Saturday, April 04, 2009

Batter up: Toronto Blue Jays

It's that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a baseball team who you know fully well won't win. This season, in honour of an popular Internet meme, we'll present 25 things that are tangentially about each team. At bat: The Toronto Blue Jays.
  1. Harry Leroy Halladay reduces journalism's Old Gray Lady to using normal-people language: "Halladay is just really good at everything."

    Now, please, don't trade Doc to the Yankees, but do realize that trading him this season would be wise, since he's in the second-last year of his contract and it saves a new GM having to do next season, should there be a change.

    Seriously, a Sunday New York Times feature called Roy Halladay "the best pitcher in baseball."
    "The movement on Halladay's pitches can be seen in numbers compiled by the Inside Edge scouting service. Batters swung and missed at only 15 percent of his strikes, about the major league average. But they made solid contact only 7 percent of the time, one of the better rates in the league — the pitches looked good, but they flitted from the bat barrel at the last second."
  2. Only in Ontario: The Jays have been barred from selling beer at two early-season games, including the day-after-the-home-opener contest when there's not going to be anyone there. How are people going to wash down those $1 hot dogs?

  3. The unofficial theme for this season: "This is what you wanted."

    The Jays actually are positioning themselves to try to build an organization instead of signing free agents to squeeze out another 83-79 season. Embrace it. This season is a write-off, but it will serve a purpose, getting back to inconspicuous consumption. It's what helped make the Tampa Bay Rays great.

  4. Travis Snider, God's Gift of Sunshine, is Newsday scribe Ken Davidoff's pick for American League Rookie of the Year. The Globe & Mail's Jeff Blair noted that Snider squares up to the ball better than any young hitter he's watched since Vlady Guerrero, no faint praise.

  5. Would it have really made sense to get tied down to a couple free-agent pitchers and have a surfeit of arms when Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan return from their injuries? David Purcey rates a shot at a full season in the bigs.

  6. Left-hander Ricky Romero is in the rotation partially since the Jays can't afford to admit he was a mistake (never, ever, draft based on the current roster).

  7. The relievers had a league-best 2.94 ERA last season. B.J. Ryan seems to have a dead arm. As for the rest of the group (Jesse Carlson, possible fill-in closer Scott Downs, Brandon League, Casey Janssen when he's healthy), they could be decent, emphasis on could be. The Baseball Prospectus 2009 says, "While it's great when a bunch of your marginal relief arms come through with a strong season, it's a bad sign for the following year, because they're likely to regress."

  8. It's Alex Rios' and Vernon Wells' misfortune to play in a city (and it's like this everywhere) where there's no buffer zone between a marginal athlete scrapping by and a transcendent superstar. They're both complementary types of players, no more, and Wells didn't pay himself $126 million over seven years.

  9. The marriage of convenience with Triple-A Las Vegas is off to a roaring start:
    "The Dodgers are one of baseball’s most famous franchises. Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Don Drysdale, Billy Grabarkewitz ... OK, not Billy Grabarkewitz (although he did make the 1970 All-Star team). But the list goes on and on.

    "The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are almost recognizable in Toronto. At least when hockey season ends. I mean, you can’t put Rance Mulliniks or Garth Iorg on a bobblehead doll, can you?

    " 'They haven't even retired anybody’s number,' sniffed a member of the 51s' extended family."
    The Jays honour numbers. The greatest coach who ever lived, John Wooden, didn't retire numbers when he was coaching UCLA. "What about all the other players who wore it?" he reasoned. That seemed to have worked out pretty well for everyone.

    The 51's will hold Blue Jays Tuesdays where O Canada will be played and discounted Canadian beer will be sold. Oh, and can they have the play-by-play guy drop the u in out?

  10. What's more par for the course? Finding out that one of Toronto's most respected baseball writers once passed on watching the deciding game of the World Series to go to a Madonna concert, or finding out that in 1993, the Montreal Gazette didn't send Jeff Blair to a World Series being played in Philadephia and Toronto? (People in Montreal acting provincially? That's never happened.)

    It's all in good fun, Blairsy. You did what you had to do.

  11. Former No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush was released two days before the release of the movie Adventureland, which includes a character who goes around punching people in the crotch for no reason. The actor who plays the character is also named Matt Bush. Crazy.

    Seriously, one hopes Matt Bush gets help.

  12. The Tao of Stieb already has the post of the year, about Sportsnet analyst Rance Mulliniks getting kicked out of a game while coaching a college team:
    "Rance always struck us as a mild-mannered pacifist. Or maybe it only seems that way because he is being lulled to sleep by Jamie Campbell all season long."
  13. On TSN just now, manager Cito Gaston just said, "We really don't have a No. 2 hitter." Second baseman Aaron Hill is going to be tried there to start the season.

  14. Veteran Sun Media baseball writer Bob Elliott, who was on CFRC 101.9 with Kinger on Friday afternoon, related that a fellow journo on the Jays beat had claimed Marco Scutaro was the best shortstop the Jays have ever had.

    Tony Fernandez only won four Gold Gloves and hit .300 or higher four times for the Jays.

  15. Brett Cecil is not the Anglo version of Gustavo Chacin.

  16. It's just a gut feeling, but former second baseman Robbie Alomar is probably not going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. This came on before that tabloid poop storm, by the way.

  17. The Facebook group Brad Mills Will Pitch In The Bigs has only 76 members, but left-hander Brad Mills will pitch in the bigs, maybe in September. Please don't click to see who's the first person who comes up when you click to see who they are. Please don't.

  18. Nicknaming backup shortstop John McDonald "McGlovin" never caught on. This pains me.

  19. Catcher of the future Jonathan Paul "Good J.P." Arencibia will be up in September, when his free-agency clock will be turned off.

  20. Pete Toms figures there is an ownership crisis in Toronto. Check out the piece he wrote in February for the Biz of Baseball.

  21. The Jays' Las Vegas AAA team plays in a stadium which had a park factor of 109, very hitter-friendly. Try not to get too excited if Russ Adams is suddenly among the Pacific Coast League leaders in home runs. The park there also lacks batting cages. What do the players do, head down to Funland and feed quarters into the pitching machines?

  22. Please stop mentioning that Jesse Litsch was a batboy for the then-Devil Rays like you're the first one to say it. This means you, Baseball Daily Digest.

  23. The best advice for anyone who got on the Jays bandwagon in the halcyon days of '92-93 is to either like it and lump it, or shut your cake hole and realize no one cares which team you support. It's better to do that than pull an Adam Owen and write something embarrassing that you deserve to get asked about at every job interview you go to for the rest of your life:
    "Leaving the team you grew up with behind is more like falling out of love than anything else. Sometimes the breakup is messy, and sometimes it takes years to fully get over your first love. You feel guilty watching other teams or wearing other hats. You check the sports page regularly with both a sigh and a jealous groan, and you feel awful. It’s worse than falling out of love, though. You will never have another first, and you’ll never get over that moment; your hand in your dad’s, walking through the tunnel and seeing the green field or the white ice or the brown hardwood, hearing the growing roar rise exponentially as the walls around you abruptly end and the bright lights blind you and cover you in the purest of light. It’s like fucking, and you never forget the first time. It’s the closest thing you’ll ever come to losing your virginity before ten."
  24. Anything you hear about two members of this site having a 20-dollar bet on whether the Blue Jays or Orioles finish last in the division is filthy, scurrilous lie.

    It's a 25-dollar bet. Get your facts straight.
  25. If this isn't beautiful in a lame way, I will fight you:


eyebleaf said...

I love how you've already labeled Ricky Romero a mistake.

sager said...

No, I said the Jays can't afford to have him turn to be a a mistake, so they have to give him a chance this season. Let's see how it works out.

Brian Joseph said...

@#22 -- I don't think we at BDD ever really claimed that we were the first to uncover that fact. We just kinda pointed out an odd fact. Andy Spear, our previewer for the Jays, wasn't the one that added that though so I'm the one to blame. :)

Actually, I read it in four places before I added it which is why it wasn't attributed to anyone... however, we never claimed it as our own, I don't think. Sorry if it came across that way! But thanks for the mention (even if the name was backward)! :)

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Good preview. On #18: I'm fully in support of this movement. On #23: I appreciated Owen's piece, but maybe that's just me. Sports and fandom are an emotional thing for many people, and I think he deserves some credit for trying to explain his feelings and rationale while knowing that he'd likely get made fun of for it. I have a lot of admiration for people who are able to stick with teams through the good times and the bad, but that isn't for everyone, and I don't think that necessarily makes them any less of a sports fan. Sometimes you relate to different teams at different points of your life.

sager said...

It was the virginity analogy that was a deal-breaker ... generally, using that or a girlfriend analogy should be avoided.

sager said...

@ Brian: Gotta remember, I follow the Jays, so every time they play the Rays and Lil' Litschy starts, Jamie Campbell mentions it.

Ian H. said...

I love "McGlovin" Neate, it comes a close second to the PMoD.

I'm comfy with Aaron Hill hitting second for now.

And did those Tabler interviews today seem awkward to you at all? You can tell he's not used to getting out of the broadcast booth.

kinger said...

That stupid "Prime Minister of Defence" nickname doesn't make any sense. You can't be the Prime Minister of a thing, only of a place. McGlovin FTW.

sager said...

@ Ian H.: What I've found with actors and athletes is they can be absolutely brutal at something the first time they're asked to do it, but by the 10th, 15th or 25th time, they've got it done. I guess a spring training broadcast was a good time to have Tabler dive into the deep end.

@ Kinger: It's well-remember that the McGill football team once had a star D-lineman, John Macdonald, and the P.A. guy said, "Sacked by the 'Prime Minister,' " after he took down the QB against Queen's. In other words, it's been done. said... thinks that some Ottawa Senators players can help out the Jays this season. What do you think?

Ottawa Sports Guy said...

"Tony Fernandez only won four Gold Gloves and hit .300 or higher four times for the Jays."

Sure, but he played 27 seasons with the Jays. Law of averages.