Toronto Baseball Guys
Sunday, August 29, 2010
  What's Left?
Okay, so after the obligatory drubbing by the Red Sox, failing to sweep the Yankees, and splitting a series with the toothless Tigers, I think I’m finally ready to throw in the towel on the Jays making the post season.*

So with the playoffs no longer within reach I want to focus on some attainable goals for the remainder of the season:
Home Run Crown: Jose Bautista’s having just about the best season you can as a Blue Jay without his butt actually being purple. I’d like to see this season leave an imprint on league records by having him end up as the home run king. I know what you’re thinking McGriff, he’s already surpassed 36 dingers, shouldn’t that be enough? Well not this year, so let’s hope that Miguel Cabrera tries to win the MVP through fielding and small ball tactics, while Jose swings for the fences on every pitch in every at bat for the remainder of the season. Cito repeat after me…"I will not sit Jose so that a veteran who will not be back with the team next year can get his at bats"
While on the topic of Jose Bautista, I make no apologies if I end up referring to him as Tony Batista. I am a Jays fan and these things start to muddle together after a while. I’ve memorized the numbers ’77,‘85, ‘92, ’93, I can distinguish Tony Fernandez from Eddie Zosky and I know that not even David Wells could sweat through his hat faster than Duane Ward. Please don’t ask me to explain trivial details like the difference between Tom Candiotti and Bud Black’s too little too late tenures here, and which of JP Ricciardi’s comments to the media was the most self indulgent.

No Whammies: The pitching staff has been consistently sturdy both in the quality of the performances, and in the virtual complete lack of DL time. Please pitchers don’t do something stupid over the next month. We need you back in spring training to properly initiate Kyle Drabek with noogies, pattiwacks and a Jays-style change up of his very own. Shutting down Morrow is a good move, do it to everybody, save arms, I don’t care if Jose Canseco needs to throw a few innings, keep the starters healthy for next year.
While on the topic of the starting staff, allow me to ask and answer the following question:
Q.) Would you rather have a rotation that consists of the best pitcher in baseball followed by four guys from triple A, or four major league calibre arms and minds?
Uh I’ll take the latter every time! Every day I tune in to channel three hundred and whatever to see the Jays play on Rogers’ new -super special, this one’s really in the best interest of sports fans- station, I know that there’s a good chance the Jays will win. That’s a heck of a lot better than the four out of every five day hiatus my hopes and dreams needed to take over the last few seasons.
Yes I am aware that trading Roy Halladay in no way precluded the Jays from fielding a rotation that included Marcum, Romero, Cecil and Morrow, but I’m just expressing how much I’ve enjoyed this season and look forward to the fact that there’s no reason why each of these guys can’t improve in 2011.

The Real DH: Adam Lind has been swinging a better bat of late, and is slowly pushing his numbers toward respectability. Hopefully this will give him the confidence he needs going into next year.

Let Snider Play, Let Snider Play: With the recent DL’ing of Edwin Encarnacion the Jays’ seven…er…two player rotation of Snider and Lewis can now play everyday with Bautista moving to third. It’s the perfect scenario, well get to watch the players we're interested in seeing, Bautista will get some time at third –a position he might start at next season- and we don’t have to worry about hurting Lyle Overbay’s feelings. There’s no way we can mess this up!

Other Notes:
Let’s get off Cito’s back: Bobby Cox ditched us for the Atlanta Braves, Jimy Williams gave us September of 1987, Tim Johnson gave us stories about war and how he, Neil and Buzz, couldn’t believe how light they felt on the moon, Buck tried to give a bunch of power hitters the green light on the basepaths and John Gibbons fought with more Jays than Alex Rodriguez, so can we please take it easy on Cito. The guy reminds us of a time when the Jays were good, has made great strides with the batting of Lind, Buck and Bautista, to name a few, and has nurtured the Jays’ young starters with the perfect blend of caution and tough love. Throughout the season, we’ve seen Cito approach the mound to speak to a young starter who’s running out of gas and pitched into some trouble. Each time, he asks the hurler if they want the next batter and they say yes. It doesn’t matter if they’re successful or not, he’s preparing them to deal with the ups and downs of being a major league pitcher, which will pay huge dividends in future years. Yes, it’s easy to question why Travis Snider is batting leadoff, or ninth but where Snider bats in the order in 2010 has no impact on the moon shots we all hope he’ll be launching in 2011.

Let me also provide some thoughts on the seemingly mind-boggling playing time awarded to Overbay and Encarnacion at the expense of Travis Snider. Overbay has potential trade value due to his solid defense and improved hitting and will continue to do so until the end of August. The Jays might as well shop him around until then. Once September starts up, perhaps Lyle can snag a couple more days off or at least play some DH so Lind can get some reps in. Encarnacion is young -27- and has a lot of power, the Jays really want to take a look at him to see if he’s worth signing in the off season. I get that his fielding is poor, but I can’t say that Fred Lewis is challenging for a gold glove here either.

I was reading an article on Drunk Jays Fans in which a chat with Keith Law is covered questioning the value of the RBI as a statistic. The chat and accompanying article suggested that RBI is partially an indication of players getting on base in front of a batter rather than just the batter’s actual ability to drive in runs. The discussion also explained that OPS is a much better indicator of the player’s run producing value since it is based on what the player alone has done. The article wen on to comment on how Joe Carter had some comparatively bad 100 RBI seasons.
I take exception to all of this after watching Vernon Wells’ miserable failures leading up to Wednesday’s single-handed dismantling of the Yankees. Verno’s consistent inability to produce a single run with a man on third, and fewer than two outs is mind-boggling. If Vernon can hit the ball on the ground to the right side, or moderately deep in the air anywhere, then the run will score. If these end up being ground outs or sac flies then his OPS will go down due to a drop in OBP but he's been productive. Instead, Wells opts for the casual strike out, and ever trendy pop up to second base. These are just recorded as outs, and show up the same way -as his ground out to the right side- in his BA, OBP and SLG. Shouldn’t a failure to drive in a run in that situation be reflected somewhere in a players stats? Obviously you can’t make it count as two outs or negative bases, but consistently missing opportunities to drive in these runs are a reflection of a player’s inability to do what’s best for his team in a specific situation. I’m not denying the value of knowing that a player can get on base, or can accumulate many bases, but knowing that a player has the tools -both physical and psychological- to cash in runs when the opportunity presents itself is pretty valuable too. You can make fun of Joe Carter for his wild swings and misses, his hair do while in Cleveland and his time as a broadcaster, but you have to admit that this guy knew what it took to push runners across the plate. It’s suggested by his RBI totals, which included four years of 98 or more while playing in Cleveland, who –If you don’t count the Major League Movies- didn’t have a whole lot of success in the eighties.

I’d like to propose a stat called RBI %. This stat would be calculated as follows:
RBI% = (number of runners driven in with runner on third and fewer than two outs)/(number of PA with runner on third and fewer than 2 outs) * 100%
We already know that OPS suggests the likliehood that a player can generate offense, and we know that BA with runners in scoring position is an indication of how many hits a player gets in pressure situations but RBI% would give us an idea of how effective a player is at cashing in these golden opportunities that teams like the Jays seem to fail in far too often. This JP, would lead us to some real "RBI Freaks".
*Not really, but I’m just sandbagging here so the powers that be think that I’ve given up hope so they can prove me wrong as thay tend to like doing.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
  Time to Extend Bautista
Well, I'm convinced. 40 home runs. Shaking off an "in-your-ear" fastball - intentional or not - and clubbing a second homer to drive a stake in the heart of your most hated division rival.

Jose Bautista now stands an excellent chance of becoming the first Blue Jay to hit 50 home runs. He is inspiring excitement among fans that hasn't been seen in these parts since Carlos Delgado departed. Bautista is a plus defender at two positions, and actually boasts the arm that Alex Rios was always thought to possess. He also seems to be a good mentor figure for the previously troubled Yunel Escobar.

For all of these reasons, it's time to lock him up for a few seasons more.

It's not generally wise to open the vault and hand a long-term extension to a 29-year-old having a career year. But we're not talking a Vernon Wells or Todd Helton $120 million/10-year millstone here - we're talking "more money than Jose Bautista ever expected to see in his baseball career" - say a 3-year deal worth $24-27 million that buys his Age 30-32 seasons. Such a deal is actually a pretty good hedge against risk, because if Bautista happens to go out and do this AGAIN in 2011, then some GM somewhere will go off a cliff and give him Gary Matthews Jr. money.

There is reason for optimism that Bautista's improvement is sustainable. He's not having a career year because everything is falling in and he's hitting 80 points over his head, but because better than one of every 3 hits is clearing the outfield fence.

Bautista has lived his baseball life as the ultimate tweener - without a true position, job or organization. He kicked around such distinguished outfits as Kansas City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay (back when they were the Devil Rays) - MLB's version of the Three Stooges, complete with Shemp.

He's always had some power - 15 homers in 3 straight seasons - and the discipline to take a walk - better than 1 for every 10 PAs. Now with a regular role, this is exactly what you would expect a Jose Bautista career year to look like, with big spikes in the two categories that represent his two best skills.

At age 29, is this a one-off fluke?

For historical comparisons, you might try Jim Hickman, outfielder in the late 60s and early 70s who was a league average or slightly below regular for several seasons before losing his mind at age 33 and hitting .315 with 33 home runs and setting career highs in everything. Though he dropped off significantly the following year, Hickman was still an above average hitter through his Age 35 season. Brady Anderson didn't have his first good season until he was 28, and he enjoyed his REALLY big season at 32 - so it's not a foregone conclusion that Bautista will turn into a pumpkin next season.

Even if Bautista's homers decline by 40% in 2011, you're still left with a solid defender who'll hit 25-30 home runs and get on base. That's still a good deal.

Along with a new contract, it's also time that Toronto's newest matinee idol had a fitting nickname.

Hmmm. Let's see - where seen that steely demeanour and killer instinct before? I'm thinking early Verhoeven...

Ah ha! So how about...

If that moniker doesn't strike your fancy, we can combine Bautista's outstanding throwing arm with the heritage of his newly adopted team:

Hose-eh? Bautista

Got something better? We'd love to hear it.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010
  Making Lemonade out of Sportsnet One
The Jays went back to school a little early last night by teaching young Jays fans, and all Red Sox fans, how to count past twelve with a 16-2 drubbing of the Red Sox. One didn’t have to look too deep to see a few more lessons:
1.) Cheaters never prosper: Put that in your syringe and smoke it David Ortiz!
2.) Jerks never prosper: That’s for throwing at Adam Lind last year, Jonathan Papelbon! Why do you think you blew that save last week? Karma’s a pain ain’t it!

This week is further proof of what a great summer it’s been for Jays’ fans. The on field product has consisted of a delightfully surprising and spunky bunch of players who are jokers on the bench and fighters on the field (not vice versa--and by “fighters” I mean with the opposition, not your own players John Gibbons.) The Jays had just pooched the series in Oakland, and were facing a team –Boston- and pitcher -Jon Lester- that had absolutely dominated the good guys throughout the season. Expectations were quite reasonably set extremely low for the game. Rather than throw in the towel like every Jays team since Alex Gonzalez (the pretty one) showed up, the Jays came out with an absolutely dominating performance in all aspects of the game.

It was pretty nice following up a casual family dinner to tune into Sportsnet to see that the Jays were up 9-0. Come to think of it, it was pretty nice tuning into Sportsnet and actually seeing a game instead of some sport themed movie used to fill the void of yet another game siphoned off to Sportsnet One. Rogers' newest money making sham is nothing but an attempt to increase company profits. Any suggestion to the contrary comes with the same genuine honesty of a debate between Roger Clemens and Pinocchio before he became a real little boy. Rogers does not care about us and does not care about us getting our sports fill, but I do think there are some positives that we can take from the newest channel in the high 300’s.

The benefits related to the new channel are based on the fact that I have no intention of paying for it.

I won’t be able to see all 162 games on television
I’m pretty sure there were a whole whack of games that weren’t shown during the ’92 season, but I’m not sure that I could have appreciated it any more, so trust me, it’s not the end of the world to lose out on some games. Frankly, some of my most exciting moments as a young Jays fan came while trying to figure out the score of a game that hadn’t been televised. We had to be resourceful back in the day:
1.) Running to the front door to find the newspaper
2.) Staring through the front window of the local Toronto Sun box on Sundays (when there was no Globe and Mail) and checking the score that was invariably listed on page one
3) Sitting in front of the TV for twenty minutes just to wait for the score to flash up on that old text based channel –you know, the red, green and blue one-
Whatever it was, Jays fans used to have to earn their information. In the same way that the iPod has taken away the joy of suddenly hearing a song on the radio that you haven’t thought of in years and the internet has rendered irrelevant the hunt for late night goodies on channels 57, 47 and the French one, technological advances in Jay broadcasts have made it too easy. Missing thirty games because they’re being shown on a channel that I don’t have access to will help revive the excitement of learning about Jays results.

Appreciate the Games I do See
162 games are too many to watch. Seeing fewer games will make me appreciate the ones I do see. One day when I’m craving some immediate results, I’ve still got some good options:
Radio: When I was a kid, games weren’t always on TV, and even when they were, sometimes I was banished to my room for bedtime, but that didn’t keep me from turning on my old Blue Jays ear piece radio. Tom and Jerry painted a wonderful picture with their voices: they set the scene, described the action and made it more exciting than it ever could have been on television. Alan Ashby helps to continue the tradition.
ESPN Game Cast: I’m not sure that anything provides a greater adrenaline rush than following the computer generated graphic of a ball, trying to determine whether it’s a popup, fly ball, base hit or homerun.

More Free Time
Let’s assume that I spend three hours motionless in front of a TV screen watching a single game. If thirty games get moved to “The Uno” that means that I now have 900 more free hours. These hours can be spent being a better parent and employee, exercising and most importantly watching “Say Yes to The Dress: Atlanta” with the Toronto Baseball Wife. I feel like I’m more efficient than George Constanza taking a vow of celibacy.

See More Games in Person
It’s not uncommon for an NFL team to “black out” coverage of a game in hopes that it will cause more fans to attend the game. Those of us who choose not to pay for the new station will effectively be blacked out, and might consider attending more games. It would be nice to see more bodies in the SkyCentre.

Pocket Change
Perhaps once Rogers is done lining it’s pockets with $100 bills it might have some left over to spend on the Jays. Wouldn’t it be sweet if this allowed the Jays to be serious players when it comes to signing expensive free agents? By “expensive”, I mean expensive and good, not expensive and crappy JP.

So there you have it. “The Uno” is coming and there’s nothing we can do about it, so let’s get ready to drink up. There are plenty of lemons to go around.


Monday, August 16, 2010
  Rogers Sportsnet Wha?????
So late Saturday night, I settle in to catch the latter innings of Brett Cecil and Co. dominating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California. Sadly, I had as much trouble finding the game as Cecil had with the Angels.

Rogers Sportsnet was not showing the game, but flashed a graphic informing me that the game could be found on the newly launched and innovatively named Sportsnet One.

Ah yes, I recall a good deal of droning hip-hop music telling me that this move was imminent - the creation of a station dedicated to all of the live sporting events that could not be covered by the existing FOUR Sportsnet stations.

Oh well, I suppose this simply reflects the tremendous number of sports available. Just this past weekend you had, in addition to baseball, the PGA Championship, The Rogers Cup of Tennis, the Argos game, NFL preseason and a new season of the EPL which, near as I can tell, is devoted to a group of British chaps who enjoy kicking a ball around a large pasture to no particular effect.

Which of these, I wondered, was bumping the Jays from their traditional perch? And so I tuned in to Sportsnet Ontario to find... the movie "Rudy," the heart-warming documentary about a Hobbit who wants to play college football.

This was followed by "The Big Game," which sounds promising but is, in fact, a poker cash game. Hey, what could be better than watching a bunch of guys with lots more money than me sitting around a table and winning even more money?

THIS is why my beloved Jays have been banished to channel 394?!? - a number which causes traditional analog cable TVs to explode? What's next, Himalayan Tiddlywinks? Competitive Flossing?

Oh, and the information guide on ol' 394 claims that Rogers Sportsnet One is free through September... leading one to believe that at the end of September it will be a whole lot less free...

Suddenly, my cynical side is starting to suspect that the creation of this channel was not in response to the ever-expanding global buffet of athletic competition, but to further line the already deep pockets of the Rogers Empire.

$12 hot dogs and now THIS? The Blue Jays are actually creating a bit of a buzz for the first time in ages, drawing terrific TV ratings, and the response is to sequester games on yet another pricey digital specialty channel.

At a time when Rogers should be doing everything to get the Jays in front of more eyeballs and create new fans, they will instead fleece the existing fanbase for few dollars more. This is what I believe Kierkegaard described as "a dick move."

I guess they had to figure out a way to pay for Ricky Romero's new contract.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010
  The Baby Blue Machine
The last week and a half was about as good as it can get for Jays fans without hanging a Canadian flag upside down, or Joe Carter jumping like a spaz somewhere in the vicinity of first base.

The Jays just went 6-3 against the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox, while allowing the second comings of Nolan Ryan and Mike Piazza to “announce their presence with authority” in Blue Jays unis. The series win over the Yankees was sweet. The annihilation of the Rays was an embarrassment to the entire state of Florida –that includes you LeBron/Bosh/Wade-. The come from behind thrashing of the Red Sox on Thursday against Jonathan Papelbon left Boston so disappointed that David Ortiz has decided to cease his PED use until next May. To provide some context, this week for the Jays was like Rocky knocking off Apollo, Mr. T and Drago in a single movie and then strapping on the hunting knife and battling local authorities in the woods outside of small town USA.

Yup, it’s a beautiful time to be a Jays fan, although it would have been a lot nicer if I’d realized that the Thursday game was a flippin’ matinee. Why is it that they’ve got an iphone app. that can make it sound like you’re swinging around a lightsaber, but I had absolutely no warning that the game took place until after it was over? How many fans do the Jays actually have? Would it have been too much for a member of the team to call each one of us to remind us that it would be a day game? I’m not asking for Wells or Bautista, I would have put up with a call from Brian Tallet or Ms. Iowa.

I’ll get over missing the comeback--I mean, the Jays claw back against Papelbon all the time-- but I’m having trouble accepting the fact that I missed an entire 9 –oops, I guess when the home team’s leading they only play 8.5- innings of Jays clad in baby blue. This is not acceptable, why can’t they just wear those as their road uniforms? Speaking of baby blue, I’m reminded of the comment made about George Brett being the only person who could look manly in baby blue. In no way am I concerned with looking manly or not, and I don’t care if my baseball team is carrying more testosterone than Barry Bonds after a shopping spree at BALCO, but George now has company in Jose Bautista. That guy is the manliest man in the history of man baseball. I’m not just basing this on his insane power…how can you overlook the fact that he can grow more facial hair in a week than the rest of the league does in the entire season?!

Other notes:
-I’ve seen a lot of arguments as to whether or not the lone Rays hit on Sunday was actually a hit. You need look no further for proof that it was an error than the fact that no hit specialist DeWayne Wise was in the starting line up. All that guy does is no hitters…um, steal game winning bases…um, never mind, nice pick up AA.

-Peter Bourjos, looked so good in centre field that the California Angels didn’t need Enrico Pallazo blowing calls for them, or Reggie Jackson interrupting the game to knock off royalty. I’m suddenly looking forward to seeing Anthony Gose…in five years.

- 7 IP 0 ER, now Marc R. rules too! Is Candy Maldonado playing left field, because I'm smelling playoffs.

-JP Arencibia is a pure hitting talent, and I’m not concerned about his lack of numbers since his debut. I am however concerned about his ability to call a game at the Major League level. Next season, one or both of Jose Molina and John Buck must return. I’d like to see JP spend a season as DH with the odd start behind the plate. Mentoring under a wise veteran like the ones currently under contract will do a great deal to fast track Arencibia’s major league crendentials.

Go Jays Go!


Monday, August 09, 2010
  Losing My Grip on Reality…

…and placing it firmly on the steering wheel of the Jays’ bandwagon.

I think it’s pretty fair to say that JP Arencibia has shown Stieb, Alomar, Delgado, Halladay and Liriano a thing or two about being the greatest Blue Jay of all time. While I’ve got the hyperbole machine up and running allow me to make one more suggestion…The 2010 Blue Jays will compete for a playoff spot! This was something that occurred to me watching Cito –managing for the win- bring Scott Downs into the first game of the Yankees series during the sixth inning, and has been supported by the recent bashing of the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend.

Yes the Jays currently stand 10 games behind NY for the AL East lead, and 8 games behind the Rays for the wild card. It would also be foolish not to consider the fact that the Red Sox and Twins are 4 and 3.5 games ahead of the Jays respectively. The Jays are behind a lot of teams by a lot of games and the majority of the rotation is starting to reach their inning limit for the season, so it might look pretty bleak…about as bleak as the Jays’ chances of taking two of three from the Yankees followed by a blasting of the Rays that has made me forget the Junior Felix coming out party one spring weekend in 1989 at Fenway Park. For those of you too old to remember anything, or too young to have experienced it, that weekend included the Junior Felix inside the park grand slam, and the comeback from a 10-0 deficit.

Here’s why I think Cito will raise his Louisville slugger parting the Red Sea of AL East contenders so the Jays can march on through to the promised land.

No Pressure:
We’re about to enter the “dog days” of the season, a time of year notorious for seeing teams wilt under the heat of a playoff race. No problem, the Jays aren’t in a playoff race and haven’t been all year! There’s no pressure to perform or continue to perform. The Jays are entering these series against contenders as spoilers. They will be playing loose and relaxed while facing competitors worried about two months of serious games.

Battle Royale:
We’re entering the stage of the season where intradivsional games make up the bulk of the schedule. The three beasts of the East will be busy beating each other up, which means that rather than playing 0.600 ball, they’ll be down to 0.500 ball against each other. They’re also apt to begin lining up their rotations so that their top starters face each other, leaving a team like the Jays to see more of their back end guys.

Difficulty of Schedule err...Master of their Destiny:
The Jays are facing teams that are currently at or above 0.500 for 38 of their final 51 games. This is a tough schedule, but nobody said it would be easy. Was it easy for the 2007 Colorado Rockies? Was it easy for the 1987 Detroit Tigers…what, too soon?
Part of what makes the Jays’ schedule so difficult is the multitude of games coming up against the teams they’re chasing:
-9 games against Yankees
-6 games against Rays
-9 games against Red Sox
Sure it’s unlikely that the Jays will play above 0.500 over these 24 games, but these head-to-head games provide a great opportunity to gain ground.

Trade Deadline Bonanza:
-Sometimes it’s the moves you make, sometimes it’s the moves you don’t make. The acquisition of Yunel Escobar seems like a move that made the Jays better today, and going forward. Look, I liked me some Alex Gonzalez II, but Escobar’s defensive play is sublime. I’ve got no numbers to back this up, but he’s shown better range, softer hands and flair for the dramatic. Besides Agonz was due for an offensive drop off, while Escobar’s numbers were due to head North.
-AA didn’t make any other trades at the Major League level, but that means that the current edition of the Jays still has some veteran talent having some good years in Bautista, Buck, Downs and –more recently- Overbay. Let’s ride the wave.
-Don’t forget the fact that Travis Snider’s release from DL purgatory functions as a major upgrade.
-We've also agreed to a deal in principal to trade in the cruddy 2010 Adam Lind and Aaron Hill models for the 2009 versions. It’s not unbelievable that they might improve on their season long funks. Hill’s hamstring seems to have improved and Lind’s beginning to put some good swings on balls.
-Arencibia is up for fifteen days, and should be back when the rosters expand on September 1st. I haven’t heard, how’s he been doing with the Jays?

The opposition is in trouble:
Yankees: made some moves at the deadline that made me feel better about the Esteban Loaiza for Michael Young swap. Kerry Wood, seriously? Mr. Cashman, I’m all for you and your team failing, but here’s a tip: Try using scouts who’ve actually seen a player more recently than 2003. Lance Berkman!? Yeah, I always thought the Mark Texeira thing was just a stop gap solution until they could find a player who looks to be on the downside of his career and inferior both in the field and at the plate. What’s that Mr. Cashman? You’d like to DH him, forcing Jorge Posada to catch, be my guest.

Red Sox: I heard their play by play man, mascot, and the dude who mans the green monster scoreboard are out for the season. The team has lost so many regulars that they’re moving their home games to triple A Pawtucket so that the players can feel more comfortable. Although I must add that I will begin cheering for them if the Carlos Delgado signing works out.

Rays: How’d last weekend go for you?

The Jays have been shunned to varying degrees by Scott “Trade Me Now” Rolen, Roy “I won’t re sign, so trade me now” Halladay and Alex “Woah, using my five tools will cost you extra” Rios. As Toronto sports fans we’ve also had to deal with every Raptor star begging out of the city once they realize it’s actually not in the US proper, justifying that three down football is a better game, and the Leafs. So we’re loaded up on Karma points and it’s safe to assume that things might just start going our way!

I’m willing to drive, who’s coming with me!?


Sunday, August 08, 2010
  So Begins the Arencibi-era
I floated a few titles for this blog post: "The greatest baseball player of all time", "Finally, a player with initials on the Jays who doesn't suck", and "Lick my balls, James Shields" to name a few. But, I decided not to focus on JP Arencibia, but to focus on the event that was yesterday's ball game. Lucky for me, I took it in first hand from right behind the Jays' dugout. Here is a retro-diary (Thanks Bill Simmons) of my experience at what I can only describe as the greatest ball game of all time. Of course, these times are almost certainly inaccurate:

one week ago, 5:30 pm: Get an email from a connection at MLB. 3 tickets to Blue Jays vs. (Devil) Rays, fully compensated...everything is falling into place nicely.

flash forward to Saturday morning

12:20 pm: arrive at the ticket window. Anxiety is abound as to where the seats might be. We spend the 5 minutes in line convincing ourselves that it doesn't matter if the tickets are no good. "Hey, they're free, that's good in itself!". Thankfully, when we got the seats, we could drop the BS. 3rd row behind the Jays dugout. I spend the next ten minutes in the washroom cleaning up my gism.

12:45 pm: sitting in our seats, talking about how we're better than everyone in the stadium rows 4 and back. Sean Marcum pops his head out of the dugout and seems to be looking for someone in the stands. "Hey Sean!" I yell. "Sean!" "Hey Buddy!" Marcum seems to take to my annoying screams. He lifts his right arm above the dugout where I can see it and throws a ball in my direction. I make the one handed grab. "Come down after the game, I'll sign that for you," he says. Sweet. The game hasn't started and I have a ball, a beer, and a slice of pizza. Perfect, right? Well, it gets better...kind of. The ball is signed by none other than Brian Butterfield #55. What a minor thrill. Can I use that ball to play catch? No offense coach, but I think so.

1:14 pm: Top of the first ends on a K by Brad Mills. This guy I had heard a couple of things about, JP Arensomethingerother (he wasn't famous just yet), starts running back to the dugout. He looks to the stands. "Hey JP!" "Over Here!". Just like that, a second ball is in my possession. For a little context, I've never come within two sections of a foul ball. Now I have 2 before the end of the first. Could anything make this moment better? How about a little charitable donation. I turn around, point to a kid that seems to be in a little brother-big brother outing. "Hey kid, you want the ball?" The kid doesn't know what to say. His big brother starts nodding. I toss him the ball. "Enjoy," I say. I spend the next 3 inning fighting off women who are trying to rip off my shirt. To recap: its the middle of the first-I have a signed baseball, a cold beverage, a slice of pizza, a sunburn, and a guaranteed spot in heaven. Somebody pinch me. (The only downside of the game so far: the fat Tampa Bay fan who yells, "Hey Ben Zobrist" and does the same for all of the Rays until they acknowledge him is nowhere to be seen. If you've never encountered the man, just know that he looks just like the fat man who was robbed in the Seinfeld Finale.)

1:25 pm: Vernon Wells steps to the plate. The guy behind me yells, "Let's go now, kid!" The fact that he was calling V-dub "kid" meant bad things for what this guy was going to be calling out once he was a few brews in. Let's just say that this guy ended up calling the Jays "kids" more times than Joe Carter referred to his home run when he was doing colour commentary for TSN.

1:48 pm: Edwin Encarnacion hits a ground rule double. Up comes the #9 hitter, JP Arencibia. There is only a mild buzz in the less-than-knowledgeable crowd. Come on people. This guy has 31 home runs in AAA! He is our catcher of the future! He is-- BOOM!--my thoughts are interrupted as he slugs the first pitch into the left-field bullpen. The crowd erupts. A guy a section over is having an acid flashback to Junior Felix's first ever at-bat. Speaking of acid, perhaps it helped when this person made up this incredible Blue Jays video. Anyway, when Arencibia gets back to the dugout, the crowd immediately sits down. C'mon! This guy just hit the first pitch he has ever seen for a home run, yet, no curtain call. Can we please have mandatory lessons on "how to be a sports fan"? Isn't this a worthwhile investment for the future of our city? Another good example of why this is necessary: see the Bills in Toronto games where the fans sit silently as the opposition drives down the field. Horrifying. Anyway, screw transit, this needs to be on the top of any future mayors agenda. You must take the "How to be a Sports Fan" crash course in order to gain admittance to a sporting event. Creates jobs, makes our city more appealing for athletes, will increase tourism-as our fans will be perfect...has no downsides. Let's get it done.

2:15 pm: Adam Lind and Aaron Hill go back-to-back. In other news that must be made up: peace has been declared in the Middle East, Bryan Colangelo has made a good trade for the Raptors, and Sam Cosentino has been named "Best play-by-play guy in the world".

Fast forward to the 6th...

3:05 pm: Arencibia hits his 2nd homer of the game. Everyone goes crazy. People are clapping. Many are hugging. An orgy breaks out in the left-field bleachers. JP gets his curtain call. Awesome. It's at this moment when Arencibia guarantees himself an evening with absolutely any lady he wants in the city. He's young, painfully hunky, and goes 4-5 with 2 dingers in his MLB debut. What's the over/under on how many women he slept with last night? 20? 30? Bottom line is that I'm pretty sure he has an STD now. Let's trade him before anyone finds out. Smart move by Cito sitting him for today's game. If George Costanza taught me anything, its that abstaining from sex makes you a genius and great at baseball and that the reverse is true as well. It was nice while it lasted, JP. When's D'Arnaud gonna get the call-up?

4:15 pm: Game ends after a brutal top of the 9th where David Purcey proved that he can't be our closer of the future. Arencibia gets 2 pies to the face, a Gatorade shower, a water shower and then 2 more pies to the face. Very original. Interesting fact: Jesse Litsch can't pitch, but he can lift a tub of water and dump it on a rookie. Nice.

So, there it is. A brief review of what was a perfect game down at the artist formerly known as Skydome. If anyone wants to see my Brian Butterfield signed baseball, too bad. That baby is mine forever.
Monday, August 02, 2010
  Bautista Paradox at the Deadline
The trading deadline passed with surprising quiet for the Jays, an also-ran team with several interesting parts to sell.

For fans dreaming of a huge windfall in exchange for MLB home run leader Jose Bautista, that was never in the cards. Other teams can't take the chance that this is a fluke season for a 29-year-old journeyman who's never approached his current level of play. The Jays, meanwhile, have stumbled upon a cheap masher who is a plus defender at two positions, so they're not about to give Bautista away. Combine the two positions, and it was extremely unlikely that anyone was going to pay what was undoubtedly a steep asking price.

As for the relievers, both Scott Downs and Jason Frasor qualify as Type A free agents, so if they walk away at the end of the season, the Jays qualify for draft pick compensation. Sure, every team with a reliever to sell would like to make the Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell deal and flip 22 innings pitched for 449 homers and a Hall of Famer. Of course those deals are relatively rare, proof of which lies in the fact that we're still talking about the Andersen-Bagwell deal 20 years after its consummation.

John Buck qualifies as a Type-B free agent, which would still land the Jays a later draft pick.

Clearly, Alex Anthopoulos would rather have a hand in drafting his own prospects than taking those being offered by other clubs. Plus, he now has the flexibility to bring Downs or Frasor back, should he so choose. Neither should prove terribly expensive and both would be solid contributors to an ever-improving young team.

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