This article appears in Sportsnet magazine’s 2015 Awards Issue, available with a Texture subscription or on the magazine app. Click here to download. For home delivery, click here and get your first 10 issues for $10.
I’VE GOT TO BE HONEST, we had a tough time deciding on an award to give Marcus Stroman. Not because the Blue Jays’ ace isn’t worthy. The tricky thing was narrowing it down to a single honour, one that would properly celebrate the roller coaster of a year it’s been for the 24-year-old. There was no shortage of ideas:
• Most deflating injury
• Best debunking of accepted medical wisdom
• Greatest comeback
• Best hair
• Worst hair
• Most optimistic Toronto-based athlete in the history of Toronto-based athletes
Ultimately, we landed on the Nothing Left to Prove award. Sure, the Jays didn’t win it all. But as staff writer Arden Zwelling notes in our 2015 Awards Issue, although “he’s shown mere bursts of what he could one day be, is there any pitcher on the Blue Jays you have more confidence in? Is there any other guy you’d want to take the mound for a must-win?” As baseball fans discovered this past season, nothing can keep him down.
So in early December, less than nine months after the right-hander tore the ACL in his left knee, we flew photographer Norman Wong to Durham, N.C., where Stroman has spent part of the off-season. Wong, who shot the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry for the cover of our Awards Issue last year, spent two hours with Stroman on the Duke University campus.
Shortly afterwards, when a behind-the-scenes image from that shoot was making the rounds on Twitter, one critic called Stroman out for wearing jogging pants on picture day.
“Comfort casual in my space,” Stroman tweeted back. “Grab a magazine when it drops.” Even on social media, where snark makes up about 98 percent of the conversation, Stroman takes the high road. That alone is worthy of an award.