Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Third Place, and Other Unlikely Delights

The Battle for Third Place Is On: Look, we like the story of the plucky St. Petersburg Manta Rays as much as the next Canadian baseball fan. We could write a book, were we not so committed to providing you content for free. Sorry, lost our train of thought...

Oh yes! The Rays have been a great story, and it has been interesting to observe how they turned their franchise from a perpetual doormat to one of the most respected franchises to win while playing to small crowds under a dome. But now, we're thinking: Why not us?

With last night's win, the Jays sit one-half game behind the Rays for third place in the AL East, and to recycle our tweeted joke from yesterday, there really ought to be a trophy for finishing the season in that position in that division. Because any band of poo-flinging simians can build a contender in the NL West, but to finish third in the AL East, that takes years of disciplined drafting and player development.

(Seriously, think about all of the ink that was wasted over the past month discussing the Indians, White Sox and Twins, and their pursuit of an AL Central title. The Jays are in the midst of a season in which the focus was not primarily on winning, and they are a better team than any of those three bands of jokers, not to mention the eventual division champion Tigers.)

The Jays have none games remaining against the Rays. Here's to getting your hate-on for the next seven weeks, to putting the Tampa side back in the AL East pack, and to the Blue Jays getting their propers from the pack of national baseball writers in the U.S..

RickRo's Ugly Masterpiece: Ricky Romero's reputation for spitting the bit against the AL East's powerhouses is only growing this year, and for a few breathless moments last night, we (and apparently most of those who we follow on Twitter) wondered if this wasn't that one disaster inning that had become a quasi-regular occurrence versus the Yankees and Red Sox.

We're not sure that we'd trip over our self to give Ricky full credit for extricating himself from the no-out, bases-loaded on zero hits conundrum of his own making. Certainly, it was an impressive feat to get the two strikeouts and a ground ball to keep the game scoreless. But the Rays lineup is a bit more forgiving than those of the Red Sox and Yankees, and setting down Tampa's 7-8-9 hitters in a precarious situation is a bit more mundane, and feels a bit less like a precedent.

The Return of Dusty Lambchops: Two things on John Farrell's statement that Dustin McGowan is set to be promoted to Double-A soon, and could be with the big club by September:

1) He's not going to be the closer. Stop suggesting it. The unpredictable workload (and the up-and-down-an-up-and-down in the bullpen) would be too hard on his body at this point. And preserving a fragile asset is the name of the game when it comes to Lambchops' future with the Jays.

2) It's a pretty exciting idea that McGowan could return to something resembling his form from his best days with the Jays. We'd love to see that power arm come back, and tear through the league like he did in that start against the Rockies a few years back. But let's cool down the expectations and let what's going to happen with him happen. We probably shouldn't be pencilling him into any prospective 2012 rotations just yet.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

The Blue Jays are simply better than the Bay Rays right now. It would be quite a story for them to finish third.

Steve Leggett said...

The glory days. When the Jays were finishing 3rd place. To dream.

Tao of Stieb said...


Anonymous said...

In the Tao, we trust!

Anonymous said...

"Because any band of poo-flinging simians can build a contended in the NL West"

Do you think one of those simians can take some time out from flinging poo in order to proofread?

Great post otherwise Tao!

QJays said...

Ah - none = nine. Had to look that up.

I'm stoked about third. It really is unfortunate that it has come to this, but I do think we'll be watching meaningful games in August in the next year or two, and this is just a warm up for that. Don't want all that anxiety to build up in a single year.

Tao of Stieb said...

I have fixed my errors...but did you see the high degree of difficulty on that sentence? Even if I didn't stick the landing, you gotta give me high marks, right?

Mary Lou Retton didn't always stick the landing on those perfect 10.00's.

The Southpaw said...

Re Dusty - screw you! I'm a pencilin' damnit!

After reading the Nitkoski piece...I'm intrigued by the idea of McG getting a dose of Batrolo's magic Elixir this winter...

QJays said...

I'm still reading that "The Jays have none games remaining against the Rays". I guess the "nine" was in the score.

Also, damn all that third place optimism.