Marcus Stroman: Toronto’s Next Great Ambassador
Note: This was originally written much earlier this year. Due to Marcus Stroman’s unforeseen circumstances, I decided to hold off on publishing this. Now with his highly anticipated return to the Blue Jays, I thought it was only fitting to release it today.
Height doesn’t measure heart. It’s a mantra that’s quite literally emblazoned across his chest.
Standing at 5 foot 8, the odds were certainly stacked against Marcus Stroman; but now he’s emerged as one of the brightest young pitchers in all of baseball.
From a fan’s perspective, there’s certainly a lot to like about Marcus Stroman. Not only is he a very skilled and charismatic young man, but he also has this very likable underdog quality about him.
As of today, Marcus Stroman has completed his improbable comeback to the Toronto Blue Jays roster; some six months removed from ACL surgery; an injury which typically might sideline a player for an entire season.
Combine all that with Stroman’s unabashed admiration for the city in which he plays for, and you’ve got the recipe for the next great ambassador for the city of Toronto.
In a short amount of time, Marcus Stroman has welcomed Toronto with open arms; he may be an American citizen, but he’s exactly the kind of proponent Toronto needs.
All too often, players tend to write Toronto off. Despite it being the fourth largest sports market in all of North America, sometimes it’s treated like some kind of barren wasteland. Even though the sports fan base in the GTA is just as rabid, if not more than the typical North American metropolis.
But Marcus Stroman is an ambassador who could help put the spotlight squarely back on the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto itself.
He certainly has the lingo down, already; Marcus Stroman has notably adopted the mantra put forth by Drake, “The 6”. Stroman even went so far as to change his number to six this offseason in honour of his late grandmother, who was born on March 6th, 1943.
Coincidentally, his new number also bares resemblance to that nickname for Toronto put forth by Drake. And when you combine his jersey number with one of his best friends and current teammate Aaron Sanchez, you get Toronto’s iconic area code, “416”.
|Courtesy of Rick Madonik/Toronto Star|
It remains to be seen whether “The 6” will resonate long-term as Toronto’s moniker, but Marcus Stroman has certainly adopted it as his unofficial calling card.
Often times, players will advocate for the city they play in, kind of acting as recruiters for other players. Stroman has been no different when it comes to playing in Toronto.
|Courtesy of Marcus Stroman|
Marcus Stroman took it upon himself to welcome Devon Travis to the team, and at the same time also spoke glowingly about the city his new teammate was coming to.
As the only remaining Canadian team remaining in Major League Baseball, there definitely can be a stigma associated with playing in Toronto. Go up and down the list, and the Blue Jays are seemingly the one team on many player’s no-trade list.
Part of that may be the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre, but another reason is a fear of the unknown. Living in a foreign country can seem like a very daunting task, but Marcus Stroman is going out of his way to help dispel any myths about playing and living in Toronto.
It’s been so long since an athlete that played for a Toronto-based sports team has been this enthusiastic about the city he plays for. Marcus Stroman is not only becoming a honourary Torontonian, but he’s weaving it into the fabric of his own identity.
|Courtesy of @Raptors|
Very rarely will athletes visit the city in which they play in during the offseason, but Marcus Stroman did exactly that with fellow Blue Jay Aaron Sanchez in the offseason. They did what anybody would in the mood for some great entertainment; check out a Raptors game.
Although he was rehabbing a knee injury, Stroman has made it a point to make a few visits to Toronto during the regular season and join his teammates during select home stands.
In an era where it can be difficult to convince a player to sign north of the border, it’s refreshing to have a guy like Marcus Stroman embrace the city.
Here’s a kid who grew up in New York on Long Island. Playing for a Canadian team was likely the furthest thing from his mind. So imagine Marcus Stroman’s surprise when he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012; Canada’s only professional baseball team.
And yet despite being a native of New York, he’s seemingly made the city of Toronto his second home.
If you’ll recall, there was another player who helped put Toronto on the map not all that long ago, and that was Vince Carter. He elevated the sport of basketball to an entirely new level; not just in Toronto, but all across Canada.
And it seems like Marcus Stroman is on the verge of doing the very same thing.
In a position where long and lanky pitchers are preferred, Stroman stands at 5’8″. That makes him one of only a handful of starting pitchers to take the mound who have been that small in stature.
Just as Marcus Stroman’s trademarked phrase suggests, height doesn’t measure heart. Height also doesn’t measure his incredible potential, either.
Image courtesy of NY Daily News