Sunday, 2 August 2015

Pure Theatre: Jays Win Series vs Royals

The rubber match on Sunday was a perfect ending to a really fun series. It got ugly, messy and kind of violent. The players were fired up and so were the fans. It was pure theatre. 

Josh Donaldson, who was plunked once, but was thrown at two additional times, was a little salty. Especially after a warning was given to both benches in the first after the plunking, and Volquez wasn't tossed after he buzzed Donaldson for a second time. The radio broadcast praised umpire Jim Wolf for his restraint, saying that it was an 85 mph changeup rather than a head hunting fastball. Fair enough, I suppose, but it was in the general direction of his face. I don't want a projectile travelling at my face at 85 mph. I think it was at this point, Wolf lost control of the game. 

He should have tossed Volquez, who clearly by his demeanor towards Donaldson in game and by his comments post game, wanted to get into it with him.  Volquez wanted to fight. He has before.

The post-game comments were amazing.

“There are no quarrels between that team and this team. These are two good ball clubs. There’s a warning given after he hit me in the first at bat. Guys get hit all the time, but you don’t see warnings thrown out all the time. But the reason he did it is because he knew just as well as I did that he hit me on purpose. So, he had two decisions there: one, he could have thrown him out immediately, which I don’t want him to do – I thought it was pretty good hittin’ so I don’t want him out of there – second, when you give a warning like that and you see balls continually thrown around the head area … it’s pretty much one of those things where you can’t question intent. There have to be repercussions for the warning at the beginning, and I think that’s where he (Wolf) went wrong at it.”

Things got even more insane when Ryan Madson plunked Tulowitzki on the forearm and then went inside nearly hitting Donaldson again. 

I don't think there was that much intent on Madson's part, but then Wolf tossed Gibbons when he came out to argue. The next inning, Aaron Sanchez threw a pitch that grazed Alcides Escobar's leg and Sanchez and acting manager DeMarlo Hale were tossed. 

Then the benches cleared (including a tossed John Gibbons- I've actually never seen an ejected manager return to the field during a fight. He didn't wear a mustache.

Gibbons seems like the type to be chill until you push him too far and when he gets mad, he really, really gets mad. 

During the melee, he also took time to get a little affectionate with Omar Infante. 

So what was up with the Royals?

"None of [the inside pitches] were intentional on our part," Ned Yost said. "It's part of the game. [The Blue Jays] are as good an offensive team as you're going to face. They have tremendous power, but they all dive to the inside of the plate which makes them susceptible to inside pitches.

"If you continue to throw away, away, away, you're going to get hammered. You have to throw inside."

I don't think Volquez or Madson got the team memo that those pitches weren't intentional because both came off petulant and defiant.

“He’s a little baby. He was crying like a baby.”

“He got mad at everybody like he’s Barry Bonds,” Volquez said. “He’s not Barry Bonds. He’s got three years in the league. We’ve been around longer than he has.”

“He was pimping everything. Somebody hits you, you’ve got to take it, because you’re pimping everything you do,” he also said

But yeah, no intent.

“For him to get upset, I don’t think he fully understands the game, or he just let his emotions get the best of him,” Madson said. “He thought that a warning means you can’t throw inside.”

I think Donaldson took offense because there was a warning and repeated attempts after the warning. He understands the game just fine. That Donaldson quote above indicates as much.

It's a lot of posturing and trying to save face. It's petulant and it's not a good look. 

The Jays very nearly swept the Royals. They won a game started by the new Royals pitcher. They walked it off in dramatic fashion. The Jays scored against the Royals vaunted bullpen. And Donaldson was in on a lot of that. 
Read more here:

“He’s a little baby,” Volquez said. “He was crying like a baby.”

Read more here:
The big takeaway from both this game and this series is that the Royals, and maybe by extension the league. have become afraid of the Blue Jays. 

And it's just going to get more ridiculous. 

I mean, behold:

"I want to use this space to ask the community of Royals Review if they think there's anything suspicious about the Blue Jays' ridiculous home split for hitting and slugging. I researched the topic for hours last night.

They've been busted before for stealing signs at home. Just google "Blue Jays cheating"; it's happened several times, actually. What do you think, community of Royals Review? Do you have any way to defend this?"

I'll give you a moment to stop laughing. 

First of all: "I researched the topic for hours last night." That's just funny. It really tickled me. 

Second of all: "Just google 'Blue Jays cheating' " Oh, the court of Google. That's legit.

Third of all: "They've been busted before for stealing signs at home." 

If he's talking about looking in while a guy is on second, everyone does that. If the pitcher/catcher doesn't like it, change the signs. 

If he's talking about the "Man in White" story, that was a story that was full of half-truths and not a lot of proof. The Jays were hardly busted. This isn't a "Deflate-gate" situation. The Blue Jays don't nearly have the clout that other teams have. Baseball would look into it if it was a thing. 

Also, you know who was on the Jays forever? Your starting right fielder Alex Rios. He would've shared this. You had Emilio Bonafacio, Eric Kratz and Liam Hendricks on your team last year. All former Jays. 

It just so dumb it's delicious. 

Lost in all this  brouhaha was that Dickey was, once again, fantastic. Pitching on short rest to accomodate David Price's schedule, Dickey held the Royals scoreless on two hits over seven innings of work and retired the last 12 of 14 batters he faced.

Dickey is in a real groove lately and watching his starts is really enjoyable. Over his past five outings, yielding just five runs in 36 1/3 innings (1.24 ERA) with a 26:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He also provided the more cerebral take on today's goings on:

"I think they're used to pushing people around. So when they come onto the playground and there's a kid that's bigger than they are for a day, I think it probably [ticks] them off. And I can't blame 'em. That's part of their swagger. That's part of what makes them good, and they compete hard ... You just can't ever take a moment off against a playoff-calibre team, and they are a playoff-calibre team."

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Blue Moon: Jays Walk off a Wild One vs Royals

That game felt sort of magic, didn't it?

The Jays won a game which Johnny Cueto, who was still pretty fantastic, started,  they came back down three runs twice, first against Cueto and then against a very good Kansas City bullpen and the Jays bullpen pitched really well. After a season of some scariness from the back end, it seems like things might be falling into place. The game got to the bottom of the 11th. Tulo got on, was balked to second by Franklin Morales (both he and Yost think the move is legal) and then Donaldson hit a single to left centre to end it.

"To get any kind of walk-off hit is exciting," said Donaldson. "You want to be able to share that with the fans, with your teammates. You don't get to do it very often, and when you do, you want to remember and you want the fans to be able to remember it too."

Donaldson had four RBIs. And provided this moment of genius.

What's he saying?

“I think what [the trades] gave us,” Donaldson said, “is more confidence in ourselves – that Alex believes in this team, the city believes in this team, we believe in this team. And when you add extra pieces like he did, it’s starting to really come together.....hashtag.”

And  this guy came to hang out in the dugout mid game.

Watching Price applaud throughout the game and then mill around with the boys after the walk off was just surreal. I still have trouble wrapping my brain around it.

I'm sure the whole day, with the blown tire, the driving across the border, the arrival in the clubhouse, the popcorn, the walk off and then the press conference felt crazy for him, too.

“You can feel the excitement whenever you’re in the dugout, you feel it in the locker room,” Price said in his post-game press conference. “This is a group of guys that want to win. This is a management and front office that want to win.”

"The long ball, they can hit homers, man," Price said. "They're a tough group to pitch against. Whenever you're pitching against a team like Toronto, you never have ... an inning where you can kind of relax a little bit. Not relax, but you don't have to go full bore, and with this team you have to be on your P's and Q's at all times.

"That's really tough. It's mentally draining when you face a team like this, because you constantly have to be in the game mentally because if not, we can put up runs so fast."

Be on your P's and Q's. I'm stealing that.

The Jays roll on with Buehrle on the hill.

Tulowitzki is sitting today and people are kind of losing their minds. The hyperventilating over small, minor decisions indicates to me that people are excited. I don't think it was anything to do with any sort of injury. Just remember that Tulo's entire life got uprooted this week. It was a long game last night and a day game today.

Today in irony, David Price had this to say about Danny Valencia:

“Danny Valencia, I’m happy to wear the same jersey as that guy,” Price said, flashing that grin again. “I thought I kind of kept him in the big leagues for a while. Not that he wouldn’t be in the big leagues if it wasn’t for me, but I didn’t hurt his case, for sure.”

Valencia was DFA'd this morning.

I don't know why Danny Valencia was DFA'd, other than maybe it's a money thing. I really hope the Yankees don't claim him, as he owns Price. Actually, I think it's pretty much guaranteed New York picks him up.

He is, by many accounts, a nice dude with a great smile and a biting sense of humour. And a great generator of Internet memes. I miss him already.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Five Things About This Week: The Jays go All In

1. David Price is a) a Toronto Blue Jay b) a Very Big Deal

So, in case anyone was wondering if the Jays were going all in and not waste the best offense in over a decade, Alex Anthopoulos dealt Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris (no word about the van) and Jairo Labourt to the Tigers for the services of soon to be free agent David Price. 

This is the biggest mid-season trade in Blue Jays history (since Tuesday.) And the Jays have their first legit ace since Roy Halladay. I would also argue that preventing Price from pitching for another team down the stretch, even if he stayed with the Tigers, is a bonus because he has historically owned the Blue Jays. 

As news broke yesterday, everyone was pretty excited. The clubhouse, the fans, the Twitter. 

“Yes, I am. Just like I’m a believer that the opposite can happen as well. When you don’t make a move you can often see teams kind of tank. I think we were victim of that last year, as a matter of fact, and I’ve seen other teams around the league that that’s happened to as well. I don’t know how you quantify it but I certainly think it gives us a big boost in morale.”

(BTW, the Jays now have both 2012 Cy Young award winners in a Jays uniform. Price joins Dickey, Halladay, Hentgen and Clemens as Cy Young award winners that have also been Jays.) 

Brand new Blue Jay Troy Tulowitzki: 

“Being in Colorado for as long as I was, we never made any moves like that. We had some times when we were coming down the stretch run and still in it, but we stuck with our team. So to hear that we got David today is obviously a huge acquisition. It’s exciting.”

Well, to be fair, the Jays have rarely made moves like that. This is new for us, too. 

“Hopefully this is the last day I’ll have to deal with it, and all the attention goes to David now and I can kind of run out the back door.”

Twitter was pretty awesome yesterday (as long as you don't read the subtweets. Don't read the subtweets, people. It'll harsh your buzz.)

From the man himself:
From the media:
The Yankee fan subtweets are pretty funny.

From Jays and former Jays:

I love this kid. He can come, too.

Price is supposed to arrive in Toronto today except he blew a tire on the way here. I hope this is not an omen.

But at least he got his wish:

Jays provided popcorn.

2. José Bautista is a human being.

In the 24 hours after the Jays landed Tulowitzki and before they landed David Price, Bautista was taking some heat from the media, which blew things way, way out of proportion.

After being asked about the Tulo trade, Bautista had this to say:

“If you want to look at it as a pure baseball move, I think there’s upgrades in different areas, maybe not necessarily what we need, but it is an upgrade, if you want to look at it that way.”

Let's remember that José Reyes and José Bautista are friends. Reyes is not just some dude that plays the infield to Bautista, but his actual friend in real life.

He said that he and Encarnacion had gone to visit Reyes after the trade was announced. It was probably a long night, so he was probably pretty tired (I know I was exhausted, and I don't even know these people.) But even if he had been completely rested, he's going to be diplomatic because of his personal relationship with Reyes.

Over on Stoeten's game thread, I think I said this to a dude about 15 different ways. The guys were friends. I don't know how it wouldn't be clear. Seriously, give Bautista 24 hours to process the information.

And part of this, I think, was Bautista wondering whether pitching was going to arrive. Because while Tulowitzki is an upgrade for the long term and it was a neccessary trade at the time simply because the Rockies had made him available, it wasn't as neccessary as some pitching reinforcements.

John Lott reports that Bautista was miffed with the media in how those comments were portrayed. And he should be, because they were no big deal, his position was totally understandable and it just seems like some members of the media just want to get into it with him.

Bautista left no doubt about his excitement over the deal:

“I’m extremely excited to play alongside Tulowitzki,” he said. “If anybody doesn’t think that I am, they’re a fool.”

There are plenty of those.

I love Angry Bautista.

3. Tulowitzki is Great (and a no longer relevant Jeopardy question)

Tulo seemed pretty overwhelmed in his press conference.

“The last couple days have been crazy for me, to say the least,” he said. “When you sign a 10-year deal, you think you’re going to be with that team for the long haul. To be with a different organization now is shocking. At the same time, I’m looking forward to the future because I see a winning team, a winning culture."

Tulo seemed over his shock in his first Jays game on Wednesday. He hit a home run and two doubles, drove in three runs and scored three times, and made a very nice play at short. The home crowd also gave him a standing O before he even stepped into the box. 

This could be very fun.

4. Osuna is sad and Colabello likes Taco Bell

I was in Toronto for a few days and I went to a signing at the Jays shop. One of the best parts (well really the only good part) is meeting cool people in the line. I waited in line with a lady and her daughter. The teenage daughter was a big fan and they were both great. We also watched a little girl sobbed while getting her ears pierced.

I was in the line while the Price trade went through, and there was a definite buzz in the line as it was spreading across social media.

This is my Osuna picture about 10 minutes after the trade was announced. Things were a little intense. He's a really nice kid, with very sleepy eyes. I told him I was the one who sent him Mexican restaurants in Toronto. I said they came recommended by my friend who is Mexican. Osuna said, "I don't have any Mexican friends here. I am sad."

And I said, "You can take Chris!" and then told Colabello that Osuna had told the press people had recommended Taco Bell when he asked about Mexican food. And I was like, "That's not Mexican food! It's barely food."

And then Colabello said, "It is good though." And kind of shook his head wistfully, like he was thinking about it.

Copious amounts of fat and salt are keys to a well balanced diet.

5. One more thing about David Price.

He and I go back a little bit. 

It arrived about two weeks later, in a little box. Those are my toes.

This is what I wrote at the time:

I don't remember if I mentioned this when it happened, but in May I won a baseball from David Price that was signed by every member of the Rays starting rotation. James Shields has the only legible signature, but luckily they all put their numbers next to their signatures. They also signed remarkably small for boys with big hands holding ball point pens.

I won this ball because I correctly guessed that the wad of gum in the picture Price tweeted contained 35 pieces of gum. The ball was mailed from Tampa to my house in a little square box and the ball currently lives in a Ziploc bag, awaiting a more auspicious home.
 Here is the Cut 4 blog post, in which Price calls me a young lady, which made me smile. I don't know why, as that's what I am. "Some bitch from Toronto" would just be harsh.

Price was really charming when I interacted with him over DM and I've always liked him, even when he crushed my team's hopes and dreams. 

I'm so glad he's ours, even if it's a brief time.  

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Reyes to Rockies, Tulo to TO (10 Years Later)

Ok, I'm lying in bed, goofing around on my computer before going to sleep and Alex Anthopoulos decides to pull off an insane trade.

No word yet on who the minor leaguers are, just that the Jays are sending cash towards Colorado and are also getting LaTroy Hawkins.

Tulowitski is the short stop who was still on the board on draft day that Keith Law and company wanted Riccardi to pick up. He selected Ricky Romero instead in 2005.

I have a feeling Anthopoulos was in that room, too.

Tulowitski is a big time talent and they did need to pick up a short stop with more range. In general, I think this is a pretty fantastic move.

I never thought Reyes was a serious detriment to this team (though he definitely was hard to watch sometimes.) What I really disliked is the way the media and some fans talk about him. I never doubted the man's effort or dedication. And Reyes has an all time great smile.

It doesn't really address the glaring starting pitcher shaped hole, but this may just be the start. It certainly sends a message to the rest of the league that the Jays are going for it this year as well as for years to come.

Alex Anthopoulos is coming for your star infielders. All of the them.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Have No Doubt: Cowherd's Comments are Racist

This appeared yesterday.

People were wondering what Cowherd could've said that got Bautista angry. (Angry Bautista, by the way, is one of my favourite Bautistas. Collect them all!)

And then I read it. It was a discussion about how an inexperienced Dan Jennings got the manager job for the Miami Marlins.

Deadspin posted a video of Cowherd's spiel and cut off after this choice line:

“It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic.”


Cowherd went on for longer than that and added a little nuance that some are convinced relieves him of being racist:
“It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world class academic abilities. A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have. Baseball is like any sport. It’s mostly instincts. A sportswriter who covers baseball could go up to Tony La Russa and make an argument and Tony would listen and it would seem reasonable. There’s not a single NFL writer in the country who could diagram a play for Bill Belichick. You know, we get caught up in this whole ‘thinking-man’s game.’ Is it in the same family? Most people could do it. It’s not being a concert pianist. It’s in the same family.”
Ok- for the Belichick thing, I'm going to throw it over to Andrew Stoeten:

For one, yeah, I’m sure Belichick is coming up with a formula for cold fusion, and only true scholars, like fucking Gronk and the guy who keeps murdering people, are going to be able to decipher his plays. For two, fuck Colin Cowherd and the people who employ him.
I would also like to explain to anyone who thinks this is a reasonable and not racist argument: people need to stop equating educational opportunities with intelligence.

After a break, and maybe a memo from a producer, Cowherd elaborated and said all baseball players are pretty dumb because fewer of them have degrees versus NBA or NFL players.

This completely ignores the fact that the NFL and NBA mostly draw from a pool of mostly US players and that the systems are completely different.

Also, from personal experience, I went to a pretty prestigious Canadian university and while I knew a lot of very smart people, I also knew a lot of idiots. And some of those idiots got degrees. It's not a measure of intelligence. It just isn't.

He also said that many of the Latino players don't speak English, but manage to live in the US and play baseball with no issue.

If anything, that would suggest that they are more intelligent. A lot of these guys learned English as young adults, which is incredibly difficult, and also manage to live in a completely new culture.

Finally, I have a huge problem with the "instincts over intelligence" argument because that sort of thing has a long history in racist theories. It's almost a calling card of racist intellectual thought. The word "instinct" is associated with primitive or animalistic. It's not good.

And as Hardball Talk pointed out, this began as a discussion about the relative capabilities of Dan Jennings and Cowherd threw in the stuff about Dominicans.

The MLBPA is pretty angry about the comments.

The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic, also said the lack of response from ESPN - and Cowherd's future employer, Fox, has upset its members just as much as the comments, and they will consider withholding cooperation with the networks. ESPN and Fox are national rightsholders to major league games, and Fox carries its jewel events, the All-Star Game and World Series.
MLB released an official statement:

“Major League Baseball condemns the remarks made by Colin Cowherd, which were inappropriate, offensive and completely inconsistent with the values of our game. Mr. Cowherd owes our players of Dominican origin, and Dominican people generally, an apology.”

It's all over Twitter:

Obviously, this is still evolving. It's still racist, though. And it's particularly upsetting that we are still hearing these kinds of harmful stereotypes paraded around as facts in sports media.

Two, Should've Been Three: West Coast Trip Starts with Series Win vs A's

West Coast baseball always throws me off. I get home from work after 5 pm and I eat dinner during the 7:07 pm game. 10 pm doesn't work for me.

Anyway, the series vs the A's was pretty good, but it was agonizingly close to being a sweep

Mark Buehrle started the Tuesday game and he was predictably workman-like in his awesomeness. He also did something Halladay, Stieb, Clemens and Hentgen didn't ever do as Blue Jays:

Buehrle became the first pitcher in franchise history to allow two earned runs or less while tossing at least six innings in nine consecutive starts. And typically, he shakes it off.

"I think any time streaks like that happen, it's going to come to an end, especially for me because I'm not striking guys out," Buehrle said. "Positioning guys, putting guys behind where the balls are going to be hit to, that obviously helps me out. I don't think I ever would have said I'd accomplish that."

I keep saying this, but I love watching this guy work. If we are rounding into the end of the Buehrle Era in Toronto, I am just going to appreciate every single time he pitches.

His success is also due to the fact that his offense gives him about 2000 runs per start. I don't know what folksy, self-depricating things Buehrle whispers to them, but it seems to be working.

Encarnacion, Bautista and Martin hit homers and Josh Donaldson contributed an RBI double in the 7-1 win.

Bautista tied Vernon Wells for second after Carlos Delgado in most franchise homers. Bautista was humbled by it.

"That's awesome because I really came here from a shaky situation in Pittsburgh and I was given an opportunity," Bautista said. "Everybody embraced me and welcomed me here and I've always been appreciative and I try to remind people that I'm really thankful for that."
"I have a lot to thank to Alex [Anthopoulos] and then also Cito Gaston and Dwayne Murphy. I'll never forget that and it's one of those things that always keeps you humble because this game can change quickly and dramatically."
The second game stretched long into the night. The Jays were in tough versus A's starter Sonny Gray but could never quite deliver the knockout punch. A's closer Tyler Clippard loaded the bases with no one out, and the Jays were only able to tie it via a walk. And then lost it in extras in a replay call that wasn't overturned.

"It's tough, when you're playing, it happens so fast that you don't really have a good idea," said Danny Valencia, who was playing first base, "But when you come and look at it on the replay, everybody in this clubhouse feels like he was out. Unfortunately it didn't get overturned. It is what it is."

It was weird watching the A's celebrate, suspend the celebration for a time for the replay and then resume. Weird, as well as annoying. The whole game was bullshit, frankly. 

I'm not convinced Davis was safe (though I admit my bias and was also watching in the middle of the night) but I would argue that the game should never have been decided by that play. It should've been won by the Jays earlier.

The third game had R.A. Dickey start in place of a barfy Drew Hutchison. And maybe because it was Drew's spot in the rotation, but the offense actually decided to give Dickey some run support for once in his life and his solid pitching over the last several starts was finally rewarded.

"I like to pretend that it doesn't affect you at all, but when you look up there and see 3-10 (win-loss record), it hurts, it's hard," Dickey said. "I'm hopeful to run off a whole bunch of wins in a row, thinking that things will eventually even out over the course of the year, but there's no guarantee that will happen."

"So, I just take it one outing at a time and being an older guy, I think it helps that I have a pretty healthy perspective on how to do that. I'm just going to try to do my job the rest of the year, let the cards fall where they may. I know that's a cliche, but it's the truth in this particular case."
Ok, stop looking at pitcher wins. It's a chump's game. Advanced stats are your friend, R.A. And maybe your offense doesn't hate you afterall. 
Dickey gives credit to Pete Walker for some extra work involving his hips (it's all about the hips with these pitchers) and warmer weather.
"I think after that Houston series, that's when Pete and I got in there and started grinding through some mechanical stuff," Dickey said. "Getting my hips involved a little bit more has helped for consistent velocities and that's really the one major adjustment I feel like I've been able to make.

"And, for whatever reason, I think the warmer temperatures may help. My body gets loose, I don't know, but my pitch certainly reacts differently when the weather is warmer."
Jose Reyes took bouncing baseball to the mouth (not the ankle or the oblique!) and was spitting a bit of blood. I read some idiotic Instagram comments on the Jays account calling Reyes soft. He was spitting blood! There was an inning left! You got to see your precious Ryan Goins! 
The more I read, the more convinced I am that there should be no comments on Instagram. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Second Half Starts With Series Win vs Tampa

The Jays had a pretty exciting first series of the second half.

The Rays are the only AL East team the Jays haven't been able to handle this season, mostly because they have solid pitching and have bizarre, previously unimagined ways of scoring versus the Jays. 

Friday, the game was tied 1-1 in the 5th when the Jays' bats did what the Jays' bats do- scoring five runs with Donaldson's two run homer and Smoak's three run homer.

And because it was Drew Hutchison at home, the pitching was awesome. Hutchison now has a 7-1 record and a 2.21 ERA in nine home starts. He pitched deeper into the game (which is what has truly been his issue this year) and had a pretty decent change working.

 Bautista, after having skipped the All Star Game, retured refreshed having rehabed his shoulder.

“It’s feeling better,” he said. “Definitely the rest and the rehab and the therapy helped, so I’m hoping when I start throwing baseballs today, it’s going to be a good feeling, free of any tightness or any soreness, and have full range of motion, and be able to hold that and maintain it from now to the end of the season.”

 Bautista wouldn't elaborate on what he did or where he went to get his shoulder treated, hilariously telling John Lott (and the rest of the beat) the treatment “involved going to rehab and therapy at the rehab and therapy place.”

 Bautista hit what was then the go-ahead homer in Saturday's game, but because it was an RA Dickey start, luck was completely sucked out of the building.

 “I haven’t had a year like this ever … when the luck just hasn’t been going my way. But that’s OK. So much of that is outside of my control. So it’s a great mental exercise to just try to put it behind you and keep going,” Dickey said.

 “I just have to keep concentrating on how I can get myself the best I can be, for more outings like that,” he said. “If I can consistently do that for our team, then more times than not I feel good about our chances of winning.”

 I hope he is truly this Zen about it, because it is pretty painful to watch. I hope he isn't feeling neglected because this much vaunted offense gives Hutchison or Buehrle 27 runs per start, and only manages to scratch out a measely run when Dickey is on the mound.

Or if the team does give him a few more runs and Dickey leaves with the lead, the bullpen decides that the Dickey start is the appropriate place for the weekly gut punch.

This was the game that illustrated how Tampa finds new and irritating ways to kill the Blue Jays.

I yelled, "WHO THE HELL IS CURT CASALI?" at the television. It was that type of game.

Looking at a Sunday rubber match with Chris Archer on the mound, it looked bleak.

Chris Archer, off the field, is one of my favourite MLB players. After participating in the All Star Game, he flew into Toronto for the rest of the break.
He then decided to do this:
Which is just fantastic. Archer also did Pan Am stuff, including visiting with the US Women's Baseball team.

(Women's baseball is new to Pan Am. It's a big deal. Flock to Ajax, kids. And follow Alexis Brudnicki on Twitter for everything you need to know about Canadian baseball and women's baseball.)

Archer has his own charity called the Archway Foundation. 

And he tweets this stuff:
I guess the kid was feeling extra charitable this weekend, because he finally lost to the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Archer has owned the Jays in 2015- 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA.

But on Sunday,  he surrendered a two run homer to Chris Colabello.  It wasn't much of a blow, but Marco Estrada didn't give an inch.

Estrada relied heavily on his changeup.

“We purposely went up (in the strike zone) a bunch of times,” Estrada said. “That’s what’s going to happen. If guys make contact on it, they’re probably going to pop it up. Hopefully, you miss up and either they swing and miss or pop it up. That’s kind of what happened today.”

Navarro caught him and had two key pickoffs of James Loney and Tim Beckham in the second and third innings, respectively.

“That’s huge,” Estrada said. “You’re out there , you’re battling and you’ve got a guy on third, and he comes out of nowhere and throws the guy out. You save a few pitches and mentally, it just helps out a bunch. So I’m very thankful and grateful for the way he caught back there. What he did behind the plate was awesome.”

It was a big win against a division rival. The Jays are still in tight in the East and have to have more series like this (minus the bullpen sucker punch in the middle game.)

“They gave us everything we needed,” Gibbons said. “We ended up winning two out of three, but the big thing was, we beat Archer. He’s been a nemesis of ours. If you’re going to go anywhere, sooner or later, you’ve got to beat the good ones.”

The Jays also announced that when Aaron Sanchez returns from the DL, he's going to be pitching out of the bullpen. I'm a staunch Sanchez = Starter girl, but if this maintains his health a little this season (so he doesn't have to go to "rehab and therapy at the rehab and therapy place"), and it both solidifies the bullpen and saves Osuna's arm a bit, too (so he, too, doesn't have to go to "rehab and therapy at the rehab and therapy place")

I think this move is the right one for the here and now. AA can focus on a starter and both boys can always start next year.

All quotes were mooched from various John Lott penned articles. He has the press pass I lack and does the best recaps around. He also took the picture at the top of this post.

See Lott's article about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (who was born in Montreal!) 

“He says he’ll make it in two years, in his mind,” said Ismael Cruz, the Jays’ director of Latin America operations, who handled the translation from Spanish during Guerrero’s first scrum with Toronto reporters.

I love this kid already. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Game 91 Illustrates Everything Bad Ass and Ass Bad about the 2015 Blue Jays

Did we really need one mega game of heat induced insanity to encapsulate everything that defined the first half of the season? (Minus one key element*)

Did we really need this to be the last game of the first half, leaving us to stew over it for three days without meaningful baseball?

27 hits, 21 runs scored (just 10 of them earned), nine men left on base, seven errors, two reviews and an ejection. 43 °C at field level.

Just punch me in the face, baseball.

This game featured all the things-

Wildly inconsistent starting pitching. 

Felix Doubront gave up 6 runs in the first, but then settled down for workman-like pitching into the sixth. The starting pitching has shown flashes of brilliance mixed in with some serious flaws.

“[Doubront] didn’t have his best command, but they were also finding holes — seeing-eye singles. Weren’t able to get those outs on weakly-hit balls,” Russell Martin said. “It’s definitely frustrating, but he stayed in the game, calmed down, settled down, and got some innings for us.”

Ridiculous, all world, amazing, "are you freaking kidding me"? offence.

This team was down 7-0 until the sixth and then started chipping. Royals pitching started to show signs of weakness and the defense started to fail. Single. Throwing error. Double. RBI groundout. Walk. Pitching change. Catching error. Double. Double. Single. Single.  Soon enough, it was 8-7. This was without Josh Donaldson. This team can hit. And not a homer in sight. Versatile. They are never out of it....until the pitching fails.

Wildly inconsistent bullpen pitching.

While all seemed lost (7-0 in the sixth), the Jays, as they are wont to do, stormed back offensively. And would then give it right back. This happened a few times until the bottom of the 8th, Bo Shultz gave up the go-ahead homerun to Paulo Orlando (who had two homers on the season- yeah, it was one of those games) and that made the final 11-10. Shultz calmed down and was fine, but the damage was done. Hearts were broken.

Jays lose a one run game.

Yes, it wasn’t the typical 2-1 type affair that seems endemic to the 2015 first half, allowing various talking heads to spew nonsense about meaningless runs (as if runs are somehow finite) but 11-10 is still a one run loss.

Defence that was frightening.

A few of those runs on Doubront’s watch were unearned or should've been. This was a horrific game in general. Of the 21 total runs score by both teams, 11 were unearned. Bad baseball. Very, very bad.

Scariness in left field. 

With Josh Donaldson sick and Jose Bautista DHing, it meant Encarnacion had to play first and Colabello was in left. Which just isn’t ideal. The dude is not a left fielder, but you do what you. He was charged with an error, and maybe really should've had more than one. This was an ugly, ugly game.

Mike Saunders' knee. I miss you.

Adventures at shortstop.

Jose Reyes makes a couple spectacular plays at SS, but boots a routine grounder, allowing a run to score. This encouraged fans on the Internet rip into the dude for several innings until Russell Martin had, what I assume to be, a heat-induced delirious TOOTBLAN at third base in the top of the 7th to draw attention away. Lost in the wailing was the fact that Reyes went 3-5 and got a hit off Wade Davis and his 0.25 ERA. Reyes giveth and he taketh away.

An umpire was a dick to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jerry Meals was particularly generous with high strikes for Wade Davis in the top of the 8th. Bautista wasn’t impressed, told him so and got himself tossed with the count 1-2. 

I’m not saying Bautista wrapped himself in glory here, but Meals should probably have done more to de-escalate the situation rather than taking off his mask to say more. It felt dickish on all sides at the time. At least, I thought it was the high strikes. Baustista, however, had this to say:

“What I said, I don’t feel was deserving of an ejection. He pretty much went out of his way a lot to confront me,” Bautista said. “I didn’t mention the strike zone. I didn’t use any curse words. I simply voiced my opinion and said that the pitcher was not coming to a stop because his leg kept moving — that he started his delivery without coming to a full stop. And he apparently didn’t want to hear it.”

So, according to Bautista, he wasn't arguing high strike calls, he was arguing that Davis wasn't coming to a full stop. Can you toss a guy for pointing out a balk?

In addition to all of this, I had to hear/read two things I hate as a result of the ejection- Pat Tabler criticise Bautista. (Shut up, Pat). Also, it encouraged people all over Twitter complain that Jose Bautista isn't a leader and should be an example to all the younger players, like he doesn't already give a great example of being kickass. (Shut up, everyone else.) 

Pat Tabler, completely in love with the opposition.

The Kansas City Royals, while they did emerge victorious, did blow a 7-0 lead and committed four errors. That didn't prevent Tabler from implying, throughout the weekend, that the Kansas City Royals  the greatest organization ever to organize. Ok, it was nauseating the whole weekend, but seriously, the Royals played like garbage yesterday. 

*Josh Donaldson, the best, was sick with flu-like symptoms. I'm guessing he got a little heat exhausted (43 degrees at field level and running around for hours would do that) and he got a little dehydrated and barfed. 

So that was the game that ended the first half of the season. It was amazing. It was exhausting. It was mind boggling. It was heartbreaking.

And this guy had a tweet to sum it all up:

Yeah, pretty much.

First Half Awards:The Toronto Blue Jays Edition

MVP Josh Donaldson 

Rookie Roberto Osuna 

With hat tip to Devon Travis, who missed a month with injury but seems to have picked up exactly where he left off.

Cy Young, Blue Jays edition- Mark Buehrle

"It's unbelievable," said Jose Reyes. "I've played with Mark Buehrle since 2012 and he's one of my favourite pitchers to play behind. He keeps you in the game. He's fast. Everything happens so quick. You're going to have a lot of ground balls and I like that."He has had an amazing career. He's been pitching 82-83 m.p.h. for all those years. He never gets hurt. He's out there every fifth day competing and that's a great example for the young pitchers that we have here. He comes in every year and you know he's going to account for 200 innings each and every year. That's amazing. You don't see that too often any more. Again, he's a great example for the young pitchers."

Cy Young, Blue Jays bullpen edition- Roberto Osuna


First Half Awards: MLB Edition
AL Cy Young - Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox.

NL Cy Young - Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals 

My favourite game of the year so far might've been when the Jays beat him. That was the two Kevin Pillar homers game. It felt hopeless but then it wasn't.

AL MVP- Tie- Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays and Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, followed very closely by Mike Trout. 

Homerism aside, I’d be ok if any of the three got it. Mike Trout is a god among men. And seems like a nice kid.

NL MVP- Bryce Harper.

And not just for some excellent muscle tone. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

New and Annoying Ways: Jays Blow Late Lead vs White Sox

That game got really stupid in a hurry. Mark Buehrle (as I suspected he would) went toe to toe with Chris Sale and the Jays were somehow ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th.

Jose Reyes booted a completely playable groundball and soon the game was tied when Jose Abreu poked a little something out to the outfield. Melky Cabrera then hit a two run double and that was basically the game. The Jays briefly got something cooking in the top 9, but Sale snuffed it out.

People climbed out from everywhere to hate on Jose Reyes. I'm annoyed at the loss of a totally winnable game, but I'm trying to be Zen this summer.

Reyes, to his credit, stayed to talk to the media and took full responsibility.

It was an ugly play and the situation has the potential to be "an emotional powder keg" as Stoeten put it.  And I think it's on Mr. John Gibbons to manage it.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I would've like to see Goins be subbed in for Reyes in a close game like that late. Especially considering Reyes had already hit the previous inning and, if the lead is preserved, is not going to hit again.

It's not a "FYRE GOBBONS" situation, but this loss is a little bit on him. (Like, say, 7%.)  Part of managing is using your bench when appropriate and another is to manage the massive egos that make up the team. And I don't know why the switch wasn't made.

Some are speculating that Reyes would be pissed off and petulant if he were pulled. And it would become an issue in the clubhouse and that's why Gibby was reluctant about doing it.

But I'm pretty sure it's been done before. The comments on Stoeten's site tell me that my suspicions are correct: Goins came into the game the other day when Anibal Sanchez was no-hitting them (when it was 8-0.) And on June 26th, Smoak hit for Reyes and Goins came in to play SS. One was a blow out the Jays were losing and the other was a blow out the Jays were winning. While neither were a tight game in the 8th, it has been done.

And honestly, if they are pulling Edwin Encarnacion late to save his body and get the better defence from Smoak, they could be doing it for Reyes, too. Reyes might not like it, but if it means winning more games and getting to the playoffs, I suspect he'll get over it. Especially seeing how upset he looked after the play (seriously, Sportsnet, was it necessary to keep the camera on him the whole time? "This is the one. This is the one that shit on your dreams!!!!!")

Also, Jose Reyes didn't give up a base clearing double to Melky Cabrera. But the guy who did was otherwise awesome tonight, so I'm not going to be too hard on him.

It would be awesome if this team would stop find new and annoying ways to lose. Seriously, boys, it's not a good look.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Section V, Subsection F: It's About Integrity.

Last night's game was pretty terrible. Matt Boyd gave up seven runs in the first before recording an out in the first. He never got that out because Gibby came to put him out of his misery. (FYI  to the SOSH dude. Boyd wasn't shelled by the Rangers. What you witnessed last night was a shelling.)

The Jays attempted to climb back into it because Wade Miley is both a lefty and also not that good. 

But it was a loss.

Now, I'm not that mad about the loss. Even with the loss, the Jays held ground and even with the win, the Sox are still pretty terrible. There is lots of baseball left and the Jays are right in the thick of it. It's a month before the trade deadline. Get some help, and this is definitely still something.

I'm pretty Zen. 

I'm willing to accept that the Jays "deserved" to lose that game. They didn't pitch well and didn't get the timely hits that were required (as evidenced by the small village left on base.) 

Watching the replay, I think Valencia dragged his hand over the top of the plate, though it's completely possible that he didn't. And I'm willing to accept that the umpire didn't think he touched the top of the plate and the replay made it impossible to definitively tell.

There is no doubt that there was no tag. The early out call meant that Valencia didn't try to touch the plate again. And the fact that Miley was very animated while telling Hannigan to tag Valencia again tells me there was no initial tag.

And I would argue that the catcher was blocking the plate with his leg and that he started moving over that way before he had possession of the ball, despite all the Red Sox fans on Twitter trying to explain to me the myriad ways that that was a legal block. It wasn't. His leg was across the plate before he had the ball.

Hannigan doesn't move his leg that much once he has the ball.
There were several things that pointed to the ump having made the wrong call, and the fact that the replay call failed to correct it was egregious. But I didn't realize just how egregious.

It took Twitter about seven minutes to chime in with definitive proof at how bad this call was.

Clever people on Twitter started combing through the rules and found one that refers to this exact scenario.

That pretty much describes this situation exactly.

Blue Jays Plus did a fantastic job illustrating how terrible this call was.   Ian Hunter provided great GIFs with several angles on this play. 

Ian also provided this
That's Danny Valencia, sadly smelling bullshit.

Let's read the rule again:

The call should be safe. Safe. It's right there. I will accept that an umpire might not know the rule book inside and out, off the top of his head. But someone sitting in New York with the rule book in hand should. It should be a searchable document, in a database. And they should have several clever people who know this stuff or how to quickly find it.

And if there isn't someone in the office in New York whose job it is to know the rules, that's a problem. It took fans (whose job isn't to know the rules) under 10 minutes to find this rule. Several people, who should be experts, who are employed by MLB, should be able to find this rule. That's their job.

Why have the rule if they aren't going to enforce it? Why is there a group of people, employed by MLB, if they don't know the rules and aren't correcting bad calls? Why is there replay, if it isn't to fix calls like this?

Of course, it's completely impossible to know how this changed the game, other than it denied them a run.  I will say that it completely sucked the energy out of the building.

8-5 and one out in the fifth with two men on and the top of the order coming up. With this offence. Against that pitcher. I'm willing to bet that was the game right there. Any momentum was stopped in its tracks.

The game itself was a complete write off. A village was left on base. The pitching was scary. The Jays didn't lose any ground in the playoff race. In the grand scheme of things, this loss isn't that big a deal because it's baseball.

But I'm not all that casual about what happened in the bottom of the fifth.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Canada Day Trip to SOSH: Buehrle, Porcello, Five Homers and City Moose.

To celebrate Canada Day, the Blue Jays decided to lay a beat down on the Red Sox. SOSH was a bit slow today. Kind of lazily whining.

I know it's only Buehrle, but that lineup against a lefty seems ungood.

Stop underestimating him. The guy is a freak and he can dominate you. Underestimating him only makes him Buehrl harder. 

We are 6 games out of the division lead. And 6 out of the Wild Card. For as shitty as we've played, that blows my mind. Let's keep rollin'.
Seriously. Get back to .500 and we're in this thing.

Jon Morosi talked about parity in the East and he likes the Rays.   Hear him bleat about it in the link. I'm not sure they are going to "seize" the division. The Yankees do have the worst team ERA in the AL in June, so that's fun. 

They discussed a bit about bullpen availability. Koji, after three days work, is out.

It's all good, Porcello usually goes deep into games...

This guy might be kidding here. But I kind of hope he isn't, because his day is about to be totally ruined.

Don Cherry throwing out the first pitch today.

It's true.

Buehrle has indeed become burly.

There was a casual back and forth about how fat Buehrle is. He's a big dude, but in the tradition of fat baseball players, he doesn't really measure up.

Porcello starting like he wants to make sure everybody there has a happy Canada Day. 

And we did.

This guy got out of his little slump.

my god, Porcello sucks.

Often SOSH picks one of the players and it's a game long whine about how terrible this particular player is. His play, his contract, his face- it's all up to be bitched about.  As you'll soon see, Rick Porcello was tied to the whipping post today.

That shit was mashed.

Is the extension the Sox gave Porcello the worst since Ryan Howard's?The delta between what they gave him, and what he would have gotten after the season is massive.

These people. 

Fuck you, Rick Porcello, fuck you hard.
Never going to win 4 in a row with this starting staff. Just too inconsistent, too many blow-out starts.

Nope, probably not.

I'm thinking about a game in 2012 at the Rogers Center, when Valentine left Jon Lester in to take about 5 innings of this kind of punishment. 

I remember that game. He left Jon Lester out there to just get punished. Some in the inner Red Sox circle thought that that was where Valentine really lost that clubhouse. A clubhouse with chicken and beer. That was a fun year.

Porcello continues to suck, good value in that contract....

Fuck a phantom trip, I hope someone breaks his legs.

People were wondering if they could just phantom DL Porcello to be able to call up a kid from Pawtucket. Of course, it wouldn't be SOSH if someone wasn't wishing severe pain and injury on one of their own players. Joy at the injury of another team's player is the other classic hallmark of a good Red Sox fan.

Kept a close eye on Justin Smoak for years in Seattle. He's a terrible hitter. For Porcello to give up that bomb to words. I don't know how any major league franchise justifies starting him anymore, contract or no contract.

Who keeps a close eye on Justin Smoak when you are a Red Sox fan? Also, for Porcello to give up a homer to him is not so egregious. Smoak used to play in a pitcher's ball park and now he plays in the Homer Dome. Also, toss him in this lineup, he might see a few more tasty pitches. 

Justin Smoak had a great day at the plate. Two homers, one from each side of the plate. The one from the right side of the plate was a bomb off the windows.  I, for some reason, didn't realize he's a switch hitter.

I got Sox 9 Blue Jays 7 final

Dreams are important.

This is over 500 pounds of guys facing each other.

Another "Buehrle is fat" comment. Seriously, he's just not that fat.

Mark Buehrle: Just Not That Fat.

This "stirring the pot" thing that the Jays do after every hit is really starting to irritate me. 

Oh, I'm sorry a team is having fun. To be fair, it would probably annoy me, too, if I wasn't a fan. But I am, so it doesn't and STFU. 

Joey Bats, 0 for 19 and gets healthy off Porcello. good for everyone who's slumping today.

Yeah, cause Jose Bautista was never going to break out of a slump. It's so unlike him to be able to hit. It's all Porcello and has nothing to do with Bautista eventually returning to his natural state of being a boss.

I really both like and hate Buehrle.  Hate that he is so much better against us than against the MFYs, but like that he is a reliable, quick-working, innings-eater.  

He has been notoriously terrible against the Yankees. Buehrle did finally beat them this past May and then yelled at the media.  It was kind of great.

If you give up homers to Smoak, your contract should immediately become voided.

Seattle is notoriously allergic to offense. Toss Smoak in this lineup, he might see a few more tasty pitches. But sure, keep whining. 

I'd keep him out there just to humiliate the fuck out of him. Then maybe he'll ask for a trade and we could get a very valuable bag of balls in return.
This is just depressing after three really good wins in a row.  Same old shit, different day.

Baseball is hard.

F Pillar. He really shows how valuable an amazing defensive CF can be.

I don't care about Canada day.

Well, Canada Day doesn't care about you.

You know, the kids are doing so well, that if we had the last year versions of Ortiz, Napoli, Hanley and Panda, I'd probably still listen to the game, even with a large early deficit. If we had the 2013 crew I'd listen to the last out.  It's amazing how quickly and badly the 2015 team can suck the life out of a game. Rightly or wrongly, I have no confidence in their comeback abilities.

It's summer. Go for a walk or something.

This whole team should be placed in a dumpster.

This must be really frustrating for such great fans.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a new hue on the spectrum of human suffering has been identified.

12 years. Three World Series.

So is Pillar today's Junior Felix, Boston destroyer?

That's throwback name. I think Reed Johnson was this about ten years ago.

Sonny Gray remains hospitalized due to "severe gastroenteritis." Watching this game, I know how he feels.

So that's what happened to him. My dog had that once. It smelled like cows had moved into the house.

Innings aren't the only thing he's good at eating apparently.

Mark Buehrle is 6'2" and listed at 230 lbs. That's not slim, but seriously, if he lost 10 to 15 lbs he'd be pretty average for a pro-athlete. If 10-15 lbs is what separates you from being "average", you aren't that fat. 

Maybe they were just bored of making Fat Panda jokes.

John Farrell: Preparer of Men

The John Farrell Era in Red Sox history is going to end as a spectacular shit show and I, for one, can't wait.

Realistically very few thought we would sweep the Jays. We've won the first two and getting our ASS KICKED today. A new game tomorrow, we'll take three out of four and head home winning the road trip.

No. Also "Realistically very few thought we would sweep the Jays." Heh. 

Red Sox 29-38 when Hanley appears in a game (well, soon to be 29-39), 7-5 when not.

Just throw in a "Hanley Sucks" comment for a bit a variety. Don't want to get too bored with the "Porcello Sucks" comments. 

What if he's killed in an "accident". Do the Sox have to pay the rest of his contract or does insurance take over?

They went from wanting to break Porcello's legs to wanting him to die "accidentally". What charming people.

Gotta love a Buerhle start though, no?  Game time of 2:19 with one team scoring double-digit runs? Impressive.

Buehrle starts must seem especially quick to these people because Clay Buchholz takes ten hours between pitches. Joe Kelly is not that much better.

Now Miley battles the one start rookie lefty Matt Boyd in the series finale. Boyd got shelled by Texas in Toronto this passed Saturday. With the roof closed, Texas took him long 3 times. The Jays will be hung over. On Canada Day, you have no choice but to indulge. The Wiley one has this. Three of four and home to deal with the Astros. Can now only hope it's not getting late early.

Ok, whatever. Three solo homers is not exactly "shelled" and the tone of that game could've been completely different if Gallardo didn't pitch as he did. I mean, four runs for this team is cake.

Plus, according to Fangraphs, the Blue Jays have an .865 OPS vs left-handed pitching this season, tops in MLB by nearly 80 points

But whatever, cling to your narrative.

And that's it for SOSH.

Speaking of Matt Boyd, John Lott had a great piece about Boyd playing hockey and watching Hockey Night in Canada as a kid. He also visited Toronto for a hockey tournament when he was nine.

“That was the first time I went to a Blue Jays game,” he said. “I remember that my buddy and I snagged two balls during batting practice in the left-field, second-deck bleachers. We went to the Hockey Hall of Fame twice. Just loved it. And I remember we were walking around and there were all these moose or cows, I can’t remember which, all over town, and they were painted.”

They were moose. It was "Moose in the City."  There were 326 of them. They adapted the idea from Chicago, which were cows. People vandalized the moose. There was a hotline to call for "moose abuse". It was Mel Lastman's Toronto. It was the Millenium.

This was the Labatt sponsored one that was outside the then SkyDome. It's name was Jay Moose.

The fact that Boyd has vague memories about this makes me like him even more.