Thursday, 19 November 2015

Josh Donaldson named MVP of American League (and my heart)

I was waiting for the end of year awards to be announced before posting again. Just as an aside, that is really, really drawn out. I never noticed before the glacially slow pace of the announcements, but then again, I've never had that much interest in them because my team has so rarely had this many that were in the thick of it. I mean, Bautista has been in the discussion, as was Roy Halladay in his final few years with the Jays. But 2015 was genuinely magical and this reflects it.

Josh Donaldson is a most well-deserved MVP. He was an absolute joy to watch in just about every way possible. Mike Trout, still probably the best player in the league, gave it a good run for Donaldson's money in terms of numbers. But, to me, MVP is partly numbers and partly what that player's play brought to the team. Did the player elevate the team? And I think Donaldson did. Right from April, he made an impact. And baseball noticed his impact, leading the club to the first postseason berth in 22 years. Donaldson got 23 of 30 first place votes from the writers.


This much attention for MVP, as well as Price's second place finish for Cy Young, indicates just what a juggernaut the Jays were this season.

I'm a member of the Internet Baseball Writer's Association of America (IBWAA), so I got a vote in their year end awards. I spent time thinking about them and looked at numbers, both traditional (batting avg. and ERA) and newer (WAR, OPS+ etc). If the numbers were close, I thought about the team they were on and how their teams did. And I freely admit there was some bias. The different ways of looking at the MVP is evident in the choice of Donaldson and Harper.

Donaldson had numbers rivaling the runner up, Mike Trout, but was part of a team that stormed in to win the AL East. He had the edge because of where his team ended up.

Harper was by far the best player in the NL (and all of baseball) in 2015. But his team was a dysfunctional shit show, perhaps best exemplified when Harper was choked by mid season acquisition Jonathan Papelbon in the dugout. Harper had numbers no one could deny and won despite his team.

Feel free to argue with my votes, but I think I stand by them.

Here is how I voted:

AL MVP: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

AL Cy Young: David Price, Toronto Blue Jays

NL Cy Young: Zack Greinke, LA Dodgers

AL Rookie: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

NL Rookie: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

AL Manager: Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers

NL Manager: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

AL Rollie Fingers Relief Pitcher: Andrew Miller, New York Yankees

NL Hoyt Wilhelm Relief Pitcher: Jeurys Familia, New York Mets

Here is how IBWAA voted:

AL MVP: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (I had Mike Trout 2nd, Prince Fielder 3rd)

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (I had Joey Votto 2nd, Jason Heyward 3rd)

AL Cy Young: Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros ( I had him 2nd, Sonny Gray 3rd.)

NL Cy Young: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs (I had him 2nd, Clayton Kershaw 3rd)

AL Rookie: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (I had him 2nd)

NL Rookie: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

AL Manager: Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers

NL Manager: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

AL Rollie Fingers Relief Pitcher: Andrew Miller, New York Yankees

NL Hoyt Wilhelm Relief Pitcher: Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates (I didn't vote for him.)

And how the BBWAA voted (or the actual people who decide)

AL MVP: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

AL Cy Young: Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

NL Cy Young: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

AL Rookie: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

NL Rookie: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

AL Manager: Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers

NL Manager: Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs

I don't know how to explain the consistency, except that maybe the online writers and the mainstream writers are all falling in line and looking at the same things. It's a far cry from the Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera MVP vote of 2012. There was a clear divide there.

Some reaction:

Mr. Cathal Kelly with how unlikely it seemed for Josh Donaldson to get to this point. Mostly because he was a kid with a dad in prison. And also kind of a dick. 

Here is Arden Zwelling on Donaldson in the Clubhouse (featuring Cap n' Crunch) 

And more Zwelling on Donaldson.

Shut up, Ken Rosenthal.

Also, Josh Donaldson in GIFs. Which, besides maybe in person, the best way to experience Josh Donaldson. Homers, slides, defense, swagger and hugs. 

Also, Josh's reaction. He's at a loss for words and pretty emotional.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Phoning it In: Bautista and the Flip

To mix things up a little, I did an audio blog. Or a solo podcast. Basically, I love talking about the Blue Jays and not very many people allow me to do that. So I'm just going to talk solo.

It has no music and I'm new to editing and mixing so the audio is a little varied. I also recorded it on my phone (hence the name.) But I'm learning. My early blog posts were pretty terrible, too. (Maybe they still are terrible.)

For reference, here is the totally awesome article Jose Bautista wrote for The Player's Tribune.   It's what I talk about.

Without further ado, Hum and Chuck Presents: Phoning It In: Episode 1.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Cold, Wet Fish to the Face: AA out as GM

Well, if you were feeling too warm and fuzzy about the Toronto Blue Jays after the end of the 2015 season, today was a cold, wet fish to the face.

I guess we should always remember that this is a business and that people have agendas.

Though Alex Anthopoulos' media conference answered no questions about details, it's become clear that he just wasn't on the same page as the owners and Mark Shapiro. And if it's due to his diminished role in baseball decisions, I have some issues with that.

What exactly has Anthopoulos done to show he wasn't capable of making those decisions?

In the past 12 months, he has:
  • Traded for the AL MVP who is under control for many years
  • Signed free agent well-respected, Canadian catcher.
  • Traded a short stop whose contract was getting uglier by the day for a better shortstop and widely considered one of the best all around players in baseball. Also under control. 
  • Traded for possible Cy Young winner. 
  • Put together a team that not only made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years but also won the division.
  • Put together a team that filled the stadium routinely to watch it. Made 140 million dollars over three months in merchandise, ratings and ticket sales.
  • Came within two games of the World Series. 
  • Named Executive of the Year by his peers. 

And that's just this year. Yes, he's made some questionable decisions over his six years, but he's done a lot of good, too.

Anthopoulos is also young, clever and Canadian. He came up through the ranks of this organization. So one might argue that other people can fill this role and probably do a good job. But that is to deny how unique Anthopoulos actually is. And sure, the Jays could get someone else great, but it seems a bit ridiculous to have to when they already had a quality GM.

It finally felt like this team was actually going places after years of mediocrity and this happens.

I suspect Rogers knew the kind of control Shapiro wanted, but I would like to know why they would hire someone who doesn't believe in Anthopoulos' talent, doesn't trust his authority, doesn't believe in his ability to make decisions?

I know AA said it wasn't that in his press conference, but I don't know what else it would be. I also wish Rogers would remember that most people like this team despite the fact that Rogers owns them, not because.

This just looks bad.

This tweet happening during the conference call summed it all up about perfectly.

My favourite part of the media conference was when a journalist out of Montreal asked AA, in French, about what he thought the greatest accomplishment was. And AA answered getting rid of the black uniforms because he really hated them. What?

Other opinions:

Richard Griffin goes Full Griff 

Scott Stinson "Alex Anthopoulos’ Toronto Blue Jays departure a failure by ownership, and not a surprising one"

Bob Elliot: "Yet, the kid who left, turning down your five-year offer and new responsibilities, which maybe included supervising next year’s style of schedule fridge magnets, was a bit of a big deal in these parts."

Bruce Arthur: "Never underestimate this city’s ability to turn sports into farce. Anthopoulos had authored a fabulous season, something unbelievable. He loved it here. His kids were born here. It’s his dream job, at eye-popping money. He wanted to stay."

Cathal Kelly "Would I still be able to trade Gose without asking someone?” Mr. Anthopoulos wondered."

Ugh, my head.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Goodnight Blue Jays

Goodnight Sanchie. I hope you are a starter soon and healthy, too. You are filthy. Thanks for helping Marcus shower when he first got hurt.

Goodnight Liam. Your Game 4 performance, though in a loss, was legendary. I'll always say yes to your dress, mate.

Goodnight Mark Lowe. I'm impressed and also horrified you can fart at will. You look like Josh
Donaldson if I turn my head to the side and look at you. Copperhead Road is a completely badass entrance song.

Goodnight, Cecil. You were missed when you got hurt. You are a badass.

Goodnight Loup. I'm hope your new tiny baby grows up big and strong. I hope your 2016 is bounce back.

Goodnight LaTroy. Happy retirement.
Goodnight Roberto. Your youth combined with your steely resolve were amazing. Tienes sangre de horchata.

Goodnight Papa Buehrle. This is probably the end of your time as a Jay. I suspected you were awesome when you were with Chicago and I was right. You were great. Say hi to Slater.

Goodnight Marcus. Many thought the season was over when you tore your ACL in the spring. But what people didn't understand was the size of your heart and how determined you are. Lack of a ring doesn't diminish this. Never change.

Goodnight R.A. Thank you for your spirit and your love of books. Thanks for being so kind to Stacey May. Try not to give up so many homers in April. Little Horsey forever.

Goodnight Marco. Your near no-hitters earlier in the summer, combined with your epic Game Five performance have been cemented as great, epic Blue Jay performances.

Goodnight David. Thank you for your second half work and your gutsy Game Six performance. You showing up in the dugout after you were traded was epic. Please stay.

Goodnight Navvy. Thanks for all your hard work with Marco. It's strange to think of you as a backup catcher, because you are more than that role. Thanks for your game tying homer versus the Yankees. Thanks for accepting your new role and thriving in it. Thanks for telling Edwin about the hat trick.

Goodnight Russell. Your Blue Jay career started with your dad saxophoning in the Big O and there were magic moments all along. Thanks for your framing and your arm. Thanks for that homer against the Yankees. C’est tiguidou!

Goodnight GoGo. You blossomed in the second half and made gorgeous plays in the field. Thanks for blasting Jigga in the Rogers Centre.

Goodnight Tulo. You've only been here for a few months but you've already shown what a superstar you are. Eleven RBIs in the postseason. That epic at bat vs Andrew Miller.

Goodnight Bing Bong.

You are one of the great stories of perseverance. So many years in independent baseball and you never gave up.

Goodnight Josh.  I have no idea how the Jays managed to get you from the A's, but I'm very, very glad they did. Thanks for whatever rumoured sass that put you in the bad books with Billy Beane. You are pure magic.


Pure magic.

Goodnight, Edwin. Your power is amazing but your smiles are the best. I love those stretches where you are unconscious at the plate. There is no one scarier.

Goodnight Kevin. Your reckless disregard for your own safety in the outfield as well as for your dedication to swinging at not-strikes made you lovably maddening. You big freak.

Goodnight Dalton. Please never play scared again.

Goodnight, Ben. That Game 6 catch was a thing of beauty. Your exuberance was always very appreciated.

Goodnight Jose. We know how magic you are in the regular season, so your postseason should not have been a shock. But somehow it was. Flip it how you want to, boss. You are the greatest.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays

Goodnight Blue Jays

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.

 Goodnight Blue Jays.

Goodnight Blue Jays.