What's trending:

Eh Game

Canadian closer John Axford has some labour pains on the mound

Neate Sager
Eh Game

View photo


Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford of Port Dover, Ont. (Reed Saxon, Associate Press)

If good karma could give a struggling closer better command of his fastball, Milwaukee Brewers fans wouldn't be worrying so much about John Axford.

The pride of Port Dover, Ont., endeared himself to baseball fans everywhere last month. The Brewers closer had just had his streak of converting 49 consecutive save opportunities smashed after giving a three-run lead in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs. His spouse was going into labour, so he left a handwritten note for the media before jetting off to the hospital before the game ended.

[Related: Axford's hold on closer's role could be waning

That turned out to be a false alarm the couple. On Tuesday, John and Nicole Axford welcomed their new baby boy, Jameson Aedan Axford, into the world. Axford tweeted out the photo of his son, rushed to Miller Park, and what happened? He ended up getting another blown save.

From Tom Haudricourt:

Axford had the joy in the afternoon of having wife Nicole deliver their second son. [Milwaukee] Manager Ron Roenicke told him he could stay at the hospital if he wanted but Axford reported for duty and surrendered consecutive homers by Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista in the ninth to blow a 9-8 lead in what became a 10-9 interleague loss.

... Axford said he had no regrets about coming from the hospital, where his wife gave berth in mid-afternoon, to the ballpark, even though it led to his third blown save in his last five chances and fourth overall.

"I came here for a reason, which was to do my job," he said. "That's the reason I came. This is my family away from my family at home and I still have a job to do. I just didn't get it done.

"No regrets at all. I just wanted to make sure my son was OK, that he was healthy, and my wife was OK, that she was healthy. I still have a job to do. If I was sitting in the hospital, watching the game, and the same thing happened to somebody else that happened to me, I would have felt even worse than I do right now. That's my job, for now, anyways. I'm supposed to be out there in that inning, in that situation. That's why I wanted to come." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

There is probably little correlation between the personal and the professional here for Axford. Balls have been jumping off hitters' bats during the first two games of the Blue Jays-Brewers series at Miller Park; the Jays have parked nine home runs over the fence in the past two games. Still, it's an all-time coincidence that he had a blown save on the day it looked like the baby was coming and on the day he actually arrived.

It is good to see that a skein of poor performances (three blown saves in his last four chances) hasn't made Axford act any differently.

[More: Washington manager Davey Johnson breaks "unwritten rule]

The tall right-hander has been an inspiring story. It's been well-publicized that he worked joe-jobs selling cellphones and bartending at an Eastside Mario's restaurant while waiting for his break in baseball. During his college years at Notre Dame, he also overcame the successive shocks of losing his pitching mentor, Doug King, and needing the dreaded Tommy John surgery only a few months apart in 2003. He's made of strong stuff, and he seems to realize there are higher priorities than a baseball game. He's made of strong stuff, even if his stuff on the mound has not been working for him lately.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (1)
  • Last hurrah for Sweden's old guard?

    Last hurrah for Sweden's old guard?

    When Henrik Lundqvist carried a Swedish flag around the ice at the 2006 Turin Olympics with a gold medal dangling from his neck, he was a fresh-faced kid days shy of his 24th birthday. A seventh-round pick in 2000, Lundqvist was in his first season … More »

    AP - Sports - 23 minutes ago
  • French Federation extends Paire suspension

    French Federation extends Paire suspension

    The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has extended Benoit Paire's suspension until the end of February 2017 for "damaging" the organization's image by his behavior at the Rio Olympics. The FFT, however, lifted bans on Caroline Garcia and Kristina … More »

    Reuters - 11 hours ago
  • Raised-fist protesters Smith, Carlos to join US team in DC

    Raised-fist protesters Smith, Carlos to join US team in DC

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its … More »

    AP - Sports - 19 hours ago
  • Canada rolling into semifinal vs. Russia

    Canada rolling into semifinal vs. Russia

    Ryan Getzlaf doesn't remember a single thing from Canada's last matchup with Russia in a tournament featuring the best hockey players in the world. ''I couldn't even tell you what the score was or when we played them or what happened,'' Getzlaf … More »

    AP - Sports - Fri, 23 Sep, 2016 6:27 PM EDT
  • Uncertainty abounds heading into Colorado's visit to Oregon

    Uncertainty abounds heading into Colorado's visit to Oregon

    Oregon running back Royce Freeman is listed atop the depth chart for the Ducks' game Saturday against Colorado, but there's no certainty that he'll play. Also unclear is the availability of Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, who is a game-time … More »

    AP - Sports - Fri, 23 Sep, 2016 6:24 PM EDT