Monday, March 31, 2008

Baseball Gods Angry, Locust Reign Imminent

Without Rocco Baldelli in right for the Rays (DL - luckless); some other guy stepped in, hit a home run and scored another. The AP game recap headline read as follows:
    Shields, Hinske lead Rays to eye-opening 6-2 win over Baltimore. (Emphasis mine, impact unsettling)
The world as we know it is coming to a crashing halt. Very soon. These things come in threes, so be on alert.

Opening Day! 100th Post! Boners Abound!

OLWSome serious happenstance today, as our 100th post coincides with (or just before) Opening Day. We've gone on the record with our picks and predictions, but finally the time has come to play ball. And I couldn't be happier.

We've had way too much fun through our first 100 posts. And knowing our collective apathy and general distaste of doing something when nothing is always a willing mistress, 100 posts in 3 months is downright astonishing.

More astonishing is the painful, Doctor Zhivago-style forced march through the offseason is finally over. Wading through the endless morass of the spring training had me thinking and acting more and more like a surly Russian every day. Biting negativity and a constant scowl.

But no more. Green Grass! Apple Pie! Every team is tied for first! Fly Overs! Snowed out games! Cliche! Loud noises!

Opening Day can be a bit of false dawn. The pomp, circumstance and amateurish performances in the bleeders can be trying at times, but jesus christ it's Opening Day! No more fake games! Just marginally meaningful mid-week games against the A's! Loses that are summarily dismissed as "you can't win a pennant in April!" Interleague is still two months away! Who fucking cares, baseball is on and hockey is almost done (good thing the Expos left Montreal, as not a soul would be in attendance due to the Habs DATE WITH DESTINY.)

But if they're playing baseball, that means I'll be watching baseball. Then I'll be playing baseball. All of which result in the same glorious thing: drinking beer and eating mediocre tex-mex. Oh, and baseball.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Ghostrunner Power Rankings Week #1

You can't have a blog without power rankings can you?

I know I asked, but I don't give a shit. Here at Ghostrunner we're going to provide you with our weekly rankings which are unarguably the finest on the entire interweb.

This is how it is as of right now, but check back weekly for updated rankings.

1. Boston Red Sox (1-1) - I'm not going to start the World Series Champions anywhere but at the top until they give me reason not to do so, and they haven't yet.

2. New York Mets (0-0) - I suppose you could rank the Tigers ahead of them pretty easily, but we believe them to be the class of the senior circuit....for now. Another collapse like last year and you could see this team re-locate to anywhere.

3. Detroit Tigers (0-0) - Huge improvements made in the off-season have us thinking their clearly the front runner in the Central. Sure it's been said they may have bullpen challenges...wft, have you seen their lineup.

4. Los Angeles Angels (0-0) - It is true that they go into the season with a couple of starters on the shelf (Escobar & Lackey) however they are still our pick in the West. Add Tori Hunter and John Garland = they got better.

5. Cleveland Indians (0-0) - Still a great team that could run down the Tigers in the Central though we doubt it. A Wild Card birth isn't out of the question in the Central this year though.

6. Toronto Blue Jays (0-0) - Yes, we are bias. And yes they're are still in the East, that isn't going to change. But if it's going to happen, it's going to be now. We think the Jays and Indians will be the teams gunning for the WC come September. Halladay, Burnett, McGowan, Marcum, and Litsch could be the best rotation in the AL, time will tell.

7. New York Yankees (0-0) - Fuck the Yankees.

8. Seattle Mariners (0-0) - We don't think they have the horses to finish ahead of the Angels, though they could give them a scare, and Erik Bedard will no doubt see that they do.

9. Chicago Cubs (0-0) - The Cubs should win the Central. 85 games and they're gold.

10. Los Angeles Dodgers (0-0) - Although they could go either way, we think they're going to take the West down. The addition of Andruw Jones could prove to be a good one, then again, it could go the other way.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks (0-0) - A young squad that can play. They backdoor into the Division, though we think the WC is more likely.

12. Philadelphia Phillies (0-0) - We think it's going to take another ridiculous collapse from the Mets to see the Phils come away with the East again. That being said, the WC isn't out of the question.

13. Colorado Rockies (0-0) - Who knows if the unheard of run at the end of last season to get them into the post-season will continue. We think not, even though they are still a strong team in this difficult division.

14. Cincinnati Reds (0-0) - Playing in the pathetic NL Central means if the stars align, the post season isn't out of the question. We'll see on this one.

15. Atlanta Braves (0-0) - We don't see another streak of 14 consecutive divisions starting for them this season.

16. Chicago White Sox (0-0) - As we said, no one gives a shit about the Sox. They aren't great, and aren't horrible either. Who knows with these guys.

17. Milwaukee Brewers (0-0) - It'll take another start like last season for them to have a hope at the post-season. Prince Fielder is good, but can't do it alone.

18. San Diego Padres (0-0) - Could be a darkhorse...we think probably not, but with pitching like they've got, anything is possible.

19. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (0-0) - It could be a decent season down in Tampa. Some idiots have even picked them to finish ahead of the Jays or in 3rd. I call that horseshit, but what do I know.

20. Minnesota Twins (0-0) - No Santana...lack of depth....little chance.

21. Oakland Athletics (1-1) - Pray for a season of health from Rich Harden. He has the stuff to dominate if he does. They did look better than the Sox in the opening games in Japan. However there are 160 more to go.

22. Houston Astros (0-0) - They do have Roy Oswalt. And they may get some production out of Berkman, Lee and Tejada....but that's about it.

23. St.Louis Cardinals (0-0) - They won the World Series two years ago. Now they suck.

24. Kansas City Royals (0-0) - Somehow I think they'll be 0-3 after the season opening series.

25. Flordia Marlins (0-0) - I can't believe this team has won two World Series.

26. Texas Rangers (0-0) - Thanks God for Michael Young....sob...

27. Washington Nationals (0-0) - Who cares, so long as Pete gets a shot.

28. San Fransisco Giants (0-0) - Nice ballpark.

29. Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0) - Does anyone remember when they were's been awhile, and fans will continue to wait.....and wait......

30. Baltimore Orioles (0-0) - AAA teams would beat these clowns.

I'm quite sure MANY will disagree with these rankings, some may actually agree, who knows.
One thing is for sure. It's opening day, and I am smiling.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Sobering Look from Those on the Inside

Jeff Blair's surliness has clearly worn off on Robert MacLeod, as he picks the Jays to finish fourth in the American League East. MacLeod comes sexy pick in hand, with the Rays second ahead of the Yankees and Blue Jays. Fourth? Really? I'm all for knocking the Yankees down a peg, the aged house of cards that they are, but suggesting that dark horse will leap over TWO more experienced teams seems rich. He also picks Jacoby Ellsbury as his Rookie of the Year, which really makes me wonder. If ever there was a player poised for a complete let-down...

Reading over MacLeod's selections, there is a lot of hype/sex appeal behind the bulk of them. Though Brad Penny/C.C Sabathia Cy Young combo must be some sort of quarter-tonne discount. He should use my system: bias, conjecture and contrarian nonsense.

Blair goes on to parrot my prediction, a repeat of the 1986 World Series. This year's edition will feature Mookie Wilson selling concessions instead of hitting dribblers. He has the Red Sox coming out on top, which makes sense but I'd rather die than admit to that inevitability in a public forum. I will echo his sentiments and earmark Carlos Marmol as a breakout candidate.

The article mentions at length that JP may be out of time, and if the Jays don't catch the Yankees now, the influx of cash their new ballpark will provide may put the Jays in the rearview mirror for ever. Also mentioned is the emotional attachment between JP and Gibby, though JP is likely more emotionally invested in remaining employed.

Note: This may well be my last post, as my girlfriend just bought me an Xbox 360. See you in obese, antisocial hell.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A soft spot

I'm quite sure many this side of the border would agree, although I think from their standpoint it's mainly a patriotic thing. I've always hoped that somehow Canadian utility player Peter Orr would end up in a Jay uniform. It really doesn't have anything to do with him being Canadian either. I grew up playing with Pete.

He was the shortstop on our high school team in Newmarket, I was the second baseman. We had an amazing team, and Pete was our cornerstone. I played with and against some pretty amazing ball players, and Pete was hands down the best of any of them. So I wasn't surprised when he was selected (during a regular day at school) by the Texas Rangers in the 39th round back in 1998. To my knowledge he is the only one, out of all the people I've ever playing with or against, that ever had a taste of the big leagues.

Though he didn't actually play for the Rangers, he signed as a free agent with the Braves in 1999. He played several seasons in the minors for the Braves before he landed a spot on the roster after a solid spring training prior to the 2005 season. He was mainly a utility guy, playing a multitude of positions & acting as a pinch hitter/runner and defensive sub. He never got a real chance to play as he was behind guys like Rafael Furcal, Brian Giles, Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur just to name a few.

Pete played on the 2004 Canadian Olympic team that finished 4th and he won the 2004 Bill Lucas Award for the Atlanta Braves Minor Leaguer best exemplifying Sportsmanship and Character. Those who know or have met Pete wouldn't be surprised by this one bit. For all his talent and accomplishments Pete remains to this day one of the classiest guys I've ever met. I doubt there was a nicer, more humble guy in the entire Braves organization and I consider myself lucky to have played with him.

Pete was designated for assignment by the Braves after last season and subsequently released. However, he was signed to a minor league contract by the Nationals in December and was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. I've always believed that given a chance to play everyday, he could develop into a solid two-way player in the Majors.

He was one of the last guys cut at spring training by the Nationals yesterday after an amazing spring, which saw him hit .389. The Nationals decided to keep another utility player, Willie Harris, instead. Pete is starting the year down in AAA Columbus. Hopefully, he keeps his strong play going down in Columbus and gets a nod sometime this season, as I know he could bring not only a fantastic and winning attitude to the National roster, but intangibles and effort that would be an asset to the club.

Most of us who knew or played with him growing up follow his career with great interest, wherever he may be playing and will continue to do so.

If I was general manager of the Jays for a day, I'd put together a deal to get Orr on the roster here in Toronto. I'm sure it wishful thinking, and extremely bias on my part, but in this case I really don't care.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mound Meeting

ROY! ROY! ROY! ROY! ROY! If Casey can't play all year, and JP said he'd let Satan himself pitch before Gus, that means I get to play?? For real play? In Canada and everything? Right? Right? Roy, c'mon!!!

Roy Halladay: I reckon so.

Litsch: Can you teach me to start like you?? Do you think I should pitch to contact too Roy? Do ya??? I wanna pitch just like you Roy. You said I could do it, Roy! I came and watched you all winter long!

Halladay: What I said the other day, you looking like me, that ain't true. I'm just a fella now. I ain't no different than anyone else no more.


Halladay: Fine. Don't you try and pitch to contact, for the love of god don't. You gotta think about pitching like a war. You need to go in there and just kill 'em.

Litsch: Yeah, well, Uncle Brad says you was the meanest goddamn son-of-a-bitch alive, and if I ever wanted a partner for a killin', you were the worst one. Meaning the best, on account as your's as cold as the snow.

Halladay: Brad said that, did he?

Litsch: Yeah, yeah he did. I'm a damn killer myself. 'Cept, uh, I ain't killed as many as you because of my youth.

[Halladay takes Litsch under his wing, teaches him the way of the gun. Litsch responds with tremendous spring.]

Litsch (blows away Phillies): I ain't never killed no one before that, Roy.

Halladay: Well, you sure killed the hell outta that guy

Litsch: That was the first one... first one I ever killed. You know how I said I killed for five innings before? It weren't true. That Dominican that sat on my changeup, I just got him to fly out to deep center with a hanger. I didn't kill him or nothing, neither.

Halladay: It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.

Litsch: But they're on the other team. I guess they had it coming.

Halladay: We've all got it coming kid.

The Cold, Dead Eyes of a Killer

Ghostrunning with the Devil - Season Preview - AL East

A simple equation for season preview success:
    Uninformed pontificator + hackneyed gimmick - accountability = I'M A GENIUS!
One final time, our gimmick of choice will find us pairing each team with a band/artist from the same area code. The connections will be tenuous at best and derived from my completely arbitrary criteria. Teams are arranged by predicted order of finish, based on nothing approximating math, science or logic.

This week, the only one that matters. THE LAST ONE. The AL East.

Boston Red Sox - Isis
This is almost unfair to Isis. I enjoy them so much, while harbouring deep-seated resentment and hatred for the Red Sox. Isis has improved and expanded their sound on each record, developing new and interesting ways to entertain stoners. The Red Sox are more than just an intimidating line-up from top to bottom, they've added speed, and an increased importance on defense (hello otherwise unemployable Julio Lugo) to an already stuffed rotation and solid bullpen. There are still question marks, but they are certainly the team to beat.
JP says YES WE CANYOUR Toronto Blue Jays - The Constantines
If not now, then when. The pitching staff is rounding into form, improvements abound, nagging injuries are hopefully in the past. This is the team that you really, really want to do well. Likable without being too touchy-feely gritty-cutsey, like the Constantines. A rock band, period. Enough melody to keep their shows from being a dude ranch, and straight forward enough that they could foreseeably seep over into the Nickelbacked crowd. Compared to the rest of the AL, there are fewer potential landmines for this team. See you in hell, and in the ALDS.
New York Yankees - The Beastie Boys
It is quite a feat for a team to be too old and too young all at the same time. It's a little sad, like a bunch of 40 year old men prancing around under the name the Beastie Boys. They used to be great sure, but their time has passed. And uniformed white people LOVE them, it's a default setting. "I don't really like rap, but I love the Beastie Boys." Same guy: "I don't really watch baseball, but I really like the Yankees." Vanilla ice cream is horseshit.
Tampa Bay Rays - Underoath
I could go on about how the now 100% Devil-free Rays are very much like a christian mall-mosh band, about how the Rays are too young and free-swinging and their pitching is horrifically overrated. But fuck that. It's Rocco o'clock. Fuck you Kevin Hench, for your lazy journalism which you refuse to retract. Fuck you nature, for fucking with Rocco's chemical makeup. Fuck you Woonsocket, for having such an appealing name. And fuck you Rocco, for making it impossible for me to quit you.
Baltimore Orioles - Good Charlotte
What? Seriously? They are going to be fucking AWFUL. Having to play these four team 76 times a year? Without any pitching whatsoever? They might win 60 total all year. Lots of youth, and Nick Markakis COULD be the greek Rocco. I'm not ready to commit to anything yet. I need to figure out me first. Good Charlotte are known to be nice guys. They've gone way the fuck out of their league with some quality LA ass, but their band could not be worse. It is an impossibility.
Awesome. This is finished, which means actual baseball is right around the corner. Bliss. I'll leave these predictions on the sidebar for a while, long enough for my idiocy to be proven, not just assumed.

AL E - Red Sox C - Tigers W - Angels WC - Blue fucking Jays.
NL E - Mets C - Cubs W - Dodgers WC - Phillies
ALCS - Red Sox / Tigers
NLCS - Mets / Dodgers
WS - Red Sox / Mets = See you in hell Buckner. Mets in 6.

Did I just pick the Mets to win the World Series. What the fuck?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The End is Nigh

The end of our suffering anyway. The season has begun, the Jays are wounded and I'm already losing in my head-to-head pool. I'm pining for November. This time next week we'll be lamenting the slow start and asking for heads to roll celebrating a strong start to the season.

As an added bonus, watch for a new face around these parts. Jesse Barfield of Broken Dreams will crush us all with his powerful yet florid prose. The rest of us will be exposed as the ham-fisted hacks we truly are.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Godfather speaks again

This shit never ends. I don't know what to make of it, and really couldn't care less, but evidently in his new book, Jose Canseco says he introduced Alex Rodriguez to a known steroid supplier. He also goes on to name even more names, such as Magglio Ordonez and Roger Clemens.

At this point in time Jose Canseco has as much credibility as Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens himself. However, there is something to be said about his insight into steroids and the usage at the big league level. Although he's an obvious tool, and these books are easy money, many of the players he named in "Juiced" either admitted or were eventually caught using.

Maybe the US Government can spend some more tax payer cash to figure all this out once and for all as it's importance is clearly astronomical. This is now officially a farce, and not far from becoming a full-blown circus. Jose Canseco referred to himself as the "Godfather of Steroids," so you know he's not all there to begin with. But one thing is for sure...he was inside the lines, and some of what he's saying could be true.

But does it really fucking matter?


I read an article today about the American League East and how things have changed from a few year back when the Red Sox seemed to be constantly chasing the Yankees for the AL East crown and just couldn't get there. Now, it would appear that the Yankees are the ones chasing the Red Sox for the crown.

The last time I checked, there were three other teams that share the same Opening Day record as the Yankees and the Sox. Another team, however unlikely, could have the stars align for them and win the East. It would seem to me, if you're writing an article about the East, at least acknowledge the existence of the other teams fuckface. It isn't a two team division, no matter what you think.

Oh how I wish for these two teams tank and all the idiot Boston and Yankee writers remember how to go and fuck themselves.

I hail Scott Rolen's arrival as the New Dawn, he breaks a finger.

I claim the Jays pitching is solid enough to withstand some defensive downgrades, they commit 5 errors and allow 6 unearned runs (10 total!!) IN ONE INNING. (The game remains fake, but the errors are oh so real)

I will choose my words more careful from here on out. Especially after yesterday's vomitus mass of a post. Well, I'll try to try.

I am an idiot.

Plug City

Cursed's new record III - Architects of Troubled Sleep is out now. They are heavier than Dmitiri Young. And way cooler.

Thanks to formertransformer/kid with a camera for the photo.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hustle is a Hustle

Honest to god, if I have to ignore one more misty-eyed salute to brave soldier Reed Johnson, I'm going to cry. The entire cult of the underdog in this city is depressing and predictable.

Does the fact that Reed Johnson looks like he's running fast make him the fastest runner on the team? Of course not. Does getting hit by a pitch mean you've suddenly developed a patient hitting approach? Nope. Devon White didn't get his uniform dirty often, does that mean he isn't as a good a centerfielder as Reed Johnson? If you trot around the bases and keep from dirtying your uniform, is that a bad thing? You won't even break a sweat. Slacker.

Why doesn't John MacDonald play every day? He doesn't swing the bat well enough to help his team win. Would all these hustle apologist rather see Eric Hinkse, Reed Johnson or Aaron Rowand in left field over Manny Ramirez? Manny's a terrible fielder, generally loafs around but also happens to be one of the better right handed hitters of all time. Miguel Cabrera is fat and has had declining zone ratings for the past three seasons. His own pitchers call him lazy. There is reason that he just signed a massive contract extension the same weekend Reed was let go. The goal here is to win games. If you win enough games, you win the championship. There is only one tangible or meaningful way to dirty up your uniform.

I've begun to question what people want, what they hope to get out of investing themselves in teams and players. Do they not want to win? If you are a fan of the team, isn't the team achieving success the desired outcome? We have a lot of fun at JP's expense around here, and despite this depressing article regarding JP's assessment and subsequent passing on Troy Tulowitzki (H/T to DJF), the Jays management are doing what they feel they have to compete. They didn't score enough runs to win enough games last year. They have a fantastic pitching staff that will not suffer by having an inferior defensive team behind it.

These guys are positioned as up-by-the-bootstraps, feel-good stories, but it's a lie. It is more to do with optics than reality. People like to like David Eckstein, but realize how much better the Jays would be with Tulowitzki in the lineup. Again, I like talented people doing things with their rare talents. I like Roy Halladay because he works hard to make the most of his talent, not overcompensate for his lack of it.

Note: The Mockingbird continues to be the polar opposite and intellectual superior of our blog. I'm no stathead but I know that more talent (assembled and coaxed in an intelligent and thoughtful manner) is better than having less talent. You can't hustle away from the truth forever.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wilner Sells Litsch, I Buy

At the outset of Spring Training, the battle for the fifth starter's job was the main topic for discussion. I was decidedly in the pro-Janssen camp, finding Jesse Litsch's "make 'em miss" approach and (seemingly) average stuff to be troubling, bordering on frightening.

Whenever a pitcher uses smoke and mirrors to get by, my immediate thought is always "but is he better than Josh Towers?" I started to do some number crunching, contrasting Josh Towers' good season (one game above .500, extend that motherfucker!) and Litsch's rookie campaign. I quickly realized I know nothing about stats, especially how to manipulate them to suit my irrational conclusions. Wilner and Sal Fasano seem to think Jesse Litsch will be able to get people out and continue to improve. I'm starting to believe as well. He always changed speeds well and induces a reasonable amount of groundballs (57%). Provided his control improves (36 walks in 111 innings) he should be a serviceable approaching effective fifth starter. His lack of dynamic stuff will mean that if he's off, he'll get hit but hard.

A full year under the careful tutelage of Professor Arsnberg should aid in his development too. Richie Litsch made swinging from Fonzie Halladay's pendulous nuts his business this off season, and that alone is good enough for some run-off skill/scattered ass. I'll use the words of Jesse Litsch's baseball-reference page sponsors to summarize Litsch's chances this year:
The Great Red Hope is the best thing to happen to baseball since the strike in 1994. No big ego, no drugs, no attitude and no bending the visor on his cap. Jesse has single-handedly revitalized my interest in baseball.
Aim low Hunt Partners LLP, aim low.


Phillie Phanatic destroys inner-city baseball in America, fans boo reflexivelyAs the Southpaw mentioned yesterday, a free preview of ESPN Classic resulted in a reviewing of Game 4 of the 1993 World Series. The first thing that I noticed: baseball used to attract more brothers than Kennedy Station. Darnell Coles, Dave Stewart, Joe Carter, Milt Thompson, Devon White, Rickey Henderson, Rickey Jordan. I don't think there are that many black dudes in the entire American League this year. This is well trodden ground, but it was quite shocking to see how much the game has changed in 15 years.

Other assorted observations: Lenny Dyktra was a terrible centerfielder. Devon White notched the game-winning RBI on what had no business being a triple. He was inhumanly fast. Duane Ward threw fucking smoke. The Veteran's Stadium locker room looked like a combination of a holding cell and a meat locker. Darren Daulton was a sexy beast.

And of course, Reed's gone. No one is taking this harder than Mrs. Moseby. She was a big fan of his style, not to mention his willingness to donate to the OSPCA. I blame Buck Coats for all of this.

The World is coming

Word on the street is Toronto is going serve as a host site during the first round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic. This comes from a source inside Major League baseball. The games will be held downtown at the Rogers Center. The official announcement of all four first round sites will come tonight from Tokyo.

Evidently Canada, the US and two other nations will play in the Toronto pool. Although I'm sure everyone is aware, the tournament is a 16 team field with many of the games top pro's playing for their respective countries. A pool in Toronto would likely garner large crowds with the US team being a part of it.

The finals are thought to be headed for Los Angeles. I'm sure there is more to come on this story, but I for one must say that I'm jacked at this news. I think Toronto is a great choice, and I will attend as many games as I possibly can.

Good game World Bowl.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Love him or hate him

Roberto Alomar is going to receive the Jays highest honour: being elevated to the club's Level of Excellence. It's all going down April 4th, the home opener against the Red Sox. Alomar's public image sorted of mirrored his career. As his skills on the field deteriorated, so did public opinion of him. Whatever you want to say about him, this guy could flat out fucking play. At the height of his career he was one of the most valuable players in the league. I grew up playing 2nd base, and tried as hard as I could (failing miserably I'm sure) to emulate his type of game, especially in the field. Sure, he spit on an umpire and developed a horrible attitude as he grew older, but I sure drank a lot of McCain punch while trying as hard as I could to "catch the taste".

Alomar wore the Jay uniform from 1991 through the 1995 season and was a member of what is arguably one of the best teams in MLB history, the 1993 Jays. He was an integral part of the 1992 and 1993 World series winning teams and in my mind hit the biggest home run in Jay history, with his epic shot off of Dennis Eckersley in game four of the 1992 ALCS. Eckersley spent much of the season being untouchable and Alomar shut him and the A's the hell up, effectively sealing their fate.

Roberto Alomar retired during Spring Training in 2005 after 17 seasons in the Majors. During his career he was named to 12 all-star teams, captured four Silver Slugger awards, won 10 Gold Gloves and was named MVP in the 1992 ALCS and 1998 all-star game. His 10 gold gloves are the most of any second baseman in MLB history.

Alomar become eligible for induction into the hall of fame in 2010 and has said that if he's lucky enough to be selected for induction, he wants to go in as a Blue Jay. He always maintained although he had good years with other teams, his years in Toronto were the best of his career.

His career ended kind of abruptly due to failing vision, deteriorating skills and chronic aches and pains. Tough to say whether or not he'll be inducted. I personally think he's worthy but am probably somewhat bias. Whether he does or doesn't end up in Cooperstown, it's nice to see he's being recognized for his contributions in Toronto, love him or hate him.

Far East and Staying South

Shyte. It appears that Blue Jay closer may not be ready to join the team come opening day. God damn elbows. The Jays are going to keep Ryan out of the remaining games in Spring Training after Ryan complained of soreness in his forearm and elbow after the game with the Pirates. The team has been reported as calling it "normal fatigue" but are going to proceed with caution. After all, Ryan is coming off of Thomas John surgery which shelved him all of last season.

JP was quoted as saying that Ryan won't likely break camp with the team and there really isn't any sort of timeline for return as of yet.

This is a bit of a set back for the Jays, who knew bringing Ryan back would be a slow process but were optimistic about bringing him north with them come the end of Spring Training.

Across the Pacific former New York Mets and Texas Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is making headlines, indicating he thinks it's "ludicrous" that the MLB is holding games at the same time Japanese games are being played. Valentine manages the Chiba Lotte Mariners of the Japanese Pacific League and believes Japanese baseball is selling itself short by hosting MLB games while launching its own season. Valentine is a big booster of Japanese baseball and thinks the game is going to take away some of spotlight on his squad. Probably, but who gives a shit. The MLB teams are better Bobby, that's the way it is. I wouldn't worry about you and your Japanese baseball, it's pretty safe.

Silver Lining

Much is made of the MSM's fear and loathing of blogs, and the vitriol and invective that spew forth from the blogosphere. I will concede that this space is guilty of plenty of hate, and a substantial amount negativity. In honour of Jesus cheating death a three day weekend, I will instead focus on 10 things that make it great to be a Jay fan.
  1. The Rogers Centre's retractable roof. The stadium may have some warts and publicly funded skeletons in the closet, and the roof is a little dated compared to other fully retractable stadiums around the league. Jay fans still don't have to dress for the weather, nor will we have to deal with snowy ugliness ever again. But once humidity takes over as the dominant weather force, nothing beats sitting in the sun watching a game. We literally get the best of both worlds. We also get the added bonus of not paying through the nose for the privilege of staring directly into the setting sun for three innings, while sitting in a seat that faces the left field corner. Or sitting directly beside a giant garbage bin.

  2. Roy Halladay. The sublime pleasure that I derive from watching Roy Halladay pitch every fifth day is difficult to qualify. Sometimes I think he is playing a completely different game. His heady approach combined with his ridiculous work ethic makes any Halladay start one worth watching. Add his no-nonsense, quick working style to the mix and I'm a happy boy, out buying beer at a much more reasonable price after a proper 150 minute game.

  3. The Quality of Jays Coverage. It starts at the top. The nation's most venerable paper employs a most entertaining and enlightened voice in the form of Snarlin' Jeff Blair. Mike Wilner on the radio brings brutal honesty, informed opinions and a genuine love of the game. Jays blogs run the gamete; from statistical know-how, dry theologian wit, left-handed analysis, newfie charm, to the inane babblings of a madman. Let us not forget the drunken pied pipers themselves.

  4. Good Seats Still Available. I understand the value of selling out a building every night, but excuse me if I don't pine for a constantly packed house. The Jays have a solid fanbase and attract a consistent number between 25 and 30 thousand a night. Luckily, the dome seats 44 000. That means plenty of tickets at face value, and some below if you are willing to dip into the murky scalping waters.

  5. A Sense of History and/or Nostalgia. This happenend, and nothing will ever change that.

  6. Scott Rolen in exchange for Troy Glaus. Don't get me wrong, Troy Glaus is all well and good, and I harbour no ill will towards him. This isn't about Troy, this is about the pleasure of watching Scott Rolen play third base for (fingers crossed) 150 games this season.

  7. Three National Television Networks Vying For your Affection. In the true spirit of capitalism, we the consumer benefit when there is competition. Our reward, 144 games in HD, both home and away. For those unable or unwilling to get to the ballpark, there is no other way to fly.

  8. Win or Lose, We Still Live in Toronto. When the game is over, there is no sudden white flight from the horrors of a dilapidated inner city. Nor is it a quaint small town where baseball is the only show in town. Game is over, night has just begun.

  9. A Look to the Future, A Nod To the Past. Flashback Fridays are fun. A somewhat puffy former Jay gets to walk out on the field again, to bask in the cheers of polite and tolerant fans. This years exciting and hilarious wrinkle - POWDER BLUES! While obviously driven by the desire to sell throwback jerseys, seeing Frank Thomas in blue pajamas will be its own reward. I wonder if Cliff Johnson is available for a Friday night in June.

  10. A Puncher's Chance. The Jays chances this season are legit. The Yankees are a series of questions and senior citizens. The Rays are a few years away yet, the Orioles are in 100 loss territory. This is no pipe dream. I don't think this is a case of "as long as everything goes right" as much as "so long as everything doesn't go wrong." They'll be there in the end.
Hooray for Easter, and baseball on our minds.

Ghostrunning with the Devil - Season Preview - AL Central

A simple equation for season preview success:
    Uninformed pontificator + hackneyed gimmick - accountability = I'M A GENIUS!
Our gimmick of choice will find us pairing each team with a band/artist from the same area code. The connections will be tenuous at best and derived from my completely arbitrary criteria. Teams are arranged by predicted order of finish, based on nothing approximating math, science or logic.

Up now, the toughest division in baseball - the AL Central.

Detroit Tigers - Walls of Jericho
This team figures to bludgeon all that oppose them, leaving a trail of broken and bloodied bodies in their cruel wake. They also lead the league in fat guys. Miguel Cabrera could be among league leaders in slugging, RBI and appearances at Krispy Kreme. Walls of Jericho write comically heavy and entertaining mosh exercises. They too will beat you into a bloody daze, but the main bludgeoner is a lot better looking than Jim Leyland.
The goddamn river is on FIRECleveland Indians - Ringworm
More punishing offense, more punishing hardcore played and preferred by fat guys. This team will score many runs, but won't get nearly as many people out as Detroit. Can Carmona repeat last season's success? More importantly, who has the best nickname in Cleveland? Is it Pronk or the Human Furnace? I'm pretty sure Human Furnace is as badass a nickname as exists in the world.
Chicago White Sox - Lupe Fiasco
No one in Chicago gives a shit about the White Sox, or their World Series win. Steve Perry is the only one to benefit from that season. They play in a boring ballpark in a brutal neighbourhood. They have a solid team that, while improved by the addition of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera, is rapidly aging and will likely lack the pitching to compete in this robust division. The Cool is an outstanding achievement of a second record. Sadly, Lupe will never turn as many heads as Kayne West.
Kansas City Royals - The Get Up Kids
I was all ready to pan the Royals, make a few jokes about decades of ineptitude and then be on my way. Except that this Royals team won't be dreadful, and are in a very similar position to Tampa Bay, minus the sexy pick status. They are still a couple years away, but they seem to be building something. Spare the bastards that sit here all summer your pity. The Get Up Kids changed popular music whether you want to admit it or not. They are one of the only bands I know of from Kansas City. They have "kids" in their name. The Royals are young. Leave me alone.
Minnesota Twins - The Replacements
Prepare yourself, cause here we go with a whole boatload of hackneyed shtick!
How will the Twins "replace" Johan Santana? How will Nelson Fransico Liriano's recently "replaced" ligament respond after missing an entire year? Will Delmon Young be able to "replace" Torii Hunter's Gold Glove defense and contract year offense? Can I resist "replacing" that Delmon Young question with one referencing Bastards of Young? Will Livan Hernandez's warm up jacket be "replaced" by Metrodome Hefty Bags? Can blogger extrodinaire Pat Neshak "replace" Joe Nathan as the Twins' closer when Nathan gets traded at the deadline? Can you "replace" the minutes of your life you spent reading this? No.
The Tigers are a class team, though bullpen questions could dog them if Todd "The Mustache" Jones succumbs to age and returns to his gold plot. None of these teams appear to be truly awful, something you can't say about most other divisions. The Jays rotation seems to match up well against these teams, provided they learn how to win on the road.

Next week: the Al East. Which band would you like to see represent the Jays?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fake Game Held Up by Fake Protest

Michael Jordan Doesn't Understand
Altruistic Millionaires stand up to exploitive masters, hold retirees and cranky sportwriters hostage.

And fair play to them. While it could be said that the average Japanese baseball fan isn't going to pack the Tokyo Dome to see Dave Magaden (Happy Best Former Mets! He banished cocaine to the land of Nails and Fruit), good for the Sox for looking out for their support staff.

The game eventually started, and Sal Fasano STOLE A BASE! He was promptly picked off second base, but still. Go on Sal. Shawn Marcum pitched in a minor league game and was lights out.

Elsewhere:This build up is killing me, and I know I'm not alone. Fear not Mr. Stieb, you've been doing a bang up job. Charge the batteries and come back strong.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Welcome to the Terrordome

Good Guys Don't Wear White
With Ted and the boys dutifully rolling out the red carpet for any and all division rivals this year, I propose that we dedicated Jay fans adopt "Welcome to the Terrordome" as our unofficial slogan for the year.

This has nothing to do with Dave Zirin's screed about politics and sport, but much more to do with turning the sterile, excessively Canadian Rogers Centre into a wholly more interesting place. There are rules, once unwritten but obviously blog-fodder for 10 years, related to attending a baseball game. And it is up to us, the learned and/or elitist scholars to ensure proper ballpark decorum and "etiquette" is observed.

Too often I see people doing some of the most self-absorbed and mindless shit at the Rogers Centre. The number one atrocity is moving around while the ball is in play. This is UNACCEPTABLE. These pricks need to be shouted down on sight, and constantly reminded of their status as pariahs.

Leaving early? Not without an earful. Cheering more for a free t-shirt than the on-field action? Jeers are your reward.

Booing an important former Jay that now plays for the opposing team? Not only does this showcase your stunning lack of knowledge, it makes Toronto look like a second-rate, minor league backwater. An unfortunate stereotype that Leaf fans have long been guilty of perpetuating. An important moment in Ghostrunner history involved El Leal and I at a Jays - Angels game in 2004 (Alex Rios' first in the bigs!) The Angel's firstbase coach was none other than Alfredo fucking Griffin. We, along with two other guys in our section, stood and applauded in appreciation for the former Rookie of the Year.

If someone is wearing the opposing team's hat/jersey, it is incumbent on you to openly question their motivation/sexuality. If they are from out of town, it is your duty to insult and degrade their place of origin. If they are from the area, any and all bandwagoneer barbs are in play, and you are well within your rights to alert them of their failings as a human for the entire game. The score shouldn't matter, but use your better judgment. "At least I'm not from ________" is always in season. Make those Saskatoban's hate Toronto for a reason!

I am not going to rattle off a list of ballpark crimes and misdemeanors, I am merely encouraging all of us to break from our Canadian shell of deference and accommodation and show a proper level of hostility toward the perpetrators. Violence is not the solution, so we must fight through our alcohol-induced haze and make criminals the subject of intense levels of mockery and public derision.

Whiny girls complain about the having to play in the AL east, but as JP says "this is our reality." The team is well within its rights to capitalize on traveling fans, but we certainly don't have to lay down for these dogs. Just remember:


Monday in Florida

So the Jays lost to the horrific Pittsburgh Pirates today. A.J. Burnett did his best to get through his outing today, labouring for the better part of it, allowing four runs on four hits while giving up four walks and a grand total of zero strikeouts. Zach Duke, on the other hand, looked solid over five scoreless innings of work. Reed Johnson's ninth inning sacrifice fly kept the Jays from being shutout.

On a sort of positive note, B.J. Ryan pitched a scoreless 6th inning allowing just one hit and striking out one as well. B.J. was quoted as saying he felt pain in his arm and had to pitch through it, though he's still on track to pitch again Thursday. Hopefully this is just part of his recovery process, which I'm sure it is. The Jays bats looked like piss as they only managed to scrounge up five hits on the day. Aaron Hill was one of said Jays to record a hit, and is batting .480 for the spring. He's awesome.

Monday's sure do fucking suck, even if it is St. Patrick's Day.

The Jays are off tomorrow, and face the Red Sox Wednesday at 12:05pm in Fort Myers. Red Sox Nation should be concerned for Josh Beckett. He's a fan of the injury.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Who are they kidding

I sure as fuck can't figure it out. Joe Torre seems to think that "baseball appeals to a broad demographic group and travels well." Me, still not giving a fuck. Los Angeles Dodger chairman, Frank McCourt feels that "this great country is ready to embrace baseball." He probably knows that because he personally surveyed the more than a billion people currently residing in this "great county." Fucking clown, I'm pretty sure most of China could give two shits about your baseball team.

McCourt also hopes the Dodgers are the first into India and other parts of the world. Yeah, I'm quite positive everyone in India is chomping at the bit for the MLB action. I'm all for the growth of baseball and getting as many people to watch and to play the game, but don't fucking sit there and say it isn't for the money. You sure as piss aren't fooling anyone. McCourt was also quoted as saying he was "really impressed by the speed with which things get done in China." This was following completion of the stadium which was built in four and a half hours by a crew of 375,000 workers. I liked Torre's brilliant quote "with the number of people living in China, you know there's got to be a number of potential Major Leaguers".

Current Chinese Population - 1,324,473,496

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Idea - Stick to the Osborne...I mean Oscar's

In what must seem shocking to most people, Billy Crystal struck out in his lone at bat today in the Grapefruit league game between the Yankees and Pirates. Dawning a Yankees jersey with the number 60, which is how old he turns on Friday, Crystal did actually manage to make contact with the second of six pitches he saw from Pirates hurler Pat Maholm. Crystal inked a one-day contract with the Yankees a couple days ago with approval from Bud Selig. He led off the bottom half of the first slotted in the lineup as the DH. For some reason he received a standing ovation from the idiotstick fans at Legends field. Crystal actually worked the count to 3-1 before Maholm probably decided to bring the MLB shit refusing to be knowns as the clown who couldn't get Billy Fucking Crystal out. Johnny Damon batted for him in the third bringing an resounding end to Crystal's stellar MLB career. Believe it or not, this whole fiasco was set into motion by none other than Derek Jeter while the two were vacationing in Costa Rica during the off-season. I suppose you could call it a publicity stunt, though I can't imagine what Crystal needs publicity for? I believe the last good movie the guy was in was back in around 1991. I'm pretty sure most you have one of them on VHS or something.

Bottom line is that the New York Yankees are idiots, and this proves it. Maybe the Lakers are thinking about putting Jack Nicholson on the the floor at the three spot in an upcoming game...

Ghostrunning with the Devil - Season Preview - AL West

A simple equation for season preview success:
    Uninformed pontificator + hackneyed gimmick - accountability = I'M A GENIUS!
Our gimmick of choice will find us pairing each team with a band/artist from the same area code. The connections will be tenuous at best and derived from my completely arbitrary criteria. Teams are arranged by predicted order of finish, based on nothing approximating math, science or logic.

Well well, we've come to the grown-ups' table. Sort of. The AL West

Death to False MetalCalifornia Angels - The Dillinger Escape Plan
Sure, they're FROM New Jersey. But they have definitely gone LA. DEP write insane, amazing songs and play them at a breakneck speed. Every so often, they'll slow down and bludgeon you with riffery. The Angels (and their myriad of outfielders) run, run and run some more. When they need to, they call in the Big Man to Do Work.
Seattle Mariners - Tegan and Sara
My big, greasy, gay boner for Tegan and Sara is exceeded only by my well-established love for Ichiro. The M's pulled the trigger on a big trade to bring in Erik Bedard, breaking every xenophobic Canadian Blue Jay idealist's heart in the process. The Con is solid and approaching great. Nope, they sure won't make out with you. Nope, they sure won't contend for the wildcard.
Oakland A's - Too $hort
Rich Harden has the same kind of electric stuff as AJ Burnett but is even less reliable. Combine this with Billy Beane's shrewd yet cruel deals to keep the team young and cheap, and A's fans likely spend a lot more time drinking than they do cheering. There is definitely some real talent here, but I doubt even the manager knows where it is. Uhh, Obvious Too $hort pun? I'll let it go.
Alright, Alright, AlrightTexas Rangers - Drowning Pool
A horseshit band for a horseshit team. The rotation is a joke, Michael Young is an All-Star and a leading cause of spilt-milk related tears in Toronto (LaMarcus Aldridge notwithstanding.) Jewel of the Teixeira trade and consonant enthusiast Jarrod Saltalamacchia may not even make the team. Drowning Pool are music at its worst/doucheyest. Wooderson wouldn't be caught dead scalping tickets to one of their half-assed shows.
The Angels are the class of this division, and should be considered legitimate World Series threats. Every time the Jays go west, it seems like a make-or-break road trip. It inevitably breaks. Jamie Campbell gets cranky working so late into the night.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Nobody Knows My Sorrow

The inevitable has happened. The writing is on the wall. Rocco Baldelli is going on the DL (indefinitely) and looks to be done. Finished. And the circumstances couldn't be crappier. No freak collision, no wear-and-tear breakdown. No no, those are too run of the mill for poor, unfortunate Rocco. He won't go down with anything normal, it takes a rare and freakish condition involving "metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities."

Seriously? This is sad and depressing. Mitochondrial abnormalites???? Should I be on the lookout for Resident Evil 11: Rocco's Revenge? My brain is clearly going to mush, and sadness is taking over. Watch this space in the coming weeks for tonnes of bad emoetry and numerous Lydia from Beetlejuice quotes. Sigh.

All joking mancrushes aside, this is really too bad. As Rays' manager Joe Maddon says in the article: you're talking about a gifted athlete right here. A 26 year old that has been groomed for one thing his entire life, and now because his body has decided not produce enough ATP, his career may be over.

While Rocco may not have signed a DNR quite yet, those of us that love him know when the time has come to pull the plug. You know how we truly feel Rocco, you're the only one for us. Remember Rocco, you'll never walk alone.

Murphy's Law

I suppose Jesse Listch can now look forward to being the Jays fifth starter to begin this season. Casey Janssen has been lost for the year to a torn labrum. Janssen doesn't know when or how he hurt the shoulder but needless to say this is a bit of blow. He figured to be a key part of the staff this season, no matter what capacity it was in.

Janssen pitched in 70 games last season, going 2-3 with a 2.35 ERA. The Janssen injury isn't the way the Jays wanted to go into the season, which leaves fans wondering "could this be a sign of things to come?" I highly doubt it, but losing Janssen certainly does suck.