Friday, 24 April 2015

Through the Baseball: Sanchez, Hutchison and Orange Bird Whinging



The Blue Jays swept the Orioles in wonderful (and slightly tense) fashion after they threw behind Jose Bautista on Tuesday.

And it turns out, the team makes this sound when they don't get their own way.  Next time Buck Showalter says anything, I'm just going to say, "Tiny tantrum" in a Southern accent like that mom in the video.

After the sweep was completed last night, it became very convenient for the Orioles to release the information that they considered forfeiting the game on Tuesday because the turf was so "bad". There were rumours going around that MLB is monitoring the situation surrounding the turf, which most say isn't bad, just different. But my question is, didn't MLB monitor and approve the changes to the turf in the Rogers Centre when they were completed? If they didn't, why the hell not?

The situation with the turf is annoying because it makes me feel defensive of something I don't even like. I don't want the team to play on turf. I want real grass.

I also suspect the Orioles would've had no issues with the turf had they swept the Jays in the Rogers Centre. I also suspect they threw behind Bautista on Tuesday because they had made a lot of errors and it was a lopsided score and they just felt petulant.

And maybe all of it is just more posturing from Buck Showalter:


In other hilarious whinging, remember the totally bizarre/hilarious incident where Alejandro De Aza tried to steal third base with Chris Davis up on Wednesday, in a game that was really close? Remember when De Aza was hilariously thrown out? Apparently, it's Josh Donaldson who was wrong. 

“He blocked it. I’m not saying it was bad, but he shouldn’t block like that, because he can hurt somebody,” De Aza said. “Somebody can get hurt like that. Thank God I didn’t jam anything, but something bad could happen there.”

“I wish I had it back,” De Aza said. “I thought I had the bag. If he didn’t block me the way he blocked me, I would have gotten there, but unfortunately, I didn’t. From my standpoint, I think it hurts because we had one of the big guys hitting, so anything could happen there.”

So you're saying that if Donaldson hadn't prevented you from stealing the bag, you would've stolen the bag. How about not stealing the bag when Davis is up? How about not running on Russell Martin?

Apparently, this is the kind of team where no one accepts responsibility and everything is the fault of the other teams' players and the other team's stadium. And maybe the position of the moon.

Aaron Sanchez got his first big league win on Wednesday. He only gave up two hits, but he also walked seven. It was very vintage AJ Burnett, with the un-hitable stuff combined with the on/off relationship with the strike zone. Of course there are worse thing to become than AJ Burnett (the current version) but I hope Sanchez becomes something that reflects his potential much sooner.

The issue, I think, might be the lack of repeatable mechanics. That helps a pitcher stay in the strike zone consistently with the added benefit of helping to prevent injuries. Sanchez is a bit all over the place and his inconsistency stems from it. He's got a lot of  "stuff". He could still be good.

Drew Hutchison pitched like a demon last night. He was aggressive, pounded the strike zone and pitched the way I want the rest of them to pitch more often. He was just confident.

Hutchison made subtle adjustments to his hips between starts and the results were evident immediately.

“It has to do with his hips, his direction,” Pete Walker said Thursday afternoon. “With him, it’s always been a little bit of an issue. He has to lead with his hip to the direction of the plate, and it makes a big difference. I thought we had a real good bullpen session and he felt really good about it.”

“It was just a real slight adjustment,” Hutchison said. “It got me over the ball, and when I get through the baseball, good things happen.”

Good things also happen when this guy plays for the Toronto Blue Jays.




Wednesday, 22 April 2015

How to Not Be Trash: Jays Pound Orioles.


Don'ts


1. Don't throw behind a player. Some people think it's because it's "disrespectful" (as if a plunking could be respectful) but no, it's actually dangerous. Throwing behind the shoulders and back is bad because it's the batter's natural instinct to duck backwards if they aren't sure where it's going and they lean right into it.

A pitch behind the back is very close to a pitch at the head (a genuine beaning) and there is no way anyone should condone that ever.

2. Don't throw behind a player that you threw behind earlier in the month. Especially when that player went large on your pitcher in that same AB.

3. Don't complain and bitch at a player for admiring a homer after you have thrown behind his back for the second time. One, because what he did is hard to do. Two, he's been thrown behind, twice. He got you. Wear it. Three, he's in his own damn ballpark. He can do what he wants.

4. Don't ever say "You pimp the pitcher, you’re pimping me too." to the media post game after you've acted like an idiot mid-game and tried to police people.

5. Don't ask a rookie to throw behind a star player. Just don't. It's a pretty bad idea to have anyone throw at anyone, but this just feels extra cheap. And then don't hide behind the fact that the kid is a rookie, particularly when you said,

"Let’s face it, he’s 23 years old, emotional, you see him coming off the mound doing his little whatever, [...] I’m sure the league office will do what needs to be done. If you don’t have the command to throw the ball where you’re supposed to to deliver a message, then you shouldn’t be throwing at all there. It really pushed the hot button with all of us because it certainly wasn’t called for. That was obvious. It was borderline professionally embarrassing."
after Marcus Stroman threw at Caleb Joseph last season.

There are people who think Garcia didn't have intent. Garcia is the perfect person to ask. He'll do whatever you ask because he wants to impress and you can hide behind him being a kid with poor command.  Perfect person to ask if you are trash, that is.

Do's

1. Do be focused enough to actually hit a homer when you are angry, especially if you are awesome. Your awesomeness is now undeniable.

2.  After you cross home plate, do stare intently into the dugout at the opposing manager, from which all this nonsense originates.

3. Do remind opposing star player that you were thrown behind, with elaborate gestures.



4. Do star in amazing GIFs that feature your stupendous mad face, your towering homer and your potty mouth as you round the bases.



5. Do  do things that encourage Danny Valencia to yell, "God damn, I love this!" in the dugout.

6. Do offer choice post-game quotes:
"I'm an emotional player, I play with a lot of passion. You throw at me and I'm not going to forget and if I get you right after I'm going to enjoy it and I did. I have no regrets about it."

"I don't understand why they keep throwing behind us and hitting us. Ryan Goins got hit today, all of a sudden. The guy is painting and hitting his spots, and then all of a sudden one fastball gets away and hits him square in the thigh, nowhere near the strike zone. For a team that complains and whines so much about when their guys get pitched inside, they should manage their pitching a little bit better." -- Bautista 

That's damn right, Joey Bats.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Straight Baseballed: Pompey, Dead Arm and a Walk Off


That was a pretty rough weekend of baseball, yesterday feeling particularly ugly. Things aren't quite gelling at the moment and guys are pressing a little. It just felt like baseball coming to bite them.

"First and foremost, I just want to apologize to my teammates and my fans, coaching staff. We lose that game because I don’t make that play and I take full responsibility for that,” said centrefielder Dalton Pompey.

“I’ve found, ever since the season started, I’ve been playing somewhat scared just because I don’t want to make a mistake,” said Pompey. “It took a situation like that where I couldn’t bail out my pitcher, Daniel Norris, I’ve made plays for him many times in the past and this time, I didn’t step up to the plate. It’s a learning experience for me and it just shows me I need to be more aggressive and, if I make mistakes being aggressive, then it won’t be as bad.”

“When I used to watch them on TV, I used to think they were pretty much perfect people and they made all the plays and they never made mistakes, really,” said Pompey. “Last thing I wanted to do in a situation is make sure I catch the ball, make the routine plays and sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve played back on the ball when it’s a groundball, so I make sure I field it instead of being aggressive.”

“Every game matters; we’re trying to win here and the mistakes I made today potentially cost us,” said Pompey. “It’s a long season, but you look back in September and this game might have mattered.”

Pompey made a couple of bad plays. He could definitively have made that play in the first, but it wasn't routine. So while it's nice he apologized and took responsibility, but who loaded the bases in that inning? Who barely hit the rest of the game? Who didn't score enough runs when relief pitching kept them in it. It's a team game and a team loss. I really hope one of the grown ups heard this and talked to Pompey about it.

Also, Pompey really needs to let go of the "I used to come here as a kid" thing for the Rogers Centre. Yeah, it's embarrassing, but jeez. Take off the hair shirt, put down the switch and forgive yourself, kid. Baseball is going to kill you if you let it.

They aren't operating on all cylinders. Donaldson's bat has woken up, but Bautista and Encarnacion aren't quite there yet and are just missing pitches they normally crush. Bautista's reaction to his homer on Saturday (screaming into the ground) and Encarnacion trying to hit a baseball twice out of frustration yesterday was pretty telling. Both were hilarious, though.


Dead arm? What the heck? That sounds scary! 

You know some mornings (maybe even this morning) you wake up and feel like you haven't really slept. Or maybe you haven't slept well the last couple of nights and it's finally catching up to you.

You can function at your job, but you can't really get it going. You have no pep or spark. No follow through. No matter how much coffee (even French Press coffee) you drink.

Well, that's what dead arm is. It doesn't hurt, really. You just don't have the extra little bit of zing that makes you an effective pitcher.

“I’m going through a little bit of a dead-arm phase, so it’s really tough for me to just feel the late life on everything that I was used to in spring training,” said Norris, in the same TSN.ca article linked above. He was definitely missing up with pitches, which often happens when a pitcher starts getting tired.

In an interview done six years ago, C.C. Sabbathia talked about dead arm. "I think you get it as a pitcher growing up as a kid," Sabathia said. "You go through that period when you first start throwing where you have nothing. The first couple times, you get a little nervous. But as you get older, you figure it out. It's just dead arm, and you have to deal with it."


Jeff Francis, nice Canadian boy, did his team a solid in long relief yesterday and kept the Jays in it.

In other Canadian content news, Canadian Press writer (and general awesome person) Melissa Couto  wrote about Braves' beast Freddie Freeman his late mother who was Canadian. He wants to one day represent Team Canada in the WBC, which would be awesome, as he is a beast.

"I know she's watching every single game up in heaven," Freeman said. "I have a necklace that unscrews and there's a piece of her hair inside of it, so she's always with me everywhere I go."

I guess I'll stop making fun of his alliterative name now.

Undeniably awesome?



Best. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

"That" is not This: Archer and Buehrle





This is what the Mark Buehrle-Chris Archer thing is about.

Chris Archer is jumping up on the top step, getting all fired up about Evan Longoria getting plunked in the glut. Buehrle, noticing Archer, chirps at him a little.

Buehrle, who once said, “I don’t know that part of the game” when he talked about how he and Marcus Stroman had miscommunication about throwing at a guy, was called a hypocrite by some on Twitter. And I honestly think people are reading this the wrong way.

"That part of the game...." means ordering a rookie to bean a player. Mark Buehrle has been around a long time. He knows about the politics of plunking, even if he himself doesn't partake or condone it.

There is no way he doesn't know about the "throwing at a batter" part of the game. What he meant was "I don't do that." And "that" is telling a kid to throw at someone.

That is not this.

Per Stoeten:
Jason Collette tweets that the “broadcast showed Archer taking issue with the plunking and Buehrle saying ‘that’s on you’ if I read lips correctly,” which seems about right. Except, y’know, Mark “I don’t know that part of the game” Buehrle — if that’s what he really said, and what really was going on.
Don’t be dumb and unlikable, Jays. We’ve already got a closer being used in the seventh, if it’s called for, and a great hitter in the two spot. The mouth-breather garbage is on its way out! Just beat them on the field.

This isn't mouth breather garbage, or at least not just on one side. I don't even think  Buehrle was condoning Estrada plunking Longoria. He was saying to Archer, "You can't get all huffy after you plunked two guys tonight."

And really, he can't. If Archer plunked Martin and Encarnacion on purpose, he should just accept that his big hitter is going to get one back. And if Archer didn't do it on purpose, he should give Estrada the benefit of the doubt and accept that one got away. Or just in general sit down. DeJesus hard slid on Travis to break up a double play, which might not have been "dirty" but was certainly dickish. And when Geltz threw up and in to Donaldson. A lot of questionable behaviour to go around.

What isn't shown in that GIF by Ian the Blue Jay Hunter is that about ten seconds after Buehrle chirped, he laughed with Hutchison, who was sitting on the top step indicating that this wasn't a "play the game the right way" type policing but more of a "you're ridiculous" type thing.  The dugout and what goes on between the two is part of the game. And to think it isn't all involved is a bit ridiculous.

“I don’t have any hard feelings toward him,” Longoria said, noting that he and Estrada are friends from their college days at Long Bach State. “It escalated and it looked a lot worse than it probably would have been had it hit me in a different spot and not ended up the way it did. Ultimately you got to protect your guys.”

Monday, 13 April 2015

Blue Jays take Series in Baltimore: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Skipping



There is history to this:




Behold:




I didn't realize that O'Day had skipped off the mound in their first encounter and Bautista's completely awesome skipping homer trot, after O'Day had thrown behind him earlier in the at bat, was a reference to that. So let's just think about that.

Jose Bautista revenge skipped.

In your face, sucker- skipped.

Who is the man now?- skipped.

Lo que va, viene-skipped.

The celebration which began with the skipping and ended in the dugout, where Devon Travis almost got trampled, only to be saved by DeMarlo Hale.



“I know he’s not going to blow 87 miles an hour by me, so I figured he was probably going to try to throw more offspeed pitches after moving my feet a little bit with that fastball,” Bautista said. “I basically said to myself I’m looking for offspeed. If he throws me a fastball I’m going to go back to the dugout if it’s a strike. I sat on a slider, and he threw it, and luckily for me he threw it right down the middle.”
If the continuation of this beef or whatever means Bautista goes large every time he faces O'Day, I'm ok with that. Skip on, my friend.

My hate for the Orioles is strong. I don't quite know where it began, exactly, but I know I grit my teeth every time someone calls Buck Showalter a genius- the other day, Curt Schilling said Showalter wins five extra games no other team can get, he's that good a manager. These words were words that were actually said.

I remember being annoyed that Brett Lawrie was always being compared to Manny Machado, not because Machado is a better player but because he was supposedly so much more mature, even though he's about three years younger. Well, not so much.

He made "You tagged me too hard" a thing.


You can say a lot of things about Brett Lawrie, but he never threw at bat at someone. Yes, I realize he bounced a helmet. My point is Machado is a more than a bit of a dink.


Finally, here is the documentary about Dalton Pompey Sportsnet aired over the weekend. He's pretty great.



Sunday, 12 April 2015

Struggle of Sanchez



Well, that one stung.

I'm trying not to make a habit of responding to silly things written in Stoeten's comment section, but tonight it was fruitful:

I thought Sanchez was fuckin awful tonite (sic). Disappointment based on the way he thru(sic) last year. His fastballs were mostly 91-93 with little movement compared to last year and his command was horrid-missing targets by a huge amount. I mean,how many times did Martin call for the ball outside and he would sling one about 2 feet over the INSIDE part of the plate. I think him throwing 92 or so affected the movement of his pitches to his detriment. So, if he needs to throw 97-99 to be successful, it would appear to me that it is going to have to be in the bullpen because 91-93 is no big deal as a starter especially with poor command and a poor curveball. 
He may get one more start but similar results and it is back to the pen you go, where I think he belongs and the Jays could have a three headed bullpen monster to rival KC's.
They will likely have to move Estrada into his SP spot unless Santana develops a new arm. The Jays could not have been very pleased with that effort tonite and they cannot afford to piss away 5 or 6 games while he figures it out ( sort of like Mcgowan as a starter last year all over again)

Ok. I do agree that Sanchez was pretty bad last night, and that his fastballs were low 90s with little movement (other than maybe drifting lovingly to the middle of the plate.) But that's the end of our agreement.

This was Sanchez's first big league start.

We've been spoiled so far with 20 year olds who pitch like they are 10 year veterans, but that's not the norm.

I have no idea what you are on about "throwing 92" affects the movement of his pitches. According to Baseball America, Sanchez is"armed with a high-octane fastball, a plus curveball and a solid changeup, he has the arsenal, at least, to be a weapon at the front of a rotation." That sounds like plenty of stuff to be in the rotation but he needs to work on his control. A slower fastball might've been an effort to do that. Of course, if your fastball is 92 and your change is high 80s, it's pretty useless. Again, I'm not arguing that he was good last night.

It is not comparable at all with the McGowan situation last year because McGowan was an oft-injured pitcher who was trying to make a comeback after some success in the bullpen. Sanchez is fresh off the lot. McGowan was a top prospect for the Jays 10 years ago. Sanchez is a top prospect as of last year.

There is no evidence that Sanchez will need 5 or 6 starts to figure it out. The Jays likely aren't very pleased with the result of last night's game, but they probably aren't going to start wailing  at the kid about how he needs to just pitch better, damn it. If you think Estrada and the 29 homers he gave up last year are somehow going to be better,  you are delusional. Be serious, as Stoeten would say.

But yeah, let's shove the top prospect in the pen after one big league start. That won't have any effect on his development or his confidence at all. And that's an issue because what I witnessed tonight was a dude who wasn't trusting his stuff. Or as my buddy Wade (@Every5thDay) put it perfectly:

Or as the kid himself put it:

“I think I felt too good,” he said. “I think it worked against me. I tried to slow everything down because I didn’t want to be all over the place, and that turned into guiding and aiming instead of just attacking.”

Sanchez needs to work on another pitch he can throw for strikes, whether it's the slider he calls a "work in progress" or the curve he hasn't been able to command consistently.

How Sanchez bounces back and moves forward from this is the next step will be vital in how he progresses this year.

"I guess just be out there and experience it. Obviously, tonight was something that I experienced – it was my first start in the big leagues. I’ll take the good from this and I’ll move on. The bad, I’ll learn from it.”

We march on.


Friday, 10 April 2015

The Kids are Maybe Alright: 6-3 win leads to Series win in New York


Your moment of zen:

Buck Martinez: "Have you ever been to Yankee Stadium?"
Daniel Norris: "Umm...yeah, I pitched there last year."

Norris got his first career win last night. He looked a little shaky at times, but it was his first start of the season, it was cold and he is a wee child.  By the end of the fifth, he had given up four hits,  had five strikeouts, two walks, and had allowed just one run. The sixth was a little fraught with peril (pitches left up and launched into the night), but overall I thought Norris did just fine.

This might be a little Mr. Rogers of me, but I think a good policy with the kids is to not expect perfection but look at what they are doing well and watching how they adapt and grow into their next start/appearance. (Speaking of Mr. Rogers, have you watched him recently? It's pretty amazing. Stay tuned for the remix.)

ARod hit his first homer since 2013. I want Alex Rodriguez to be the only good Yankee this year. I want him to be a one man show. He's also the last pre-strike MLB player left.  The Yankees looked tight and a little tired last night, and made fundamental baseball errors in the series that were not characteristic. The Jays were one bad inning away from sweeping a series in the Bronx. That's just not heard of for them.

We have a catcher that can do this. He occasionally forgets how many outs there are, but I'll forgive him.

Bautista has looked a little rough, but it's been three games. As long as Encarnacion looks like this:




I think we can ride it out. 


The Jays roll in to Baltimore for the Orioles home opener. Buehrle takes the mound and the game is the free game of the day on MLB.tv.

I could listen to Pedro Martinez talk about pitching all day long.   Listening to him talk about Tanaka's mechanics is interesting, but I also liked hearing about the psychological toll it takes on a pitcher to pitch hurt. It's not mystical voodoo for Martinez, he did it so he knows of what he speaks. Both the toll of going to pitches you can no longer execute and also just the every day toll of being in pain are significant. It really makes me wonder what the Yankees are doing.

Speaking of pitching, MLB has teamed up with USA Baseball to develop PitchSmart, an initiative to help reduce injuries to young pitchers.  I hope the program spreads to Baseball Canada and also into Latin America.

Wendy Thurm, of the Oakland beat, wrote a piece in the New Yorker about national baseball celebrities in a post-Jeter world. All we need is Mike Trout to date a Kardashian, and it'll happen. Do it for baseball, kid.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Feeling Yes


So the 8th inning on last night sucked for the bullpen and then began to suck for many of us on Twitter.

I got tweets about AA standing pat in the off season and that this is the punishment, the fruition of things knowing fans have been demanding for months.

My dad, back in the day, once told me that if I was going to watch this game, I was going to have to toughen up. So toughen up, people. It's game 2. I can only get so worked up about wind whipped flyballs and frozen fingers.

So what was good?

Dickey was pretty great last night and certainly pitched well enough to win. There was a lot of talk pre-game how Dickey doesn't pitch well when he's cold, but it didn't seem to bother him as much as it did say, Loup and Cecil.

Dickey wasn't perfect. He threw too many balls, but he was able to dance in and out of trouble. And he did this. 

Beautiful.

“I had to make three really good pitches, and thankfully I did, but that was a microcosm of most of the night,” Dickey said, after striking out Brian McCann with sinkers (?) and a knuckle to end his outing.

Martin was fine, for the most part, catching Dickey but seemed to hit a snafu catching Cecil's curveballs. But again, game 2.

Devon Travis continues to hit the baseball and look like he belongs.

As news that Roberto Osuna debuted as a human after Alex Rodriguez debuted as an MLB player spread around, there was this:

This all day. And twice on Sunday.

Castro was also awesome. I just want to caution people about demanding that Gibby go to these guys all the time. Use them up now and they aren't there later. Win the battle, lose the war.

DeRosa and Bautista.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Refined Spring: Season Opener, Dickey and Other Miscellania



I was going to write about the season opener. which was awesome (6-1!!!!) and a little bit of everything good, but then I read what Stoeten wrote while possibly drunk and figured it was about right:

Two walks and a home run for Devon Travis, though. I mean… come on! So nails.
And Russell Martin plays for the Toronto Blue Jays. And thank fuck Jose Reyes is OK.
(Miguel Castro).
I'll throw in a comment about Encarnacion's homer (and the fan who beaned a fellow fan while she threw the ball back on the field. Don't reject the gifts of Edwin, lady. Only bad things come of it.) And a little comment about how fantastic Drew Hutchison was. Because he was.

Someone in New York was a jerk.
It's a ball that means nothing to this person and something to Travis. Trade it for a different ball, you horror of a human being. How can you be so mean to a kid who has Maestro Fresh Wes as his walk up music? 


John Lott's piece in the National Post reports that tonight's starter, R.A. Dickey, has traded a little bit of velocity for hopefully a few more strikes. Dickey as a Blue Jay has had some sluggish Aprils, giving up more walks than he should.

“That’s something that I’ve really tried to do this spring: how can I consistently throw strikes like I did from 2010 to 2012? That’s one of the things that really helped me (then), was keeping my walks down. If I can do that, then I think that across the board the metrics are going to be better.”

His knuckleball is known to be on the hard side at 80 mph. Tim Wakefield's, by contrast, was 68 mph.

“A lot of times the last couple years I would get in trouble by trying to make a knuckleball go 78 or 80 miles an hour when a 75-mile-an-hour knuckleball is just fine and it’s in the strike zone a much longer amount of time. So being comfortable with that, being comfortable with throwing knuckleballs at lower velocities and keeping them in the strike zone a little bit longer is one of the things I can intentionally do to throw strikes with it.”

A slightly slower knuckle might also be easier to catch for Martin, who is having his first shot at catching Dickey in a game that counts.

As an aside, Dickey must be fun to transcribe on a deadline. The man is verbose.

Here is Cabbie (formerly on the Street) talking and also shampooing Dickey.



I'm not going to rub the Golden Sombrero salt into any Brett Lawrie wounds like some other bloggers did. 

I will mention our current totally awesome third baseman being on MLB Central and saying things like "defensive metrics" and talking about baseball cards.

  I totally forgot about his Machado run in last year until they said something.


The best part of the GIF is Donaldson smiling at the idiotic dick swinging Machado is doing. "You tagged me too hard, bro."  Also, excellent side burns.

I will ignore the kind of idiotic questions. "How important is defensive part of your game?" What did they think is the answer? Not at all important?

Also, has Russell Martin explained about "eh?" What is to explain?

Jose Bautista on WFAN  in New York. He thinks Tanaka will be fine, the Jays lineup is pretty great (though he thinks winning is pitching/defense), the division in general, competitive balance in the league in general and his emergence as a premier hitter. The guy is smart. And he talks a bit more about his Player's Tribune article.  WFAN also got a nice dig in on the Leafs. "Shaves with an AXE?"

Hazlitt Magazine had a MLB preview. Highlights? 


This perfectly crystalizes my feelings. I don't even think I really hate the Sox players (David Ortiz is pretty amazing, actually) but I hate that they are the agents of happiness for the collection of horrors that is their fandom.

Also right on is the description of the Blue Jays.





Speaking of the Montreal Rays, Baseball Empire out of Montreal made a video for Russell Martin chronicling the weekend for him. 


Hearing Denis Coderre, in that video I translated, talk about baseball being part of Quebec heritage made me think. I found this article about Jackie Robinson and his year in Montreal.  

Guy cross legged on the far left in this picture of the 1954 Montreal Royals?



Roberto Clemente. Also, for you Mad Men fans out there, the guy in second row, last on the right is named Dick Whitman. The Dodgers sort of hid Clemente in Montreal. 

Also vital information, Vin Scully talked about "beards these days." This should've gone on for hours.  

My picks for "Franchise Four" are Alomar, Stieb, Delgado and Halladay. Also acceptable is Fernandez. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Odds and Ends: Dominican Education, Montreal Baseball and the National Post.



Jose Bautista had a piece published on a website called The Players' Tribune (which is Derek Jeter's project) talking about the issues surrounding education and Dominican prospects.

But here’s the difference between you and them: Most of those kids are released back into the world with a sixth grade education — something that is not just unthinkable but illegal in America. What are they supposed to do, go back to sixth grade at age 20? They don’t have any technical skills. They can’t be an electrician or a mechanic. They’ve spent 10 years of their life being only one thing: a baseball player.

Many times, I overheard managers saying that a player was lazy or stubborn, and I was blown away because I knew that baseball was everything to the guy. He just had no idea what he was being asked to do. He didn’t know the manager was telling him to take extra batting practice or do a drill a certain way, and then I’d step in and explain in Spanish and the player would be like, “Oh! Sorry, sorry. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! Better tomorrow.” 
It should be just as important to teams that a 16-year-old Dominican kid can read a book as it is that he can read a sign from the third base coach. 


Crackpot post on Stoeten's site:

The Jose Bautista piece is a must read. Too bad the Player's Tribune makes it seem the subject is the author. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Player's Tribune is Jeter's brainchild, no? Bautista is a very smart person, but I have a hard time believing he wrote and edited the latest issue. Note to the Jetes: No better way to lose credibility than by bull-shitting your audience. Anyone with any knowledge of doping in sport knew the Ortiz was a total puff-piece. Don't cloud real issues addressed in the Bautista piece by making it seem they actually wrote the story.
And later, same dude:
Re Ortiz Bautista: If you actually believe they sat behind a laptop to write the original piece, then you are a far better person than I am. 

I read this and got rather annoyed.  I could see Ortiz maybe dictating his piece about doping. English is Ortiz's second language and he didn't go to college in the States (he was signed out of high school in the Dominican.)  I have no issue with the idea that Ortiz might've dictated his piece. Writing is the trickiest part of learning a language. You understand, you speak and then you write. It certainly sounds like him so I have no doubt that Ortiz was very involved in the process of creating that piece.

I do take issue with the implication that Bautista didn't write his. The thing that people always forget about when it comes to Bautista is that he doesn't have the "straight from the cane fields" story that we associate with most Dominican players. Bautista was upper middle class, from a highly educated family (his mother has a Master's degree) and has been bilingual since he was a kid. Bautista, unlike a lot of Latin players, went to college in the States. He had to write in English to go to college. He probably took the SATs.

Also, Bautista's charity, the Jose Bautista Family Education Fund, addresses some of the issues he brings up in his piece. Bautista knows of what he writes. I actually think Bautista could be a major player in raising the education levels of Latin players and getting the MLB to buy in to better education for the kids they sign.

Bautista takes this issue seriously and I have trouble with the idea that he blew this off and let someone else write it for him. I realise the idiocy on my part of taking umbrage about something some idiot wrote in Stoeten's comment section, but it just stuck in my craw.

I'll also say that the dude who wrote that comment doesn't know what a contributing editor is. A contributing editor is a writer who is freelance, but often has a big following, but isn't a staff writer. It's kind of like a guest star in a tv show. It doesn't mean that the person edited the issue.

More on the subject of education in the Dominican, here is a piece from The Guardian that talks about an art/design school where the rich and the poor study together in La Romana, Dominican Republic (home of Edwin Encarnacion, fyi.)

More Montreal baseball:

Michael Grange writes about the Big O 

Then the suddenly-former head groundskeeper at Olympic Stadium and his team gathered in their locker room and drank, holding their beer the way men do when they know something good is gone. “We did our thing. We tore everything down and we said bye-bye to the stadium and the job,” he says. “We weren’t like the players. We couldn’t leave. We didn’t have a baseball team to go to. I was with the same guys for 24 years. We were a team, but you turn the page and go on with life.”

Look at this tweet from Dave Kaufman. Jonah Keri's face!!!!





Also, I was honoured to be asked to contribute once again to the annual Blogger's Panel the National Post does every year. We all answered all the questions, but they selected what they thought were the best.  I decided to post my answers that weren't included for the sake of completion.

3. Which player will be a pleasant surprise?

It should never be a surprise, but with all the new names floating around, we might forget about José Bautista. He quietly put together a really nice season last year and has looked pretty great this spring. José Bautista will remind us all just who runs this town.

6. Which was a better deal for the Jays: the Josh Donaldson trade or the Russell Martin signing?

This is a nice problem to have. Donaldson is an MVP quality player and with Martin handling the pitching, both deals look promising. They bring different but very necessary traits to the team. Slightly better, just cost-wise, is Donaldson’s deal.

9. If the Jays aren’t in the race in July, what would you do as general manager at the trade deadline?

Start destroying documents and packing that Honda. But don’t trade either Bautista or Encarnación.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Russell Martin, Quebecois



To celebrate baseball in Montreal this weekend, I'm going to take my thirteen years of French education and put it to good use. That's right, I am going to translate an interview.

Russell Martin recently talked to Gregor Chisholm about fulfilling his childhood dream this weekend by playing in his hometown of Montreal.

"I knew about it even before I signed, even just the first year when they played," Martin said. "I was like, 'Can the Blue Jays borrow me for a game so I can go play over there?' I remember even talking during the season about the guys, because I remember seeing the pictures on Instagram, the whole park being filled up, and I'm like, 'Man I haven't seen that in a long time.' I thought it was pretty cool."

Right after Martin signed his big deal with the Jays, he showed up on the Quebecois talk show Tout le monde en parle.  (or Everyone's Talking About It.)

Here it is.




The host, Guy Lepage introduces him and states that with this contract, Martin is the richest Quebecois athlete ever. Hilariously, the bearded dude next to him, actor Antoine Bertrand, starts snuggling with him. Lepage then teases him that while his deal sounds pretty good, but it is paltry compared to Giancarlo Stanton's from Miami.

I can't quite hear the joke he tells Martin, but Russell says that he isn't too mad about 82 million. Lepage reads out the stats with Pittsburgh. He talks about how Pittsburgh wanted him back, the Cubs were sniffing around and so were the Dodgers. He asks, "Why the Blue Jays, besides the reputation for Toronto's night life?" Russell laughs and then says that it's close to home. And that when he was a kid, the team for him was the Expos but in '92-'93 the Blue Jays won the World Series and he listened to the games with his dad. The family can travel to see him play.

Lepage points out while Martin grew up in Quebec, he was born in Toronto. Russell says that that is true, except he was two, so he remembers nothing. And the blonde woman, actress Sophie Moreau, asks, "When you go to Toronto, do you say 'I remember everything'?"

And Russell says no, but he says that the questions asked in French and English are a bit challenging, just because he has to think in both languages, but he likes it that way.

They then quote Anthopoulos, who talks about Martin's athletic ability, etc and also how good he is in the locker room. Then the "Killer Question" music/ lights happens and Lepage asks him, "What exactly do you do in a locker room that's so great?" with a tone that indicates it might be something pervy. Everyone laughs and Russell says he showers (maybe naked?) after games. And then he gives the much discussed "respect, good attitude" serious answer. And Sophie Moreau talks about how a good attitude in the locker room, and Lepage wonders, again with the tone, that maybe it's something she thought about a lot. And she says no, she played a lot of sports and knows.

And Lepage talks about how the Jays were good the first half and then fell off last year. He asks Russell about leadership and his post season experience. Lepage asks him if he's going to "mix it up/agitate" them. (The verb Lepage uses is "brasser", which translates in English to "mix up" but it is more aggressive, I think, than that. "Fire up" might be better.)

Martin says he doesn't know if he'll do that, but does know that his main job is to take care of the pitchers. He talks about how he's a bit of a psychologist with the pitchers and he has to figure out what makes each of them tick. What motivates them, how to encourage them.

Sophie Moreau talks about how the pitchers are sort of the stars of the team and compares them to a goalie on a hockey team. Martin doesn't quite agree, but does say that the game revolves around the pitcher. No one else can go out there and do their job for them. Lepage then infers about Martin's workload and Martin says he's a bit like an orchestra conductor.

The guy sitting on his left is Montreal mayor Denis Coderre. He talks about how modest Russell is but insists that he's so solid that the pitchers really put their faith in him and that he is an excellent ambassador for baseball. He then says that everyone should go the Montreal games in April to see Martin play. He's an athlete from Quebec that they should all be proud of. The audience applauds and Martin is a bit bashful. Coderre is working this like a true politician.

One of the guys then asks Coderre if he's a baseball fan and he answers that he is but also that baseball is part of their heritage as Quebecois. Again, Coderre is stumping.

Lepage then asks Martin if it's his dream to play in Olympic Stadium in those two games, even if it's something (either ugly or empty). Coderre says it's going to be very full and there is a weird vibe. Martin then rescues the vibe by saying that he drove by the stadium on the way to the show the last time he was on it and he got a little heartache cause he wasn't going to play there. But this year, he will. He thinks he's going to be nervous, even though they are exhibition games.

Lepage then says the Jays have a lot of hopes of making the team a cross Canada team, with fans from across the country. But suggests that they haven't made as many inroads in Quebec. Given that traditional animosity between Montreal and Toronto, a lot of Quebec baseball fans haven't adopted the Jays as their teams. He asks Martin how he plans to convince these fans to love the Jays. Russell says he doesn't really know but he hopes that the team will be really good and win a lot. He says that convincing people to love a winning team is pretty easy. All he can control is what's on the field.

Lepage then hilariously yells at Coderre that the Expos don't exist. Like the Nordiques, they exist only in his head. I think it's because Coderre was making slightly sad faces during all the Blue Jays talk. Coderre talks about getting kids to play baseball in Quebec and once again calls Martin a great ambassador.

Coderre is then asked if he believes the Expos could come back to Montreal. Coderre says he's a believer.

Lepage then states that Martin is going to make more money than Carey Price and PK Subban and asks if he thinks Montreal can support an MLB team again. Then there is general talk about money and how it does or doesn't win championships. Consensus is that it's more complicated than that.

Lepage then quotes Anthopoulos saying that they didn't get Martin because he's Canadian or Quebecois but because he's a great baseball player. Lepage then says Martin now has the role of the biggest ambassador for baseball in Quebec and Canada and wonders how he'll handle that role. Martin says he started by appearing on this show and Lepage thanks him.

(I'll just say here that Martin is a total pro at this. He's affable, he's a bit bashful and he's a good sport. He's also more articulate in French than in English. Although, he hasn't yet dropped a "supple leopard" in there.)

Martin says it's all about passion and that the players he watched as a kid, he'd always watch to see how passionate/dedicated they were in their sports. And he says that that passion is a way to convince people to watch you and to be a fan. Martin says he's a guy that has a lot of passion, he loves his sport, loves competing and he thinks when people see that, they'll want to be in on it, too. Sophie Moreau says, "That's why you're good in the locker room!"

Martin then says it's 162 games with the guys, and Antoine Bertrand  says, "162 showers." And Martin nods in agreement.

Bertrand then says that earlier Martin talked about being a psychologist with the pitchers, and he asks if Martin also has to play with the heads of the hitters a bit and wants to know about "trash talk." He literally says "trash talk" in that charming Quebec way of Frenching up English words. We called it "franglais" at school.

Martin says you see that in films a lot, and Bertrand says everything he knows about baseball is from the movies. Martin just basically says he says "Hi" to the hitters sometimes. And sometimes talks to them in French and they do a double take. Lepage sort of teases him that his "trash talk" is saying "Hi."

Bertrand then says Martin seems like a nice guy and that trash talk isn't likely his specialty. And Martin says he just tries to know the tendencies of the hitters and get the pitchers to pitch accordingly.

Lepage then brings up a charity softball game where the money goes to amateur baseball. Martin has a team called the Martin 55s or something and has to find nine players. Lepage then says Sophie Moreau should play, and she says "Yeah, I play softball." And Martin asks if she wants to come in the locker room, too. And everyone gets silly.

Lepage says that if Martin is nice, she'll give him a photo of herself.

Lepage then says that Martin lives in the same building as Rachid Badouri (a Montreal comedian) who constantly wears an Expos hat. Lepage asks Martin if he's tried getting him to wear a Jays hat. Badouri then comes out, and Martin seems thrilled. Badouri says he'll wear the Jays hat if Martin signs it. Lepage then teases that Badouri just wants it signed so it's worth more.

Badouri says (I think) that he found it in the garbage outside the building. And Lepage then teases him and says he thought he was saying "The Garbage" like it was a bar in Laval (Badouri is from Laval.)

Coderre then says that since things are being signed, he whips out an Expos hat and asks for Martin to sign it. Martin puts the Expos hat on and everyone whoops it up. Lepage teases that Martin's bosses who just signed him to play for the Jays might be a little taken aback to see him in an Expos hat. Coderre then says Paul Beeston loves the Expos.

Lepage, again, hilariously yells at Coderre, "Damn it, they don't exist!" Coderre puts on the Jays hat.

Lepage then says he loves baseball, is thrilled that Martin is with the Jays and wishes him an excellent season. Danny Turcotte then gives Martin a little card, which is a show tradition. The card says " Ici à Montréal, à 82 millions, tu fais pas juste jouer dans le stade. À ce prix-là, on te le donne!"

Which means, "Here in Montreal , with 82 million , you do not just play in the stadium. At that price,we give it to you !"


Friday, 27 March 2015

A Post-Stroman World



I never quite expected it to be like this. While I was never one who wailed about the season being over when Stroman tore his ACL, I still didn't think I'd feel this heady with two weeks left in spring training.

For real, he's not coming back this season. There are hospital pictures. Pictures of Stroman in a cast.

Reading Stroman's motivational tweets about killing rehab is great.





I mean, Stroman tweets about how he can shower again, but not about the horror of cleaning by baby wipes. I wonder if Stroman really is this positive, but I also figure he isn't the type to use Twitter to reveal the depths of his despair.




When showering is one of your favourite hobbies...

 This isn't going to simply be a recap of what Marcus Stroman has tweeted since he tore his ACL, as amazingly peppy as it has been. This is about the future. The pitching has been alarmingly on point.

Miguel Castro, a string bean who got braces when got his signing bonus, is shy and soft-spoken, with a vague idea about what he might mean to the Toronto Blue Jays. Castro also has a lot of swagger on the mound. Of course, if I had a high 90s fastball and a changeup to match, I'd have swagger, too. Roberto Osuna is a little shorter, but equally nasty on the mound. Somehow, these two friends who are barely 20 years old have become the story of the Jays spring. This with a guy who lives in a van down by the Walmart.

John Lott wrote a wonderful piece about the two of them. Osuna is from a poor family in Mexico. The Jays signed him as a 16 year old for $1.5 million.

“I gave my mother a house,” he said. “I put my brothers and sister into school. I bought a rental house. And I invested. And I put some money aside for the future.”

Osuna can't say enough nice things about Castro.

“He’s a guy with excellent qualities,” Osuna said. “Quite a lot people don’t know that he’s a great person. They miss that. Everybody just focuses on what’s there, the baseball. But he’s a very happy person. He’s an excellent player. And an excellent person.”

Castro is listed as 190, which is skinny for one so tall. “I eat a lot but I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he said softly.

It's called a fast metabolism. And I'll try not to hate you for it.


Russell Martin is also impressed. 

“I think that they’re just both quality people, to begin with,” Martin said. “They’re pros. They go about their business the right way. They’re not overconfident. As good as they’re doing, they just seem to understand that it’s a process. And whether they have a great day or an OK day, they have the same demeanor. Even if they do well, they’re still hungry. They want to learn. They want to make sure that every time they go out there, they learn something. You just gotta love their attitudes, man.”

Yeah, man.



Speaking of the one who lives in a van down by the Walmart, media from all over North America can't get enough of Daniel Norris. Cathal Kelly's recent piece featured this bit of genius: "The 21-year-old pitcher has the dead-ahead, deep-blue gaze you associate with prophets coming out of deserts in epic films. Which he kind of is."

Norris pitched a minor masterpiece versus the Orioles earlier in the week: three hits, one run, no walks and seven strikeouts, featuring different changeups, one of which he didn't have a week ago.

“My whole career I’ve thrown a cut change and it’s played really well,” Norris said. “But we sat down and talked this week and [the coaches] were like, ‘There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just that you’ve got to have something that kind of goes the other way.’ So we kind of messed around with something. They said, ‘It’s up to you if you want to try it.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, if it’s going to make me better, I’ll do it, sure. And it worked today.”

So wait. What the heck is a cut change? Is he cutting his changeup? The cutter's grip is off centre from a typical straight up four seam fastball grip, and the result is a slightly slower pitch that cuts towards the pitcher's glove side and out of the sweet spot of the hitter's bat.  Mariano Rivera built his entire legend on being able to cut away from the sweet spot.

With the changeup, the pitcher throws the pitch like a fastball but removes the power finger (the middle one), slowing the pitch down. So is Norris changing up his cutter?


Norris: Van. Beard. Filth.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

What Sucks? This: Stroman Tears ACL. Out for Season 2015


News broke this afternoon that something shitty happened that AA was going to announce. And boy, was he not wrong. Marcus Stroman, Sunshine of Our Lives, tore his ACL doing a bunting drill and will be out for all of 2015. All of it.

And now everything is terrible.

Twitter did its thing.



Ugh. Boy was tweeting about going out to dinner with the one he calls "Papa Buehrle" last night. Apparently Buehrle failed to do whatever voodoo on Stroman that keeps Buehrle himself off the DL year after year.




Bunting. It had to be bunting. This, by the way, was going to be the Donaldson reference on the blog today.



Wilner tweeted it earlier. Rolen is up there as one of my favourite Jays ever. I don't even know why Rolen is in camp, I would like to imagine he thought it would make me happy. I appreciate the effort Scott, but I should know better than to expect baseball to make me happy.


 I had hopes that the news of a bad news announcement was going to be something like this:

My initial reaction to the news was this:


Not because I think pitchers shouldn't be practicing bunt fielding, but rather I just want to do away with bunting. Forever. That and the Wave. And the Red Sox.


Right? The news is rough because not only is Stroman a major part of the rotation, but the kid is right on the cusp of being something great.


Cespedes Family BBQ agrees


Stroman himself tweeted about the news.


And several in the media tweeted quotes from Sanchez and Norris, about how sick and sad it made them.


This dude wins idiot tweet of afternoon.
HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY WATCHED BASEBALL?


 Sympathy from a White Sox fan (and Buehrle aficionado.


Sympathy from a Yankee fan (who I like even though she's a Yankee fan)



This is the point people started to move out of the anger part of grief, and more into a combo of bargaining and denial.



God bless Drew Fairservice.
Or not.

Gibby the best.


And that's basically what it comes down to. Someone needs to step it up. Norris and Sanchez (who I think know can safely be considered a part of the starting rotation) need to fill in. Luckily, they have the talent to do so. But this sucks. Hard.



So pull yourselves together.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Spring Training 2015: Notes on Knees, Changeups, Hazing and a Dog.



Well, that escalated quickly. And then it sort of deescalated.

Mike Saunders, new left fielder acquired from Seattle, spoke extensively about being thrilled to bits about being a Canadian playing for the only MLB team in Canada. Also, about being wanted after being jerked around by the Mariners. I was feeling a little annoyed about the failure to re-sign Melky Cabrera, but many people tried to convince me that Saunders was a decent replacement (in a numbers balancing sort of way) for less money. I wasn't particularly satisfied, but I got over it and was ready to see what Saunders could do.

Saunders then promptly tripped on a sprinkler head shagging fly balls and bunged his knee up real good. Like, "out till the All Star Break" good. This happened three days into camp. The injury was so fluky that it felt a little like the baseball gods hate Mike Saunders. And because of our association with Mike Saunders, the baseball gods hated all of us. And things were dark.

I had concerns about the depth of the team (which is a legitimate concern) and I was thankful, at least, there were no sprinklers in the Rogers Centre that could be used to punish us. That's right, in a dark moment, I lost my mind and was thankful there was no grass. I wasn't the only one who went insane. People on sports radio were actually questioning why Saunders was already at camp. I don't know what they were expecting, exactly. Should he be cryogenically frozen until an appropriate time and have this totally freak injury happen sometime in March?

Yesterday, there was good/bad news on the Saunders front and I learned something about knee surgery. Saunders tore the cartilage in his left knee. That's bad. It was so damaged, that instead of repairing it (and keeping him out until the All Star Break), they just removed 60% of it. Doing that shortens his recovery time to mid-April. That's good. Unfortunately, removing cartilage could lead to arthritis later on down the road. That's bad.

I know next to nothing about knee injuries, but I'm assuming that the fact that Saunders, because had cartilage damage anyway and will have the regular wear and tear on his knee that comes with being an aging pro-athlete to contribute,  the likelihood of arthritis whether he got cartilage removed or not would be pretty great anyway.



In other news of broken bodies, the Jays signed former Cy Young winner Johan Santana to a minor league deal with some fun incentives if he makes starts with the big league club.

I think there are two things going on here. If the press surrounding the team is accurate, the Jays are trying to work on the clubhouse dynamic. Josh Thole, who caught Santana with the Mets, basically thinks he's the best.

“First off, I think as a person he takes the cake,” said Thole. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with … He also has fun and he keeps the clubhouse loose and keeps the guys having the camaraderie. He really brings it together.”

They also look a little like they might make out in that picture above. It's very snuggly. Thole caught Santana's no-hitter a few years ago, so there might be a lot of love.

The other thing Santana brings is that changeup, which according to Anthopoulos is still there, is pure filth. The changeup is my favourite pitch, because I think it's just mean. Even if Santana sticks around long enough to give changeup tips to the baby Jays, I think it'd be almost worth it.

“The stuff was still good in the winter,” the GM said.”The changeup’s still there. He’s a great competitor, a great athlete. And it’s a minor-league deal, so we really don’t have anything to lose.”

Anthopoulos also called Santana "cerebral", which is nice, too. Although, what is he going to say, "We allocated funds to a guy who has a lot of issues. Not only is he injured a lot, but he's a mouth-breathing idiot who is also kind of an asshole."

As Stoeten highlighted the other day, Keith Law had some things to say about Dalton Pompey on the Baseball Tonight podcast:

I do hope for Toronto that this means Dalton Pompey ends up on the Major League roster from day one, because I think he’s ready, and I think he gives them a couple of things they need: good defence, baserunning value, and he’s one of their better on-base threats — particularly outside of Joey Bautista. They need somebody at the top of the lineup to get on base for them, and I really think his plate discipline, his calmness at the plate, is unusual for his age, and I think he can contribute right away, even if it’s just in those limited way.

Bonus points for calling him "Joey" Bautista. Isn't it nice to talk about baseball again? Pompey could be a big star in this town in an unprecedented local boy way. And I'm really, really looking forward to it.

If I had a dollar for every time Cal worked me over, physically, I'd be a pretty wealthy guy.

Others have talked about Gregg Zaun's hazing comments about Cal Ripken Jr. They were pretty dumb. Front office encouraged hazing is a ridiculous idea.

Ripken's legend in Baltimore and in the wider baseball community is well-known, but are we really surprised Ripken is an asshole? Is this new information? I remember reading David Wells' book from the 90s and he basically said Ripken was a bully that took advantage of dudes where he could.

Speaking of Ripken, lost in the shuffle over the winter was the story on Deadspin wondering just what the hell happened when Cal Ripken's mother was kidnapped in Maryland in 2012. This isn't to say that Ripken had anything to do with the kidnapping of his mother, but it was a weird story that I had completely forgotten about. In my research, I discovered that Buck Showalter's mom was also robbed at gunpoint in her home in Arizona.  Seriously, stop robbing baseball moms. The Showalter story features this choice quote about the dog that lived there, “That dog didn’t stay around much longer,” Showalter said. “Didn’t do a very good job.”

Alright then.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pitchers. Catchers. Reported.

Even though it’s -100 and we have snow up to our armpits, pitchers and catchers have officially reported to Dunedin, Florida. Halle-effin’-lujah.
Pitchers


Daniel Norris has the potential to be a big star. He has a perfect storm of idiosyncrasies: the full and lush beard, the van living,  the surfing, the shaving with a hatchet and the french press coffee. This all comes together to appeal to the hipster contingent of baseball fans who enjoy beards and french press coffee, who have fantasies about surfing and living in vans. The fact that Norris plays baseball for a living is just icing, really.  He’s also a good looking son of a gun, so pretty he might make a few uncomfortably tingly.

John Lott of the National Post reports that the beard was shaved off in some sort of ritual near his van that Sportsnet filmed on a beach.

Mark Buehrle is enjoyable to watch work. He works so quickly, he almost lulls the hitters into complacency. While he’s practicing this hypnosis, he’s cutting it in, he’s cutting it away and he’s making little adjustments. Buehrle’s discussion of the proposed pitch clock is interesting. Buehrle is even willing to forgo the warm up song pre-game, which is funny because his warm up is the least elaborate of just about anyone I’ve seen live. Dude basically rolls out, long tosses for about 5 minutes and is ready to go. Maybe his warm up is more elaborate behind the scenes, but he definitely appears chill and minimal. Even his warm up song is the quickest. And I love the hell out of the Mike Judge directed video for it.

  

He had a great second half his first season and a great first half of his second season as a Jay, so maybe he can pull it together. Buehrle discussed the changes in the clubhouse and the oft-discussed idea of "chemistry":

“It seems like guys get comfortable in one spot,” Buehrle said. “I won’t say they don’t try, but [it might be helpful] just to change up the attitude and bring in some different guys. So, will it work out? Only time will tell.”


Catchers




Pictures of Josh Thole catching Dickey on the first day of camp made people rumble a little bit. Of course, there is going to be rumbling but let’s remember it was the first day of camp and the catching appeared to be more of a long toss situation. Martin was also seen selecting his knuckleball glove (balle papillion, as he’d say.) Because we have Martin, it means we get lots of baseball articles in French. Martin posted one on his Facebook page that talked about his relationship with Bautista.

Articles in French mean you get Bautista descriptions in French. Here's Martin describing what he saw when they played together in 2001:

«J’ai été impressionné," a indiqué le Québécois. "J’ai vu un jeune homme, il était un peu plus vieux que moi, mais j’ai vu ses habiletés. J’ai constaté son incroyable vitesse au bâton et son bras canon. Puis, il a joué au champ centre, un peu au troisième but et il était aussi notre releveur numéro 1. Il lançait des balles à 96 milles à l’heure et je me disais: ''ce gars est incroyable''.

Translate? "I was so impressed. I saw this young man, a bit older than me, but I saw his abilities. I saw his amazing bat speed and his canon of an arm. Plus, he played centre and third base, he was also our number one reliever. He pitched 96 mph and I said to myself  'This guy is amazing."

You also get translations of Bautista in French:

«Je suis heureux d’avoir mon Batman. Je ne peux pas dire mon Robin, puisqu’il est au même niveau que moi, peut-être même meilleur. Ce n’est rien contre mes coéquipiers, ils sont d’excellents joueurs. Cependant, prendre la parole au sein d’une équipe n’est pas quelque chose qui est fait pour tout le monde.»

Yes, you can see he called Russell Martin his Batman.

The man not described as anyone's Batman is Dioner Navarro. Navarro's been pretty vocal about his desire to be traded.


Which, fair enough. I just don't want him dumped for spare parts.

Neither pitcher nor catcher, Josh Donaldson showed up early to camp and is already trying to make friends.


“What I’m trying to do now is build relationships with these guys, because ultimately I think that’s important, and I think that’s what helps win games,” Donaldson said during his first media scrum Tuesday. “At the end of the day, I want the guy next to me to know that I believe in him just as much as I believe in myself.”

Maybe they can just have a whole Justice League of happy clubhouse guys.

All My Friends are Leaving



The big story over Twitter this morning was Bob Elliot's very candid interview with now ex-Jay Adam Lind. I once asked Bob Elliot who was the best guy to talk to in the clubhouse, and he indicated (though didn't name, in a very Bob Elliot roundabout way) that Adam Lind was the guy. I can see why in this interview. The guy gives good quotes.

Lind played 953 games with the Blue Jays. And now he's a Brewer.

“There might be a few more smiles with Colby gone.” That was a widely tweeted quote. I don't know if this was meant to say that Colby was a malcontent. But rather that the dude is a bit of an Eeyore. The other choice quote was this one: "They haven’t changed the culture of the clubhouse. They’re my friends, but the guys who still run it are still there. Jose Bautista is the voice among position players and Mark Buehrle runs the starting pitchers."

But Batman! Yeah, I dunno. Frankly, I'm ok with Bautista being the "voice" because he's played the best. But I'm not in the clubhouse. I'm not one of these dudes. 

An unnamed pitcher texted Lind about the Lawrie trade, “All my friends are leaving.” I'm going to guess Cecil.

His best Jays buddy was Travis Snider. “He was real, genuine, cared about my family and myself,” said Lind. “We had some talks on a deeper level.”

On Roy Halladay: “He had a tremendous workout ... plus he was good.” That always helps.

And Lind likes Scott Rolen (as he should.)

On Aaron Sanchez: “We didn’t have a lot of home-grown guys come up. He’s our best organizational player I’ve ever seen.”

Notice he still said "our". All my friends are leaving.


Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.