This past weekend saw the Blue Jays take on a rare yet not so unfamiliar team in the New York Mets. Making their return to the Dome were fromer Blue Jays pitchers Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco and Miguel Batista.
Saturdays tilt marked the first time since a 2009 loss that Batista would face his former team. While pitching for Toronto, the now 41 year old right handed pitcher put up a record of 15 – 21 to go with a total of 36 Saves in 44 chances. 7 of his 8 Blown Saves with the team came under the lights at SkyDome, the ball park where opposing hitters have managed to hit .266 off him as he has allowed 201 Hits in 195.2 Innings Pitched.
Batista pitched a full 2 innings on Saturday before succumbing to what the Mets are calling Lower Back Stiffness, forcing a premature end to the starting pitchers day and a stint on the 15 day Disabled List.
Notably, Batista has struggled when playing in Toronto and now he can add an injury to his list of reasons for not wanting to pitch at the Dome. Perhaps his struggles have stemmed from an incident that occurred early on in the 2004 season while the righty was preparing for a game vs Boston.
Batista happens to be of Native decent and is known for having interest in his heritage and spirituality. In 2003, he befriended a Grammy Award nominated Navajo flutist named Aaron White who in turn presented Batista with a Native style flute and began teaching the Pitcher how to play the instrument.
Batista quickly learned how to play the flute and eventually mastered it to the point in which he performed the “Star Spangled Banner” in front of a packed house prior to a Diamondbacks game. His passion for the unique flute resulted in a pregame ritual where prior to starts, Batista would play the instrument as a way of calming his nerves before he took the field.
Naturally, Batista carried the ritual over to Toronto when he was picked up by the Blue Jays prior to the 2004 season. Just like in Arizona, Batista would find a quiet place under the stands to practice the flute as he prepared mentally for the upcoming game.
Prior to a Saturday game vs the Red Sox, Batista left the clubhouse and stepped in to an unattended room deep beneath the 3rd base stands at SkyDome. He took a seat and began to remove the flute from its protective case when out of nowhere, he lost control and dropped the wooden instrument resulting in the shattering of the mouthpiece and rendering the native flute unplayable.
“I removed the flute from the burlap pouch that protects the wood from the moisture, when all of a sudden somebody slapped the flute out of my hands and threw it down. I thought someone had swatted it but no one was there beside me.”
In the days following, a security guard asked the Blue Jays Pitcher why he hadn’t seen him playing his flute prior to games to which Batista responded by telling him the story of how he broke his cherished instrument.
To Batista’s surprise, the guard laughed it off and acted as if it wasn’t uncommon to have such a strange experience in the hollows of the Dome. As the guard explained his reasoning, Batista stood frozen in shock… and fear.
Few people remember the fact that while excavating the land around the SkyDome prior to it’s construction, Archaeologists discovered a Cannon a number of 18th century canes and the remains of an ancient Algonquin Mississauga Mohawks settlement. These remains hint to the fact that there could be an Indian Burial ground located on the same site.
Upon this discovery, Batista began to research the site in detail while opting to drop the flute routine while at home.
Did playing his flute awaken ancient spirits that once called the land around our SkyDome their home? Believe what you will however Batista’s numbers at the Concrete Convertible don’t lie and this weekends injury only leads one to believe that there’s something else going on when Miguel takes the hill in Toronto.