What ever would the Toronto Blue Jays do without their fearless parrot smashing balls out of the park on an almost daily basis? Well, for one thing, they might not have made it nearly this far into the postseason without last week’s absolutely earth shattering 11th inning walk off home run. Slugger and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion comes through for our Jays time and time again. It’s hard to narrow down just six reasons Edwing deserves to be showered in Toronto’s love, but let’s give it a try!
1) Edwin Encarnacion knows how to persevere through times of turmoil. He was not always the power hitter we know him to be today. Though he hit his first home run over the left-field fence of his hometown diamond in La Romana, Dominican Republic at the young age of thirteen, Encarnacion struggled to work his way up the ladder in the big leagues. The Blue Jays initially declined to take him when working out a trade with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009, but Encarnacion was ultimately forced upon the Jays to complete the deal. After quietly and anxiously arriving in Toronto, then third baseman Encarnacion found himself in a hitting slump. He was sent down to Triple A to prove himself. Instead of accepting his fate and slipping into anonymity, Encarnacion told SportsNet, “I’m a big-league player. I want to be in Toronto. I’m going to show them.” And that’s exactly what he did. Though he faced (and continues to face) obstacles in staying with our Blue Jays (PLEASE keep him!), he has worked his way up from unwanted third baseman to unparalleled third hitter in the Jays’ lineup… And we are all here watch him take to that spot and soar.
2) The man wants nothing more than a Bullmastiff puppy to curl up with during his time away from the diamond. He’s gone so far as to post them on his Instagram. Like seriously–If anyone can hook him up with a puppy, you’ll be his hero for life. With everything he’s done for Toronto, I feel like we should be able to put our heads together and make that happen…
3) He values his teammates like brothers. When he was sent to Toronto in the aforementioned trade with Cincinnati, Encarnacion had no desire to move. As someone who moved from Cincinnati to Toronto myself once upon a time, I have a soft spot for those who have experienced the same case of nerves. The one thing that eased Encarnacion’s anxiety was the knowledge that his friend from the Pittsburgh system minor leagues, Jose Bautista, was waiting for him in his new city. Bautista helped Encarnacion settle in and work through his rough patches, and it now seems Encarnacion is passing the support he was shown onto rising clutch hero, Ezequiel Carrera. Taking him under his wing, Encarnacion has guided Carrera through interviews and enthusiastically cheered him on, both from the dugout and on social media.
4) Who else does Encarnacion support all over social media? His mom. Who is an adorable human being with a beautiful smile. Hit up @encadwin on Instagram and see for yourself!
5) Edwin isn’t one to be kept in a cage. If you want to see some crazy hitting, check out this 2013 MLB Fan Cave video of Edwing and Joey Bats crushing some baseballs in a friendly competition at the driving range. How crazy would it be to tee off next to those two hot shots?!
6ix) Like so many of our incredible Blue Jays, nothing was handed to Edwin. He worked for everything he’s got and then, when that work was finished, he worked some more. As one of the many sons of Dominican track star Elpidio Encarnacion, a man Edwin lovingly describes as, “…a little bit crazy,” and SportsNet describes as, “…Dominican Walter Gretzky,” Edwin was raised for athletic success. In a SportsNet interview, Elpidio reflects, “(Edwin) wasn’t going to be tall. I realized that he wasn’t a strong boy. But he was focused on what he was doing.” Elpidio quickly realized his children shared a knack for baseball and, determined to help them match his own level of achievement in sports, Elpidio and his wife saved enough money to commission a neighbour to build a net for a backyard batting cage. The kids hit baseballs at that net every day. And when the sun went down, they turned on the lights Elpidio installed in the yard and hit every night. Edwin worked his way to size and strength and, due to a part-time move to Puerto Rico in his teenage years, Edwin made his way into the major-league amateur draft to be a 247th round pick by the 2000 Texas Rangers. During his time as a Blue Jay, Edwin has masterfully dealt with language barriers, job uncertainty, and, this is truly jaw dropping, booing and name-calling by fans during his early years on the team.
It seems only right that we rectify that horrid error in fan judgment now by giving our beloved Edwing all the love and support he so deserves. We adore you, Edwin, and we can’t wait to watch you fly us through the remainder of this exciting postseason!