Toronto Baseball Guys
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
  Derek Jeter - One Big Knob
It's well-established that I'm no big fan of Derek Jeter's. Last week, The Derek drew quite a lot of attention in a game against Tampa Bay, after an inside pitch nicked the knob of his bat. Jeter sold the umpires on the idea that the ball had hit him, going so far as to call out the Yankees trainer to examine his hand. He was eventually awarded first base.

A grinning Jeter later confirmed to reporters that the ball didn't touch him (Unless the umpires believe that Jeter's hand is made out of maple, the sound of the play SHOULD have tipped them off).

There's a school of thought that this was a cagey stroke of genius by the Yankees Captain, and proponents of the move point out that baseball has a longstanding and noble history of cheating, whether scuffing or greasing a ball or corking a bat in order to gain an advantage over an opponent.

There's an equally longstanding tradition of suspending the bat corkers, ball scuffers and less-than-noble steroid users when you catch them. MLB wouldn't have been amused with Gaylord Perry happily explaining his spitter to reporters after the game, so why not slap the Yankees captain with a game or two?

Yes, 99 out of 100 players, if not more, would have taken their base if told to do so. Fewer would have turned it into an audition for James Lipton by calling out the trainer.

But Derek Jeter isn't 99 out 100 players - he's supposed to be more. Imagine for a moment if Jeter had waved off first base, acknowledging that the pitch hit the bat and not him. He steps back into the box, and inside-outs a double into the gap in right-centre field.

Albert Belle - having hit three home runs and driven in 6 - once tried to turn down an HBP in order hit. The umpires eventually ordered him to first.

That's who Derek Jeter is SUPPOSED to be, what the Yankee hype-machine has built him up to be: the upstanding legend, the face of baseball. Antics such as these supposed to be the province of teammate, exotic substance devotee and all-around douchebag, Alex Rodriguez. But at this point in his career, Jeter is a 36-year-old whose OPS has slipped under .700. Maybe one base is the best he can hope for.

The optimal postscript to this story is the Boy Who Cried Wolf Ending, in which - late in a tight ALCS game against the Rays - Jeter actually DOES get clipped by a pitch, but gets called back by umpires who don't like to look stupid and aren't going to fall prey to such chicanery a second time. A sore-handed Jeter grounds into a series-ending double play and gets to reflect upon the consequences of his foray into acting for the remainder of the off-season.

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Friday, September 03, 2010
  Some Questions
Oh Great, the Jays are in New York and Labour Day Weekend is upon us. Maybe I'll eat that week old tuna sandwich on the counter as things can't get much for a teacher and a Jays fan.

As the Jays are headed into New York for a series against the Yankees allow me to pose the following questions.

1.) Will the Jays win games 1 and 2, 1 and 3 or 2 and 3 of the series so that they can end up taking the series two to one?

2.) With Encarnacion DL’d and Fred Lewis* having been removed from Wednesday night’s game with an elbow injury, will I get the call to play left field over Travis Snider? Oops, I just noticed it’s an afternoon game that I’ve missed the start of, and Snider is in the lineup and has already gone deep.

*After recording the first out of the game on Wednesday night you could see Fred Lewis flexing his arm like something was wrong with it. Was he injured on that play, or was it from something that occurred before the game? If Lewis was hurt coming into the game, how long ago did it happen? Has he been playing through injury for a while, but kept it quiet so that he could get more playing time? It wouldn't be too odd, since it's seemed like his ankle hasn't really healed since that July series in KC. Maybe that's why he's been motoring like a Molina brother lately.

3.) Will the late charging Mark Texeira club more homers from the left side or right side of the plate?

4.) During which inning will Arod head into the clubhouse so that he can get a syringe of “…just some cortisone that I’m using to help repair my ankle injury”?

5.) Where will the Yankees’ pitchers throw at Jose Bautista? Buttocks, square of the back or head.

Speaking of throwing at batters, we’ve seen some nice responses with varying degrees of effectiveness over the years:

Great Charges: George Bell charged the mound and lunged at Bruce Kison with a karate kick that would have made Ralph Macchio…err…Will Smith’s son proud. After having seen that as pitcher, I’m pretty sure I would have thrown the next pitches to Bell as lob balls, or directly into centre field.

Self Defense: Todd Sottlemyre refused to play the helpless pitcher suplexing an attacking batter.

Defend Your Teammate: It was pretty much a guarantee that Roy Halladay would respond to one of his teammates being hit by a pitch with a plunking of his own. Unfortunately, Roy would tend to do this with no outs in the inning of a close game. Anecodotally it seemed to me like it was a regular occurrence that the hit batsman would end up scoring. Giving the opposition a small bruise and free run is not the most effective payback.

But Bautista has discovered a pretty effective retaliation. In the past two weeks we’ve seen two bean balls that the Jays slugger has taken specific exception to. First he got out of the way of an Ivan Nova pitch up around the eyes, and a little over a week later he was plunked by the Rays’ Jeff Niemann. In both cases he responded by going deep in his next at bat, while rubbing it in with a sweet slow trot against the Yankees and some muscle posing against the Rays.

The Message: We are not doormats. See you next year AL East!

I’m looking forward to heading into a spring training finally excited about building on some past success from a number of different sources rather than counting solely on future potential, and glimpses of talent shown by guys taking advantage of September call ups.
Discussion of all thing Blue Jays.

Christopher Casuccio
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Yoni Grundland
Mark Rottmann
Jim Turner
Joel Williams


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