abilities. Fans and media think they have a solid idea of what a player will be when the player steps foot on campus. But every aspect of college – even basketball – is a learning experience, no matter how high you can jump or how quickly you get from one baseline to the other.

That’s the real problem with the new season – AI – because two of the guys lost to physical problems played last year. They know what it takes to win games at this level, and that kind of experience is priceless, especially early in the season. Obviously Nate has been in, and won, close games throughout his career, but what about Pierce? He has one year of redshirt experience, and played 12 minutes per game last year as a redshirt freshman. That equates to two years of knowing what Altman and his staff expect, and what is needed to succeed at this level.

People will say that Pierce isn’t flashy, or that he isn’t a difference-maker, but that is wrong – he makes a difference because he knows his role. He knows what he is supposed to do on the floor. That is what Altman needs right now, as he and his staff get the newcomers on the same page with the rest of the squad.

We’re about to learn what individuals on this team can really do, and not necessarily rely on what we thought we knew about them during the recruiting process or what they might be able to bring to the table in a year or two.

The learning curve is going to be fast and steep, and everyone – the players and the fans – need to be prepared for a wild ride.

Behind the Box Score

  • If you thought Josh Dotzler was learning quickly what it takes to be a major contributor to a good basketball team, think again. He is a major part of this team right now, and will arguably continue to log the most minutes of game time here on out this season (a game-high 33 minutes on Tuesday).

    He is a great talent, and we again saw flashes of brilliance against Chattanooga – 7 assists, another steal, and overall strength with the basketball. But, because of his importance to this team at this early juncture of the season, the allowance for “freshman” mistakes will dwindle with each passing game.

  • Nick Porter gained his first career start, and came out playing extremely well. But, he only had three points in the entire second half (a three-pointer at the 19-minute mark) and instead made his mark with bad turnovers and missed offensive opportunities. For Creighton to be successful, Nick needs to play a full game like he did in the first half against the Mocs.

  • Someone needs to tell Jimmy Motz that it is OK to take an extra second before shooting. He led all Bluejays with 15 points, going 4-11 from the field (all three-pointers) and 3-4 from the free-throw line, but he rushed a lot of his looks after hitting his first two shots (early in the first half).

Monday, December 05, 2005

DePaul 72, Creighton 57

Blown over in the Windy City

Earlier this fall, I stumbled across one of my favorite albums of 2005. It is entitled “(Come on feel the) Illinoise,” written and composed by Sufjan Stevens. Mr. Stevens set out a few years ago to do the unthinkable – he wanted to write an album about each of the 50 states, sculpting each song from each state’s long history.

So, I figured if Stevens can write an entire album about Illinois (and, in particular, the glorious city of Chicago), what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t detail my entire trip to Chicago for the Creighton-DePaul game? Complete with pictures!

The Calm Before the Storm

5:45 a.m.: Panon and I leave our house for the airport. It’s about 15 degrees outside, which will be a constant theme for the next 24 hours-plus of Bluejay fandom. We’re catching a 7:40 flight to Chicago Midway on Southwest Airlines, home of the lowest fares allowed by law. Makes you feel safe, huh? Just kidding.

Panon and I saw a couple other Jays fans boarding our flight, which was a sign of things to come. Just a great turnout by Jays fans for this game. We actually saw someone with a Jays jacket cruising down Wabash in the afternoon. Good stuff.

8:30 a.m.: Panon and I take our carry-on luggage (backpacks, like we’re still in college or something; come to think of it, this trip just screams “college kids,” but alas, we’re no such kids) and make a beeline for the orange line.

8:45 a.m.: Not being from a major metropolitan area, I find the subway, elevated trains, and buses of huge systems simply fascinating. Great people-watching, except for the fact that if you get caught staring at someone they'll jack your cell phone or something.

9:30 a.m.: We finally step foot on the north starting point of the Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue.

I’m not going to lie, I get the little skin bumps whenever I step foot in downtown Chicago. I’m a lifelong Cubs and Bears fan, but didn’t make my first trip to Chi-town until my junior year in college.

Did I mention it was for the NCAA Tournament? Terrell’s shot? Oh, yeah, that was pretty important. To be on hand for what will continue to be known as one of the greatest shots in Creighton history was, for the lack of a better term, exhilarating. So exhilarating, in fact, that I almost got kicked out of the United Center. But that’s another story for another time.

I get the little skin bumps just thinking about it.

9:40 a.m.: Panon and I spend the next 4 hours in downtown Chicago, seeing some of the sites, taking some pictures, but mostly trying to stay warm. I mean, 27 degrees is cold enough, but the wind? Just icing (almost for real) on the cake.

We took in some sky-high scenery from the Hancock Building, one of the most unique buildings in Chi-town.

We ate some cheezborgers (“no singles, doubles!”) at the Billy Goat Tavern, home of the Cubbie curse (if you believe in those kinds of things).

We walked past museum after museum and historic building after historic building, basically killing time before our beloved Bluejays were to face the DePaul Blue Demons.

2:30 p.m.: Our close college friends (and newlyweds) Jeremy and Sarah pick us up from downtown and we head through afternoon traffic to the town of Rosemont, home of the All State Arena. Too bad the huge number of cars surrounding us on the interstates didn’t come to the game, because there were plenty of open seats at the game.

5:00 p.m.: We decided to stop by the Creighton Pre-game party, thrown by the Chicago chapter of the Creighton Alumni Association. Wonderful time; it was great to see so much white and blue, including the white hair of some really old Bluejay alumni. Great to see their allegiance still runs deep.

6:45 p.m.: Panon, Jeremy, Sarah, and I get to the game, find our seats amongst the crazy amount of Jays fans in the sections behind the Bluejay bench, buy some beers, and get comfortable in the empty arena. I mean, no one was at this game.

Then, the highlight of the night illuminates in the scoreboard lights: Josh Dotzler gets the first start of his college career (the first of many, for sure).

Like I said, that’s the highlight of the night.

7:30-9:30 p.m.: Can I just skip over this? No? OK, fine. I’ll bullet-point this game, since quite a few points of interest played out during the Jays’ first loss of the season.

Behind the Box Score

  • Blame the blue-sea-like end zones of empty seats. Blame the dimmer-than-usual lighting. Blame the Billy Goat for all I care. The Jays shot horribly. End of story. Who knows if the trip was bad, the shoot-around was bad, or the basketballs were bad. The only thing we know was bad for sure was Creighton’s shooting (31%), three-point shooting (17%), and free-throw shooting (67%). Enough said.

  • DePaul mismatched the Jays at almost every position, if no way else than by size. It was a testament to Anthony Tolliver, Nate Funk, and Jimmy Motz that the Jays ended up even on the boards with the Blue Demons.

  • Speaking of Anthony Tolliver, he had himself a solid game offensively, and held his ground for the most part defensively. Tolliver finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and went 7-9 from the free-throw line. On a night when most Jays were flustered by DePaul’s defense and couldn’t get shots to fall, Tolliver continued to show improvement from the past two seasons.

    Too bad Anthony didn’t get much help down in the paint. Jeff Day played 10 minutes, picking up 3 fouls, scoring 2 points, and grabbing 1 rebound. Dane Watts didn’t see the court for most of the second half, finished with 5 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes of action. Steve Smith didn’t play again, and won’t play against Chattanooga because of reoccurring back problems. With Manny Gakou not scheduled to see his first action until the Norfolk State game, the Bluejays need some help in the low post. Now.

  • Like I mentioned before, Josh Dotzler’s start, and his continued steady play, was the highlight of the night. Dotzler logged a game-high 34 minutes, scoring 7 points, grabbing 2 boards, dishing out 5 assists, and picking 3 steals. With just 2 turnovers. Ladies and gentlemen, meet your starting point guard for the next 4 years.

  • If Dotzler was the high, than teammate Nate Funk was the low point. His effort was great (as usual), but with less than 5 minutes remaining he hit the floor for a loose ball and failed to rise to his feet. It took some time, but he eventually got up, grimacing tightly and holding his shoulder. A bad night turned horrific for the Jays fans in attendance and those cheering the White and the Blue in Omaha. Funk’s season might be over (we’ll know more later this week), but he’s out indefinitely.

In the City of Broad Shoulders, it was Funk’s that gave out. And now another Jay has to shoulder the load of this season for the foreseeable future. Who’s it going to be?

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