Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Game Ovah

And the Chowdah-head Nation rejoices.

It's apparently a done deal now that the Big Man from Mascouche is on his way to Boston to be the Red Sox set-up man.

Which begs the question: what do we do with the Gagné McFarlane figure on our desk? Our thoughts so far:

a) Put it in a drawer until he leaves the AL East.
b) Ritualistically hang him from his goatee and ping elastics at him.
c) Just live with it, because the Jays aren't catching the BoSox anyhow.

We're leaning towards b).

Also, our friend the Red Sox fan is going to be completely insufferable.

Tick tock...tick...tock...ti...

One hour to go.

Oh yeah, and then another month of passing the Gas Can through waivers.

And to think that back in April, we figured that this would be the most fun we would have all year.

Can we just trade for David Cone (or trade David Cone) for old times sake? What's Juan Beniquez up to these days? Devlin?

MLB Trade Deadline - Catch the excitement!

Or, you know...wake us up when it is over.

In the meantime, Fox Sports and Sporting News baseball rumour hound Ken Rosenthal ties the Mark Teixeira deal to a potential deal for Troy Glaus. Rosenthal has been the primary purveyor of Glaus rumours this season, and he doesn't seem to be able to let this one go. It's not that he doesn't have a point, but we still just don't see it happening.

If anyone might still be on the block for the Jays, it would be the Gas Can and/or Jason Frasor, who have both fallen out of favour, and might benefit from a change of scenery.

Still, we're not holding our breath.

Monday, July 30, 2007

You have got to be joking...

...but that shit just ain't funny.

This was a game that the Devil Rays were handing to the Jays all night, and no one in the Jays' lineup seemed remotely interested in nutting up and taking it. That's why this season is swirling around the drain.

Hopefully, in between the postgame Nerf Olympics and Tickle Fights, someone in the dressing room takes a second to look at themselves in the mirror, and ask themselves why they are accepting losses like this. To have had the opportunities the Jays had in the 10th and 11th, not to mention the entire freaking game, and to cough it up like a furball time and again...it just demonstrates that something is seriously amiss in the heads of some of this team.

The final four innings of tonight's game gave us enough grey hairs that we're heading out tomorrow to audition to be the next Glad Man.

Carl Crawford Kicked Our Ass: After this afternoon's gleeful exaltations on his absence, Crawford runs wild on the basepaths to tie the game, then hits a walk-off homer with a mangled wrist, like he was playing the Tampa Bay Dinner Theatre production of The Natural, and the Jays were invited for opening night.

And seriously: Gibby or Ernie or the ghost of Al Widmar...whoever made the decision to keep Tallet, League, and even Frasor on the bench in favour of another inning of Brian Wolfe...what were you thinking?

Well, that's one way to contain Carl Crawford

Notorious Jays killer Carl Crawford might miss some of this week's series because of a wrist injury. (It is his right wrist that is injured, so he'll be able to continue signing memorabilia in the interim.)

This year alone, Crawford has three homers, 10 RsBI, six stolen bases and a 1.016 OPS in nine games versus the Jays. Here's hoping he won't add to those numbers this week.

Fire up one last colortini

You'll have to forgive us for going off topic, but we're awfully sad to hear that Tom Snyder, one of the greats of the TV talk show genre, has passed away at the age of 71.

The original host of The Late, Late Show on CBS, and host of the Tomorrow show on NBC back in the early 80's, Snyder was smooth, funny, smart, self-effacing and always engaged with his guests.

Thanks for the memories, Tom.

Pulling double duty

The second Blue Jays Bloggers' Roundtable is now posted at the Jays Nest, so take a look if you want to see our thoughts - as well as those of Bugs and Cranks' Spencer Kyte, the 500 Level's Todd Devlin, Darrell Humber (who dat?) and Jays Nest's own Dave Rouleau - on the Rogers Centre or the likelihood of more Gibby next year, and other marginalia.

Working overtime: We'll also be pulling a double shift next week by filling in for a vacationing Neate Sager over at Out of Left Field. While we've been tasked with keeping his peeps up to date on the Jays, we're also looking to drop some serious hockey knowledge while we're there, including why we think the Ottawa Senators would be smarter to keep Ray Emery and Martin Gerber. (Actually, that's pretty much the extent of our opinions on hockey, so we kinda blew our wad right there.)

We've made a huge mistake

Last week, in the midst of all of our excitement over the Jays' shellacking of the Twins, we erroneously stated that the Globe and Mail's Larry Millson was retired. In fact, Larry continues to do yeoman's work covering Toronto FC (and the Under 20 tourney), as well as the Raptors for the Globe. We're just a little too baseball-centric around here to have picked up on it.

Moreover, Larry has an excellent on-going series of articles tracking New Hampshire Fisher Cats closer Tracy Thorpe, a long-time Jays prospect who has begun to emerge with a switch to the bullpen.

We certainly stand by our assertion that it was great to see Larry writing on the Blue Jays' beat, but we were completely out to lunch on everything else. We sincerely regret the error.

Operators Are Standing By

As the minutes tick away to the trade deadline, Blue Jays GM JP Riccardi reports that he is willing to listen to offers but hasn't received any inquiries other than the one by the Phillies for Josh Towers.

It seems like the Jays aren't alone. Aside from a couple of guys from the woeful Texas Rangers, no big names appear to be available. The wild card has the biggest impact in this situation. Because so many teams are in the hunt every year, they are less likely to break up the nucleus unless there are really compelling reasons. Probably not a bad thing since the Jays have lost some quality players in the past when trying to bolster a playoff run midseason (Jeff Kent and Michael Young come to mind).

We'll keep you posted of any progress.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

He's Shaun F'ing Marcum. Get used to it.

With today's eight inning, two-hit, one earned, eight strikeout performance, Shaun Marcum should (if our math is right, and it rarely is) officially qualify for the ERA title, and will vault ahead of Roy Halladay for the team lead in both ERA and WHIP. Moreover, Marcum's 3.67 ERA should slide him into 12th place in the AL, while his 1.11 should move him into the top 10 in the Majors.

Which is all a whole hell of a lot more than anyone was anticipating for a guy who was destined to be the main mop-up guy this year.

What has happened to your vaunted offense?

Mickey Brantley happened.

Maybe we don't have nearly the inside information to judge what sort of a job the Jays' hitting coach is doing, but here's what we know: the entire lineup has more or less been in a season long malaise.

Want some perspective? Coming into Sunday's games, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have scored more runs than the Blue Jays (483-481). That's not the way it was supposed to play out.

Brantley, who Dick Griffin described last week as John Gibbons' "handpicked hitting coach", should be responsible for the team's performance at the plate, and clearly, something is amiss. A long walk off the shortest pier on Lake Ontario should be in order.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Josh Towers is pissed

So back tha fuck up, yo.
"I'm just pissed period. I don't think that we showed up today," Towers said. "I think it was a horsebleep game all around, that we just gave the game away."
Oh, and that ain't even the half of it.
"I just don't think that we consistently put ourselves in position to make plays ahead of time. I don't think that we're heads-up. I don't think that we consistently show up as a coaching staff and as a team every day and I think it shows sometimes. Tonight was just a game where I felt we were in full control and we should have won and we didn't.

"Today we handed it right back to them and to me it was embarrassing."
See Mike Rutsey's Toronto Sun story for the full goods at Slam Sports.

Moreover: Dave Rouleau at Jays Nest makes a good case that the Gas Can is right (scroll down).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Idle thoughts for idle days

With an off-day yesterday, we kick back and ponder randomly on the Jays.

Dodging bullets: J.P. Ricciardi noted after Gil Meche blew off the Jays' $55 million offer that they had "dodged a bullet" (although Meche's 3.76 ERA might look nice in Toronto's rotation right now.) The real bullet the Jays dodged this offseason was the bizzarro signing-non-signing of Rod Barajas. Barajas is now getting paid $2.5 million by the Phillies to put up Ken Huckaby-type numbers (.209 AVG, 4 HRs, 9 RsBI). We wonder if Pat Gillick knows that Jason Phillips is available?

Is Carlos Delgado toast? Mets bloggers and media are scratching their heads over Carlos Delgado's anemic offensive performance this year (.755 OPS, 16 HRs, 54 RsBI). Newark Star Ledger baseball writer Rob Gebeloff asks flat out: Is Carlos Delgado Washed Up? Gebelhoff follows up by demonstrating that Delagado's production traditionally picks up in the second half. We're still rooting for King Carlos, but having caught a few games on WPIX this year, we note that his swing has gotten big again, as it was throughout much of his final year in Toronto. Then again, with a 1.040 OPS, August has been by far his most productive month of the season throughout his career.

Still on #1 in Dubious Power Rankings: Months after we noted the Jays' supremacy in the Rocky Mountain News' Readers' MLB rankings, our boys remain well ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates in first place. Way to go, fellas.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So you're saying we still have a chance?

After any remotely positive stretch of games, we usually find ourselves consulting Coolstandings.com’s projections to see just how much the Jays have moved the needle in terms of their probability of making the playoffs.

With their current five-game win streak, Coolstandings’ adjusted Jamesian Pythagorean theorem figures the Jays’ probability of playing time in October at 4.3% (based on a 0.7% probability of winning the AL East, and a 3.6% probability of taking the Wild Card.)

Which, to paraphrase Lloyd Christmas, means they’re telling us we still have a chance.

Coolstandings figures that the Jays’ final record will fall somewhere around 83-79, which would likely be considered a disappointment, especially given last year’s 87 win season. The site also pegs the Indians at 91 wins, and the Yankees at about 90, which would mean that the Jays from this point on in the season would have to go on a 40-21 run to be right there in the final week.

After a feel-good week like this, we've gotta say that in unrepentant fan in us (foolishly? blindly?) likes our chances.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

That's what we call an ass-whuppin'

We were doing our little happy dance in our office this afternoon, and it wasn't just because we watched the Jays (as best as you can on GameDay) tie a team record with 11 runs in the 6th en route to a 13-1 ass-smacking of the Twins.

It also had to do with seeing these two magical records show up in a Jays boxscore for the second time this week: CS. (It looks a bit like this: "CS - N Punto (5, 2nd base by J Litsch/G Zaun"...*sniff*Excuse us, but we're getting a be verklempt.)

Zaun had a monster of a game, going 3-4 with a double and a homer, 3 runs scored and 4 RsBI.

A quick question: Does 11 still count as a "crooked number"?

Millson gets his blog on: Larry Millson, who retired from the Globe and Mail after last season, seems to back in the saddle for a few days while Jeff Blair follows Barry Bonds around the continent. Larry's a fine baseball writer, and it is nice to see him posting on the Globe's Baseball Blog, as he did today.

I can't live without my radio

In this age of digital media and online content offerings, we're currently scouring around trying to locate an AM radio so that we can listen to this afternoon's Jesse Litsch-Carlos Silva showdown. God help us.


A tip of the casquette to Adam Godson of Bugs and Cranks (via Deadspin and MLB Trade Rumors) for his outstanding piece on how sandwich picks (the "compensatory" round of draft picks between the first and second rounds) are leading to quieter trade deadlines.

The Jays' 2007 draft offers an excellent example of how a team can hold on to a free agent to be and get a high draft pick, rather than taking a chance on another team's mid-to-low-level prospect.

The Jays had seven picks in the top two rounds plus, with five of those coming as compensation for losing Frank Catalanotto, Ted Lilly and Justin Speier. If even half of those picks turn into legitimate major leaguers, J.P.'s stand pat stance at last year's trade deadline will look absolutely brilliant.

(Well, to us anyways. We're sure that Steve Simmons will continue to have a "J.P. isn't a genius and is therefor a fraud" comment in every Sunday column until the Jays win the World Series again.)

The return of the sideburn

With 7.1 innings of shutout ball from our boy Dustin McGowan in last night's 7-0 drubbing of the Twins, the Jays are all squared up at .500 and sit eight games back of the Wild Card leading Clevelanders. (We're having a harder time lately referring to them as the Indians. It offends our delicate sensibilities.)

With this performance, McGowan has pushed his numbers up to a point where he is almost evenly matched with putative number two starter A.J. Burnett (with the notable differences that Burnett strikes out a lot more batters, but also has given up more than twice as many homers.)

We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and write off A.J., if only to avoid incurring the wrath of Joanna at Hum and Chuck. But our point here is that McGowan, who had been written off by some at the beginning of the season, is putting up respectable numbers at the discount price that you can only receive by drafting high-ceiling pitching prospects. And that, as Martha would say, is a good thing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Your chance to bitch about those black Jays caps

The empressario of one of our favorite blogs hits Toronto tonight, and we'll have to miss it.

Paul Lukas, chief-in-charge at the UniWatch blog (http://uniwatchblog.com) and the best damned writer on "athletics aesthetics" in the world will be live and in the flesh at upstairs at the Imperial Pub and Library (54 Dundas St. East) at 8 pm.

We'd love to be there, but we weren't able to swing it. If you can make it, be sure to show up in awesome retro Jays gear (hey, even the T-Bird is retro now!), and buy the man a tasty beverage. He deserves as much.

A letter of recommendation for Josh Towers

To whom it may concern, and more specifically, to the front office personnel of desperate hopeless contending MLB franchises:

On behalf of the Tao of Stieb, and all Blue Jays fans, we wish to submit this letter of recommendation for right-handed starting pitcher Josh Towers. We understand that there has recently been some interest in acquiring Mr. Towers' services, and we would like to offer an unconditionally favourable letter of reference on his behalf.

We firmly believe that Mr. Towers would be an asset to your team, and we would like to take this opportunity to emphasize all of the positive aspects of his game, and to demonstrate what a positive impact he has had on the Blue Jays franchise.

Firstly, let us note that when we refer to Mr. Towers as a “Gas Can”, we mean to say that he is able to ignite the performance of a team. We believe this explosive nature is exactly the sort of thing that could help propel a team into the playoffs.

Also, we would like to emphasize that when we have noted that the manager should “just bring a tee out to the plate” instead of allowing Mr. Towers to pitch, we did so in the spirit of fair play to the teams we were facing. We’re good like that.

And allow us to clarify that when we proclaimed that “when Towers came in to pitch, (we) started flipping over to a documentary on Marlon Brando on Turner Movie Classics”, we were really trying to demonstrate how comfortable all Jays fans feel when Josh takes the mound.

We would be remiss if we didn’t also make clear that when we referred to Mr. Towers throwing “lollipop pitches, we meant to say that they were delightfully sweet and satisfying, and that who couldn't enjoy that sort of pitching?

Finally, let us underline the fact that if you are a team that does not currently have enough pitchers with an ERA a shade under 5.00, and if you are a team that may require the services of a pitcher who kept opponents to a paltry .298 batting average against, then Josh Towers may just be the final piece you need to thrust yourself into postseason glory.


The Tao of Stieb

PS – Please note that we would be very flexible in what we receive in return for Mr. Towers. However, we’re quite fond of pulled pork sandwiches. If you have some to spare, or know of a good recipe, please feel free to send it our way. We believe this would represent a fair exchange.

Words of great comforrt

"We have absolutely no interest in Jack Wilson," said Ricciardi. "None." (CP, via globesports.com)

Everyone: exhale.

Who were those guys?

Here's a quiz to test how big a Blue Jays fan you are In last night's 6-4 takedown of Johan Santana and the Twins, you wept tears of joy when:

a) Reed Johnson hit a homer in the first
b) The Jays turned a 3-2-5-6 double play
c) Frank Thomas hit his second homer of the night
d) A Jays catcher threw out a runner

If you picked d), then welcome to our club. Here's your monogrammed hanky.

The Jays' decision to cut loose Jason Phillips paid almost immediate dividends, when in the fourth inning, Curtis Thigpen threw out Nick Punto (Rod Black's favorite Twin, apparently).

The win pushed Santana's record to 2-4 versus the Jays, with a 4.84 ERA, which we can't possibly explain, but we'll take it in a second. We know that Jays fans are pretty reserved at the Rogers SkyDome (except when they are trying to start the wave, at which point they scream to the point of aneurysms), but we'd love to see the joint rain down a chorus of "Who's your daddy", as the Bronx fans did to Pedro Martinez back in 2003.

Is that too much to ask?

Back in the saddle

Why is it that when we get back from vacation, we always feel twice as tired as when we left? (Our life has degenerated into a Spirit of the West song.)

Maybe it has something to do with getting rear-ended (rarely a good thing) on the QEW on our way to Niagara Falls (also, rarely a good thing). We're assured that one of these days, we'll be able to turn our head to the right without pain. In the meantime, we're looking to find friends with Vicodin prescriptions. Drop us a line.

Much respect to our main man, Shortwaveboy, for dropping some serious knowledge while we were gulping back handfuls of Advil and swigging on Stoli.

There's so much from the past five days to discuss. We missed sharing our thoughts on the Jays with you all...and my brother-in-law just doesn't get all of the in jokes. ("Sorry, what was that you were saying about Felix Junior?")

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Halladay Shines as Jays Win Series

Jays fans took a collective breather today. Since his appendectomy, Roy Halladay's been inconsistent at best and downright lousy at worst. Certainly out of character for one of the top five pitchers in the league. But ol ' Leroy looked like he might have climbed out of the hole today as he pitched a complete game shutout --- the ninth of his career. This was the second strong start for Doc in as many games so we are pretty pleased.

His line: 9.0 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K

In his post-game interview on Sportsnet, Doc attributed his recent return to form with going back to his old grip on his cutter. Doc was polite but apparently our pal Sal Fasano didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Figures.

Also impressive was the Jays timely hitting and fundamentals in the fifth inning. Two walks, two bunts, a single, a generous call, and a three run homer put the Jays ahead 5-0 and knocked rising star Felix Hernandez out of the game an inning later. Pile-on runs were too much to ask for but we got them anyway with the team scoring 8 runs in all. These guys splurge like drunken sailors on shore leave when they decide to score runs. Budget guys. Budget.

Gas Can Impresses in Win

After the two lousy years that Josh Towers has strung together, who knew that he still had a performance like yesterday's still in him? Towers threw 6.2 innings of shutout ball yesterday to cover up for the Jays' anemic offense.

With Towers about to become a free agent, he needs to string together some games like that for his own future. After a solid 2005 season (13-12, 112 Ks/29 BBs, 3.71 ERA), JP Riccardi gave Towers a two year $5.2 million deal. At the time it appeared that the underestimated Towers had finally come into his own. Instead, 2005 was one of those free agency year flukes. 2006 was dismal for Towers and even worse for the Jays. When Towers imploded, there was nobody ready to step up. The only positive that came out of it was that the team discovered that Casey Janssen had the guts to pitch in the majors.

So it's do or die time for Gas Can. Hopefully the Jays can benefit from his predicament.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Good-bye Bug-eyed Guy

Yesterday, the Jays released catcher Jason Phillips. Phillips was picked up a couple of years back at the recommendation of manager John Gibbons as a backup to Greg Zaun. Of course, things changed very quickly in the catching department that offseason as JP Riccardi later made the surprise signing of Benji Molina. So until this year, Phillips saw limited action behind the plate. That was a good thing. He was less than adequate behind the plate having thrown out only 11% of baserunners this year. And at the plate he was barely over .200 this year in 50 games. He was slightly entertaining on the basepaths reminding us of an awkward preteen running around his kitchen in his sock feet.

So what does his release mean? Probably three things:

  1. That Phillips sucks.

  2. That the Jays are looking to next year by giving Curtis Thigpen a look.

  3. That John Gibbon's player recommendations are no longer welcome. Remember what happened to the last management type in the Jays organization that brought in his own underachieving guy only to have it blow up in his face?

Friday, July 20, 2007

And it don't stop

The Jays will welcome back Miguel Batista tonight, who between innings will write angry poems about how Toronto management treated him, as well as a detective story on how a football general manager named P.J. Dirraddi gets killed by a vengeful, scorned former player.

Batista isn't a superstar by any stretch of the imagination, but he probably deserved better treatment that he received in T.O.. Batista was run out of town on a rail as a closer, in spite of the fact that he was always much more valuable as an inning-eating starter. He was allegedly pouty and difficult, but we'd take that in a player who takes the ball every five or six days over the jovial Nerf-dart shooting, shaving cream-pie dispensing, chili pepper racing life of the party who ends up in the infirmary three times per season. (This is all very unfair, we know. But we don't have time for fair.)

At 53-39, the Mariners are for reals, with an offence that is flat out rolling right now. And all of this success comes with a rotation that includes Jeff Weaver, who in tomorrow's monumental matchup for the ages, Weaver takes on the Gas Can in the Battle of the Combustibles!
(Five bucks says that by the third inning, the managers just bring a tee out to the plate, and let the players have at it.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A richly deserved rest

We're taking a few days to rest, and recover from the trauma that is this series against the Yankees.

Blogging may be sporadic, but then again, what more could we say?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We're too distraught to even comment

We don't know what was worse: Accardo having a Armando Benitez-like meltdown? Or seeing the expression on that stupid prat A-Rod's face as he came home with the winning run in the Yanks' 3-2 win.

Sharing our frustrations: Drunk Jays Fans, Out of Left Field, Fire Gibbons.

And moreover: Hum and Chuck.

And also: Blair takes down Gibby like a drunken uncle wrestling a six year-old.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Hampshire on our minds

Given that Art Martone at the ProJo Sox Blog has sent some New Englanders in our direction today, we have a few Jays-related items on the fine state of New Hampshire.

Jays AA affiliate in Ottawa? In the Sun chain's articles on the decline and fall of the Ottawa Lynx, there have been vague mentions of the Jays relocating their Eastern League affiliate to the nation’s capital. We think this is an absolutely brilliant idea…except that we don’t see how it will happen.

At present, the AA Fisher Cats draw more than three times as many fans as the Lynx do, and they play in a relatively new ballpark (the rather clunkily named Merchantsauto.com Stadium). We can see how if Rogers Media were to purchase the team and move it to Ottawa that attendance would be less of an issue. We figure that attendance would likely increase if Toronto’s farmhands were in the capital, and, as we noted in the comments at Neate Sager’s blog months ago, this would further expand the Jays’ brand (not to mention Rogers’) into the closest major media market in Ontario.

All of this supposes that someone in Manchester is selling. And if they're not, this is all just wishful thinking.

Fisher Cats promotions, The Good: Maybe it is the PoliSci geek in us, but we love the fact that on August 25, the Fisher Cats will take the field as the “New Hampshire Primaries”. The team was originally named the Primaries for a few days before a petition was circulated to change the name. It’s a pity, really, but that’s democracy in action. (BTW, dig that awesome logo!)

New Hampshire promotions, the Bad: When looking at the list of promotions on the Fisher Cats’ schedule, it’s hard not to get the feeling that the AA club is selling the parent club out, and buying bad juju by the truckload. How else to explain multitude of Red Sox related giveaways at the ballpark. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis bats? Curt Schilling and Mo Vaughan bobbleheads? Yikes.

New Hampshire promotions, the Absurd: July 7 was George Weston Bakeries Salute to Bread Night. We salute bread every day, in every way.

Jays Wuss Out. Lose.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Despite the pre-game speculation, not even a hair was mussed on A-Rod's head by the mild mannered Jays. Instead, he helped the Yankees to crush the team with his 2-run shot in his second at bat off of a batting practice toss from Gas Can. Now, we think that it would have been stupid to throw at the guy. The best way to get back at him was to shut him down and beat his team. But apparently that was too much to ask of a team that seems afraid to win more than one game every two days. Weak.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Does Erik Bedard have the homesick blues?

Bugs and Cranks’ Orioles poster Patrick Smith has asked the following question:

“Does Erik Bedard want to pitch in Canada or is he just an asshole?”

This is what we might refer to as a false dichotomy.

Bedard has been notoriously persnickety with the press in Baltimore, giving monotone and monosyllabic responses in post-start scrums. We’ve always attributed this to the fact that Bedard is a francophone, and might not feel 100% comfortable in English when dozens of microphones and camera lights are foited upon him. Moreover, Bedard usually has the local press descend upon him right after he has pitched, and we would imagine that fatigue might have something to do with it.

Smith posits that Bedard wants to pitch in Canada for the Blue Jays (a theory floated by Jamie Campbell earlier this year), and that is contributing to his crankiness. Then he runs completely off the rails:

"But unless Navan, Ontario gets an expansion team, that means Bedard is stuck in Toronto, 300 miles from Erik’s hometown. And while Toronto is a great city, who thinks Bedard would prefer pitching there? Terrible ballpark. Lukewarm fans. High taxes."
As a Canadian, we're sure that Bedard gets the same palpable feeling of relief that we do when he steps back onto Canadian soil, whether if it is in Navan, or Montreal, or Toronto, or Vancouver. You can feel it, and you'll never be able to explain it, because it defies reason. But we'd feel more at home thousands of miles away on our side of the border than we would if we were just the other side.

Whether if Toronto's fans are lukewarm or not, we'd like to point out that there are an extra 1,500 of them per night showing up to that "terrible ballpark" than the number of "hardcore" fans showing up at the faux-traditional Camden Yards. And we'd add that Rogers Centre has been improved immeasurably in the past three years.

Taxes are not nearly the issue that American sportswriters make them out to be, and Canadian sports franchises have worked hard over the past decade to make that point.

We don't actually think that it is a slam-dunk that Bedard ever becomes a Jay. Jays fans love to dream about the Great Canadian Hero who is going to come and sell Blue Jays' baseball to your average xenophobic Joe Hockypuck, even if past history of our native sons has been decidedly mixed (Cory Koskie, anyone?) And if Bedard were ever to play in Toronto, we'd guess that there would still be issues with the media.

We're just at a loss to explain why Orioles fans are crucifying him for not being a better quote when he's leading the league in strikeouts, and is really the only sign of life on their franchise.

Facing down the Evil Empire

Why is it that every time the Yankees and Jays meet up, we hear the Darth Vader theme in our heads for the entire series?

Fresh off of a four game split with the Sox, the Jays remain a game under .500, but have slipped behind the Yankees into their customary spot in third in the AL East. (That spot in the standings likely has J.P.'s butt groove imprinted on it at this point.)

The Matchups: Monday - Towers vs Igawa, Tuesday - Halladay vs Pettitte, Wednesday - Marcum vs Clemens, Thursday - McGowan vs Wang.

More Glaus Rumours - East Coast Style!: Fox and The Sporting News baseball dude Ken Rosenthal fills up the back end of a recent column with random speculation that the Yankees could be interested in Glaus as "A-Rod Insurance". We're increasingly leaning towards shipping Glaus and his creaky carcass out the door, but certainly not to a divisional rival. (Although the Jays have recently done more intra-division trades than you would expect, sending Hinske to the Sox, or Mondesi to the Yanks, for instance.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

At work...so much for a lazy Sunday

We're hip deep in some work (like, real actual for-money labour), so we're unable to really pull a post together right now. However, we will note the following:
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Clutch this

Alex Rios, MLB Superstar, doubled in the winning run in last night's 6-5 win over the Red Sox.

Speaking of Rios and his new found fame, we received about three times our regular number of visitors over the All-Star break, with almost all of them looking for photos of Rios wearing hotel curtains.

You're welcome.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Missing his spots

Watching Doc struggle through last night's 7-4 loss to he Beantowners, we were doubled over in agony seeing how much trouble he had getting anything over the plate. Mind you, we felt like he was getting squeezed a bit by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, who we've always found to be wildly inconsistent.

Also of note: Joy of Sox (a Canadian member of the Nation) calls out Tabby and "Buffy" on some on air silliness. We presume Buffy to be Jamie Campbell, but we're late to the table...J.P. tells the Globe that Glaus isn't going anywhere: "I like Troy Glaus, I worked really hard to get him here" spake the GM, who may be trying to bump up the price.

What they say: While the Jays are taking on the Sox, we highly recommend the Providence Journal's Sox Blog, and in particular, Art Martone's Baseball Today entries. (And not just because he's occasionally linked to us. Hi Art!)

Live from the Belly of the Beast: Jays Nest's chief-in-charge Dave Rouleau is in Fenway this week to see Toronto nine. He mentions the atmosphere that is clearly palpable on Yawkey Way (and missing on Front Street/Blue Jays Way), noting "the sense of aprehension of the coming baseball game"...we think he meant "the sense of anticipation", although with the way the Jays played in the first half, he might have hit it on the nose.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

This is why we like Blair so much more than Griffin

Because somehow, we couldn't see Dick pulling out an anecdote like this in a live chat:
You know. I would suggest that perhaps Wells would be better off putting a hand over one eye and staring at a candle flame with the other the way Shoeless Joe Jackson did - which segues nicely into a memorable evening in this very city many years ago when myself, an Expos player who shall remain nameless, a coach (ditto) and various other travelling party types saw an exotic dancer light several mini-sparklers that she was, um, wearing, as she gyrated. The poor Expos player - one of the less urbane members of his team - was clearly uncomfortable with the pyrotechnics and eventually went into a three-week hitting slump. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Nice. It's like he wrote that one with the Drunk Jays Fans in mind.

Allow me to reintroduce myself/ My name is R, U to the S-S

Russ Adams is back. For a good time. Not a long time.

Update: See the Aaron Hill news below. We've been spared.

Take me down to the infirmary

Just when we figured that the Jays would at least have a healthy batting order to start the second half, the news comes that Aaron Hill will hit the DL, retroactive to July 8.

No word yet on whether J.P. has labeled Hill a "wimp", a "panty-waisted nancy-boy", or a "choking cry-baby wussy-girl" for not playing through the pain.

Or maybe not: As noted in the comments, Sportsnet is now reporting that Hill will play. Because he wants to prove that he can limp around as uselessly as Troy Glaus.

Devlin Stirs the Stew

We're a little late with this link, but we've been taking the All-Star break to reacquaint ourselves with Mrs. Tao of Stieb (allo, ma femme!)

Jays bloghistorian Todd Devlin over at The 500 Level has posted his chat with Dave Stewart, talking about the good times.

No explanation for Joey Hamilton was sought, nor offered.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blue Jays America's Least Favorite Team

In a poll of 2,372 US adults, the Jays were dead last in popularity. This follows some high place finishes in polling between '99-'04 when they were listed next to last (the Expos were last). Do you suppose any of those US adults even know where Toronto is?

A very productive one-third of an inning for Rios

If nothing else, his fielding percentage in All-Star games is 1.000.

Was it wrong that we started rooting for the NL to tie it up so that Alex could get a shot?

And to think, we had a bilious rant half-written, with in-depth plans to start a We Hate Jim Leyland blog until he managed to slip Rios in for the last out.

Now we know why Orioles fans booed Cito Gaston for years.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hey, at least he didn't pull a Jason Bay

After lighting up the second round of the "State Farm Home Run Derby, brought to you by State Farm, State Farm, Official Sponsor of Major League Baseball, and of the State Farm Home Run Derby"*, Alex Rios managed just two in the finals.

Still, we think the douches over at the Big Picture owe dude an apology.

(*Actual ad copy read tonight.)

Alex Rios has 45 career homers. Deal with it, bitches.

We'll be watching Alex Rios in tonight's Home Run Derby with the sound off. One can only take so much of Chris Berman's "back back back back back...gone!" shtick before their frontal lobe spontaneously combusts.

Related: The Big Picture has taken five minutes to stop jerking off to chicks in body spray commercials to rip Rios' inclusion in the Homer Run Derby.

Live Update (10:06 pm): 17 bombs in two rounds, and Rios is out in front. And A-Rod is in a suit, talking to Barry Bonds and wondering why everyone hates him.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Towers Performs Mind Meld on Marcum? Jays Win 1-0.

Using pin-point control, Josh Towers fulfilled his "potential" today with a stellar 8 inning shutout performance. With Paul Byrd matching him pitch for pitch, Towers left the game with a no decision. But the fact that we wrote a whole entry without calling him Gas Can should be victory enough for Josh.
In case you care, Accardo picked up the win on a walk-off RBI single by All-Star Alex Rios.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's a good thing the Jays have a #2 starter like Marcum

Not to dump on the guy, who has done more than his share to keep the Jays' record at something just slightly less than respectable. But today's Towersesque disaster start (3.1 IP, 8 earned and three homers) is perhaps the best argument the universe could have made against J.P. Ricciardi's assertion that A.J. Burnett could be the fourth or fifth starter on the team.

Well...onward and upward!

Friday, July 6, 2007

J.P. Ricciardi - Straight tahlkah

So, in an interview with the Fan 590, J.P. basically called A.J. Burnett:
  • a wuss
  • a 'fraidy cat
  • a number four starter
  • a mistake
Nice to see this level of candour from the GM. It's really become his hallmark.

J.P. also made this clunker of a statement in the post-game show on Wednesday:
"If we had (Casey) Janssen, Litsch, Marcum, McGowan, I probably wouldn't (have signed Burnett), just because I would have that pitching lined up," said Ricciardi. (Source: Sportsnet)
Well, that's really easy to say now with the benefit of hindsight, but the point is that none of those guys were even on the radar in December of 2005. Which begs the question: Why rip A.J. publicly like this? Are the Jays trying to run him out of town like the Marlins did?

And let's not get out of hand with the sentiment towards Litsch, who has still walked more batters than he's struck out, and hasn't won since his cockle-warming debut.

A prognostication: This is based on nothing more than a vague thought we had last night, connecting other teams' needs to the Jays, but what do you suppose are the chances that A.J. finishes the year (and his contract) in a Mets uniform? Just a thought.

Bonus coverage: Check out Neate's take at Out of Left Field.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Doc don't need your pity vote

After initially spending the weekend trying to figure out how to program our computer to vote a million times an hour for Roy Halladay in the MLB's Final Vote tomfoolery, we've heeded the man's wishes to take some time off (hat tip to Blair) and mourn the loss of his appendix.

Besides, the only computer program we know how to write is the one in Basic that makes our name scroll up the screen infinitely.

So, about all that "hay making"...

We figured that the past week or so would have been the time for the Jays to make a move in the Wild Card standings.

Well. So much for that.

In spite of yesterday's July 4th fireworks in Oakland, the Jays wind up the west coast swing at 4-6, and dropped two games further back of the Tigers, with the Indians in town this weekend.

As we noted back in those halcyon days when the Jays were above .500, these four series were likely make-or-break for the Toronto Nine's playoff chances. Now, we'll have to wait for the teams above them in the standings to start imploding.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The 1995 Jays - bad team, worse singers

In lieu of actual thoughts on the Jays west coast shenanigans, check out this video of the awful 1995 Jays - sorry...make that, the Defending Champion Jays! - singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

It was nice of Mike Timlin to take the hunk of chaw out of his mouth to sing along, no?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

All-Star rants: There’s no fun allowed in the press box

With the announcement this weekend of the All Star Game rosters, the mainstream baseball press is in full-on gripe mode about Mid-Season Classic.

The problem is that too many of these professional grouches look at the All Star starters and reserves, identify the deficiencies, and then take the remarkable leap that the game itself is useless and should be scrapped or completely rethought so as to make it matter more. This is the sort of thinking that brought about the “It Counts” following after the 2004 All-Star game tie debacle, and yet many of these same writers and broadcasters gripe about that without a trace of irony.

Witness Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann’s Grumpy Old Men routine on Monday’s Big Show on ESPN Radio (the archive is on iTunes). Olbermann suggests that the game is a bore, and should be more like the offensive shoot-outs in the NHL and NBA All-Star games, or moreover, that the game should just be one big Home Run Derby. These are the rantings of someone who has clearly lost touch with reality, and forgotten how much more compelling the MLB game is than either of these dull displays, which in no way resemble the sports they are supposed to be celebrating.

The media whinge and complain about all of the mistakes made by the fans in the voting for the starters, and begrudge the fans inclusion in the process. The writers, in particular, seem to believe that their expertise should be used to choose the starters, in addition to the bang-up job they do on selecting nearly all of MLB’s significant awards. (Like Bartolo Colon’s 2005 Cy Young Award, for instance.)

Ultimately, the All-Star game is an exhibition which doesn’t need to have any significant meaning. It needs to be fun for the fans. We love the All-Star, and some of our favorite baseball memories came from the marginalia around the game.

  • Mario Soto wearing white shoes – which were strictly forbidden by the Reds at that time - to start the 1983 game.
  • Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key and David Wells getting the All-Star starting assignment as Blue Jays.
  • Fred Lynn taking Atlee Hammaker deep for the first grand slam in All-Star history in 1983.
  • Pedro Martinez striking out five of the six batters he faced in 1999 (at Fenway, no less), including home run heroes McGwire and Sosa.

Moreover, the talk over the next week on who should have been included and who didn’t deserve the nod shouldn’t be taken as some exasperating chore. It gives us all the chance to talk baseball, and really, what’s more fun than that?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Canada Day Hangover

A few random thoughts to consider while we scrub down the walls and clean up the broken beer bottles and stray spent fireworks of the streets.

Hearty Congrats: To Alex Rios on being named to the AL All Stars. Funny how a guy who's been perpetual trade bait for three or four years now has proven himself to be the Jays' best player for much of last season (pre-staph infection) and all of this season.

Halladay's Snub
: In truth, this has not been the most stellar start by Doc over the past few years, and the list of other pitchers included thus far is actually pretty unassailable. However, Doc could still be voted into the lineup to keep Alex Rios company, if all of the computers in New England and Japan suddenly go on the fritz.

A.J.'s DL Madness: Was he rushed back too soon, or is he simply being hypersensitive about the shoulder? The lack of velocity on his fastball last time out would indicate that the Jays likely should have given him an extra few days to recover, which begs the question: why didn't they?

J.P. in the Boston Globe: In case you need a respite from the Ken Fidlins or Richard Griffins of the world, here's an interview with J.P. from the Boston Globe on July 1.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy Canada Day

Too bad MLB wouldn't see fit to let Canada's only team play at home on Canada Day more than once every few years.

(July 2 Update: Paul Lukas picks up the fight at UniWatch.)