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Game 51: Blue Jays at Twins

The always-polite fans of their Canadian Club visit Target Field.

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Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays
After assassinating B.J. Birdy, Ace assumed his place as capo of the Jays family.
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Perfect except for mosquitos, 79° at first pitch

Opponent’s “one guy writes everything” SB site: Bluebird Banter

TV: BSN (for now, more TBD soon). Radio: Here’s the big wide Twins network, and here’s the MUCH wider Blue Jays one

Veteran righty starter Kevin Gausman, who made the majors a year after being drafted, has usually been an effective pitcher, if not always a dominant one. He’s been very good indeed the last several seasons, relying almost exclusively on his 95-ish fastball and 85-ish splitter, with an occasional slider mixed in. He’s said that taking up archery has improved his accuracy; I know what Jovani Moran needs for Christmas.

Rather sweetly, Gausman started wearing Roy Halladay’s #34 after Halladay’s 2017 death in a plane crash at age 40. Gausman had long been a fan of the fellow Colorado native.

Louie Varland you know; what I didn’t know is that his one-year-older brother, Gus, made his MLB debut with the Brewers as a reliever this season. He pitched very well until getting bombed for nine runs in 0.2 innings during his last appearance. Gus was a Rule 40 pickup from the Dodgers, and Milwaukee sent him back to LA on Tuesday. So we’ll have to wait for October to see them in the same game... right?

Digits (YTD for Gausman, career for Varland, and only for Louie, not Gus):

We leave the world of MLB baseball and journey on down to Eugene, OR, usually the home of the Eugene Emeralds (San Fran’s High-A team). The Emeralds have a fairly crummy psuedo-Bigfoot logo you don’t need to see. But tonight, they are the Eugene Exploding Whales, and this logo RULES:

Note how the “tertiary” logo features dynamite up a whale’s butt.

What is the reason for this? It’s to commemorate a charming moment in Oregon history. Which, yes, involved an exploding whale.

Florence, OR, is a likeably low-key seaside town some 60 miles west of Eugene; it’s home to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and a church naturally called Our Lady Of The Dunes, plus a whole lot of overturned-ATV accidents. And, at one point in 1970, Florence had a dead whale.

The whale had died of natural causes and washed up on the beach, all 45-feet-long and 16,000 pounds of it. And the whale had begun to stink.

Every inch of Pacific Ocean beach in Oregon is public property, and many sections are perfectly legal (if not always wise) to drive upon. So it was the Department of Transportation’s problem to dispose of the whale. A beach burial would be uncovered by the tides, while cutting it up for the local dump would be disgusting and dangerous (sharp tools and a slippery carcass).

So they decided to blow it up. Turn the whale into hamburger for gulls (the pigeons of the sea), or crabs, or whatever else eats dead whale.

Then, as the Siuslaw News recounted in 2020:

The initial explosion brought cheers from the onlookers. A moment later, one woman said, “Here comes pieces of… MY GOD!”

“The humor of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere,” Linnman reported. “Pieces of meat passed high over our heads, while others were falling at our feet.”

Multiple cars were hit with the ensuing debris.

“My insurance company will never believe it,” spectator Walter F. Umenhofer told the Siuslaw News in 1970. His car was crushed by a three-foot-square hunk of blubber.

(Umenhofer actually had some military experience with explosives, and tried to warn the DOT guys that they were doing it wrong. You can see a picture of his car here, with the caption “Blubber blasting blunder smashes Springfield spectator’s car.” The caption writer missed using “sedan” for some reason.)

For the most part, Florence celebrates this classic moment; they have a city park named after it. And they’re not the only ones; some dedicated soul(s) maintain the domain name Which, as you’d guess and hope, has everything you need to know about exploding whales.

The Eugene Emeralds say that the promotion will have an educational side, “using videos and other forms of media to bring attention to the challenges presented by climate change and whale migration.” And also, of course, reminding people about when a whale blowed up real good.

Is there video of the event? Would I mention a planned whale explosion gone wrong and NOT show you the video?

It’s cued up to the boom-boom, which is actually kinda disappointing — what do you MEAN you turned your cameras off as everyone began screaming, you’re missing the NEWS — but if you want a perfect example of 1970s local TV “human interest” features, watch the whole thing.

The Emeralds will have their final Exploding Whales game of this season on August 19, if you’re interested – and the weather on the Oregon coast is usually wonderful that time of year. Driving the whole coast can easily be done in a day, and many of the state parks are lovely. Plus, you know, exploding whale ghost. Or you could just buy some Whales merch, but as you’d guess, demand has been massive, so you’ll have to wait a few weeks...

Today's Lineups

George Springer - RF Donovan Solano - 1B
Bo Bichette - SS Carlos Correa - SS
Vladimir Guerrero - DH Byron Buxton - DH
Matt Chapman - 3B Alex Kirilloff - LF
Brandon Belt - 1B Kyle Farmer - 3B
Whit Merrifield - 2B Edouard Julien - 2B
Daulton Varsho - LF Kyle Garlick - RF
Alejandro Kirk - C Christian Vazquez - C
Kevin Kiermaier - CF Michael Taylor - CF
Kevin Gausman - RHP Louie Varland - RHP