Friday, 11 April 2014

When Things get Freaky: Toronto Fails to Sweep Houston Away.



So I hurt myself rolling my eyes at something from Richard Griffin over at the Toronto Star. Some watching the Jays were a little huffy about RA Dickey being switched with Dustin McGowan, though I'm not exactly sure why. Many are saying it was Dickey's request (demand?) to pitch inside at the Rogers Centre (which he believes is better for his knuckleball) rather than outdoors at Camden Yards vs The Orioles. 

Griffin argues that it's Dickey putting his own results over the results for his team, as if a pitcher pitching well doesn't have a direct impact on the game and greatly improves the chances of a team win. 

"He throws a knuckleball, has a personal catcher, only emerged as a frontline guy at the age of 37, believes in his heart he is affected by wind, heat and humidity and takes all that into consideration when planning his schedule. Finally, he has no elbow ligament."

I can't quite get worked up over this. People get on Dickey about wanting "a personal catcher" in Josh Thole, but it isn't about some sort of mystical chemistry between them. It's about the fact that Thole can catch the damn thing. And by the way, the wind, heat and humidity stuff are not Dickey's "feelings", it's SCIENCE. Here is a New York Times article from 1987 on the science of the knuckleball. And frankly, all pitching is science. Physics, to be precise. 

Griffin argues that McGowan could've gain confidence facing the "punchless" Astros. Or McGowan could've struggled again, left in the third and Gibby taxes the bullpen before a big series with division rival Baltimore Orioles. 

The Jays signed a freak pitcher. It would be odd to complain when things get a little freaky. 

All of this got more heated after Dickey left the game, behind 5-1. Tim and Sid on Sportsnet were moaning about it this afternoon. "He got everything he wanted. What happened?" 

Here's what happened. Brace yourselves, because it's shocking. 

Dickey got tired. 

It's not like the guy gave up 5 runs in the first. He did throw 108 pitches and pitched into the 7th. He got tired and the knuckle stopped dancing. The offense didn't quite get anything going against lefty Dallas Kuechel, but the game was basically tied into the 7th inning. Dickey wasn't perfect or anything (not even close), but he did keep his team in it until he got tired. It's why I recommend Gibby go get Dickey, even if he feels he's got a few more in him. Even if he makes his mad face. Every pitcher worth his salt is going to say "Yeah, skip, I got this." Even if he doesn't. Even if his arm is detached in a bloody mess on the mound. It's up to the manager to make the decision, even in when faced with mad faces.

Fifth starters get moved around a lot. It's not exactly unusual. And it's not like McGowan blew the doors off in his first start. Had he done that, I might feel a little more passionate about this decision. But I just don't. If you want to feel pissed off about it, I guess you can. 

All that being said, the Jays needed to win last night and need to play more consistently overall. No more bunting when you feeling like it. Fewer vigorous but lost little lamb looks from Lawrie. Better pitching (yes, including Dickey, despite everything I wrote up top.) More consistent, boys.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

159 More: Buehrle and Bautista



So, 159 more games like the one Wednesday night, am I right?

Mark Buehrle struck out 11 Rays last night, his highest total since April 16, 2005 when he pitched for the White Sox. He has only gotten to double digit strikeouts three times in his very long career. He dominated in a way that I don't think he's ever dominated as a Jay. And it was glorious. As a commentor on DJF put it, "Buehrle for Jesus."

As the game went on, and as the number of guys was striking out looking rose, I began to wonder what exactly the Rays were looking at. But likely, as is the case with baseball in general, it looks a lot easier than it is. Slow pitches combined with quick pace delivering them must contribute to the magic.

Or the pitches were just so awesome, they were struck dumb with the awesomeness and were powerless against it.

Buehrle traditionally has started a little rusty in past seasons and his April ERAs are usually a little bloated as a result. It is only one game, but I'm interested to see if this game means he's bucked the trend.

Buehrle and Navarro worked well together, and illustrated the kind of back and forth chemistry that can happen in a game.

“When Navarro set up away, I hit the glove away,” Buehrle said. “We went in, [and] I hit the glove in with good movement. Just keeping them off-balance, getting ahead in the strike zone. Obviously, the defence was amazing. If they don’t make some of those plays, I’m not out there probably past the sixth inning.”

DEFENCE. It's amazing what a bit of defence will do for a pitcher like Buehrle. Yes, the pitching sucked last year, but I also think it's important not to forget the suckiness of the defence in 2013, and how it compounded the suckiness of the pitching. Suckiness².

Also, Navarro looks like a very large toddler.

Bautista, the other hero of the night, noticed the chemistry and the defence, too.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “You feel like you’re on defence for a short period of time and on offence for a long period of time. It puts pressure on the other team to execute not only on defence but on offence, and play the game in a complete aspect with the pressure of executing the small details. And I just go up to the plate and start teeing off on balls.”

Yes, teeing off on balls. Bautista hit his first jack of the season, and then decided he might as well get the
second one out of the way, too. He looks healthy, locked in and strong. Encarnacion hit a bomb that was just foul, so I suspect he'll follow suit very soon.

After the disheartening first game, the Jays have pulled themselves together for the second two. It is only three games, but to seem them guarantee at least a series tie in the house of nightmares that is The Trop is a pretty great way to start the season.

What's that, Jose Bautista?

“I don’t see any problem with talking about goals even if they are in the short term, and challenging yourself and challenging ourselves as a team,” he said. “Not being able to win a series here for a long time can certainly be taken as a challenge coming into the series, and even more now that we've put ourselves in a position to win it. Tomorrow’s game to me is going to be extremely important.”

I really like Mark Buehrle's style of work. He works quickly, he throws strikes and gets it done. I even loved how even when Gibby came out to get him in the 9th, denying him the complete game, Buehrle just sort of shrugged it off. I think I need this girl's shirt:



And finally, for @captainlatte. May one day your dream come true.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Faites La Vague Comme Jamais!: Baseball back to Montreal


































The baseball weekend in Montreal was magic. Flat out, pure magic. The come from behind victory on Friday night, the late inning homer on Saturday. Bautista hit a homer. Lawrie made a kickass play in the field. Encarnacion tied the game. Lifelong minor leaguer Ricardo hit a walk off single. Melky finally hit a homer, after raking without a homer all spring. The bullpen was solid, capped with Aaron Sanchez making us weak in the knees with two solid innings out of the ‘pen. Larry Walker high fived Youppi while taking a selfie.

Perfect.

I don’t know if Montreal can actually support a major league team. I think some of the success of the weekend is the result of the effort of the past few years to make Blue Jay fandom a country-wide phenomenon. What I think might be a good idea is to move the Mets’ AAA affiliate from Las Vegas (which reportedly is hated by all) to Montreal. It's a 90 minute flight. Do it. 

Stoeten was there.

An Excerpt from Jonah Keri's Up, Up and Away.  Keri had basically the best weekend ever, btw.

Montreal Baseball Project.

Pedro Martinez was sadly absent from the Montreal, which bummed me out considerably as I love Pedro Martinez, particularly now that my team no longer has to face him on a regular basis. He didn't give an official reason, but he did release this message through the Montreal Baseball Project. Here it is in French:

J’aurais sincèrement voulu être parmi vous pour voir le baseball majeur revenir dans l’une des plus grandes villes dans le monde, avec mes amis et mes anciens coéquipiers. Je suis retourné à Montréal de nombreuses fois, mais malheureusement, je ne pourrai assister à cet événement marquant. 
20 ans, ça semble déjà si loin, mais les souvenirs seront toujours aussi présents. Montréal et ses partisans sont uniques en leur genre et je n’oublierai jamais ces beaux moments passés en tant que membre des Expos. 
Je veux lever mon verre à ce 20e anniversaire, et à tous ceux qui travaillent d’arrache-pied pour ramener le baseball à Montréal.

Beautiful.






Sunday, 30 March 2014

Pitching and Bitching (Part 2)


The second half of the rotation shades  younger than the first half, and contains considerably more question marks.

Brandon Morrow spent most of 2013 on the disabled list. And I assume he spent much of that off time in the weight room, because the dude looks huge. He reportedly packed on 20 lbs of muscle since last season. Whether or not the muscle keeps Morrow off the DL this year is still up in the air. His upside is huge, and he has shown the ability to be a number one over the past few seasons. I not only want him to succeed for baseball reasons, but also for this:
I’ll get behind anyone who tweets about Jeopardy.

“From the first day he came into camp, he told me he was going to be in this rotation,” said Pete Walker, the Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach. “He told me probably half a dozen times that first day. So I kept patting him on the shoulder and said, ‘OK, show us.’”

Drew Hutchison, the baby of the staff, backed up his talk. He sat out last season after Tommy John surgery and returned to pitch his face off this spring. He has a 1.80 ERA in the spring and his fastball velocity is at 93-96 mph. It might be nice to not have to count on Hutchison, but here we are. And I’m ready to see what he’s got.

Dustin McGowan rounds out the rotation. Drew Fairservice argues that McGowan was never really that great. And while that might be true, I honestly just think it's time to just throw it out there. Say what, Pete Walker?
He’s a bright guy and he knows how well he responded last year and he pitched well out of the bullpen and can certainly have a nice career doing what he was doing. But I know his aspirations have always been higher. I think he feels like he’s close to that again and I certainly can’t blame him for wanting to do it. I think he always saw himself as a top-notch, front-line starter in the major leagues so to kind of put yourself in the bullpen and accept that, the way he’s feeling I can understand why he wants to do it. I certainly hope that’s the case and he turns into that front-line starter.” 

I have no expectations. Seemingly every pundit picked the Jays to finish last, which is entirely possible, but the same ones picked the Jays to finish first and we all know how that turned out.

Relax and let it ride. We'll always have Adam Lind's spring training beard.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pitching (and Bitching) Part 1




Real life encroached on blog life, explaining why I haven’t written in an age. I've returned to talk about the most joyful topic, the starting pitching for the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays.

The way the situation has developed over the spring has made me feel both anxious but finally ok with it.


The press surrounding the pitching situation has been sort of depressing. The pitching is a problem, yes, but the constant hand wringing is a bit tiresome. The team was over hyped coming out of spring training in '13 and now the hype has gone in the other direction. Maybe we should just all let them play and see what happens. 


"Guys really know that this is a big year for us, collectively," R.A. Dickey said. "We're kind of getting a mulligan this year. Last year, a lot of things went wrong. This year, we're pretty much all healthy, we're here, we've been here all spring, we've been able to do relationship with one another and now we're in a much different place than we were last year, and it's a much more comfortable place."

The Ervin Santana saga was disappointing, but I'm not sure what else AA was supposed to do. The Jays made their offer, thought they had a verbal agreement, but apparently not as Santana signed with Atlanta two days later. Given that Santana signed with the Braves for only 100 grand more than the Jays offered and also spurned the Orioles, who offered even more money plus  incentives, it pretty much seems that Santana wasn't going to sign with an AL East team. The trick with free agents is that they are free….to do what they want. 

Ricky Romero had a couple of decent starts, getting people talking, and then had a bad one, getting people talking again, but louder and with more garment rending. Romero, along with Marcus Stroman, has been sent to the minor league camp.

When asked whether the horrible start factored into the decision to have Romero start in Buffalo, Gibbons had this to say:

“It didn't help But we just feel they both need more work. As far as Ricky moving in the right direction, we really like what he did in this camp. Just go down there [Triple-A Buffalo] and polish it up.”

Romero is what he is. A few good starts in the spring weren't going to make him a serious contender for the rotation, just as a terrible start shouldn't officially write him off until the end of time. If he continues to do the positive work he demonstrated in Florida, Romero can still help the team out. It's a long season.


And then yesterday, five were finally named to the starting rotation:



R.A. Dickey

Mark Buehrle
Drew Hutchison
Brandon Morrow
Dustin McGowan


Dickey went 14-13 last year after winning the N.L. Cy Young in 2012. The inconsistency was mostly due to soreness in the first half and also pitching in the Homer Dome. Dickey's spring has been a little rough. He was hit hard against the Yankees on March 26th, a game the Jays ended up winning despite it.
Today was not a day about results," Dickey said. "What was paramount for me was to exercise my arm in a way where I felt good. I was able to use a large range of velocities and I mixed in pitches that I would never throw during the regular season. They put in their heads it's another weapon that I might use on them later. So, I did exactly what I wanted to do."
Dickey's memoir Wherever I Wind Up has been optioned by TriStar Pictures and Buzz Bissinger, who wrote Friday Night Lights , about high school football in Texas, which was made into a movie and a tv show and Three Nights in August , about an August 2003 series between the Cubs and the Cardinals, is writing the script. That's pretty neat.



Mark Buehrle is the definition of a chucker. He is consistent and steady, and is all about pitching smartly. He’s not flashy, but he gets it done. Tightening up the defense, thus limiting the amount of pitches Buerhle needs to throw in an inning, should help his numbers over last year.  His last start, which happened on his 35th birthday, was pretty fantastic.



“I had a good rhythm, used a lot of fastballs early and was hitting my spot,” Buehrle said. “It seemed like everything was working.”



The past two starts had been vs minor league teams, and Buehrle appreciated facing big league hitters.



“The last two starts in the minor leagues you can roll over innings,” he said. “Here you can’t, something clicks about it. I can’t just get my ass handed to me in the first couple of batters and they’re not going to roll the inning over so you got to get out of it. Something clicks and you just figure it out.”


Buehrle pitches next in Montreal against the Mets. 


Pesky real life has prevented me from attending, but I hope those who are making the trip have a great time and those in Montreal who miss having big league baseball in their gorgeous city soak it up. 



Players  from the Expos ‘94 team, including Felipe Alou, Moises Alou, Larry Walker, Pedro Martinez(!!!!!), Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, Marquis Grissom, Sean Berry, Wil Cordero, John Wetteland, Darrin Fletcher, Lou Frazier, Gil Heredia, Ken Hill and Denis Boucher will be attending. 





Montreal was a very different experience for major-league baseball, wasn't it?
It had a certain something. I’m not going to lie, some of it was because of the strip clubs, maybe, or the great food. But much of it was the unique culture. You know, when you heard the public-address announcer say “le voltigeur de centre, the centre fielder, Andre Dawson” – that’s special. And they had to figure out a lot of these terms on the fly. Jacques Doucet, the play-by-play man, goes on the air and says, “We need a term for picking someone off first base.” This is a very complex idea to express and a professor came up with “prendre quelqu’un à contre-pied” – catch someone on their wrong foot.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

11 Days: Notes from the Last Bit of Offseason


I just realized, even though I am up to my armpits in wet snow, that pitchers and catchers report in under two weeks. That means the long and dark time without baseball is nearing its end.

A lot of things are happening after a long period of inactivity. Actually, not a lot of things are happening, there is just more talk so it seems more things are happening.

It's been a very quiet off season for the Jays. It's been a quiet off season for most teams, save the Yankees. The Yankees are once again trying to prove how evil they are by spending all the money. Piles and piles of money. Their haul now includes Masahiro Tanaka, the much sought after pitcher from Japan. It's a seven year deal (with a year four opt-out) worth 155 million dollars. And, for whatever reason, I just can't get worked up over it. They still lost Cano.

The only thing I am going to worked up over is that the Jays lost every series in the Bronx last season. Every single game. The Yankees had close to the same record as the Jays versus everyone else, but killed them in the season series. That needs to not happen. It's imperative. I'd argue that the season depends on it.

Jack Morris has gone back to Minnesota, even though they hate him and told Jays fans how much he sucked, thus lowering our expectations and making us cry even more about the loss of Alan Ashby. But Morris turned out to be awesome. I'm not going to begrudge a man going home (Morris is a native of St. Paul, one of the twin cities the team is named for) but I'm going to miss him. I liked his no nonsense approach and his storytelling, which complimented Jerry Howarth's folksiness quite nicely. Above all, I'll always appreciate Morris for this:

“I went up to Salty and I told him,” Morris said. “He said, ‘It’s dry in Boston, and I’ve seen him put water all over his pants.’ I said, ‘Salty this isn’t my first [expletive] rodeo.’ He didn’t know what to say to that, so we ended the conversation right there.”


And thus, a legend was born. Also, it's dry up in Boston? I've spent some time re-reading a bunch of things written at the time and it was all pretty fun. And then the Sox went and won the World Series. That was less fun.

Also jumping off the Rogers Broadcasting Merry-Go-'Round is Dirk Hayhurst. One of the things I found interesting about Hayhurst is he seemed to take on the tone of who ever he was working with. He'd get folksy with Jerry Howarth, which drove me bananas, but he would take on the crustiness of Jeff Blair on Baseball Central, which I found much more enjoyable. I've enjoyed his books and I guess I'll miss him. I do remember disagreeing with Hayhurst about something (maybe keeping Anthony Gose and jettisoning Colby Rasmus) and I discussed it with my dad. And my dad gave me this:
"Just because he wrote an interesting book doesn't mean he knows what the f*ck he's talking about."
Yeah.

As to who will replace Hayhurst and Morris, it's pretty open. Some have suggested this guy. I'm going to consider that an audition reel.


The State of the Franchise event was sort of bland, as events with pre-screened questions tend to be. It was mostly a rehash of "Five year contracts" and "The pitching. My god, the pitching!!!" and a ridiculous question about signing Michael Young. That questioner, who likely has had season tickets since 1977, had his dreams dashed when Michael Young announced his retirement a day later. The event would be so much more exciting if they didn't pre-screen the questions and let the people drink beforehand.

The vast expanses of grey concrete visible with the turf pulled up warmed the cockles, didn't it?

Pitching remains a big concern. Anthopoulos has mentioned several times he wants to see how the market shapes up before making any offers to pitchers, notably Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Emerging as a bit of a wild card option is AJ Burnett. The idea of bringing him back is pretty crazy, but it's the kind of crazy I'm interested in. It's a long shot, as I think the only AL East team with a shot is the Orioles as Burnett lives in Maryland and has a wife who hates to fly, but as Ben Nicholson-Smith argues Burnett just might be the best option:
Burnett would be a major upgrade for most teams, including the Blue Jays, if he sustains his recent production. In fact, it’s easy to make the case that Burnett has out-pitched the other top free agents. In 2013, he led Jimenez, Santana and Arroyo in categories such as wins above replacement (4.0), strikeout rate (9.9 K/9), ground ball rate (56.5%) and — even at age 36 — average fastball velocity (92.5 m.p.h.). Over the course of the last three seasons, Burnett leads the group in wins above replacement, strikeout rate, ground ball rate and home run rate.
Plus, he's just so darn flaky. He's a gift to bloggers everywhere.

But for several reasons, mostly because I never get what I want, I'm not getting my hopes up. As Richard Griffin puts it:
"It's hard to go back in time. Remember, Burnett left the Jays to sign with the Yankees to be closer to his Maryland home. He still wants to pitch with the same familial proximity and he will be asking for more 2014 money in a one-year deal than the Jays will have to pay annually for either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. Or in fact for several other of the remaining free agents on the starting pitcher list still available. A.J. won't happen."

The "Ian Kinsler trade to Toronto veto" story has had some legs. Shi Davidi reported that Kinsler vetoed a trade to Toronto before the trade to Detroit for Prince Fielder happened. The deal would've included Encarnacion, and for that price, I don't want to do it anyway. I want to add a pitcher and a second baseman, not subtract necessary power. 

People pearl clutched about the idea that Toronto was rejected while Detroit was accepted, but Ken Rosenthal reported that Kinsler wasn't even approached about a deal to Toronto.  

So relax, Toronto. No one called your baby ugly.

And this:


Justin Verlander snuggles up with Kate Upton, proving, once again, it pays to be a King of Earth. But I have so many concerns. The satiny, magenta pants? The shirt open to the third, "douche" button? Nice teeth, though. Justin, your grin is approaching "shit eating."

And finally, RIP PSH




















Addiction is the worst. Looking over his body of work, it's clear that Hoffman was a crucial part of some of the best movies of the last 20 years. That's him as Art Howe in Moneyball and watching that movie, the guy has the physicality of a big league manager down. It's more than just the body, it was how he carried himself. It's on Netflix if you have somehow never seen it. Brad Pitt eats a lot in it.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Three Hums and Chucks for a New Year.

I haven't written anything in just over a month, which is pretty terrible, so I thought I would finally do a little something.

"From now on, we're only talking to Roy!" 

















I was in the car going to visit my parents when I heard that Roy Halladay had announced his retirement and that he had signed a one day contract with Toronto so he could retire a Blue Jay. I audibly gasped and put a hand to my chest. It was all very dramatic.


My favourite Halladay game was when he one hit the Yankees on September 4th, 2009. It was a strange game. I randomly sat across from my dad and his friend. I knew he was going to be there, but I walked up to buy my ticket and coincidentally bought a seat across the aisle. I sat in front of a guy who was Canadian in a Mickey Mantle jersey who lived in Los Angeles. He told me about the different experiences to be had at Dodgers Stadium vs Angels Stadium. It felt like Halladay was possessed. It was an awesome performance. 

Halladay's Brandy told the Toronto Star at the retirement press conference that they will always love Toronto.

“Somebody asked me once, ‘Do you think you’ll ever come back?’” Brandy said as Roy descended from the stage. “I kind of chuckled and I thought, ‘Well, why wouldn’t we ever go back? We didn’t leave because we didn’t like it. It always was home and that’s where we spent so much of our life. Braden was born there. He’s 13 now. It’s always been home for us.”

I have this "enemy" on Twitter who periodically reappears to remind me that he doesn't like me or my blog, which is fine, but I think I first got on his list when I suggested he reconsider calling Halladay a "traitor" after getting traded to Philadelphia. It's a sentiment that came up again on Twitter from a few different places, and it really has just become a litmus test for me to see if you are an ok person. The man signed two below contract deals when he was the best pitcher in the league to stay with Toronto, because he wanted to win with Toronto. When it no longer seemed like the player and the team were going in the same direction, he quietly requested a trade. Which he got. I mean, jeez. It's also something that came up when Jacoby Ellsbury left the Red Sox to sign with the Yankees. Sox fans called him a "trader" (sic) on Twitter and Boston media called him a mercenary. As far as I'm concerned, they are all mercenaries.We should all realize this.


I like the little hand wave Halladay does in this when the bank robbers ask if it's him.

I watched hockey. 



I actually don't mind hockey all that much, I just resent it a little because it is discussed in our media to the point that there is no space to discuss any other sport and because dumb people wonder why things like baseball can't be more like hockey. But I watched the 2014 Winter Classic and actually cheered for the Maple Leafs. I liked the old school uniforms, the brown goalie pads and Bernier's toque. I admired Bernier's performance even more than the toque and was happy the Leafs won in the shootout, if only because I thought Bernier deserved it. The Leafs have this way of winning even when they get outplayed. That's a skill. The game was messy and a bit ridiculous, but I think that's why I found it pretty awesome. The pictures were also great.



The game was also notable because 105,491 was the announced attendance, and it broke the Guiness World Record. The crowd seemed pretty split between Leafs and Red Wings fans, so each goal was thunderously celebrated.

“For a single game, as far as the atmosphere and everything, this is one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of,” Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall said. “Probably [ever] will be a part of. Over 100,000 people, in a setting like this, with the fans really into it — a great experience.”

Colby Rasmus to Skip Winter Tour; Goes Duck Hunting

Colby Rasmus was a hot topic on Twitter today after the announcement that he wasn't attending this year's Winter Tour. He went last year. He curled and stood on a tank in the snow.


It was glorious. People asked Colby's dad via Twitter was his son wasn't participating. Tony Rasmus (@FlorenceFalcon0) tweeted that he would call his boy if his boy weren't out duck hunting in a swamp in Arkansas.


That would be somewhat concerning as I don't want Rasmus traded and I also think he's found a place in Toronto that's accepted him. But he hasn't had his contract extended yet, and I would think just about everyone is on the trade block. It's the nature of the business. See what I said above about mercenaries.



Monday, 2 December 2013

All But Gone


































Several years ago now, the artist formally known as "Archi" Zuber (now of the Score) and I went to Cito Gaston's final game as Blue Jays manager. We sat along the first base line and cracked wise with each other and those around us. It was all very friendly with a guy who was sitting in front of us, until the subject of Cito's decision to start John Buck over JP Arencibia came up. 

Both Zuber and I agreed with Cito. My thought was that Buck was the veteran, going into free agency. Cito was always known to favour the veterans and likely Cito was giving Buck the opportunity to pad his numbers a bit, rounding off a very solid offensive campaign. Arencibia had been a call-up, and was seen as the catcher of the future and would get the starting catcher job in the following season. He would have plenty of time to live up to whatever his potential was.

Well, making this argument to the guy in front of us was apparently equivalent to saying you drop kick kittens for fun. He stopped interacting with us. He wouldn't even look at us. It was so abrupt and obvious that Zuber and I have referred to it as the defining incident of that whole game and have brought it up in the years since because it was just so damn weird. The dude could just not handle that this was our opinion. He thought it was just so wrong. He was offended.

I was reminded of this incident now that it seems the Arencibia Experiment is over in Toronto. The Jays have signed Dioner Navarro for $8 million over 2 years and Shi Davidi (as well as a few other people) now report that if the Jays can't find a trading partner for Arencibia, they will non-tender him by midnight, making him a free agent.

One can't really argue that it was hard to see this coming. Arencibia had a terrible 2013. Various people have argued that he's just living up to his pre-ordained terribleness, but I think it also had something to do with the fact that he played with bursitis in his knee for most of the season. It didn't really explain why the guy refuses to take a walk, but it might explain why some of his numbers that were at least approaching average fell off a cliff in 2013. 

But it wasn't just that Arencibia was having a terrible year, it's that he wasn't handling it very well. JPA got into that public feud with Hayhurst and Zaun and took to Twitter to vent about various things. I didn't agree with a lot of the things in that whole situation. But if you are a public figure, it's just not a good idea to do that because it just sours people on you. And fair or not, Arencibia did become the poster boy for the terrible season. This is a move that needed to happen. If you are anti-JP, you can see this Navarro signing as an needed improvement behind the plate. If you are pro-JP (and yes, those people do exist), see it as a chance for the dude to move on.




A bunch of other people wrote and talked about this move.

Here is just one of the things Stoeten over at DJF had to say about the situation.  Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs made very reasoned arguments . Wilner and Ben Ennis podcasted about it.

Shi Davidi wrote more about it, illustrating just how ugly it's gotten.

"What’s clear is that the team believes Arencibia’s personal collapse this past season created too much baggage on both ends for them to continue together, and that his potential was unlikely to be realized in Toronto."

Yikes


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Goodbye 2013: Boston and a Book.


Well, the worst thing imaginable for a 2013 Jays fan happened. The Boston Red Sox, in the year after John Farrell left the Jays for his "dream job", won the World Series.

It's fair, as they played the best, both in the AL and in the World Series. They had some very solid pitching by Jon Lester, especially, and an Ortiz hitting performance for the ages. Dustin Pedroia is amazing at baseball and I will shout it from the rooftops if I have to.  But I wrote my one "hey Boston, you're alright" post this year and that's my quota. Drew Fairservice wrote a nice, balanced piece over on Getting Blanked. The Red Sox were serviced fairly, if you will. 

So they can have their parade and tug on each other's beards all winter for all I care. I do think the parade route going over the Boston Marathon finish line site was rather offensive, but if members of the Red Sox brass use one of their four intact limbs to cut cheques to the victims, I'll get over it. Don't forget them, Boston. 

Hey, Red Sox (and Sports Illustrated) about this picture:


You know who has got a really nice beard? The guy who had a .688 batting average and .760 on-base percentage, the second-highest numbers in World Series history. He reached base 19 times in 25 plate appearances sporting a nice beard. Without his herculean effort, you'd just have your beards.  But you know, keep broin', bros. And don't worry about the stereotypes that hang around your ballclub and fanbase. 

I discovered Boston writer Luke O'Neill over the last month or so, he wrote this  and has written about his issues with the #BostonStrong phenomenon. He wrote this after the Sox won. 

I'm still not going to give that much credit to Farrell. He and Mike Matheny seemed to be in some sort of contest to see who could make the most boneheaded managerial moves and have their team overcome them. This is still the "Brandon Workman hit in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series" World Series. I'm not entirely sure pitchers make good managers. I think catchers make the best managers. But Matheny was a catcher, so maybe it's all a wash. I really do appreciate this guy calling in to WEEI to complain about Farrell the morning after they won the Series. That's dedicated misery. And amazing.

I've made peace with it all. St. Louis, while blessed with rather amazing pitching and some pretty, pretty ponies, also has some comically terrible fans.

Chicago Cub Adrian Cardenas wrote a beautiful piece for the New Yorker about why he quite Major League Baseball, sounding every inch the philosophy/creative writing student he has become. I mean that in the nicest way possible.

The New Yorker also bid farewell to Tim McCarver, in an article that makes me wonder if the writer has never heard of Vin Scully. Because " intense, intelligent, deeply informed, excitable, verbose, folksy, intellectual, opinionated, and morally fervid participation in the events on the field inexorably takes hold of you, the listener, and pushes you into the adjoining seat" is Vin Scully.

I'm really going to miss watching playoff games with my dad and hearing him mutter, "No, Tim. That's wrong. Stop being so wrong, Tim." It's the end of an era.

McCarver's argument that the "obstruction rule" should be changed to include the umpire's consideration of intent was another classic. Because allowing the umpires the opportunity for more subjective judgement calls are really going to enhance everyone's enjoyment. I'll argue that the "irregardless of intent" part of the rule is the best part and makes me love it a little. Especially when Joe Torre puts on his sweater vest and glasses and reads it to me from the official rulebook.



Before I close the book completely on 2013, I want to say a few things about Great Expectations: The Lost Toronto Blue Jays Season. John Lott, who co-wrote it with Shi Davidi, reads this blog and I frequently steal player quotes from his National Post work to illustrate whatever point I happen to be making. I enjoy his writing in the Post and it's on good display here, as is Davidi's always strong coverage.

If you are looking for a prescription for baseball success in 2014 or a simple answer about what went wrong in 2013, this isn't that book. I'm not sure that book could exist.

What it is, however, is a very complete portrait of the men that worked for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. There are a lot of stories, things that weren't always discussed within the season or extra tidbits that give a more complete picture of memorable instances. I'm sure it's true of many teams, but this 2013 version of the Blue Jays is full of stories. Stories about men that come from different places, to a city they aren't from and try to put on a show and win more games than any other team of men trying to put on a show.

The book's strength lies in the stories and the characters that emerge. Mark DeRosa is, in some ways, the star of the book. I've come to the conclusion, through this book and the interview he did with Mike Wilner during the World Series, that the Jays need to find a way to make DeRosa a long term part of the organization. He's smart, both in the baseball and life senses of the word, and the work he did with Brett Lawrie is worth every penny of that $750,000 he earned.

Casey Janssen has an amazing work ethic and understands fundamentally what his role is. He and Darren Oliver (who, naturally, has a couple of great quotes of his own) lead the reclamation project bag of toys that was the bullpen, one of the genuinely success stories of 2013. While Jose Bautista came from a middle class existence that many of us in Canada can probably relate to, fellow Domincan Jose Reyes used to ride a donkey to baseball practice and he used a milk carton as a glove. The Mets signed a 16 year old Reyes for $13,500, which sounds like a pittance but was enough to change the lives of his family forever. He built them a new house with that money. 

The image I associate with  the 2013 season was Reyes crying on the field after he sprained his ankle. Joyful man with all the talent, crumpled and sad on the field.





This book is full of stories from beyond just 2013. Frank Catalanotto drove a distraught Ted Lilly home after his infamous encounter with John Gibbons on the field in 2006. Lilly felt awful for the way he had behaved. John Gibbons' blow up at Shea Hillenbrand over the "This ship is sinking" incident earlier that season shook a lot of the players up because they had never seen him that angry. Hillenbrand has found Jesus in the years since he left baseball, and talks briefly about the angry man he used to be. 

John Farrell advocated releasing Edwin Encarnacion, during his early 2011 struggles. I think that means, by all rights, Encarnacion should tee off in Fenway and use and abuse the Green Monster until it bleeds.

R.A. Dickey is a poet who happens to pitch. Mark Buehrle cried when Kawasaki was sent down to Buffalo. Well, his eyes were described as "wet", so I'm sure it was very masculine.

There is much debate about what team chemistry means and how it contributes (or doesn't) to team winning. If team chemistry is made up of how much a team pulls for one another, I don't think that was a problem for this team. Everyone cared about winning and about each other. They pulled for each other. There were a hell of lot of team meetings.

I don't have a solid grasp about what exactly happened in 2013 but I think it's some combination of this: due to pressure or expectations or the World Baseball Classic, the team didn't gel immediately and got off to a bad/slow start. Injuries (which were varied and plentiful) prevented them from overcoming that slow start in any sustainable way. Looking over a season of baseball, it becomes clear that a lot of things have to go right, some sort of formula needs to fall into place. And there has to be pitching. Lots and lots of pitching.  

The book can be a tough read, not because it's hard to follow, but because reliving the hope of the offseason followed by the crush of the season unfolding was hard. But if all we have left of this season are great stories, this is a book full of them and  is thus a worthy addition to any baseball fan's shelf. 

Although the book did refer to "the ballad of R.A. Dickey" to describe his pitching season, I'm not pursuing legal action.



Monday, 28 October 2013

Cardinal Country



Visiting my parents this weekend in Port Dover, I noticed this when I was driving around past Harry Misner Memorial Park, the ballpark home to the Port Dover Minor Baseball Association. 


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Something



Well, that was something. I never imagined that this World Series was going to be this entertaining, but it's very, very entertaining. That was one memorable baseball game.

It will be remembered in the decades to come for the obstruction call that ended it, but there were several contributions making this one a classic.

I described umpire Dana Demuth's strike zone as "festive" on Twitter. By festive, I meant awful. There were pitches called strikes seemingly at random and there was never any kind of consistency.

Both teams got away with some very questionable moves and plays. Yadier Molina (who is an absolute delight to watch play) was held at third by third base coach Jose Oquendo on Jon Jay's fourth inning single. Yadi is slow, but no one in the MLB is so slow that they can't get home when the ball is being throw towards home by Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury conceded the run. As Drew Fairservice puts it, send the man home, Jose. Let Yadi be free.

My other favourite Oquendo moment was actually during the obstruction call in the 9th.














I'm sure there is a good reason for Oquendo's action, but the visual of him hap haphazardly twirling his arm and then running from the scene is hilarious.

John Farrell had himself a rough, rough game. There were a few decisions that were questionable, but none were more questionable than having relief pitcher Brandon Workman hit in the 9th inning. With Mike Napoli sitting on the bench. And the opportunity for Farrell to double switch Uehara and Ross still open to him. One might argue that Farrell didn't want to use his closer in a tie game on the road, but then he makes the pitching change and brought Uehara in anyway.

"I felt like if we get into an extended situation, which that game was looking like it was going to -- [I] held [Napoli] back in the event that spot came up again," Farrell said. "Like I said, in hindsight having Workman hit against Rosenthal is a mismatch, I recognize it, but we needed more than one inning out of Workman."

Oh, Mr. John.

And you are right, Grant Brisbee:  Brandon Workman hit in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series is a sentence indescribably decadent to type.

All of this madness culminates in a walk off Cardinal win on an obstruction call.



It was a call that was a hell of a lot more controversial in the minutes after it happened than it is now. The more I watch the play and read the rule, the clearer it becomes. When the rule cites an example that illustrates nearly exactly what happened, you can't really fault the umpire for making that call.

Crew chief John Hirschbeck explained after the game, “Obstruction is the act of a fielder obstructing a runner when not in the act of fielding a ball. It does not have to be intent. There does not have to be intent, OK? Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner. That’s basically the rule.”

The rule:

The only subjective part of that rule is where the umpire decides whether the fielder is still "in the act of fielding the ball." I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that Middlebrooks is still in the act. And how many times do we see a throw to third missed and the sliding runner pops up and scores pretty easily? That happens all the time. Craig didn't score easily because he was being obstructed by Middlebrooks.

I recommend watching the umpire press conference. Joe Torre wore tweeds and a sweater vest. He puts on his glasses and reads from the official rules. 

Few other observations: Dustin Pedroia is an amazing baseball player. It's much easier to appreciate when he isn't personally killing my team. That play at the start of the above video, where throws home to get Molina. He also threw behind Matt Holliday to pick him off after Holliday strayed too far when Ellsbury missed a fly out. He just knows what he is doing.

Every Red Sox player and fan really needs to stop talking about the call going against them because it is making them look foolish at this point. I'm looking at you, Jake Peavy.

"…He (DeMuth) has already proven that he can not see things correctly in Game 1. (He missed) a pretty obvious (call) 4 feet in front of him … I hope he rests well tonight in his hotel room knowing what he did. That is a joke, an absolute joke. I’m sorry. Go to talk to him and ask him if he feels good and right about his call to end a World Series game on a diving play… it’s just beyond me … I don’t know how anybody can say, ‘Yeah, that’s how it should have ended.’ Go find me one person that’s OK with that call, other than Cardinals fans, because they won the game.”

Jake, I was ok with that call. It's the right call. Go lie down for a while.

People are smart:

Joe Posanski

Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus

Grant Brisbee


Friday, 25 October 2013

Two Games In: All Tied Up


So, two games into the World Series from Hell, and everything is all tied up. As soon as I openly expressed my desire for a Detroit/Los Angeles World Series, I had a creeping suspicion this was the World Series I was going to get. The only way I was going to accept a Red Sox World Series was if I was going to get one vs the Dodgers, so I could see the big 2012 trade in direct contrast and see Puig hitting bombs over the Monster and blowing kisses to beard-os.

Yaisel Puig isn't in the World Series, but he did play Little League with some kids. "It was Puig! And we jumped the fence!"


Is that playing the game the right way?

Game 1 was nightmarish for the Cardinals. I think Wainwright wasn't getting his curve over for strikes and that was all compounded by the defensive miscues happening behind him. Jays fans are well aware of how stupid things can get in that ballpark, and things got really, really stupid.



In the "really, really stupid" category: A Cardinal minor leaguer tweeted about Jon Lester doctoring the ball in Game 1. That story was talked about so much that Mike Matheny actually apologized on behalf of the Cardinals organization and Jon Lester said the words "green booger" in a press conference. Also, a statey sang "God Bless America", which is fine, except he did it wearing a Marine uniform. He's never been a member of USMC. They generally don't like it when people do that.

Game 2 was better for the Cardinals. Carlos Beltran, who left game 1 after he went where Torii Hunter couldn't, returned to the lineup and little rookie Michael Wacha (who was drafted in 2012, by the way) pitched like a boss. This discussion about Wacha took place via Twitter:



That's some high praise.

Pitching is such a weirdly, freakishly beautiful thing to do:



I discovered Carlos Martinez, both on the field and off and I can't say I mind him.

This happened:
 


Which was nightmarish for Red Sox fans and funny for the rest of us. Come for McCarver's comments, stay for John Farrell's face.

And then this:



That's struck out the side.... on eleven pitches.

A lot of interesting baseball things have been popping up around. 

Jonah Keri talked to Alex Speier about Sox team chemistry and Matthew Leach about the Cardinal Way.

The New York Times wrote about David Ortiz being the new version of "Mr.October". I love David Ortiz, but I would also just stop pitching to him. He is on some kind of fire right now.

On Getting Blanked, Dustin Parkes wrote about how the Cardinals got so damn good perennially. Grantland talked about it, too.

Jim Leyland's career is eulogized over on Sports on Earth.

Mariano Rivera talks to Charlie Rose. This guy is just such a gentleman.



Thursday, 17 October 2013

Postseason Thus Far: A Loving Look Back


I've been pretty clear on Twitter that I really want to see a Detroit-Los Angeles World Series. I find both teams exciting to watch. They both have great pitching and have the challenge of trying to get it done with key pieces injured. 

I think Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the game. I think Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher. A showdown between these two would be something to see. Both of these teams have pitched incredibly well in the postseason. As a person who enjoys enjoys pitching, it's really been a feast. 

I also find both the Red Sox and the Cardinals to be sort of odious. My feelings on the Red Sox are well documented. I admire several players on that team, but I find the whole "our gritty, bearded white men, led by our saviour, genius manager John Farrell" to be a nails on chalkboard type narrative. 

I don't dislike the Cardinals as much, but I have long found the "Cardinal Way", "best fans in baseball" reputation to be a bit much to take. Plus, Colby Rasmus is my homeboy, and they still talk trash about that guy in St. Louis press. I also think that this goes for Sox fans and Cardinal fans, and it will go for Jays fans if our team ever pulls it together: just because your team is beloved locally doesn't mean that every sports fan across the continent should love that team, too.  Not everybody is going to find it's players charming or loveable.

The Cardinal-Red Sox World Series was really boring in 2004. And:

I mean, really.
I visited SOSH after the 7-3 Red Sox loss to the Tigers, hoping to find some classic SOSHian moments. I was not disappointed. 

Let's keep winning and not go back to Boston until the World Series eh?

I figured this wasn't going to happen. I will give credit to all sides in these LC series. Each team has been in every game and it really feels like it could go either way in both series. Just admit that, fans.

Fister's no hitter won't escape the first inning tonight.

This actually turned out to be true. But it really didn't end up mattering at all. 


Some Dodger fans here at the Riviera. They are vocal in their annoyance with Puig just now. Nice to see it isn't just people here who get pissed with him. 

Those Dodger fans in the Riviera (meaning either the hotel in Boston or the so called "Irish Riviera" in Mass.) need to get over themselves. Puig celebrating the triple was sort of silly, I suppose, but the fact that he still managed the celebration and then leg out a triple is amazing. That's pure talent. 

And why does it not shock me that the SOSH crowd has an issue with Puig? Button up your jersey, Beard-o and then come talk to me about "respect for the game". I'll let Yasiel take it from here:




All that fucking matters is that Doug Fister gets smoked with a fucking line drive of his fucking skull so he has to leave the game. Then the Red Sox can pummel the bullpen until the pulpy flesh of their baseball souls resemble the pus and blood filled swollen mass on Fister's head. 

Charming. I really hope these fans get another World Series.

Early in the game, they really liked Peavy.

Peavy looked GREAT that inning.

But it didn't last.

They rhymed:

Hey, Peavy, don't be sleazy and throw some strikes.

And then it got ugly:

Wow. Peavy is... Not looking good.

Peavy looks like a bag of shit right now.

Peavy looking like utter dogshit.

Fuck you, Jake

THROW STRIKES 

That is the key. Few things are more sickening for a pitcher and anyone cheering for a team than the sudden inability to throw strikes.  If you don`t throw strikes, innings tend to get a little large in a hurry. This inning turned gargantuan for the Tigers.

Does Peavy have any idea how to throw strikes right now? 

No, apparently not. 

How many BBs was it going to take to get Farrel out there to talk to the man?
It's his dream job.

Fuck you, Pedroia.

Many have been saying that for years, but I still have grudging respect for that guy. 

I'm pretty sure they just got a "in the neighborhood" call. I'll take it.

In the neighbourhood? Not even in the same area code.



Pedroia has not been good at all this postseason 

The ceremonial eating of the young has begun.

Pedey has been pretty meh all playoffs. Some really bad defensive plays. Whatever is going on with him, he needs to get his head on right.  Delicious, delicious young.

Well done Peavy, Farrell and Pedroia.

I really hope Jake Peavy dies between innings.

Yes, Peavy really has earned death for pitching a bad inning. He didn't even grow a beard!

Needed a Maddon like manager this inning.

I wonder how the guy who compared Maddon to Bobby Valentine feels about that. 

Peavy shouldn't make another pitch this season. Traded Iglesias for this bullshit?

I learned on Twitter that what happened can be translated to Spanish as: Peavy completamente descontrolado. And I love it when mid season trades come into direct contrast like this. Baseball is really fantastic.

Good job, John. Gave them the game. 

Nice to see post season Farrell

Holy fuck Farrell. This is a terrible managing job.

Farrell is an AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL in game manager.  There's no question how bad he is. 

Nice job Farrell. Lets let him put the game out of reach. 

I hate to say that but he (Farrell) has disappointed time and time again.  You got 2 guys in the pen capable of going 4+ innings, easy.  Not sure they'd be better, but would they be worse?

I just wanted to throw in as much "Farrellball" stuff as I could. Sure it's petty, but the Jays had an awful season. 

They had a long debate over who was most at fault: Peavy, for not throwing strikes, Pedroia for booting the DP and Farrell for not pulling Peavy. 

I vote none of these people. It was all pretty crappy baseball on the part of Peavy and Pedroia. But it's baseball. It happens.

I don't know if Farrell should have pulled Peavy. I see the merits of leaving Peavy in to save the bullpen and see if the bats get it going against Fister, but I also think digging a huge hole and essentially "giving away" an ALCS game, when they could've gone on up three games to one, is just bad. I don't think Farrell did that. 

I'm not going to begrudge these people Farrell frustration. This is exactly the scenario I imagined as soon as I heard the "dream job" stuff from ol' Johnny Jump Ship. Gregor Chisholm tweeted something I will quote until the end of time: Just because someone has managed good teams doesn't make them a good manager. John Farrell should get whatever credit he has earned for having a healthy, talented team in 2013. But I'm not going to buy into some "Farrell saved the Red Sox" narrative at the expense of giving the players the credit. The Red Sox played their tails off this season. It's not John Farrell who saved them or gritty bearded men. It's healthy talent.

I will, however, blame all of the SOSH commentators for this bad inning. They really do confirm the worst stereotypes about Red Sox fans.

I still dream of a Detroit-Los Angeles World Series. I think the baseball gods owe me that much. 

Thursday, 19 September 2013

There Is Still Good in the Blue Jays World (Apparently)


After my baseball best friend, Edwin Encarnacion, was placed on the DL for the remainder of the season, I contemplated giving up completely on the season. I didn't feel like reading about anything, I didn't feel like listening to games on the radio and I sure as hell didn't feel like writing about it.

I mean, Munenori Kawasaki was the DH.

But as it turns out, there is still some joy to be found in taking two of three from the Yankees and putting another nail in the coffin called their "playoff hopes". And it's still completely sickening to watch the team waste a great J.A. Happ performance with some crappy bullpen pitching and some questionable bunting decisions. I had a sneaking suspicion something like that was going to happen in that game. It all felt too easy and too quiet.

But there is still good in the world:

There is this:




I discussed this with his pops.
And there was this:


I didn't even know this was a thing. And neither did Show Pony. 

And this: 


Chris Toman wrote last month about Brett Lawrie's second half resurgence and his willingness to keep learning.

Per Chad Mottola:

"[Brett] and Edwin [Encarnacion] are talking game plans of what a pitcher tries to do to right-handed hitters," Mottola said. "He has really welcomed that and taken that to heart, and listened to a veteran guy who has figured it out later in his career. He wants to learn early so he can get ahead of the curve."

Clever boy, this one.

This was a version of the team photo. Should've been official.

There is not much I can add to the whole Arencibia situation that hasn't already been said. He's had a brutal year, and having him come up, in the slump he is in, in the 9th vs Rivera was just unfortunate. Both because of the slump, because I sensed where it was going and I knew the barrage of hate that was going to get sent towards him. Shi Davidi's piece allowed Arencibia to speak his mind, but I have some serious questions about the bursitis in his knee. I don't see the point of playing through pain if you aren't playing well. And bursitis is painful.

In news that is not at all shocking,Gregg Zaun thinks Arencibia shouldn't have the job next year. This may be the one thing that Zaun and various Jays bloggers and stat heads can agree on.


Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher of all time and also, by all reports, a heck of a nice guy.

My favourite "Mo at the Dome" story was one that Vernon Wells told to Shi Davidi when Wells was here with the Yankees this last series:

Roy Halladay outduelled Mike Mussina for 7.2 innings in the opener and handed a 4-3 lead over to closer B.J. Ryan, who promptly gave it up with two outs in the eighth inning. Things remained deadlocked until the 11th, when with one out Wells sent a 1-0 cutter over the wall in left-centre. The centre-fielder raised his arm to the sky, index finger pointing upwards, as he circled the bases, a crowd of 42,336 exploding. “With him my approach was always to look in for his cutter and force myself to swing at it,” says Wells, whose memory of the game is remarkably vivid. 

“I remember I got ball one, a cutter away, and then I was thinking, all right, if he comes in with the cutter, force yourself to swing at it. He started it in, I went to swing and I hit it. I hit it pretty high, it was either going to get caught, or go out, and as soon as it went out, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I just hit a walk-off home run against the greatest closer of all-time.’ I had goose-bumps from that moment on. “Just knowing what kind of feat that is, and what Mariano stands for, it was pretty cool moment.”


I went to the game the next night with my parents. The place was still buzzing. It's not just that Wells hit a walk-off homer, it was that he hit it off a Mo cutter. Also, Roy Halladay outduelling Mike Mussina in the Rogers Centre is the way it should have been and should always be, forever and ever. Amen.

Finally, Jose Bautista sat down for an interview on Cabbie's podcast. He talks about his temper, his Blue Jays football fantasy pool (which includes Darren "Black Magic" Oliver, Casey Janssen and Josh Thole, who is getting his ass kicked.) He also talks about cock fighting, and that one of the Jays is so involved he has built his own cock fighting ring. I'm not down with cock fighting, but holy crow, that's a good bit of gossip. It's just ridiculous. I think I've deduced who it is, but I don't want to tarnish anyone's rep. Feel free to bet amongst yourselves.

It also made me think of this: