Sunday, May 31, 2009
I'm starting to think that baseball - and the Jays specifically - play too large of a role in my life. Seriously now friends - is anyone else like this? Do your daily moods rise and fall with every Brian Tallet slider for a strike, every Marco (marco) Scutaro (scutaro) base on balls, and every Vernon Wells shallow pop-out?
Outside of the paragraph above, I can't explain it. After Scott Downs closed the door to clinch the weekend series against "The Nation" (fuck off), I had an extra skip in my step. It shouldn't matter that much, should it? One series win from a 162 game schedule? Four Alex Rios hits out of the (estimated) 200 he will record this year should bring me so much joy?
Well, it does, and they do. That's it, that's all. I can't explain it, and I'm not going to apologize for it. Blue Jays, baby. YES.
The most satisfying comment received in a long, long time
this series is scratching me right where I itch. pennant.
A question about The Cito's bullpen
If the Jays happen to be leading by three through 7 innings in the series finale..... who is he going to call on? The poor man's Brandon League (Jason Frasor), and the poor man's Scott Downs (BJ Ryan - WHAT?!?)?
Summing up Friday through the weekend
Depression. Anger. Joy. Hope. Blue Jays. Pennant.
Friday, May 29, 2009
It's only one game, but all is right in the world again. Blue Jays 6, D-bag Nation 3.
It's fitting that the win comes against veteran shitballer Timmy Tim Wakefield, who's fluttering balls of shit induced the 9 game shitshow of feeble swings and losing baseball. The Jays didn't go yard, but sat back on the knuckler and smashed five doubles around the park - two by Scott (I believe) Rolen - which is surely a sign that the sticks are coming around. Mix in a workmanlike effort by Casey Janssen (there's that term again - more on Dirty Janssen later) and a flashback to 2008's bullpen, and voila - win. I think I can speak for the majority here when I say.....YES.
A quality start from Casey Janssen. A few too many hits allowed (11) and not a lot of empty swings (2 K's), maybe.....but it was 7 innings of ball that kept the Jays in it. Let's not quibble.
Brandon League - filthy mcnasty, and Scott Downs - reliable. I'd almost forgotten what a nails bullpen felt like.
Marco (marco) Scutaro (scutaro) and Scott Rolen - key hits at key times. Feels like April again.
Are you fucking kidding me? The Jays just won for the first time in 10 games. Against the Red Sox. Don't be an asshole.
Rance Mulliniks in the booth doing the colour.....for the Sox on NESN? What, did Dennis Eckersley run out of things to say about "easy cheese" and the like? That sound you hear is me scratching my head. A west coast guy with a southern drawl and a Blue Jays background.... broadcasting a game for New England. OK then.
In any event, keep up the negative mojo over there this weekend, Rancie boy....we've got two more games to win.
While Bastian and Blair regale one another with tales of how awesome the Dropkick Murphys are, we'll kick off our weekend tearing it up to Shane MacGowan and the boys. The Dropkicks couldn't carry Shane's toothbrush.
(And the whole Dropkicks association with the worst elements of the Masshole Nation and Papelbon's spastic self-aggrandizing jigs just makes them that much less palatable. Especially this weekend.)
Drink up, sailors...the weekend is here! The Ack is back, if he hasn't lost himself in the pity drinks already.
What happens in Vegas gets reported in Vegas
The Las Vegas Sun's Ryan Greene had an excellent piece in yesterday's edition on Brett Cecil and his impressions of his first shot at the big leagues. Of course, no interview with a young Jays pitcher would be complete without the requisite tale of how Roy Halladay showed them the way and the light.
Specifically, Halladay told Cecil how to deal with Boston Red Sox pompous runt Dustin Pedroia. (It's just a shame that Halladay hasn't had the opportunity to put that knowledge to better use himself yet this year.)
We've been through a rough patch lately, and we probably said some things we didn't mean over the past week. These things happen in the heat of the moment, and while we're not necessarily proud of the things that we said, we want you to know that, together, we can work this thing out. It's not too late for us, and this is a beautiful thing we've got going on...It would be a shame to just throw it away.
Look, we're human, just like all of you (with the exception of Roy Halladay, who is a cyborg from another dimension of awesomeness). We do our best to think about you and your feelings, and we try to be as understanding as we can. We know that you can do better, and that deep down, you're not a bad team. Maybe you were just confused while you were away.
But with all the trials and tribulations we've gone through over these recent bad times, we're here to tell you this: We're just a dude, standing here telling team of 25 other dudes that we love you guys. And with all that we've been through together, we owe it to ourselves to take a chance on each other. We can be great together, just like we were in the early days of the season.
Even with everything that's gone wrong, you're still just two games behind the Red Sox, and four games over .500. That ain't so bad, right?
All that is past has passed, so let's make it a clean slate, and start over.
It's the Red Sox and Tim Wakefield tonight. Make us proud again.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
We could take the day to pick through the entrails of the past two weeks and speculate as to the why's and how's and wherefore's...but we'll confess to having lost all perspective at this point. Whatever we write at this point is just going to be an angry screed, and we'd promised ourselves that we weren't going to go down that road this year. Even an anonymous blogger's got to have some standards.
Besides: It's baseball. We love it beyond all reason, but the fact that we've let this losing streak affect our mood to the extent that we have kinda takes all of the fun out of it.
In four months time, when the season is over and we're staring into another Canadian winter spent dreaming of diamonds while trying desperately to tune out the hockeyocracy, we're going to miss moments like yesterday, as bizarre as that may sound.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
We believe in Roy Halladay.
Believe that this is a Lineup Update
We're a little surprised that there are no surprises, but here goes:
A pretty typical Cito lineup versus a lefty. Last night on the radiocast, they'd mentioned that Wells would DH today, but maybe he is looking to prove he belongs in center. If he believes, he can achieve, you dig?
For the Marlo Stanfield's crew:
Luke Scott gets the start as the DH, and has posted a .750 average (well, 3 for 4) against Halladay.
Moeller gets what could be his last Major League start for a while as the O's plan on calling up Matt Wieters for this weekend's series.
In whom you believe? What do you believe?
It's open season for positivity in the comments. Put on some PM Dawn or some Windham Hill new age soothing sounds, and join us as we send our positive vibes out into the universe.
It's taken all of eight days and eight losses to turn us into a typical hysterical JaysTalk-calling bandwagon jumper, ripping every player and every member of the coaching staff and writing off this season and probably next and threatening to stop following the Jays altogether. It's incredibly unbecoming.
The upside is that the fantastic start that this team had over the first seven weeks (remember when?) has left them in good stead and on the plus side of .500. If they decide to take advantage of a typical Roy Halladay outing and score more than a handful or runs today, maybe we can all put this ugliness behind us and focus on the last four months of the season.
Cito's logical fallacy
Our pal MRB, the philosopher and lifelong Red Sox fan (yes, such a thing exists), would be proud of us as we worked our way through this undergraduate Logic 101 proposition.
Cito's notion is that he doesn't generally want to monkey around with the lineup because maintaining that consistency allows players to relax and feel comfortable. While over periods of time it might seem like shifting hot bats into higher leverage spots in the lineup would be beneficial, Cito's notion is that in the long term, it's best to stay the course, losing one today to win two in the future. Sounds reasonable enough, even to a hysterical ninny like us.
But here's the catch, and the spot where this logic falls apart: It presupposes that Cito chose the best lineup in the first place. If, in fact, Cito began with a lineup that wasn't his strongest, then he's holding onto a flawed model for the sake of consistency.
Players progress and regress from one year to another, so it would be reasonable in the early going of the season to adjust and ammend the lineup based on what we're seeing now versus past performance.
Because Vernon Wells' 2003 season is a distant blip in the rearview mirror.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
First pitch is at 7:05, but we're pacing already. For some reason, this is the most nervous and aggravated we've been for a Jays game so far this season.
(Or that could just be our nervous system reacting to the five puffs off a cigarette that we took this afternoon, our first nicotine hit in nine days. Like we said over on the Twitter, if the Jays lose, we're smoking a full carton tonight.)
This is not a threat (or a thread, or a liveblog or an open forum)
We don't want to get accused of stealing the DJF's shtick (yet again) by having a Game Threat. But since the comment section during yesterday's game was such a hootenany, we'd invite you to feel free to stop by in the comments this evening if you need to vent, kvetch, cajole, protest, carp, whine, nitpick, or celebrate the glory that is a Jays victory. We'll be there intermittently, if we don't lose our mind first.
Just once, for old time's sake
You know what? PENNANT!!!!1
Pre-Game Updatery - Rios grabs some pine!
Robert MacLeod (who has not yet asked to be referred to as Bobby MacLeod, but we're sure it's in the mail) reports that Voodoo Joe will hit ninth and patrol right field (Cue LJ swooning) in the place of Alex Rios.
Which, if it is an actual benching, is kinda bullshit, because Rios hasn't played half bad in the past week.
Lind will hit third, and Vernon Wells will pop up to the infield from the cleanup spot. (I kid! I kid!)
The Jays are getting sleepy
Big League Stew posits that the Jays' slide may have something to do with their bizarre and punishing schedule.
This lineup is filled with guys who are dead red fastball hitters. Scutaro, Wells, Lind...they are all guys who can hammer the fastball but have trouble with breaking balls. Because pitchers early in the season are still working on their stuff and need to rely on their fastball to get pitches over, those guys were filling their boots in the first few weeks and turning those heaters around in a hurry.
Now, a few weeks into the season, pitchers are feeling more confident in their off speed pitches and are throwing them earlier in the count for strikes. The Jays hitters, still following their Cito-Approved Plan of looking for a fastball to hit, are whiffing on those pitches, beating them into the ground or connecting weakly on them for lazy pop outs.
(Of course, we don't have any actual data to support this claim. So we'll throw it out there and let those who are much more clever than us prove us wrong.)
The Return of RickRo
In the midst of the worst losing streak of the season, here's hoping that Ricky Romero (2-0, 1.71 ERA, 13 Ks and 4 BBs) finds the form that he displayed earlier this season, and leaves behind the form that he showed in his rehab starts. (Perhaps the magic touch of Brand Arnsberg will cure RickRo of all wildness.)
Monday, May 25, 2009
The big oaf takes the mound this afternoon at 1:30 in Baltimore, as the Jays look to cut down significantly on their suckitude and atone for their trespasses from last week. There's no time like the present to pull it together!
Feel free to treat the comments as a live thread, or threat, or pity party, or circle jerk, or whatever.
Somehow, we're just not feeling up to that task right now.
Maybe it's the mounting frustration at the fact that Cito Gaston has decided to chisel his lineup card into a granite tablet, thus ensuring that the tender feelings of the heart of the Jays' batting order are nurtured while they collectively suck the life out of the team's offense night in and night out.
Over the past six losses, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells and Adam Lind have combined for a grand total of ZERO runs batted in amongst them. ZERO. In 78 plate appearances. That shit just ain't funny.
And we understand that the past week represents a small sample size, but it's not as though this is a trend that appeared out of nowhere. Wells, your putative cleanup hitter for life, hasn't driven in a run since May 6 while Lind has posted a .645 OPS in the month of May. And while Rios has started to turn on the offense over the past month, his .786 OPS, four homers and nine RsBI are hardly enough to carry an offense on his own.
(As a side note to Vernon Wells: If you foul four pitches in one at bat off your foot and leg, do you suppose that you might want to stop chopping downwards on every slider and breaking ball that is thrown up there?)
We're not saying that this team needs a shake up just for the sake of shaking things up. But in the midst of an atrocious six game slide, we're finding it increasingly difficult to put our faith in the wise and sage Gaston's "Lose One, Win Two" philosophy. Do anybody really think that out of the charred remains of the past week, Cito's magical stubborn stoicism will earn us twelve wins?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I've come to the realization that maybe baseball is playing too large of a role in my happiness, because for the last week I've been a bit of a miserable son of a bitch. It's not so much that I can't handle the losses....it's the expectations after spending the better part of two months at the top of the standings. And the recent flashbacks to 2008's impotent offense. And getting swept by the fucking Red Sox. And facing the brooms yet again in Atlanta.
That's why I'm pulling out all the stops today, friends. Full out positive mojo effort. Old school batting practice jersey, retro cap, the whole bit. Does that make me a loser? Yes. Do I care? No more than usual. Will my depression deepen if the Jays drop another one? I think you know the answer to that.
Casey Janssen is who we thought he is
In his '09 debut, Casey Janssen turned in a workmanlike effort - 6 innings, 3 runs, just one base on balls.....and no strikeouts. Let's give Casey a few more starts before placing judgement on the lack of punchouts.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Yes, it will be fantastic to see Casey Janssen and his funky high socks delivery taking a turn every five days, and we're all hoping that young Ricardo can regain his early season magic (remember, Vegas stats don't count for shit) to help stabilize the rotation.....but as evidenced in the series opener against 1992's World Series losing team, the way the Jays are swinging the sticks, a rotation of five Doc Halladays wouldn't help.
(The above statement, of course, is just fucking ridiculous, as a rotation of five Roy Halladays could cure cancer before breakfast, let alone win a few goddamned ball games. The Jays would run the gauntlet with default victories from cowardly opponents refusing to take the field if such an absurd reality were to occur. But I digress....)
What we need to hope for, friends of the Tao, is for the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System to return to acceptable levels, for the Blissful Gazelle to be just a little less oblivious, for Lyle Overbay to find directions to those outfield gaps he used to frequent so regularly, and for Scott Rolen to continue being Scott Rolen (because I believe in him).
In short, a few fucking hits please. Jesus!
I'm starting to question why we're carrying Johnny Mac
Or Jean-Mac, if you prefer. The truth of the matter is, "starting to question" is an understatement, but when the team is winning, it's hard to quibble with roster make-up. I'll also remind you that it's impossible not to be a fan of John McDonald - in the field, there are none better, and he carries himself like the professional baseball player that he is, and has been for 11 seasons.
But seriously now....if your predominant (only?) tangible asset is sublime defense, but the team's starting shortstop is above average defensively, and thus not a candidate for late-inning replacement....and the title of "clubhouse leader and all around good locker room guy" is already taken by an idiot (his words, not mine) with a penchant for cowboy-ing up (what?)......then what exactly is your role on the club?
Hey Philadelphia, you done with our guy Stairsy yet?
Friday, May 22, 2009
It's a development that is met in this corner with relief, excitement, and pride. Frankly, we're inspired by Janssen's will to come back, especially considering the fact that we've just found a way to skip the gym for the twelfth day in a row in favour of going to see a mediocre movie tonight!
Labrum? I barely even know 'em!
It was interesting to hear Will Carroll on the Drunk Jays Fans podcast mention that he needs to update his often quoted piece on the outlook for pitchers who have suffered a torn labrum. In the 2004 piece, Carroll pithily suggested that a pitcher with a labrum tears has a "3% chance of becoming Rocky Biddle".
That bon mot stuck with us over the past year as we feared the worst for Janssen, so it is a relief that its author believes that it is no longer valid. Let's hope that Janssen is able to provide compelling evidence of what a pitcher coming back from this injury can do.
When something's got us in the dumps and we're flailing or floundering, this song always creeps into our head. It's just the perfect song about feeling down and trying to get back up. Given how often we find ourselves in that state of mind, it's no wonder that we love this song.
There's something about that line about needing "something in my veins, bloodier than blood". And given the way that the Boston series bummed us out, we could use a bit of something to inspire us right about now.
This is likely for the best, given the fact that playing time had become increasingly sporadic for the phenom over the past few weeks. Getting three starts per week and hiding him away from lefthanders isn't any way to help Snider straighten himself out. Since his breakout series in Minnesota more than a month ago, Snider has posted a Johnny Mac-like .480 OPS, with two doubles and five RsBI. Here's hoping that with some regular plate appearances, he'll be back and better than ever.
(Side note: While no one wants to question the infinite wisdom of Cito Gaston, are we the only ones having flashbacks to the way that the skipper handled Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green in their early years?)
A final thought on the Boston series
Let's move on, shall we?
But before we move on, we'll take a moment to recall the fly ball that eluded the Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle in right field last night and bounced off the top of the towering four foot fence for a homer. And now we'll take a moment to smash our head against the corner of our desk.
There. All better. Moving on...
It's the Jays and the Braves this weekend, so dig out your 1992 upside-down Canada flag t-shirts and your Kelly Gruber Mullet Fluff Hair Spray and get ready to watch an old rivalry(?) rekindled. Roy Halladay starts tonight (not a moment too soon) versus the Braves' vaguely touted Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami.
We note that there's no local coverage (Hooray for junior hockey! Woooooo!). We will get to watch Turner's Peachtree TV broadcast tonight, which will hopefully scrub away the memory of three nights worth of Dennis Eckersley's brain farts being expelled over the air on the NESN feed.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The preponderance of evidence from the first quarter of this season suggests that the Jays are going to hang in there and are going to compete. And even if, in the worst case scenario, the Jays lose tonight, we should keep a few plain truths in mind. Like that at some point this year, the Jays are going to lose three or four or five games in a row. They are going to lose heartbreakers and they'll get blownout. They're going to lose a series to someone they should have beaten, and they will put a beating on a contending favorite.
It's a long season, and a lot of things can happen over 162 games. Let's all just relax and be like Cito. Let's be cool, babies.
Welcome once again, for the first time: Bobby Ray
You know, back when he was Robert Ray, we took a shining to the lanky Jays farmhand, calling him (and I'm quoting myself here) "the surprise arm who will emerge this year". But there's something unsettling about a man who makes a choice at the age of 24 to go with a diminutive form of his name, ostensibly because that's what his teammates call him already.
Then again, if he can get through seven innings tonight and give up fewer than three runs, we wouldn't care if he called himself Slim Ray or Jimmy Ray.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So what did we learn in last night's 2-1 loss to the Boston Chowderheads? We learned that when a shitty shitballing shitbird throws shitty shitballs all night long, the Jays may be in for a shitty night of shitty pop ups to the infield. By the end of the game last night, we felt like it was 1987 and we were watching Frank Tanana toss junk around, frustrating us to a point that leaves emotional scars for decades afterwards.
Although to be perfectly reasonable about this, it is still May, and there's still three-quarters of the season to go.
Breakin' it down: The Dopeness
After a shakey first two frames, Brian Tallet was nails for the next four innings, locking it down and giving the Jays the chance to work their way back into the game. Tallet went six, struck out 5 and walked two, likely keeping himself in the rotation for another two starts at the very least. Welcome back to the Summer of Tallet...
We're not sure of Cito is a genius for playing Kevin Millar last night, or if Millar is a savant for putting pretty much the only good swing on a Wakefield pitch. Let's just call them both awesome and move on...
The Beej looked alright, even with seemingly diminished velocity last night. We never saw him throw anything over 88 MPH, but his location was mostly spot on, and he worked at bats well. He looks a lot more composed on the mound, and doesn't seem to be rushing his delivery, which likely makes all the difference...
Breakin' it down: The Wackness
We're not entirely sure how Alex Rios got thrown out trying to steal on a floating knuckleball that the catcher double-clutched on, but it happened. Perhaps the Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle forgot halfway between bases that there was some urgency involved with making his way to second...
We hate to dump on Adam Lind's defense, because we can see the guy is really trying to improve, but his throw way up the line to no one in particular in the second inning was quite the brain cramp. Let's hope that Cito or Brian Butterfield can work they mystical magic on him before we get to Atlanta...
It's easy to pick on Vernon Wells' and his propensity for popping out (twice last night, along with a lazy fly and reaching on an error), but the whole team seemed to want to get under Wakefield's floaters last night. Six pop ups and seven mostly lazy flyballs later, the Jays did their bit to keep the basepaths neatly manicured and the bases pristinely white.
Breakin' it down: The Media Section
Ok, first off: What the fuck was up with TSN2 using the NESN feed? All of this scrapping over carriage on the Rogers cable system, and the CTVgm folks can't even see to it that a Canadian crew is employed to broadcast the game? How was this different than Rogers just giving the free MLB Extra Innings Preview? (Our guess is that TSN2 didn't have an HD production truck at its disposal, given TSN's hockey duties, so they decided to take the easier simulcasting route. Actually, we're pretty sure that "Take the Easier Simulcasting Route" will be the title of Ivan Fecan's forthcoming autobiography...
We were actually happy to watch the NESN broadcast, which probably has the best production quality of any local MLB broadcast. However, spending close to three hours listening to Dennis Eckersley's ridiculous meanderings just about drove us batty. Really, can we have another five minute discussion of "sneaky cheese"? It made us appreciate how good Pat Tabler has become over the past decade in the Jays' booth. Too bad we can't pair Tabby with NESN's excellent playcaller Don Orsillo...
The lanky southpaw rookie versus the tubby washed up righty: Brett Cecil (2-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 15 Ks / 4 BBs) versus Brad Penny (3-1, 6.69 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 20 Ks, 16 BBs).
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Some are suggesting that Blue Jays fans should hang their hopes on the results of this series. We heard the McCownless crew on Prime Time Sports last night pimping this series in Boston as the biggest in the team's recent history, possibly since the World Series years. And while we're loathe to question the hyperbole of any reporter who is sitting in front of an open mic trying to fill the air, we'd have to say that the notion that this series has that much significance is a load of hooey.
Which isn't to say that there is no meaning to this series. Indeed, we've been wondering as much as everyone else what is going to happen to this Jays team when it starts to dig into the dense part of its schedule with the punishing intradivisional games in the AL East. But the nice thing about the Jays' hot start to the season is that they could actually get swept in this series by the BoSox and still sit atop the division when the smoke cleared. (Not that we'd want to see a result like that, but we're just sayin'.)
A good showing in this series and on this road trip will go a long way towards convincing people that the Jays are for real. But we shouldn't take a poor showing to absolutely mean that they are not.
(Does any of this make sense? Goddamnit, it's hard to keep our thoughts straight with a head full of DayQuil.)
Monday, May 18, 2009
The plus side of this is that we have a somewhat legitimate excuse for hocking big green phlegmy loogies all over the city. (Well, not really, but we've coughed up a couple anyways.) Also, we were able to stay in bed and watch yesterday's imperfect but ultimately satisfying performance by Roy Halladay in the Jays 8-2 win over the Pale Hose.
On that TSN2-Rogers dealy thing
So first off, we owe Bob McCown an apology for doubting his sources at Rogers that this deal between the cable giant and CTVglobemedia was going to get done this weekend, in time for us to enjoy the dulcet tones of Rod Black on Tuesday.
It's just that whenever Bobcat says that a "little birdy" told him something, it so seldom comes to fruition. But, as the Bobcat would say himself, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.
So Blue Jays fans on Rogers' cable system can rejoice and enjoy as the pictures and sounds come screaming through their copper wires live from Boston this week, then promptly go back to ignoring the fact that TSN2 exists.
We're guessing we're just going to listen on the radio, as we'd planned all along.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
"You lose your role by not pitching good," said Ryan. "That's what it boils down to. You don't pitch good, you don't make pitches and you put your team in a place that they don't need to be in.
"We're playing such good ball right now that it's a tough spot, it is, but you blame it on the way you pitch. I didn't pitch well."
That's called accountability. It's what leaders do.
"You just get down there and help the team," he added. "We're playing good ball right now, so you get down there and when Cito wants me to pitch I'm going to come out there and pitch and hopefully get back to what you know you're capable of doing."
The assholes (that's right - assholes) who felt fit to boo Ryan's picture on the scoreboard before his return would be doing themselves a favour if they remembered how important Ryan was to the team before losing his way - and how important he still can be to the club for the rest of this season and next.
You have my respect, BJ Ryan.
True to form, led by Aaron "what a ballplayer!" Hill, the bats woke up to kick the shit out of the Sox in the opener of the four-game set against the White Sox to remind everyone what has Jays fans so excited (as seen in the attendance figures....17,000! /end sarcasm) about the club this season. A relentless offense, strong starting pitching (Brett Cecil! More later....), and nice work from the 'pen (BJ Ryan...um, boners?), and voila...we're happy again. Right? RIGHT?!?
The Brett Cecil Quandary
Brett Cecil (2-0, 1.80) is , well, just too good to send back to AAA.
Brett Cecil, according to the rule of 30, should not exceed 150 innings this season in order to preserve the health of his golden left arm.
A major league starting rotation is no place to limit innings.
The Blue Jays have worked hard to convert Cecil, both physically and mentally, to be a starting pitcher after a career closing ballgames in college.
Thus, the Brett Cecil Quandary.
I got nothin' here.
JP Ricciardi, Double Talkin' Jive Icon
Asked about the curious (I need some time to digest this) decision to activate rookie sensation Ricky Romero and quickly demote him to AAA to repay his strong early season efforts, Ricciardi had this to say:
“Wait till tomorrow. I’ll say something else. We’re making this up as we go”
Again....I got nothin'. Maybe tomorrow. Or not.
Friday, May 15, 2009
We were catching up on some podcasts this week, and finally got around to listening to the recent episode of Sound Opinions where Jim Derogatis and Greg Kot listed off some of their favorite live albums.
Live albums are a bit more of a rarity these days, and generally seem to be more of a cash grab than anything else. Still, there are some classic live albums that truly capture the raw emotion and power of a band at their peak, as is the case with the Who's Live at Leeds, our personal favourite.
The clip above is actually from a concert nine years later, when the band was beginning to decline, but we love this song so much that we don't even care. It's also apparently one of the last live performances of the band with Keith Moon...so really, one of the last real live performances of the band, period.
We'll always remember Paul O'Neill in the 1996 World Series coming to bat with this song playing, invariably in an important moment in the game and the series. There was a certain frisson to be felt when an emotional moment like that was underscored with a wicked song like this. We got chills, dude. Chills.
If only someone could get Scott Rolen to swap in this song instead of the Coldplay one he's using now for his intro music. The Greatest Blue Jay of All Time deserves a song this good to be playing when he steps to the plate.
Since Spring Training, when B.J. Ryan spent much of his time putting radar guns to sleep with his diminished velocity, we've been pretty much examining and scrutinizing every pitch of every outing from the hulking lefty.
With his return to the big club after having nursed his "injury" back to health, we'll be given to opportunity to not only pore over all of the Pitch F/X data for Ryan in the coming weeks, but we'll also be watching for every misstep or misplaced pitch from the Beej's replacement in the closer role, Scott Downs.
(Okay, so we won't be looking at those data sets, but someone will, and we'll just repeat whatever they say as though we know what we're talking about. We call this the Tothian Method.)
While Cito is loathe to touch his batting orders (even if it meant doing something completely reasonable like hitting Aaron Hill third and Adam Lind fourth), he seems a lot more likely to yank his bullpen roles around. Should Scott Downs post a couple of weaker outings and if B.J.'s allegedly slower delivery helps him return to form, we could see the closer role changing hands multiple times throughout the rest of the season.
Look who else is back
As we were glancng through the pitching stats from the Dunedin Blue Jays to see how the Beej did in his brief stay in sunny Florida, we noticed another recognizable name amongst the D-Jays' pitching staff: Chris Michalak.
It seems like just yesterday that Michalak came out of nowhere as an aging rookie to make the Jays pitching rotation in 2001 and lead the team in wins through April.
(Hmmm. That story sounds awfully familiar.)
Our most vivd memory of Michalak was of his wicked pick off move to first base, and the game in which then-Yankees skipper Joe Torre got into the upmire's heads about his move to first. Within a month, it seemed as though the umpires were onto him, and he was called for balks in three straight starts.
By the end of the season, Michalak had been dropped from the rotation, then shipped off to Texas. And while we're not wishing a similar fate on Scott Richmond, it's worth remembering that these feel-good tales of overcoming the odds sometimes don't last much longer than the time it takes to spin them.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Ian interviews Richmond's dad, Dr. Bob Richmond, a chiropractor now based in New Brunswick. Papa Richmond recounts Scott's youthful sporting endeavours, and his long road to the big leagues.
It's great to see a very fine Blue Jays blog commit a random act of journalism such as this one. Kudos, Ian.
Resolve Well and Persevere: The Scott Richmond Story, at The Blue Jay Hunter
Needless to say, these were dark days in our relationship.
When Damon left Boston for the hated Yankees, Mrs. Tao was incredulous. When she saw him clean shaven and freshly shorn at his news conference introducing him to the Bronx faithful, she was beside herself. And in that moment, Johnny Damon was dead to her. Shortly thereafter, we were engaged to be married. And we find it hard to believe that this is a coincidence.
So when we heard the news from the audience wrangler that Johnny Damon was scheduled to appear today with Strombo on The Hour tonight, we passed along word to our lovely bride. She met the news with a shrug, and told us firmly "I don't like stupid Johnny Damon any more."
We couldn't have been happier.
If you, on the other hand, are in the GTA and are interested in seeing the self-proclaimed idiot chatting it up with Canada's foremost hipster talk show host, then have at it. Here's the 411:
About last night
So yeah, that was pretty fucking awesome, don't you think? A packed and emotionally-charged Dome, filled with love for Doc and hate for A.J.. Not to get too hokey about it, but that sort of crowd could make a difference for this team. (Okay, that was pretty hokey. But just play along with us.)
While we're anticipating a bit of a let down tonight in terms of attendance and the atmosphere in the park, we're hoping that some of the folks who made it down last night will be charged up enough to start coming back to the park and filling the joint for the rest of the season.
Given the way this team has performed thus far, they deserve your support.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
But you have to understand where we're coming from here. We spend ungodly amounts of time thinking about baseball pretty much every day, all year round. To give you an idea of the degree to which the game permeates our life, we can tell you that on our honeymoon, Mrs. Tao brought three travel guides and a wedding book and a travel diary, and we brought two baseball preview magazines. (With her blessing, of course. She's swell that way.)
So given this passion for the game and the place that it takes up in our life, we are over the moon about the amount of chatter that tonight's pitching match up has generated in the last few days. In the midst of the hockey playoffs, with deciding games played last night, we had non-baseball fans mention Doc versus A.J. to us last night out of nowhere. Those who know that we're batshit for baseball took a moment to ask us about tonight's game, and what we thought would happen.
We're so excited and drunk on the possibilities that we don't really think we've said anything intelligent in reply to these queries. Mostly it's "Yeah, it's gonna be awesome!" or "I'm totally stoked for it, dude!" or "Oh yeah man! Epic! Woo!"
If we'd had anything insightful to say, we could have tried to convert them to giving up their devotion to pucks in favour of the greatest game of all. What a missed opportunity.
What folks are sayin'
Seeing as how we've been felled by a diminished capacity for cogent thoughts on this game, we'll drop in some links from those who've bothered to pull their shit together and offer actual thoughts and analysis.
The Drunk Jays Fans, naturally, are all over this, With Dustin (Fuck Off) Parkes throwing down hateful thoughts towards A.J., while Stoeten offers up an invaluable DJF Guide to "Welcoming" Returning Players.
Meanwhile, the DJF's nemesis Dick Griff is as understated and reserved as ever, calling this the "Game of the Year". You can take the kid out of the PR world, but you can't take the flack out of the kid, can you? (And as a bit of a sophist ourselves, we say that with affection.)
The rapscallions over at Food Court Lunch have a pretty hilarious breakdown of the matchup, in which words like "Cy Young" and "leader" and "artisan" are used to describe one of the combattants, while the other is referred to as an "asshat" and a "woman" and "like an elderly man urinating". We'll leave it to you to guess which is which.
The Blue Jay Hunter totally stole our Star Wars lightsabre battle idea, but seeing as how we have no photo editing skills beyond right-clicking and saving a photo from the web, it's probably best left in his able hands.
Mop Up Duty drops some statistical analysis of the match up, which just confuses us in our current state of girly giddiness.
Speaking of giddy girlies, Joanna at Hum and Chuck (who loves when people link to her blog and repays them with backhanded compliments and casual contempt) offers a clever alternative to booing A.J..
And as for the Yankees fans and blogs? Well, they are mostly pissing themselves over their overpriced mausoleum and Aubrey Huff's fist pumps, although LoHud's Peter Abraham does have a revealing piece on A.J.'s return. Unfortunately, he is sadly misinformed when he refers to Doc as A.J.'s friend.
Maybe this will assuage our inferiority complex
For those of you who moan about how the American media ignores the Blue Jays, take heart. The four-letter network's Jerry Crasnick has a lengthy piece on the team and their hot start to the season. (He noticed! He really noticed! We're swooning!)
Monday, May 11, 2009
Yesterday's eight innings of five hit shut out ball (with six strikeouts versus two walks) in a 5-0 win over the A's likely complicated the Jays' decision-making process for what to do in the next week or two with the surprising surplus of arms in the rotation.
The conventional wisdom seemed to be that Robert Ray and Cecil would make their way back to Vegas to make room for Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero next week. But until Cecil demonstrates that he's not ready to pitch in the Big Leagues, we don't know how you can drop him from the roster.
Required Reading: Jon Hale's graphtacular breakdown of Cecil's first start over on the Mockingbird.
Alex Rios is a productive mess
So Cito comes out this weekend and tells the media that Alex Rios' swing is a mess. Well duuhh.
While Rios has been a bit more productive of late (including a homer and three RsBI yesterday), his swing is still all over the place, and he seems as though he's trying to pull everything. Elsewhere in the blogoweb, we've seen people suggest that the Rios doubters just STFU already about his performance. But in spite of some desirable returns from the Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle, we would make an argument along the same lines as Ghostrunner LtB's about Cito's decision making: Don't confuse the outcome with the process.
Sure, Rios is going to have good days at the plate, but if he doesn't address the problems with his swing, they will be few and far between in the long term.
Oh, yeah, about Tuesday's probable starters
Halladay versus A.J.. Are you freaking kidding me? We're going to spend the next two days in a girlish tizzy of anticipation.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Brian Tallet is The Cito's boy. Cecil is the next big thing. Scott Richmond is pitching like an established veteran. Ricky Romero is rehabbing his way back, and Casey Janssen looks to be close. So how does the rotation shake out after the ace?
Given the recent bullpen follies, I'd be inclined to bring Janssen back pitching out of the 'pen, but the organization seems intent on working him into the rotation. A compromise? A promotion to the bigs pitching out of the pen with an eye to easing him into the starting 5? Regarding Cecil, he seems to destined to head back to 'Vegas, but the smart money says he's a permanent fixture before long. A big effort today could go a long way to solidifying that position....
In case you needed more evidence
Solid piece from Griff on Scott Rolen. The money quote:
Rolen is one of those guys. Leadership is not always about being vocal. After Travis Snider had smashed two home runs off the upper deck in Minnesota, he cited Rolen's example as one of the reasons he didn't stand and watch and showboat those tape-measure blasts. He had too much respect for the way Rolen prepared and played.
"That gives me goose bumps to hear that," Rolen stumbled. "That's prideful for me. I love hearing that."
.....and I just got goosebumps reading that, Scott Rolen. I believe in you. If you can't get behind a guy like that, then just quit watching baseball. Seriously.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Oh, and our beloved Jays handed a game to Billy Beane's Oakland A's last night, stranding 10 runners in the process and unable to overcome the A's five-run 2nd. Ironically, the bright spot for the Jays was the man who shit all over that 2nd inning, Scott Richmond. Call me crazy, but I thought he showed the poise of a ten year vet by bouncing back and shutting the door the rest of the way.
No matter, a Jays win this afternoon behind Brian Tallet's moustache and a beyond-the-recommended dosage of cold medication should snap me out of this funk, right? No? Fuck off then. Er, I mean, go Jays.
Last-minute minor league news and notes
Admitting the mailed-in nature of the post, some minor league takes for you:
Lansing - after a slow start to the season, 19-year old burner Kenny Wilson has found his singles stroke (not like that, perv) and is currently riding a 6-game hit streak, during which he's amassed 11 hits, 6 steals - and perhaps most importantly, only 3 K's. Keep your eye on this kid.
Dunedin - Ricky Romero got slapped around in his first rehab start, to the tune of 6 runs over 4 innings pitched, but he only walked one batter and rang up five K's. I'm not concerned. Get well soon, Ricardo.
New Hampshire - Brian Dopirak put up a PlayStation line with his 5 for 6, 2 HR, 8 RBI effort in last night's annihilation of Connecticut. At 25 years old, Dopirak needs to make a move soon, but his stats line thus far in AA is cartoonish. Also, breakout prospect Brad Emaus continues to rake.
'Vegas - let's just not discuss David Purcey's start last night. It's for the best. Um, get well soon, Ricky.
Friday, May 8, 2009
With the Tao taking leave earlier than usual this weekend (presumably to cook up an even larger batch of his crazy genius shit for your digestion next week), the now-popular Friday Rock Out segment has been left to your weekend correspondent.
Initially, I blanched at the idea of taking on the task, as, to be perfectly honest, I'm just not that cool when it comes to musical tastes and I could do nothing but drag down the collective IQ of the blog's readership with my own personalized stylings.
Then I realized....."Just who in the fuck do you think you're kidding, Ack....that's what you do around here, Friday Rock Out or not."
(And no, I don't really talk to myself. That was a nifty little technique that I like to call "Dramatic Effect." See how I did that?)
Song choice apropos of the Jays spot at the top of the division - and yes, Red Sox Nation, I will enjoy it will it lasts. Thanks so much for checking in.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Toronto Blue Jays Fan Eats A Hot Dog Off A Womans Breast - Watch more Funny Videos
As Mick might have sung in his ode to the many types of girls in the world, some girls just wanna feed you processed meat from their cleavage.
Via totalprosports.com, we have this remarkable shaky video of a young lady who is starved for attention (but fully satiated otherwise) feeding what is alleged to be a hot dog (but looks like a turd) to a fellow denizen in the Rogers Centre's 500 level sometime this week.
This is why we sit in the 200's...the air quality up there makes people do really bizarre shit.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
(Speaking of which: Did you know that you can get free breakfast and "internets" from Super 8? We may have heard that somewhere.)
Scott Richmond got his face in a frame
The Blue Jay Hunter tips their cap to the American League's New Employee of the Month, Scott Richmond.
Doc turns his stare from stun to grin
Hum and Chuck offers up a funny video of Roy Halladay being interviewed by Gerry Dee, the caucasian half of the Score's goofball reporter tandem. It's a riot to see the look on Doc's face as he suffers Dee gladly. Funny stuff, even without the allegations of litigious racism.
The Blue Jays' attendance woes, Part 28
In the comments yesterday, we promised a post on the Jays' early season attendance numbers, though we're not sure that we could do much better than this gem from Neate at Out of Left Field.
If you can't get 'em to the park, at least have 'em watching on the tube
The Star's Chris Zelkovich reports that the Jays' TV audiences on Sportsnet are up about six percent over last season. (Which begs the question: Even with half of the 'Net's "regions" airing games other than the Jays'?)
What do you do with a problem like Snidey?
It's a couple of days old now, but Drew/LtB at Ghostrunner on First made a very reasonable suggestion that the time might have come to send Travis Snider to Las Vegas for some fine tuning. This, of course, was before Snider discovered the impact that high socks could have on his performance. Problem solved!
Josh Barfield misremembers the good old days of the SkyDome
Jesse's kid regales the Cleveland Plain Dealer with tales of goofing around the SkyDome when it first opened and playing in the new facility with the Mosebys and Upshaws. There's just one problem: Willie Upshaw never played as a Blue Jay at the SkyDome. In fact, he never played at the SkyDome at all. In 1988, he made way for Cecil Fielder and Fred McGriff by moving on to Cleveland before retiring at the end of the season. The SkyDome didn't open until June of the next season.
Moreover, Jesse Barfield was traded from the Blue Jays on April 30, 1989 for Captain FingerBlister, Al Leiter, a month before the SkyDome opened. So clearly, we can expect to see an announcement coming from the Cleveland front office that Josh has been placed on the DL because of injuries sustained when his big liar pants were on fire.
The minutiae of MLB rules...explained at last!
We're digging Bart Given's Inside the Majors blog lately, especially when he digs into the particulars of the waiver or DL systems. We're just hopeful that Given doesn't go all soft on us after he moves to the West Coast.
There's something that happens to people when they get to the other side of the Rockies...we can't explain it, but we've lost too many friends to a life of performance art, yoga and Canucks apologism not to worry for Bart. (But congrats to Jody on the new gig.)
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
We may take a long lunch today and see if we can sneak in at least the first half of the game somewhere, although we guessing that finding a bar with the game playing will be something akin to Diogenes' search for an honest man.
Points of reference
Dustin McGowan came up in a pretty similar situation in 2005 in his first start. In his July 30 debut against the Texas Rangers, McGowan went five innings, giving up one run and two hits while striking out six and walking three. That sort of start from Cecil would be more than welcome.
Mentioned this on our Twitter thingy, but for the sake of those of you not so inclined to follow our brain farts over there: Travis Snider, since his two homer game in Minny: .495 OPS, .254 OBP, .241(!!!) SLG. The Pasty White Hope is pressing.
UPDATE! Postgame madness!!
Jays win! Pennant!!!1
Seriously, that was totally frickin' epic. We're going to towel ourselves off.
A Brian Tallet no-hitter into the seventh. Then Cleveland knocks him around and takes the lead. Then the Jays come back. Then they're a strike away from a win, only to have Jesse Barfield's stupid kid come around and score. Then the give up two more runs, only to come back and tie it in the ninth. And then stupid Shawn Camp gives up the winning runs, though the Jays make a game of it in the bottom of the 12th.
And to think that we just wanted to relax and unwind last night. By the end of the game, we were spent after spending a couple of hours rocking back and forth on the edge of our seat.
If you need to find the bright spot in last night's loss, it is that this year's Blue Jays don't have much quit in them. Over the past couple of years, the Jays would generally roll over on their backs and let the opposition rub their bellies when they fell behind. This year, you always have a sense that they'll scrape their way back into the game somehow.
Not just another Major League debut
Brett Cecil becomes the third Blue Jays starting pitcher to make his big league debut this season when he takes the mound at 12:37 this afternoon. Cecil has been knocked around at Las Vegas so far this year (0-3, 8.31 ERA, 9 Ks and 8 BBs and a 1.73 WHIP in four starts), although he pitched well in his last start (six innings, three runs, four hits, five Ks and a walk in six innings versus Sacramento).
At this point, Cecil is just being asked to be an arm and to hold the fort (gotta stop using that term) in the short term, so we should probably not lose our heads over today's start. But who's kidding who? We're going to totally lose our minds this afternoon.
Wilner also gets the call
Speaking of getting guys getting the call to fill in, JaysTalk host Mike Wilner will share the play-by-play duties this afternoon with Jerry Howarth on the radiocast. Howarth's usual partner, Alan Ashby, took some time to hang with his family unit in L.A., so Mike on the Mic stepped into the booth and did very nice work in his handful of innings last night.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Seeing is believing
We followed most of the series through our Blackberry, but we were fortunate enough to catch the telecast of the last innings of Saturday's walkoff win. We're not sure that we would have believed that Rod Barajas could score from second on a single if we'd read it on the pitch-by-pitch recap, but there he was, rumbling home to score the winning run at a speed you could have timed with a sundial. That's the kind of season this Jays team is having.
(And as for Aaron Hill, who hit said single: M!V!P! M!V!P! M!V!P!)
Believing the hype
We live in a world of hyperbole. Frankly, everybody exaggerates about everything all the time. And so with that in mind, we can say this: the smoked meat at Schwartz's Deli absolutely lives up to the advanced billing. We're not sure that we could ever eat an smoked meat sandwich anywhere else after savouring for ourselves how absolutely magnificent the real deal tastes.
And speaking of hype, we're glad to see that Robert Ray, the object of our recent overstated affections, delivered just enough to keep the Jays in Saturday's game. We expect that he'll get another start or two before the cavalry returns, so here's hoping that he can keep his walks down, hold the fort and improve on his first Major League appearance.
Les Expos ne sont plus là
Here's an odd observation from the weekend: We saw more Blue Jays caps than Expos caps in Montreal this weekend. We're not saying that our isolated observation is in any way representative of reality, nor are we insinuating that Montreal has somehow embraced the team from Toronto since the departure of their own team.
Still, it seemed odd to see that many Jays casquettes in Montreal, and frankly, it made us sad all over for the way that the 'Spos left town.
More on the Expos-Blue Jays connection
A question for the commenters: Al Oliver was the best player to play for both the Blue Jays and the Expos. Discuss.
Ending on a happy note
First place! Pennant!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Prior to tuning in to game 2 of the weekend series against the Jays projected AL East basement running mates, yoouuuur Baltimore Orioles, I referred to my trusty 2009 Baseball Prospectus for an overview of the team's 1,246th starting pitcher in the last 2 seasons.
(As an aside, if you consider yourself a fairly serious baseball fan and don't already own a copy, spend the thirty bucks or whatever it takes for the book. Gold.)
Described as a "storky righty" with "consistent low-90s heat, a good breaking pitch, and good command", BP projects Ray as more of a fifth starter/middle relief type of pitcher. With Bryn Smith noted as a comparable, I settled in expecting 6 workman-like innings and just enough to keep the Jays in the game.
And that's exactly what we got. Though his line was unspectacular (5.2IP-4H-3ER-4BB-2K), Ray seemed to settle in quite nicely after shaking the debut jitters, and actually looked stronger as the game progressed, with both strikeouts coming late in his appearance. We didn't see much in the way of breaking balls, but assuming he showed The Cito enough to earn another start (and I'm sure he did), he'll probably flash a few more next outing.
Put it all together, and it's enough to make a guy forget about the massive bed shitting we've seen from the rotation (notable exceptions - Doc, Richmond) in the last few turns.
Next up (Tuesday start): Brett Cecil. I don't know whether to be giddy or terrified.
Aaron Hill - Capital B
You know what it stands for.
Shallow Thoughts by The Ack
- Raul Chavez may never be much of a threat at the dish, but am I the only one who finds him supremely entertaining to watch catch a ballgame? He's got some Tony Pena Sr. in him back there, though I will point out that I consistently hated Tony Pena's fucking guts growing up. Feel free to take offense to that, Tony Pena fans.
- Speaking of Chavez, who was that pinch running for him? I have vague memories of the player, but somebody remind me....
- Jason Frasor: Bullpen Ninja
- What was that about Travis Snider being best suited for DH? Nails defense by the kid today. At the plate? Not so much. Oh, and if I may be so bold, can we possibly fuck off with bunting the kid, already?
- P _ _ _ _ _ _ !
I'll reserve judgement on the team's latest shuffling of the pitching deck (at least until tomorrow), but I'll leave you with these inspirational quotes from the GM himself:
On whether the kids are ready:
"They're probably not ready"
On the decision to promote the relatively unheralded (by all but the Tao) Robert Ray:
"He's healthy and it was his turn to throw."
Now go and give 'em hell, boys!