Friday, July 31, 2009


Fuck this. No seriously, fuck this.

Masochistic Update: This season Edwin Encarnacion has 5 home runs and a .318 wOBA. His UZR/150 at third base is a stunning -23.1. Those are both significantly below his career averages of .350 and -12.2. Congratulations Rogers, I may not pay my bill again this decade. Fuck.

You Mean They Play Baseball?

Lost in the constant din of HalladayHalladayHallday was the Jays losing two out of three to a game but terrible Mariners team. The lineup they sent out on Wednesday was borderline embarrassing. Nearly as embarrassing as Cito sending Roy Halladay back out into the heat, as the good men of Bluebird Banter point out. Last year there was some debate around Halladay's ability to pitch in the heat (proved to be nonsense by General Hale, but there was chatter none the less.) All reports point towards the man being spent. Even after he loaded the bases, he was still out there. Bring in a lefty and Griffy may as well swing a rolling pin. But nope, it was Doc's penultimate game before his second-to-last home start, he must finish what he starts.

Sadly, it is that time of year again and now the time of day to sift through the sadness we see before us. You guessed it, it's underperformance o'clock! The fun game where we point to the Jays brutal underperformance of all their expected or third order records. Firstly we look at the cold, hard, indisputable truth. The Jays have 49 wins and 53 losses. But now the fun begins.

The run differential is +42, good for 9th in all of baseball. That means their pythag record is 55-47. Boo. The good people at Baseball Prospectus provide second and third order wins which are calculated to be "luck neutral." Both second and third order wins put the Jays on 54 or 55 wins. The only team with a greater difference between their actual record and these theoretical numbers are the Washington Nationals. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be associated with them in any way, shape, or form.

Beyond the Box Score offer their weekly power rankings based on a myriad of calculations based on offense, run prevention (including defense!) adding in adjustments for strength of schedule and league. The Toronto Blue Jays &mdash the team many local fans want to "blow up" and "start over"&mdash currently sit fifth in the BtB rankings. The Jays just keep on underperforming their expected records. But how???

Once again, the Jays stink in the clutch. We aren't all imagining it, the Jays are the worst offensive team in basball under high-leverage pressure. By a long shot. The pitching doesn't perform nearly as badly in those high-leverage situations, though it hasn't been great overall. Gross. The main offenders? Vernon Wells natch, Aaron Hill, Lyle Overbay, Marco Scutaro and Adam Lind! All put up much worse numbers when the leverage is high. Rod Barajas and Alex Rios rank as the only Jays with positive clutch numbers. That says a lot, Rod Barajas should lead your team in exactly zero offensive categories. Two rookies are the best high leverage pitchers for the Jays, Romero and Cecil wiggling out of their own jams on a regular basis. The worst? Let's not talk about it.

Don't forget one run games? The games you're supposed to win half the time? The Jays wins 1 out of 3. Those same Mariners, with their awful offense and not great pitching, have won 25 out of 38 one-run games. Guess which team has a better record? Are the Mariners a better team than the Jays? Not even a little bit. At least the Jays have lost 10 extra inning games already!

No wonder this fanbase is so fed up, so ready for change. I made the point in the winter: for the Jays to compete they need to get (or be) lucky. They haven't (and aren't). Blame the GM if you must, but a slight reversal of sacking direction (up rather than down) and we're all singing a whole new tune. One that sounds like PLAYOFFS!

Reuters photo courtesy of Daylife, Rogers promotional photo courtesy of Eye On Springfield

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Raping the Corpse of the Golden Goose

I recognize marketing or advertising or whatever you call it is a tough racket. I know I can barely get through my 11am meeting without a bracing shot of Wild Turkey. But the good people charged with marketing the Toronto Blue Jays have gone a little overboard.

During tonight's broadcast, I saw promos trumpeting tomorrow's Halladay start as "possibly his last." THE THIRD SUCH START IN TWO WEEKS. Look suits, you got two nice home dates out of this, a shit-tonne of media from outlets that would sooner cover curling rink de-thawings but enough is enough. The latest promo featured shots of a teenaged Roy Halladay slipping on a Blue Jays hat in his Denver-area kitchen. ENOUGH MANIPULATION.

Selling baseball to self-loathing Torontonians is a difficult ask, yes. But could you at least get past the obvious inferiority complex and stop brazenly picking our scabs right in front of us? It somehow makes the entire publicity stunt look cheaper and more contrived, something J.P. is capable of doing all on his own.

Tangentially related image courtesy of Warming Glow

Monday, July 27, 2009

Life Vests Float, Kids Don't

With all the trade bullshit coming to a head and the seemingly unanimous sentiment that JP Ricciardi's days are numbered in Toronto I find it interesting that the Jays are pulling into Seattle. The Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays have many things in common, the least of which being their simultaneous entry to the American League. The Mariners overachieved with a poorly conceived roster only to historically fall to Earth in 2008 as the only $100 million dollar team to lose 100 games. The Jays always seem to underachieve both their optical expectations (the ifs ands & buts) as well as their numerical expectations (will you look at that, they're doing it again!)

The single most important difference between these two teams right now is at General Manager. The Mariners made a move to bring in a new man this year (though it almost wasn't a man), Jack Zduriencik, and he quickly made an impression. Jack Z's moves continue to trim incredible amounts of fat from the M's roster. A few bold trades, a vital fleecing of the Royals and the Mariners are headed in the right direction. They're by no means there, but they seem to have a plan. Which brings me back to JP.

To believe that any one man or organization has a master plan, takes an incredibly wide view of move A begets move B begets move C begets PLAYOFFS! is, in my mind, a little naive. Equally naivete is required to look at the Jays on field product, farm system and draft record and deny this team, this organization has a distinct PHILOSOPHY of what they feel Blue Jays baseball is and how much it will cost. I'll get into that a little deeper in the future if the powers-that-be find it in their infinite wisdom to allow it.

While touristy columnists love to take shots at JP's lack of a plan, I don't think it's true, on a macro scale anyway. The true failings of JP Ricciardi are the microplans; the individual pieces here and there that added up to missed opportunity or stubborn refusal to cut bait. We all love to point to Tampa's minor league contract successes as ways JP fails. To paraphrase Mike Wilner; not all minor league deals are created equal. When Tampa invites Carlos Pena to camp it is the promise of a full time job that gets him there. If JP pledges a starting role to Travis Snider, he can't offer any veteran bat of substance any guarantees beyond "we'll call you if we need you." It isn't an inability to find adequate diamonds in the rough, it's shoving Snider out there without any sort of contingency plan. JP, Arnsberg, and the lot do an exception job of this within the pitching ranks, creating a constant state of competition for 5 precious rotation spots. If health isn't a factor, there could well be 10 pitchers (Marcum, Listch, Cecil, Mills, Purcey, McGowan, Rzepczynski, Romero, Ray, Janssen) competing for 4 starting slots next year. We all know where the other one is going.

PS. Any more "make Cecil the closer" talk and I'll probably lose my mind. Stop it. Just stop. I don't care who you are, you sound like an idiot. You don't turn a big tall lefty with a four pitch mix into a closer unless you are burning money. If you don't think League can do it fine, but don't send good money after bad by wasting Cecil.

I pay pretty close attention to the Mariners; there is no better way to do so than by reading U.S.S Mariner. One tidbit I gleaned from their site earlier this season was this: all players have limitations. Putting players into situations you know they can't succeed in isn't their fault, it's yours. Part of having a "plan" is making use of all 25 spots to craft a successful team. In an ideal world you'd have a team full of 5 tool studs without handedness splits, but that doesn't happen. Not on a budget, not with all the money in the world.

If you have a weakness, be it a player's inability to hit same handed pitching, put together a decent enough hot streak to hide his inadequacies, or field one position well, you'd better have a complimentary or off-setting piece ready to plug in that instance. Jose Bautista's ability to play numerous positions coupled with his ability to stand at the plate and hope for a walk is something, Kevin Millar's ability to run into a fastball a month is nothing. Teams like the Red Sox do this exceptionally well because they can afford to and because players will take less to play there. How many teams would Rocco start for (health aside)? He's just an example of their ability to get the most out of all their pieces, both in his contributions and the ability for he and JD Drew to spare each others brittle bones.

Last year we saw the inability to acknowledge Mencherson's obvious failings hurt the team in the long run. We learned that cutting Frank Thomas lose was a fair bit of business and an understandable move. If you don't see the value in this move and are willing to criticize it, please stop. The deal Thomas signed was very team-friendly and was executed exactly to plan. But the refusal of Blue Jays management and their inability to move on past "their guys" is a hindrance. Make no mistake, whether JP drafted them or not, the moment they sign a new contract under him they become his guys. His choices, his problem.

What is all this about? Am I advocating replacing JP with someone that can make better decisions on a micro scale while building on the strong base provided? Maybe. A glorywhore like Pat Gillick could ride in, pull the trigger on one significant trade and be thought of as the white knight that saved baseball once again. But make no mistake, whoever is chosen as the replacement is set up for future success by the philosophy of the current regime. It is just too bad we're left to "suffer" the consequences of failing to sweat the small stuff.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Spoils of Failure

The Tao has his Friday Rock Out and Joanna of Hum & Chuck responded in turn. Your boy Eyebeleaf posted an inspiration video earlier this week, mustering up the gumption to get through this trying season. In the name of brand positioning and disappointment over losing the boobie video, I must throw my dirty hat in the ring. With a catch, of course.

This video isn't to make me feel better about the season or make sense of the seemingly senseless misinformation emanating from the front office. I don't care if JP stays or goes, no manner of ball washing of Gillick or lusting for Theo could have changed many of JP's choices. Every single team is attempting the same feat as the Jays, some are a little further up the curve than the Jays. Many, many teams are far behind. None of that matters in the end, because there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. But this video is not for them, or for me. It is for Roy Halladay.

If Roy Halladay really is to make his final start tonight against the reeling Rays, I want him to hurt them. I want him to listen to some of the doomiest, heaviest metal to ever come from Canada and go out with hate in his heart. I want him to stomp the life from their bodies and cut new orifices in which to violate them. When he walks off the field, I want him not to doff his hat, but give the official Roy Halladay cuteye to the nearest camera. Do it for yourself Roy, because no one else will.

I'm liveblogging the events tonight. Do stop by and make it a memorable one. Love to the Te of Inglett for the original image below.

Original Image courtesy of The Te of Inglett
The Blue Jays world will shout up "save us" and Roy will whisper "no."

The Phillies Aren't Phighting Phair

I'll have something intelligent to say soon about, um, something? But until then we need to recognize the depths to which the covetous-eyed corpse rapers (the body is still warm!) are willing to sink to land Roy Halladay.

Your move, fanboys. Turn this mother out.

Like any good moving picture, this comes courtesy of Meech and The Fightins!

UPDATE: Because that video will make you a little dumber, I encourage you read The Mockingbird's Jonathan Hale doing some amazing work at The Hardball Times. Marrying Pitch f/x and Hit f/x to determine what causes infield pop flys? That is some next-level shit, and I salute him for it. Must. Read.

Update number 2: Well, she took her video down. Instead I present a 12 year old kid from Jersey talking to the camera. His words, regarding the possibility of Roy Halladay becoming a Phillie:
That is fucking awesome.
It just might be, it just might be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Let's not climb all over ourselves in an mad dash to bury Lyle Overbay. Lyle Overbay is an amazing first baseman who made a difficult play look impossible. I'm a little uncomfortable with my apologist position here, but I think about it this way: isolated sucking is one thing, sustained sucking is another. Sustained sucking with no hope of improvement is where I draw the line and start casting aspersions. Like Jose Bautista! Remember when he walked all the time? That's kinda the only thing he offers, and even that is regressing. His on base is slowly making its way back to Earth, along with his bloated wOBA. The less said about Kevin Millar the better. Complaining about him is like complaining about Canadian winters or the GST.

Like Elliott Ness

Speaking of overblown, the most overused word this time of the year is "untouchable." Such and such a prospect is untouchable, he's on our untouchable list. This is the used car salesman coming out of every GM. He's only untouchable because it drives up his value. I recently acquired a list of "untouchable" prospects from baseball GMs, it looks like this:
  • Self doubt
  • Self awareness
  • Style
  • Humility
Those are the only things a baseball GM can't offer you for any price. Anything else that may save their job, improve their team, or make ownership money is fair game. Kyle Drabek is not untouchable, but labeling him so creates a lot of intrigue and perceived value. Stephen Strasburg, Matt Weiters, Tommy Hanson and David Price are the only guys that come close to being untouchable.


That said, if anyone came knocking for Brett Cecil, would you say yes? His future is as bright as his present is muddied by poor control. Playing with fire and generally pissing around against the god-awful Racist Nicknames is one thing, against a real time you'll be in trouble. But this too will pass and, as Mike Wilner said, he'll be a damn fine number 2 starter in this league.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Moment in Time

I know it took place about 1000 years ago in blogging/internet time, but I witnessed something special on Friday night during the Jays/Red Sox game (which I was liveblogging.) Love and love collided when Brandon League came in to pitch the 7th inning with the outcome of the game hardly in doubt. It didn't matter though, as the first batter he faced was none other than Rocco Baldelli. ZOMG!

I was very conflicted; what should I hope to happen? The game was pretty much over given the Sox bullpen dominance and Rocco was having a tough time at the plate. A meaningless insurance home run wouldn't hurt anybody, right? I think the best scenario would be the the one laid out by Ian the Blue Jay Hunter, who said (allow me to embellish) that Rocco should go down and get a tough League fastball, ripping it down the third base line for Scott Rolen to make an incredible diving play! This website would have spontaneously combusted and ceased to be. It didn't really play out that way, because Brandon League was AMAZING on Friday night. To the graph paper!

League v. Rocco, a five pitch battle for the ages
Your eyes do not deceive you. Brandon League threw only 1 fastball to Rocco, right down the middle. The other four pitches were his off speed pitch, whatever you believe it to be. Sinker? Slider? Curve? Change? The pitch f/x algorithm sure can't figure it out. Neither could Rocco, who swung at two nice whatevertheyares just below the strike zone after League threw one that even the ump couldn't make sense of so he called it a ball. How about we look at League's velocity versus horizontal movement for the whole inning, which included a two pitch ground out and a strike out of JD Drew?

League entire outing, July 17 v. Boston
I'm not very smart, so I don't know what to label the breaking pitch. Is it a changeup? Sort of, it moves laterally at a speed similar to Halladay's change, though the vertical movement is all different. Sometimes Pitch f/x thinks it's a cutter, sure whatever, though I don't think Brandon League throws with his left hand half the time. Is is the very same pitch he heaves normally, just at 80% effort? Brandon League is a pretty eXXXtreme dude, I don't think he does anything at 80% effort. TO THE MAX!

It could be anything, but whatever it was against the Red Sox on Friday, it worked. It was highly effective because it was thrown around the strikezone! Will wonders ever cease?

You may suggest this is an asinine waste of time, getting excited over an 11 pitch sample. You'd be correct, but I still wouldn't care. Rocco went down against a better man on this day, one I hope we'll see again soon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Let's Start the Second Half Off Right

With a little nightmare fuel, via our friends at 3:10 to Joba. Read the post if you want to re-experience your lunch mid-digestion.

The Jays face criminal minded-party animal Clay Buchholz tonight. Ricky Romaro goes for the Jays - something we should all be thankful for.

Have thoughts of RR cleansed the JobaJay ugliness from your mind yet? Hopefully, because Beyond the Boxscore has another massive serving of nightmare fuel to cram down your gullet. If the plan is to include Vernon in any possible Halladay trade scenarios, you'd better be dealing with Dayton Moore-level moron. Not likely.

I'm liveblogging tonight's Jays - Red Sox tilt for the Score. Swing by and watch the second half start in style.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brief Thoughts on the Business of Sports

Just a quick addendum to my previous post and some comments following the Tao's incredible take on the prospect of trading Halladay: I don't give a damn about business. I don't care if Rogers survives or fails (jokes, current employers!) and I don't spend much time thinking about the business side of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club. That said, we can't ignore it. We can bluster all day about passionate fandom and losing yourself in the game, but when it comes to brainstorming and/or spitballin' ideas for why JP should stay/go, we'd be fools to ignore it.

Which is why we must all promise to cease begging Rogers to dump the Laotian GNP into payroll or demanding Vernon Wells humbly reorder his contract for the good of the team. These are pie in the sky hopes and dreams that have nothing to do with the beauty and poetry of baseball. We're asking publicly traded corporations and private citizens to forsake millions of dollars so our favorite TV show has a better ending. Not going to happen. Let's focus on baseball instead.

Be Careful What You Wish For

One thing all Canadian baseball fans do really well is complain about the lack of baseball coverage in mainstream Canadian media. The blanket hockey coverage leaves us bitter and alone, quick to lash out at a moment's notice. Wilner's new daily baseball show (congrats Mike!) and the Sportsnet pre-game thingy (and that ain't not bad!) are steps in the right direction and much-needed methadone for junkies like us. However, this is not a road that should be tread upon lightly. The Roy Halladay shitstorm blew up during the slowest time of the sporting calender. Sports talk shows need talking, thus talk show hosts talk about baseball without being bogged down by that pesky "prior knowledge" thing getting in their way. Unsurprisingly, it's terrible! The fact of the matter is this: people who don't know a lot about baseball really shouldn't talk about baseball.

I'm sure it makes me sound like a huge, self-important dick, but I think it's true. The days of the casual sports fan are pretty much done. Most "casual fans" follow their teams about as casually as one stages a David Mamet play. The internet, home of SERIOUS FUCKING BUSINESS, spawns new experts and knowledgeable fans every single day. We aren't dummies, most of us have one sport we focus on while keeping a watchful eye on at least three others. We know the players, we know the minor league systems, we know the salaries, we know the rumors. I have at least 50 sites, blogs, and columns in my RSS reader. If I wasn't such a lazy swine, I'd have 3 times that.

All that knowledge (and content) makes the job of general sports reporter or generic talk show host nearly impossible. When will Mike Toth find the time to check out Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Joe Poz, Jeff Blair, Big League Stew, Pitch f/x, hit f/x, etc in between his hair and nail appointments? He can't. Establishing a working knowledge of junior hockey, the CFL, lacrosse, tennis, golf, curling and all manner of arcane Canadiana is a big enough task as it is. When you add in his home life and time spent writing jokes that would make Bazooka Joe wince, you're officially out of daylight hours. We need specialization in our media, and we need it now.

That doesn't mean fans with ill-formed plans and arguments for the Jays in the future don't exist. One caller's suggestion during PTS today was for Vernon Wells to restructure his contract to free up more spending money for the team. What? They offered him the deal, all he had to do was sign it. In what other career, in what other avenue of life, would this even be an option? As I've pessimistically pointed out before, that money just disappears. It won't be reinvested, it will be used towards the bottom line.

I should and will apologize ahead of time here for teeing off on the Fan once again, but my new commute gives me plenty of time for inundation. If I hear Gord Stellick and Damian Cox lamenting the current state of the Blue Jays again, I'm liable to swerve off the road to plug my ears with a telephone pole. Cox is a hockey writer that doesn't even really watch hockey, it should therefore be illegal for him to even use the word baseball in a sentence. Thou shall not evoke Chacin's name as anything but a punchline Damian, that is the arrangement we've all agreed to. God bless Stellick, morning zoo radio isn't fit for man nor beast, but claiming the Jays erred by releasing/failing to resign Reed Johnson and Orlando Hudson, two years after the fact, is a waste of all our time.

Thankfully McCowan took time during the call-in segment of his show to issue some straight talk regarding JP and the role of Rogers in ownership. His main point was this: a sports franchise is either toy or business to the owners; Rogers chose business. That doesn't seem to register with the vast majority of callers who, propped up by false knowledge fed to them by various underinformed talking heads, continually demand Rogers piss millions of dollars away to increase the Jays playoff chances by a few percentage points.

So let's all agree to let hockey or football or some other competition begin again so everyone can go back to ignoring baseball. I was raised to implicitly trust anything I heard on TV and radio, and I'd like very much to return to that state of blissful ignorance.

Update: The good men at Infield Fly offer their take on Vernon Wells contract restructuring. I don't agree at all, as I'm in no way inclined to side with management. At least their post is well thought through. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fun with the TV Production Truck

Smart enough to stay away from the FOX broadcast of the All Star festivities, I smartly and luckily chose the international feed. O Canada started playing and something strange happened to my TV. Somehow I was getting the banter between the TV truck and the camera operators broadcast into my home! What fortune! Here's what transpired:

Producer: Okay, as soon as the schmaltzy video piece is finished, we're going to the Canadian anthem. Who's singing it?

Lowly PA: Um, nobody. It's a recording.

Producer: What? Fuck me. Meh, I'm sure we can fill the time somehow, just get me some shots of smug self-righteousness and clo&mdash OH NO!! THE PLAYERS ARE MINGLING WITH THE COMMON FOLK!! HOW WILL WE KNOW WHO'S WHO???? THIS IS TV CHAOS!

Producer: Oh sweet Jesus the players are randomly strewn across the field. ACK! The song's starting. Quick, get me a shot of the Canadian flag!

[Cameramen vainly search stadium, finally spot one underfoot]

Producer: Christ, gimme a shot of Bay or...or...the other one? You know, the guy with the hair and the brain-injured monotone of a hockey player. This is hell, honestly. Fucking Canada. WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO DO?????

Camera Guy A: I've got a nice shot of Halladay in the bullpen, he plays in Canada.

Producer: Mutherfucking right! Take it and push in after 30 seconds. HOW LONG IS THIS FUCKING SONG?? Anybody else???

Camera Guy B: I've got the side of some dude's face. I think it actually might be Morneau. Let me pan acr&mdash

Producer: NO TIME! Shit, is that him there??? ZOOM THE FUCK IN!!!! I need Canadians!!! Damn their oily-but-unfailingly-yet-somehow-disingenuously-polite hides! They're so bland and nondescript: they blend right in!

Camera Guy C: I think I've Jason Bay, or it could be a security guard. Perhaps a volunteer or...

Producer: Just get it up on the damn screen! Is that him? He looks like mayonnaise might give him an ulcer, that's GOT to be Jason Bay.

Camera Guy D: Boss, I've got a nice shot of Aaron Hill, he also plays for the Ja&mdash

Producer: Who? Might as well frame-up a shot of Jeter's crotch; more people have seen that damn thing up close than Aaron Hill.

[we stand on guard....for....theeeee]

Producer: That was a living nightmare. I can't wait until we annex their asses.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Star Break Offers No Break from Incessant Hand-Wringing

Father & Son Day at the All Star Game
Holy shit. Enough. Three more days of hystarical overreactions, of baseless speculation, or woe-is-me-ing? I think I'll pass. Should we be taking this opportunity to realize how lucky we are to have Roy Halladay now and the past 10 years? Shouldn't we celebrate his becoming just the third Jay to start the All Star game, meaningless as it may be? I can't take any more of this horseshit, from either side.

The first letter from Griff's "emergency Halladay bonusbag - now with more D-bags" was all I needed to see before quickly closing the tab.
Could you tell J.P. Ricciardi for me that if he trades Roy Halladay, I will never attend another Blue Jays game? And no, I don't care if the package he gets includes Tim Lincecum, Ryan Braun, and Hanley Ramirez put together.
Now nobody likes Roy Halladay more than I do, nobody else puts for the same crazed "ironic detachment" front like I do, but even I wouldn't suggest that trading Roy Halladay would be the end of my Blue Jays fandom. What did this clown from Oshawa do before Halladay arrived? Apparently nothing, as Roy Halladay is the beginning and end of his attachment to the team. It is this type of hyperbole and idiocy that keeps JP's job from being possible. In this fan's eyes, trading the franchise cornerstone is akin to committing commercial and public relations suicide. It just isn't so.

The news of Scott Rolen being quietly shopped cuts me to the core, but that doesn't mean I'll be off the Jays forever. The lack of internal replacements will hurt the team on the field, and the lack of greatness before my eyes will be impossible to replace, but don't fit me for a Red Sox hat quite yet. This is part of the deal. If you're a sportsfan, you take the ups with the downs. The sense of entitlement is sickening. Get a life.

It Gets Worse

Update: here's the link to the show. Farraway goes off 3/4 of the way through.

Speaking of entitlement and idiocy, I was unfortunate enough to hear the WORST quasi-populist appeal to the lowest common denominator of my young life on the Fan this afternoon. Sports Director Doug Farraway went off on a thoughtless tirade clearly and cynically aimed at firing up the kind of people angered by other men's successes.

With Gary Bettman's salary figures going public, the Director saw fit to tee off on Bud Selig and his exorbinant salary. His ridiculous platform included some relativistic gems like "ZOMG! The President of the USA only makes $400 000 yet Bud makes $18 mil!! " and quoting at length from Selig's wikipedia page. Really? I won't even address the obvious differences in the public and private sectors or the editorial morass of Wikipedia, but Farraway really got going when he stated baseball is "suffering" from the steroid scandals and cancelled World Series. Yup, the owners currently watching their franchise values approach 10 digits are clearly suffering and should be quick to oust Selig. Yeah, the owners must hate the wildcard for the extra TV and gate revenues it generates. The players are struggling too. Not to mention MLB as a business entity itself, with its incredibly valuable advanced media arm and wildly successful new television station.

The entire exercise was such a waste of time and energy. It was so blatant and insincere, I had a hard time listening. His elimination of American and National league offices and presidents as well as separate umpiring entities really did the game a disservice, eh Dougie? I know I long for the days of petty provinciality and warring factions among the game's guardians. The blind eye he turned to steroids? I remember so fondly when you broke the story to tear the cover off baseball's hidden shame. I'm sure were you sports director in 1998 you'd have sent a TEAM of reporters chasing the mere sniff of a one-on-one interview with Mark McGwire's bat boy, gardener, shoe polisher or jockstrap washer. High farce as the steroid policy may be, he DID toughen it from "none" to "some."

This is how inane this rant was: I'm forced to defend Bud Selig! He may not do much right in the fan's eyes, but he certainly made a lot of people rich. Rich people LOVE being rich, and will often give you some of their riches in hopes you will continue to make them rich. Which is why Bud makes a lot of money and will continue to do so. If you're going to attack him head of radio station guy, maybe ask him for some cash so you can rent a leg to stand on.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

God Bless the Orioles

The meth-addicted cousin that can't hold a job. The drunk guy on the subway that missed his stop. The friend that unironically quotes Austin Powers and insists on playing poker although he can barely count to 13. There is always someone around to make you feel better about yourself when you're feeling down.

One thing I'll say about the OriLOLs, they sure look good in a nice necktie.

Good thing hitting streaks are utterly pointless and silly, or else I'd be bummed that Scott Rolen's ended. Good thing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Memo From the Toronto Blue Jays Marketing Department

The Jays marketing department announced a new slogan for this season:


I hate to get all gloom and doom after a series of extra inning losses on the road, but the tenor around the team is so different, so markedly different and depressive that even I can't keep my chin up. I won't discuss the possibility of Halladay being traded here because I don't know that I can. Things look rough. Rough enough for the National Post to run letters-to-the-sports editor in which clueless fans refer to the Jays as a "glorified farm team." What the fuck?

I'm a little worried and a lot disappointed over how much coverage the last week of hearsay has received compared to the action on the field. Even at the beginning of year when things were both hunky and dory there wasn't the crush of media attention. It sucks. But, as the marketing slogan says, it is what it is. The Jays will likely continue to be a pretty good team in a pretty tough situation. I'm not afraid of a lifetime of also-ran status, I'm afraid someone might just pull the plug.

Confrères and Cohorts

One thing I can certainly count on is Scott Rolen. Scott Rolen has a quote in a recent New York Times baseball blog Bats post that warms nearly every cockle of my heart. The post covers new video technology (Hit F/x) that tracks all movement on the field, including fielders, baserunners, and balls in play. Exciting stuff for a stats nerd, no?

When asked what he thought about the possibility of new metrics, Rolen stopped short of issuing the dreaded dismissive hand wank gesture. Scott Rolen is no hard-headed traditionalist lashing out from fear. Rolen instead crafted a thoughtful response (emphasis mine):
I don’t believe that baseball is a game that can be encapsulated that way. That’s the beauty of the whole game.
Impressive. Scott Rolen is more concerned with the aesthetics of baseball to worry about tedious number crunching. If I wasn't such a nerd, Rolen's eye for style would probably bring me to tears.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Have it Both Ways

via IO9 and Filmdrunk

If you were lucky enough to tune into maker of sense and teller of truths Jeff Blair hosting Prime Time Sports Tuesday afternoon, you'd have heard yours truly chiming in as the first caller of the show. I'm still a low-level blogging scumbag not a big swinging dick like Parkes and Stoeten so I have to call in and sit on hold like a chump when I wish to take to the airwaves. My question (point?) was this: could we not perceive dumping BJ Ryan as an attempt to make the club better rather than the fire sale Blair questioned JP about? Were he really the do-nothing lay about some might suggest; wouldn't he be content to keep wheeling Ryan's decreped bones or letting him rot in the bullpen to risk paying him to do nothing? Sunk cost friends, money that isn't coming back. His cost is now set, at least he won't cost you dollars on the pitching rubber.

While I appreciate Mathias of Mop Up Duty's efforts to make BJ Ryan appear competent over the month of June (1.04 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) it just isn't true. Ryan's June FIP - 5.92! on a BABIP of .189. K/BB Rate - 0.50 (3 K/9 to 6 BB/9) Batters swinging at less than 40% of his pitches, though they contacted over 90%. Just bad all around.

Is it a shame and a sin to wash their hands of all that money? Of course. At least he's no longer a detriment to the ball club. Yet people are mad at the GM again. So last year he held on to underperforming players and we got mad. This year he cuts his losses with an underperforming player and we get mad again? I don't get it. A player without trade value as well as on-field value is worthless; no matter how much it costs.

Call the Meeting of Brandon League Apologists to Order!

Poor Brandon League. Give up game-winning tater tots certainly isn't a good thing, but let's be real for a second. He pitched well. Really well. One mistake that wasn't even a mistake. Watch the video here and note that pitch didn't really miss. If anything it was a little further inside than Barajas wanted it. Perhaps another angle:

Hardly a meatball, that's a 96 mph fastball down and in. Burrell ran into it, the game ended. It didn't move as much as many of his fastballs (back into the right hander) so I guess that means it didn't move enough. Deep sigh.

Much love and appreciation to Brooks Baseball pitch fx database! Support their fight against ALS here

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Downside of Tubed & Cured Meats

As any ball fan knows; throwing down a couple nicely cooked sausages is a great idea. Fun to eat, easy to cook, exciting to garnish.

That said, one must always be wary of sausages (Royal or otherwise) as they generally contain by-products, fillers and all manner of false food items. One cannot gorge himself on sausages lest his afternoon be ruined by nauseau and meat sweats. NSFW

Really "Scott Rolen has a good day against the Yankees" is your video teaser and you include TWO charge-and-throws and a rope that, in a delightful bit of irony, is a home run in almost every other park in the league? For shame, video team. As US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said:
I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it.
Those two charge-transition-throw plays were pretty much as good as it gets. Watching as many Mariners games as I did last season, I could have confessed at gun point to believing Adrian Beltre fielded the slow chopper/roller better than Scott Rolen. I've since seen the error of my ways, and I'm a better man for it.

The Antidote

The rare Monday getaway afternoon game did much more than stop the Jays losing skid; it scratched me where I itched. Every nook and cranny of baseball nerd got a good seeing to Monday. Ricky Romero is awesome. Johnny Mac's home run trot going over with grace & dignity unseen since my first confrontation with a front-clasping bra. Brandon League settling down to blow away two hitters worth in upwards of half a billion bucks. It was only one game but damn if games like that make up for a lack of Meaningful Baseball in September. Almost.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Sooo, this weekend series isn't going well. At all. The Yankees welcomed the Jays into their new home just like I was welcomed into mine: poorly.
  • I started the lawnmower only to see a damn snake emerge from the motor housing—Johnny Damon takes Halladay deep to win Saturday's game. Both unsettling and scary.
  • A bird shit on my person as I "pulled weeds" or "stood around feeling completely overwhelmed"—BJ Ryan is paid to throw baseballs professionally. Both cruel and unnecessary.
  • The Rogers guy and I follow wires around my new basement (before I actually moved in) when suddenly a makeshift bong and "funk gun" fall out of the dropped ceiling—Brett Cecil loses the ability to throw strikes. Both embarrassing and avoidable.
  • A groundhog of Caddyshack proportions lives under my shed—Hideki Matusi's bulbous skull suddenly houses a working, sentient brain. Both maddening and right the fuck out of left field. Even worse: I have a shed.
It is all quite frustrating. It sucks even. Worse than the clearly vermin-infested exurbs. Not even the sight of MOS DEF at Bay and Wellesley yesterday could assuage this awful feeling I have: the Jays season is now done, leverage-wise.

All is not lost though! Adam Lind is putting on a damn show for his future Yankee employers from the middle of the Jays lineup. I could actually hear Iracane drooling and it wasn't from a grilled chorizo. Scott Rolen extended his hit streazzzzz and the poor Jays bullpen shakes and shudders but will not (completely) fall. League, Camp, and Carlson all have FIPs under 4, only Camp's ERA is in the same neighbourhood.

The All Star break can't get here fast enough. The Jays have some decisions to make as they could figure into the trade market significantly. Could they trade Brian Tallet as frequent Jays referencer John Paul Morosi suggests? They very likely could, but who else? Morosi hints that any number of bullpen arms could be on their way. Jeremy Accardo for a quad-A roster filler to be named later sounds about right. Frasor's value will never be higher than right now, which I have mixed feelings about. The Sausage King is one of the longest tenured active Blue Jays, a fact that means next to nothing to me. The potential exists for him to one day become wildly overpaid like Justin Speier. Until that day; pity the poor Sausage King. He's basically a homeless guy who's slept on the same street corner for years. Transient permanence.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Novel Ideas Abound

Cito must have really dug deep into the recesses of knowledge to realize hitting your three best hitters (by OPS) consecutively in the heart of your order is a good idea. They're also your toughest regulars to pitch to (top three in pitches/plate appearance, Rolen tied with Marco Scutaro.) Cito even went ahead and L-R-L'd them, stopping a long-running Gaston trend of helping match up happy managers like Joe Madden get his hot lefty-on-lefty action. Desperate times clearly call for desperate measures.

A less than novel idea is using Brett Cecil out of the pen. I know it was just a way to get him work, but no fucking way do I want to go down this road. Look at poor Brandon Morrow, languishing away bouncing back and forth. Let the valuable men start the games, let the fill-in trash finish them.

I thought I had a bunch of clever things to say about Ricky Romaro (he's good!), bringing Vernon Wells in for defence (Lulz!) and trading Alex Rios (don't be retarded!) but THE VIDEO OF DEVON WHITE'S TRIPLE PLAY CAME ONLINE YESTERDAY. Watch and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Damning with Faint Praise

I talk a lot about players I like (or love) yet I would be hard pressed to define what it is I like about them. Sometimes a player's uniqueness catches my eye, sometimes their greatness. Sometimes it's about personality, other times it is just their goofy name. Brandon League doesn't really fit it into any of these categories. Watching him last night, I sort of got it: he's completely unpredictable.

Unpredictability isn't something I inherently enjoy; Scott Rolen and Roy Halladay are certainly predictable. Predictably awesome and predictably resolute in their pursuit of next-level achievement, traits that certainly have their place. Brandon League isn't unpredictable in a boring way either. Shawn Camp or even The Sausage King give you that feeling in your stomach, that "Jesus Christ just don't fuck it up" unpredictability born out of their bland crappiness and/or serviceability. Brandon League doesn't have that.

I've probably linked to Professor Hale's post on Brandon League's wacky sinker a half-dozen times, mostly because it continually blows my mind. I'll let the man himself explain:
Brandon League has a pitch that nobody else in the majors throws, that I would venture to say nobody has ever thrown- a 97 mph sinker. It boggles the mind...but hear this: League is not just a promising youngish power arm. He’s a total freak who could be a one-of-a kind pitcher.

Amazing. That is why I like Brandon League. Every time he takes the hill, I know I'm seeing something unique. Something weird and wonderful. That originality combines with, you know, the actual baseball game he's competing in to tease me in incredible ways.

Every Blue Jays fan asks the same question when the bullpen doors open:

Which Brandon League will show up tonight?

Will he be unhittable? Will he have any clue where the ball is going? I alternate between expecting him to be untouchable and just hoping he will, always knowing that a misplaced slider or inevitable bout of wildness is waiting to derail the outing. What about a poorly timed hit by pitch! League's always good for one of them a month. It's all great. The possibility that Brandon League will come out, blow away three consecutive hitters in a completely unfair way will have me cutting him slack long after Cito grows tired of dangling League on a leverage yo-yo.

I'd like to say "baseball needs more guys like Brandon League" here, but it just won't happen. Oppressive coaching, the quest for return on investment, and normal human musculature prevent too many guys like League from making their way down the pipeline. Having a wildcard in the mix, someone I'll remember long after he's moved on has value beyond a win or loss in late June.