Monday, October 27, 2008

Zen Dayley: Powder-blue pity party of one ... the saddest words ever typed

If Christmas came in October, this reporter would write on baseball every day. One can only assume he wanted to get FJM'd ... so just for grins, here goes, without malice:

Jays Fans Watch Helplessly As Former Players Reach World Series Elsewhere
Oct. 27, 2008


A small point -- when do fans not watch helplessly? That is kind of the definition of being a fan.

It's no secret the Toronto Blue Jays will need every single star to align if they hope to make a World Series run in any season to come. That said, it's natural for fans of Canada's only baseball team to wonder how so many of their formers have gone on to reach the game's biggest stage with other clubs, and for that matter, why?

The Spidey senses are saying you're going to have an answer for us within the next few paragraphs. Having a point is kind of the definition of being a journalist. Otherwise, it's just word-masturbation.

As October - and thus the baseball season - draws to a close, Jays faithful sit back and watch the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays battle for rings, they also watch as New Brunswick native Matt Stairs, dealt away in order to make room for future star Travis Snider, looms repeatedly as a key pinch hitter for the NL East champs.

There's a book deal waiting for the genius who can explain why it was bad to trade away one month of 40-year-old Matt Stairs to give 20-year-old Travis Snider an aggressive promotion. In a future column, Mr. Miller will explain why you should just constantly buy new clothes instead of doing laundry.

"Repeatedly," evidently is now defined "as batting once in the NLCS." Stairs has hit once in the World Series, batting in the pitcher's spot last night in the eighth inning with the Phillies ahead 6-2. Granted, a four-run lead with three outs wasn't safe for the Fightins. Brad Lidge has only converted 100% of his save opportunities this season, plus he was rested.

A small point to add is that using a period works wonders. It caps a short, declarative sentence. It keeps you on point. It's wonderful.

Stairs was used sparingly down the stretch in Philly, but did launch a key home run in the NLCS that helped propel Charlie Manuel's club into the Series. Should they win that series (it's looking good), it'll undoubtedly be bittersweet for fans of the Blue Birds, even as they're happy for 'Stairsy'.

The quote mark goes outside the period, big guy. Still, you're doing well. Fight through. This is setting up like you found some Jays fans who are just sideways over this calamity. Matt Stairs having to get that ring in a Phillies uniform is pretty bittersweet. It makes him the most tragic figure of the last seven to 14 days, next to this person. Please don't give Blue Jays fans any credit for appreciating that baseball is a multi-billion dollar business with next to no room for sentiment -- and fans, if anything, are less sentimental than the players and the front-office guys. Prepare to set your faces to stun... players change organizations all the time.

(Neate makes a really obnoxious hand gesture, even though he is alone with his Jack and coke at 3:30 a.m.) Carry on.

Not that Stairs -- who'd hoped to finish his career in Toronto -- was the difference between this or any other Jays team winning a division title or the American League.

Thanks, Mr. Defeat The Purpose Of Your Own Column. When are we going to get those to Jays fans feeling a sense of helplessness? Temper tantrum in 3, 2, 1 ...

But there he is, mere months separated from his time in T.O. and playing for the championship most never have an opportunity for.

That is so sad. You know what else is sad? Kittens, puppies, the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean and you leaving a dangling preposition.

So too is onetime cast-away Jayson Werth, a key corner outfielder in Philly that the Jays unceremoniously dealt to Los Angeles three years ago.

It was actually four years ago. Far be it to believe you didn't check that on the Internet, which is now on computers. The Jays really should have found a way to hang on to an outfielder whom no major-league team gave 400 plate appearances in a season to until this season. Werth is 29, a little late to get started on the road to Cooperstown. The Jays were stupid to mess around with plugs such as Alex Rios (who was a regular at age 23), Vernon Wells (also became a regular at age 23) and Adam Lind (still only 25). Worse yet, there's that Snider fella, threatening to be an everyday player at 21. Trading Werth was for the greater good. It gave Reed Johnson a chance to play. He, in the eyes of some media folk, went on to become the greatest outfielder in Jays history -- about 10 seconds after he was released.

In the opposite dugout sit the American League champs, the team that won the Jays' division. Among them, Gabe Gross and Eric Hinske, two former Blue Jay golden boys turned trade bait and disappointing castoff respectively.

You're making it sound like it was good to get rid of them ... wait a second, that runs counter to your entire column,

Again, it's not that the former Auburn quarterback (Gross) or the former AL rookie of the year (Hinske) are the missing pieces from a Blue Jays team that wasn't.

Thanks, Mr. Defeat The Purp -- damn it, used that line already. This is akin to two magicians showing each other their illusions. Can we just saw each other in half and call it a night?

But again, they're two guys the Jays gave up on that are pieces of a championship team that could be.

Another dangling preposition. Where is your editor at, sir?

Hinske was left off the World Series roster to start prior to its start, but was added ahead of Game 4 and promptly responded by slugging a pinch-hit homerun in Sunday's 10-2 win.

The Phillies won the game, though. Hinske, by your logic, so-called, wasn't helping the Rays win. He was only helping them lose by a little less, which is all he was supposedly good for when he played in Toronto.

But heck, Hinske's already got his ring. The lumbering first baseman and outfielder wasn't a star, but he did figure into the World Series run enjoyed by the Red Sox in 2007 before heading down to Florida.

Hinske did figure into that Red Sox championship. He figured out where to sit in the dugout so he would get on TV when the Fox or TBS cameras focused on Boston manager Terry Francona. His contribution in the 2007 playoffs: Two at-bats, no hits. Pinch-ran for David Ortiz in the eighth inning of a blowout. That was all.

Ex-Jays backstop Kevin Cash took the opposite route, making a brief appearance in Tampa before ending up in Boston last year as a backup to Jason Varitek. For that Cash got his own ring in 2007, and while he isn't playing in this year's Fall Classic, his Red Sox -- you might remember -- weren't that far off.

It was more than a week ago, so it also slipped into the recesses.

Cash does ultimately appear to lack the skills most GMs would expect from a starting catcher and should probably never be one on a full-time basis.

What are you talking about? He's got a ring!!! You have argued, more convincingly than a hybrid of Clarence Darrow and the James Spader character in Boston Legal, that it's all about the ring, no more, no less. Baseball has officially taken on the hockey ethos. Any guy with a ring is great. No ring, you're nothin'. Ernie Banks, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn, or Carlton Fisk will live out their days in a pit of shame. It is no wonder that they sign so many autographs whenever they visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Then again, you could've said the same for Gregg Zaun close to 500 games ago.

Zaun's annual OPS+ in Toronto: 96, 94, 112, 98, 87

Cash's best OPS+ in the majors: 67

Even Trever Miller, once a steady hand in an ungodly Blue Jays bullpen, has since returned to Tampa Bay by way of Houston and paid dividends there. Toronto had one of baseball's best relief corps in 2008, but it wasn't good enough to get them into the second season.

You're starting to lose us. It is as if your article lacks any central thesis or any answers for why ex-Jays end up with World Series rings. You also haven't quoted any actual Jays fans. Some A-holes, but not this one, would accuse you of being a little prolix putz throwing a pity party in powder-blue pyjamas. You basically were lucid enough, for about half a hour, to notice that the two World Series teams have some players who at one time or another, wore Blue Jays black. And if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle. So what?

Of course that's not to say bringing back Miller was the answer, but then again Toronto brought almost everyone else back last year, from Shannon Stewart in Left to Cito Gaston on the bench and most recently, to Paul Beeston in the front office.

To be fair, you haven't seen the knuckle curve Paul Beeston has refined. Satchel Paige will have nothing on him by next February in Dunedin. And where are all those depressed, mopey Jays fans you promised us?

Pat Gillick, the former GM and architect of the Jays' glory days might have made a return too, only he was busy in the City of Brotherly Love, helping the Phillies reach a summit they've been struggling towards since being denied by some game named Joe and an upstart team from the wrong side of the border.

The upstart team that had the highest payroll in the game in 1992 and '93. They were a regular bunch of Bad News Bears with all the various hired guns such as David Cone, Rickey Henderson, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor, Dave Stewart and Dave Winfield. Some upstarts. Granted, all bets are off when a U.S. senator who voted with Bush 92% of the time is calling himself a "maverick."

Getting back to the point, sir, you haven't proven a damn thing. A good percentage of the players competing in this World Series are ex-somethings. No one in Seattle is trying to overdose on Starbucks since Jamie Moyer, ex-Mariner, is going to get a ring in Philly. It's probably the same in Houston, Lidge's one-time home. No one in Milwaukee is begrudging Geoff Jenkins getting a ring, even though the Phillies beat out the Brewers in the first round. The funny part about that -- none of those three franchises have won a World Series.

Every baseball fan roots for guys who used to be on her/his favourite team. They probably root for a few who were never on their favourite team. That's the way she goes.

That goes double for a Canadian such as Stairs. You, sir, are trying to make Jays fans, and Canadian baseball lovers, feel bad for rooting for one of our own and being patriotic. Well, sorry, it's not happening.

It's a peak the Blue Jays and their fans will have little choice but to continue looking up at or back to.

That is, at least until they get out of town.

Do you need help packing up? On second thought, stay put, since only in Toronto can you get paid to write such self-pitying garbage. (OK, Boston, too.)

Related:
Jays Fans Watch Helplessly As Former Players Reach World Series Elsewhere (Aaron Miller, CityNews.ca)

Other business:

  • Neither manager has proven to be a tactical mastermind,
  • It's a story from ESPN that makes Fox look bad, so consider the source ... evidently the network pushed to only have the starters introduced before Game 1 of the World Series, meaning it was hard cheese for the likes of Canada's own Matt Stairs. Like anything with Fox and baseball, it's brutal.

  • John Brattain has a take on Barry Bonds that rates a read, laying out the parallels to the collusion of the late '80s.
    "Where do people learn to hate with such vehemence that blinds them so much that they cannot see the irony of hating Bonds for 'breaking the rules' (the stated reason for their loathing) while celebrating MLB’s possible breaking of the rules because he suffers because of it? You cannot be anti-collusion because it means you’re a Bonds-lover.
  • From the Democracy Doesn't Work department, fans selected the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez (.289/27/111 Triple Crown stats) as the Hank Aaron Award recipient as the best offensive performer in the National League. What about that guy in St. Louis? Yeah, him -- the guy who hit 37 homers while striking out only 54 times, as if he were playing in another generation.

    It's a real shock a Cub and a Red Sock would win an award voted on by fans.

4 comments:

Duane Rollins said...

I can't possibly top that. But, I did want to say that the phrase "And if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle" should be used more often in contemporary journalism.

eyebleaf said...

Bravo, Neate. Bravo.

And Hinske, jackass that he is, struck out both times he came to the plate during the '07 playoffs.

But, seriously, bravo.

Colin said...

Hinske also plays first base, which this guy would know if he actually watched the Jays

Colin said...

Whoops, make that third base.