Thursday, 8 October 2015

LIT: Playoffs 22 Years in the Making

I'm having trouble focusing and actually writing this. I am so excited.

I'm going to watch this game the same way I watch most games: at home. I won't be in the giant crowd of screaming people.

I couldn't sleep last night and I watched this a few times. The editing on this thing is amazing but my favourite part if the "Go" (fade) "Jays" (fade) "Go".

I've written this blog for eight seasons, which means I've written about eight different versions of this team. Many, many talented players have played for this organization. But there is really something about this group. It's not just that this team is really, really talented but there have been so many moments that just take your breath away.

As John Lott laid out in his piece yesterday, the moments have been something. A few of my standouts:

Kevin Pillar hitting two homers off Max Scherzer. Josh Donaldson leaping into the stands to preserve a no hitter for Marco Estrada. Encarnacion's hat trick. Bautista getting thrown behind and then going large against the Orioles in under a minute. Martin Sr. playing the anthem in Montreal. Martin's homer versus the Yankees. Tulowitzki's epic at bat versus Andrew Miller. Marcus Stroman doing anything for the team, because his presence here is a bloody miracle. David Price showing up in the dugout. Cecil's curveball doing mean things. Seemingly endless come from behind victories, clutch homers, walk offs.

That's just off the top of my head.

This city and this country are ready. And pretty excited.

In the Post, Dickey says he's noticed:

Freaking out about matchups and lineups and bullpen management is natural, but I hope everyone can stay calm and enjoy it. This team is the best.

2015. Twenty. Fifteen.

Some This and Some That

This happened last night

John Lott talks to and about Josh Donaldson. 

I'm pretty excited for John Lott to cover this playoff run (long may it last.) He's, in my opinion, the best one.

Lott's piece also features one of my favourite quotes by Donaldson:

Can I get a t-shirt that says "Not really being the guy there, to kind of starting to be the guy, and not really noticing that I was the guy....." ? Because that's pretty great.

LaTroy Hawkins, continuing his interview series, talked to David Price. 

Hometown boy Dalton Pompey made the playoff roster and talks about the pressure he felt early in the season when he was asked to be the starting CF.

I tweet back and forth with his mom a little bit and she's a really nice lady. And is way excited.

Stoeten, for VICE, writes that the Jays can handle the Rangers (likely jinxing us for all time, but it's fine. I completely agree, so I jinxed us, too)

Jake Arrieta came up huge last night in the NL Wild Card game (poor, poor Pirates.) Also, came up huge on Twitter:

Monday, 5 October 2015

Blasted: Rays Pound Buehrle, Jays look to Rangers

I was completely in favour of letting Mark Buehrle pitch on short rest in an effort to get to 200 innings.

Because, sure. 

People freaked the heck out over it, but I think home field advantage got pumped to the moon over the last week and people were just looking to get outraged. “How dare they get drunk? How dare Gibbons rest his regulars vs the Orioles? How dare he let Buehrle pitch on short rest? How dare Mark Buehrle pitch? How dare they breathe?”

I hated watching what happened- the errors, the grand slam. Buehrle getting two outs and not being able to close it out. But the Saturday game, having the lead and losing it, was way shittier.

I think Gibbons was trying to give something to a guy that has been a pretty solid presence in his rotation the last three years. It wasn't selfish of Buehrle to take the ball. It wasn’t Gibbons trying to feed Buehrle’s ego. No one cares that random guys on the internet think 200 innings over 15 consecutive seasons is an arbitrary achievement.

It mattered to Buehrle, it mattered to his teammates therefore it mattered to Gibby. It’s basic man-management.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Buehrle calls it a career, as reported over the weekend, but I really doubt he’s actually told any MLB sources who then ran around and told various reporters. It's just not his style.

Buehrle, when he was good, was very, very good. He’s been a mentor to the kids and he’s been droll to the press. There isn’t ever going to be another Mark Buehrle- 38th round, 15 year career, a perfect game, a no-hitter and a World Series ring in 2005 (and hopefully another in 2015.) I love that he’s come around to loving Toronto, even though his phone bill was confusing. I love how quickly Buehrle pitches and how he basically lulls batters in complacency.

And I’m going to miss him.

I want to see that bear in the dugout in the post season, laughing at awesome Donaldson plays, Bautista bat flips and Stroman filth.

According to Bob Elliot in the Sun, the four other starters were planning something special if Buehrle had made it to 200:


You know why I was ok with not having the best record overall? Because the Jays are in the playoffs, something that didn’t seem possible to many in July.

It’s all gravy after that. Also, matchups are important and home field advantage is definitely nice, but I honestly think the Jays are the best team in the AL, if not baseball. Now, whether they play to their ability or the baseball gods fail to bless them with the right amount of pixie dust is left to be seen.

I think this team and this city are ready to put on a show for all of baseball.

Some This and Some That

C.C. Sabathia announced today he was entering a rehab facility to deal with his alcohol issues and will miss the 2015 playoffs.  Per the New York Times:

Nothing wrong with that. 

Tom Ley of Deadspin wrote about why people should root for the Jays. He's totally right, of course. They are awesome and fun.

As a member of the IBWAA, I got to vote for year end awards. Not that they count in the real vote, but when the results are revealed, I’ll post how I voted so you can all judge me and my wrongness.

This morning, I finally saw Russell Martin's Spotify ad. He appears to be wearing a pork pie hat. It's pretty cute.

He mentions Wale’s Ambition as a song he enjoys.

Martin also mentions how Drake represents everything Toronto is about.

The whole thing made me smile for two reasons.

One, his totally adorable hat.

Two, the opening verse of Wale’s track is by Meek Mill (the track also features Rick Ross.)

Meek Mill is the subject of/inspiration for those dis tracks by Drake, most notably Back to Back.

"This ain't what she meant when she told you to open up more."

In other Martin news, I have a nice story from a Facebook buddy:

Guitarist in my band played ball in high school in Montreal with him, with Russ Sr. managing the team. Interestingly, he said Russell was maybe the 4th/5th best guy on the team at that time - not the most naturally talented, but ultimately hard-working, dedicated and well-coached. Had a lot of praise for Russell Sr.


From another Facebook buddy:


And, apparently Jesse Spector searches for his own name on Twitter. Or something.  He found a tweet I tweeted this morning (that I didn’t @ reply him cause I don’t have time for back and forth or whatever.)

And he responded:


Jesse Spector was re-tweeting all sorts of pro-Trout MVP stuff, so I was just letting people know that he hasn’t always been that big a fan of the Jays. I think he’s also blocked Stoeten on Twitter, if that has some sort of meaning to this.

Also, we have start times!

And some people are annoyed/pissed. Including:

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Let's Hug

Do you guys want to hug? Let's hug.

All together now.

We've come a long way. 22 years.

Stroman started the clincher. Did anyone believe that could happen in March? He pitched fantastically. Let's hug Marcus.

Who is Marcus hugging with his arms and legs? It's Mark Buehrle. Let's hug Mark Buehrle. Confirmation:

See the white gum? That's Nicorette. Gibby stopped chewing tobacco. And now he manages the AL East Champs. Let's hug Gibby.

Hug Gibby!

Kevin Pillar made highlight reel catches, sometimes making up for his insistence on not swinging at strikes. Let's hug Kevin.

The fact that this man pitches for the Jays is still miraculous to me. He's been everything we've asked for. Let's hug David Price. Look at all the hugging going on behind him. So much.

Look at R.A. Dickey's face there. So happy. Let's hug R.A. Dickey.

When I first started this blog, Pete Walker was a bullpen pitcher for the Jays. He drove a mini van to the ball park. Let's hug Pete Walker.

I can't express what these two men have given to this team this season. People dismiss leadership and chemistry sometimes, but I don't know. Let's hug Josh and Russell. They've worked so hard. Josh Donaldson has the MVP nearly locked up and Russell Martin hit one of the biggest homers in all of Jays history.

(I'm also very attracted to that picture. So dreamy. So many feelings. )

Let's hug, everyone. We've come a long damn way.

More hugs as they come in:

Let's hug Jose!

Monday, 28 September 2015


I am hanging around, in my 90s Jays sweatshirt, musing about baseball.

Every year at this time, I always get a little wistful. Leaves changing, it gets colder, I have to wear socks. And baseball ends. I have attended several late season games and one final game of the year (2010, Cito retires. Zuber and I went together. It was a social experiment I took part in: taking strange women to baseball games. You can read my dating profile here  and the experience via Zubes here . I can't find my experience. In short, I have fond memories.) Anyway, we ended up staring wistfully at the field until an usher came and kicked us out.

The Jays have a tradition of coming out and waving their hats at the crowd to thank the fans for showing up all season. The last giveaway is usually some winter themed item (like a Jays toque) and people wave it back at the boys, another disappointing end to a once promising season.

They did it this year, too.

But it's not wistful this year.

After 22 years, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to the post-season.

On Saturday, it was originally planned to be a sedate affair, a little bubbly and a toast. Things escalated.

I added that one, because awwwwww.

There was a little talk about whether this was too much. I'm not one to tell people how or when they should celebrate something. Apparently, it was Edwin Encarnacion who initiated some of this. He and Bautista are two of the longest serving MLB players without an appearance in the post season. I say party on. If you don't want to do it, that's ok. If you do, that's ok, too.

Russell Martin was noticeably absent. He apparently stayed for the toast, thought that was it and went home. He talked to Jeff Blair about it. He, unlike Bautista and EE, has been there before.

He also said something that I'm going to disagree with.

Here's my quibble: While the Pirates were terrible for a lot of years, Pittsburgh, much like Toronto, is a major sports city. In those 20 terrible baseball years, the Steelers went to the Super Bowl four times and won twice (2005 and 2008). They were in the playoff conversation for most of the 90s and into the 2000s. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2007-2008 and have been perennially in the playoffs in the 21st century. While the baseball gods haven't always been kind to the Pirates, Pittsburgh sports fans have been compensated. Not as well as Boston, maybe, but still not terribly. They've won the lottery compared to Toronto (or Russell's hometown of Montreal.)

Toronto has won nothing since 1993. The Leafs and Raptors have made it to the playoffs, but not much further. And now that I know what a lot over .500 baseball feels like, .500 baseball sucks. Playing in a tough division sucks.

Winning in a tough division is awesome.

Ben là, ça a pas d’allure son affaire! Pfffft Coltrane. 

The Sunday game was the perfect illustration that 2015 is the Year of Josh. Awesome here. Also, awesome here. Here. And here, too.  And here he's talking. 

He is intense. He is wily and quick. And he's insanely gifted.

(He's also devilishly handsome, but that's neither here nor there.)

This team is amazing. I love that I can sit and think, "You know what'd be great? A walk off." And ten seconds later, it happens. Like I ordered it off a menu. Also, not to be forgotten, Bautista's completely bad ass bat flip after the Donaldson homer. Jose is amazing. He has better bat flips than most other players, even when the homer isn't his.

Ben Revere accidentally dumping the water on himself was perfect.

I'll probably do a post-season roster post at some point, but if there was ever any doubt about the professionalism and general fantasticness (that's a word when used to describe Mark Buehrle) it's this:

Love him so hard.

Also, I don't know what this is, but I'm down with it:

The other big thing that happened yesterday was the whole Papelbon/Harper brouhaha. Grant Brisbee, who is pretty much the best, had my favourite take.

5% wrongness goes to Harper for engaging with Papelbon at all (throw in calling Papelbon an idiot in the press earlier in the week in the 5% as well as for assuming that is what would make Buck Showalter order some rookie to throw at him.) 85% wrongness goes to Papelbon for policing Harper about "playing the game the right way" (Dude's been a beast all season, it's the right way), and following that up by choking a teammate (which is decidedly not playing the game the right way), and then, after being allowed to pitch after the incident (what the hell, Matt Williams? You get 5% blame), giving up the winning runs. He's also suspended for the rest of the season. Washington owes him a pile of money for 2016.

Things got rotten in Washington.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Jays Handle Their Business vs Yankees

Well, the regular season series versus the New York Yankees is over for the Blue Jays. The entire series has been some really insanely good baseball. I almost wished I didn't have a vested interest in either team so I could just enjoy it as a fan of intense, high stakes baseball. You know, without the peptic ulcer.

The most recent series was illustrative of the season as a whole. The Jays won two out of three, but other than a few innings here and there, it really felt like it could go either way. I think the Jays are the better team, but the Yankees have managed to stick around longer than some expected. And there is skill in that.
The Yankees have been a pretty large thorn in the side of the Jays for a very long time. There is probably a direct correlation between the dominance of the Yankees over the last two decades and relative mediocrity of the Jays.

In 2015, the Jays handled their business.

David Price won Game 1, pitching exactly the way the Jays dreamed about when they traded for him in July. He threw 87 of his 114 pitches for strikes on Monday and is now 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts with the Blue Jays. The Cy Young talk is getting louder, too.

photo by John Lott

"He's been unbelievable really," John Gibbons said. "Four times he has faced these guys, the team we're competing with right now, and that's not easy to do, they've seen a lot of him. What can you say really? That was the whole idea behind getting him. Trades don't always work out right, but this one worked out right."

Gibbons also had a message to Rogers about pending free agent Price : "I hope they pay him as much money as he wants,” he said.

(Apparently, there is a show on YES that follows Joe Girardi around. A Yankee fan Twitter buddy of mine said it was kind of dull. I would totally watch the shit out of The John Gibbons Show. Make it happen, Sportsnet.) 

Brett Cecil used his formidable curveball on Brett Gardner, Alex Rodrguez and Brian McCann. 

"Blacked out a little bit," Cecil said of his performance. "Three tough hitters. Just trying to make my pitches, trying to get ahead, get to the curveball."

Brett Cecil, who had sported a substantial beard through much of the season, told John Lott why it had to go. 

“It was getting annoying,” he said Wednesday. “I lay down on the bed one night and it felt like a bug in my ear. I realized it was my sideburns or whatever you want to call them. I just decided I’d shave. I told myself, my beard’s not making outs, I am.”

It would've been awesome if he'd just said, "I had bugs in it."

Game 2 was another insane game that could've really gone either way. Starter Marco Estrada had touch of bother early, but settled in. The Jays, however, left a small village on base and never got the hit for the knock out punch. Irritating rookie Greg Bird went deep off  Mark Lowe in the 10th, which sealed the win for the Yankees.

"Just a hanging breaking ball," Navarro said of the Bird homer. "It wasn't the pitch we were trying to throw. Stuff happens, man. We'll be OK. We have a great bullpen, they've been doing a great job for us all year long. Bunt single, catcher's interference and a homer. Three runs, it's just part of the game."

"It was a good baseball game. Two good teams going at it," Bird said. "It was a cool atmosphere, real intense here. Lot of back and forth. I think the fans definitely got their money's worth tonight."

The Jays' homers were nice, but the most exciting parts of the game were two vintage Jose Bautista cannon throws to preserve the score that many of us worried he couldn't do anymore. As John Lott put it, they were " long and firm and laser-like, with a spectacular putout on the other end."

“It’s feeling much better,” Bautista said. “I can’t say it’s 100 per cent. I don’t expect it to be 100 per cent until spring training of next year, but I feel good enough where I can make some pretty good throws. That was the result last night.

“I got some pretty good catch-and-releases, and those throws that I made were on target. I felt good about them when I made them and it ended up working out.”

This was just beautiful. Perfect throw, perfect tag. The umpire was temporarily insane, but it worked out.

Game 3 was just a gift to Jays fans and really, fans of baseball in general. It was a tight, tense pitchers duel.

Marcus Stroman pitches with so much energy. He is just thrilled to be back pitching, to be contributing to this run.

“I’m a very emotional person, I pitch with a huge chip on my shoulder,” Stroman said. “And I feel like every time I’m out there I have to prove a lot of people wrong. So I’m pretty determined and motivated.”

Cathal Kelly has my favourite Stroman description:

"Stroman hits any room like he gets paid by tips. You have never seen so much ass-smackin’, shoulder-slappin’ and fist-bumpin’ done in 50 metres. Stroman’s daily clubhouse strut deserves a Scorsese tracking shot."

“I guess he’s got soft hands, he can’t handle it,” Stroman said of Price wearing the glove. “Having that guy waiting on the top step after every inning is definitely motivating. He’s the man and I’m just lucky to be on his team.”

And then this:

“He spins the ball as good as anybody in the game in my opinion,” Russell Martin said of Stroman. “And he’s got a changeup. And he’s got five pitches that work for him so he’s a special cat.”

And how!

And also this:

A Martin homer? Yes, that's right.

Russell Martin hit a three run homer, putting the Jays up 4-0.

Josh Donaldson approved of it.

My favourite one is TVASports. So much joy. They keep chanting "Russell!" and throw in a "Bonsoir! Elle est partie!" for good measure.  It's basically the Quebecois version of those Donaldson pictures.

ETA, via Stoeten's comment section, a translation of the TVA call:

“1 ball, 2 strikes for Russell Martin and there’s the signal from McCann... the ball is hit with force to left field! Annnnd… She’s gone! Russell! Russell! Russell! Russell! Québec dances! Canada dances! and Russell (can’t make out what he says next). Good night! She’s outta here! Without a doubt! 3 run homer…and now it’s 4 nothing. First point with a walk we tacked on 3 and we were waiting and now, with reason, we’re celebrating but the party isn’t over! ”

We're celebrating but the party isn't over.

John Lott on the Jays' run.

“There’s both,” Pennington said. “It’s a very vocal team. A lot of guys having fun, but at the same time, getting ready for business. You lose a game and everybody’s coming in, and guys are saying, ‘Hey, we’ve won six out of the last seven. Let it go. Here we go tomorrow.’ Everything’s about winning that day.”
Baseball America on Mark Buehrle

Also, Dioner Navarro was singing Robyn in the clubhouse. 

"So far away but still so near
The lights go on, the music dies
But you don't see me standing here
I just came to say goodbye"

Such a good song.

And if that's too dance-y, here's the Kings of Leon cover:

Caleb Followill's voice is just....

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”

Finally, baseball lost a genuine legend on Tuesday. Yogi Berra was one hell of a baseball player During his breakout season in 1950, a 25-year-old Berra batted .322/.383/.533, knocked in 124 runs, scored 116, crushed 28 homers, struck out just 12 times, and played in all but three games. He caught both ends of double headers 117 times. Ten rings. 

Yogi's wit inspires every single one of us who tries to be clever when talking and writing about this game.

It's not fair to be so good at playing and also that clever.

30 years later, they decided to let him talk.

I included that one because the assistant to the travelling secretary is in the background.

I think if anyone says those about you, you've done a good job in your life.

Will Leitch on Yogi Berra

The New York Times obit (hat tip to the title) 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

"Stupid Little Rest Games": SOSH-ing some Yankee Fans

As some of you may know, I'm a bit of a connoisseur of hilariously terrible fans. I normally visit SOSH when  the Jays beat the Red Sox and delight in the hand wringing and gnashing of teeth induced by the littlest of setbacks.

What's SOSH talking about right now?

I guess I'll be happy either way, but I dunno, I really hate the Yankees. I don't  suppose the Mets have it in them to win a series against a good AL East team...

 Not very teeth gnash-y.

One nugget:

Heresy alert: R Martin says Stroman's stuff reminds him of Pedro stuff.

Shoot, Russell. You say such pretty things.

So I decided to mix things up and make fun of Yankee fans. River Ave Blues is a pretty decent Yankee analysis blog. They have game threads for each game and many of the posters are intelligent and rational baseball fans, but some are just hilarious in their drama.

It's delicious.

RAB complained a lot.

They complained about the lack of DH. A lot.

They complained about the strike zone. A lot.

They complained about Joe Girardi. A lot.

And they kept an eye on the Jays game.

Blue Jays not winning yet!
Soon, my pet.

Matz looks super beatable tonight. Bummer we're trotting out the C-lineup, but still.
The talk about the lineup started quietly, steadily increasing throughout the game until it reached a full tilt whinge.

Cespedes is 0-10 since getting HBP the other day. Maybe caught a break here.

They dissed Cespedes a lot.

Or he's just regressing a tad, he's not this good.

Not a believer in the bunch.

He is against the Marlins, Braves and Phillies pitching


Keith Hernandez is drunk, BTW.

Keith Hernandez really amused me when he called the Jays/Mets game earlier in the year.

Maybe I just always thought of this:

Searching for the video, I found this from the New York Post.

lol Matz looks like he's gonna piss his pants.

These guys progressively found Matz less amusing as the game went on.

If something characterized this batch of fans, it would be that they really dismiss the opposition. They have only recently begun to accept that the Jays are a thing, that it isn't just the Yankees failing to execute. The Jays are actually beating them.

This is real. It's actually happening.

Man if Thor and d'Arnaud are both as good as they've shown in limited time, the Mets KILLED the Dickey deal.
Oh, shut up. It was mostly the right move at the time. It's just the contrast of it and things coming together for both teams in 2015 that makes magnified. The Mets meeting the Jays in the postseason would just be too narrative-y for my taste.

.Andddddd the Blue Jays are up.
Stroman was pretty fantastic tonight. I'll write about that later.

Fuck the Jays and their run scoring ways.
Baseball is so hard.

I don't think the division is happening guys, forget it.
They responded.
What would prompt you to say that in the third inning of a 1-run game, three weeks before the end of the season? Seriously.
Hope is nice, especially in the face of mounting evidence.

Smoak doubles. Jays 3-0
So good.

Forget the Blue Jays. They're winning the division. Which is why Mets fans shouldn't brag about knocking us out of the division. Already been done.
Why don't you let the Mets fans decide how they want to mock you? Have they not earned that right?

Load of defeatist crap. One win combined with a Jays loss before Monday and we control our own destiny.
When does hope become delusion?

What a dumb at bat by Didi. You've been working this guy all night and he's struggled to put away hitters. No reason whatsoever to swing at the first pitch, even if it's right down the middle. Work the count and get this guy out of there. What are you going to do, jump him for one single? Knock him out of the game and get to the weaker bullpen rather than going for one single for yourself.
How dare you try to get a hit, Didi? How dare you?

In general, this board did a pretty good job of policing themselves. For instance:

Guy 1:
Omg you had one job Boston. ONE JOB
Guy 2:
They won the series last time they played them. Maybe the Yankees should beat             Toronto once in a while. If you expect the dregs of MLB to beat that team on a                 regular basis, it ain't gonna happen.


And again,

Man, Didi is really short on brains.. He's not a very good hitter against a tough lefty.. Just take a goddamn pitch.
 And the follow up,                    

Aren't most people not very good hitters against a tough lefty? That's why they're TOUGH lefties :/

I hate to watch Beltran run. He is so slow to and never has a good jump. I know that play was not really a play that he was going to get to but the point is he has almost no hustle. NEVER

I don't know how this guy comments on a blog while watching baseball, but I do it lounging in jammies on the couch. In such situations, I don't feel like I should be commenting on someone's "hustle."

Terrible pitch. Is Tanaka just scared of Duda or something? I don't understand why his splitter, which has been so sharp all night, is hanging every time this guy stands in the box.

Tanaka was pretty great for the Yankees tonight. That, of course, didn't prevent hyperventilating about specific pitches.

The following exchange was the best of the night.

Guy 1:
Can someone tell me why Chris Young is batting cleanup in the middle of September?

You put McCann there and roll the dice with ARod at 3rd.
That is a record-scratch. People call him out, mentioning the hilariousness of suggesting ARod play third and forcing McCann in night game before a day game.

This is no time for these stupid little Girardi games, batting Young cleanup is                 unacceptable it's not April.
 Stupid little Girardi games.
Why not? there was an off day yesterday, no time for these stupid little rest games.

If I ever have a band, it's gonna be called "Stupid Little Rest Games."  

Not much hustle there, Masahiro. I've run harder getting to the bathroom.

Demanding their starting pitcher hustle to first is sort of cruel. Though if Tanaka hurt himself, it would be kinda funny, not because I find joy in players getting hurt but because you know this would be the first guy to moan about "Why is he running? Stupid NL" etc.

Can Gardner ever swing at strikes down the middle. What an idiot. He should be batting 8th!

Gardner single-handedly made the Jays' life difficult last Saturday. He was the only one to show up in that second game and generally is an annoying pest against the Jays. I honestly hate his stupid face.

Same guy followed up with this:

Very small sample size. Constantly takes strike 1, then fouls off a pitch, then strikes out. Does not have good baseball instincts.

Not having Arod in the lineup really changed the look of's gonna suck when he has to sit in the WS NL games

Um.....of course he's going to sit. How else would ARod watch the World Series from his house?

Umps are so inconsistent on strike zone!

I love it when Yankee fans complain about the strike zone. It's the universal baseball fan condition.

Pitches right over the plate called balls for Tanaka. Pitches way low called strikes for Matz, who hasn't shown any control in the game. Just makes you shake your head.

Tanaka got so many presents versus the Jays last Sunday. The strike zone was a mile wide. He's a really great pitcher, but complaining about the zone for him....

I can't stop laughing that anyone would suggest AROD at third base. Ya, put your 40 year old, two hip surgery DH in a position to get hurt. That would be a good reason to fire Girardi I guess.

I know! That was really funny.

Why is it when we need the Red Sox to play well they SUCK LOL

Like when they took two of three in Fenway last week?

This lineup blows without McCann and Arod

                   You blow McCann and Arod
I laughed. I'm a twelve year old boy.

Guy 1:
I'm a realist, i don't think it matters unless toronto starts to lose again.

Guy 2 :
If you're a realist then you should be able to comprehend that we still play Toronto head to head.
Guy 3:
There's this to be said about your comment: a realist knows that Toronto has swept the Yanks, lost 2 of 3, and won 2 of 3; that they've been killing the opposition for weeks with power; that their starting pitching is better and their bp probably no worse than that of NY.; that they're without Eovaldi and Teixeira. Realism leads to this conclusion: yes, they will play 3, head to head against Toronto, IN TORONTO (where they're merciless), and that, therefore, it is highly unlikely they will beat out Toronto for the division.There is a perfectly human, indeed quaintly charming, quality to the optimistic scenario. But you mustn't think of it as "realistic."However, it also goes without saying that you can't predict baseball. Just don't bet your bank account on any Yanks-sweep-Jays scenarios.

That's some real talk.

Just have to laugh at this point. Girardi is managing as though he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

Is Joe hurting your feelings?

This guy really want ARod to pinch hit with Tanaka on deck. That didn't happen.

Girardi is such a lousy manager. Has no guts and no instinct for the game.

They would've intentionally walked ARod to face the pitcher.

So if they walk Arod then you send up McCann to PH for Tanaka. Hind sight
With Tanaka at 57 pitches. I actually wish some of these people managed the Yankees. This division race would've been over in April.

Tanaka gives up a solo homer.

What a dumb pitch by Tanaka. The guy was way late on your previous fastball. You  either throw one at the knees away, or you throw him a splitter in the dirt if you think he's cheating.You don't throw a guy hanging out over the plate a slider inside. I really don't understand what in the world these guys are thinking. Losing this game would just be pathetic. Matz had nothing and Tanaka was lights out. No way we should be losing this game right now.
Go for a walk.

And that's the ballgame, folks. That's why you PH ARod last inning, then PH McCann and take the lead. Bring in Wilson, Dellin and Miller for 4 innings. Tanaka is prone to the HR.
It's the sixth. Yes, your starter gives up a solo homer. You  definitely should've pulled him for a pinch hitter last inning and burned your already over worked bullpen on the first night of a series.  And your starter has only thrown 57 pitches.

Every mistake by Yankee pitchers ends up over the fence yet the Yankees don't seem to do the same with mistakes thrown against them. Very frustrating.
A follow up:

The Yankees are literally 3rd in BASEBALL in homers.


You absolutely cannot be making those kinds of mental mistakes in these kinds of games.

Joe Girardi pinch hit Ellsbury for Tanaka. Ellsbury has not been very good of late.

Commence RAB meltdown

Commence it?

Ellsbury, really? That's why Joe is a fucking moron

Worst manager in baseball.

In baseball? That is pure FYRE GOBBONS nonsense. Go read about the Washington Nationals. Go on.

So he pinch-hits with the only guy in the lineup less likely to get a hit than Tanak. You can't make this stuff up.

The offense is substandard without A-Rod, McCann and Tex. That's why they are losing, not Tanaka and Girardi. Two runs in six innings? Sign me up every night for that.

Seriously. This wasn't Tanaka's problem.

Girardi needs to be replaced in 2016

Ten people up voted that comment.

What do you expect trotting out this lineup during a playoff push? Kind of ridiculous.

The faithful have begun to realize that their team isn't that deep.

The Mets and Jays are simply better teams. Why is that so difficult to accept? Is it  such a shock that they're behind? They should still grab a WC.

                           The Mets aren't better.

They've finally started to admit the Jays might actually be good.

Wow. Just wow.So Girardi wastes his PH on Ellsbury, then double switches the pitcher into the 2nd batter due up next inning. You can't make this up. You really can't.When the pressure is on, Girardi loses his mind.

Then Juan Uribe did this

Embarrassed every night

EVERY NIGHT. I love it.

All over but the crying.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Off Day: The Beauty of Joey Votto and the Jays do Monday Night Football

Joey Votto, our beautiful Etobicoke superstar, has always seemed a little unhinged to me. Not in a negative way, but in a delightfully interesting way. Votto's amazingly talented. He's in the middle of another stellar season. Look at these numbers:

So pretty.

He's also very handsome and all of this comes together in a very nice package. Votto's talent combined with his oddness makes him special and exciting. Baseball with a twist.

Joey Votto was ejected from a Reds/Pirates game on September 9th. It had apparently been building all evening (though Votto maintains that wasn't happening.) It finally came to a head when Votto asked for and was denied a time out call.

He lost his damn mind. It was a helmet slam. It was veins in the forehead. It was red faced screaming right in home plate umpire Bill Welke's business. There was spit. The pictures look a little like they might either kill each other or maybe make out. There was seeming violence with no violence. As Will Leitch put it so beautifully:

Votto is a generally even-tempered Canadian sort, but he totally loses his mind here … but not so much that he's in any danger of actually hurting anyone.

It was like Votto just needed to exorcise some rage at the baseball gods. He raged against the machine. It was a beautiful thing.

I thought this performance was great, but I wasn't prepared for the absolute masterwork of Votto explaining the whole situation. It hit Twitter in the middle of the second Jays/Yankees game on Saturday and I was mesmerized by it.

Notice how he places himself against the background before he starts to speak.

There is something in his voice, in the quiver, in the wavering of his voice. It tugs at me. I want to nod in agreement. And say, "I hear you, Joey. I understand." When he talks about being in the batter's box and feeling metaphorically "boxed in", which necessitated his call for time, he makes it sound like it was a plea that wasn't heard. I want to say, "I hear you now, Joey. Talk it out."

"I felt boxed in as a I'm a regular person....I'm boxed in, not only physically, but metaphorically, in the most intense part of the game...."

He had simply asked to be allowed to break the tension and it was denied. Denied!

Votto seems to be trying to collect himself a few times in the ten minute video. Votto talks about how he doesn't play the balls and strikes game. That he is intense and focused when he plays. 

“Did I overreact? Yeah, I did overreact,” Votto said. “But I felt so compelled and was in such an intense place. Who’s to decide how angry I’m allowed to get as long as I follow the rules? I didn’t touch him.

“I disagree with the suspension. I disagree with the ejection.”

I love this guy. 

The Blue Jays spent their off day in Atlanta at the Monday Night Football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Joining Edwin was Jose Bautista , Ben Revere , David Price

Kevin Pillar  , Josh Donaldson and Marcus Stroman. And probably others. I like that EE's, Revere's, Pillar's and Donaldson's are essentially the same picture.

Hometown Atlanta won. Half of Outkast let me know.

What the heck, here's more Outkast.

Ah ha, hush that fuss

Finally, Cabbie talks to baseball players about snacks.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Meaningful September: That Was A Lot of Baseball

During the rain out on Thursday night through Friday afternoon, sports radio had a long time to speculate. The consensus seemed to be that a split would be the most likely scenario and a split would leave the Blue Jays exactly where they were at the start of the weekend in the Bronx.

Turns out, the Jays weren't that interested in staying right where they were. This is especially exciting to me because New Yankee Stadium has been a terrible place for the Jays since it opened. The 2014 Jays didn't win a game in the Bronx and it was that record that separated them from the Yankees last year. The Jays have rectified that in 2015 and then some.

 “We came in here feeling good and we won three out of four,” Gibbons said. “You can never complain about that.”

 David Price bought everyone blue bathrobes with their names and numbers on the back. They were modeled on Friday. Here is Ryan Goins, in a photo by John Lott.

David Price was not the sharpest, only going into the 5th inning, but held on long enough for the offense to do what it does best-punish baseballs.

Smoak, Encarnacion, Donaldson and Martin all homered (Russell did it twice.) 

"I feel great, my body definitely feels good, having a good game first game of a series definitely can get me on the right track," Martin said. "Offensively for myself, it has been a rough go for the last couple of weeks. 

"I worked on some things yesterday in the cage, took a bunch of swings and it translated into BP today and translated into the game. Hopefully it's a good sign for me, but offensively it's never really been a problem to score runs, so it's just nice to join the gang."

Bonsoir, elle est partie.

Donaldson's homer was his 38th on the season and wasn't one of those short porch in right shots. It was well back in the left field stands.

Cliff Floyd was on the Fan earlier in the afternoon and suggested that the Jays should basically bum rush the rookie Severino. And that's what they did. (He and I tweeted each other a little about it during the game.)

"Our offence jumped on the young kid early, Donaldson doing his thing, his MVP-self doing his thing," Martin said. "Got the party started and then we just kept adding some runs, had some good ABs in that first inning and we kept tacking on."

MVP-self doing his thing. 

(The Jays wore their alternative blue jerseys all weekend. John Lott reported that they haven't worn their road grays since July 10th. I hadn't realized they'd been gone so long. Players says there was no concerted decision; they just think the blues look better. I'm glad they think so because I think those road grays should be burned in some sort of cleansing ceremony. Bad things happen in those jerseys.) 

Saturday was my birthday. It was also, coincidentally, the longest day of baseball I have ever experienced. It was, in the words of our skip, a long-ass day. So long that the Tulo injury feels like sometime last week. 

Game 1 was started by Marco Estrada and Michael Pineda. Estrada was kind of homer prone and the Jays were down 4-1. 

And they lost Troy Tulowitzki on one of the weirdest collisions I've seen. Pillar is coming in on a fly ball, Tulo is backing out and they collide. Pillar's face in Tulo's back. 

Pillar goes down, Tulo looks at him for a beat and looks like he just falls down to copy Pillar, almost like a little kid playing a game. I suspected it was a "stinger" ie. he had the wind knocked out of him. Tulo gingerly leaves the game, goes for an X-Ray and an MRI. The MRI shows a crack in his scapula. Somehow, Pillar's chin cracks Tulo's shoulder blade. Doctors said that that sort of injury comes from a car accident or being hit with something hard, like a baseball bat. I have trouble imagining Pillar's chin is that hard (iron chin), so I'm thinking Tulo aggravated something from before that he didn't know he had. The optimistic timeline is 2-3 weeks and everyone still loves each other.

The Jays rally and tie it 4-4. Jose Bautista unties it with his second homer of the day. It gets retied and it goes to extras. Everybody has used their best relievers and Joe Girardi has pulled ARod for a pinch runner. They fail to score. As storm clouds began to form, various middling Yankee relievers proceed to light a tire fire. 

They issued five walks, three with the bases loaded, which led to a four-run lead for the Blue Jays.

Jean-Paul Sartre said that hell is other people. I'd argue that baseball hell is a bullpen that can't throw strikes.

I started to feel bad for them. Chasen Shreve, responsible for three of the runs, looked particularly shell shocked (and a lot like Barry Pepper.) Yankee fans left disgusted.

Game 2 was started by someone I really didn't expect to see pitch this year. Marcus Stroman was a little amped up for my liking, but he pitched pretty effectively and didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning. He gave up two infield singles (that were maybe rain induced) and a three run homer to Brett Gardner (who was totally annoying all weekend.) Stroman completed five and then the game was postponed, effectively ending his season debut. He was charged with the three runs on four hits, two walks and a two strikeouts.

"It's only going to get better from here," Stroman said. "Really pleased. One bad pitch, I left a pitch up to Gardner, but for the most part kept the ball on the ground pretty well. Most importantly did everything in my power to put this team in a position to win. This offence is incredible."

Ivan Nova gave up six runs in the second inning, and despite Brett Gardner's second three run homer (seriously, dude, go away) the Jays added to their run total and swept the double header. 

Mark Lowe pitched in both games on Saturday. He got three outs in Game 1 and earned the save in Game 2.

"It's got to be the longest day of baseball for any of us," Lowe said. "Between playing the doubleheader, both of them being nine innings, rain delay, extra innings, just a whirlwind of different things going on. We did our best to stay focused and power through it and fortunately we came out of here with two W's."

"Huge day, I'm proud of these guys," Gibbons said. "It was a long day, it wasn't an easy day to play. The first one to extras and they gutted it out. We basically used everybody and we came out on top two games. That's huge."

Sunday's game felt like an afterthought. Dickey had two rough innings (the second and the fourth, which included a Dustin Ackley homer), but also didn't get the zone Tanaka was getting (which was nice and wide). The bigger problem was Dickey also didn't get the offense he was getting in August to buff out any roughness. Tulo was out, Encarnacion sat to rest his finger and Martin sat for Thole. It all felt a little sleepy. 

But leaving the Bronx with a 3.5 game lead and the New York Times talking about the Wild Card  feels pretty damn good. 

But the job isn't done.

Dickey said the grinding series in the Bronx illuminated the team’s character. Then, a caveat: “Nobody’s taking a day off and resting on the laurels of having beaten the Yankees three out of four in Yankee Stadium. We can’t afford to do that. We need to keep the pedal down. They’re coming to our park again, and 3½ games is not a big lead with 19 left.” Dickey was also asked about the “heartbreaking” loss of Tulowitzki. He politely rebuffed the questioner’s hyperbole. “I wouldn’t say heartbreaking. We’re sad, sure, but we’re resolved too … We’re going to miss his leadership for sure, on the field, but he’s going to be with us. It’s going to be OK.” In another part of the clubhouse, Tulowitzki was trying to put on his shirt. He had to ask Matt Hague to pull his sleeve up over his sore left shoulder.
That was a lot of baseball. And there's still more.

The money quote from Troy Tulowitzki went as follows:

"If you look back in history, all teams that won a World Series or made it deep in the playoffs, they all faced adversity," Tulowitzki said Sunday at Yankee Stadium. "Whether guys are missing time or it didn't quite play out the way they thought it would and that's part of the game.

"So hopefully this is something that makes our story that much more special."

I'm not sure I can handle much more special, but I'll definitely give it a shot.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Starting your Stroman and Maintaining your Buehrle

So I was all ready to write a passionate case for Marcus Stroman starting Saturday in New York. Then this happened:

Gibby stole my thunder.

Buehrle is going to return to Toronto for a cortisone shot. He wasn't great versus Boston, but maintains he felt ok.

“Besides the results, I feel like I’ll take today, the way I felt and (what) I had location-wise,” Buehrle said, while admitting that he his most conspicuous location matched the path of Boston bats.

There are a few things at play.

1. It is NOT disrespectful to Mark Buehrle to have Stroman start in Yankee Stadium.  Just give me strength with this shit. Buehrle is terrible at Yankee Stadium. I know that. He knows that- one start last year after he took a lead into the 5th and blew it, he joked with the media "That one counts as a half. I got half a victory."

You all know that. It's a known quantity.

You know what would be genuinely disrespectful? To throw Buehrle out there and expect something different. Especially now given that he is sore.

Per Richard Griffin:

Ever since David Price was acquired at the trade deadline, the Blue Jays have been treating 36-year-old veteran Mark Buehrle like he's part of a problem, as if they're trying to win an AL East Division title despite him. Buehrle started a game on Aug. 1, then has made just six starts in 37 days.

Buehrle, a career workhorse, has pitched 200-plus innings for 14 seasons in a row, but now has been jerked around like he's being seen as an unreliable swing-man, instead of a mainstay of the rotation, which he was, until the Price deal. If Buehrle is not injured and is not the one asking for extra rest, he should be on the same rest as R.A. Dickey, behind the clear No. 1 starter, Price, forming a trusted 60-percent of the rotation. In big series, he should not be passed over because of recent starts.
Please with this. It has nothing to do with his recent starts. They manipulated the rotation in April so Buehrle didn't have to pitch there. It's a known quantity: he's bad there. Water is wet. Buehrle is bad at Yankee Stadium.

This is not mistreatment. They are trying to maintain him. This consecutive 200 innings streak is really impressive, but it also means there are a hell of a lot of pitches on that arm. He is 36 years old and has never been on the DL.

Also, it's a good rule of thumb to never ask the pitcher if he's good to go. Any guy worth his salt is going to say "Yeah, I'm good." His arm could be a bloody pulp on the mound and he's going to say he'll throw strikes with his stump.

Ask Grady Little how that worked out for him.


And where's the respect for his mentor, Buehrle, a man he considers a father figure.

2. This whole idea about Stroman somehow not having earned this opportunity needs to die a quick death. This kid rehabbed his ass off to get to this point, while he completed his degree. Stroman did this despite the emotional blow of not being able to play for most of the season and the physical pain of a torn ACL and surgery. Knee surgery is awful.

While Stroman didn't have the greatest start for Buffalo on Monday, he still feels confident to go forward.

“It’s still baseball; I’m never one to sit here and make excuses. I was just a little up in the zone,” Stroman said. “I make really good adjustments start-to-start and bullpens are where I get a lot of work done as far as making small adjustments, fine-tuning and getting back in the zone. So, in my next bullpen I’ll definitely work on it. I’m not even worried about it.”

3. The other 23 guys in that clubhouse want to win. They smell it. They taste it. The East in within their grasp. The best record in the AL is within their grasp. If Stroman offers the best opportunity, they are going to get behind it.

People will accept change if those making the decision offer rationale for making that change. I don't want to hear "what about the other 23 guys?" They all have their roles to play.

4. The Blue Jays need to see what Stroman has to go into October baseball. They are thinking ahead and want to offer rest to those they think need it and to see what they have.

And as Arden Zwelling reported, Stroman wants to face adversity now. 

“I want to face adversity now. I don’t want my first adversity to come in the big leagues. I had to battle with guys on, I had to pitch from the stretch—it was tough,” Stroman said. “But it was good for me to battle through that and have to make pitches rather than it just going smooth sailing and then facing that in the big leagues.”

5. You know the best reason I can think of to not have Stroman pitch in Atlanta versus the terrible Braves? He doesn't have to square around and sac bunt. Yeah, he might have to run to cover first in his start, but it's not guaranteed. Pitchers hitting is just a bad scene.