Monday, 29 June 2015

A Beautiful Game that We Play: A Winning Series vs Texas, Donaldson and Travis.


One of my favourite recurring aspects of this season is how often it seems that teams run out a rookie pitcher with a teeny ERA and have them Run the Gauntlet (™ Wilner.) (Of course that's one of my favourite recurring aspects of this season- what are the other options? Peptic ulcer inducing late innings?)

Two more babies were run out over the weekend to face this mighty offence-Nick Martinez went Friday and Chi Chi Gonzalez went Sunday. Both left with larger ERAs. The Jays particularly punished Martinez for eight earned runs.

Did Edwin Encarnacion hit two homers, including a grand slam?

The Rangers were pounded so hard they had a position player pitch to avoid burning another bullpen arm.
It was pretty funny.


Sandwhiched between the two was the game started by our own baby Matt Boyd, who gave up three homers and lost 4-0 on Saturday. Yovani Gallardo's scraggly beard took full advantage of a wide strike zone, avoided pitching anything down the pipe and shut the Jays down.



Boyd wasn't terrible. As I was watching, I noticed he was throwing a lot of strikes as evidenced in his seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. Throwing a lot of strikes is a good thing, but I also wonder if it was the type of strikes (right down the pipe) that led to the three homers.

Both Pete Walker and Dioner Navarro spoke to John Lott after the game and wanted a few do-overs, particularly on a curve-ball to Robinson Chirinos' .206 batting average.

“Navvy said right away it was the wrong pitch,” Walker recalled. “That was on a 1-2 count, and [Boyd] had thrown the fastball by him. Maybe a hard slider in the dirt. In certain situations, you learn about a guy.”

Know better, do better. Boyd definitely pitched well enough to earn another start. 

Lott also wrote a piece about Boyd before his debut. He talked specifically about going back to the advice his dad gave him.

“My father was always my coach up until the time I went to college,” Boyd said during an interview Wednesday in Buffalo. “He preached to me, ‘Always attack. Be aggressive out there. Be on the offence. Even though you’re on defence, you’re holding the ball. You’re on offence.’”

I agree with Boyd Pater. There is really nothing worse than a nibbler. Pitching capon is my father's term for them. 

And looked at how happy his dad (and rest of his family) were on Saturday:

Sunday's game was a bit more tense, but Roberto Osuna shut down the Rangers. The sequence of pitches to Mitch Moreland in particular were a work of art.

Martin and Osuna had a plan. 

“Moreland’s a good hitter,” Martin said. “I feel like he’s a good low-ball hitter. [His bat] stays in the zone for a long time up there. And we had beaten him up in the zone. I knew that he was going to be pumped up with adrenaline, and Osuna threw a perfect pitch, up at the hands, up and in. Got ahead of him, probably got him worried about the velocity a little bit.

“Then he executed a perfect changeup down and away. And then, at that point, I felt like we had him in-between. We just threw another fastball up and he executed that pitch also.”
Beautiful.

Justice has finally prevailed and Josh Donaldson is currently leading all MLB players in votes for the All Star Game. I always sort of have mixed feelings about these things. Yeah, it's kind of stupid and the guys could probably do with a rest. But on the other hand, the novelty of Mike Trout facing Clayton Kershaw is fun, too.

Besides, Donaldson seems happy about it.
Here he is talking to Carlos Pena and Blonde Lady (whose name I'm too lazy to look up.)
Grown up seven year olds.  He's a charming guy and seems honestly humbled by all the attention. He also sidestepped that Pena question about how to improve the Blue Jays.

Devon Travis made his way back after about six weeks on the DL. Goins definitely pulled his weight, but when Gibbons pulled Jose Reyes late in the game Friday and put in Goins, I felt like things were finally clicking as they should in that situation. Ryan Goins is a perfect fifth infielder and should be used in the maintenance of Jose Reyes.

"I’ve never had so many people come up to me and say, ‘Isn’t it great about this guy getting a chance in the big leagues?’ as I have with Devon Travis,” says Mike Martin, who coached Travis at Florida State University. “Everybody loved Devon. It’s real easy to pull for him. He’s such a special young man. He’s just one of those people who fans, those close to the program, everyone, thought the world of.”
Arden Zwelling had a feature about Devon Travis' journey from T-ball to Major League Baseball. 

Travis talked about having all his family and friends in New York to witness his first big league homer.

“Hitting that ball and everyone being there for it—you’re doing something you’ve dreamed of forever. It’s crazy,” Travis says. “It just hit me right there. It’s a beautiful game that we play. Yes, it’s our job. And it’s a tough business. But it’s a game first. It’s the same game I’ve played since I was four years old.”
Plus, ten things that didn't make it into the feature. TEN! 


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Pretty Neat: Donaldson and Estrada



Many have complained that Anthopoulos didn't do enough to address team deficiencies and I will always point to Martin and Donaldson. And now I'll point at Estrada, too. Estrada has taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning for the second start in a row. Everyone is pointing to the change up as the key to his success. That's great because it's my favorite pitch. 

Preserving the perfect game in the eighth for a few extra moments was Josh Donaldson,  who continues to be the greatest.


John  Lott of National Post wrote about Donaldson ' s All Star bid and it features several choice quotes.

“How I approached coming to a new team before when I was younger was kind of being quiet,” he said. “I think at some point that can be good. But there were some guys that I already knew in the clubhouse. I just wanted to let everybody know they could be comfortable with me, and that I was going to be comfortable toward them. I thought that was important to get that out of the way right away so they could see who I was and I could see who they were."



USA Today also had a piece on Donaldson, which includes several great quotes from the Jays about Donaldson.
"Never underestimate a motivated individual,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbonssaid. "I see a guy that whatever he's doing, he's got that attitude that he wants to be the best. He's got that drive.

"He's a carefree, fun-loving guy, but when the game starts, he's as focused as anybody I've ever seen."

"That's natural, right, to play with a chip on my shoulder?'' Donaldson told USA TODAY Sports. "I don't feel I have a need to prove Billy wrong. I just want to be myself. I just want to show that, this is who I am. This is what I mean to a team. That's it.''


"He brings some toughness to the team I don't think we had here,'' Gibbons said. "The guy comes to play, and he's not afraid to fail. He wants to be that guy in the big opportunity.

"Shoot, we were lucky to get him.

"Damn lucky.''

Gibby was a roommate of Billy Beane's while with the Mets. Gibby seems to have had a lot roommates. 

A's lost the wild card game last season and it continues to haunt Josh.

"I can't forget,'' Donaldson says, sitting in the lobby of the Blue Jays team hotel. "I know I'm supposed to kind of move on, but I haven't gotten over it.

"I try not to think about it. I know I've thought about it way too much. But I just can't stop. Really, I don't know if I'll ever get over it."

Donaldson locked himself in his Alabama house after the wild-card loss. He found solace with his teammates, sending text messages back and forth, trying to boost their spirits.

"I was in contact with all of the guys that first month, group-messaging, and all of that stuff,'' Donaldson said. "My thing was, "We need to start believing now so we can be World Series champs. That was the consensus around the players, that we can win. We felt we were going to be stronger than ever because we went through all of the highs and the lowest of lows.

Now I'm imagining how happy he'll be if they actually pull this off.

"He's unbelievable,'' Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes said. "He comes with that energy every single day. He goes all-out in everything he does.''


"It's funny, Josh and Brett Lawrie have different personalities,'' Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista said, "but they both have that same intensity. Josh is just more methodical, and a student of the game. Brett is younger, and still trying to figure that out.

"I don't know why Oakland always seems to trade their position players, but will pay their pitchers, but he's sure been great for us.''

More from the National Post.

“He’s always talking about hitting, always trying to help get other guys better,” Dickey said.

Donaldson agrees that his palpable devotion might be uncommon among modern players, but for him it is no big deal.

“I just enjoy playing baseball,” he said. “I enjoy talking about it, and about how to do something different to help win a game.”

“What is pressure? Pressure is only what you put on yourself,” he said. “I don’t understand the whole pressure thing. Either you get the job done or you don’t. If you’re worried about the results, you’re probably going to fail. So why would you be worried about it? ” 


Gibby sees something different about this team.


“I’m proud of the guys, but that’s what they’re made of. This is a more character team than we’ve had in the past,” Gibbons said.
Had the catch  been a part of a perfect game, it would be immortal. No matter. It probably one of the best catches we will ever see.


Donaldson dove a couple of rows into the stands to catch David DeJesus’ foul pop leading off the eighth.
Another angle, this time with a smile.
The smile is the best part. He's just so damn proud.

“I thought it was pretty neat,” Donaldson said. “I was just trying to do anything I can to help get outs at that time.”

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Very Tidy: Hutch, Osuna and Baseball on Quebec TV



It's always slightly disconcerting when the Jays actually win a game in the Trop. It's been such a house of horrors for the Jays, even dating back to the time it was Carl Crawford and a bag of toys making up their lineup. They win and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Drew Hutchison continued his trend of being frighteningly awful away from the Rogers Centre. But thankfully, it was only for part of the game and he managed to settle down a little bit. He allowed three runs and nine hits over five innings and 109 pitches. It was not smooth or pretty, but he battled it out.

Hutch, as he should be, was grateful for the offence. 

“Probably did a good job of grinding and giving our offence a chance,” Hutchison said. “As they’ve been all year, they were huge.”

With the eight runs, Toronto reached 401 runs for the season; 19 of baseball’s 30 teams have yet to score 300. Those eight runs were scored without Martin and Donaldson in the lineup.

Roberto Osuna reminded us all that he has nerves of steel last night and also earned his first big league save.

“I’m so excited, I like these situations," said Osuna. "I did my job tonight and I feel very tidy about it.”

Feeling tidy is important. 

Feeling tidy is especially important since the rest of the bullpen feels very, very messy.

The 8-5 win vs Tampa was also Gibby's 500th. True to form, he was relaxed about it. “It shows I’ve been around long enough,” he said. That is a variation of some things Black Magic used to say to struggling younger pitchers. Speaking of, he would be pretty handy out of the bullpen right now. Maybe Cecil and Loup should put a call in and get some advice about becoming southpaws that pitch effectively forever.

TVA Sports, out of Quebec, has been covering a lot of Blue Jays games. I don’t know if that’s been a consistent thing or whether they beefed up coverage because one of their own is the starting catcher. But I'm enjoying the heck out of it.


Rodger Brulotte, familiar to any of you who are Expos fans, is a pretty amusing broadcaster. The word that comes to mind to describe it is joyful. There is an exuberance to the game calling that isn’t available in English. He and his broadcast partner Jacques Doucet just really, really enjoy baseball.

You can hear the style of game calling in the game recap on TVAsports.ca

So good.

“Quelle tire. Quelle tire.” That was used for one of Osuna’s strikeouts, which translates to “What a shot.” 

"Prise à l'intérieur. Prise à l'intérieur. Troiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisième prise à l'extérieur" was used to describe another one of Osuna's strikeouts. Strike on the inside. Strike on the inside. Third strike on the outisde. 

"Bonsoir. Elle est partie!" Rodger Brulotte's classic homer call, famous in Expos games, was used to great effect on Navi's homer and Bautista's. “Good night. She’s gone.” (The “she”, in this case, is the ball.)

Brulotte also hilariously used a variation call when Asdrubal Cabrera was tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

Speaking of, after Cabrera was tossed, he threw his bat on the field. Crew chief Joe West collected the bat and had it locked away. Rays manager Kevin Cash thought it was weird. 

“Maybe he wants him to sign it? I’m not sure,”  Cash said of West. “I have no idea. First I’ve ever seen.”

They also ragged a bit on Martin because the backup had a great night at the plate.

Even if you don't understand it, I suggest watching the game in French at least for a few innings. You can easily pick up the lingo when you recognize what's going on in the game. It's something very unique in baseball and it's a particular part of the Canadian game. In 1969, when the Expos arrived in Montreal, a lot of the lingo was established and standardized.  Here is a list to get people started.

Of course, as with any language, native speakers have short forms. Hockey terms get mixed in and there are a lot of idioms. For instance, the headlines for last night’s game and Sunday’s game were as such:

Les Jays tienne le coup. Means the Jays hold on. "Tenir le coup" also means to cope, which I think is appropriate.  We certainly are coping.

Une fin de match en queue de poisson pour les Jays. "Queue de poisson" translates to a fish tail. If you finish in a fish tail, it means you come up short.

Monday, 22 June 2015

This Stupid-Ass Game: Notes from a Weekend (and Monday) of Baseball


That was an incredibly irritating weekend of baseball that almost perfectly illustrated the extreme strengths (with this offence they are never, ever out of a game) and the alarming shortcomings (inconsistent pitching) that make up the 2015 version of the Blue Jays so far.

I've been hanging out on Stoeten's Game Threats, making comments and flagging the trolls that come out any time the Jays are trailing in a game. When it was 7-0 and the mood was distraught, I reminded them that this team can bludgeon with the best of them. Eight runs is cake. Also, later in the game, I pointed out that while the pitching did seem pretty dire, the Orioles lit up a spot starting pitcher from low down in the depth chart and the Jays lit up a guy that the Orioles were counting on to lead their rotation.

In general, it was a pretty crazy weekend of baseball between the Orioles and Blue Jays.

On Friday, there was a near no-hitter by Marco Estrada. It also featured Gibby being tossed, later to be followed by Roberto Osuna and DeMarlo Hale and the Orioles deciding to make it tense late in the game.
I was at the game Saturday with my parents. My dad is the one that taught me about baseball. He pitched himself, he coached my brother (who was a talented pitcher) and loved Sandy Koufax as a kid. My mom finds baseball stressful, usually argues balls and strikes with the tv on the rare occasion she actually watches it and kind of decided I should marry Russell Martin after being impressed with him in the Stephen Brunt narrated documentary about him that played on the Jumbotron pre-game. (Courage, mon brave.)

I had a perfect view of the just missed grand slam by Dioner Navarro from Section 231.

“I knew when I hit it, it was just a matter of being fair or foul,” Navarro said. “It kind of hooked at the last second. But it’s part of this stupid-ass game.”

Ending an inning without scoring when the bases were loaded and no one was out was frustrating and they really lost the game there, even though a Loup hit by pitch was the decision.

“It’s interesting that a hit-by-pitch played into the winning run scoring,” O’Day observed.

Oh, shut up.

My in-game reactions:

Sunday was an amazing display of what happens when stupendous hitting meets terrible, terrible pitching. 

Brett Cecil, who had some issues with walks, suspects he might be tipping his pitches.

“I’ll have to back and see if I’m still doing it,” he said. “I thought I made some pretty good pitches, especially to Hardy. He just spit on them. They weren’t even offering at them. I thought that was kind of bizarre.”

I just really hate the Orioles.




My connection with my dad (who actually inadvertedly named this blog) and baseball is something that I think is a reality for lots of people. Both positively and negatively.

R.A. Dickey pitched a gem on Thursday vs his former club, two days after his dad died. Reading Dickey's book (which I fully recommend), I remember being struck by the things R.A. said about his dad:

“I want to believe my dad is proud of me and that he loves me, but it’s rarely spoken. I want him to tell me. I want him to hug me. It’s not that I’m angry with him so much as I miss him. I want it to be the way it used to be. I want him to be the most important man in my life.”

Brendan Kennedy, John Lott and Andrew Stoeten all wrote about this. Go read. It's all good stuff.


That is pretty amazing. I have always accepted the fact that men, particularly pro athletes, are physically stronger than women and having them compete head to head isn’t necessarily the greatest test at how talented a woman is at a particular sport.

I have often argued that women, if they can’t compete as players, should be encouraged to participate in the league in other ways. I see no reason why a woman couldn’t be an umpire, a scout or the general manager of a big league club. More female sports writers (in mainstream and new media) should be encouraged. And I would say that Mo'ne Davis is one of the best young ambassadors the game has right now. But if Michelle Mayeux wants to do this, I say have at it.

Until very recently, I didn't even know that grown women played baseball in leagues. Alexis Brudnicki wrote in May about the women's baseball team Canada is fielding for the Pan Am Games. 

“People can expect great baseball,” veteran third baseman Ashley Stephenson said. “The game is the same. That’s the one thing we want to make sure people know, that the game is the same. We play seven innings, so that’s the only difference.
“The locker room banter is the same, the dugout chatter is the same. We might not hit as many balls over the fence, although we have a couple girls on our team who could probably do that, but we understand the technical side of ball, we play a lot of small ball, we have to find ways to manufacture runs, defence is critically important, you can’t give up extra bases."
“I really hope people understand that we know the game, we understand the intricacies of the game; that’s what makes baseball a really fun game. You have to be a smart ballplayer – not only an athlete, but a smart athlete. People will see that when they come and watch. They might be pleasantly surprised.”

As often occurs when it becomes clear a female human is going to look at, approach or participate in something dominated by male humans, petulant manbabies have issues.



Hold up. The NFL has been feminized? Why? Because they suspended a player for beating up his wife? What?
Lane Adams, outfielder for the Kansas Royals, totally became my favourite Royal for a series of tweets about the Confederate flag and South Carolina.




That kid is my Royals All Star.

Finally, perhaps throwing a wrench in the works for the possible plan for new commish Rob Manfred to reinstate Pete Rose (possibly before the All Star Game in Cincinnati) is the fact that old notebooks were released revealing that Rose bet on baseball as a player. It was widely known that Rose bet on baseball as a manager, but betting as a player is  new information. Given the timing of this release of information, I suspect Pete Rose has some enemies. Including my dad. Who really dislikes him, dating back to before all the betting stuff. I think trying to kill a guy to win an exhibition game soured my dad on the whole Pete Rose thing. 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Stuff I Fav'd: Volume 2- All-Star Game Nonsense, Notes from the Streak and a BabyRo

I favourite a lot of stuff on Twitter. This is some of it.
This is so stupid. The only solution is this:
If it's going to count for something (World Series home field advantage), take the power away from the unwashed masses. Be serious. If it's going to be a love fest, take away the home field advantage and have it be determined by the team that has the best record.
I know some people don't like it, but I like it when ball players are snarky.

Omar Infante is leading over Jason Kipnis, despite this:
I think this says it all:



Manny Ramirez with Joe Maddon's mom. Just because.
Notes from the streak:




Yes, I favourited my own tweet.

Nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap.
Nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap, nap.

Despite the win streak, there are still a lot of questions about the pitching. The 'pen seems to have settled down a bit, but I wouldn't be adverse to adding another solid arm. The Phillies are rumoured to want Daniel Norris for Papelbon, which I'm not down with. In general, I'm against trading starters for relievers, especially one who is going to be 35 this year. I don't like any deal for K-Rod.

Here is a wild idea that just came to me. It would probably never work, but what about having the better starters in AAA solidify the 'pen? Norris could pitch out of the 'pen and still start in the future, much like the plan for Osuna.

Hot take:


Go support the podcast. I find it informative and witty.  


Christina Kahrl asks key questions about the Jays' pitching. Here's the big one:

And outside of a good group of high-upside, high-risk Dominican imports far from the majors, the Norris/Sanchez tandem are the Jays' best stock in trade if they're going to turn this good run into a shot at winning a few short series in October. Can the Jays afford to deal away either of their futures?



Sorry guys, Jesse Spector thinks the Jays aren't making it to the playoffs because reasons. Despite playing in a terrible, terrible division and it being more than a month before the trade deadline.

Here is Ryan Fagan pissing off Yankee fans by calling the Jays the best team in the AL East. Why?

"The Blue Jays score runs. Lots and lots of runs."

Be the least worst.


Canadian soccer player/broadcaster and nice girl Kara Lang talks about her careers and her pending baby boy with former Jays pitcher (and nice guy) Ricky Romero. 

I'm really happy for them and their little NAFTA baby. (Mexican-American + Canadian.)

I am (probably) going to go to this. Likely to heckle from the audience. It's a great event, that has now expanded to the States (most recently Boston). It's beer and baseball. Go.

She's a wise woman, this Stacey May.

In my second SOSH post over the weekend, I coined the term "Red Sox Privilege." I was thinking about it later, especially when I saw it used by a few people. I don't want anyone to think I'm trivializing the idea of "white privilege" and how it affects race relations on this continent.  I also remember calling out Orioles fans for co-opting Baltimore uprising phrases ("Black Lives Matter") and made them about baseball("Our Birds Matter".) No one has said anything to me about it, but I might retire it. I feel a little hypocritical. Sox fans are still entitled shits, though.

And finally,



Been there.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Some Kind of Hot: Eleven Straight and Round Two with SOSH


Ok, sure. Much like the Blue Jays this weekend, I'm giving the people what they want.

I actually slept through most of this game (team nap style) but I've watched highlights.  Also, when these people get really low, it's not that funny anymore. SOSH is the richest when the team is almost good but somehow just doesn't win.

This team, at least the way they are currently playing, is not almost good. So I was a little worried before diving in. But there were still some nuggets.

Eric Estrada vs. EdRo - don't miss it.

It's Erik Estrada, jackass.  As if this dude would spell his name with a "c".




This musty smell has me all congested. I'm going up to get some fresh air from the ledge.


Sometimes some of them are self-aware. It's disquieting.

I will break things if Edro gets lit up today. 

Well....
Rodriguez had only given up one run in his last three starts. He gave up a few more today.

Game starts....

Tight zone today. Both of these a little off the plate but you'd like to get a call on one of them.

Much like complaining about "lean years" when your team has three rings in 15 years, complaining about the strike zone is obnoxious. They just have no clue.

Estrada has a history of giving up the Jack.

That's totally true. 

Fuck that


It's hard to even be mad. They just keep finding new ways to fail. It's almost impressive.

I think some of you will find a way to be mad.

SHIT ASS FUCKING SHIT FUCK

Like this guy.

Seems like we're paying for something.

That's just too easy. I'm embarrassed to make a joke here.

Fuck it, I blame Farrell for that.

Dream job. I've decided that I'm not even mad at Farrell anymore. I just think the Jays should've been given the opportunity to fire him. And they were robbed of that.

SHIT FUCKING SHIT MOTHERASS FUCKER MCGEE COCKSUCKING SHITDOG RAT ANUS MACFARLANE SHITTY TITTY FUCKAROONIE MCFUCKSAUCE ASSHOLE FUCK

It's easy to get this angry when you think the baseball gods owe you something. I'm coining "Red Sox Privilege" right now. That was the same guy as above, btw. 

Rodriguez didn't get that call in the 1st.

Red Sox Privilege.

I didn't realize a new 22 inch wide plate was going to be part of the effort to speed up the pace of games.

Privilege.

I mean the team is shitty but really it seems like the baseball gods are rubbing our faces in it.


Because it's not like anything has gone Boston's way in the 21st century.

I've never hated the Jays. Certainly not like Tampa or the Baltimore Showalters--- but they are trying my fucking patience this year.

Aw, they noticed us. 

I hate this fucking team


I think they might hate you, too. 

Character-building inning here

A lot of character building the past two weeks. 

Then Pedroia lost a ball in the sun.


Head for the exits, fans.

Welp, this was a fun series.

I know! So much. 

Thank goodness this is such a weak division.

Yeah....


Well there's your price of admission entertainment right there, Fat Panda running out a triple!


Pillar was a little scary on that. It was not a good look. 

This game has been a clinic of suck

A Clinic of Suck: the 2015 Boston Red Sox.

I'm actually quite serene today. This latest loss-to-be doesn't bother me. And as far as Farrell goes, I just don't see where he should take the blame for the incredibly bad product that has been put on the field. He probably will, but with the exception, perhaps, of some misguided input, he isn't responsible for this mess.

Serene.

I am only watching this game because I don't own a ball peen hammer that I can use to pound myself in the head.

Not serene.

How are they treating this on Sportsnet? Or is it just talk of how the Blue Jays offence is unstoppable?

Pat Tabler is really concerned. I think he might actually cry.

I think I'm done.

I just...


They broke this guy. 

I just don't understand this How is the manager not responsible when an entire team plays fundamentally bad baseball? Plays way below their norm? Not just one player, not two players, the entire team. For the second straight year. If that is not the manager's responsibility, then he literally has no responsibility and he's just a figurehead.
 
This might be the SOSHian version of "FYRE GOBBINS!!!!" Pretentious and a little self-important. 


This is exactly what I was worried about -- not just that we would suck but that another team in the division would get very hot while we sucked.

There's a lot that's good on this Blue Jays team and it's hard to see them reverting to a .500 team the rest of the way. 8 game leads in June aren't exactly stone cold locks, but the path back for this team at this moment seems very very narrow. 

Baseball is so hard, guys.

Does anyone remember why we let Danny Valencia go? The guy has always crushed Ls and could play 3B, 1B and LF.
 

Don't be trying to subject that nice boy to this shit show. You let him go, now let it go.

It's like raaaaaaaaaeeiin on your wedding day

That was for all my homegirls ( @catherine0626 and @mererog) who were tweeting about Jagged Little Pill. I`m not sure how any of this is ironic, but I'll allow it.

OK - two slams and it's tied.

That's the spirit. 

Well, shit. PAPI!

David Ortiz hit a 3 run homer and tied Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 29th on the all-time homer list. I actually don`t hate Papi, and don't mind him hitting homers in losing efforts. These people, naturally, will go back to hating him in a few hours.

Okay, so how many of those runs are they about to give back?

A fair number. The Jays nap together and bludgeon together.

The Red Sox are going to let the Jays get back into this game, aren't they?

I don`t want to be cruel....but yeah, looks like. 

Pillar is just on fire this weekend. Wish we had outfielders like that.


Both Goins and Pillar had pretty fantastic weekends. Goins drove in five in this game, including a three run homer.

“The only word to describe it is fun,” Goins said. “Scoring runs is fun so it’s one word to describe the series.”

This team scored 31 runs in the sweep. Bludgeoned. Fun with bludgeoning. 

This is the worst pitching staff ever.


I sense it's less fun for some people. 

Well Farrell, it's been real. Thanks for 2013, but you're about to be the sacrificial lamb for Ben's idiocy. He'll be joining you shortly. Nearly everyone knew that Panda would be a mistake


Everyone? That's not quite how I remember it.

Just invoke the mercy rule and end it.


In a minute....

That's the ballgame, that's the series, that's the season.

That's the stuff.

This series was seriously fun and the Jays have won 11 straight, tying a team record. No other team in the AL has won 11 straight so far this season. 

“We’re some kind of hot right now,” sais Gibbons. “We scored a ton of runs this series. We’re just playing good baseball.

“It’s a good and it’s a long lineup and we’re feeling good right now, we’re hot. When your hot things go your way. It’s a good feeling in there and everyone’s confident. It was a fun series."

Yes. Yes, it was. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Nine is Just Fine: Jays Stage Major Comeback and a Visit to SOSH


Because it is a Red Sox series, it's time to visit my old friends at SOSH.  The Jays were down 8-1 at one point but staged an epic comeback to win their ninth straight. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are terrible.

The Blue Jays have won eight in a row. As with Oakland when it came to town playing well, Toronto is ripe for a downturn.

The difference, of course, is that the A's are the team that used to have Josh Donaldson. 

Wade Miley was upset at John Farrell for warming up a reliever in 4th inning, per clubhouse source. Wanted chance to win game.

You guys saw the video, right?

John Farrell just called Wade Miley's outburst in the dugout last night "unacceptable" and "I won't stand for it."

It might not be your problem much longer, John.

Is it bad that I am pulling for losses so we get a new GM and Manager? Am I the only one?

No, I kind of want to watch the shit show for a while longer.

Please don't make me have to root for the Rays, Orioles, or Blue Jays just to keep the Yankees out the postseason. 


It's kind of nice we can all band together with a common desire.


Joe Kelly has a fucking man bun.


To be fair, it's a really little man bun. I've never actually seen his real hair (sans hat) so I don't know what kind of situation is happening under there. The little nubbin is ridiculous, though.

Are the Blue Jays announcers insufferable? I can't remember. I might be too lazy to look for another feed, regardless.

I must say, I missed Buck tonight. Rob Fauld is probably a very nice guy, but it felt weird.


RUNS!!!

Die Die Die Hutchinson 

If you are calling for a man's death on the internet, at least spell his name correctly. 

Everyone getting hot at once.

It's the fun thing that happens when a team runs into shitty pitching. Stay tuned to the top of the 7th inning for another example.

Hutchison's numbers away from the Rogers Centre are pretty alarming. I don't know how to explain. I just know he basically threw batting practice tonight. Luckily, the offence decided to bludgeon the Red Sox into submission. Still, Hutch gave up 8 ER, most he's ever given up. Not one for the scrapbook.

He really looks awful haha 

Shut up.

Is that really former Cliff Lee trade exchangee Justin Smoak?

Yeah, that's him. He had a pretty great night. He hit his first career triple after 2,316 plate appearances. It was record.

Mookie just died.

Mookie Betts, that was not good. I hope the Sox got him a concussion test. He left with a "back strain".

"Right off the face...." Thanks, Remy. Cause I wasn't sure. 


FUCK YES!!!


That was in response to the Pedroia homer. I'm sure Tabby was thrilled.

HOLY SHIT HAHAHA SUCK IT JAYS YOU SHOULDA PULLED HIM

Tronna fans blaming Gibbons.

Not really.

Your eight-game win streak means nothing to us!

Be patient.

Ok suddenly I am loving this team again. Betts, Swihart, E-Rod, Pedey, Tazawa, fun to watch.

The love fest didn't last very long.

Of course Joe Kelly couldn't just have a nice game where we win 8-1

No. Its gotta be a shitshow.

Because Joe Kelly.


Because Joe Kelly:




8 runs not going to be enough. Ugh

Eight runs really isn't enough. Bludgeoned. Into. Submission.

The runner beat the throw AND Napoli was off the bag.  Double waste of time here.

I was really annoyed at the delay on this. Complete waste of time. Shut up, John Farrell. 

He was quite entertaining on "Intentional Talk" with Millar and Rose today. Grew up a huge Red Sox fan. He was talking about how he had seats behind the first base dugout for Game two of the '04 series.

They are speaking of Colabello, who was indeed very entertaining.  He speaks Italian and he has details about the nap. The Nap.

Also, apparently Encarnacion and Reyes Facetime each other from bed. To recreate the team nap, I'm assuming.

If they blow this...

If....

OK, this doesn't feel good. This would be a very painful loss, so they better bring in somebody who can pitch. I'd get Taz up, quick.

Yeah, that should work.

They're going to lose this fucking game aren't they

Yeah.

Oh look, Fatso got cheeto dust on the ball and couldn't make a play

They have turned on Sandoval (Pedro, apparently, is his first name) hard. You know, he was pretty successful in San Francisco. Maybe it's Boston.


This fucking team...

When I yelled this, I suspect I had a different tone.

Oh. My. God. This team

I mean, my declarations included wonder and awe....

Look at them.

Beauties, each and every one.

boy. some lean years for the sox.

Every time I read this sort of talk from these people, I just roll my eyes. Your ancestors waited 86 years. You have three World Series in this young century. SHUT YOUR PIE HOLES.

This is a bad team, folks. There is no turning it around.

That's it for me. Not wasting anymore of my summer with this horse shit. I'll tune back in if they fire someone of substance. Ben Cherington sucks.


Season is over. 

Farrell needs to go, seriously. This is unacceptable baseball. 

It's his dream job. Jays fans are also ridiculous when the Jays lose, but the Sox fans have this down to an art form.

Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez will make a combined $40 mil this year and so far have been worth -1 war. That's neat.

I hope they call a press conference and have Ben fire Farrell. Then Ben turns around to see John Henry standing there. Then Henry fires Ben.

That would be pretty great.


Fuck it I'm out on this team. I was super excited all spring I held on even though every peripheal said this team was awful. I'm officially done. 3 times in the last 4 years. I would say blow it up but I think Cherington is useless. Time to clear out every talent evaluator in the building. I'm going to focus my irrational hate on Panda. Fuck that dude. I would rather have crawford at 3rd

These people are adorable. And still have a hate on for Carl Crawford. Let it go.

We haven't seen edwin jog around the bases doing his chicken wing strut. We got that going for us tonight 

He's saving it for later this weekend.

It's actually pretty amazing the blue jays traded bullshit for Donaldson while the Sox gave a morbidly obese man 9 digits to play the same position.

I still don't understand it. But it's amazing.

Or that they picked up Justin Smoak for free and he has a 125 OPS+ (before tonight) while Napoli is making $16m

I would kill to know what the Red Sox FO knew about Donaldson's availability

Nothing? Yeah, let's go with that.

Lefty to face Ortiz. Inning over. 

Ortiz actually walked. But whatever, they hate him, too.

I'm not saying they did. I'm just saying I'd really love to know what BB told them when they inquired (because I'm sure they did to cover their bases, right?)

Let it go, You can't have him.


You know what 2015 Boston Red Sox? Just lose. I can root for teams that try hard but lose. Just be losers. That's fine. I've rooted for losing teams and it's a long summer and we'll get through it. But if you insist on this unyielding course of aggressive sucking, losing every possible battle and coming up small at pretty much every critical moment, the y'all can go fuck yourselves.


The winner for most melodramatic comment of the evening. It definitely sucks hard when your team loses, but go out for a walk or something.

Wonder if the jays would be interested in clay

If the Sox just give him to the Jays and he promises not to suck....no, I can't abide cheering for that greaseball.

If you remove the 7th inning, the Sox outscored the Jays 10-4.
That is true. But no one would do that.

"It starts with Clay Buchholz tomorrow" --John Farrell

That was apparently the post-game quote from the old skip. "It" is open to interpretation- team pot luck, team tire fire, team suicide pact.

And that was kind of it.

As a palate cleanser, here's a message from Russell Martin:

That'll play, Coltrane. That'll play.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Stuff I Fav'd: Volume One


I'm starting a new feature. Looking at my Twitter account (as I sometimes do), I noticed I favourite a lot of tweets.

Most often, I favourite "Animals being dumb/adorable" tweets and stuff like this:
But I also favourite a good number of baseball related tweets.

My favourites are not as entertaining as Carlos Martinez's favourites were at one time- his were all porn, before either he or the Cardinals realized that Twitter favourites are public-but there might be some interesting things.


If any of you live in my hometown, you should just go to this.



This is also how I react to baseballs once touched by the Red Sox.


Marcus Stroman, in town for his bobblehead day, visited the Jays Care Community Clubhouse, and found some people who are actually smaller than him. I'm sure each and every one of these kids were thrilled. I would be.


Papa Buehrle fixes Stroman's hair before he goes on camera.

Earl Stroman is a large man.


This just made me laugh.


Anything with Vin Scully is worth your time. Vin Scully talking about D-Day (71 years ago) is definitely worth your time.


"Now I just have to get off of this stuff,” he said, pointing to the wad of Nicorette gum in his mouth. “This stuff is more expensive.” This guy is just the best.

 Also,
Let's rehire Gibby!

This is Baseball, Man : A Sweeping Walkoff


I had a feeling about that game. I don’t know what exactly told me this, perhaps the baseball gods whispered in my ear. But around the time Bo Schultz was having issues and the defense did absolutely nothing to bail him out, I looked at what inning it was and thought “Lots of time. Oodles.”

Even as Pat Neshek came out to do his irritating yet effective routine that shuts hitters down, I thought “Well, every ‘pen sucks sometime. Why not today?”

There was a vibe. It also illustrated perfectly the role luck plays in a winning streak and how baseball truly is a game of inches. That José Reyes moment with the Bautista pop up was some serious luck.





The bench power clapping in unison at the end of that GIF is my favourite part.


Then a double steal. 


And then Chris Collabello took a pitch low and outside and shot it up the middle to score the tying and the winning run.


And then they tried to kill Chris Collabello. Seriously, it looked like lions taking down a wildebeest.




What did Reyes say about the inning?

“This is baseball, man,” he said. “In baseball, a lot of crazy stuff happens.”


By the way, that's the quote you give if your team was just swept by the Blue Jays. 

The following is the quote you give if your team just swept the Astros:

“If I’m on the other side, I definitely see what they’re saying,” Gibbons said.

He paused a beat: “But I’m not on that side.”

And I'm pretty sure Reyes did what he was supposed to do. He has a right to that base and it's not like he waved his arms around or something. It was a bit of bad luck for the Astros, for sure, but I'm struggling to care.

R.A. Dickey went 5 and 2/3 innings and didn't really have his best stuff, but battled enough that he kept the team in it. For his part, Dickey also felt something in the air in the ninth:

“I’ve never seen that before,” said Dickey. “When that happened, we were all looking at each other like, ‘it’s probably destiny that we’re going to pull this one off.’”

Destiny. 

“It’s crazy, this game is crazy,” said Colabello. “I know he’s slider heavy, we obviously have scouting reports and I’ve faced him a couple of times now. We were just talking about how great it was that the Joses pulled off a double steal because getting the runner to third makes it a little bit harder for him to want to bounce one or throw his really nasty one. I told myself if it’s above my waist I’m going to swing. Little did I know that I would swing at one in the other box, but thankfully it worked out.”




Friday, 5 June 2015

Links on an Off Day

A video posted by Marcus Stroman (@mstrooo6) on

I'm not reading anything into this, but just seeing this little sunbeam running around, doing baseball related activity is great.

John Lott is covering more of the farm this season and our lives are richer for it.

"When you bunt, dammit, keep the bat away from your body." Advice from Tim Raines. 

I'm not really for bunting, especially not sacrifice bunting, but that's probably good advice.

“The grind of playing every day takes its toll, regardless of how young you are,” he said. “You have to prioritize your life. This is something they have to get familiar with as young players – getting your rest, owning the way you’re growing.
“There’s more to the game than just playing it. A lot of guys think they can just get out of bed and go out and play because that’s what they always did. But they didn’t play every day in high school or college. In college and high school you go to school. Now it’s a job. You play seven days a week and you’ve got to be prepared.”

Owning the way you're growing.



Also great, Lott's piece on Anthony Alford and his choice to play baseball over football and his leadership.

“And I think that’s what it’s all about. At the same time I’ve got to get better, and work on me as an individual. But at the higher levels they’re looking for people that are going to help the team win. It’s not all about you as an individual at the highest level. It’s about helping the team win, helping them get deep in the playoffs and possibly play in the World Series.”

I'm thrilled he chose baseball. Not just because Alford is such an exciting player, but after watching League of Denial , I wouldn't wish a football career on my worst enemy.

John Lott also takes great pictures (he took the one of Alford above.) I remember talking to a news photographer about the Chicago Sun-Times laying off their photographers and the paper saying that reporters should just take their own photos with their phones. We made fun of that and rolled our eyes, but I think Lott is a rare one who could actually pull it off.

In the Star, Brendan Kennedy writes about Bo Schultz, who was just called up.  His story is amazing.
“I don’t want to say it’s surreal because I don’t want to blow it out of proportion and make it something bigger than it is,” Schultz said of his return to the big leagues. “But it’s very special, it’s very unique. Hopefully I’ll have a lot of opportunities to perform here.”

He claps with attitude. And advises on fashion in major men's fashion magazine.

" Not overdoing it, but I always try to make sure that I compliment my outfit with a hat or scarf and that whatever accessory I am wearing remains manly."

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thoughts about the 55th Game: Buehrle Plays Maddux, Reyes Responds



I could probably cut and paste words from my previous Buehrle post.

Buehrle is just a special pitcher- he doesn't blow you away with stuff, he has terrible games on occasion- but watching Buehrle pick apart an MLB lineup is a treat.

And while I'm against pitchers hitting a rule (it's against my religion), watching Buehrle hit a single and then slide hard to break up a dp was pretty great.
He threw his second complete game in two starts and the second "Maddux" of his career.

Final line for Mark Buehrle: 9ip, 6h, 0r, 1bb, 2K. 93/66 strikes. 1-for-3 with a sac.

NINETY THREE PITCHES.

He also denied Danny Valencia a "stir it up". Buehrle don't play that.

"He's just so fun to catch," said catcher Dioner Navarro. "He's amazing. He throws one ball on the black and then he goes a little bit farther and then it's a ball and then he brings it back a little bit and then he busts you in. It's so easy to catch him. He's one of the easiest guys I've ever caught in my life."
So the Jays took two of three from the Nationals (and could've swept had they managed to support a perfectly serviceable R.A. Dickey in the opening game. Dickey was actually pretty great.) Beating Max Scherzer in the second game of the double header was maybe my favourite game of the year. I mean, Kevin Pillar did the offensive damage and got two homers off one of the best pitchers in the game.

The funny thing about the first homer was that it came after he was denied a walk by the home plate umpire. The walk is actually less likely than the homer. Boy does not walk.


And Russell Martin stole home.

So they salvage a road trip that at one point looked pretty bleak. They roll home to face the blistering hot Astros, which, frankly, also looks pretty bleak.

But less bleak.



So Jerry Howarth has been talking an awful lot about Jose Reyes of late. Stoeten broke it down.

I found a lot of it to be ridiculous and more than a bit petty, but the most offensive was the pity we were all supposed to feel for rest of the team, for John Gibbons and the coaches "who work so hard" for having to play with this supposedly terrible, terrible shortstop.

" I feel badly for the team, I feel badly for everybody that I just talked about right there."
Yeah, I'm crying for them.

The bits about "too many smiles" and streetball were also pretty offensive, and I suspect I would find it less so if Jose Reyes wasn't Latino.

"And then mentally you were never really that attuned to being fundamentally sound with everything that’s involved to be Major League player, because you were so good having fun — just having fun playing street ball — that’s the difference in Jose right now, where I think he’s declined in one area significantly, that’s the physical part, the mental side, he’s always just been a fun-loving kid out there having fun. The problem I have, too, sometimes now, is too much fun, too many smiles when he is in decline and making mistakes and hurting his team losing. And when the TV camera catches that, it makes it even worse."

Are you saying that Reyes was never disciplined? This guy came from nothing, the kind of poverty that we don't really see here, and built himself a very lucrative career. That's not just talent. I'm not buying Reyes isn't disciplined. He's worked his ass off.


As for the "smiles" thing, I guess Reyes is supposed to shuffle sadly towards his grave. I have never gotten the impression that any of these guys don't care about what's happening on the field. They look frustrated and a little disgusted. But also happy, when good things are happening.

All of these Howarth comments coming on The Dean Blundell Show just added to the ickiness. I remember hearing Jerry call Dean Blundell "a fine young man" during a Jays' broadcast. I don't remember what happened next, because I drove off the road into a ditch.

So this was a few days ago. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has Reyes' response. Reyes (and several other players) heard the comments Howarth made.

“Before I made those three errors that I made, (Howarth) didn’t say anything at the beginning of the season, because I didn’t have any errors before I came off the DL,” says Reyes. “So I was playing good since spring training, moving around good. Last year, I know that I had a tough time playing shortstop, but at the same time last year, I played through the year with sore hamstrings. It was hard for me to move around. That’s not an excuse, that’s the reality."

As for the "smiles" thing, I'm guessing the next time Reyes sees Howarth, Jerry isn't going to see one.

“If he’s got a personal problem with me, he needs to come talk to me to my face, like a man. Some of the stuff there I disagree with, because what he says is what the fans listen to, that’s what the fans are going to believe.
 “I hate when people say, ‘He’s having too much fun.’ I’ve been in this game since I was 19 years old, did you see a different Jose Reyes? No. You see the same guy every single day, nothing changes. I can go 0-for-5, I can go 5-for-5, I’m going to be the same guy. I’m a happy guy, people have to deal with it.”

Deal with it.

Now, I'm not arguing that Jose Reyes isn't subject to criticism or that he isn't declining (he's getting older, it's par for the course and he's injury prone) or should be making some of the plays he isn't. I'm not even arguing that Ryan Goins isn't a better defender at this point.

But I am going to argue that the Toronto Blue Jays are a better team with Jose Reyes in the lineup. I see that as a fact that numbers back up.

And if one wants to bring up valid criticisms of Reyes, one should be allowed to do that. But also know that if the comments are ridiculous and arguably offensive, they are subject to be ripped apart.


Just for kicks (or maybe to fear for the future of humanity), read the comments on the Sportsnet article with Reyes' comments. My favourite one was this one:
Now I ask you folks this ... why couldn't AA get in on the Arizona and Seattle trade, I mean hey for what seattle gave up for Trumbo is nothing and he is a RBI producer, I mean if AA is not looking for SP and BP help why not load up on more run producers