To Mr Edwin Encarnacion,
You are officially no longer a Toronto Blue Jay. Typing that sentence out has left me in a state of disbelief, sadness and nostalgia, but most importantly, I sat here staring at the screen for a solid minute before I could type anything else as my cursor blinked in front of me. It’s a strange feeling when a player on your favourite baseball team has signed elsewhere and it won’t be real until I see ‘Encarnacion 10’ on the back of the Cleveland uniform you wear next season, but I will use these next few months to slowly accept the fact that you are no longer a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
But I don’t feel complete doom and gloom. This is not a situation like when Roy Halladay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies because you got your chance to shine in the grandest of all stages, you got your chance to shine in the city of Toronto as a member of a playoff baseball team, a playoff baseball team that made it to the American League Championship Series in back-to-back years. To put this into perspective, the thought of the Blue Jays making the playoffs was a joke for my entire 26 years of existence until 2015. The closest they had ever come to making it to the playoffs since I began consciously understanding baseball (I was only 4 and 5 in 1992 and 1993) was 3 games out of a wild card spot in 2008. You helped bring hope to a city that had been starving for a championship for 22 years and these past two playoff runs involve moments that I will hold dear to my heart for my entire life.
When you came to this team in 2009 in a trade for Scott Rolen, I honestly believed you would just become another piece in a franchise full of failure. I thought that you would play some forgettable third base for a while before being replaced by the next guy.
Boy oh boy, was I wrong.
I will never ever forget the scream of absolute joy I let out in game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series when you hit a homerun to tie the ballgame at 2-2. Living in Toronto, we have every expectation that our team is going to fail, that the referees are going to make the wrong call and that our teams will always fall short of the mark. It has been a culture of losing teams for the past 20+ years, but that all changed in one night. Of course, your partner in crime Mr. Bautista had the homerun that changed the course of history, but your no doubter to left field proved to a city that this team was not about to roll over and die.
Just this past October, you proved again why you are one of the best power hitting first baseman in all of baseball. Again, when a city was full of nerves and felt as though their team was on the brink of elimination, you drove a baseball to deep left field, threw your bat and your hands up in the air and sent an entire city into euphoria. I don’t even need to mention the game, the score, the inning or the team that the Blue Jays were playing because everybody reading this knows exactly which moment I am talking about. On a night where I had been pacing my living room for the past three hours, I let out yet another unforgettable scream of absolute joy and jumped on my brother in euphoria.
It is not only the homeruns that matter or even the timing of the homeruns, but the fact that you brought an entire city together to witness greatness is what I am thanking you for. All my life, every team I have rooted for lost. Every team I have rooted for never had a chance and every team I have rooted for tripped over themselves before they could hit the finish line. Although you didn’t win a World Series championship as a Toronto Blue Jay, you were part of a team that literally made me cry tears of joy when they clinched a playoff berth in 2015, something I thought I would never witness in my life. I want to thank you simply for being a part of this team and for eliciting feelings of joy and happiness within me, my family, my friends, my city and my country.
Thank you, Edwin Encarnacion, you will always hold a special place in my heart, in the hearts of all of Toronto, and in the hearts of all of Canada.