Thursday, July 31, 2008

As Trade Deadline Passes, Jays Lament Inability to Move 2008 Season

Despite numerous deals being rumored and many others going through, Jays GM JP Riccardi was unable to find a buyer for the Jays 2008 season. The Jays are on pace to be a .500 ball club, but JP was still unable to find a team that would trade seasons, even among teams with much worse records. Pirates GM Neal Huntington said he while would appreciate the increase in wins, falling short of the most conservative of expectations each year just isn't worth it. Said Huntington: "I've got a good thing going here. We're in a constant rebuilding phase, so I'm never really expected to win. The Jays? They pay lip service each year, but do they really think they'll compete again?" Riccardi said he would have appreciated infusing 80 runs of offense to improve the outlook on the season: "I thought if we could install a team with a strong offense, then point to our strong pitching in the first half, I could convince people that we actually had a well-rounded ball club."

Padres GM Kevin Towers stated that while swapping his team's run differential of -110 for the Jays +32 would be nice, he couldn't reconcile it with ownership. "We don't want to bring that sense of hopelessness to our front office, it would further alienate our fans." Even controversial Astros GM Ed Wade wouldn't go near the 2008 Jays. "Look, I've got no scruples whatsoever. I'll bring in a Mitchell Report star that lies about his age, I'll sign Roger Clemens when he's 60. But acquiring this year's Jays? No thanks. You can keep your handful of wins, I like my sanity just fine."

When alerted that his GM was unable to unload this season moments after divisional foe Boston acquired Canadian Jason Bay, Jays CEO Paul Godfrey was overheard mumbling something about "motherfucking Beantown scumbag" and "bigger fish to fry..N-F-L motherfucker" before storming out of his office with a bottle of Scotch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Punks Lineup (to Get Beat Down)

One of the Ghostrunner on First calling cards is covering ground that has been thoroughly trod before, and today will be no different. While I like Cito swearing allegiance to his guys, I don't like the way the lineup continues to be filled out in these stop-gap times. Let's break it down:
  1. Joe Inglett has really struggled in the leadoff spot. I really like Inglett, and thought he made a good #2 hitter. Cito slotted him in there, and it went well. He's struggled throughout July, dropping nearly 150 points off his on base. For a leadoff guy, that would be categorized as "counter productive". I still like him in #2, though I don't expect him to continue to put up the sort of numbers he did in June.
  2. Marco Scutaro should not be hitting this high in the order. He's been a good soldier, playing all over the diamond and providing a timely hit or two. But as the number two guy, he just doesn't get it done. He hasn't exactly been terrible, but a .689 OPS isn't good enough.
  3. I think this works for Alex. Though he's only walked once in the second half of the season, he's got Denbo out of his head and is hitting the ball hard. And slugging. But certainly not walking. Interesting to note how much better his numbers are as a right fielder compared to center.
  4. Overbay here works for me. He isn't going to hit 25 home runs, but he does lead this team in OBP with a reasonable slugging percentage. He's patient enough to allow Rios to run ahead of him, and drives the ball well enough to rack up RBI, for what that is worth.
  5. Earlier this week the Southpaw detailed Rod Barajas' struggles from the number 5 spot, and the logic is sound. He can't continue hitting here, but I like Vernon Wells in this spot. When healthy, Vernon's had a solid year. Not spectacular or humongous contract worthy, but solid. He's had success in limited time he's spent as the number 5 guy, and he'll have opportunities to hit with men on. Equally important will be some protection behind him. Protection we all know he desperately needs ....
  6. the form of Adam Lind. Lind hasn't been asked to be the saviour, nor has he been rushed up the order. Teams are going to be wary of him, which could result in more pitches for free-swinging Vernon Wells to hit. In this spot, he offers a good lefty bat behind Wells without the pressure of a true middle-of-the-order spot.
  7. Poor Scott Rolen. His shoulder is acting up, and anyone with eyes can see that he can't get around on anything hard. If some rest is all he needs, he will resume hitting doubles, drawing walks and drawing out at bats from the number seven spot. His defense is so good, I don't care if he turns into another version of John MacDonald. The second version that ate the first version.
Catcher hits 8th, SS hits 9th. When Vernon returns, hit the DH second? Or leadoff? The Jays need a Youkillis-type OBP machine for that to work. Considering that the Jays core is represented here from 3-7, I don't think that is too bad at all. Add a high OPS shortstop (cough JJ Hardy cough) and a better producing DH and what do you have? Hopefully an offense that generates enough runs to keep up with the not-likely-to-be-as-good pitching staff.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jays, Rays Continue Huge Series in Toronto

The first place Tampa Bay Rays and the closer to last place than third place Toronto Blue Jays continue their pivotal yet meaningless series at the Rogers Centre tonight. The Jays come in on a hot streak, having defeated two of the worst teams in the American League in 6 of their last 9 games. Jays fans remain confident that their team can continue to climb the standings, in spite of the sheer quantity (not to mention the quality) of teams above them.

Jays GM JP Riccardi has been quoted in recent days saying the team will not trade AJ Burnett, and was unlikely to make any moves at all. He even trotted out Swirsk the Monkey to repeat his "we like our team line" until every last journalist had tuned him out. Despite having functional veterans such as David Eckstein, Gregg Zaun wasting away on the bench and non-functional veterans like Kevin Mench playing odd days, the GM insists that this is his team. One he's confident will continue to sell tickets well into September.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Jays will sweep the leg...I mean Rays

Why? Because I fucking said so. It'd be easy to throw in the towel, admit defeat and try to re-tool for next year. Quite honestly, that is horseshit. So what if you've got the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees in front of you? That shit isn't going to change. Not unless MLB plans on re-aligning in the near future. It's July 28th, and I still fucking believe. Wishful thinking? Who knows, and I don't give a shit. These are my guys, this is my team and it's baseball, so anything can happen.

A.J. Burnett was a demon on the hill today, fanning ten while allowing just six hits in seven innings of work. JP has indicated that A.J. isn't going anywhere, and with McGowan on the shelf for the season, I actually buy what he's saying. Joe Inglett is awesome. I don't know if the rest of Toronto would show him the kind of man-love I would, but they sure should think about it. Adam Lind is batting .311 and when Wells returns, assuming he's healthy, that isn't a bad starting outfield is it?

With and inevitable Halladay victory tomorrow and a Jay shelling of Edwin Jackson on Wednesday, the Jays will only be 5.5 back of the Rays and it won't even be August. You're fucking right I'm an optimist, but what the hell is the alternative?

Rays Pride Parade

The Rayvolution Will Not Be Televised

Our friend David Chalk has been crowing about the coming Rayvolution, and with good reason. The young Rays have come of age, marrying explosive offense with effective pitching. But a few stumbles of late may have put the Rayvolution on hold.

They've benefited from a few breaks (+5 on their Pythag. this year) and sport a very similar run differential to the Jays. They struggle on the road, having just split a series with the Royals. Their manager has clearly lost his mind and the Yankees and Red Sox are nipping at their heels. The Rays offense has gone into the tank, as the Yahoo game preview machine tells us:
The Rays have averaged 2.7 runs in their last 16 games, finishing with a double-figure hit total only once in that span while batting .211 as a team.
The true catalyst of the Rays is slumping badly. You know what the ancient Chinese proverb says: however Shitske goes, so goes your offense. While Evan Longoria hasn't been through a true slump (only a slow month of May on his record), isn't he due to hit a rookie wall of some sort? Or can young Evan stay consistent and lead the Rays down the stretch run? Can Andy Tannenbaum? All these rhetorical questions make it seem like there will be an exciting finish to the season. An exciting finish that no one will see, the SEC futebawl season should see to that.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

McGowan done

In what hopefully isn't a blow to his career, Dustin McGowan is going to miss the remainder of the season to undergo surgery on his damaged labrum.

McGowan hasn't pitched since July 8th, when he came out of the his start against the Orioles due to the pain after 4 innings. He was diagnosed with a partial tear of his rotator cuff last September, and a look earlier this month reveled no further damage.

If nothing more needs to be done to the rotator cuff, McGowan should be available for Spring Training next year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Overheard at the Ballpark

A most interesting and eventful night at the ballpark ce soir. My first time taking in a game by myself, I was afforded sobriety time for personal reflection and drank in all that I saw and heard.
  • Outside of Joe Inglett's heroics, my clear-cut highlight was seeing Darryl from the Office and Larry fucking Miller sitting three rows down in my section. As they got up to leave, my shout of "We're driving to Flahridah!" stopped Larry Miller cold in his tracks. The reliable character actor turned and smiled, and I knew we were down.
  • I met the future of Ghostrunner on First, and its name is "young blond kid sitting behind me." The future Grofman, his father and I exchanged idle baseball chit-chat for a few innings before he showed me his true colours. Upon David Eckstein's emergence from the dugout to pinch run, my protégé turned to his dad and proclaimed: I Hate Eckstein! I gave this young man a high five, and he gave me faith in the future of humanity.
  • Guys named Brandon throw hard. While they are prone to bouts of wildness, they are prone to bouts of dominance as well. The surfing one was on tonight, the phenom not so much. Cito slowly ratchets up the leverage, and Brandon League by and large responds.
  • Adam Lind hits nought but line drives, and takes nought but bad routes to the baseball.
  • Interesting that Ichiro had the game-winning hit go over his head. In the ninth inning, I saw Miguel Cairo waving him back (deeper), pointing to the dugout indicating the order came from on high.
  • The Mariners changed pitchers twice in the middle of at bats. I can't think of the last time I saw this, let alone twice in one game.
  • We may lament the state of the Blue Jays offense, yet the Mariners had 3 starters in today's game with sub-.300 on base percentages. Kenji Johjima also sports a sub-.300 slugging percentage, adding up to a cool OPS of .534. Ouch.
That is it, swing by Walk Off Walk today and demand Blue Jays content. I'll do my best to represent the centre of the universe.

Flashback Friday

Nothing says Flashback Friday like Danny fucking Cox. Could it be we're running out of ex-Jays to flashback with at the end of every week? Danny spent three heroic years here in the Big Smoke, winning nine games while losing ten. I'm sure we would have gone all out had he actually been a .500 pitcher during his time here. Sadly, he fell one win short of us rolling out the red carpet. At least he's still rocking the a mean hillbilly dick duster.

What isn't a surprise is Adam Lind continuing to make believers out of the entire city. He picked up two more hits and scored a run tonight, raising his average to .312 (and Slugging % to .531!) in the process.

Sadly, Scott Rolen is still having problems actually seeing the baseball, which is a key part to being a productive hitter at the Major League or any level. Thank Jebus for his ridiculous glove. I hope Lloyd doesn't chastise me too badly for that. Ed. Note: The Greatest Blue Jay of All Time is simple the Greatest Blue Jay Of All Time That Looks Lost at the Plate Right now.

Shit, Seattle is bad. I feel horribly for Ghostrunner mancrush Ichiro being surrounded by a bunch of underachievers...well not too horribly. This collection of clowns are on their way to 100+ losses without a doubt.

Other bright spots tonight is Matt Stairs, who's been long overdue to get his shit together. Much like the Jays bullpen, which has and will no doubt continue to be solid from here on in. 10 games over .500? I say without equivocation most definitely maybe. But what the fuck do I know.

News To Use At Your Lesuire

The last time the Jays faced the Mariners, I shit all over the M's only to see them take 2 of 3 from the Torontos. The Mariners are now leaner, having volunteered Richie Sexson to be this year's corpse in a Yankees Jersey who suddenly bursts back to life. The M's slump into Toronto with only one win since the All Star break; and will send three wise wizards with wins o'four to the mound in the forms of Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva and Jarrod Washburn. Brave warriors that take to the hill armed only with respective ERA+ of 58, 71 and 84.

All is not lost for the M's though. Brandon Morrow is not of this Earth. On numerous occasions I have staved off slumber just for the pleasure of watching him mop up meaningless games with sheer gas. Easy, effortless, triple digit gas. 44 Ks in 33 2/3 innings? Yikes. He's pitched 4 innings against the Jays this season, notching 5 strikeouts and allowing but one baserunner. It is sad to say that other than Ichiro and Morrow, the only thing Seattle has going for it is the always impressive U.S.S. Mariner, among the best in Blogri-La

Take a Spin Around the GlobeFinally, I have a very exciting personal announcement. Starting tomorrow, I will be the new Weekend Editor at Walk Off Walk. Their exhaustive search for a sufficiently qualified aging hardcore kid with a baseball blog came up empty, so they were forced to ask me to take the reins on the weekends. I'm really excited to do it, and hope some Blue Jay-type people come and check it out. The men in charge are Red Sox/Yankee fans, so a little Cancon will be certainly appreciated. It will be business as usual here at Ghostrunner on First: your source for third-hand Blue Jays news, recycled opinion and low-to-middle concept comedy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jays Have Entire Night to Think of New Ways to Break Our Hearts

Jesse fights for his job in Da CuseMediocre headcase (who happens to be leading the AL in strikeouts) that is always hurt (yet is 7th in the AL in innings pitched this season and has started 5 times in 19 days) AJ Burnett was delivered another cosmic screwjob. He looked great, striking out the side in the bottom of 5. But he'll be forced into doing his best Erik Bedard impression for the rest of this one: watching from the dugout after 5 innings. Maybe he'll offer to start again on short rest? He's just the type of selfish prick to do that sort of thing. Jay fans are hilarious. Erik Bedard has been presented by the media as a selfish, aloof, me-first prick. Yet each of the last three off seasons featured people around here begging for his arrival. He would get standing ovations, he would have carte blache. But he's Canadian, just like free-pass holder Matt Stairs.

Wilner believes they won't finish this game tomorrow as it is getaway day. The Jays have to make the long flight to, uh, Toronto. While the Orioles are off to darkest...Baltimore? Bullshit. Turns out they are finish this game tomorrow before the getaway game. Halladay is starting so they won't even have to change flight times. The completion game is calling out for a Brandon League door-slamming. Go on Cito, what to you have to lose?

In a somewhat shocking move, the Jays slapped Jesse Litsch down to Syracuse like the red headed stepchild he had become. David Purcey is headed back up, which will no doubt send shivers across Avail tattoos all over Western Ontario. Hopefully he gets a start against a non-right hander-heavy juggernaut to give him a fighting chance. Seattle sounds just about right.

Youth of Today

Tonight's game provided many reasons to stay positive, but let's remember a few things:
  1. Baltimore is really, really bad.
  2. Shaun Marcum got knocked around
I wasn't alone in predicting historical ineptitude for the O's. They hit home runs like crazy, but they might be the worst pitching staff ever. My Adam Lind boner is raging, but looking at the video of each of his hits reveals every pitch he hit missed by a mile. His three run home run? Awesome. The pitch? A hanging slider that was supposed to be down and away but ended up belt-high and in. On a tee, as the smart kids would say. He did a good job staying back on a breaking ball in the 2nd inning, but Tabler pointed out that Brian Roberts was caught cheating towards the hole only to have the ball beat him up the middle. But who fucking cares, the Jays obviously haven't been punishing mistakes all year long, so watching them do it for one night is certainly a good thing.

As for Marcum, it is hard to fault his lack of sharpness. While going 12 up and 12 down against the Rocco-less VB D-Rays is one thing; getting most of the Orioles out is another. While he didn't have his usual pin-point control, he didn't miss by much. Just enough that Professional Hitter Melvin Mora hit him hard most of the night.

More random Blue Jay thoughts
  • Good to see Brandon League avoid the trip back to Syracuse. He looked pretty good (but certainly not pretty) in his last outing. Cito (I'm going to give Cito the credit here because Cito is a kindly man that looks something like a blacker version of my dad) has belief in League, and continues to slot him into medium leverage situations hoping he improves his command. Conversely, the round righty Brian Wolfe was send down to Syracuse to make space for Marcum.
  • This whole "Mench thing" can end any time now. 6 of his 16 hits have been doubles, which isn't terrible, but he doesn't have a single home run or add anything to the team right now or down the road. With all the rain we've been getting in Toronto, I think we might need a Coat to keep us dry. Zing! So what if he's a taller, gawkier Brad Wilkerson? His name is Buckskin fucking Coats, what else do you want?
  • Jeremy Guthrie has been tough on the Jays for his career, but he is exactly the kind of shitballer (though an eco-friendly shitballer) they need to beat up on if they want to reach Cito's new mythical figure of 10 games over .500.
  • The new Hold Steady record is kinda, sorta, only okay. I like it, but it isn't the religious experience that Boys & Girls in America was. Someone should get me Wakestock tickets so I can see Hot Water Music.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Return of the Mac

It doesn't matter that it's 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth or if the Jays win or lose tonight. Shaun Marcum is back and I for one couldn't be happier. With Jesse Litsch throwing what appears to be batting practice to most teams and the unpredictable John Parrish launching balls all over the field it'll be nice to see Marcum ease his way back into form and dominate opposing batters.

This just in - Johnny Mac is still fucking awesome.

Fuck Baltimore.

Oh, and to re-iterate something Lloyd has eloquently said before - Adam Lind is the
king of the universe...triple away from the cycle = good game.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nothing Else Matters

Whatever happens, he has arrived. All wagons are hitched to this horse. Though I'd like to refer him to this FOTGR (friend of the ghostrunners) if he intends to add to his art collection.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rays & Jays Prepare for Pivitol Series, End of Days

The reeling Rays host the surging-with-a-small-S Blue Jays in an important with-a-small-I series coming out of the All Star break. Tropicana Field figures to be rockinghalf-full and lifeless for this division "rivalry".

Important-with-a-small-I might still be an overstatement, but the Rays youthful roster and rich history of embarrassment combined with their current 7 game losing streak increase their need to right the ship. Seven game losing streaks are never good, but coming on the heels of a 7 game winning streak demonstrates how tough this team is to figure out. People have been anticipating the Rays collapse since May 1st, but they've continued to play excellent baseball. The Reverend himself declared them the real deal and I certainly won't debate their ability to hit. If the Rays lose 2 of 3 to the Jays, the self-doubt will creep in like so many boxes of donuts into Shitske's locker. They've been kicking the tires on all manner of replacement bat/bullpen timebomb with an eye on the stretch run.

The Blue Jays are in the unenviable position of being sellers with a glimmer of hope as the trade deadline looms. Any move involving AJ Burnett seems less and less likely, especially with Joe Blanton adding to the collective obesity of eastern Pennsylvania and southern Jersey. The not being showcased in the least Burnett starts tonight; his 100th in the last 2 weeks. The Jays need these divisional games if they plan on deluding themselves further into the season.

Should the Rays get back on track at the expense of our Blue Jays, expect nothing short of Hillsborough Bay transforming into a lake of fire. BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir and James Shields will be commuting to the stadium on the backs of their undead steeds. If the Rays can sustain their strong first half through the dog days of August, finding themselves playing the ever-popular Meaningful Baseball in September, we will be faced with nothing short of a zombie apocalypse. The head zombie himself, the seventh son born under the seventh sign could be ready for a miraculous September call-up. If that is the case, there can be no doubt of the frightening outcome: Alpha zombie leads soulless army to feast on the flesh of the living, World Series title.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Off Days or the Old Days - A Time for Reflection

What? No real baseball for two more days? As enticing as Jays - The Coached Interview sounds (voiced by legendary rapper Saukrates. Legendary thanks to his world famous track...uhhhh I suppose Let's Ride was decent song that he didn't make worse), I demand real baseball satisfaction. So I'll look to the past. Thus far this season, we've seen offensive failure of the beyond comprehension, so we will look back to the annals of Blue Jays greatness. What Jay could revive this spellbound offense and propel this team to greatness? In other words, what was the greatest offensive season in Blue Jay history?

Your nominees:
  1. Jesse Barfield - 1986. There haven't been too many 40 home run seasons in Blue Jay history, so the first one is bound to stick out. Barfield had a strong year, adding 35 doubles to his 40 home runs, though he walked only 69 times. He finished with an OPS+ of 146. Looking at his monthly stats, it appears that young Jesse really, really wanted to get to 40 home runs. He went crazy in the fall, hitting 10 jacks in September but killing his season average and striking out like a madman in the process.

    This was certainly his career season, one in which he finished 5th in the MVP voting. Jesse Barfield was far and away my favorite player as a kid, probably fueled by this 40 home run outburst. Was it the best in Blue Jay history?

  2. George Bell - 1987. This man was the first (and only) Blue Jay to win the MVP after his massive 1987 season. His 47 home runs remain a club best and his .605 slugging percentage is second among Jays. He was certainly not the patient slugger (39 walks?), but his strikeout numbers are downright respectable. 134 RBI, 111 runs scored while notching an average higher than his BaBIP.

    I'm pretty sure George Bell was an ornery prick that nobody liked, yet he still stole that MVP from Wade Boggs (yeah, I said it. 40 doubles, 24 home runs and a .469 OBP? Only good for 9th in the MVP voting. A shame, though Boggs is also a punk.) George had a pretty fucking great season, but the best?

  3. John Olerud - 1993. Holy fucking shit. John Olerud was an animal this year. If only he hadn't gotten caught in the downward spiral of drug abuse. We've all heard the stories about his fucking 3 girls at a time just cause he could; doing blow and screaming "I'm hitting .400 bitches, lick my glorious balls!" at the dark Toronto sky. The demons really got a hold of him, it's a Canadian tragedy.

    Honestly though, what a year. 54 doubles (suck it Overbay), a .599 slugging percentage combining with his high walk totals to give him an OPS+ of 186. I was going to comment on his absurdly high BaBIP of .375 but the man hit .363! It isn't even that far off! He hit a shit-tonne of line drives, got on base and hit fifth on the World Series Championship team. A definite candidate for greatest Blue Jay season.

  4. Stompin' shagitz, screwin' shicksasShawn Green - 1999. Coming off a 30/30 season, Shawn Green followed up with a monsterous '99. 42 home runs, 123 RBI while cutting his K numbers and raising his OBP to a career high. His OPS+ almost mirrored Barfield's at 143. He spent nearly the entire year hitting in front of Carlos Delgado, a place that has been known to inflate numbers and offensive potential.

    It is easy to forget how awesome Shawn Green was, and his 134 runs scored are a team record. It may not be the best season but it certainly contributed to one of the worst trades. P.S. Fuck you Ryan Braun, this is the true Hebrew Hammer.

  5. Carlos Delgado - 2000. When it is all said and done, I hope that they move Carlos Delgado's name above the Level of Excellence and straight-up retire his number. A hokey gesture perhaps, but he really had the greatest career of anyone in a Blue Jay uniform. While his 2003 season was incredible, his 2000 was off the charts.

    The second highest Blue Jay average of all time, the highest slugging percentage, second highest OBP, highest OPS and the second highest OPS+. More doubles than any Blue Jay (57), more walks than any Blue Jay (123), more RBI than any Blue Jay at that point (134, a record he would surpass in 2003). Let us not forget a grand total of NINETY-NINE extra base hits. He also played in all 162 games, cured diptheria and annihilated more ass than undercooked ribs.

    Somehow, this massive season didn't garner a single first-place MVP vote. Somehow, the writers saw fit to pronounce Jason Giambi the most valuable player, with Alex Rodriquez and Frank Thomas finishing ahead of Carlos. People hit a lot of home runs when they were on drugs. Will he garner votes for greatest Blue Jay season of all time?
There you have it. Apologies to Fred McGriff, Vernon Wells and Alfredo Griffin who's seasons didn't make the cut. Cast your vote beneath the picture of Joe effin Carter. Leave a comment reminding me how great _______ was in 19__.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Josh Hamilton Clouts Home Runs, Steals Bike, Rants Incoherently, Passes Out

Too soon? Probably far too late.

Update: This makes me want to felate the glass shaft and live on the margins of society. I'd become a Born Again if it meant Roy Halladay staying in town.

An Army of One, A Starting Job Stolen

Roy Halladay makes his way into the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, having just learned that Cliff Lee will be starting the All Star Game. He is first approached by Jason Varitek.

Jason: You can't start'em all, Roy.
Halladay: That's a fact.
Jason: How come you're doing this, then?
Halladay: Because I ain't got nothin' better to do.

All Star Coach Terry Francona tries to explain to Roy that he's a great player, but won't be starting the All Star Game.

Tito: You're wanted, Halladay. But I don't think I can start you.
Halladay: Reckon I'm right popular. You the coach then? What kind of coach won't let me start the game?
Tito: A man's got to do something for a living these days.
Halladay: Suckin' ain't much of a living, boy.

Surprise starter Cliff Lee ambles over to offer his condolences to Roy

Cliff Lee Watie: I'm gettin' better at sneaking up on you like this. Only an Indian can do something like this.
Halladay: That's what I figured.
Cliff Lee Watie: You figured?
Halladay: Only an Indian could do something like that.
Cliff Lee Watie hears a gun cock behind him; turns and sees regression to the mean
Cliff Lee Watie: It's not right; damn reality doing something like this to me. I used to have power. Now old age is creeping up on me.
Halladay: More like old habits than old age.

Halladay starts preparing for his appearance at the game, going over his charts on the National League All Stars. Chief Lee Watie looks on.

Chief Lee Watie: How do you know who to go after and who to shoot first?
Halladay: Well, that one in the center: he has thin air in his ballpark and he was in no itchin' hurry. And the one second from the left: he had scared eyes, he wasn't gonna do nothin'. But that one on the far left: he had crazy eyes. Figured him to make the first move.
Chief Lee Watie: How 'bout the one batting leadoff?
Halladay: Never paid him no mind; you were there.
Chief Lee Watie:[trembling with fear] I could have missed.

Halladay walks out towards the field, ready to take on the National League All Stars. Tim Lincecum and Edinson Volquez lean over and start to ask veteran Chipper Jones about it. They ask if the stories are true about him, and how he works.

Captain Larry: Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men wherever he goes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekend in Brief

The New York Yankees - Instantly Hateable Since 1903

While the Red Sox Nation seems to have taken over as the preeminent home to omnipresent front runners and white-hatted douche bags; the Yankees continue their proud tradition of inducing rage. Despite this being the year when they finally fall from grace, they still boil my blood and send me reaching for my 222's. IT IS MY RIGHT AS A CANADIAN.

Fun with Baseball Reference

Jesse and I were recently discussing the evolution of Three True Outcome guys and the birth of the Patient Slugger. Jesse Barfield (not far from a three outcome guy) brought up Jack Clark, a guy that didn't get the level of recognition he likely deserved. His 1987 season was clearly ahead of the game. 136 walks, 139 K's. Leading the league in OBP and slugging (and therefore OPS) with a cool 35 home runs. Billy Beane would be proud. Of course, in 1987 numbers like that wouldn't get you the MVP. Andre Dawson's much more HR & RBI happy year landed him the hardware in the NL; while George "You can't walk off the island" Bell won in the AL. Understandable, but Jack Clark finished behind OZZIE SMITH in the MVP voting!!! That OPS+ of 105 really swung the vote. There is hope for Johnny Mac yet.

While Jack Clark was a revelation, I wondered about Rob Deer, Dave Kingman et al. Were they truly all or nothing sluggers, or early versions of Adam Dunn & Ryan Howard. Frankly, No. They were pretty terrible. Historically, mind-blowingly terrible in fact.

Dave Kingman had a 1982 season to remember. 35 home runs, not bad at all. Getting on base at a .285 clip, alright. Those were the times. Wait a damn minute, does that say he hit 35 home runs and ONLY HAD 9 (NINE) 9 DOUBLES ALL YEAR LONG???? Jesus Mary and Joseph it does!!! 9 doubles!!! 35 home runs and 9 doubles! That doesn't even seem possible. This was 1982, there was AstroTurf everywhere. You'd think a couple would have bounced over the fence? Taken one off the wall instead of over? My brain hurts but my heart soars. Dave Kingman, you are a credit to fat dudes everywhere; and accomplished something that makes such a small amount of sense that I am in awe. Congratulations.

The Midsummer Classic

Who gives a shit? Keep checking this space when people aren't playing games, as we'll try and keep you entertained while the Evan Longoria tries not to ruin his swing. Some blasts from Blue Jay past, the Mormon with no name and perhaps a visit from JP...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Adam Lind - Free at Last

Adam Lind just went 3-4 and notched the game winning RBI. This gave the Jays the sweep. In other words, Chief busted out and proceeded to bang three girls at the local liberal arts college. And then he was given the job of security guard at a nearby microbrewery.

Sadly, Brandon "McMurphy" League may be an involuntary lobotomy patient. Someone seems to have cut any knowledge of the strike zone clean out of his brain.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Liberation Frequency

I've been wrestling with my feelings all day. Cito & JP are already talking about next year. The trade rumours swirl. Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum are on the DL. The team is still in last place, despite showing signs of life last night. Me? I still think baseball is pretty fucking great.

I mentioned liberated fandom in one of the the first ever Ghostrunner on First posts. I still feel now as I felt then. I'm not going to shout "wait til next year!" now or ever. But following the team every day, faced with a sudden lack of distance from the team and its travails has me thinking differently. Admittedly, the last two weeks in Bluejayland have been difficult to write about. The Jays fortunes and real life distractions collided at speed, resulting in the slowest GROF week yet.

I surely get caught up in the W's and L's, the slumps and the roster movement. My self-appointed role of Elitist Fuck allows me to think that I'm above all that; the riff-raff that spill their frustrations all over Wilner's lap. But I'm no different. I regurgitate the lines of true baseballmen, of the season being long and 70 games a lifetime. Players underperform, balls bounce, umpires squeeze.

One thing that will not happen, no matter how many games the Toronto Blue Jays lose, I will not cease to be entertained. My aping of the Free Darko ethos is all over this site, from the Scott Rolen defense love to worshiping a oft-injured outfielder from a division rival. I will continue to watch Adam Lind evolve and excite, I will watch hoping for a glimpse at John MacDonald donning his cap and turning into Johnny Mac. I will watch Brandon League throw gas without too much thought as to where it's going. I will pontificate about batting orders. I will dick joke at the expense of management. I will sign petitions to get Ichiro into the Home Run Derby. I will steal expensive seats on a Friday night and boo those who start the wave.

I will not, in any way, advocate trading Roy Halladay. No matter what type of haul he would yield. No amount of wins, parades or Meaningful Games in September will replace the joy and pleasure of watching him work every fifth day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Most definitely eating my words

Raise your hand if you thought the Tampa Bay Rays would have the best record in Major League baseball on July 8th. You did? Fuck you, no you didn't. Unless you're from Tampa Bay, or for some fucked up reason cheer for a team that has been horrific since its inception; you're full of shit.

Granted, it was understood that the Rays were headed in the right direction and were an improved team. There were even some crazy bastards who thought they just might surprise everyone and finish ahead of the Yankees. Shit, we here at Ghostrunner had the Rays pegged to finish 4th place behind the much improved Toronto Blue Jays, but what the fuck do we know?

The Rays can run (see Carl Crawford or BJ Upton), they can hit (see Evan Longoria, much to my surprise) and they seem to have figured out how to get opposing players out. All of this along with the inspirational Rocco to guide them has these upstarts making believers out of baseball fans.

So I'll just sit here and pine as the Jays continually struggle to score even one run behind often masterful pitching while Tampa continue to prove everybody wrong. Every once in awhile things go right for a team and the stars align. It would seem for Tampa, at least for the moment, that winning is contagious.

Jays Gear Up For Divisional Rivals Ahead of All Stazzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In order for the Jays to hit Cito's benchmark of .500 by the All Star break they need to take 5 of 6 from the O's & Yankees. Does this team strike you as one primed for a winning streak? Is a winning streak even possible at this point?

The Jays face Danial Cabrera tonight, which could go either way. He's had good performances against the Jays, but a hard-throwing right hander with control issues is the only kind of pitcher the Jays can do any damage against this year. He's coming off a good start, and seems to have moved past his wildness this season. One thing is for sure, going against McGowan tonight spells disaster for anyone lacking in the attention span department. Mmmmmm 8 pitch at bats all night long.

The ESPN compubot favors the Jays tonight for reasons beyond me. I wish I had the cold, calculated approach of Accuscore, because watching the Jays these days is torturous. The Jays continue to cruise along with a Luck factor of -5 and their stellar record in one run games is now 12-21. Groin punches that will surely continue all season long. Sigh.

Other Crap to Distract Us All

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Roy Halladay

Every five days, he's guaranteed to gift you a reluctant boner for 3 to 4 hours.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


An off day almost halfway through the season is a good time to reflect. I'm not the type of masochist to take on the Jays as a whole, so I'll look particularly at Scott Rolen v. Troy Glaus. This is what I said about the trade on January 13th:
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.
Troy Glaus hit a game-winning home run yesterday, ensuring the Cardinals home plate mosh pit showed up on most media outlets. Meanwhile the ticker below read Mariners 4 Blue Jays 2. The walkoff-styled jimmyjackcorn was Troy Glaus' 13th of the year and the RBI was his 54th. Some Jays fans read that and thought: holy shit, I wish the Jays had a guy with that kind of power and run production. Scott Rolen only has 6 home runs. What a shitty trade. JP sucks, the Jays suck. Why won't Richard Peddie return my phonecalls???

The optics are indeed bad, but they don't tell the whole story. Actually, fuck that. The optics are just fine. Yes Troy Glaus has almost twice as many home runs and RBI as Scott Rolen. He's played 23 more games. Troy Glaus' OPS - .856. Scott Rolen's? .839. Hardly a major discrepancy. Troy Glaus is a notoriously streaky hitter that had a hot June after two consecutive months of sub.800 OPS.

Another key factor in Troy Glaus' success is Albert Pujols. This season, Glaus's at bats with runners on are almost equal to those with the bases empty. Hitting behind the twin killings in Toronto, Scott Rolen certainly doesn't have that luxury. He's being pitched differently. Pitched differently in the inferior league.

And what of the defense? Sweet and glorious defense. Scott Rolen, 61 games in, is the best third baseman I've ever seen. I don't see much room for argument. Top Zone rating in baseball, 6th in range factor. Glaus hasn't played poorly, nor did he as a Blue Jay. But Scott Rolen is in a class unto himself. Getting to so many more balls, making difficult plays with such regularity. I sure the difference in zone rating makes up for the difference in OPS.

I still haven't mentioned the true catalyst for this swap: TROY GLAUS BEGGED OUT OF TOWN. He worried about his long-term earning potential being effected by the Fieldturf. Hard to fault him. So JP did what he had to do, brought in a clearly superior defender and almost identical offensive producer. Yeah, fuck JP. He's a chump that has no clue what he's doing.

Half a season, I applaud this trade because I get to watch Scott Rolen every day. I benefit more from the "be able to tell my grandkids" angle than the "Troy Glaus hit more home runs" ever could. Greatest Blue Jay Ever.

Jays Conclude Midweek Series at Abu Ghairb

A seemingly endless long weekend has everyone I know moving very, very slowly. We could all use a little Alkaline pick-me-up through our tender and sunburnt nipples.

Brandon League - Oxidized

Brandon League hooked his right arm up to a car battery, hoping to shake off muscle atrophy. He saw his first action in more than a week, pitching two innings that didn't exactly inspire unchecked glee. He did wriggle out of a minijam and was at least on the mound in a situation that mattered. He throws harder than Chris Snyder or Jose Molina will be for a while.

Miguel Cairo - Undead

Miguel Cairo - Yankees Glue Guy was really easy to hate. Just another journeyman that can do no wrong when he straps on those damned pinstripes. He's now reduced to being a random bench guy on the worst team in baseball. Clearly his career is dead or at least dying. Suddenly, he pops up and starts driving in winning runs, pissing me off and costing the Jays games. The only explanation: HE'S A ZOMBIE! Some cruel bastard hooked his corpse to a 12 volt car battery and here he is; moving runners over, bunting and feasting on the flesh of the living. Re-animated without the benefit of blinding speed.

Adam Lind - Someone Left the Lights On

Adam Lind's star shone so brightly. The cognescenti has been heralding him as the savior all year long, largely because of his crazy numbers at every level. We shouldn't dismiss the fact that we're all fools waiting for the next big thing. Unwashed, uninformed masses full of hope and cheese doodles.

His first go-around this season had him looking over his shoulder after every at bat, wondering when the ax would fall. 19 at bats later, Gibby emerged from the local multiplex only to learn his car was dead. The sumbitch won't even turn over! Cito produced the jumper cables from within his jalopy's trunk, restarting Adam Lind's season. His obvious talent is the alternator, providing some much needed power. OPS Express for life.

Erin Andrews - Untalented

I'll never understand the universe's Erin Andrews worship. Reading any major sports blog makes it impossible to be unaware of her ex-cheerleader persona. Sure, she's reasonably attractive, works in and presumably enjoys sports. Hooray, she's every lazy man's dream. You think that shit would last? You can share all the interests in the world; once your undying attention shifts from her you'll find yourself debating the merits of paint colours with names varying from aplomb to capri coast to barrista. Beige. They're all fucking beige.

The internets are set ablaze anytime she does anything, including our prolific manfriend David Chalk posting a video of her getting the diaper dandy treatment from Dickie Vee. Watching the video my only thoughts are: GAHHHH! That accent is a fate worse than death; a torture I cannot withstand. She needs to partake in some Veronica Corningstone non-regional diction exercises. I'm not too proud to post her picture though. Let the hits roll in!!