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'Bat Boy' Mayza completes fantasy football punishment

Toronto Blue Jays Tim Mayza - The Canadian Press

DUNEDIN, Fla. — It was a normal Friday afternoon camp day in the Blue Jays clubhouse at the player development complex, about 24 hours before the team’s Grapefruit League opener.

I walked in with the intention of talking to Tim Mayza to set up a weekend interview.

When I got to his locker, the 32-year-old lefty reliever was seated next to teammate Jordan Romano.

Assuming the veteran wasn’t pitching or doing much Saturday at TD Bank ballpark, I was hoping to get some pre-game time with him and asked if that was possible.

His answer was a bit odd.

“I’m sort of involved in the game,” Mayza relayed to me.

Sort of involved?

I clearly had no idea what that meant, but I did notice Romano’s ear-to-ear grin.

Romano urged Mayza to tell me what was up and they proceeded to fill me in on the plan for him to be the bat boy for the first three innings as punishment for finishing last in the team-wide fantasy football league.

When I was done laughing and making sure they were serious, I quizzed him about his team and sent it out on social media with a chuckle.

The laughs only increased when Mayza showed up for Saturday’s televised 1 p.m. first pitch in a bat boy uniform with his nameplate and the number 4-10 on the back.

That was his last place record.

Everyone’s been there if you play the frustrating game of fantasy football.

“I have a newfound respect for those guys,” Mayza said after his bat boy stint in front of a sold-out home crowd.

“You’re as engaged down there as anyone. When things happen, especially with the clock now, you have to be on it. My biggest fear, I think, heading in was the game stopping because of me and, obviously, in the first inning there was a bit of a mishap with the rosin bag. Unaware there wasn’t a rosin bag out there. Other than that, a few minor things but I felt like the game was rolling and not slowing down because of me.”

With the stakes very low on Feb. 24, it was the story of the day.

Sure, Ricky Tiedemann’s hamstring MRI showed some inflammation, but he’s only currently expected to be shut down from throwing for a few days.

Other than that, all eyes were on Mayza. But not in the way he’s used to.

Mayza has a legitimate reason to be irked because this is the first year they’ve incorporated a punishment for the last place team, and they did it quite late in the process, too.

“I think (Erik) Swanson was kind of the ringleader of the plan,” Romano said. “We knew he had to go in full uniform so Swanny thought it would be pretty funny to put the record on the back of his jersey. It’s hilarious.

“You’re right about that. The past couple of years there hasn’t really been a punishment but Tim’s a lighthearted guy and I think he kind of likes the attention to so we decided this year to make a punishment.”

Mayza took it in stride.

“That’s up for discussion,” he said. "From my point of view, this was kind of dropped on me when they found out who was in last place.

“Swanson, about two days ago, announced in front of everyone that I’d be bat boying the first three innings of the game today as punishment for my last place finish.”

There were a handful of interactions with teammates, and even with the newest Philadelphia Phillies addition Whit Merrifield, who played in the 12-team league last year.

“Whit thought he was being funny by whipping a bat at me, however, it was his own teammate’s so in the end he looks bad for that,” Mayza said.

Justin Turner’s interaction was funny because I grabbed too low on the barrel, which was a rookie mistake on my part, and just had pine tar all over my hands. So I spent the next like half-inning cleaning the pine tar off my hands.”

So what went wrong last season for Mayza?

“Just couldn’t manage,” Romano said. "Couldn’t get the boys to play hard for him. It was a clubhouse issue with him being the problem up top.”

Mayza probably didn’t deserve his fate after drafting Tyreek Hill in the first round and following up with Chris Olave in the second.

“A few injuries, and probably some poor managerial moves, a couple of those, and then sometimes it just comes down to luck,” Mayza said. “I know analytics aren’t everything but I had the seventh-most points scored in the league out of 12 and the most points against.

“Just a combination of (injuries) and bad luck and here we are at 4-10 and bat boying the first spring training game.”

When September rolls around, catcher Danny Jansen has the throne as the defending champion, but Romano isn’t too worried he’ll be in Mayza’s position next spring training.

“I mean, as long as Tim’s in the league I don’t think that’ll be a problem,” Romano said. “I won’t be bat boying for a long time.”

We can only hope, for our sake, the punishment sticks.