Thursday, September 06, 2007

JAYS-SOX: AND THEN YOU GO AND SPOIL IT ALL... (OR, SHUFFLE OFF, BUFFALO)

Wednesday, Jays 6, Sox 4: Any temporary glow raised by Troy Glaus and Vernon Wells smacking the tying and game-winning homers (good thing the Massholes picked up Eric Gagné!) lasted only long enough for Sportsnet Connected to come on the air.

It's embarrassing enough to be 30 years old, home alone and watching a ballgame when your team is dead to rights in the playoff race. About 10 minutes after the final out, Connected played up the fact that the Buffalo News said John Gibbons "deserves consideration for manager of the year honors." No offence to that broadsheet, the city or its pro sports teams -- say, how is it possible that the Bills are already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention? -- but for most people, the reaction is "big woop what the Buffalo News says about anything other than the three major fires per day in North Tonawanda."

Instead, Sportsnet Connected practically treated this as the baseball equivalent of an author having her book praised by Oprah Winfrey. It must have been some convincing argument, yes?
"Gibbons has kept the Jays in shouting distance of the Yankees despite a rash of injuries. He lost closer B.J. Ryan for the year. Gustavo Chacin hasn't pitched since April. A.J. Burnett has been on and off the DL. Roy Halladay missed three weeks. Reed Johnson and Gregg Zaun missed most of the season."
In fairness to the News, the Jays aren't a team of interest and no one knows if the guy who wrote that is even a fan (most people in Western New York tend to go for the Yankees). But...
  • Jeremy Accardo has filled in for Ryan to the extent B.J.'s shoulder surgery barely gets asked about on the post-game shows and besides, the value of closers is overrated;
  • Opie Litsch has an ERA a full run lower (4.03 to 5.05) than Chacin did in 2006 in about the same number of innings;
  • Burnett will end up throwing more innings than he did in '06, when the Jays won 87 games, which they won't this season;
  • Doc will likely make five more starts, which would be 32 for the season -- the exact number he made last last season when the Jays won 87 games, which they won't this season (what, heard that one?);
  • Reed Johnson? Three words: Matt effing Stairs. Oh, and get this: Zaun has already batted more times and caught more games than he did in '06. His broken thumb has clearly killed his stats, but how does that help exonerate Gibbons, who's written Zaun into the lineup card for 27 of the Jays' last 33 games? (Jason Phillips, who was signed on Gibbons' recommendation, didn't work out.)

A general-interest sports column's bullet points will be off the mark occasionally. It happens. The onus here is on Your Home For The Jays for taking a throwaway observation and running with it, apparently without checking whether the rationale could even stand up in a faint breeze.

Besides, what does it say that Canadians in North America's fourth-largest media market can't form its own baseball opinion, but needs one from a U.S.-based writer in, what, the 50th-largest market? It's not participle physics or even the Bowl Championship Series, it's frigging baseball. We can figure out for ourselves, although this is the same network that had Gibbons playing on the "1986 Miracle Mets" (he did do that, but the nickname applies to the 1969 Mets) a while back.

(In fairness, Connected and sportsnet.ca sometimes comes in for criticism that would not be levelled at TSN and tsn.ca, since yours truly hasn't relied on either since the end of hockey season. By the way, check out The Tao's post on small ball.)

Tuesday -- Sox 5, Jays 3: Manager Boomhauer wasn't totally out of it for letting Roy Halladay pitch the bottom of the eighth. Aren't all y'all the same ones who complain about the overemphasis on pitch counts? Besides, Doc's splits suggest he's OK from the 101st pitch onward. Still, blind pig, meet acorn; acorn, meet the blind pig.

UPDATE: Chuck Swirsky opened his 1-4 show on The Fan 590 on Wednesday by inviting callers to weigh in with what changes they would recommend to Toronto's sports solons. His suggestion for what people should implore Jays president Paul Godfrey to do was, "Change the uniforms and the manager." Effin' A, Swirsk.

Monday -- Sox 13, Jays 10: In honour of the first day of school, write out, "I will not second-guess John Gibbons' handling of the bullpen," 100 times.

Doing so would presumes (a) there's still a debate over whether Gibby should be back next season; (b) that there's still a chance at the wild card and (c) it really matters whether the Jays finish 83-79 or 84-78. That's just mental masturbation, even though they probably will finish with a better record than one of the division champs in the National League... again.

That said... Josh Towers, who'd come in to mop up, should not have come out for a second inning of work after that eight-run rally in the Jays sixth cut the lead to 10-9. (The Red Sox got three -- a field goal -- to put the game away.) At that point it had gone from whatever gets you through the night to actually being in a close ballgame, so using a starting pitcher who hadn't worked in two weeks didn't make a whole lot of sense. Neither Scott Downs and Brian Wolfe -- isn't he supposed to be trustworthy now? -- each threw less than 10 pitches to live batters in Sunday's win over Seattle and didn't have a lot of ups, so they were ready.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.

13 comments:

Pete Toms said...

Glaus' error was brutal as well....has Francona lost confidence in Gagné?

Anonymous said...

Gagne is experiencing shoulder stiffness or some other arm problem

Pete Toms said...

N, Robert Macleod ( Globe & Mail Jays beat writer ) is second guessing Gibbons use of Kennedy & Towers as well. He wonders why Gibbons didn't go to Jansenn, it's in his blog today.

JB said...

For the love of the Blue Jay Gods, please fire Gibbons after this season. The worst thing that could happen is that the Blue Jays go on a run to keep his job.

Pete Toms said...

I don't give a hoot either what the Buffalo News or whatever it's called thinks of Gibbons' performance. However, the reason Sportsnet is reporting this is simply boosterism ( is that a word? ). As long as they are broadcasting the majority of the games they will search far and wide for somebody / anybody to say something positive about anybody connected with the team. It ain't journalism when the team is owned by the same guy who owns the broadcaster.

As for Swirsky ( I've never heard of him before ), did anybody see Bob McCown's ( he of the new $2.5 million + deal ) segment with Bob Elliot yesterday? McCown was very critical of the Jays and JP's performance during his reign. The question he was asking was along the lines of, when was the last time the Jays played any "meaningful" ( I thank that was the word ) games in September? The tone of the segment was quite negative, neither Elliot or Brunt ( McCown's sidekick de jour ) said anything positive either.

I don't follow the TO sports media closely, Jeff Blair is the only TO baseball writer I read regularly but I think the knives are out for JP. I suspect Godfrey is still in his corner and won't fire him but it's gonna be tough selling Jays tickets this offseason and I wonder....

Gibbons, Brantley et. al are gone, long gone, have been for months.

sager said...

Yeah, I heard McCown with Elliott... thing is, the '80s are long past... Steinbrenner is no longer such a hothead... the Sawx are not being held in trust for Tom Yawkey's widow.

It was just bad for Sportsnet to do that... if a general columnist at a Canadian paper -- Scanlan at the Citizen -- said Gibbons was great, they wouldn't even notice.

The Buffalo guy was just going his job, but it's bizarre they played that up like that. It's not even good boosterism.

sager said...

The Swirsk has a big following in southern Ontario... he hosts the 1-4 show on Fan 590 and of course, does Raptors play-by-play. Actually, when I chatted with Colangelo, he says Chuck's personality has been a big part of bringing in fans.... it reminded me of how people used to tune into the radio for Tom & Jerry, although Chuck has a different style.

THE GREAT LAKES KNUCKLEBALLER said...

Man, do you really have to bust the Bills' balls every time you get the chance? They have had a rough seven years but they feature a lot of excellent, young, and fun-to-watch players, and the franchise has a history many others would envy.

That said, Jerry Sullivan is a known and despised commodity among WNY sports fans. His commentary is worthless save for the occasional lightbulb moment regarding basketball. Other than that he just pretty much likes to stir up trouble and perpetuate a negative image of the city and its sports - one that, sadly, given I love most of your other writing, you seem to be latching onto here.

What did Buffalo/WNY ever do to you (and most others who love to kick it when it's down)? I left because the economy there doesn't support much in the way of creative labor, but I love it and still call it home.

sager said...

to be quite honest, I'm not sure what you mean by "every time you get a chance." A search for "bills" and "buffalo bills" shows I've scarcely mentioned the Bills since the NFL is not really of blogging interest.

The point wasn't about kicking the Bills, it was just a throwaway line meant to imply that the Buffalo News is small cheese. Anyway, the Bills should be OK. Not a fan, but those teams in the '90s were somoething else... not just Reed-Kelly-Thomas-B. Smith, but the whole team.

Pete Toms said...

Yes N, the Kelly era Bills never got their due. Norwood makes that field goal and they are all heroes forever, lionized in the lore of NFL films. To brand them as chokers or not quite good enough is unfair just because of a missed field goal.

THE GREAT LAKES KNUCKLEBALLER said...

I suppose I meant more an attitude toward Buffalo the city than toward the Bills alone, which I didn't articulate well enough. I noticed it some during the Sabres-Sens series as well. Us WNYers are pretty thin-skinned, though (years of heartache 'done done us in), so take it with a grain of salt.

If I may paraphrase the fans of Dick Griffin, I love your blog, generally - just pointing out something I noticed more than once...

Tyler King said...

Matt Stairs wasn't the replacement for Reed Johnson, he was the replacement for Lyle Overbay. Adam Lind replaced Johnson and batted in the paltry .230s.

This whole idea that injuries aren't an excuse because some replacements were decent basically implies you can't ever blame injuries unless your team is total crap. I mean, if BJ Ryan were healthy, you'd have Accardo as a setup man, further strengthening the bullpen and lessening overall strain. It's all worth at least a few extra wins.

sager said...

Well, Stairs has taken Johnson's spot in the top-3 of the order and since 80-90% of playing a corner spot is your offence, he's effectively replaced Reeder.

Looking at the numbers, none of what the Buffalo dude pointed out has impacted the Jays. They have won less games than their Pythagorean W-L suggests they should have. That's on Gibby.