Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bedlam in Chicago

Everyone loves a tie-breaker.

It's "win or go home" night at U.S. Cellular field in Chicago as the Sox and Twins play a 163rd game to decide who plays the Rays as Central division champs. The Twins were up against it right from the start, losing the pivotal coin-toss that determined who got to host the tie-breaker.

Josh Denks is pitching on three days rest for the first time in his career. He only lasted four innings in his last start so I guess he'll still have something left in the tank. Nick Blackburn gets the call for the Twins, who was less than impressive in his last start against the Sox. So what do we get? Bobby Jenks coming into to close out the game with the Sox leading 1-0. The only run has come off a clutch home run by none other than the ageless Jim Thome.

Why is it A.J. Pierzynski seems to be involved every time there is a big game? Tonight he was involved in what might be the deciding play of the game. He held onto a throw home from Ken Griffey Jr as Michael Cuddyer ran him over attempting to score from 3rd on a shallow fly ball. Had he not held on, the Twins would have taken a 1-0 lead. Pierzynski demanded that Cuddyer see that he held the ball after the big collision, ensuring he takes a 1000-0 lead in the world's biggest douchebag contest.

As the title of the post suggests...it's bedlam in Chicago as Jenks finished off the Twins in the ninth. Time to fly to Florida. The last play of the game was amazing as well.

For the first time in a thousand years, both Chicago teams are in the post-season.

What a game.

Best. Season. Ever.

86 times I sat down and tried to think of dick jokes to accompany a Blue Jays win. 32 times (league high!) I had to think of dicks jokes that could relate to a one run loss. For me, that doesn't describe disappointment, or failure, or anything but a good time.

Did John MacDonald perform feats previously unseen? Yes. Did Scott Rolen boggle the mind? Yup. Was Roy Halladay off his ass from April 'til October? Cy think so. Were there walkoffs? King Dong walkoffs even! Did Jesse Litsch make The Face and convert the skeptical? That he did. As far as I'm concerned, this season was a rousing success. The team won more than they lost; and were a little bit of good luck away from being right in the thick of the pennant chase.

Ah, ever elusive luck. The Jays underperformed their Pythag right from the start and never recovered. They also got unlucky with some flyers they took on cheap free agents. What if Wilkerson and Hinske flip results? For what it's worth, Hinske was coming off a 87 OPS+ season, Wilkerson 104. What if Grant Balfour pitched more like Aramando Benitez instead of Joe Nathan? I don't mean to sound bitter, but those critical of JP should remember found money works both ways. Sometimes you find a dime, sometimes you pick up an ancient doubloon.

On a personal level, this season was more rewarding than any World Series championship. I learned more, laughed more, and argued more about baseball than I ever thought possible. Without the support of everyone that linked, commented, and read; that wouldn't have been possible. I want to thank and offer my sincere appreciation to all the good people that helped make this season a success for me: first and foremost the Reverend, Jesse BoBD and El Leal for their invaluable contributions, visible and otherwise. Rob & Kris for reaching across the aisle and the border, the Drunks, JW & the Southpaw, the incomparable Tao, Hale, Mohawk Chalk, Ian the hunter, the beleafers, 35th Street Andrew and all the good people that keep the databases full and the amazing Blue Jays content fresh, hilarious, and relevant. The Jays blogosphere is the best and most varied in baseball. Period.

Don't think this sappiness is the end of the line, not by a long shot. Ghostrunner on First will still be home to all the baseball detritus you've come to know and tolerate. All winter long! Winter meetings, GM meetings, playdowns, and anything else remotely Blue Jay related. Best season ever! Playoffs!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Let Him Walk

lloyd the FunspongeI'm not going to plagiarize all of Jonny Was of The Southpaw's good work regarding A.J. Burnett from earlier this week; I'll simply agree. Aging power pitchers with dubious injury histories are red flag city. Re-upping Burnett to keep him from leaving would be a mistake, the kind of contract albatross that JP has done well to avoid.

Is AJ Burnett the only thing keeping the Jays from winning in 2009? No, he may be the only thing keeping them from true mediocrity, keeping them treading water as a strong team in need of divine intervention to make the final playoff push. 2010 is the year that everyone sees as the best chance for a true run at the postseason. Young Jays come of age while established Jays reach their peaks. The 2010 Blue Jays could certainly benefit from a pitcher like A.J. Burnett, a big name, shutdown stuff-guy with a goofy streak. That describes 2008 Burnett. 31 year old Burnett with both eyes squarely on the last, big contract of his career. 2010 Burnett is a 34 year old power pitcher with a history of injuries, looking at he last two big earning years.

The Jays two year offer is a good bit of business; strike when the iron is hot and the optics are ideal. Except for one thing:
This is why players hire agents!
They need an emotionally distant, oily skinned con-artist ensuring they both get a big payday. Hometown discounts are rarely given, especially to a guy that signed here specifically because he'd have the option to retest the free agent waters.

Just like Johnny did in his post, I will of course state that A.J. is great, pitched well this year and reiterate that he would make next year's team much better. But down the road, the cost wouldn't outweigh the benefit.

Enough buzzkilling, on to bigger and better things

  • Who should the Jays pursue if not Burnett? Why Brad Penny of course. If he is bought out, they could offer him a tidy little one year "prove you're healthy and can still compete" deal. He's younger than Burnett but shares a familiarity with Arnsberg. He hasn't been good this year, but was excellent during 2007 and the first half of 2006. If a one year deal is out there, he's a worthy risk.
  • Walkoff Walk is blowing up! No one can resist the shrimp video, not even ESPN! Camp Tiger Claw and Rob are in this month's ESPN the Magazine describing their favorite walkoff walks of the year. Check it out and pray for shrimp.
  • Rocco Baldelli does not, repeat DOES NOT have muscular dystrophy. An erroneous report claimed he had the much more serious disease. He just has run-of-the-mill mitochondrial myopathy. Overcome Rocco. Overcome.
  • I usually deplore this kind of hipster childhood coveting, but this video is far to enjoyable not to share. I watched it with the sound off to avoid any pretentious poisoning.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Outdated, Meaningless Milestone Still Kinda Cool

Wins are still bullshit, and completely out of the pitcher's control, but damned if I didn't get a little amped when Halladay picked up his 20th. In typical Halladay style, he deflected all credit to his teammates, refused to compare this season to 2003 and was generally amazing about the whole thing. I genuinely get embarrassed when he's forced to talk to the media, it is an affront to everything he stands for. Let the man pitch and go the fuck home.

I can't imagine the amount of focus and concentration required to be Roy Halladay. Faced with the inanity of post-game questioning, I'm surprised he doesn't snap more often and start tearing heads from bodies. AJ Burnett is lucky to be alive. You don't sneak up on a wild animal just released from his cage

Last night seemed like a grand old time at the dome. Winning and cheering and waving and what not. The ginger and the giner sitting in the expensive seats yucking it up every time a foul came close. Even good old Cosplay Carson got a slice of camera time. A pretty good note to end the home schedule on; if it really has to end. When is opening day again?

Unfortunately, finishing up against the Orioles on the road is the definition of anticlimactic. The final weekend of the season will find me at Walkoff Walk once again. Today too! One of the headmen is on vacation (in Canada!) so I may just saunter over waste different people's time.

Late Pass Territory - Halladay Suppresses the Urge to Kill by Fishing

I think it's best that Roy Halladay enjoys the serene comforts of fishing. I hope he enjoys the constant sitting and gazing, casting and staring into space. He deserves a break. Though a few well-timed grimaces towards the water and his boat will quickly fill with his day's take.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yankees Exhaust the Minute Amount of Sentimental Currency I Lent Them

Annnnnddddddddd, we're back. Guess what? I still hate the Yankees with the fire of a thousand hobo stoves burning outside TODITB. They send out the "B" team and the Jays were stupefied. No Rodriquez, no Jeter, no Damon. Phil Hughes flew the Spruce Goose of hype right through the Blue Jays bats. Not even AJ Burnett and his Hammer of Doom could keep the Yankees at bay. Scott Rolen, he of the excellent September, tried as well; it simply wasn't happening.

I don't blame Jesse Carlson for the King Dong he served up, he loaded the bases so a run was likely. He threw 35 pitches last night, his highest total since April. He hit two guys, walked one and somehow the only lefty he retired was actively trying to speed up the process. Maybe the second inning was too much at the end of the season? But injuries, spot starts and Tallet's two innings the night before didn't leave Cito much choice.

Wednesday's With JP - Out with a Whimper

How sad, the final JP call-in of the year. Will the Jays flaccid stretch to end the season weigh heavy on the minds of the Wilner's disciples? I hope so, because I didn't get to see Baroness last night thanks to work responsibilities. My frustrations and hatred for my employment will all be revisited upon the heads of the lowest form of life; people I've never met! Healthy, wealthy, and wise am I.

Historian of the things you already know: If you fellas don't mind, I'm going to prattle on here for a good week, give you AJ's bio and regurgitate some stuff I read in the paper. Ignoring the obvious fact that no human would leave the kind of money AJ will be offered to stay with any company, no matter the circumstances, do you think he'll stay here because he's just figured out his preferred route to work? I know that once I changed jobs and I spent a good four years trying to figure out the quickest rou...

Voodoo Economics: I'm going to offer you a job my friend. Today is your lucky day. Based on your one call, I've decided to offer you a job here with the Toronto Blue Jays at 140% of your current pay. It is much more prestigious and we'll offer you lots of cool stuff as well. Would you accept? What if you current employer asked really nicely? You can start on Monday, I'll schedule the press conference.

JP and Mike chat about AJ's agent and the nature of players going through free agency for a second time. JP says nice things about the agent in a vain attempt to curry favour. No dice, you'll pay JP.

Tendons litter the Rogers Centre Floor: Everybody's hurt! Who's coming to save us all? If the pitching gets worse they'll lose 100 games!

Horatio Hornblower: Mike do you feel a draft? It feels drafty in here, but I like it. I thrive in drafty conditions. Cecil, Mills, others.

JP and Mike then discuss Arenciba taking BP. What a shock, JP says it went swimmingly. He hit balls to all fields, healed the sick and taught BJ Ryan to throw a knuckle ball.

Corporate Synergy Enjoyed by All: Should I sell my Rogers stocks? Where do they rank the Blue Jays? Is signing up for a three year data plan more meaningful than buying season tickets?

JP is in the blond girl's 5: Even I don't know that. They don't tell me anything. One thing I do know, MY5 is a great calling feature that lets you create your own calling circle...

The Longing: Who did you let go that you wish you coulda had?

The Yearning: Ted Lilly only tried to convert himself to a submariner mid-game and fight the manager mid-game once each. He'd be cool to have around.

Mikey mentions keeping Delgado before the money started flowing. My heart broke just a little. He also mentions Aaron Hill being with the team and looking good. My heart can take no more.

Cormac O'Reilly: Since the Famine, me 15 wee'uns and I like to go down the Rogers ground for Two Shilling Tuesday. Little Seany often tunes into the games at night, keeping the 7 children he shares a bed with up until all hours. Me kids love baseball, even more than Gaelic football! They want to know how the players get to the games? We were walking barefoot to Regan's First Communion and we saw a limousine. Were the players inside?

Wacking Day: Everyone loves baseball my spud-eating friend. The players ride their dump trucks powered by orphan tears to each game. On the road, we grease the streets with kitten blood and slide on our knees in Kevlar suits right into the ballpark. It's hard to find a hotel uphill sometimes.

Admitted Fairweather Fan: I read Ghostrunner on First all the time, and agree with the dashing young champion of Cito's cause. Why does he fall in love with guys in set "roles?"

Power Struggle: His job is more secure than mine. He can do whatever he wants.

A Betting Man: JP! I need the inside track! Who's going to win the World Series???? The wolves are literally at my door. My bookie has a wolf like Frodo in Sin City!


Baseball Insider: Regrets? You've had a few? Best transaction?

Humble JP: I made a deposit at the bank of YOMAMMA last night. Zing!

JP's Blackberry is going off AGAIN! The fuck man?

Guy already planning next year's fantasy draft: Who's on the free agent market?

JP: AJ Burnett. We aren't in the running?

MILB.com's webmaster: I'm already planning 2012's fantasy draft. Who should I keep my eye on for my 40 man roster only team?

J-Jack: We have lots of good young men. They're good. And young! Tolisano sounds awesome. Go here, they know the youth.

WBC! Coming Soon to a Rogers Property Near You! Catch the fever! Buy the ticket!

Justify my love: Lot's of our guys are good. People want them to play on their team. Scott Richmond has a chance to play for Canada. BURN GRIFF. JP BURNED YOU.

Pissed Jeans: OMGJPwhatareyougoingtodoaboutthepitcherseverybodyishurtwhenwilltheycomeback?

Speaks fluent Teenager: We're going to be young.

Wilner throws in a dig about the Chiefs "moving" to Vegas. JP sounds like he threw up on his mic.

The Fence: I bet if I sniffed around on the internet, I could learn about all the wonderful metrics and systems to track defensive efficiency. But fuck it, I'll ask an old school, Ford Festiva with 400 000 miles driving-scout turned GM.

JP Stengal: I'm like a feral animal. ALL INSTINCT. Numbers can't teach me what I can see and touch.

Bob hates BJ: Send him away. Trade a player when his value is lowest for something much more valuable. Do it now!

JP hates BJ also: Never going to happen. He's very large and would inflict grievous bodily harm upon my person.

Imma nail you JP: Why do you hide behind the division you play in? Other teams overcome small budgets to win?

Pwn3d: But, but our division's REALLY hard. The other teams are ALWAYS good. It's not an excuse if I believe it to be fact.

Awww, no JP all winter. That sucks. Now I have to think another shtick to steal. Boo. I'm sure somebody else will think of something, I'll think it's cool and then: PROFIT!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MLB.com Implores You to Check Your Brain at the Door

Pity the poor scribes under MLB's official employ. While Mr. Bastian and friends enjoy the steady work that Major League Baseball provides, they are often asked to publish not even thinly-veiled press releases for MLB.com "events." Today Jordan was tasked with promoting Vernon Wells as the Blue Jays nominee for the Hank Aaron award. This paragraph is paraphrased on 30 different team sites, all in the top slot of "Headlines" section:
The Aaron Award is presented annually to the best overall offensive performer each league, with each club having a nominee. Fans can vote until Oct. 12 to select the winner in each league. The winners will be announced prior to Game 4 of the World Series on Oct. 26.
I enjoy Vernon's work, and his rate stats give reason for hope. But does anybody think he would be a more deserving winner than say, Carlos Quentin? Josh Hamilton? Not even the most devout Jays fan wearing the darkest blinders could advocate Vernon Wells winning any award over those two mashers.

Poor Jordan didn't even get the worst of it. Can you imagine having to stump for Mike Aviles - Slugger of the Year? What about Lastings Milledge? And I quote:
Since the second half of the 2008 season, Milledge is hitting .299 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs. For the season, Milledge has an outside chance to go 20-20 for the first time in his career.

Milledge already has 23 stolen bases and is six home runs shy of 20 home runs. He would likely have already reached that milestone if he didn't go on the disabled list in late June.
He's but 6 home runs short of 20 for the season. Meaning he has 14. Three fewer than punchline-inducing team leader Vernon Wells. Much like the Tao pointed out in his take on the ridiculous Team MVP debate, this is another waste of people's time. Bastian has been bringing the goods all season with his blog, so it's disappointing to see someone talented forced into writing something he can't possibly believe.


Watching Yankee Stadium's last stand on Sunday night made me feel...strange. It was a little like hooking up with a strange girl after she's had a few too many drinks. She's wild, aggressive and unexpectedly starts into a filthy talk routine. Not standard-issue filth, she brings the racist smack. She keeps tossing around hateful utterances, calling you a dirty [redacted], telling you she always knew you were just another [redacted]. It's hard not to get caught up in the moment, lose your head in the filth and shout [redacted!] at the ceiling without an ounce of guilt. But you aren't as drunk as she, so your conscious pulls you aside to say "this ain't right." Now your so preoccupied with your moral dilemma that you haven't notice she [redacted] your [redacted, let's just move on.]

The point is this: I enjoyed some of the ceremony. Pointless, overblown, hyperbolic and excessively sentimental all at once; more mythology was heaped upon the legend and myth so carefully built over 85 years. But the ovation for Bernie Williams and the fans barking DER-ECK JEE-TUR like a borough full of seals every time he wandered into their field of vision, it all came from a honest place. I bet most people in attendance had an amazing time. How could they not?

The shrinking core of recent Yankee glory, the core that supplied that entitled fan base the reason for their entitlement, the core that gave them an opportunity to cheer. More fans are going to be priced out in New York, but the "traditions" will remain. There will still be unspeakable acts of violence and the seventh inning performance of "Love it or Leave it" at the New Stadium, but it won't be quite the same. But I can't deny my own jealousy, that those fans had a chance to thank the players that have provided so many of their memories. Lucky for them they'll all have the opportunity to pay for those memories, as Yankee Stadium memorabilia is going to flood the market like the kidneys of recently executed Chinese dissidents.

Mariano Rivera came in just because it was the scripted thing to do, but his appearance in the game was the highlight. Jesse and I had spent time Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre discussing how secretly easy it is to enjoy Rivera's work. He's been really good for a long time, even if his role is overrated. You have to give it up for a guy that's thrown one pitch for 14 years. We also laughed at his connection to Enter Sandman. What are the chances Mo's heard "his song" all the way through? Do you think he could hum the guitar solo? The Yankees are in Toronto for the next three games, so I am free to hate them once again. The battle for third! I can barely wait.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rock and Roll Will Never Die

Rocco's in the playoffs and Scott Rolen hit an insurance home run. Sounds like a good day to me.

Unlike Friday, aka the day 2009 died. The offseason is long and will be full of baseless conjecture. I'd much rather focus on what precious little baseball (Blue Jays baseball) I have left to savor. Only a few more examples of Scott Rolen defense, only a few more games to watch Travis Snider and Adam Lind improve. Only a few more chances for Brandon League to do whatever it is that Brandon League does, and only one more chance for AJ Burnett to prove he is the worst fielding pitcher in baseball. And flaky as hell.

Today will be my final live Blue Jays game of the year. Scott Richmond against Dice-K? Ugh. Hopefully Kevin Youkillis doesn't do anything to piss me off. In other words, hopefully Tito gives him the day off.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Work Sucks - 1238289791837th Edition

Work sure does suck, but the little things get us by. John MacDonald's sublime transfer to throw out Brian Roberts in the 9th inning for example. It made my heart sing and might be the only thing getting me through to Saturday.
  • Shaun Marcum being shut down for the year does not make my heart sing. It makes my heart leap into my throat in fact. The Ligament Pimp of Birmingham is on Marcum's case for the second time this year. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but getting to know him probably doesn't reflect well on your health.
  • Obviously Scott Rolen's offensive season has been somewhat disappointing. He's been swinging the bat well in September, just like every other month this season save one. That is right, Scott Rolen has posted exactly ONE sub.800 OPS this season. Unfortunately, the one month was so bad it killed his rate stats for the season. It was awful in a crazy, Johnny Mac, .477 OPS way. As the Jays blogger meme dictates I mention; Troy Glaus has posted 3 months of sub .800 OPS (but two full months over .900)
  • The Jays are playing the Red Sox AGAIN this weekend. I know Jays morale is a little low right now, and nobody wants to play spoiler, but I really hope the Jays take two of three from the Sox. I'd take great pleasure in seeing the Red Sox have to fly cross-country to face the Angels. Generally, fuck the Sox. Specifically too, if you have a couch people can't see under.
The final weekend series! This sucks. Hopefully I'll make it to Sunday's game, my final one of the year. I'll be Walkoff Walking in the meantime, please check it out. I had some fun last week, even picking on Yankees fans. Who doesn't enjoy that?

Comebacks - Snappy and Otherwise

Last night's game was maddening and inspirational at the same time. Brandon League supplied a substantial part of the maddening. No matter how good your stuff is, you still can't throw it right down the middle. Scott Rolen and Travis Snider provided the inspiration. Rolen 3-4 with two doubles and a triple off the very top of the centerfield wall? Greatest Blue Jay ever? Never in doubt. But the second-to-last "Wednesday's with JP" of the year has been presented to us, so I should pick the remaining pieces of low-hanging fruit while I still can. Will Professor Griff's article fan the flames of discontent? Will the Red Sox hangover sour the Jays faithful?

These are pressing questions, but aren't nearly as important as ensuring Johnny Was, /a and the rest of the aging punk rock alumni see something. I'm hoping they can tell me what the hell is going on in this video.

Wednesday's with JP - Can you believe they still do this?

I certainly cannot. But they won't for long. JP's in the house, Griff is in and out of his grill and the nimble-fingered are on the phone. Let the bad times roll. JP kicks off the show justifying bringing up Travis Snider without committing to naming him an every-dayer for next year. A never ending series of beeps and bloops from his Blackberry distract me and him. I guarantee it's never out of arm's reach. Ever. He then refuses to comment on Cito's contract status despite swearing on him returning next year. On to the proles!

Smug Guy from Jokeville: JP, everybody says you're a stubborn prick that refuses to admit when he's wrong. But you've wronged JP, oh how you've been wrong. Perhaps you could eat a large helping of crow on the radio for all to hear?

Smug Guy from Woosta: I BLEED BLUE JAY BLACK, GREY, AND OTHER ASSORTED, FOCUS-GROUPED COLORS. Despite what the books tell you, this is a very inexact science. Everything we do is a gamble, I do my best. Wilner seems to agree and begins to mention the contracts extended to Vernon Wells & Eric Hinske, which were very similar in size and date signed. JP bristles and appears quite sick of Eric Hinske questions. One was good, one was bad. Based on the information we had, these were worth-while risks to take. Young player's contracts don't kill you like big-time free agent deals that go south. People love to kill me over Hinkse, but never credit me for getting all those good years of Vernon for next to nothing. Frank Thomas, regrettable yes but crippling no. Jesus Christ people, it's called Moneyball not Forseeallstrugglesball.

Blissfully unaware: Robinson Diaz? Ryan Dempster? Make AJ stay?

Lloyd Interjects: Are you naive? Fuck. Ryan Dempster? He's Canadian right? Who fucking cares.

Monkey Math: If everybody leaves, what will you do with the pennies from heaven?

C.R.E.A.M.: It's not getting spent the way you want. Everybody get's a raise, most notably myself. Think about that as you fall asleep on your straw pile held square by Ikea particleboard.

Juggernaut Punch: What about the Creampuffs? Are they going to live?

Doctor JP: Accardo's not dead, he's pining. Casey Janssen will be ready for Spring Training and is already throwing. Ed. Note: Hooray! McGowan won't start, likely, until May. Davis Romero had bloodclots removed (!) but will be fine as well.

JP's uncle Rupert: I love you JP. You've complied a good team, you admitted fault re: Chad Gaudin, and are way cooler than the Media goons that hate you.

Humble JP: Thanks dad, the check is in the mail. This isn't hockey. It's hard to make the playoffs, we win lots of games. Its cool.

The hear and the now: I know pitching is important, but you should throw it all away for a mythical bat that we can all ride to the zenith of playoff heaven.

JP's bread is buttered: Nope. Pitching is good to have.

Baseball American. Fuck Yeah: I read you pulled your draft picks outta your ass. Did it hurt?

Greased Wheels: Allow me to detail all the wondrous things that reside inside my ass. My head for one. AM I RIGHT GRIFF?? HUH? HUH?? JP rattles off some of his draft successes. He's got a point to go with his excuses.

William Shakespeare from Stratford: The scuttlebutt here in the baseball hotbed of Stratford Ontario is that you are going to trade two important pitchers for a bat. My sister's neighbor's doctor's daughter works at a Rogers Video in Simcoe, and she has it on authority. She met a guy and he told her that he was a baseball player and he knew all the secrets. Stop this charade JP, and give me the names involved in this trade.

JP: I cannot tell a lie. You're an idiot.


JP the Minuteman: I will throw the tea and the sub-.600 OPSing shortstops into the Boston Harbor.

Quiet down Wilner, I'm talking here: Travis Snider shouldn't be the starter! Bring in a big money guy..........goddam garbage trucks make too much damn noise on my street in the morning.....saggy pants and rock n roll music....

JP & Wilner as one: Uh, no. Travis Snider hasn't been given a job. But thanks for your senile rantings.

Tim Lincecum slipped between our fingers: What about now? Can you trade Rios now?

JP signed him long term: Nope. He's here to stay. Not sure if you noticed, but he hit a home run and drove in a buncha runs tonight. He's kinda awesome.

I just spent $120 on a Burnett jersey: Don't make me hang it up next to my Joey Hamilton jersey.

Enough: Whatever. Mike and JP talk about guys that leave money on the table to play where they want. JP implies that Mike must not have ever met: a) a baseball player or b) an agent.

BOLD MOVES: Break the bank JP. Roger Clemens type shit.

Ted's nephew: All the money is tied up in that insufferable "gang" that hocks cellphone plans. The kid with the hair needs a beating. You know which one I mean.

Skychief 4 life: What happened to Da Cuse? Are we staying put?

JP Baggadonuts: Fuggedaboudit.

Roy's Boy: Will Roy Halladay leave for a playoff team?

JP: If he does, I'll be right behind him out the door.

The Breakfast Club: Who's going to catch next year?

JP the Repeater: HIS NAME IS STILL JP, HE'S GOT THE EDGE. No dice on a Barajas deal.

Soulless Cocaine Cowboy: Aaron Hill broke his brain on the field for this team. Fuck him. Keep the other guys that aren't as good offensively OR defensively as him.

Lloyd & JP in unison: I know where you live and I've seen where you sleep. Don't ever say that again.

The next guy bizarrely asked Wilner how JP's cock tastes on the air, which was odd. The guy after him told a charming story of his wife losing the will to live. We all died a little inside after that anecdote.

Hey Travis, Have You Met My Sister?

So Mr. Snider, how are you adjusting to life in Toronto? On the field it looks like you are adjusting pretty fucking well, but it's tough to move to a new city alone at such a young age. Good thing there are lots of other kids your age consenting adults in the same boat. Well not really the same boat, as you make $400 000 dollars a year to play baseball while most of them beg for $4500 bucks from OSAP. But still, you have the same opportunity that they do: destroying tonnes of strange ass. Let me tell you Sniderman, it isn't all it's cracked up to be. What you need is a steady influence in your life. Like my sister.

Sure, she's older than you, shrill, and opinionated. Yes, she is a cat person, why do you ask? Seriously though, she'd be perfect for you. She just moved out of our parent's house at the age of 27, so desperation is setting in. She'll do anything, AN-EE-THING. If she gets drunk at a family function, she'll end up telling you all about it. While that may have been horrifying and permanently scarring for me, it's different for you because you aren't related to her. The girls I've known are surely somebody's sister? Right?

Anyway Travis, I think you should really consider taking her out and consider joining the Moseby clan. For your sake, not mine. I'm not interested in financial gain or the opportunity to make inappropriate suggestions to you when my sister (your wife) is passed out at the annual Moseby family weenie roast. I'm just looking out for you. Plus, she looks just like me, so you know she's a stunner!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where to go from here?

So it looks 85-90 wins for this season and another third or even fourth place finish in the American League East. Although some teams would kill to finish with a 87 wins, it just isn't enough to get into the post-season. This begs the question: where will the Jays go from here?

In his seven year tenure at the helm of the Jays J.P. Ricciardi has yet to produce one playoff team or really even a good run at a playoff berth. There seems to be a lot of talk surrounding whether or not he'll be returning as the GM next season. Although they haven't seen the post-season in the past seven years, there have been some decent developments with respect to the team.

When J.P. took over this team the farm system was one of the worst in the Majors. They had little talent and very few blue chip prospects. Since that time we've seen several players develop from within that include Adam Lind, Travis Snider, Shaun Marcum, Aaron Hill among others. All were picks made by the JP administration. Have there been bad moves? Sure, but the same can be said for basically every major league team. I believe some of the moves that were made were good moves at the time, that didn't really work out the way they should have. There isn't much you can do about that. The only thing you can do is try and make deals that you believe will make your team better. I believe for the most part, this is what JP has done.

With all that being said there comes a point where it's probably worth it to try something else, or give someone else a chance. This isn't me saying that JP has done a bad job or a good job, just that maybe we give someone else a chance to build a team that can reach the promised land. I for one don't wanna to feel like a Leaf fan come 30 more years.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marcum goes down, Jays behind

Shaun Marcum looked completely out of sorts early tonight against the O's. Marcum, who usually has great command, struggled to get the ball over and was pulled from the game after walking Nick Markakis in the third If he's hurt, it will be the second time this season as he missed a month earlier with a wonky elbow. Personally, I'd shut him down from here on in. There's no reason to risk what is still a promising career.

The Jays, for whatever reason, can't seem to get anything going off rookie Chris Waters. I'm about 99% sure that even I could get a fucking hit off this clown. In fact I'd set the over under at 1.5 for number of hits I'd get in four at bats facing Waters. Going into the bottom of the seventh the Jays have managed a paltry three hits and four baserunners.

Now I remember why they will miss the post-season.

Jays Quest for 90 wins buoyed by Orioles Arrival

Brian Roberts, can we borrow some eggs?
Yes, those torturous Orioles. I predicted historically awful things from them, but for the first half of the season they sat above the .500 mark. They were two games over on the date the Jays made their big turn-around. They've gone 9-21 over their last 30 games, putting them back on track for a cool 90 loses. The O's have some talent, but none of it is able to throw the ball over the plate. The Orioles scouts seem to love big dudes with zero control like Daniel Cabrera and Radhames Liz, who's WHIP is an artistic shade under 1.8. That is some determined awfulness. Liz is coming off an excellent start but there is nothing to suggest he'll be able to follow it up. In other words, the Jays have no shot tonight.

These Birds can certainly hit, ranking 5th in the league in extra base hits. Their record against the Jays seems a lot better than 4-8, mostly because I dismiss them so easily that every victory seems twice as bad. They're not good, and are playing even worse.

A quick spin around the Orioles blogosphere reveals that the Orioles blogosphere is a mind-numbing place. Shouldn't you be able to have fun, despite your team's awful season? Oriole Central looks to be the most frequently updated and comprehensive in a Batter's Boxy kind of way. Consider that a warnzzzzzz...

ESPN has turned their loving gaze towards the Jays quite a bit lately; from the COMPUBOT predicting a comprehensive victory tonight to another article about AJ Burnett opting out and what it means to the team moving forward. Thanks for checking in ESPN, and for dubbing the Jays success Pyrrhic. What is the great cost of success to the Jays again? Raised expectations? The shit cuts deep.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jays Season, Bloggers Youth Die on Same Day

Shit Eating Grin from a Shit Eating WeaselMy artificial date (and date of birth) has now passed, and three bad innings spread over two days will keep me from officially scoreboard watching and scenario generating. Which is okay, because there are still a plethora of great things to watch down the stretch.

One thing I will not tolerate, under any circumstances, is sloppy defence. Overbay's gaffe in the seventh was madness, a complete head-in-the-ass moment. He exhibited a lack of hustle/awareness when it mattered, which is the only time I give a shit about hustle. He's been playing so well, so I can't stay mad. The would-be double play between Rolen and Scutaro? Impossible to place blame; the ball was hit hard right at Rolen, no way could Scutaro get to the bag in time. Could Rolen have tagged third and gone to first? Perhaps, but Cora was down the line so quickly it may not have mattered. All told there were far too many errors and misplayed balls to keep me happy, which good defense will do every time.

Downs, Cito and Managing the Bullpen

There has been a lot of debate over Cito's role in the Jays second half surge. I believe his benevolent nature and hitting guru status have helped the Jays bats come alive, possibly by providing the players with the freedom to fail. As I've said before, Cito loves his "roles" and making sure each guy has one. It may just be my lack of perspective talking, but giving guys the green light early in the count isn't the same as "Scott Downs is my eighth inning guy and that's that."

Scott Downs has put together an AMAZING season, and I have no intention of burying him. The fact remains that he hasn't been sharp since coming back quickly from the ankle injury he suffered in Detroit. His walk rate soared, he was being hit harder and his innings weren't as lockdown routine as earlier in the year. One telling sign all year has been his batting average on balls put into play. It has trended low all season from the pitching baseline of .300 until exploding in September to a whopping .348.

Compare Downs to Jonathon Paplebon, a pitcher with similar overall numbers (ERA+, BAA) but quite different K rate (much higher) and WHIP (much lower). One thing you notice is Paplebon's BABIP is much higher than Downs and closing in on .300. What does that mean? Paplebon's success as a strikeout pitcher gives him more wriggle room rather than hoping balls come to rest in gloves. With Downs walking guys as often as he has all year, he's going to yield a big inning when the balls start falling in.

What is your point, you may be asking? The point is Scott Downs is an excellent pitcher that had an excellent season. He pitched hurt because the team needed him and simply regressed to the mean at the worst possible time. I'm not mad at him, I'm not really mad at Cito for continuing to go to him when something clearly wasn't right. In fact, this week taxed the bullpen in a way that likely forced Cito's hand. Would one or two extra wins this weekend really have mattered? Probably not, but it would have been a whole lot of fun finding out. It will still be fun, just not the same kind.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Comeback Kids

After a convincing 8-1 thumping of the Sox this afternoon behind A.J. Burnett, the Jays look to gain even more precious ground in the Wild Card race in the back end of the double header tonight is Boston. As I write this they're taking a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning with Jason Bay coming to the plate.

As Sweet Caroline hums through Fenway Park I can only wonder what this season could have been had things gone the Jays way earlier on in the season. Alas, it didn't and I'm left here hoping that they can just keep on winning and some how back their asses into a playoff spot.

Whatever happens, however it ends, I'm glad that I'm watching Blue Jay baseball in September that feels somewhat meaningful.

Friday, September 12, 2008

They. Just. Keep. Winning.

The Toronto Blue Jays will not be denied. Each win is uglier than the last! Errors, walks, hit-by-pitches? Who cares? The two highest paid guys in the bullpen being the least reliable of late? Who cares? Scott Rolen and John MacDonald making 4 errors in three days? Who cares? They'll never play the perfect game; as long as they don't abandon the things that make them a good team, they'll be fine. And by fine, I mean awesome.

Let the Meaningful Baseball Commence!

This series in Boston is big in its undeniable make-or-break sense. Even the rosiest-coloured glasses must be able to see that. A split will be unacceptable. But a good time will be guaranteed. Games against the Red Sox are fun. They've expended all the fuzzy feelings their 80 year odyssey earned them, sliding into the Big Villain chair the Yankees vacated. They're also a very good team with an excellent core of homegrown talent. This large series ends on my arbitrary scoreboard watching date, the outcome will determine if it even starts at all. Being realistic certainly won't prevent me from hating Youkillis, Pedroria and the rest. Even Jason Bay, I don't give a shit which granola-tainted rest stop he played Little League in. Though Don Orsillo and the Rem-dog are okay in my book. They're everything that the Hawk should be but isn't. Being realistic about the mountain to climb won't keep the thought of David Purcey facing those patient hitters from scaring me shitless. But dammit, it feels good to be scared.

Speaking of being scared, I'm frightened of the type of wager my weekend bosses and I will cook up for this series. Make sure to check out Walkoff Walk all weekend and watch my objectivity erode with each Jays at bat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jays Bandwagon Upends, Thousands Killed

How could you let this happen Roy? How could you let the hopes and dreams of an entire nation crash to Earth? Tonight's loss was your 10th of the season. That's a new career high, you're a constant disappointment. What a bunch of chokers. It's 1989 all over again.

Or the Jays started slowly, kicked it around before succumbing to my twin Mark Buehrle and the Pale Hose. A late charge wasn't enough to complete the comeback; it was enough to renew my faith going into today. Gavin Floyd is tough and Shaun Marcum has been known to behave in a similar fashion. Makes for a solid series closer at any rate.

Wednesday's with JP - Snoozin' The Night Away

Last night's JP session was pretty fucking boring. Maybe it just seemed that way to me because I was slaving along with Photoshop Express and similar free photo editing programs to create the terrible header you see above. If it looks like it was created by someone using this software for the first time; that's because it was. I was going to take a pass on the biting satire and criticism this week, but JP's grinning visage at the top of the page urged me forth. Against my will, let's move on to the show!

JP and Wilner make nice about the win streak; with JP giving praise to the players, Cito, and implicitly himself. Natch.

Mid 80's Jays Fanboy: Cito is part hitting guru, part sage philosopher, and part shrink. How did he get to be so great, and why isn't he curing the world of all its ills?

JP the Patient: We've certainly won a lot more games with him as the manager. He steals signs and watches the games. That has much more to do with our wins than Alex Rios raising his OPS over .800. They aren't mutually exclusive certainly, but one can only have so much impact on the other.

Doctor Redundancy: Give yourself a pat on the back JP. He actually said this. Does anyone in the world need to be told to do that less than JP? Other than me anyway. The Jays have won so many games in a row, I don't want anything to change. Keep this team together forever!

JP hates this hour more than I hate the dentist: AJ Burnett is going to walk for more money. That is just what happens now. We've got lots of cheap guys that are good too.

Arbitrary Number Plucker: 85 wins? Big money guys like Sabathia?

JP hates math: 85 wins is almost guaranteed. Not that it matters, we're not making the playoffs. But you knew that. Ted Rogers isn't made of money, he just burns it to heat his platinum-gilded house.

Ted's Accountant: When do you find out how much money you'll have? Just what the fuck are system access fees anyway?

Mum's the Word: The empire built on thieving data plans should let me know what's up by the end of the World Series. That gives me plenty of time to sign next year's Kevin Mench. I've got my eye on you Willie Bloomquist...

Inquiring Mind: Who decides who goes up and who goes down? Can I give Cito all the credit for Adam Lind?

Prideful Man: It's all of us. We have a whole team of people making baseball decisions. You'd almost think it was our job.

Bill Caudill: Seriously though, how the fuck did Cito pull this off?

JP: He hasn't fought a single player. That works wonders. That and actual, league average offense. JP goes on to say that he thought the team could win 90+ games. I agree. Wilner mentions the second half pace of 105 wins for the year. JP wouldn't bite.

Old-Timey Gumshoe: How come the Globe & Mail gets the scoops? Are you and Blair BFF? He's awesome, make him write about baseball again.

No Chance of Biting on This One: Nope. Not happening. If a guy pisses me off just right; I'll go off like an cannon and embarrass myself and the team. But only on the right day.

Racist Guy: I hate Overbay's whiteness and nice-guy demeanor. I don't care about his reasonable contract or his .862 second half OPS. I want you to splash the cash!

Lloyd the Overbay Defender: Watch the games, he's a strong contributor and cheap. Delgado is (sadly) going nowhere. Scott Boras won't let Tex anywhere near me. We'll be fine.

Bright Young Man: Take AJ's money and spend it on the draft. I think this guy was trying to get JP to pay bonuses over slot and even specified one such draftee. A legitimate yet futile question.

JP Doesn't Speak Spanish: These Dominican players charge a lot! That is why we don't have a single one in the system.

Senility is Hell: Marco Scutaro for MVP! He's played many positions! He seems nice and doesn't wear too much jewelery. He's swell.


Tony Bagadonuts: Grit! Scrap! Dirtbags!

Weasels 4 Life: Cito likes dirtbags too! They'll play for their supper, they will. Yarr, get yer shirt dirty Inglett. Rios is lazy and not dog-ish enough.

That's it. Brief, painless and void of news. Other than Casey Janssen's progress, which JP said was excellent. The poor bastard may never walk again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Notes from New York

Derek Jeter has played post-season baseball every year of his career; dating back in his rookie season of 1995. With the post-season galaxies away in 2008 people have been wondering how Derek would spend his October after so many years of fall baseball. Word around the league is that Jeter, along with good friends Bernie Williams and Chuck Knoblauch, will spend most of the month fly fishing in Louisiana and hanging out at Joe Torre's pad in Los Angeles. There's a chance Roger Clemens may show up half way through the month if he's not too busy getting fat in Houston or partaking in federal court proceedings.

In hopes of a very late playoff push, the Yankees are close to activating minor league coach Luis Sojo for some added experience and leadership. It's been suggested that Sojo would be number two on the depth charts at all infield positions behind Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. Sojo should look forward to roughly zero at bats during the home stretch. The Yankees do feel he's an excellent pinch runner though.

Ivan Rodriguez received a two-game suspension for his part in a brief scuffle during a recent game versus the Angels. He also sat out today's affair, complaining of whiplash-like symptoms. While I'm suppose it's possible this ailment is related to Pudge being shoved from behind by Torii Hunter; they more likely the result of the very bitch-like open handed girl swat he whistled by Hunter's ear during the ensuing skirmish. Though I suppose that is up for debate.

The Yankees are moving out of their garbage-dump park into a building across the street that, for all intents and purposes, is exactly the same. I guess you have no choice to move when the place is falling apart, smells like urine (and feces at times) and is occupied by about as many rodents as fans. Someone better remember to get the Boss's golf cart out of the parking garage before it's demoed. Motherfucker would be lost without it.

The Yankees pitching staff is quite awful. It's a wonder they've won as many games as they. Rasner should be in A ball and Andy Pettitte really just should have stayed home this season. Either that or take some other type of HGH that would have ensured he didn't suck as often as he does. I'm not even going to talk about Sidney Ponson. Everyone can figure that shit out for themselves. LaTroy Hawkins and Kyle Farnsworth coming out of the pen is a real good way to ensure any lead you may have had is lost quite quickly.

2008 Yankees payroll - $209,081,579
(1st by $70,369,382, more than the total payroll of 11 big league teams)
Evidence that you don't always get what you pay for, especially when spent stupidly.

It's starting to feel more like the late eighties every day.

Fuck the Yankees.

Shit's Blowing Up

But I will stay the course. My birthday is Sunday, so if this madness continues a few more days we will see a firestorm of ejaculate and unbridled optimism spring forth from this space at speed. Until then, I'm enjoying the ride. The Jays keep winning; sometimes ugly (game 1 yesterday) and sometimes going away (game 2). The winning streak has come against only teams with winning records, a feat that should not go unnoticed. All of this with the team's "best" two relievers struggling and no real production from the middle of the diamond (SS, 2B, C minus Gregggg's heroics). It's a good time to be a blogging nerd.

Scott Rolen's demise has been greatly overstated

There isn't enough truth to this statement to keep doubt from creeping in. His home run last night was certainly a relief, but it came on a grooved 89 fastball. Any kind of high-end heat and he looks bad. Too many weak pop-ups to the middle of the diamond. So let's hope for more center cut cheese and all will be well.

Roy Halladay Versus Roy Halladay left & light is always an entertaining match up.

Good and speedy times in store for tonight. Get ball, throw ball, fuck off. I like the Jays chances tonight (so does ESPN's compubot!) but I do worry about the rotation for the weekend. We all know Burnett will go on short rest, and Halladay will too. Will that be enough to get them to Monday's off day? Does it matter? Not really, but there is fun to be had watching this team compete.

I would be remiss not to point out the latest Rocco loveletter, this time from the good people at Yahoo. So much from my fourth outfielder pipedream. Keep on keeping on Rocco.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's Just that Easy

As the Jays take a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the first one can only imagine this thing is going to reach ten games. Doesn't it have to?

Fuck Jim Thome is old. I feel like he's been in the league since I was thirteen. 1991 was a long long time ago. If Carlos Quentin's season-ending injury isn't one of the stupidest fucking things you've ever heard; you must not have heard what his dumb ass did. Nick Swisher is so bad it makes me want to cry and Paul Konerko isn't much better. Either the Central is a fucking joke or the White Sox have come out on the fortunate end of a lot of shitty baseball games.

Is there enough calender for the Jays to make a real run at the post-season? Probably not, but it sure is fun watching them reel these wins off one after one. I know finishing third ahead of the Yankees doesn't count for shit, but I won't hesitate to remind A-Rod every chance I get. Motherfucker.

Falling Sickness

Sometimes the universe works in funny ways. Last night the Jays were rained out. Last night I stubbornly ate at Tortilla Flats again, so my insides came raining out all night and day. Guess that means I'm not going to work.

Guess that means I'll have to live blog the make up game! 2pm! Dial us up and we'll watch AJ Burnett throw fastballs in anger, together.

1:49pm: There is some concern that I may die halfway through this thing. For now, I'm eating plain, salsa-free Tostitos and drinking water. I've got plenty of Coke Zero at the ready and Jays Connected is getting me prepared. Prepared for banality, you should do the same.

1:55: More Connected observations. Is Evanka Osmak hot? I'm not convinced. She certainly isn't ugly, but hot? The Killers should try to write an entire song, not just three hooks in a row.

2:00: No chance of a rainout today. Here are your lineups, Cito unsurprisingly makes no changes. A.J. Burnett goes against Javier Vasquez, who is better known as A.J. Vasquez. Expect lots of Ks, lots of pitches with the potential for lots of taters. Darrin Fletcher joins Jamie Campbell in the booth in a move destined to piss me off. Fletcher is a sub-standard broadcaster in every way. BUT HE PLAYED FOR THE 'SPOS, GIVE'EM A JOB.

2:05: It took 30 seconds for Fletcher to piss me off. Sum Sumpin indeed Darrin. Johnny Mac's hitting 2nd today, an indefensible move by Cito. MacDonald walks in an indefensible move by Vasquez. Rios yanks one into left field, an event Jamie Campbell uses to mention the 8 game winning streak for the 20th time. This will be a long afternoon.

2:12: Vernon Wells hits a LOLer to the mound but hustles to stay out of the double play. Runners on the corners for Adam Lind, who bounces it right to Pauly Konerko to end the inning. I still can't believe that John MacDonald is hitting second.

2:15: Professionalism at its finest! Campbell has to drop a "We're on" as Fletcher chats mindlessly. The Pale Hose have a 500 dingerman and a 600 dingerman in the lineup on the same day. Who knew Pablo Ozuna has had such a prolific career? John MacDonald justifies his place in the batting order with a nice play to get the Scorer's Best Friend.

2:21: I'm considering seeking out Jerry to save me from Fletcher. His delightful back-catcher story was agony. Nothing but pain. A.J. Pierzynski's punchable face grounds out with a satisfying expletive. Jermaine Dye succumbs to AJ's might hammer. 0-0 after one.

2:25: WGN has let me down. I don't want Maury, I want the Hawk! Overbay is set down by a nasty Vasquez breaking ball. I worry for the pitch counts today. Alexei Ramirez is used to Cuban baseball, where right fielders are considered too bourgeoisie. He runs halfway to Milwaukee to make a pointlessly nice catch. Zaun also swings at the first pitch and pops out to third. Fuck you Lloyd, what the fuck do you know about pitch counts? Inning over.

2:30: "Mr Incredible" flies out to Vernon Wells in centerfield. Jim Thome is huge, and a free agent this year. His .366 OPB makes me think he isn't quite done yet, but please J.P., stay away. Another K for Burnett, he makes Konerko look sufficiently foolish. Word is you lay off his curveball, cause he can't throw it for strikes. Easier said than done I suppose. Ken Griffey's swing is a sexy sight but without power to the gaps, he's just another tease. End of 2, still no score.

2:37: Travis Snider needs to lose the goatee. I'm sure he thinks it gives his face shape, but it just doesn't work. The Future strikes out on a fastball low and away. Fletcher compares the 08 Jays to the '98 Jays. Jose Conseco and Roger Clemens beg to differ. Gregg Zaun is into though, he sees a lot of himself in Darrin Fletcher. Doctor Inglett feebly grounds out to Vasquez, who looks equal to AJ's contract-fueled greatness today. Johnny Mac strikes out on a fastball 1-2 fastball right down Broadway. I think they're on to his offensive failings. White Sox will go and sit down, no score.

2:45: Alexei Ramirez missed the last series in Toronto because of his questionable immigration status. Unquestionable is his standing as an excellent, power hitting second basemen. The Jays have one of those, I hope he'll be back. AJ plunks Ramirez on the elbow, bringing Swisher to the plate. Note to Travis Snider: if this is the kind of player you become, I won't be upset. I promise.

2:50: That ended poorly. Dirty Thirty taps one to nobody, but AJ Burnett just dropped the underhanded throw from Inglett. Ugly. 2 on, none out. Juan Uribe is attempting to give himself up in the third inning. You see that Jays bullpen, that is respect! Uribe strikes out, hopefully not a future Blue Jay Orlando Cabrera comes to the plate. AJ Burnett's curve has Cabrera shouting DIABLO on the walk back to the dugout. If Pierzynski wasn't a ball player, he definitely be a highway cop. Not a real, beat walking, difference making cop. An OPP tickethammer of the assbaggingest order. Johnny Mac can hit wherever he wants so long as he keeps feeding my boner like that. Inning over, crisis averted.

3:00: Fletcher and Campbell wax on about the shape of the rotation with two doubleheaders this week. If Doctor Decision doesn't go on short rest, I'll be shocked. Ws = $. Cito must be doing something right as they show Scott Rolen sitting between the boss and Butterfield. Don't lose Rolen Cito, you'll lose the whole clubhouse! Rios walks for for the first time in September. Wells reaches out and bounces into a 3-6-1 double play. I'm not happy. Neither is AJ Pierzynski. He angrily points to the ground and fires the ball back to Vasquez after he missed with his curveball. Even his teammates must hate him. Lind strikes out on some pure gas. My curdled guts are jealous. 0-0 headed for the bottom of 4.

3:10: Joe Inglett had Jermaine Dye played perfectly. The groundball up the middle turns into a routine out. Jim Thome hits the ball a long way, but Travis Snider looked more like he was catching a bus than a deep fly ball. Two down. Paulie walks on four pitches to bring up the Ghost of Junior. Poor old Griffey is Burnett's 4th victim by hammerdeath.

3:15: Overboner! Lyle Overbay doubles as Lyle Overbay is want to do. Swisher nearly kills himself crashing into the left field wall. Professional hitter Scott Rolen slashes one into the seats. Were any humans actually attending this game, they'd be dead. Rolen goes down on strikes because he has as much of a chance getting a good fastball as I do calling Darrin Fletcher just to chat. Gregg Zaun heaves his bat into the crowd. Chet & Hunter in the front row pose for the crowd with all their teeth in place. You let me down again Zaun, until you walk to bring up Travis Snider with two on. Snider flares one to Cabrera for the second out. Snider hasn't hit the ball as hard the last few days in my eyes. Adjustment time? Inglett pops out to end the threat. Still no score

3:30; Day night doubleheaders are a crime. All these people actually have to leave, repark and then re-enter your sacred ballpark? That sucks. Alexei Ramirez is listed at 185 pounds, which I estimate to be 30 pounds too many. Dude is stringbeaned. He bounces one over AJ Burnett but right at Inglett, one down. The count is full for the second time this inning; never forget how great Roy Halladay is. Swisher pops out, South Siders hate him all the same. Slappy Uribe slaps one into Inglett's glove. Inning over. No score - NOTHING ELSE TO REPORT. SHHHHHHHHHHH

3:42: Two quick fly balls mean two quick outs. Johnny Mac gave one a Johnny Mac sized ride. He'd have to bulk up to have warning track power. Wells legs out an infield single that I wish was ruled an error. Cabrera made a nice play but a bad throw. You can blow me with an ordinary effort Cabrera. Adam Lind hits a line drive to right center for a base hit that advances Wells to third. Overbay is battling, fouling off fastball after fastball. Finally a breaking ball from Vasquez, but it travels all of 58 feet. Full Count! OVERBONERRR!!!!! Vasquez misses badly with a fastball down and in and Overbay sends it crashing into the right field fence. Two runs score, 2-0 Blue Jays! Rolen pops out to end the inning with the damage already done. 2-0

3:55: Jamie Campbell loves the aged. His daily shout out to an old person is better than him talking about whatever else might be going on. Which is nothing. Cabrera pastes one at Rolen, who'd like to have it back but will go as a basehit. The douche-er of the two AJs tries to bunt the runner along, but Gregggg throws out Cabrera at second. One down. THE WORLD IS CRASHING DOWN AROUND ME! First Scott Rolen doesn't hoover the ball up at third, now Johnny Mac tries to get cute and muffs a sure double play. Two on for Very Large Thome. Now a crossed up Gregg Zaun allows the ball to bounce to the backstop. The runners advance, taking the double play out of the picture. Ballsacks! Thome swings at a 3-0 pitch and hits a fly to left. Snider makes a strong (?) throw that takes a big bounce, allowing Cabrera to score. 2-1 Jays. Two out for Konerko, he of the big contract and minimal production. That seems to happen quite often in baseball. After much discussion and a waste-of-time change up, Paulie flies out to left center. Inning over, no-no over, shut out over. Jays still lead 2-1.

4:08: Javier Pitchcount is going to sit down for the day in favor of Horacio Ramirez. White Sox fans HATE Ramirez so Jays fans should be happy. Gregg Zaun gets his other batting helmet on, the one that makes him suck terribly. Zaunie lines one to Swisher in left, right in front of some Ottawa Senators riding stationary bikes in the bullpen. Jamie Campbell decides to tell us that Travis Snider's mom died a year ago today. The kid is 20, which is pretty fucking sad. This is just his fourth at bat in the Bigs against left handed pitching. He looks pretty going, going with stuff thrown away from him. He works a well-earned walk. Inglett flies out after far too many throws over to first. I can't see Snider running now or ever. He's big. Jamie Campbell insists that Wassermann's is a great story. I don't know that I agree. Darrin Fletcher just called him a hayseed! I'm not much more interested. MacDonald grounds out to short as Darrin Fletcher was insisting that some of his best friends are black. They're stretching in Chicago with the Jays up 2-1.

4:25: The comments seem to have died down, likely due to the Tao returning to work. I understand it was his turn to rake the serenity garden. Griffey bounces into the shifted defense for the first run. A hard-hit ball comes up on Johnny Mac for his second error of the day. Scutaro knowingly nods from the bench. Slinky Alexei is on with one out. Ramirez steals second with the throw going into centerfield. He and MacDonald get tangled up so the Cuban stays put. Sportsnet fucked up the count so I'm wondering why Swisher walked away after taking a 3-1 strike. Seems his the second out. Cito comes out to speak with AJ, likely to tell him that his agent is on the phone. He says get the win or you're fucked. Uribe gets pwned on three pitches. As commenter Ilovepalehoseandpalehos said: Fuck Uribe. Inning over, as it Burnett's day I assume. The shadows are creeping over the plate so I really hope Brandon League gets the nod. Good luck seeing that gas in the dark.

4:35: Rios goes quietly on a groundout and Wells flies out to right. Two quick outs in the eighth. Wassermann makes way for Boone Logan, which is my gay stripper name. I'll be performing at the Manhole and Cock of the Walk this weekend, please tip generously. Campbell lied to me as Matt Thornton has come on to pitch. That is my female stripper name. I'll be performing deep inside the LadyCave this weekend too. Lind goes down faster than your girlfriend in the VIP room at Ladycave to end the inning.

4:45: Scott Shutter Downs emerges to fire from the shadows. Ra's Al Ghul is not impressed. The one knock on Downs is he walks too many, which he promptly does to Cabrera. Luckily A.J. Pierzynski can't bunt properly, allowing Downs to force out Cabrera at second. You might be gritty but fundamentals are important man. Barajas is in to catch, might we get a Thigpen sighting this evening? Jermaine Dye base hit to centerfield brings Thome up with two runners on for the second time today. BONERBONERBONER. Johnny Mac and Inglett turn a great double play to end the inning, thanks in no small part to Jim Thome's advanced age. 2-1 Jays going to the ninth.

4:55: The situation no longer calls for a situational lefty; so Matt Thornton's strike out of Overbay means his day is done. Mike MacDougal, former Royals closer turned Triple A roster filler turned September call up is on to pitch for the Sox. He used to be more arms and legs coming to the plate, now he's just a regular old shitballer. Promptly falling behind Scott Rolen draws the ire of the broad-shouldered denizens. Rolen grounds out to third to bring Bah Rah Has to the plate. He singles to left before I can think of an insult about him sucking. Good on you Rod. The cameras catch Vernon Wells beating on Alex Rios in the dugout. JP approves. BJ Ryan is warming up in the bullpen; Jays fans are going to leave work now instead of riding the Ryancoaster. Travis Snider singles to right which moves Rod to third. Insurance runs at this point are like wearing a helmet when you skydive: You're still going to get fucked up but you might survive it. Joe Inglett singles to left to plate Barajas!! 3-1 Jays! A nice curve by MacDougal makes MacDonald look like, well, John MacDonald at the plate. Three down, on comes BJ to face Konerko, Griffey and Ramirez. 3-1 Jays

5:05: Hold on to your privates, BJ Ryan is on so the Jays are on the top step. A 5 pitch walk is a great way to start. Let's get the smoke and mirrors out Bo Junior, this would hurt. Another 5 pitch walk, another pinch runner and this officially sucks. Will Ramirez bunt? Why bother? The pitcher doesn't look like he can get anybody out and you want to help him? Alexei Ramirez and BJ Ryan conspire for a strikeout. The baseball book works in the Jays favour this time. Nick Swisher steps in as my heart steps into my throat. HOLY SHIT! Swisher winds himself into knots in falling behind 0-2. BJ throws a nice slider (his first well-executed pitch) for the K and now only Slappy Uribe remains. Slappy slaps it to Ryan and the jam done!!! All is forgiven BJ! Hooray for handing outs to the opponents!!!

3-1 final, only two White Sox hits. That will about do it. Thanks for stopping by and for all the comments. The winners of 9 in a row will face these same White Sox tonight. You can watch it yourself, I'm done with glogging for today. Good looking out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Second City to None

With the Jays starting a "big" series in Chicago against the division-leading White Sox, I thought it would be sporting to have one of Chicago's finest give us his perspective on the Jays, Canada and the world at large. Andrew Reilly of The 35th Street Review has done that and so much more. Mr. Reilly invited me to return the favor on his site, but don't let that foolhardy decision take away from the excellence below. Enjoy.

Eastern Avenue Freeze-Out

Several years and more than a few jobs ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Toronto on a business trip which eventually just degenerated into maxing out my per diem at that bar on Queen Street whose name escapes me. These were the glory days of a non-failing American economy, and I remember very specifically that the lead story on CablePulse 24 was the Canadian dollar trading at seventy cents American. And at the time, that seemed about right. Not economically, but contextually: for all intents and purposes, Toronto felt like seventy percent of Chicago.

This isn't a knock on the great city of Toronto, nor Canada, nor its people, nor its baseball team which I'll get to in a moment, but rather an observation that the good citizens of America's Hat had figured out a way to perfectly replicate roughly seventy percent of the life we know south of the border - but only the good seventy percent.

You have a subway system, but it's quiet, reliable and mostly void of homeless people using the corner seats as a toilet after dark. You have esteemed educational institutions, but they're actually open to those qualified to attend. You have a remarkably sound, relatively stable economy and financial system, but it's based on a currency that sounds like play money. You have guns, but you don't pull them on each other in traffic. You have Aerosmith, but they're actually Rush*.

Growing up as a White Sox fan, there were several teams I would come to hate. The Cubs. Oakland. Supposedly the Orioles should be in that group, but I was too young to grasp the enormity of the failure that was the 1983 American League Championship Series. Of course the next time the Sox made the playoffs, they had the misfortune of running into arguably the least-heralded baseball juggernaut ever assembled.

Everyone remembers Joe Carter and that one great moment whose image graces the right side of this fine website, but people forget the Blue Jays also employed the services of a current Hall of Famer, three future members and four players debatably worthy of enshrinement on the 1992 and 1993 rosters alone. The 1992 staff boasted two of the 15 pitchers to ever throw a perfect game in the modern era**.

Ah yes, 1993. That was a good time to come of age as a Sox fan. Every player on that team was doing exactly what they were brought aboard to do, and they were all doing it well - in some cases as well as they ever would. Staff ace Jack McDowell won the Cy Young while a not-yet-despised-by-fans-media-and-teammates Frank Thomas was the AL's Most Valuable Player. They took the division by eight games but then, well, you know what happened. We'll just say it ended well for you and leave it at that.

So why don't Sox fans hate the Blue Jays? You ruined Bo, repeatedly embarrassed one of the best pitchers in franchise history***, elevated some of the lamest of Sox regulars to the status of playoff hero by default while the stars' bats mostly stayed home, then kicked us in the throat just in time for our owner to engineer the strike in 1994.

(Two of the outfielders from that 1993 Jays squad, by the way, later became our locally mocked general manager and nationally mocked color commentator. So thanks for that as well.)

The answer points back to that seventy percent approach. You briefly had a baseball empire, but without the need for revisionist history or an arrogant fanbase spreading the word. You beat the hell out of everyone for a while, but never left a bruise. You killed the White Sox as a team in the early part of the decade, but fled the scene just in time to let their later organizational moves make it look like a suicide.

Even now, with all the talk of certain other teams and players in the American League East, no one notices the Jays would surely be in the hunt for the West or Central titles and easily atop the National League West. In any normal season (i.e. one where the Rays are terrible) you would be looking at the pennant race, not away from it. The Yankees getting hurt is bigger news than the Jays' bullpen putting the hurt on. Roy Halladay dominating the American League is somehow less of a story than Manny Ramirez fleeing from it. Shaun Marcum is having a great season and might as well not even exist.

Meanwhile, back here in Chicago, the Sox need to win this series, badly, or to at least not lose as much as they seem to enjoy losing these days. Win and loss columns aside, I'll be the first to say the two teams are not so far apart talent-wise but the last to say this won't be a pivotal four days for the team on the South Side.

But if this series turns ugly, well, we probably won't even notice. We'll blame Carlos Quentin's wrist or the Mariners or the Indians or some other AL punching bag the Sox should've hit harder, all the while overlooking that time in September where they lost to a comparably decent team. The standings suggest the Jays are irrelevant, which means we fans here in Chicago will assume the Sox can win without playing and gain ground without trying.

You have a winner, but it's not the kind anyone equates with winning. You have a good team, but not the kind anyone thinks is any good. You have a supposedly inferior franchise whom the White Sox have yet to beat this season. It could all end in total disgrace and we would still attribute it to anything besides actually losing a disproportionate number of games to the Toronto Blue Jays.

This probably sounds like a stupid way of thinking, and maybe it is, but that doesn't take away from you being a terrible sporting neighbor, Canada. You're slowly destroying us and don't even have the decency to let us know about it.

Well played, good sirs. Well played.

(*) Of salesmen!

(**) Wells' was the superior game if only for its reliance on so much big fat guy power.

(***) Not just the shellacking handed to McDowell in the ALCS, but also the on-field beating at the hands of Hard-hittin' Mark Whiten in 1991. Whiten would later thump four home runs in a single game with the Reds in 1993. What a guy.