Toronto Baseball Guys
Saturday, May 29, 2010
  The Jays Care
The Jays Care Foundation is an exceptional organization that has been “empowering children and youth in need, inspiring them to make positive choices and helping them realize their dreams by providing access to programs that support physical activity, education, and life-skill development.” Often times, members of the major league roster lend their time, expertise and celebrity to help provide unforgettable moments for the youth mentioned above.

However, I think the work of the Major league outfit over the last week and a half has been a bit misguided.
Case One:
Unfortunate Incident: Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu drops an Alex Gonzalez pop fly in the ninth inning, turning it into a two base error. Gonzalez is eventually drive home with an unearned game tying run.
Jays Care: Scott Downs loads the bases, with two outs allowing Abreu to go from goat to hero by taking a pitch the other way for a game winning single. Abreu show’s his gratitude by cockily raising his hands in victory before the ball even escapes a diving Encarnacion.

Case Two:
Unfortunate Incident: Ken Griffey Jr. draws the ire of media and fans alike when he fails to appear for a pinch hitting opportunity. Rumour has it that Junior Griffey (why do people call him that, it’s not his name?) was sleeping in the clubhouse at the moment his services were required. His harsh denial of the accusation, without justification of why he didn’t hit, makes me think that he was “sleeping” with a waitress from the executive boxes that he had called down to the clubhouse with an order of a six pack of beers, four pretzels, two chilli dogs, and some nachos.
Jays Care: Kevin Gregg –whose season had been stellar to this point- recognized the importance of helping those less fortunate than him. He blew a two run lead in the ninth, bringing Jr. to the plate with a chance to win the game. Cue the walk off celebration…this might need more than one waitress.

What’s next!? Will we allow GW Bush the opportunity to prove he can be a good president when we finally replace current head honcho Paul Beeston?

I’m not sure that the Jays need to be helping out these multimillionaires who have spent their entire adult lives playing a game. Despite that, in each case, as the struggling major leaguer came to the plate, it was painfully obvious that the Jays weren’t going to win those games because the opposing player was due. Hopefully, on the grand scheme, the fates will decide that the Jays are the team most worthy of a victory in the playoff race against recent and frequent post season participants Rays, Yankees and Bosox.

On another note:
I’m a huge fan of Rance Mulliniks. My fantasy baseball team bears his name, I once cheered “Put Rance in!” late in the third period of an early 90’s Leafs’ game when a clutch play was needed, I never use batting gloves, and one of my best friends in elementary school had a batting stance that had him tilted so far back that I was worried he’d fall back into the catcher. My idolization of the man aside, even I can admit that he’s not the best colour commentator in baseball. However, he absolutely nailed it in Wednesday’s loss to the Angels. During a Jeremy Reed at bat, the Flewis sub took a pitch that should have been called strike three but was ruled a ball. Upon seeing that pitch, Rance remarked that if the next pitch is anywhere near the strike zone Reed had better be swinging. He didn’t, and was rung up on a pitch that was higher than a former child star in their early twenties and further outside than Screech Powers at a Saved By The Bell reunion. I should have been fuming, but there’s something so beautiful about even up call, that I just had to respect it, and move on.

An analogy:
You know those pretty boys with the big muscles? It looks like the they’re really strong, but they’d get their Zimas/Wine Coolers shoved up their backsides in a barroom brawl against those burly guys who were born to fight. The 2009 edition of the Jays piled up a bunch of pretty batting averages with very little to show for it. This year’s team batting average of 0.242 is fifth worst in baseball, but their total runs scored of 260 is tied for the best in the majors. Runs scored is absolutely the most important offensive stat in baseball, it doesn’t matter how you score, as long as you do. This year’s Jays may not be pretty –unless you like swinging and missing by a country mile- but more often than not, they’ll wipe the floor with you. We can only hope that by the end of the year, ARod and the Yankees will be lying in beer and vomit while the Jays walk away with Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and a spot in the postseason.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
  No Love For the Fat Kid
The Jays released Randy Ruiz this week.

In a universe that salivates over 5-tool players, Ruiz has only two tools: the ability to hit for average and power. With a .150 average and a lone home run, the release was completely predictable.

It was also rather sad, since Ruiz seems to a major league calibre hitter whose chance at a career has passed him by. This year, for the first time in his pro career, after being with ten different organizations, Ruiz finally broke camp with the big club. This proved to be a mixed blessing; yes he had a major league job, but it wasn't a regular job, and Ruiz struggled in limited playing time.

In 1088 minor league games, Ruiz has posted a line of .304/.378/.531, with 192 home runs. The man can hit.

He also doesn't have a natural position, inhabiting the wrong end of the defensive spectrum, the domain of names like Pujols, Howard and Teixeira - all of whom happen to be younger than Randy's 32 years.

At a listed weight of 250 lbs, Ruiz isn't going to make anyone forget about Rickey Henderson, so he absolutely had to hit to keep a job. It's a near certainty that had Ruiz just been installed as the everyday first baseman and given 500 at-bats, he would have continued to hit. It's almost inconceivable that Ruiz wouldn't have outhit Lyle Mendozerbay to this point in the season - and the Jays could have pocketed $8 million, had they been able to deal Overbay over the winter.

Instead, Ruiz was given spot duty, amounting to 13 games and 40 at-bats. When he failed to recapture lightning in a bottle, he became a liability. What he needs is a team out of contention looking for a cheap fill-in at first base or DH while their prospects finish baking.

Given 500 at-bats, there's no reason to believe he couldn't hit .280 with 25 bombs, maybe better. He can then parlay that into a 5 or 6 year career. Instead, he's signed with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, which should give him the same sort of longevity. It's just a shame it won't happen on this side of the Pacific.

As a major league hitter, Randy Ruiz has hit .272/.332/.480 with 12 homers in 68 games. Like fellow late bloomers Geronimo Berroa and Matt Stairs before him, Ruiz would hit in the majors if given the chance. At 32, he may not get another.
  From the West Coast to the Future
MLB has its share of problems, with skyrocketing salaries leading to disparity between the haves and havenots, four hour games, and of course PEDs and the standard series of events:
Rumours to accusations (lowly clubhouse attendant) to vehement denials (Palmeiro) to incontrovertable evidence (clubhouse attendant with new lawyer) to one more denial for old time’s sake (Lance Armstrong) and lastly the weepy-eyed admission that PEDs were used but only once, on the day before the positive test and will never be used again (Andy Petitte/JerkRod).

But MLB’s biggest problem has got to be the West Coast. It’s absolutely criminal that my team begins its games when I’m on my way to bed. The solution is simple, ban all teams that play in the pacific time zone, revoke their home games and play in a neutral site like Philadelphia or regulate start times so that they are never later than 4:00 pm.

Between failing the MENSA quiz that is finding the Rogers preview channel, and having trouble watching late games through my eyelids, I’ve seen very little of the Jays lately. The only game I did see was the Kevin Gregg’s Seattle implosion…has he coaxed the M’s popgun offence into the second out of that ninth inning yet?

Gregg’s crapsterpiece will likely be the key turning point to the season. Either the team can rally around its closer, pile up wins in the always tough for the Jays and only the Jays NL and carry on with their refreshing start, or they can collapse their way into in nine-game losing streak restoring the team to its rightful position of fourth place.

Either way, it shouldn’t really matter. The Rays are too good, the Yankees, who are in their annual extended spring training are less than a month away from pouring it on, and David Ortiz’ slow-acting PEDs seem to be kicking in. This is a building year, and should not be viewed as anything but. The youngsters are learning their lessons, the clubhouse is a cohesive unit, and Overbay is beginning to show signs of recovering from his lousy early season moustache and hitting woes.

Here’s my message to you AA –because I know you read us religiously- stay the course, keep showing off the trade bait Overbay/Frasor/Downs/Gregg/Gonzalez/Please not Marcum, and get ready for the youth movement once the trade deadline passes at the end of July. I believe in this team’s ability to compete soon, but not yet.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
  The Blue Jays’ Secret Secret-Weapon

I think all 15,000 of us Jays fans know that the 2010 version of this team has some secret weapons. For instance, Alex Gonzalez is secretly amazing and not a dreamboat. Brian Butterfield secretly has our outfielders positioned so well that Fred Lewis can track down flyballs even after taking 23 steps in the wrong direction. Adam Lind has secretly passed away.

But I’m not here to talk about known secret-weapons. I’m here to talk about a secret secret-weapon. Last week, reports came out that the Jays had come to an agreement with Venezuelan right handed pitcher Adonis Cardona. This reported signing is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it signals a shift in team-philosophy. The Jays no longer go after guys with initialled first names like A.J. or B.J.; rather, the Jays go after South American/Latino players with awesome first names that sound like Aroldis or Adonis or Adeiny. Impressive move by A-squared. Secondly, Cardona is 16 years old. This means a few things in itself. For one thing, the child is not allowed to be signed until July 2, lest the Blue Jays violate some international treaties on child labour. Also, being 16 years old means Cardona might not know what “German” is, at least if he’s anything like Justin Beiber. Finally, who knows what’s in store for the kid. I’m pretty sure at 16 I was just figuring out that I was growing hair in interesting and new places and that it felt good to touch ‘down there’.

However, to me, the Cardona non-signing signing is genius. Firstly, it has other teams in an uproar. This is great. Let other teams cry. Everyone knows you’re allowed to break the rules in baseball without any repercussions aside from not being allowed into the Hall of Fame (see: steroids, Pete Rose/gambling, Sammy Sosa/corking). But honestly, not so many make it in there anyway, so who cares. Secondly, the Jays are reportedly spending $2.8 million on baby Cardona. 2.8 million!! That’s a lot of money for a kid about whom Keith Law (J.P. Ricciardi hater extraordinaire/ESPN columnist) says, “One scout I talked to had him as a good two-pitch reliever, chance for a plus curveball, some physical projection, arm action didn't thrill him.” Sounds like Jason Frasor but taller and living within his recommended Body Mass Index (Joke explanation: Jason Frasor is short and fat).

But I’m not upset about spending so much money on Cardona. Firstly: F Rogers. Have you looked at your cable bill recently? Let’s go ahead and spend some of that coin. Secondly (and here’s where I get to the point of this post), spending this kind of money on a baby like this sends a message to other teams that he is some kind of phenom. He probably isn’t. But other teams are going to start thinking, “Woah. They just spent a lot of money on him. He must at-least have a really high ceiling”. Why is this important? Well, it’s the start of what I think might be the Jays secret-weapon, or at least should be the Jays secret-weapon moving forward through the Beeston/A-squared era: PROPAGANDA.

I have to give credit where it is due. This is not a new concept. Like the fascist a-holes they are, the Red Sox have been employing this strategy for years. Those jerks somehow didn’t have one guy mentioned in the Mitchell report, a report compiled by friend of Bud Selig/Red Sox board member/Mid-East peace maker George Mitchell. This despite the fact that the 2004 Red Sox team had numerous players that have either been busted for steroids or have absolutely disappeared since steroids were banned (see: David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Bronson Arroyo, and rest of team). Oh, and about that 2004 Red Sox team, according to reputable play-by-play man Gary Thorne, that Curt Schilling bloody sock business was all a big PR move. Did it gain them sympathy and hero status? Of course! One more thing about Red Sox propaganda, and I think this is the point that the Blue Jays can really learn from: somehow, everyone always thinks that the Red Sox have such a great farm system. After the 2007 World Series, Sports Illustrated came out with an article that drooled over the Red Sox genius farm system. That they use the same teaching methods through all of the levels of the minors and in the majors and that’s what makes them so successful. Horse-sh*t. Every team does this. The Red Sox are successful because they spend a crap load of money on free agents, they cheat, and they fool other teams into bad trades by using propaganda to build up their futures as guaranteed successes. This is how they got Mark Shapiro, the Cleveland GM, to agree to send Victor Martinez to the Sox in a deal that had Justin Masterson as the centerpiece going back to Cleveland. Who?! Justin Masterson!? Have you heard his name since he left the propaganda machine of the Red Sox? Didn’t think so. If you were wondering, Masterson has started 7 games so far this year. His record: 0-4. His ERA: 5.92. Not quite the superstar the Red Sox had the world believe he was.

So, how can the Blue Jays implement such a propaganda machine? It’s quite simple. It all starts with Paul Beeston. Beeston was President and COO for Major League Baseball from 1997 until 2002. He is close friends with Commissioner Bud Selig. Once the Jays can plant someone in MLB head offices, the propaganda can begin. The Commissioner’s office will turn a blind-eye to the Jays signing babies to multi-million dollar contracts. The rest of the league will start to believe that the Jays prospects must be for real, even if they’ve never done anything before. The Jays sign obscure Latino prospects and turn them into Gold. I know this strategy isn’t as charming as ‘moneyball’ or ‘sabrmetrics’, but it will work. It’s the Jays’ secret secret-weapon. Let the propaganda machine turn...

Monday, May 17, 2010
  Who are the Ad Wizards??
I am sure you have all seen the commercial where a bunch of suits dressed as big Blue Jays are talking about how to get people to the game and the only guy with an idea comes up with selling hot dogs at the game. The boss bird explains that this was a good idea 80 years ago, then taps a bat in his hand like he is about to whack this guy for his stupidity. I am not sure if this is supposed to be funny, or is it a desperate cry for help from a failing marketing department. The commercial is the latest in a long line of really bad ideas. We had Roy Halladay at a hostage situation, there was the series about the players when they were kids and now this "Al Capone in Untouchables" themed one that seems to show that the team is totally out of touch with its audience.
I don't know the ins and outs of marketing, but lame ass idea like the ones here just aren't going to work. I would suggest you look at how the smaller yet succesful markets are marketing their teams and try that. What do Minnesota and Milwaukee do to get people to the games? Other than on-field success what did Philly do to get their people back? Surely it was not with half baked, not funny, nothing to do with baseball ideas.
This is a blank slate time for the team. There is a new, energetic GM, they have a great, young pitching staff, you have young stars in Lind and Hill, you have an up and coming talent like Travis Snider. The team and its potential should be the selling point. These guys are hopefully the building blocks for a winner. Come out and watch them grow. I grew up as the Bell, Barfield, Moseby outfield matured, as Tony Fernandez took over from Alfredo, as the Joey Mclaughlin, Roy Lee Jackson, Dennis Lamp, Bill Caudill and Gary Lavelle hand grenade bullpen blew countless late leads for the not quite ready for prime time team. I lived and died with each gut wrenching loss or narrow win. I think for people to care about the team they need to care about the players. Maybe that is the problem, baseball players are too much like Alex Rios and not enough like uh like um Hmm. Well anyway, lets sell the players and have cheap beer and hot dogs nights and let's not have people scratching their heads when they see the commercials wondering "Who are the Ad Wizards that came up with this campaign?".
Sunday, May 16, 2010
  What Happened?
I’d love to comment on the Jays going 4-2 over the last week. It would be great if I could dissect the Jays’ first 2010 victory over the Red Sox, a wild 16-10 shootout against Texas and Ricky Romero’s complete game shutout masterpiece but it’s impossible since I didn’t see a single pitch from any of those games. I haven’t seen the Jays since Brandon Morrow and Dana Eveland allowed the wide side of barns everywhere to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Wednesday’s getaway game took place while I was at work, Thursday was an off day, and the games of Friday and Saturday were available on the Rogers preview channel which I’ve had less luck finding than Gargamel looking for some Smurf lunch.

I could comment based on the articles I’ve read, but that’s just redundant…and lacking in details. Written pieces found in both the local papers and websites, provided very little insight into the fact that Kevin Gregg barely managed to hold on to a three run lead, and is beginning to look like a man who’s no longer fooling his new league with his herky jerky delivery. Thanks for the memories Kevin…as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Gregg’s failures don’t upset me, so keep running him out there Cito.

But seriously, if I have to wait until the Memorial Cup ends before I get to see the Jays again I might become a Habs fan. –nothing against those kids in the OHL but I just can’t watch people half my age being that successful, Little League World Series and Olympic gymnasts notwithstanding-.

The failure of Rogers sportsnet to show these games comes on the heels of the Jays selling a weekend series in late June, with an opportunity for a Roy Halladay love in, to Philly. Like the Toronto Baseball Wife said “are the Jays trying to drop attendance low enough so that MLB allows them to relocate to Vegas?”.

Silver Lining
Mind you, the Jays playing these games in Philly might have some upside.
A.) The Jays are seven games above .500 on the road, while just below the break even mark at SkyCentre.
B.) If it’s true –as most people are assuming- that Rogers is making a tonne of money on this deal, hopefully the extra cash can be converted into us actually signing our draft picks, or maybe even a free agent about to hit their prime.
Moving the series to Philadelphia, leaving the Jays with three fewer home games -and more importantly to the NL East- giving the Philadelphia Halladay’s three more home games wreaks of submoronic incompetence or some significant corruption on the part of MLB. I’m assuming the latter, but that wouldn’t be anything new in the world of sport.

Speaking of the Phillies and Corruption
It seems like the Phillie Phanatic has been stealing signs since before the invention of the t-shirt bazooka. Yet we still view them as NL champions, two years running.

Vince Carter quit trying, faked injury, and tipped off the opposition on upcoming Raptor plays. He then ran the New Jersey Nets into the ground and was rewarded with a move to a championship calibre team. If karma has anything to say about this, the NBA championship will end with Steve Nash posterizing VC on some sort of last second lead changing dipsey doodle.

Yet with all of the crooks getting away with a liberal interpretation of what’s right, the sports world lost one of the few people in athletics on whom the scales of justice were less than kind.

Charlie Francis, the coach of Ben Johnson during his glory days, passed away on Wednesday. Francis will be forever remembered and vilified for his part in the stanazolol incident of 1988. His career was ruined, and his name dragged through the mud. What people forget is that he was an absolute sprint genius. He helped train Ben Johnson to the single most impressive athletic accomplishment this world would see until 2008 –it pained me to admit to it at the time, but Usain Bolt has surpassed Big Ben-. Charlie Francis helped treat us to that magnificent Saturday afternoon in Seoul in ’88, and found ways to continue to ply his trade up until his final days. Always willing to work with young track talent and share his love of the sport. Charlie Francis’ body of work speaks for itself, and the legacy of his coaching techniques will remain for years to come.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
  Rob Roy
That's just what Major League Baseball has done by shuffling the June series between Toronto and Philadelphia to the city of Brotherly Love.

They've also robbed Toronto fans of the opportunity to pay tribute to one of the classiest sportsmen ever to grace the city. Not to mention robbing the Jays of what might be their best crowd of the season.

All this because the series happened to coincide with the G20 summit. So, keeping world leaders safe in the face of the merry band of globalization protesters that follows them everywhere is child's play, but the prospect of Jays fans in the security zone... that's cause to panic.

Have the people in charge of security seen the crowds at a Blue Jays game? Soccer hooligans these ain't. Granted, Philly fans are famous for booing Santa - maybe they got a label maker that year - but how many of them are really going to be at the games?

Not to make light of security concerns, but it seems like the application of a little bit of effort and creative thinking - perhaps limiting the routes to the Dome to control foot traffic - might have allowed the series to remain in Toronto.

A Halladay start would have been a complete love-in, even after he two-hits the 2010 "Close your eyes and swing hard" version of the Blue Jays. Halladay always put out a supreme effort, never complained about his team, the front office, or even hinted at wanting a trade. This allowed the Jays to garner a decent return him, unlike a whining superstar who becomes a huge headache and robs his team of any trade leverage (see Carter, Vince).

Halladay has said all the right things since being traded, about the city and the organization, and he still has as many fans in this city today as he did when he sported Toronto blue. Too bad they'll have to wait until at least next year to show their appreciation.
Monday, May 10, 2010
  Comebacks and Perfect Games
How excited was I, yesterday, whilst paying too much attention to the game and not enough attention to what I was supposed to be doing? Watching the Jays as they fought back from behind in the ninth, giving Gregg another save opportunity and another save. It got me thinking of one big difference from last year.

I remember last year at this time, the Jays were hot and ran into a hard wall called the American League East. Feasting on the lesser teams is excellent, but when they got stepped on by the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, they stayed down for a long time. When they started that way again this year, I was worried that the same fate would befall them. When the Angels came to town and beat them in that series, and soon after they were swept by the Bosox, I was really worried that the same fate would befall them.

I was really happy to see that the Jays came out from the Boston series with 6 straight wins. Losing to Chicago on Saturday is fine (this is baseball, every team loses one now and again), but coming back the next day in such dramatic fashion shows that the Jays have their heads in the right place, and are able to look past losses (even numerous losses in a row) and get back to playing the game.

The Jays might not make the playoffs this year (it's still early, I can hope), but if they keep playing this way, I'll be very excited to watch the rest of this season and into next. More people might come down to the Dome as well, which can only help in the long run.

Saturday evening, I read an article about a man who pitched a perfect game on a video game baseball (MLB 2K10...if anyone needed to know) and won a million dollars. That kind of blew my mind; being good enough at a video game to pitch a perfect game under conditions designated by a company and winning a lot of money for doing it.

Sunday, while I was at work (watching more and working less), I read that Dallas Braden pitched a real perfect game against the Rays. I've seen a perfect game pitched Fastball (on my brother's team when I was 10), and I still struggle to imagine how dominant a pitcher needs to be to accomplish one. I don't need to talk about this too much, the term 'perfect game' says it all. There are two things I remember about the game I watched when I was 10. One was watching the pitcher get the ball signed by everyone on his team; Two, looking at the official scoresheet and seeing 21 straight outs (only 7 innings in Fastball). It was a sight to see and I'm glad I watched it. Hopefully one day I'll be able to witness a no-hitter or perfect game in the majors.

Should I compare the two perfect games I read about this weekend? I don't think it is necessary. Doing that would take away from one accomplishment and give more credit than necessary to the second. There is a reason that the video game perfect game is a side note in an 'interesting news' section of the webpage.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
  Coulda' Woulda' Shoulda'
As the Jays marched into Chicago, it was interesting to see the impressive stats that Alex Rios is beginning to put up: BA 301, SLG.553, OPS .890. These numbers play in pretty much any position and obviously look better in centre than they do in right. How is it that Rios manages to look below average in a corner outfield spot, but runs like a VW in centre?

Rios is beginning to put together a nice season and the Jays gave him up for nothing, meaning that the team’s refreshingly strong play could be even stronger if he were a part of it. Which gets me thinking…Roy Halladay’s dealing to the NL at a clip of: Win/Loss 15-1 in 7 starts, ERA 0.6, and WHIP 0.812 (NB, confirm Roy’s numbers) and none of the talent we got in return for him is contributing in the majors yet.

Oh Crud! What did we do!? We should be competing this year. Has anybody checked their watch? Is it finally five years since Ricciardi began his plan? That seemed much longer…but I guess I, like most fans, have been travelling past Rogers’ Dome at speeds close to that of light over the last little while.

Imagine if we replaced the weakest member of our rotation and Snider’s sub-Mendozan line with Halladay and Rios….The drips from our altitude-induced nosebleeds would be landing squarely on the bills of the Rays’ and Yankees’ caps and we’d need to be careful not to get the “bends” when resurfacing from a series at Fenway. We’d be winning, would include the Jays in their list of MLB teams, and the Dome would be so full that Chris Bosh would be twitting from the 500’s just to say he was a part of it –On an unrelated note, am I the only one embarrassed for Bosh right now? He’s like that awkward guy in your high school class who’d act like the biggest jerk in hopes that he’d get noticed by the cool kids- but I digress.

Get those guys back, call up Philly and Chicago and ask for a do-over. While we’re at it, let’s see if we can get Barajas and his nine homers back from the Mets…

Wait, I’m probably getting ahead of myself here. It’s only May, the timely homers (thank you “New and Improved” Alex Gonzalez), stunning starting pitching and evolving bullpen are bound to run out, right? Even if they’re not, New York and Tampa are too good this year, and Big Papi’s just a couple months away from his second annual realization that “while it would be nice to say I did it without my PED’s it’s just not possible”.

There’s another reason that I don’t want things to go back to the way they were…it wasn’t any fun. I think this team is a real team that’s been a pleasure to watch…on TV:
-Cito’s showing respect to everyone. He’s even complimenting the guys selling programs.
-Nobody’s intimidated by the brooding ace.
-They’ve got each other’s back…even with Fred Lewis and AGonz conspiring to bloat Andruw Jones’ OBP on Friday night, Sean Marcum made a point of letting them know it’s okay.

Some other thoughts:
-Curtis Granderson injures his groin and now the Yankees shiny new toy is broken. If this injury takes too long to heal –especially considering the demand CF puts on legs – do the Bombers break out their change purse and offer to “help” take Vernon Wells off our hands? I hope not…
-Speaking of sore legs…I’m starting to cringe every time I see Aaron Hill leg out an infield hit, or jump to avoid Bill Madlock Jr. barreling into second. Do the Jays have anyone coming down the pipes at third? Have they ever considered moving Hill to third? By the time the Jays are competing, Hill will be older and slower, and might be a defensive liability in a key position. However, he’ll still probably have a strong arm, and the good quickness and hands required for third. We’ve seen him hit for the kind of power that you would expect from a third baseman and it seems like second base is a pretty hot position in the majors right now. There’s bound to be a nice prospect coming up, or an all-star free agent willing to sign with a winner.
-Travis Snider continues to look more and more comfortable at the plate, and I’ve really enjoyed watching his wacky plays in the field. On Friday night Snider cut in front of Wells and launched himself at a ball heading into right centre, making the clean catch and then sliding on the ground. The whole play was completely unnecessary as he could have caught the ball standing or just let his gold-glover- again centre fielder take the ball. This was yet another diving catch that he’s made this year. They always look a bit silly –his massive body hurtles through the air like Free Willy clearing that stone pier- but they tend to work. Look, he’s showing effort and that’s great. Besides, the last guy I remember flailing this oddly at batted balls and pitches was Joe Carter. I heard he was pretty good.
-And seriously Adam Lind, please stop striking out. Set up an appointment with Murph and Cito, and see if you can't get the "John Buck Special".
Monday, May 03, 2010
  Fixing the Downer Dome
Wow. I have to read this again. Slowly.

And Lastly: Tao of Stieb, which is a Jay’s blog I use to feed my addiction, made a suggestion that Windows Restaurant be replaced with some sort of open patio. I like the idea a lot, this could be a general admission walking area, hard core barbecue and beer garden. I’d like to take it a step further and have some of the outfield sections replaced with an astro turf picnic area. People should be allowed to eat the barbecue here, or even bring their own food from home. Families would love this and it would go a long way to building up a young fan base that could grow with the team into its competitive years.

Jesus. It isn't often that I read an idea and think, man, somebody out there is smarter than I am, but this is one of those moments (and, I am sorry to have to admit, but it appears as if two people, maybe more, join that elite club!)

I have been going to Blue Jays games longer than I have been crapping in a toilet (and will hopefully be going long after I stop), and never have I felt that Jays games were EVER tailored to the schmoes, and this has always seemed to me to be a gross oversight, as schmoes stay. Now I am not a dope, I understand the concept of luxury boxes - I have even (thanks to TBBGuy Joel) been able to enjoy a game in one, free booze and all (and let me tell you - it kicked some ass) but I cannot think of any reason that this sort of comfort and opulence (sans the free food and booze) shouldn't be enjoyed by all those brave souls (all 10,000 of them) that make the hike out to Tomb of Victories Past to catch a game.

The Jays Patch in the OF would accomplish just that. What a brilliant idea. And who the hell has ever gone to Windows anyhow? Tourists, that's who (again, Rogers catering to the rich and the transitory). Nobody worth their BJ goes to a game to eat a sit down dinner, but BBQ and beer (that isn't 9 friggin dollars!?! SERIOUSLY guys, NINE BUCKS and I get the choice of Coors Light, Bud or Blue? Come the Christ on! It's like when you were a kid and you were asked whether you'd rather eat poop or an eyeball! And at least then you weren’t charged NINE BUCKS for the pleasure!) and the ability to sit comfortably at a little side table (or on some turf) with the guys would be just brilliant.

I love it.

The Dome seriously sucks as is, and it isn’t going anywhere. Any of you smart guys have any other ideas about how we can fix the joint? Maybe some up-top seats with couches rather than those plastic hell seats? A ‘media lounge’ where you can watch big-screen games in progress? Or maybe just out-of-town scoreboards that list more than the score and who is AB (pisses me off every time I am at the dome – what genius decided AB rather than HR, etc. would be the one stat people would care about?)

Anyhow, ideas?

  Random thoughts...
I went out for my first day at the batting cage on Saturday and realized how excited I am about my upcoming season. While there, I thought of a couple of things. First, are pro players as excited as I am as the new season starts? I know that when you get paid for something, the internal motivation to keep playing and have fun drops dramatically (I have a degree in Psych, we studied it, if you need an example, look at Alex Rios), but is there still that childish fun for the players when the season starts?

I also really understood why spring training is so long. If my mediocre skills will take quite a few swings of the bat and some time throwing and catching, I can't imagine how long it would take an elite athlete to shake of the rust after a winter of not playing.

After watching a game at the Rogers Dome, and quite a few on tv, it occurred to me about how much better it is being at the game. I'm not a loud fan, I cheer when something good happens but I'm not a constantly cheering till my voice is hoarse guy. I'd be out of place at a soccer match. Either way, the full view of the field is much more important to me than the close up view of the pitch or seeing how close the play at first was. I love watching the movements of the players on the field. Seeing the catcher charge down the first baseline on a routine ground ball to the infield always makes me happy because I know that the team is doing the things that they should be doing to make sure that any errors are limited in their damage.

It's often said that people need entertainment in order to distract them from the things in their life that stress them out. With a lot of the garbage that is going on in the world these days, I love that the season has started again (as well as two playoffs (three if you include NLL...a Toronto team made the playoffs!!!!) and a new TFC season), just so we can all go relax, have a beer and a pretzel and watch the game. To me, regardless of the final score, that is the goal.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
  Frasor not, Frasier!
Kevin Gregg is absolutely my choice as closer for several reasons:

Filthy Numbers: ERA 0.82 and a K/BB ratio of 14/1
Closer Mentality: 5/5 in save opportunities
Closer Demeanour: Funky delivery, and weird goggles should do the trick
Not Dr. Randy Gregg: but I keep mistaking him for the retired Edmonton Oiler. I’ll support anything that takes me back to the mid-80’s when 21 wins could actually get the Leafs into the playoffs, and my responsibilities consisted of riding my bike to the local Beckers for slushys and Mad Magazines.
…and most importantly for me…
I’m not really a fan of his: He just joined the team in the off season. I haven’t spent any time or energy watching him develop. Having no vested interest in the player on the mound really helps lower my anxiety level during save opportunities.
So keep going Kevin…but try punching out some young fans looking for autographs…so I don’t develop an attachment.

In contrast to the Jays current closer allow me to present their previous one, Jason Frasor.
I’ve become a big fan of his, through watching him develop his surprisingly lively arm, allowing him to transition through the roles of a stop-gap closer –17 saves in ‘04-, the frustrating obscurity of middle relief, and dependable late inning guy in 2009. He’s been a quality character, never showing up drunk or nude on the internet, played well enough that I’ve forgiven him for costing us Jayson Werth –another JP classic “Since I didn’t draft him he can’t be any good” kind of move-, and I’ve even got him on my fantasy baseball team. Relating to a player in this way is part of what makes it so enjoyable to be a sports fan. It allows us to reach ultimate highs, but unfortunately results in some significant lows. It pains me to relay this butchering paraphrasing of a Cheers classic, but here goes:
-Missing the game winning shot: That’s a Frasier
-Missing the game winning shot, while losing balance, and knocking yourself out on the floor: That’s a Frasier Crane
-Going three for five in save opportunities, while consistently failing to get the leadoff batter out, and losing two mph on your fastball: That’s a Jason Frasor.

But on that note…Buck: stop pronouncing his name Frasier.

Some other unrelated thoughts:
-The minor tweak made to Brandon Morrow’s delivery has elevated his status as a ball player past olympian Brenden Morrow and just behind Mauro Gozzo. Keep up the good work Brandon.
-The Tampa Bay Rays have gone to a light blue jersey. My obsession with the blue unis has allowed me to overlook the fact that teams stopped wearing the baby blues several years before the Devil Rays were even a glint in Bud Selig’s eye.
-In the last 14 games the Jays have gone 1 and 8 in games against AL powers L.A., Tampa and Boston, and managed to win an tidy 4 of 5 against also rans KC and Oakland. Call me crazy, but I really prefer watching the Jays beat the dregs of the league, than have their retro white panelled hats handed to them by the cream of the crop. So, would the morons insisting that a balanced schedule or realignment would hurt the Jays because they’ll see less of the big crowds brought in by the good teams please stand down? I want to see a winner, I really don’t care if we’re beating a fourth rate cricket team. Besides, Rogers doesn’t need the extra money, I’ve seen my cable, internet and phone bill.
-Travis Snider is really starting to look more comfortable at the plate. Even when he’s not getting hits, he’s showing more of a clue, and making solid contact. Yesterday’s double to left field off former Jay Chad Gaudin (where were the boos then?) showed his power to the opposite field. The fact that he’s seeing any pitches away suggests that the league thinks he’s beginning to adjust to the high and inside stuff.
-I’m having a great time watching the V-dub renaissance, but why’d he get lifted for a pinch runner on Friday night? Did he tweak another hamstring?
-Adam Lind, could you please stop striking out, I’m starting to get nervous.

And Lastly: Tao of Stieb, which is a Jay’s blog I use to feed my addiction, made a suggestion that Windows Restaurant be replaced with some sort of open patio. I like the idea a lot, this could be a general admission walking area, hard core barbecue and beer garden. I’d like to take it a step further and have some of the outfield sections replaced with an astro turf picnic area. People should be allowed to eat the barbecue here, or even bring their own food from home. Families would love this and it would go a long way to building up a young fan base that could grow with the team into its competitive years.
Discussion of all thing Blue Jays.

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