I attenended WinterFest 2018. It looked beautiful and it was nice to be in the Rogers Centre again. People looked to be having a good time.
I didn't get an autograph wristband (though I tried) so my experience was going to be limited anyway. I had a problematic interaction with the Jays ahead of the event (long story) and at the event when a staff person was rude when I had the audacity to talk to DeMarlo Hale.
At a fan fest. (Hale, for the record, was very nice.) I guess they have to protect the bench coach at all costs.
I understand the desire to be able to declare that they sold 16,000 tickets to their first fan fest and appreciate that there were people that had fun. But I do wonder the wisdom of jamming that many people into what is, by its very nature, going to be a limited event. There were huge lineups to meet John Gibbons. He signed for two hours and that didn't even scratch the surface of the people in line.
If one had gotten a ticket, but not a wristband, the event was essentially standing in line and seeing Blue Jays from a distance. Which is essentially a game experience, minus the actual playing of baseball.
Is a fan more disappointed to miss out on a ticket because the number was limited or more disappointed to buy a ticket, stand in line endlessly because the event was so jammed that the experience, in general, was limited?
I'm a quality over quantity person, but I'm not in charge.
The Jays' interviews on stage were fun, but those could probably be broadcasted on their website or on social media. If only the Jays were owned by a massive communications/media company to facilitate that.
I did sit in the Blue Jays Central studio and imagined the various ways I'd own that show. You can see me in this, looking hilariously pissed off for some reason:
If you and your friends/kids had fun, I'm very happy for you. I did enjoy watching Vlad Jr. play ping pong with small children and Stroman's reaction to finding out that Jr. was born in Canada.
This one is my favourite:
Pitch Clocks, Still The Devil
Ryan Tepera describes that, in AAA last season, he had to throw a pitch in 20 seconds.
“It was a ridiculous thing,” Tepera said. “I really wasn’t aware of it that much. I wasn’t thinking about it. I actually got called a couple of times on it and I wasn’t too happy about it, I’ll tell you that. I hope they don’t incorporate that, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
And Marcus Stroman had a different view:
“To be honest with you, man, I don’t think about it at all. I show up every fifth day and do all I can to win,” Stroman said. “That’s all I’m concerned about. I really don’t focus on anything on the outside. I know what it takes for me to be elite out there and that’s what I do. All the outside noises and factors are completely irrelevant.”
The key difference here is that Ryan Tepera averages 28.3 seconds per pitch (the slowest) and Marcus Stroman averages 22.5 seconds per pitch (the quickest). I do wonder if anyone informed Stroman that his average pace is still to slow for AAA.
When my dad was a pitching coach for my brother (and other kids) in the 90s, he read a tonne about the art and science of baseball. He came across a theory of pitching from Ray Miller ( and others) that he really clung on to. My dad wanted to make t-shirts for his pitchers with this message on it, written upside down, so they could look down to their undershirt if they felt lost. I still remember it:
"Work fast. Throw Strikes. Change Speeds. Hold 'em close."
The argument for working quickly is a valid one. Mark Buehrle, who likely influenced Stroman's quick pace, was one of the quickest workers around. It was a key part of his game, to his effectiveness. It's a part of Stroman's game. He works consistently to prevent hitters from getting comfortable in the box.
But I will continue to argue that there is a difference working fast, picking up the pace as a part of routine/mechanics/bag of tricks and artificially speeding up the game by putting the pitchers on a clock.
Russell Martin, because this isn't his first rodeo, was diplomatic:
“I don’t want to just say something and regret it,” he said. “Baseball’s baseball. They’re trying to make it a faster game and more enjoyable for fans and that’s what it’s all about. You want the fans to be happy, but at the same time you want to keep the integrity of the game the way it is.”
I don't think it's the fans. And I will continue to argue this isn't for the fans.
Dr. Mike Sonne spoke on Prime Time Sports this week, arguing against a pitch clock to a very skeptical Bob McGown.
In case you, like me, get fatigued by dudes on the radio, Sonne appears at the very end. Last 10 minutes.
Bob McGown is kind of an asshole in this (which I suppose is his thing). It's not a "difference of opinion" or "philosophy", it's about science. He blathered on and basically agreed with Sonne, but kept insisting that he didn't. Sonne didn't argue once that he thought pitchers should work slowly. He posits that they shouldn't be made to speed up artificially because it's bad for them.
NOLAN RYAN DIDN'T HAVE A PITCH CLOCK. ROY HALLADAY DIDN'T HAVE A PITCH CLOCK. THEY DEVELOPED A RHYTHM WITH THEIR MOTIONS AND THEY THREW THE BALL WHEN THEY WERE READY TO. WHEN THEY DAMN WELL FELT LIKE IT.
SHUT UP, BOB. DO SOME RESEARCH. YOU'RE NOT MY REAL DAD!
Number 2 Bat Flip
I was originally somewhat outraged (if one could be outraged about a meaningless list) that the MLB Network listed Bautista's bat flip as the second best bat flip of all time.
Then I realized what they were doing and calm came over me. They did it to troll. They want us to yell about it on Twitter. They want bat flip GIFs and punch GIFs. It's getting a little something extra out of meaningless fluff content they churned out because it's January and the free agent market is a sleeping giant.
So, instead of being upset out it or thinking about the list or Lawless or giving MLB Network the kind of attention they want, just watch this:
Just spend half an hour and watch the whole thing.
And for the record, I searched "Bat flip" in Google Images. Behold the results.
The Muscles Have Eyes: John Lott talks to Randal Grichuk
John Lott talked to the new RF Randal Grichuk, about how he's trying to make himself a more dynamic hitter. He even took a vision training course.
“So many people don't really work out their eyes,” he said. “I think there's a lot of muscles in the eyes that are just like a normal muscle in the body. You need to train it. You need to work it out.”
I'm a bit paranoid about my eyes. An optometrist once told me that, judging by my eyes, he'd assume I was ten years older than I actually am. I slapped his face and stormed out of there, but it did make me think.
You can find some pretty weird videos on the topic on Youtube.
Bo and Vlad Jr. : Rated
“Really, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean a whole lot,” he said of the grand projections. “There's been plenty of guys drafted in the 40th round that make the big leagues, guys that aren't highly touted that become stars. All those things are great, and I guess help you know what you've accomplished and that your work is working out. But for me, like I said, it's just getting better every day. None of that matters unless I go out there and perform.”
This kid is saying the correct things.
Lott also mentions that Bo Bichette doesn't know Titanic because he was born after it came out.
Thursday evening, word trickled out that the Jays and the Marlins were in serious discussions about Christian Yelich, but the talks stalled when the Jays wouldn't give up Vlad Jr. and the Marlins instead made a deal with the Brewers. The rumour is that it was Yelich for Vlad, straight up.
It does make one wonder if they offered up Bichette at all or the Brewers just moved on after Guerrero was a bridge too far. Bichette is a fancier prospect than any the Brewers gave up.
If the "Vlad for Yelich straight up" is true, that says a hell of a lot about how the league views him. I just got all tingly.
Here's a dumb opinion from someone who gets paid money to come up with this idiotic shit:
The cost was Vlad Jr. It's been reported as such. Do you want to trade Vlad Jr., Steve?
Also, neither the Brewers or the Giants play in the Jays' division or league.
Chris Archer: State of the Black Athlete
ESPN the Magazine, in partnership with The Undefeated, put out an issue of
Yes, I did use this quote because Archer uses the term, "kick it."
I don't begrudge Archer anything here, but what became apparent as I was reading it was that there is a privilege from being raised in a loving home and to have the kind of attitude he has about these things (which he is quite sanguine about).
I do defend the right of this dude to wear his hair as he likes it quite a lot on social media, so I can only imagine what kind of nonsense Archer actually experiences firsthand but chooses not to focus on here.
As for the state of the black athlete?
One of the best discoveries of the offseason has been the work of Rachael McDaniel. For the Hardball Times, she writes about the Asahi Baseball Club, Vancouver's Japanese-Canadian baseball club in the first half of the 20th century. The NFB made a film about them in 2003.
Russell Martin's Hair
I don't know if this is a considered look (his fade indicates that it is) or just one for the offseason. It's glorious.
Martin and his hair discussing the new acquisitions at WinterFest.
You know this hair is my shit
Rolled the rod, I gave it time
But this here is mine
You know this hair is my shit
Rolled the rod, I gave it time
But this here is mine