Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Tragic Paisan of Woonsocket

nevayoumind my injuries
As the discussion following DJF's "battle of the beej" post quickly (and justifiably) turned into a love-in for Tampa Bay's raking and rakish converted centerfielder BJ Upton, my thoughts turned to one man: Rocco Baldelli. My heart breaks with the realization that Rocco has all but lost his job in center field. The move of Upton to center allowed the Rays to trade Delmon Young for pitching help and keep BJ's ridiculous bat in the lineup everyday. As an added bonus they reduce Upton's chances of Knoblauching his way around the infield or Offermanning his way around the bush leagues. The more pressing issue remains: what about the poor man once known as the next Joe Dimaggio?

Rocco's story is littered with bad luck and bad breaks. This cursed bastard first blew out his ACL playing basketball with his brother. Then, while rehabbing his knee, he injured his elbow so severely that TOMMY FUCKING JOHN SURGERY was needed to repair the damage. A 23 year old center fielder needed tendon transfer surgery! Instead of drilling quality moviestar trim, he was having holes drilled into his ulnar bone.

Rocco knew that a life of suburban coffee shops, Honda Civics and calling everyone he meets "guy" wasn't for him, so he bounced back from his ridiculous string of injuries to have an excellent 2006 season. His 90 game run of health showed all of the five-tool abilities that made him a near rookie of the year and top draft pick. Another nagging injury allowed Rocco only 35 games and 137 AB during a disappointing 2006 season and has left him on the outside looking in.

The offseason addition of Cliff Floyd's gossamer tendons & left handed bat combined with the continuing presence Rob Deer 2.0 add up to a logjam at DH/right field/trainer's table in Tampa. The thought of Rocco in powder blue on a Friday night makes me more than giddy, but the Jays need another right handed bat like they need another mildly obese backup catcher. Hopefully he'll find a home in the hinterlands of the National League, preferably somewhere with a natural grass field and national TV deal. Rocco and Frenchy in the same outfield would spell disaster for any runner trying to score on a live ball hit to the outfield, not to mention my heterosexuality.

Ed. Note: Mr. Baldelli was healthy enough in 2006 to play the Jays in Toronto on my birthday. Rocco + Aaron Hill's walkoff homer + numerous tallboys = a great birthday for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chronicles of an Off-Season

The day after the World Series I suddenly realized the season was over. My MLB extra innings packages that filled my day with so many big league options was useless and I became somewhat terrified. Outside the wind howled and it seemed to get dark quite a bit earlier than normal. Hell hath no fury like a MLB uber-fan denied his daily dose of Major League action. I found myself pacing back and forth in my Condo struggling to figure out what to do…there were 108 days until pitchers and catchers report…

Day 1

I am still here, but there is nothing on the MLB schedule as far as games are concerned today. I feel like a stranger in my own house. Unsure of how to proceed I take a stock of my supplies. All I seem to have are two PVR recorded Jay games from August, two unwatched Twins games also on PVR and an old copy of Major League on DVD which I fear may be scratched beyond repair. This won’t do me long, it’s time to panic.

Day 2

Using a spoon, 7 toothpicks and some string I construct a device that will allow me to collect rain water out of my second story window. I then realize that drinking water can be obtained without problem during the MLB off-season. I go to my fridge and get a Cran-Apple Iced tea. It is my first victory in these trying times and I rejoice.

Day 9

With no sign of any MLB games in my future I decide to try and read. I get through the first few pages without a problem, but then can’t help wondering if the Mets will again blow what seemed like an insurmountable lead in the NL East in 2008. They deserved so much better. I burn the book to stay warm.

Day 22

I contemplate jumping out of my second story window as my PVR stops working from an electrical problem in my building and I lose the Jay and Twin games I had. With little to sustain me during these trying times, I try and download MLB video on youtube. However, my wireless network goes down and I’m unable to proceed. If this is considered living, I welcome death.

Day 30

I’m informed of what seems like a potential alternative. I’m told that there is another professional sports franchise in Toronto many people enjoy following. They are called the Toronto Maple Leafs and play in the NHL. I triumphantly return home from work one evening excited to watch this new team in action. The first period gets underway and it’s only 3 minutes before I’m moved to tears by the lack of talent and passion they seem to have. I will never watch hockey again.

Day 53

I turn my TV on and attempt to fill the void by playing baseball on my Playstation. I’m happily pick up the controller and begin my very own season as the Toronto Blue Jays with the World Series in my sights.

Day 55

After 19 games my Blue Jays are 2-17 with little hope of making the playoffs. I don’t have a player hitting over .239 and I accidentally traded Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay to the Red Sox for Eric Hinski and Mike Timlin.

Day 68

This is getting unbearable. I wonder if there are others, struggling as I am with little end to the suffering in sight. I decide to visit Internet blogs to find someone in the same situation as me. On one blog I post, “How is everyone coping with this lact of Major League action?” I quickly see a response of “Who cares you homo.” I retreat to my 2-17 season sadly and allow 7 runs in the first inning in a game against the Devil Rays.

Day 80

I survive now only on baseball statistics related sites. I haven’t been eating much, I shake often but am certain that I can tell you who led the Major league in Home runs in 1986 or who held the all time single season saves record before Bobby Thigpen broke it in 1990.

Day 89

I make an incredibly shocking discovery today. I am not alone! In another room I stumble across a woman who refers to herself as my “girlfriend.” She tells me a harrowing tale, having survived all this time on television programs on a station called MTV and a singing competition where people vote for the winner. I realize there is nothing I can do for her, and slowly leave the room quietly.

Day 92

I decide I can no longer endure this suffering and construct a life-raft from couch cushions and paper plates. I’m fairly certain global warming will soon cause the sea levels to rise and I’ll be able to float away out of my second story window. Man does it feel good to finally have a somewhat sensible plan…

The first pitchers and catchers start reporting in 15 1/2 days...

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News

Spring training is groin-grabbingly close, and yet still so far away. And as exciting as it is to watch low-level Sportscentre reporters stand around in bad golf shirts & khakis, I'm going to need something else to tide me over. Luckily, that very thing arrives on Thursday. And the more I think about it, the more I realize just how similar they are.

Stoic leaders of men, they care not for the personal accolades or acclaim, they fight for the greater good. Quiet men, wishing they could avoid the spotlight their abilities will always garner, they lead by example. And when these men lead, the rest will follow. Oh how they follow.

The southern-fried conman, seemingly only out for his own best interests. Though he's been known to step up and be counted, he should not be trusted.

The hairfarming jacks-of-all-trades. Guile and toughness that can not be overstated. And Shawn Marcum TOTALLY tortures people with his dreaded beaded necklaces.

The plucky underdog. Though limited in size and strength, he so badly wants to sit with the grown-ups. His shortcomings are many, but you get the sense he'd lay it all on the line for the cause. Also have affiliations with groups of ambiguous sexual orientation in their pasts.

Roy and Jack, their supporting casts in tow, fight for the same thing. They won't settle for anything short of their ultimate goal, which won't come until the end of the season. So in the meantime, they'll have to settle for the affection of a girl with freckles.

Monday, January 28, 2008

On the bases

Only the Oakland A's stole fewer bases than the paltry 57 swiped by the Jays in 2007. By no means am I saying that stealing bases is going to win you a championship, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Aside from Aaron Hill's wicked theft of home last season, the Jays were one of the least aggressive teams on the base paths. Call me an uninteresting traditionalists; but creating chances by way of aggressive baserunning, bunting and moving runners over are things the Jays simply don't do enough. I don't give a shit what league they play in.

It would probably help if the Jays as a team could get on base a bit more often. Last season they were 12th of the 14 AL teams. Obviously there isn't a team with a lineup solely made up of baseball stealing-speed freaks, but the Jays have players who have proven they can run and should be given the chance to do so. Something many people seem to forget (or never knew, thanks to sheer ignorance) is that you don't have to be fast to impact the game on the basepaths. A smart baserunner can be just as valuable as a fast one. Vernon Wells & Alex Rios are capable of stealing more often and guys like Aaron Hill, John McDonald, David Eckstein and Reed Johnson have shown the ability to run at times as well.

Although one of the more important parts of baseball, it's often the most neglected fundamentally. Quicks alone don't get your from first to third on a base hit. Being able to get a good jump, anticipate and move well comes as much from coaching and experience than it does athletic ability or speed. Come spring training, I suggest the Jays coaching staff emphasize the importance of baserunning. Christ, Jose Reyes stole 21 more bases on his own. Quit being a bunch of pussies and run from time to time. If necessary practice by playing "running bases" during your down-time. Not only is it a wondrous game, it will make you fearless on the bases.

Being aggressive on the basepaths doesn't only create the opportunity to score more, it also keeps your opponent guessing and opposing pitchers wondering (ask Andy Pettitte.)

Baserunning kids.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Last night I fucked your wife. One thrust, balls deep.

Don't believe me? You shouldn't. Or should you? Guess what, I don't give a fuck, peon.

Where is my office? The fucking corner. What does it say on the door? General Fucking Manager. Do you know what that means, bitch? Generally, I manage. This whole fucking show. Hell, I manage just about everything around here, the sun and stars included. How many rain-outs have we had since I've been here? That is what I fucking thought.

I also manage not to puke when scum like you question my decisions. I do whatever the fuck I want. If I want to feed you lies, misdirect you, tell you how much I "like our team" and then make an assload of trades, guess what, I will. Duplicitous? You don't even know what that means. Because I haven't told you yet. For peasants like of you, all matters Blue Jay are on a need to know basis. I need you to know that I shit bigger than you. Twice a day. I'm regular and massive.

Are you on my team? Don't want to play hurt? Surprise! Your faggoty name is going in the paper, Mary. Right next to mine saying "thinks Mary should suck a cock and play the game." Are you due for a raise? Nope. You're due a ticket out of town, and the taste of the back of my hand. How about I extend your contract, then bring in a midget to do your job? What are you going to do popcorn? I buy and sell your asses.

Don't think it's appropriate for me to call out the middle of our order for all the world to see? Good. It takes fucking stones to be me, and you are sorely lacking. My five year plan? Make it ten. Why? Fuck you, that's why. I could sell snow to a fucking eskimo, son. I'd make him think it was his idea. He'd thank me for it.

This is the real deal, pissant. Maybe if we played in the National League I could cuddle up close, tell you that you're special. Rub your back. I don't have that luxury. The American League East is our reality. You think the Yankees call you just to talk? You think they buy you breakfast in Boston? We need to compete on their level. That means you won't be shitting right for a while, Peaches.

All of this is bigger than you. Why did Ted increase the payroll? I WILLED it. That is how I get down. Godfrey? Next time you see him, look carefully at his chin. You can probably still see the outline of my balls. Gibbons knows better than to talk back to me. He'll be back drinking cans on the sidewalk with Hank before he can say "unintelligible." Maybe I'll manage this club next year. Maybe I'll just cancel the whole fucking season. You'll be on the edge of your seat either way; waiting to slurp up whatever pre-cum I let dribble your way.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Swallowing of Pride

I'm still waiting for the follow-up story informing us that Rod Barajas wants to re-negotiate the contract we've evidently just signed his sorry ass to.

I still remember J.P's words after the last fiasco. He was going to "take the high road" and told fans the Jays would "remember that one." Apparently Jay management has a relatively short memory and were willing to settle for just about anyone to fill the backup catcher void. Yes, it is true that Barajas has seasons of 21 and 15 home runs in the past, but his last two seasons have been offensively dreadful. In just 48 games last season Barajas hit a solid .230 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs. Look at his glowing career OBP, it's horrific and notably lower than that of Ghost Runner and Earth-inhabitant favorite Sal Fasano. Barajas does bring a decent arm with him, but it's no better than Sal's. If Greg Zaun stays healthy it won't make much of a difference.

When Barajas bolted on the Jays last off-season he signed a one year deal with the Phillies to be their starting catcher. Well, if you don't know how that ended I'll fill you in. He lost the starting job and ended the season with two other guys playing in front of him. He was hitting somewhere around the Mendoza line in early August when he went on the DL with a "I fucking suck so fuck this year" type of injury. Even when this so-called injury healed, he stayed on the DL as the Phils were lacking the space on the roster for him.

I just don't understand this signing. I guess it's not a big deal as Robinzon Diaz will hopefully be ready for the big leagues after this season. Personally, I would have stuck with Fasano rather than someone who already bailed on us once and hits like a girl, but I'm just the shirt burner.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Man Stats

Ichiro Suzuki at the plate during the 2006 season, no doubt rapping a single to left field. Ichiro has 200+ hits in each of his seven MLB seasons, and is a career .333 hitter.

So one of the waterlines at my place of employment decided to explode today, making it necessary to work from home for the next several days. Being the nerd I almost always am, I stumbled upon some stats that I thought I'd share. Some you know, some you most certainly don't, and some will just flat out make you laugh, should you have any idea about this subject matter at all. So, below you will find links to what I consider some of the greatest, and the most unbelievable SINGLE SEASON stats in the baseball history.

1. Will White - 1879 season - Innings Pitched.

I am quite sure that if any human being, let alone a Major League pitcher, attempted to do what ol'Whoop-La did back in the summer of 1879 they would need arm replacement surgery upon completion of the season. FYI - The most batters faced (BFP) by any big league pitcher in 2007 was 975.

2. John Coleman's PITCHING stats for 1883.

Tough season in Philly in 1883.

3. Charley Radbourn's 1884 Season.

I almost shit myself while reading these numbers. Literally

4. Matt Kilroy - 1886 season - Strikeouts

He must have faced a relative of Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard many many times during this season. Good Lord man...I wonder how many were swinging?

5. Chief Wilson - 1912 - Triples

Curtis Granderson led the MLB this season with 23, which was the highest MLB leading total since Dale Mitchell had 23 for Cleveland in 1949.

6. Hack Wilson - 1930 - Runs Batted In

Let's me put it this way. Manny Ramirez had 165 RBI's in 1999 which was the most since 1938. All records are made to be broken, but this is one of a handful that will do it's best to stand the test of time.

7. Bob Gibson's 1968 season.

I believe we've all heard this story before. Nonetheless, it still boggles the mind that this occurred.

8. Rickey Henderson - 1982 - Stolen Bases

Only four men have stolen more than 100 bases or more in a season in the modern era of baseball for a total of 8 times. Henderson accounts for 3 of them, including his ridiculous record setting 1982 season total.

9. Barry Bonds - 2004 - Walks & Intentional Walks

Not only does he rank first in this category, the next closest player is still 62 behind him. This stat = insanity....Oh yeah check out the second link also...I was laughing out loud, in my condo, all alone to that one, no joke.

10. Ichiro Suzuki - 2004 Season

George Sisler's record only stood for 84 years. Ichiro = A man.

Are these the highest profile records? Some more than others. I just find them to be either unbelievable or hysterical and in some cases both.

It is also important to note that Barry Bonds, love him or hate him, appears in the top 10 of most important offensive categories for his career. His 4 straight MVP seasons (2001-2004) are really quite funny to look at.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't worry, I got someone to cover for me

Links to make you forget what you've seen here

Send your worthwhile links/camera phone pictures of Ellen Page to

Something to chew on for now: the AL EAST

When all is said and done this season; the often predictable American League East Division may show something a little different, and here is why.

Some early estimates have the idiot Yankees spending around $230 million on salaries this season. Yet somehow George and let's not forget Hank Steinbrenner hilariously botched Joe Torre's contract situation. The Yankees go to spring training with their first new skipper since Torre replaced Buck Showalter after the 1995 season - 10 division titles and 6 pennants ago.

The Yankees have kept busy during the winter by teasing their fans with talk of brining in Twins ace Johan Santana, and by retaining a few veterans whose performance will no doubt go down - Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Let's not forget though, they also added LaTroy Hawkins to replace the often under-valued Jose Vizcaino and added a backup for Posada in Jose Molina, ooohhhhhh. Despite likely spending more than the Jays, Rays and Orioles all together, the Yankees find themselves without a first basemann as Doug Mientkiewicz and Andy Phillips are both gone. Do you know what that means Yankee fans? It's likely Joe Girardi will have to send out fielding superstar Jason Giambi to make us all laugh and commit costly errors leading to dozens and dozens of runs. In any case, Boston should take the east again without much issue, but don't be surprised if there is a different team sliding in to the wild-card spot in 2008.

Not surprisingly the Red Sox have done even less than the Yankees, which is a good thing. They are still a championship team, with or without the addition of a Johan Santana (I have a sneaking suspicion he'll end up in the NL, but who knows). They held on to Lowell, who had a monster year in 2007 and Curt Schilling, who may not have the stuff he used to, but is still a winner. What really might make you think is that Boston has the second ranked farm system among all MLB teams and were first following the 2005 season. Remember what Dustin Pedroia did last year? Watch what Jacoby Ellsbury does in 2008. They have a multitude of other prospects you'll be hearing about in the next few years. Which could give Theo Epstein other choices rather than picking up Manny's $20 million a season options in 2009 and 2010.

They've added what I think are impact players in Scott Rolen and David Eckstein to go along with Vernon Wells who will no doubt 100% rebound from last season. Alex Rios and Aaron Hill are both going to be all-stars this season, and remember where you heard that when it happens. That all being said, it's their rotation that could get them to the promise land this season. If Halladay and Burnett are healthy all season, they should contend. The Jays were 4th in the AL last season with a 4.24 ERA and players like Dustin McGowan, Shawn Marcum and Jesse Litsch should all improve with valuable experience. A healthy BJ Ryan will only boost a bullpen that was solid without him last season. Jeremy Accardo, Casey Janssen and Scott Downs made sure of that. Basically this is a roster of pure manliness.

Believe it or not the Devil Rays are better this year. Matt Garza and Troy Percival will improve the pitching staff. If the Rays use Cliff Floyd as DH, expect him to have a pretty solid season, and they should, unless for some reason Rocco Baldelli proves he can break down even more than he already has (aplogies to the barber for that). Akinori Iwamuru is going to get even better, and possible slide over the 2nd base to allow superstar prospect Evan Longoria a chance to play 3rd. They once again, and for the second year in a row have the first overall pick.

We don't need to talk about the Baltimore Orioles. If they win more than 72 games, I'll eat my hat.

Since the strike shortened season of 1994 I haven't had much hope year to year the Jays would make the playoffs. Sure, I've wanted it, maybe even though that in a couple of those years there was an outside chance. It never really bothered me though as I am a fan of the game first. However, this season is the first time in awhile that I believe they have a realistic shot if the hand plays out the way it should. Which often in professional sports, it doesn't. Put it this way. An injury free Jay team, with their key guys playing to the level they are capable of, means they do indeed have a chance to get into the post-season this season. This is in my opinion only, though I know it is shared by many in the baseball community.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'93 til Infinity

This small corner of the interweb ostensibly revolves around the Toronto Blue Jays. They are the here and the now; but mostly the here. The Jays are "our team" because they were on our TV, the radio in our car, and in our newspapers as we came to exist and came of age. We grew up supporting them because that was all we knew.

I find myself hurtling through space and time, aging seemingly by the second. My sports fandom has changed along the way, and I've had a hard time pinning down it's nature. Not quite ironic detachment, for that would make my jeans 40% skinnier and my face 100% punchable. Nor is it as meta as the liberated fandom movement which breaks the game down to isolated bursts of greatness and other abstractions. It is something different. Much like my waistband, let's say it has "expanded."

I think it works out like this: there are no meaningless games, there are only meaningless games. I have a drawer full of old ticket stubs, but I'd have a hard time telling you the score of most of them (I'll admit, this one sticks out.) I appreciate the value of wins and losses, but I appreciate having seen Johan Santana (once) and Roy Halladay (numerous times) pitch that much more.

I'm hesitant to go down the "baseball is so swell, just like Mom's apple pie..." route here. I'm not suggesting we throw out the standings, and I'm not asking why we bother keeping score. I simply want to prevent myself from getting hung up on the part of the game that has the smallest impact on my enjoyment. The only thing worse than a "I won't see you for a month because the Sox are in the playoffs" lunatic is a "I'm a long suffering Cubs Pirates Rays Rangers fan and my life is terrible!" crybaby. Baseball is unique because each game represents such a small part of the season. There is another game to watch almost every day. New matchups and new hope. Fresh opportunity to see something noteworthy, something that will make a planeload of guys headed to Vegas shout and lose their shit. To paraphrase Blogging Overload Leitch: Every game begins as a no-hitter. Every pitch could be the one that leads to something you'll never forget. It is no coincidence that the blogosphere contains so much baseball. The agonizing minutia and statistics, the what-ifs and never-weres, the long history to draw from and the future to look to. In other words, baseball is fun.

The Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series titles when I was in high school. They haven't made the playoffs since. And that is fine by me. I still watch, I still cheer, and I still pour over boxscores and read the myriad of other better blogs. You'll never hear me shout "Wait til next year!" because I'll be too busy wondering why this year has to end in the first place.

364 days of Baseball...1 day of Idiocy

The beautiful thing about these brutal Canadian winter days is they give me the time to sit and stew about things ongoing in the world of sports that make me want to Stone Cold Stunner certain individuals involved. Since we’re in some down time as far as our beloved Blue Jays go, I thought I’d express my thoughts on something outside the realm of Major League Baseball, which isn’t something that will happen often, especially in season. I had to get this off my chest.

Toward the end of the second round of the PGA tour’s season opening Mercedes Benz Championship, Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing possible challengers to Tiger Woods in 2008, when Faldo suggested the other players gang up on him.

“Lynch him in a back alley,” Tilghman said laughing.

Uh oh, it’s Don Imus all over again. Or is it?

Naturally, well-known civil rights activist (and crazy, nonsensical son of a bitch) Rev. Al Sharpton sparked a wave of outrage and called for her to be fired. Just like most major media outlets would have, the Golf Channel crumbled under the pressure and suspended Tilghman for 2 weeks (hopefully with pay). The Golf Channel initially said that Tilghman would NOT be suspended. Tiger Woods himself said the whole thing was a “non-issue” and that he’d spoken with Tilghman shortly after the incident, when she admitted her deep regret over the comment. Woods also went on to say that he and Tilghman have been good friends for 10-11 years and that the whole thing was being overblown and driven by the media. Smart man this Tiger fellow.

Look, what Tilghman said was inappropriate. I am 100% sure that she is well aware of that, and immediately regretted saying it. She has a professional responsibility as a broadcaster to watch what she says. Every once in awhile, people are going to misspeak, and say something that will be taken out of context and blown into a massive issue when none really exists. Does that make what she said right? Of course not. Again, she is well aware of that fact, as she immediately issued the apology to Tiger Woods and the public. Does this comment make Kelly Tilghman a racist? Absolutely not. Al Sharpton is an idiot. I’m not going to get into why I think that, and why it’s 100% true as he makes it quite obvious every time he opens his pie hole.

Kelly Tilghman was born in South Carolina. She went to Duke University on a golf scholarship, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. She was a touring golf professional from 1992-1996 throughout Asia and Europe and served as a teaching pro. She was brought up by parents who owned a golf course for 22 years. You know what all of this means? Tilghman grew up in a part of the States where racial insensitivity still exists to this day. She is well aware of how to behave, how to think, and what you can and can’t say when it comes to this issue. She made a MISTAKE. She subsequently apologized, and was forgiven by the party involved.

In my personal and always correct opinion, the Golf Channel royally botched this whole thing. There was no need to suspend Kelly Tilghman. There is no need for every single major media outlet in the United States to cave in like little bitches, every time someone like Al Sharpton plays the race card. It’s getting old, and way beyond tired. Don’t mistake this opinion as me condoning remarks such as Tilghman’s. There are instances when disciplinary action for inappropriate comments is warranted. I don't believe this is one of them. What I’m saying is that people need to stop jumping to ridiculous conclusion every time something like this happens assuming these individuals are hate mongers and racist bigots who should be fired immediately.

Oh and Golf Channel, man up for God’s sake. Show a little support for your employees.

Back to baseball…

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Road to Immortality

Well it’s Monday, so clearly I have nothing better to do than sit here and think about how much of a joke the MLB hall of fame election has become. I love baseball. I grew up on baseball. While most Canadian kids were mired in their quests to become mediocre junior "A" hockey players, I was busy throwing a tennis ball off my garage from varying distances to improve my already sick fielding skills. However, it’s become clear to me in the past few years the election process for admission to the hall of fame is at best, a complete farce.

The class of 2008 only included one man. Rich “Goose” Gossage was finally enshrined in Cooperstown on his 9th attempt, receiving 466 or 85.8% of the vote (75% is needed for admission, with 5% required to stay on the ballot). Unfortunately, Jim Rice fell short (by 16 votes this time) for the 14th time. 2009 is Rice's final year of eligibility, when he will be jockeying for votes against shoe-in Rickey Henderson and those who fell short in 2008, a list including: Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines & Mark McGwire (who incidentally received the exact same number of votes, 128, as last year.) There is always the Veteran's committee Jim.

Let’s take a few steps back to the year 2000, Gossage’s first on the ballot. He received a paltry 33.3% or 166 votes. Goose Gossage last threw a pitch on August 8th, 1994 for the Seattle Mariners. What in holy hell, has he done, since that date, and better still, since that date in 2000 when the writers voted, to further his credentials for entrance into the hall of fame? Could it be, absolutely nothing? How in 2008 do 85.8% of these clowns vote for a guy who in 2000 was only worth 33.3% of the vote. You don’t become a hall of famer after you retire. What makes you a hall of famer is what you did DURING your career, or so I thought. Another oddity of this ridiculous comedy is that in that same year (2000) when Gossage received 33.3% of the vote, Jim Rice received 51.5% of it. Strangely, I can’t make my brain understand how Gossage became more of a hall of famer than Rice in that time. I have heard that trying to analyze it too closely though can lead to insanity and severe cases of diarrhea. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, since these idiot writers are the same individuals who cast votes for Todd Stottlemyre, Dave Justice, Chuck Finley, Robb Nen, Travis Fryman and Shawon Dunston.

Does the Goose deserve to be a hall of famer? Who knows? The criteria for entrance into the hall seems to change based on the individual, so it’s hard to say. As a reliever, only a handful of whom have been admitted, there isn’t much frame of reference. I know that I wouldn’t have voted for him. Does Rice belong in the hall of fame? I don’t know, but I do know he has comparable numbers to other who have been admitted.

Here is what I do know: you either ARE or you AREN’T a hall of famer. I’m not going to argue who should or shouldn’t be in the hall of fame. It makes little difference to me who gets in. I know what I think makes someone worthy of entrance and for whom I’d reserve my votes. Apparently I’m on a different page than the BBWAA. It shouldn’t take you 13 attempts to get into the hall Bruce Sutter, it should take you just one. I’ll say this much, if you didn’t get my vote the first year you were on the ballot, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll never fucking vote for you.

NOTE – One thing that should be taken into account is that my vote can be bought for significant monetary sums. For enough money, fucking Delino DeShields can have my vote.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Too Cold to Hold

Finding myself mired in a three day bender, hemorrhaging my two scarcest commodities (brain cells and money) like a gutshot hemophiliac, the mere thought of composing something worthwhile or humorous causes me physical pain. Instead I'll fall back on an old story. A famous story. A myth-making story. The Raul Mondesi story.

Allow me to set the scene. El Leal and I decided on a sunny Sunday in June of 2002 to head from our suburban nightmare to the (once and future) Skydome for an interleague battle between the Jays and their sworn blood enemy, the Colorado Rockies. We acquired tickets from an amateur/freelance ticketing agent (ahem) and entered the building with a mission: Sit behind the bullpen and give the visiting team numerous pieces of our collective mind. Understand this was at the tail end of a self-imposed five year hiatus from the drink, so my actions were neither fueled by nor thanks to alcohol. (The hiatus would end about month later, finding me unconscious in a Seoul NoraeBong) Leal was under no such restrictions, as he needs to maintain a 50/50 plasma-alcohol split to live.

We settled into our seats three rows behind the bullpen, set for an afternoon of full-throated leather-lungery. Much to the chagrin of the three rows of blue-haired day trippers between us and the bullpen. We quickly realized that a National League bullpen is full of faceless nobodies (and Justin Speier!), all of whom have been told they suck a thousand different ways. They were indifferent to our hollow mockery, and the vigorous headshaking from senior circuit below told us it was time for a change of scenery. We chose a largely empty section in the right field corner, which featured young children beating each other with inflatable bats. It was perfect.

We sauntered down to our new spot in the sun, and chose seats a few rows from the field. We wondered loudly what Rockies right fielder Todd Hollandsworth had done for us lately (turns out nothing except deprive us the chance to watch Larry Walker) and went about our business. The starting right fielder for the Blue Jays that day was Raul Mondesi.

Raul, like Hollandsworth, had been named rookie of the year as a Dodger. Unlike Todd he actually strung together several solid seasons. He came to Toronto in exchange for Ghostrunner favorite and son of Abraham Shawn Green. He had two reasonable seasons in Toronto but before 2002 he made an executive decision to suck. Badly. Mendoza Line-type shit. Our latent Shawn Green resentment, his current batting average of .212, and the belief that Raul spoke no english caused me to lash out at the burly fielder, alerting him of his inability to hit his own weight. This got Raul's attention. All of it.

His head swung around in a way that would make Linda Blair jealous. He refocused on the game but continued to peer into our section, causing a gentleman a few seats over to comment "looks like you've made a friend." I needed to know if this was true, so I asked Raul if he did want to be my friend boyfriend, and if he would like my phone number. Much mirth and shouts of MUY CALIENTE followed, until the Jays made a pitching change.

Raul started shuffling towards the fence, causing me to think "that's cool, he comes and hangs out near the fans during a pitching change." He leaned against the blue padded wall, looked past the father-daughter in the first row, stared directly at me and said: You got a fuckin problem mengh? I almost choked, but it continued.
Me (flabbergasted): Pardon????
Millionare baseball player: Why don't you say that shit to my face?
Skinny white guy(me again!): Ummm, you're a professional, go back and play your position.
Angry Dominican outfielder: Say that shit to my face, I'll kick your fucking ass right now mengh
Baffled paying customer (still me): Ummmmmmm seriously, go back to the field man.

Raul mumbled something about his face again, spoke quickly with the security guard seated along the wall and jogged back to the field. It was at this moment that I decided to have a heart attack. "What the fuck just happened??? That was fucking crazy!!!" The entire section was buzzing. Within moments, a very elderly security guy arrived and attempted to ascertain what had gone down. A man in the adjacent section immediately shouted "They were harassing him!" to which a man in our section said "No way! He threated them!" The two bystanders argued back and forth, which sent old man river scurrying off trying to calm then down.

I was still sitting there, unsure of what had just happened. The supporter from my section turned around and reassured me "no way are you getting kicked out man, I'm a season ticket holder and he threatened you!" As the security supervisor told me that this was Raul's first ever complaint about fans, I presented my argument that if this was New York or Philly, we'd be throwing batteries. He understood, listened to the impassioned support from within our section, and promptly bounced us back to our proper seats.

We watched the rest of the game in various states of giggling shock. Raul was traded to the vile Yankees about two weeks later, bounced around both leagues for a few years before leaving the game forever. I really wish he had hit me, but I'll take solace in knowing that no matter what happens, I'll never end up stealing electricity.
Thanks to the serendipitous Mondesi's House for the link

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's the last extension, just ask him.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig says he won't accept another contract extension after his expires in 2012. Wait a second, he said the same thing after several other extensions, so pardon me if I have a little trouble buying it.

Selig has been commissioner since 1992 and since late 2006 had said that following the 2009 season, he'd retire, going so far as saying nothing would change his mind. Once again, he says, "this is it, I can say that without equivocation". He blathered on about being 78 years old when this contract was done and then had to sit down as he was clearly winded from standing for more than 8 minutes.

Look, do I care? Not really. Has there been an explosion of steroid use and other performance enhancing drugs under his tenure? Probably. Did he turn a blind eye to this glaring issue in the league? Most likely. Finally, wasn't Selig the very man who provoked the 7 and a half month strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series (which incidently, would have been won by the Montreal Expos)? He was.

True, he did push for Inter-league play (who the hell cares), change the playoff format to include wild cards (oh no, there was no complaining over this past season's, shall I say, lengthy, playoff format) and spend the better part of the past decade talking about his great vision of internationalization (next stop, Puerto Rico and some exhibition games in CHINA!!)

Bud Selig isn't young. The owners are by and large just as old. I'm not saying he does a good job (because he doesn't) or a bad one either (you be the judge.) But isn't it time for Bud to step aside and make way for a younger, more pro-active person to run the show? Bah, you probably don't really care...but maybe you should.

Bud Selig made $14.5 million dollars in the 12 month period ending Oct 31st 2005.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No Glove No Love

Baseball teams are businesses, and all conventions of business apply. If one "thinks outside the box" and shows a positive return, the rest scramble to discard their existing box and get into the new and more fashionable box. The steroid scandal will push the current trend of defensive statistical analysis from the fringes of the statistical community to standard operation procedure for all clubs.

As the preceding paragraph sadly details, defense ain't sexy. Pouring over Zone Ratings, comparing and contrasting the various and sundry evaluation systems, there is only so long you cazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Frankly, it is boring as hell. Interesting, but not sexy. Sexy is Jim Edmonds slowing up and taking bad routes to ensure a "spectacular" diving catch and his salt & pepper mug all over Sportscentre. Sexy awards Derek Jeter multiple Gold Gloves while he is statistically one of the worst shortstops in the league. Sexy is a lie. Making the easy look difficult might get you into the highlight pack, but it doesn't win games. Neither does missing time and losing power because you ruined your back bouncing off the old turf at Busch. True defensive quality brings you out of your seat sometimes, but others it leaves you shaking your head. It has you replaying things in your head thinking "That was a crazy doubleplay to end the game" two days later.

I love defense, it was always my favorite part of playing the game and something I certain appreciate when I'm at the game. In the era of the incredible shrinking slugger, teams are going to look for ways to take runs off the board rather than hoping to bludgeon opponents into submission. I am legitimately excited to watch Scott Rolen play everyday, a brick shithouse sucking up ground balls with impeccable footwork. Even Hey Brah-don League will benefit from Jay's infield defense, which will be amongst the best in the league. Hell, it was the best in the league last year and that was with LurchGlaus. Competent as he may be, he doesn't lead the mind directly to images of Brooks Robinson.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hours and Hours of fun

I have been the proud owner of many gaming consoles since my youth, and I can't count the number of baseball games I've owned or played. I honestly can't think of a game I'd rather be playing with one of my fellow gamers than a wicked awesome baseball game on whatever console may be plugged-in. In homage to the Chris Coolio's and Mark Meenahan's of the world, I've compiled this list of the greatest baseball games I've played spanning the past two decades. You can argue the list if you like, but that won't get you anywhere as you are wrong.

#10 - Nintendo Baseball (1983)

This only makes my list as it was really the first baseball game (outside the awful Atari one) I can remember playing. To be honest, the gameplay was pretty bad. The look was classic, but the player movements are slow and utterly choppy. Way too much of the fielding is computer controlled and more than once my right fielder threw out the guy running to first on what would normally be a hit. But come on, it's the original.

#9 - Tony LaRussa Baseball (PC Version - 1991)

This game is the only PC version of a baseball game I've really ever played for an extended period of time. It had graphics ahead of it's time, and a real fantasy draft with all the big league players, which you couldn't find anywhere else at that time. It also had old-timer players and stadiums which seemed amazing at the time. I could play as the 1927 Yankees at the Polo Grounds against the 1969 Mets. It was fun, though using the keyboard or some lame PC controller quickly ended most of the fun.

#8 - Tommy Lasorda Baseball (Sega Genesis - 1989)

Tommy was the first baseball game made for the Genesis console and made the graphics for Nintendo baseball games seem childish. It had a good arcade quality to it which you couldn't find often on home console games. I remember something cool was that after you hit a home run, all your teammates were waiting to give you high-fives. You could play a whole season, which was new, but you constantly had to jot down superlong passwords. Whatever, it seemed badass at the time.

#7 - Sports Talk Baseball (Sega Genesis - 1992)

"Infield back, Infield in, Infield Normal........."

#6 - Bases Loaded (Nintendo - 1988)

This game helped usher in a new generation of baseball video games, plain and simple. It had smooth clean graphics, easy controls and wicked gameplay. The behind-the-pitcher view and the scrolling, which are standard in most games now, was pretty impressive in 1988. They're weren't any MLB teams or players, but you could start a brawl if you threw too many bean balls.

#5 - World Series Baseball (Sega Genesis - 1994)

The most realistic baseball game of it's time, and maybe ever. All the players were real, as were their statistics and the stadiums. There were a ton of options including batting practice, home run derby's and battery backed up seasons. The innovative catchers view gave the batter a great view of the stikezone. There were a few other cool firsts, like the vendors yelling in the crowd and an innovative scoreboard that was better than most. The greatest thing about this was the JAYS were the best team in the game, having just won their second straight World Series title. Amazing.

#4 - MVP Baseball 2004 (Playstation 2 - 2003)

It has everything a gamer could want in a game. Dynasty Mode, the draft, the trades, the graphics and so on and so on. Subsequent versions aren't on the list though they are equally badass. If you have a PS2 or PS3, just buy it every year.
(Ed. Note: 2K Sports was granted exclusive third party rights to the MLB license in 2005, forcing EA Sports to retool & rename the game MVP 06 NCAA baseball)

#3 - RBI Baseball (Nintendo - 1988)

Oh Tengen, God bless you for the tri-screen shot you provided us in the original RBI baseball, which spawned over 18,000 subsequent versions. Hey, what can you say it was the first game I played that actually had real players and teams. And when you're 10 years old, that's more important than the actual game.

#2 - Baseball Stars (Nintendo - 1989)

I remember this game being real fun, which is why it's #2. When I think of the best baseball games I've ever played, inevitably I always think of this one. There weren't real players or teams (in fact there was a team of girls) but the gameplay was amazing, the fielding wasn't difficult, and you had to assign salaries to your players as you won more games and your team got better. It was the first baseball game I ever played where you actually had to build your own team, based on how good your were at it. That was a first for me, which is probably why I remember it so well.

#1 - MLB Baseball 1998 (Sony Playstation 1997 - Sony Interactive)

Are you kidding's why:
The programmers using their own names to fill the expansion teams rosters
Mark Meenahan's 600ft plus dingers, every single time
Chris Coolio throwing 150mph fastballs and jumping around like Pascual Perez
Sliding through first, the fence and beyond.....reset
Sacrifice pause
Jumbo Video
Green Day Dookie Case
290 dollars in late fees

The Lobe

Need I go on?

If you must argue, leave the last one out. You can't win there.


So much laziness already. Here are some interesting links we've come across the last few days:

Read on young man, read on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Joe Kennedy

Blue Jay pitcher Joe Kennedy, who died suddenly in November at the age of 28,
evidently died of hypertensive heart disease, according to autopsy results reported on Tuesday.

He was 4-9 in 2007 with a 4.80 ERA. More importantly he was a lefty out of the pen.
The jays did intend on bringing him back for 2008.

Apparently Oakland doctors had done extensive Cardiovascular testing as their was a history of problems within his family. They indicated everything was clear and that their were no abnormalities to suggest anything was wrong.

Joe Kennedy was 28 years old.

Oakland is looking for new medical staff, or at least should be.

The Score - Pure Performer

So the Score is running the Pure Performer heads up match type thing and are
eventually going to come up with the best performance in sports...from what I gather.

Today's epic clash featured a 48 point overtime playoff performance from Lebron James
last season, in which he scored his teams last 25 points...very well done indeed, and I'm
sure we'll see something along those lines again in his career.


He was up against Mark Whiten. Yes, Mark Whiten. For those of you who don't remember,
let me refresh your memory. Whiten was a journeyman outfielder whose teammates
often referred to him as "hard hittin Whiten" no joke. He played for several teams, our
Toronto Blue Jays being one of them. He only averaged 18 home runs a season for his
career and never did get to 100 RBIs, though he did have 99 with St. Louis in 1993.
He also came equipped with a canon arm, and just looked mean a lot of the time. One
more note - Whiten pitched an inning with the Indians in 1998, letting in one run, but
striking out all three outs!

On September 7th, 1993 Whiten did what basically NO ONE had ever done in a major
league baseball game. He hit 4 home runs and drove in 12 runs. OK, 4 dingers and
banging in 12. Both tied him with the ALL-TIME single game MLB records.

48 points in an NBA game, whether it's in the playoffs or not, has been done, it will
be done again, and then probably sometime after than, someone else will put his team
on their back, and do it again. So Lebron's performance was great, but Mark Whiten
did what only one other player had done in the history of the bigs...which also is alot
longer than that of the NBA. So people, I implore you to vote for our former Jay
Mark Whiten to move along in this seemingly useless Score contest. Four dingers
in one game is sick, 12 RBIs should make you laugh and Lebron James personally
told me it'd be OK to vote for Mark.

Requiem for Troy Glaus

There is a certain segment of the population that is sad to see Troy Glaus leave town:

Hillbilly Douchebags!

Fare thee well Mighty Troy; do not hobble gentle into that good day/night doubleheader at Busch.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The ins....and of course the outs...

In this seemingly neverending off-season the Jays have actually added more talent
to the roster other than this Rolen Kid.

Late last year they added an "Everyday" shortstop in the likes of 2006 World Series MVP, David Eckstein. He's a career .289 hitter who rarely strikes out and carries with him a fairly steady glove. Although he doesn't hit for much power (30 career home runs), he did hit grand slams in back to back games two seasons ago. An FYI to JAY fans, don't mistake David Eckstein from Adam Kennedy because of the picture on your 2004 Topps Baseball Card. Fear not Johnny Mac fans, this pesky addition will prove to be an upgrade, and I'm sure Gibbons will get MacDonald into games as much as he can.

Here are some other guys you've never heard of the Jays picked up this off-season:
  • RHP Shawn Camp who has a career ERA of 5.27 in parts of four seasons with
    Tampa Bay and Kansas City. He's got an invite to Spring Training and
    has a great middle reliever name in my opinion.
  • LHP John Parrish (No relation to Lance or Larry) was signed to a minor league
    deal. Parrish, 30, was 2-2 with a 5.71 ERA last season in 53 appearances with
    Baltimore and Seattle. Could give Brian Tallet some competition for his spot
    in the bullpen.

RHP Lance Carter and LHP Ryan Ketchner were also signed to minor league deals
and are expected to start the season in AAA Syracuse.

Evidently BJ Ryan is coming along after undergoing Ligament Transfer Surgery.
Who knows what the fate of BJ will be, though I imagine he'll be used cautiously
to begin the season.

The Jays lost 54,302 man games to injury last seaon and had Vernon Wells in the
lineup most days though he was playing sans use of his shoulder from what I understand. With the Yankees go down the toilet with little hope at all this season, 90 wins should and will get the Jays into the post-season.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tit for Tat

Turns out the off season is interminably long; when legitimately big news surfaces in early January it is consumed by the filthy beggars thirsting for such morsels at a frightening speed and with deadly precision. I won't flog this bloodied horse much further.

Scott Rolen has long been a favorite around these parts (somehow I end up with him on my fantasy team every year and sneak him onto my team in whatever video game I'm playing) and is a welcome addition. While some seem content to stomp all over Troy's grave, I'll remember him as a guy that hit home runs, offered to play shortstop for a weekend and adjusted his manboobs with alarming frequency. We're talking "Stieb to the Jock" type stuff here.

Having sent Mark Kotsay on his way to Atlanta in exchange for a six-pack of coke, three foam Tomahawks and a small bowl of simmering racial tension, the Oakland A's have continued their proud tradition of making chicken salad out of chicken shit thin air. Billy Beane has a press conference scheduled for Monday to announce that he's traded their entire starting line-up for the 15 crusty punks that happened to be standing in front of 924 Gilman Street on Friday. Cough syrup and crystal meth for all! Put them down for 85 wins, just to be conservative.

Thanks to the excellent Athletics Nation for picking 20 names out of a bag. Rich Harden is right now inside some mall trying on a Mets hat.

...and then, when everybody loses

Crazy Yankee Fan is suing team...

Evidently a long-time New York yankee fan is suing the team over "some players"
reported use of performance enhancing drugs, saying he wants payback for $221 US
dollars in tickets and a public response from his once-cherished and beloved team.

Calling it consumer fraud, Matthew Mitchell, a 30 year old Brooklyn resident who saw
his first live Yankee game in 1984 says, "If I'm going to watch a baseball game, then I
expect the real thing".

The Yankees shockingly have declined to comment.

Mitchell filed his lawsuit in small claims court in Brooklyn last week, about a month after former US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell released a report linking 85 Major League Baseball players - including 20 current and former Yankees - to illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs such as HGH (Human Growth Hormone).

Mitchell wants to be reimbursed for tickets to five games between 2002 and 2007. They include Game 2 of the 2003 World Series, in which pitcher Andy Pettitte led the Yankees to a win.
Coincidently Pettitte recently admitted to have used HGH to "help him rehab" following an injury.

Mitchell claims he's filed this lawsuit to "force" the team to come forward and answer his claims.

NOTE - I hate the New York yankees including their idiot fans such as this Mitchell character.
File your lawsuit against MLB if you're going to file it against anyone you clown.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

When Everybody Wins

With the Jays rapidly distancing themselves from the HGH scandal orchestrating a "like for like" swap that sends Very Tall Troy Glaus to St. Louis for the equally mammoth and highly disgruntled Scott Rolen, I am left to think about the nature of baseball trades. Usually they fit the mold of "overpriced old guy for unproven young guys" while the rare and shocking "reprint the media guide, can you believe this just happened" two stars for two stars blockbuster is the exception to the rule.

Declaring a winner in most trades is easy for two reasons: most prospects don't pan out and the player to be named later is rarely named later.

An ESPN chat with Rob Neyer Friday had me thinking of a trade that should go down as one of the best. For everyone. The 8-player monster that sent Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota, and Mike Lowell (coming off a season of abject failure while sporting a massive contract) to Boston in exchange for highly-touted prospect Hanley Ramirez and the rest of the Hannah Montana cast.
Note: One of the kids DID pitch a no-hitter, but was sent down and eventually missed a full year with a torn labrum.

Boston benefits in the most obvious way possible.

So they win, right? I'm not convinced. Is it my deeply ingrained hatred of all things crimson hose? Or is it the fact that Hanley Ramirez is the best player in the National League?

Beckett is still young and nasty, and getting out the Florida humidity seems to have ended his blister problems. Mike Lowell is found money. Not found money that stalks you with a cattle gun, ultimately seeing you shot in cold blood but found money that becomes World Series MVP and then tells the Yankees to lick it's balls.

I know what you are thinking: "Best player in the National League? Isn't that like being the coolest guy in your WoW guild?" Perhaps it is, but when you put up numbers like: 154 games .332 29 HR 81 RBI 125 runs 51 steals on a last-place team in a cavernous ballpark with 8000% humidity you are doing something right. Those numbers at the top of the Red Sox already murderous lineup? You could sign a certain rubber-armed junkballer and still win by a touchdown every night.

When Florida wins the 2010 World Series (as is their pattern) this trade will be cemented as one of the all-time greats. Right up until the moment the Marlins flip Hanley Ramirez to the Angels (or big money team X) for a plucky bunch of up-and-comers and Vlady Guerrero's dirty-ass helmet.

Pitchers and Catchers

Pitchers and catchers report in less than 90 days.
Urge to kill subsiding.