Wednesday, July 09, 2008

They play baseball in Toronto?

"My job is to have expectations. And our expectation is that this team is not as bad as it has played, and hopefully we'll play a little better. Does that mean we're going to be a playoff team? No, chances are probably not good that way. But that doesn't mean we can't hold out hope that we can play better."
J.P. Ricciardi

Checking calender...yep...it's July 9. At least I'll likely get out and enjoy the rest of the summer, what with me not needing to worry about a Jays pennant drive.

Remember when the Jays mattered? When you looked forward to September baseball in Toronto?

No, me either.

If I did, I might point out how surreal it is to go down to the SkyDome nowadays. First, it looks like my cable bill. Second it's more than half empty. Third, someone has replaced the team on the field with something that resembles the, I don't know, Royals.

It's depressing. Head down there on a Tuesday night and the most entertaining thing to watch is the teenagers trying to sneak booze into the $2 seats. This is the most successful marketing initiative of the past couple seasons--turning the unused upper deck seats into an underage nightclub. That and powder blue uniforms every Friday.

Remember when winning was the attraction--never mind,we've already established that you don't. But, maybe you've heard of those days when 50,000 people came every night and scalpers tried to sell you 500-level tickets for $100 to watch Seattle on a Tuesday in April. Belgians and Bostonians (one, in particular) took that away from us. Now, the team that we used to take for granted (so I've heard) as always to be in contention has become an organization that mails it in...

On July freakin' 9.

18 comments:

Tyler King said...

For christ's sake, this blog is turning into the sort of revisionist silliness you hear from every other JaysTalk caller after a loss.

The dome being half-empty is not a new phenomenon. It's been like that ever since the player's strike. And attendance has been going up consistently under J.P.'s watch.

Winning was never the attraction, by the way. The dome was a new arena, a place to be seen, and the people there paid even less attention to the game then than they do now. The dome is now old. BMO Field is now the place to be seen.

J.P. has no way to win with people like you. If he says they're not going to make the playoffs (which he didn't say), he's a defeatist. If he had said they were going to, he'd be called delusional.

J.P. Ricciardi is a replacement-level GM and we're blessed not to have some of the idiots like the Bill Bavasis who trade away an entire farm system for unreliable pitching and the like. A.J. Burnett didn't cost us any players, and now whether he becomes a tradeable commodity or an end of year free agent, the team will actually gain some decent prospects as a result of the deal.

By the way, the Royals have allowed almost 100 more runs than the Jays have this season. Comparing them is just stupid.

Duane Rollins said...

Tyler,

I actually do remember those days. You were what, 5? I was talking about how it is depressing to go down there now for those of us old enough to know better.

"No way to win with people like you"

I'm sure I'm not the only person growing tired of your condescension. Hosting a radio program on CFRC--a station I used to occasionally appear on eight years ago--hardly earns you that right. Get back to me when you actually are Mike Wilner, rather than just a guy that listens to him.

And are you familiar with the use of rhetoric as a literary technique? Apparently not since you feel the need to point out that Toronto and Kansas City aren't exactly the same statistically.

J.P. Ricciardi has assembled a team that has consistently failed to live up to expectations. He's cried about a lack of money and has been given more to spend. He's spent that money on what? Certainly not what the Jays actually need. For sure not anyone that can hit the damn ball.

He overspent for Burnett, who has delivered exactly what was advertised--inconsistency and injury.

He overspent on BJ Ryan--what good is a closer when you can't score enough runs to get him save opportunities.

Who is playing short again?

He's wasted the best years of Halladay's career (you really think he's going to re-up in two years?).

Should I continue?

If you want to defend Ricciardi, fine. You have been given a voice in this blog, use it.

But, before you do understand this about my post (since reading comprehension seems to be an issue). I wasn't taking issue with the fact that Ricciardi said that the playoffs were unlikely. My cat could have told me that. I was taking issue with the fact that the Jays are out of contention before the damn all-star break.

Gary Bettman said...

keep it to yourselves, boys!

also, i don't like jim balsillie.

Tyler King said...

Duane,

It's not condescension just because I disagree with you.

I also don't recall saying that hosting a radio show on a little-known college station gave me the right to anything... in fact I'd be the first to say it doesn't give me a right to anything.

It's convenient to pass off your Kansas City reference as "the use of rhetoric as a literary technique", but come on. The teams are nothing alike. KC is a perennial bottom-dweller, and Toronto has actually has a positive runs scored/runs allowed ratio this year, something KC hasn't had for years (much less a winning record). The two teams are nothing alike - the only reason Toronto reminds you of KC is that you, like your panicky but solution-devoid brethren, are completely unable to defend your points unless the situation is pictured as more dire than it actually is.

J.P. Ricciardi has assembled a team that has consistently put Gord Ash's regime to shame. He did cry about a lack of money and got more - still far less, I'd remind you, than three of the 5 teams in his division had last year. He's spent that money on a variety of things - excellent pitching, a fantastic bullpen, and locking up star players long-term in a way that Billy Beane would love to be able to do.

He didn't overspend for Burnett, he paid what the market valued him at. Look at Carlos Silva's contract and then tell me A.J. is overpaid. Sure, he has been inconsistent, but give me the name of a single Toronto pitcher not named Roy Halladay who has had a career of consistency - not even Shaun Marcum achieved that until this year. Every year he's been here he's had an ERA below 4. That's the kind of #2 pitcher almost every team would love to have.

He didn't overspend on B.J. Ryan - B.J. had one of the greatest seasons for a relief pitcher in history his first year here. If we didn't have him, but did have an offence, you'd be saying "what good is an offence when you can't get a closer who converts the save opportunities?"

And tell me where the money should have gone, and could have gone, if you're so sure J.P. overpaid those two pitchers. I won't even bother asking if you were saying these things when they were actually signed.

As for the shortstop dilemma - find me teams that don't have at least one revolving door position. Or tell me who *should* be playing shortstop for the Jays right now.

Oh, and as for the bigger-man syndrome - to say "reading comprehension seems to be an issue" and have the potatoes to say I'm the condescending one is quite the stretch.

What you're saying about the Jays right now is *exactly* what was said about every team except the AL division winners last year at this time. On July 9 of 2007, eventual wild card winner New York was 43-43. NL East champion Philly was 44-44. NL Central champion Chicago was 44-43. NL West champion Arizona was 47-43. And NLCS champion Colorado was 44-44.

And just as J.P. said, Toronto's chances are slim but not impossible. But the source of that longshot-ness is a chronic inability to hit with runners in scoring position, not an inability to hit. And not one of the I-told-you-soers and infinite doubters can point to a pre-season prediction that RISP hitting would be the downfall of the Blue Jays.

It's incredibly easy to just sit back and complain. It's much more difficult to actually produce some form of insight.

sager said...

I'm starting to feel like William Miller in Almost Famous ... Duane, you're the lead singer ... Tyler, you're the guitarist with mystique ... that was the dynamic we agreed upon for the group.

Anyways, Duane's pretty much hit the nail on the head, far as I'm concerned. I've noted I don't know how many times that the Rogers strategy seems to be to spend just enough on payroll -- about $100 million -- to make it look like they're trying to compete in the AL East. Meantime, their farm system is nothing special, they don't go 'over slot' for draft picks (just wait till Rick Porcello gets to the Tigers in a couple years' time). Paying top dollar for Dominican prospects or bidding for the next Dice-K or Ichiro? Forget it.

It's an unfair game playing in the AL East when there's only one wild-card spot, and while Ricciardi's not great, he's not the worst GM of all-time. The cannon should be pointed straight at Rogers and its uninterested ownership. They don't believe people in Toronto deserve a winning team, a real ballpark or a TV announcer who actually knows the game.

They do employ Thrillner, so they're not all bad.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

I agree with Neate that the problem is more ownership than Ricciardi: in my mind, Rogers seems content to put in just enough dough to give fans hope every spring, but then keep the purse strings locked for anything that might put the team over the top. That wasn't good enough with two strong AL East teams to compete with, so I doubt it will work with three.

Tyler King said...

Neate, I have about as much mystique as someone who can't finish a simile.

You're right about the ownership, but I don't get why you then say Duane hit the nail on the head when that wasn't the point he was making.

That's the kind of insight that drew me to this blog in the first place, because it went beyond the sort of lazy analyis and overblown hyperbole you'd find in your average Richard Griffin column.



J.P. is neither a great GM nor a bad one, but it'd take a ridiculous one (beyond Pat Gillick) to compete effectively under this ownership. Despite that, he's acquired great players like Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, Matt Stairs, drafted Marcum and Hill, and locked up Ash's better picks. He's created a catching situation way better than even Boston and New York - the former is using OUR backup catching castoff and the latter is using the inferior brother of our backup catching castoff. He has built arguably the best bullpen in the league, and the rotation speaks for itself.

But oh, he hasn't had a regular starting shortstop. So let's compare him to the Royals. I can tell you, the Kansas City Royals would *love* their only problem to be good pitchers making above-average salary and a bunch of replacement-level shortstops.

sager said...

Tyler,

Hyperbole is not a food.

I didn't finish the thought properly. Duane hit the nail on the head in terms of describing the brain-bashing frustration of supporting this franchise year-in, year-out.

It's July 9. I'm a huge Jays fan and have no real desire to go watch this team play -- and I usually go about twice a summer. I'll be taking in my first TFC game next week, but I'm having a hard time getting the itch to watch the Jays.

sager said...

And to be fair, the Jays best infielder (Hill) is out, two starting pitchers (Marcum, McGowan) are laid up and they've lost their best right-handed reliever (Janssen).

This guys should have a lot more than 43 W's, but that doesn't mean people don't have the right to be pent-up.

Tyler King said...

There you go again, Neate, being esoteric. Bordering on ostentacious even!

Hooray! I'm literary!

Anyway, I never said people don't have the right to be frustrated. But is that really something people write about? If so, I could fill this blog up with my insightful conclusions about how it's more fun to win than to lose. Also that hitting home runs is good for a team.

Frustration is okay - taking that frustration and transforming it into false conclusions about the team and incriminating a general manager for dubious reasons generated by that frustration is not.

The fact that you're frustrated doesn't absolve you of the responsibility to back up your frustrated conclusions.

Frustrated.

Now the word's lost all meaning. I hate when that happens.

Duane Rollins said...

Tyler,

Back when I had hair, I had a roommate that was a huge Blue Jays guy. He would read about/think about and obsess over the Jays all day, everyday.

And he was a Bill James stats guy waaaaay before anyone who had ever had a date had heard of him.

Him and I didn't get along all that well, but I would watch Jays games together on a crappy 12-inch colour TV.

I typically would grab a beer and settle in for an up and down two plus hour adventure. I'd yell, curse, cheer, occasionally get so angry that I'd walk out of the room in disgust and often pump my fist in the air in pure, illogical joy.

He would sit cross legged in front of the TV scoring the game. He never cheered. He never showed any sign of emotion at all. When the game was over, win or lose, he would get up and walk to his room where he would input the game's stats into his computer.

His reaction never changed. Even the day that we both watched together as the Red Sox eliminated the Jays on (if memory serves) the second last day of the year. That day, after I had stopped ranting on about how the clinching out had been trapped by the diving Sox player (I still maintain we were robbed) I came back to our room to see him analyzing the Syracuse Chiefs stats.

I'm surprised I didn't kill him right there.

Although I can appreciate that sports--and especially baseball--have an analytical side that is often overlooked in favour of 110 per cent, take-it-one-day-at-a-time cliches, there is a time and a place, you know. Sometimes sports is about the emotional reaction, the symbiotic connection between fan and team.

I don't doubt that my roommate was, in his own screwed up way, a fan of the Jays. But, he was missing the point (I would have loved to see him after the World Series wins. I'm sure he was as dispassionate as ever as chaos reigned around him).

He didn't so much want to see the Jays win as he wanted to understand why they did.

The point of my little anecdote is this: My post wasn't intended as a real thinker. It was an emotional reaction to a situation. That and a chance to articulate a feeling I have about the experience of going to a Jays game in the here and now (I've been to eight so far this year, so I'm qualified to offer my opinion on the matter).

That you are attacking a throw away line (I'm a writer Tyler, I was going for the exact thing I said I was above. And, you're right. KC and Toronto are nothing alike this year. The Royals are only in second last) is so pedantic that I'm not sure where to even start with that. How about here (since you like to be literal); I said "resembles," not "have the exact same statistics as the Jays." The Jays and the Royals also have played about the same amount of important games over the past decade.

J.P. Ricciardi has assembled a team that has consistently put Gord Ash's regime to shame

Who's talking about Ash? But, Ok...

Ricciardi's winning percentage is .494, Ash's was .485--not sure there is much to chose from there and I'll be curious to compare records at season's end.

and locking up star players long-term in a way that Billy Beane would love to be able to do

I'm not sure that's what Beane does... Beane, at least according to Moneyball, looks for imperfect players that do one undervalued thing well. Players that the A's can afford. Signing Burnett and Ryan are very much anti-Beane moves. Even the way you talk about Burnett--"wicked stuff"--illustrates that. And Ryan would be Beane's dream player...to trade.

I won't even bother asking if you were saying these things when they were actually signed.

Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. Working for the Maple Creek News. We didn't do a lot of MLB coverage. Rodeo on the other hand...

sager said...

If so, I could fill this blog up with my insightful conclusions about how it's more fun to win than to lose. Also that hitting home runs is good for a team.

I knew there was a reason I'd never seen you and jamiecampbell in the same room.

Tyler King said...

Duane,

Ash had three times the payroll JP was working with when he came aboard. Don't use winning percentage.

People who whinge about the A.J. Burnett deal need to start remembering the name Raul Mondesi - a contractual mess J.P. miraculously cleared up.

Beane doesn't lock up players long-term because Oakland can't afford it. That's my point - J.P. has the ability to do that.

And it doesn't matter whether it was an emotional reaction to a situation. You still made mention of a supposed need to fire J.P., and you still listed off a variety of false facts. No, winning was not the attraction in the 90s. No, the Dome being half-empty is not notable. And no, the Jays aren't even a bad team. They are, at worst, an unclutch team.

I mean, seriously, the point of the post was to show that losing sucks? What are we, a blog or a pillow to cry into?

Duane Rollins said...

Tyler,

Don't eat yellow snow.

Tyler King said...

You're doing the same thing Neate does when he's wrong.

Duane Rollins said...

Tell you not to eat yellow snow?

sager said...

You're doing the same thing Neate does when he's wrong.

Who's to say anything is right or wrong when it's someone's opinion?

I might commit the odd typo or 2, but when that happens -- or when someone brings up another element that I hadn't properly considered -- I cheerfully acknowledge it and stand corrected.

Robert C. said...

Hadn't checked the site since last night.... did I miss any baseball discussions? ;-)