Friday, February 29, 2008

Halladay to restore the faith

Roy Halladay takes the ball at 1:05 this afternoon, with a squad full of veterans behind him instead of yesterday's collection of scrubs and rookies.

Cathal Kelly reports on the Star blog that the lineup will look like this:

1 - Eckstein
2 - Rios
3 - Wells
4 - Thomas
5 - Rolen
6 - Stairs
7 - Overbay
8 - Hill
9 - Zaun

Kelly also cements his indie cred by sending out a long distance dedication of Band of Horses' awesome The Funeral as a thematically appropriate tune for today's presumed shellacking.

Blue Jays offense continues to struggle. Litsch is a bum. All is lost.

The Jays' offense (led by leadoff-hitter-on-the-way-out Reed Johnson) was anemic in yesterday's 4-1 rout at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. These guys can't come through in the clutch, and they don't got no heart. (You can check out the carnage here.)

Travis Snider's hitless performance likely bumps him pack into the lower tier of prospects, and he's likely to become a career minor-leaguer.

Jesse Litsch also has got to be better than that if the Jays are going to compete with the Rays for third place. Heck, he might not even help the Fisher Cats at this rate.

This team, after one fake game, is in shambles. Gibby and J.P. had better start packing up their offices.

(Too strong? Too soon? What can we say...we're trying to work on our doom and gloom posts in anticipation of the long season ahead. We're still working out the kinks, but we feel like we're in the best shape of our career.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

V-Dub says: "It's time to win."

It's a week-old interview, but we're just thrilled on a piss-freezing cold day to hear a Blue Jay talking baseball.

Seeing as how the entire Canadian sports media was completely enthralled for the past seven days with trade talk that didn't amount to jack squat, finding any news out of Dunedin is a bit of a chore. (And we can only sit through so many hockey panels before our head blows up like those dudes in Scanners.)

Enjoy the seriously low-key stylings of Vernon Wells.

Radio silence

We can't find a broadcast of today's game, no matter what William Houston said last week. (Update: Oops...As pointed out in the comments, Bill said that broadcasts start the 29th, not today. RRSP deadline, y'all!)

Meanwhile, Mike Wilner is liveblogging.

Update, 1:40 - Ouch. Top 3rd, 4-0 Tigers. Litsch is getting smacked around, including a Mags Ordonez two-run double, and a Curtis Granderson two-run homer. Gibbers! Go get Chacin!

The Dog Days of February

It's barely a few weeks into spring training, and already, we're scrounging a bit for topics on which we can wax poetic. That's what happens when you've done more than 510 blogposts about the Blue Jays in less than ten months...eventually, you're trying to get something out of the resin in the pipe.

So thank the Baby Jeebus, real fake games start today!

Jesse Litsch gets the nod to pinkly, roundly and efficiently take on the refurbished Tigers at 1:05 pm. Wilner reports that while most of the big dudes in Dunedin will stay behind, the team will send some intriguing players to Lakeland: new Jays Marco Scutaro, and Rod Barajas will make the trip, while top prospect David Purcey should get the ball in the fourth and Travis Snider will DH.

And as a sign of our profound illness, we'll be keeping an eye on Gameday all afternoon.

The Jays haven't posted anything yet, but the Tigers' press notes are available here.

L'chaim, Shawn
Via Blair, the NY Post reports that Shawn Green is hanging them up, and is happy to stay home with the wife and kids. What a mensch.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TBS to broadcast live from a Rogers Centre full of Red Sox fans

Blue Jays appearances on American networks are about as rare as unblistered fingers on Al Leiter's hands. (OK...a bad metaphor, but still. We're bitter.) So imagine our surprise in finding out (from Multichannel News) that TBS plans on launching its MLB coverage this season with the Jays-Red Sox tilt from Rogers Centre on Sunday, April 6.

The kid in us feels like we should be excited about this. But how is Toronto going to look to the American TV audience as a Major League city with a stadium full of the other teams' fans...especially since the Jays front office encouraged them to come to our opening weekend?

Thank you, Paul Godfrey and Patrick Elster. We Blue Jays fans will really enjoy being a laughingstock.

Photo captions are fun!

"My mom's do gots a big sack!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scott Rolen is a paradox, wrapped inside an enigma, smothered in secret sauce

When Scott Rolen walks to the plate, he is serenaded of his own volition by Limp Bizkit's Rollin'. Which is a really bad pun, and an excruciatingly awful reminder of the earlier part of this decade.

When Scott Rolen goes home at night, he reads Upton Sinclair. (Which embarrasses us quite a bit, seeing as how we've been reading Bret Hart's biography and the Deadspin Home Companion.)

The dichotomy between these two things is dizzying.

Mandatory Cathal Kelly/Rentals joke
The Star's Cathal Kelly has been doing some boss work on the Star's baseball blog, including the Rolen link above. It's almost enough to make us visit the Star's site more than once a week. (Our doctor advised us against reading any more Dick Griffin Mailbags until the high blood pressure induced fainting spells stop.)

Plus, there's his whole indie cred that stems from his years as the lead Moogster of the Rentals.

If Cathal Kelly is friends of P, then he's friends of we.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Shannon Stewart's signing does not guarantee a World Series berth

Let's be clear: the Shannon Stewart signing is good in as much as it provides some extra insurance for the Jays' left field situation.

Yeah, there were a pile of guys at that position, but they consisted of a 40 year-old whose 2007 season may or may not be a mirage, a mid-range prospect who hasn't exactly lit it ablaze when he got the call, and a goateed short white guy. So, you know...nothing exceptional.

Frankly, Stewart is a guy who has aged quickly, has a fraction of the power you'd hope for from a corner outfielder, can't reasonably play any other outfield position, and has hamstrings that could spontaneously combust at any moment. So we're not printing up the playoff tickets quite yet.

Reed Johnson - Gutsy Gamer, Pouty Pouter
Granted, it's hard to read the tone of a newspaper story, but here's Johnson's first reaction to the signing (as told to Robert MacLeod, who's showing grit and giving 110% himself this spring) :
“I'm going to play somewhere...Whether it's here or for another team I just want to play baseball. I want to get out there ... and work on my swing and try to become a better player. If it's here, great. If not, I'll move somewhere else."
Sounds like someone's got a case of the Mondays!

UPDATE: The Blair Chimes In
Jeff Blair blogs that interest around the league in Reed is "non-existent", according to a front office source.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

We come to bury Reed, not to praise him

Okay, maybe it's a little cheap to spit on the casket of Reed Johnson's career with the Blue Jays before they even lower it into the ground. Still, with the news of Shannon Stewart's signing, you can't help but dig a little deeper into Johnson's career numbers and find him wanting.

Last year, just by eyeballing through the cathode ray tube, we saw Johnson standing further back from the plate and using a longer bat. (He can deny it, but we'd like to think that our seat six feet away from our 27" Toshiba makes us the authority.) We saw Johnson unable to get to pitches on either the outside or inside corners, and we rarely saw him hit anything with a great deal of authority that wasn't a mistake pitch from a bad pitcher.

Plus, he runs like a girl.

The first half of Reed Johnson's 2006 season was extraordinary, if not extraordinarily flukey. His batting average on balls in play in those first 68 games was an absurdly high .409, which likely means that Reed got more than his fair share of seeing-eye squibbers. In the second half of that season, his BAbip dropped more than 80 points, and it has continued to decline in every half-season since.

Granted, he was hurt last year. (Where have we heard that before?) Still, we respect the fact that the Blue Jays' front office is at least taking out some sort of insurance against a further decline.

And as far as the other half of the game goes, Reed has engendered an awful lot of good will for himself by laying out for catches, and for generally being "gritty", "scrappy" and "full of heart". (Cripes, did we even need to bring in Eckstein? We already had a short white guy!)

Don't fret for Reed, though. This season was likely to be his last with the Jays anyways, with Adam Lind and (eventually) Travis Snider coming up quickly from behind him. He managed to cash in on those 12 weeks worth of excellent fortune, and will find a National League team to take him on as a supersub next year, if not sooner.

Don't call it a combeack

Well, mash our taters. The Jays signed Shannon Stewart to a minor-league deal.

And right about now, Reed Johnson's crappy goatee is spontaneously blasting itself out of his chin.

The guess here is that something would have to go very wrong with the rest of the roster for Stewart to make the big club, or maybe there's another move in the offing.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Deadspin publishes Blue Jays preview. Our Will Leitch man-crush ends.

Maybe we were too needy.

Still, we figured that Deadspin's Will Leitch might have asked us to write the season preview for the Jays. What with the constant emails, phone calls, delveries of fresh muffins and Photoshop collages of us and Will that we sent him every week, we figured he would have been his first choice. We risked jail time smuggling his book into the country. (Heather Reisman has already declared a fatwa on us, because she and she alone has declared that this book shall not be carried in any bookstore in Canada. You can look it up.)

We slavishly devoted ourselves to the Gawker Media Mandated First Person Plural Blog Style, and suffered the associated scorn for our choice.


That's okay. It's not like we started a blog just so that he would be our BFF.

Not really.

No, it's okay. We're fine. We're not crying. It's just raining on our face.

(But while we're getting over it, we should mention that our old pal Neate Sager downed a fifth of J&B and kicked ass in the preview that he was asked to write. Which only twists the knife a little deeper.)

Meet the Mets' Bloggers

A tip of the cap to our pals over at the Ballclub, who wished us well yesterday on our future raw bacon exploits. (Honestly, we spent 10 minutes the other day at the Loblaws looking at bacon, trying to determine which package was least likely to kill us.)

The Ballclub is the only non-Jays team blog to which we link at this point, in part because we spent a few of our formative years listening to Mets games on WFAN when the station came in clearly. (And those were the 1990s Mets teams, so no one could accuse us of bandwagon jumping. ) We're not exactly Mets fans, but if we have to pick an NL team, we'll pick them. Because of Mookie. And because we have a tendency to send them our first basemen.

One thing though: we can never root for the Mets when they wear black. The uniform that Johan Santana wore when he was introduced? We can get behind that.

Getting Props from Strange and Sundry Places
We were doing some maintenance the other day, when we notice that someone posted a comment under the name "Jody Vance", responding in a good-humoured manner to our post about her from way back in the fall. The real Jody Vance is apparently on mat leave, so we'll assume that given the debacle that is the 2007-08 Maple Leaves, she has nothing better to do than read our blog. In which case, she's officially our favorite anchorwoman. (Back of the line, Holly Horton!)

Finding hope in the depth

So it's February, and hope springs eternal and all that sort of thing.

For the past three or four years, there's been this sense with the Blue Jays that they're almost there. Since the 86-win season in 2003, we've felt like we're on the cusp of something good, and it is all about to go our way. If only this goes right for us, and that goes wrong for them, then in the end we'll be right there, playing meaningful September games.

We've also been teased like a drunken frat boy at Lake Havasu by all of the national (American) pundits picking the Jays as the team that "just might surprise this year" for pretty much the last three years. The disappointments of those years have caused the delicate flesh of our hopes and dreams to callous over.

It's with this in mind that we allow ourselves to get marginally excited about the prospects of the 2008 squad, especially where it comes to the team's depth. At virtually every position, the Jays have Major League calibre players who can step in if the putative starter goes down in a flaming heap this year.

If Zaunie chokes on a forkfull of pancake and sausage, there's Barajas. If Overbay pops his shoulder out catching a bouquet, we've got Stairs. If Rolen's inner-ear revolts on him due to extended periods of time listening to his Limp Bizkit intro music, Scutaro or Johnny Mac can step in. There will be no extended periods where a Jason Phillips-type or a Howie Clark-type will be a starter on this year's roster. We have to think that will be a good thing. Because there's only so many automatic outs you can bear in a lineup.

What's more, we're not looking at a competition between old scrubs (Thomson-Ohka-Zambrano) for the fifth starter position. The Jays have legitimate arms both in the rotation and the bullpen, to the point where some of the pitchers who contributed significantly to keeping the team from imploding into a dusty pile may find themselves in Syracuse or elsewhere, simply because there aren't enough spots.

A talented core is one thing, and we think that the Jays have that (although not at the same level as the Tigers or Red Sox.) But our hopes for 2008 rest almost entirely on the depth of the team assembled.

Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The internets love mustaches, the 1984 Blue Jays

That goofy 1984 Blue Jays/Michael Jackson mustache extravaganza that we posted earlier this week? It's blowed up real good today.

A mention in's Extra Mustard this morning has set off a bit of a slow burning fire of interest, including some of the sports blogosphere's heavy hitters. See below for a rundown of the bloggers who obviously can enjoy awkward acting and prominent facial hair as much as we do...even if they'll never understand how much Cliff Johnson means to us.
(And again, props to All Your Base Are Belong to Rios for finding for us.)

Ah...what the hell. Here's the video once again. (Peter Gross: you owe us a Pepsi.)

Radio is a sound salvation

The Globe's Bill Houston lays out the Spring Training broadcast schedule for the Jays. Can you believe that a week from tomorrow, we get Jerry, Allan and Wilner back on the air? Although only on to start. (For free?)

He also reports on the TV schedule, which kicks off next weekend with the wacky CityTV crew. Which, you know, should be a barrel of laughs. The Drunk Jays Fans covered this off very well ages ago, so we leave the Jennifer Valentyne innuendo to them.

UPDATE, 2:42 PM: Houston's also got news now on the Jays TV schedule. 144 games will be televised in total (120 100 on Sportsnet, 24 on CBC, and 20 on Rod Black's mustache). We'll go ahead and assume that Rogers will show the other 18 games (likely weekday afternoon games, with a few early season exceptions) on the preview channel, although no formal announcement was made to that effect.

David Eckstein: Spot the Euphemism!

Let's see. He's fresh and gritty according to the Star (sort of like the "everything" bagel we had this morning. Hey-O!)

The gamblers in Costa Rica call him scrappy. (Yo ticos! Pura vida! Imperials all around!)

Gibbers calls him a "throwback", "small, but strong", and a "good fundamental-type hitter."

Meanwhile, the Scripps news service calls him a bumbling, butter-fingered fool in the field. (We're paraphrasing.)

We're just gonna cut through the crap, and call Eckstein what everyone wants to call him: a short little white dude. And one who is keeping Johnny Mac on the bench at that. And as far as we're concerned, nobody puts Johnny Mac in the corner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tom Cheek doesn't need your Frickin' award

We're as disappointed as anyone else by the announcement that Tom Cheek has once again been denied entry into the Hall of Fame through the Ford Frick Award. It means another year of campaigning to get him on the ballot, and another year of wincing and waiting to hear that someone else has received the nod.

We see the anger in the comments here and at other Jays blogs, and we loved the post that Cheek's former colleague Mike Wilner wrote yesterday about this year's snub. There remains a lot of love out there for Tom, and we don't think that there's a Blue Jays fan out there that doesn't long to hear his dulcet tones, if only just for one more inning. He was unquestionably the voice of baseball in Canada, and amongst the great radio voices in the game.

But here's the thing.

We've gone through this process for a few years now, and we've had this reaction of anger and frustration when we felt like Bob Costas and his cabal of fatuous ugly Americans did us wrong. We've thrown up our arms and felt slighted and felt like Tom was ignored because he was broadcasting baseball in Canada, and the dough headed, right-wing, flat-Earth goofballs who run the Hall of Fame will never give our boy the recognition he deserves.

But (and this is going sound weird coming from a baseball fan, for whom Cooperstown is supposed to mean everything) we're just not sweating the Hall of Fame anymore. We don't need their recognition or their approval to recognize what a great man Tom Cheek was.

We'll continue to push people to nominate him year-in and year-out, and we'll celebrate if and when Tom finally gets the nod. But we're not going to get all bilious about our reaction to his not getting in, because we don't think that is a reaction that befits the man that we want to see honoured. In our heart of hearts, we're already comfortable with knowing how much of an impact he has had on baseball in our country.

Moreover, we rest easy with the fact that Tom Cheek is enshrined in Canada's Baseball Hall of Fame, and he is enshrined on the Blue Jays' Level of Excellence.

Most importantly, Tom Cheek is enshrined in the collective soul of Blue Jays fans. We think that he'd be pleased as punch to know that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Return of the Sideburn

In the most important story out of Dunedin this spring (which has gone completely unreported thus far), Dustin McGowan is once again sporting a snazzy set of sideburns, thereby allowing him to assume his rightful title as Dusty Lambchops.

(We apologize to Jordan Bastian for swiping his photo for this post, but this news was too important for us to wait for a photo to come through the wire. For more of Bastian's photographic genius, visit his Spring Training photo gallery. No really. Go.)

Shannon Stewart is out of work

Yet another former Jays outfielder is feeling the pinch of a tight job market. Shannon Stewart is not finding any takers for his particular skill set (i.e. slap hitting corner outfielder with a pop-gun arm).

Stewart has switched his representation in order rectify this situation, apparently after his former agents sought two-year deals for him, in spite of his reputation as a perpetually injured slap-hitting corner outfielder with...well, you get the picture.

The only teams that have been mentioned as possible destinations for the man with the hinky hamstrings are the Padres and the Mariners, but San Diego GM Kevin Towers has backed away prudently from these rumours, noting that his interest was "misconstrued". (But surely not "misremembered".)

We should expect a Marty York column on this terrible travesty any day now.

As an aside: A Google image search for Shannon Stewart? Way more interesting than we could have imagined. And definitely NSFW.

UPDATE, 1:31 PM...because our commenters are smarter than we are
As noted by commenter Clint, Stewart has told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he's had a "firm offer" from the Blue Jays. The SP-I claims that the Rogers Centre turf (which is apparently made of concrete and glass shards) would seem to preclude such a deal.

More technical difficulties

We're having a devil of a time logging in and posting today. We'll get at 'er ASAP.

In the meantime, feel free to browse around, or just leave us abusive comments for fun's sake.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rios is really ripped

Holy pythons! Check out the guns on Alex Rios!

Apparently, he tracked down some of those prop arms from the Ludacris video.

Let's just assume that Rios worked out really hard this winter, and followed a strict regime set out by a "personal trainer" and a "nutritionist".

In Completely Unrelated News
Andy Pettitte is going to speak at 3 pm today, presumably to explain how his sporadic use of HGH led to all of those extra T's in his name.

We won't be tuning in. We're busy catching up on Season 5 of The Wire. (In your face, Blairsy!)

The sound you're hearing is Michael Jackson rolling over in his hyperbarric chamber

As found by All Your Base are Belong to Rios, here's a video from the wayback machine, featuring a 1980's wacky weather dude from City TV, lots of mustaches, and some of the most cringe-inducingly bad athlete acting this side of Wayne "Agent 99" Gretzky's one-off stint on the Young and the Restless.

You had to know that the one guy who would take this video shoot super-seriously was Buck Martinez. If that dude had an ironic bone in his body, then Gorman Thomas must have broke it good.

Also, there isn't a day that goes by that we don't miss Cliff Johnson.

Alex Rios pities the fool that doesn't dig his hair

Happy Family Day, bitches! Having just pulled ourselves out of a Jamesons and Madden 08-induced stupor, it's time to catch up on a weekend's worth of Blue Jays news.

The Hair That Ate Dunedin
Middle-aged white dudes love funny hair cuts almost as much as they love home videos of people getting hit in the nuts, so it's a good thing that Alex Rios apparently lost a drunken bet with his buddies in Puerto Rico this winter. Rios' B.A. Baracus do is all the rage, especially with Globe Junior. Rios has apparently also emulated Mr. T's musculature, as he was swatting BP pitches into the yards of unsuspecting neighbours.

In addition to follicle talk, there's more contract talk around Rios, with Blairsy reporting that the team is getting ready to talk extension with his agent this week. Also, there's only one Blue Jay (Vernon) signed beyond 2010...which is a topic for another post.

News from the Harbinger of Doom File
Travis Snider is unable to participate in Spring Training activities, because his 20 year-old elbow is all buggered up. Grrrreat.

The Star Has a Baseball Blog. Contain Your Excitement
And if Dick Griffin can figure out this new-fangled blog technology (the Speak-N-Spell nearly killed him), then we can be sure to enjoy hundreds of mentions of his days in the Expos PR shop over the next year.

Two quick thoughts on the Star blog: first, we're almost positive that Cathal Kelly used to be in the Rentals, and second, the banner ad for Antonia Zerbisias' blog that ran at the top of the page this morning scares the shit out of us.

The Recognition We So Richly Deserve
Best regards indeed to John Brattain, who awarded us (along with the Drunk Jays Fans) with the weekly Pujols Award for our incessant ranting about the Jays' ticketing bullshit.

Which reminds us: we ponied up for our opening series tickets, and couldn't get the seats that we wanted. Hmmm. Why would that be? Honestly, if we're stuck looking at the ginger asscrack hair of Sully from Worcester and his best pal Fitzy from East Brookfield all weekend, we're going to go ballistic.

And the service charges on Jays tickets? Don't even get us started.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bunk and McNulty will not attend Globe and Mail's Spring Training Pajama Party

Tragic news out of Tampa: Jeff Blair blogs that upon arriving at the Globe and Mail's Spring Training digs, he discovered that Globe Junior did not ensure that the condo was fully equipped with HBO. As a result, there's no season five of The Wire for our boys on the beat.

Blair also reports that the temptation to lean on the horn while driving past local golf courses may be too much to resist. (And learning that he'd engage in those sorts of shenanigans is exactly why he remains our favorite Blue Jays beat writer.)

Fasano Wants Respect, Playing Time, Mustache Grooming Kit
In the next episode of the continuing saga of "J.P. Ricciardi: Liar or Full of Shit?", Sal Fasano told Globe Junior yesterday that he had a "verbal agreement" with the Jays GM that he would be the backup catcher this year. Fasano noted that if he'd known that the team was going to sign Rod Barajas, he would have "explored other options".

As much antipathy as Ricciardi has engendered in recent weeks, and as much as Pal Sal is a lovable guy, we're going to have to go ahead and side with J.P. on this one. It's doubtful that any of the 29 other teams would view Fasano as anything more than a third option as catcher. Moreover, J.P.'s job is to put the best team on the field possible, and not necessarily to appease the marginal players on the roster.

It's entirely possible that Fasano heard what he wanted to hear from the Jays brass when signing his deal. And to be completely frank, anyone signing a one-year minor league deal with a team shouldn't view that as a guarantee of a spot on the 25-man roster.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big Mouth Strikes Again


Last December, whilst dumping on the Giants' ridiculous signing of Aaron "Bacon Pants" Rowand, we started talking so brave and so sweet about how we'd eat a pound of raw bacon if Rowand hits 20 homers in any of his five contracted seasons in San Fran.

We just didn't think anyone was really paying attention.

Unfortunately for our heart and arteries, Jon Hale (who apparently reads and retains everything we write) has decided to introduce The Official Tao of Stieb Raw Bacon Tracker to help keep us at our word. Gulp.

It's not that we don't have the courage of our convictions. It's just that we've started to actually visualize the scene: The plate. The pound of salty pork product. The endless chewing. The defibrillator. It's not pretty.

These are gonna be five long years. Frankly, we're rooting for a blown ACL in the first inning of the first game.

In lieu of Clemens commentary, we offer the following

A picture of Rilo Kiley's racktacular red-haired lead singer Jenny Lewis. Mrrroawwwr.

There's an almost infinite amount of commentary on the Clemens-MacNamee showdown at the OK Congress today. We just don't care enough at this point to get into the finer points of ass pustules and Debbie Clemens' HGH use and MacNamee's weird medical waste memorabilia collection.

Sing on Jenny.

Gary Denbo has his work cut out for him

So much time has passed since Mickey "I'm Just the Patsy" Brantley was shown the far far end of the plank that we had almost forgotten about new Jays hitting coach Gary Denbo. Globe Junior reminds us of the new hire, who apparently isn't averse to taking balls in the face. (Hey-o!)

Denbo has his work cut out for him, what with the team's disappointing performance at the plate in 2007. Still, Denbo seems as though he may be set up for success, what with the team returning to mostly good health. And while we at the front of the mob chasing Brantley out of town, we kinda feel sorry for him. If Denbo comes out and has success with a team that is deeper and healthier, people (like us) will probably assume that it is because he is a genius, and Brantley was a dope.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Frank Thomas - Bobble of the Year

We've been giving the ticket and promo people shit all week, so let's be fair and give them their propers on the best Blue Jays Bobblehead in recent memory.

On Sunday, May 25, the Jays will hand out Frank Thomas bobbleheads, which feature the masher and his trusty piece of rebar in his traditional on deck circle pose.

The Drunk Jays Fans have already made it abundantly clear that Thomas swings a big heavy rod with the best of them.

No inference should be drawn from the fact that this bobble is being handed out on Greek Night.

What's this about the tickets you say?

We're really going to stop picking at this scab any day now, but we thought we'd mention that both Mike Wilner and Bob Elliot weigh in this morning on this Masshole-centric ticket-selling scheme that the Blue Jays have cooked up.

Wilner: "The term 'galactically stupid' comes to mind." (Looks like somebody watched A Few Good Men recently. We never pegged Wilner for a Tom Cruise fan.)

Elliot: "I'm no ticket broker, but shouldn't Jays fans be treated No. 1 in their own backyard?"

Let's hope that a few mainstream media mentions will get the ball rolling on this story, because we'd like to see that mangy scoundrel Paul Godfrey dragged out in public and forced to eat a bit of dog poop over this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Doc's Diagnosis: '07 Jays suffered from malaise

(How about that title? Bad puns! Bad rhymes! It's like a James Blunt song! Cougars will love it!)

Roy Halladay has always been a fierce competitor on the field, but a bit pat and polite to the press. You'll never hear him call out his team's performance, even when the Jays go into prolonged stretches of absolute sucknaciousness.

Which is why it is fascinating to read the quote that Doc gave Globe Baseball Junior (aka Lil Bobby MacLeod) at the pre-Spring Training workouts. In just a few words, Halladay pretty much sums up last year's failures, and reveals a lot about the state of the dressing room.

“I think there were times last year where there just wasn't that sense of urgency, where things were kind of taken lightly,” Halladay said.

Halladay goes on to say that Scott Rolen and David Eckstein will make a big difference, and everything is a-okay. And if he says so, who are we to doubt it?

Still, it's something else to see staff ace quietly and efficiently eviscerate some members of the '07 squad (some of whom, you'd have to guess, are still on the team in '08.)

The Beej is ready

Globe on Baseball kid brother Robert MacLeod reports that B.J. Ryan thinks he's ready to go when the season starts.

Somebody please tell the Beej to take his time coming back. He can sit in the bullpen, and control the clubhouse stereo and everything. Just don't go wrecking that newly refurbished tendon before you even get the chance to use it.

Take your time! Relax! Make a few more of those "This thing got a Hemi?" commercials. Let Jeremy Accardo carry the load for a few weeks. The season isn't won or lost in the first few weeks of the season.

Unless it is. In which case, have at it.

Ain't nobody loves Shawn Green

Metro crayon scribbler Marty York ponders the unponderable in today's column, when he wonders why the heck nobody has bothered to sign former Jay Shawn Green.

The answer isn't that difficult to find: It's because Shawn Green sucks ass.

York talks about Green's career achievements, and raves about Green's performance last year (.291 BA with 10 homers and 46 RsBI). "Couldn’t the Blue Jays use a decent outfielder?" he asks.

Well, maybe. But Shawn Green hasn't been a decent outfielder for a few years now. And just for reference, in 90 fewer ABs, Matt Stairs hit 21 HRs and drove in 64 playing in essentially the same role that Green would play. Hell, Adam Lind hit 11 homers and drove in 46 in about 150 fewer ABs.

So we kinda already have that area covered. But thanks for the handy advice, Marty!

Come to think of it, we might prefer Ruben Sierra over Green for 2008.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dustin McGowan is Frickin' Wicked

(Note from the Executive Editor: The following is a baseball post. It shall not refer in any way shape or form to any ticket sale schemes or marketing blunders or perceived slights or front office gaffes. It shall only refer to baseball. Because baseball is almost here. And that is news that rocks both the house and the boulevard. Read on.)

Dustin McGowan is reporting to spring training (with or without the Lambchops That Ate The Rockies) in three and a half days.

Fuck, man. Baseball is fucking awesome.

Jesse Barfield answers the questions you never bothered to ask

Completely by accident, we stumbled across a columnish first-person thingy posted today on by neophyte colour commentator and former Blue Jays rightfielder Jesse Barfield.

We don't want to get on Barfield's case too much, because he seems like a genuinely nice fellow, but someone's got to give Jesse a little direction on these things. The first rambling post of the year can pretty much be summed up thusly: I'm a baseball insider, and you're not.

It starts off all wrong, right from the get-go: "Fans often wonder how a former player feels about the game after he has retired, so to open this baseball season, you will get to go behind the scenes with me and find out." We don't. We don't wonder about former players. Generally we're too preoccupied with the guys who are still playing to give a flying fadoo about the guys who used to play once upon a time. (Except for Bob File...where's that guy at?)

The rest of the post kinda meanders about, giving us little insight about stuff we weren't particularly jazzed to hear about. However, if you had your roto team killed by Josh Barfield last year, you'll be happy to know that he's doing just fine. We're sure that Josh will remain totally positive (just like his Dad!) watching Asdrubal Cabrera trot out to second base all season long.

Nattering Nabobs of Negativity Update
Did you know that the Blue Jays have 77 people working in their ticket sales and service department? You can count them right here. Wow. That's a lot of people, isn't it? With a workforce of that magnitude and the right vision, they might just be able to sell tickets to at least a dozen or so people in the GTA once single-game ticket sales open later this week for those outside of Detroit and Boston.

The fan outrage rages on...doesn't it?

Wow. We kinda lost our shit on Friday, didn't we?

It took a full weekend of being strapped down and watching the Game Show Network just to get our heart rate back to normal.

Much thanks goes out to all of those who picked up the torch over the weekend and went about setting Messers Godfrey and Elster ablaze (figuratively, of course), including the DJF, Hum and Chuck, Belong to Rios, Bottom of the Order, Ghostrunner on First and (Best Regards,) John Brattain.

And of course, all of this outrage was obviously picked up by the mainstream media.

Right? Right? Hello?...Is this thing on?

We don't want this to descend into one of those twee blog posts about how the MSM is corrupt and obviously isn't hip to the jive like us bloggers. We're just a little disappointed that after Blair poked the story with a long stick on Friday, nobody touched it. (At least, no one that we saw.)

We could go into a whole new rant, about how the media game is fixed, and how the TV rightsholders didn't want to hurt their relationships and how the birdcage liners didn't want to do anything that would limit their access to the organization.

But that'd be beneath us.

Instead, we'll just send out this Long Distance Dedication to Paul Godfrey, and all the kids in the Jays front office. This is what you get when you mess with us.

Friday, February 8, 2008

For Love or Money

We've got to take issue with Jeff Blair's assertion in his latest blog post that "there is no downside" to this ticket selling scheme.

Just so we're clear: we've got nothing against making a buck. We try to do it every day. (Just not by blogging.) And yes, we get the fact that the Blue Jays' decision to sell tickets directly to the fans of the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox is a savvy use of Major League Baseball Advanced Media's databases.

Taken from a distance (the dispassionate distance from which Blair, or Griffin, or Fidlin or Elliot, or Sadler write), we could look at this and say: "Well, bully for them! What a bunch of smart cookies they are! Maximize revenues! Exploit new marketing opportunities!"

But we don't look at the Blue Jays as a business that sells tickets and in-stadium advertising.

If we listened to our dispassionate side, we wouldn't be frantically tapping out post after post, agonizing over John McDonald's role, or Lyle Overbay's hand, or Scott Rolen's headspace, or John Gibbons' lineup chicanery.

Nor would we buy retro powder blues (or fawn over them), or another Jays cap (to go with the five - count 'em, five - Jays caps that we already own). We wouldn't stop everything in our lives to sit and listen to Jamie Campbell prattle on about his baseball card collection, nor would we promise to spend an entire day antiquing with Mrs. Tao if only she'll let us watch this last half inning ("Seriously, Sweetie: just five more minutes!")

We wouldn't put up with hours of abuse from the brother-in-law when he gets dragged kicking and screaming to a Jays game (nor would we pay $50 for his ticket just for the privilege). We wouldn't shell out $5 on consecutive days for the exact same program, just so that we could keep score during the game.

And we wouldn't get this upset about a simple business transaction if we thought of the Blue Jays as a business.

But for us, it's not a business. It's a sacred trust.

Go ahead Blairsy: groan. Roll your eyes. We know that it is pathetically overwrought. We know that it's just a bunch of pampered millionaires hitting a horsehide ball with a wooden bat and catching it with a leather glove.

We know that the billionaire owner (Canada's second richest man, and for very good reason) determines the level of salary extravagance based on the club's ability to bums (any bums) in the seats. We're aware that if attendance had gone down last year or the year before, then maybe Vernon Wells or Alex Rios or Roy Halladay are playing in Arlington, or Miami, or Cincinnati this year.

To all of those with that level of detachment from the team: we sincerely envy you. Because it's not going to eat at you one little bit when the cheers from Red Sox Nation erupt on that opening homestand. It's not going to muddy the gleam of the new season for you at all.

But tell us this: When a member of the Red Sox drives in a run on that weekend, how will the front office quantify the impact of those extra cheering New Englanders on the home team's fans, especially since you went to such lengths to bring them here? It's going to be an awfully bitter pill to swallow, and there's nothing in Quicken Books that's going to help you make that equation.

We've waited all frickin' winter to cheer on our boys. So why did someone have to invite their fans to ruin the party?

Paul Godfrey is a Kitten-Drowning Baby-Shaker

Ok, so maybe he's not.


But he is a guy who will sign off on selling tickets to the opposing team's fans before the hometown faithful are even given the opportunity to sell the joint out themselves. Which is really very evil. And wrong. (But congrats on the Bills games, Pauley!)

Jeff Blair posts in the Globe on Baseball blog that the Jays sold $10,000 worth of tickets through these special packages to Tigers fans, but that single-game tickets are not being made available until March 2 to fans in Toronto. (Actually, we're seeing February 15 on the Jays' site, but what do we know. We don't have Paul Godrey's cell number.)

Yesterday, when we blogged about this scheme, it was with the notion that a) it hadn't yet been launched and b) that this was in response to slow sales on the home front. But for the brass to assume that we're not gonna buy tickets? So wrong.

And just so that you can get yourself all the way to the other side of the looking glass, Godfrey makes this rather absurd claim:
"We can control the flow of tickets, so if the sales get really hot we can simply shut them down."
So, let's see if we've got this straight: the Jays want to sell lots of tickets, so they sell them to people outside of the fan base first. But if they sell too many, they'll stop! Right away!

Also, one of the games being offered to Detroit fans is a Roy Halladay Kids T-Shirt will the ravenous hordes from Michigan be heading home with this powder blue gem? What frickin' use will it be to them, and moreover, what sort of marketing buzz will the Jays get when a chunk of these end up in a Detroit Metroland landfill?

Here's the point: We love the Blue Jays. Irrationally. We've already posted almost 500 items to this blog in less than a year, and we invest ourselves (financially and emotionally) in this team in a way that is quite unhealthy, to tell the truth.

And as much as Godfrey and Kevin Elster's brother are going to come out in the next day or so and spin this and say how much they love the Blue Jays fans, they don't get it. They don't get the fact that this makes Blue Jays fans and Toronto look like second-class citizens. They don't understand that this makes us feel like we're not pretty enough for them, and they don't understand why we're getting so worked up about them catting around with that skank down the road.

They really don't get it, and they likely never will, because this is their job. They are more concerned with boosting those ticket sales (for what...the sixth or seventh straight year?), because that's what they do.

We respect that they want to make the team as much of a financial success for Uncle Ted as they can, but is this really the way that they want to do it?

Update, 2:23 PM - The scandal widens!
As noted by Drunk Jays Fan Parkes in the comments (and from a different version of the Blair story than the one we read earlier), the Toronto Blue Jays are selling tickets for the OPENING GODDAMNED HOMESTAND to fans of the BOSTON EFFING MASSHOLE RED SOX.

Oh, but Godfrey is "sensitive" to the fact that maybe, just maybe, the die-hards will be a little effing pissed at the fact that the first choice of seats to the opening homestand are being offered to the douchebag fans of our chief rivals in the AL East.

It's going to be really fun to hear the Massholes cheering on the BoSox in OUR opening homestand, isn't it?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Opening the Gates to the Barbarians

What should have been a fairly benign good news article about the flood of ticket sales for the 2008 season took an ugly turn, when Patrick "Benedict Arnold" Elster announced that the Blue Jays are selling tickets for an April series with Detroit as part of a special package to Tigers fans.

Look, we know that the Red Sox fans are going to make their way north to throw beer on unsuspecting Jays fans, and that the douchey Yankee faithful from western New York are going to fill the seats on certain weekends. But to sell directly to the fans of the opposition? How's that gonna play when they're cheering their lungs out at a Miguel Cabrera moonshot?

Yeah, we know that Pat Elster is going to get credit from the corporate types for his "out of the box" thinking to fill the seats. "We would not offer games (to other fans) that we believed we would sell out on our own," the traitorous bastard told the Toronto Star.

We bet that fucker doesn't even remember Frank Tanana.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kathryn Humphreys gets the quote

Kathryn: You're kinda full of it, aren't you?
J.P.: How so?
Kathryn: This whole bullshit story about how you didn't really want Lincecum.
J.P.: It happened just the way I said it happened.
Kathryn: Really?
J.P.: Absolutely.
Kathryn: Are you looking down my blouse?
J.P.: Not at all.
Kathryn: Because I can feel your eyes boring a hole through my solar plexus.
J.P.: No way. Not a chance.
Kathryn: You know, my husband is the drummer in the Tragically Hip.
J.P.: Who are they?
Kathryn: Only Canada's biggest rock and roll band!
J.P.: That explains it...never heard of them.
Kathryn: Every drunken asshole with their truckers cap on backwards and a two-four of Lakeport in their cooler loves the Hip.
J.P.: What's a "two-four"?
Kathryn: You are so looking down my blouse.
J.P.: Seriously, can we talk about something else.
Kathryn: No, that's pretty much all I've got.
J.P.: Fair enough. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go change my cell phone number...Oh, and welcome to the Rogers Media family, babe.
Kathryn: Would you like an autographed copy of the UMM magazine where I was on the cover? It's a collectors item!

Tony Fernandez to enter the Hall of Fame

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, that is.

The honour couldn't be more richly deserved for Fernandez, who remains the Jays' all-time leader in games played and hits. Fernandez was not only a key to the Blue Jays' emergence as a power in the AL the mid-80's, but he was also an important part of the team moving to the forefront of the Canadian pro sports scene.

Fernandez' work with the glove at short brought a wow factor to the Jays, and helped them transcend the sport's base of fans at the time. (Of course, the Ballard-era Leafs suckitude didn't hurt either.) Fernandez won four Gold Gloves, and likely deserved a few more that are now on a mantle somewhere in the greater Baltimore area.

Fernandez was also an offensive threat, posting a .298 career average with the Jays. And while we hate slap hitters, we loved seeing Fernandez squaring around to bunt, then slapping the ball past the drawn in infielders.

Amongst the others to be honoured is Peter Widdrington, the former Labatt CEO who was instrumental in bringing a team to Toronto. Widdrington was devoted to the team's success, but left the baseball operations to their own devices, giving Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick the resources they needed to make the team a success. Widdrington died in 2005.

Jays lock up Rios...for one whole year

Actually, we think that the one-year, $4.8 million contract negotiated this week is pretty prudent of the Blue Jays' brass. Ultimately, they still have Rios under their control until the end of next season, so it doesn't make much sense to blow out the budget on him quite yet.

We thought the way the contract was structured was a bit peculiar, with Rios getting a base salary of $1.3 million and a $3.5 million signing bonus, but we're in no way an expert on how Uncle Ted wants to establish his payroll structure. What's the advantage of having so much tied in to signing bonuses? Maybe it's a tax thing?

A handy comparison
Two Blue Jays beat writers on the Rios contract putting the club at or over a $100 million payroll:

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mike Wilner will answer your mailbag questions in his own good time

JaysTalk overlord Mike Wilner blew out his mailbag this weekend, and reading it served as a reminder of how bad the post-game callers can be.

Sure, it can be nerve-wracking when you're live on the radio, and we'd forgive the callers if their points aren't always made eloquently. But seeing the way that these crayon-eaters abuse the English language in their emails, it's clear that those high-voltage power lines running over Scarborough and Ajax are clearly having some sort of effect on the verbal cortex of those who live below.

And whaddaya know: Mike on the Mic ran our email! But before you think that we've lost our mind talking about Robinson Diaz getting the call to the bigs before June, what with Rod Barajas being signed, we'd like to point out in our own defense that our email was written in a hung over stupor on New Year's Day. Not that we're complaining...

Our email also spills the beans on a potential JaysTalk podcast, which Wilner says may be happening in 2008. (Yay!)

More Linkage
  • Jordan Bastian also goes into the mailbag to answer your questions on Canadians playing for the Jays, prospects and the rotation.
  • Jon Hale breaks down the performance of the manager in a post titled The Tao of Gibby. Should we be flattered?
  • Hale also links to an excellent Boston Globe interview with J.P. Ricciardi, where the GM reveals that Roy Halladay wanted to pitch the final game of the season on short rest. That's just fucking fierce.

Whither Sergio Santos ?

Even with the news that utility infielder and slap-hitter Ray Olmedo was banished to Pittsburgh last week, the Blue Jays have a veritable mess o' infielders on the 40-man roster. Somewhat lost in the shuffle amongst all these marginal major leaguers is Sergio Santos.

Santos, who came to the Jays in the Troy Glaus trade two winters ago, acquitted himself well in this year's Arizona Fall League (5 HRs, 20 RsBI, .922 OPS in 24 games for Scottsdale). He subsequently played winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League for the Yaquis de Obregon. Santos told Baseball America (registration required...sorry) that he wanted to play in Mexico to see tougher pitching, to work on his footwork at third and to improve his Spanish (no, really). Unfortunately, he was limited to just 14 games and was off the roster by the time the playoffs came.

Santos will turn 25 this July, and is on the cusp of becoming a "former prospect", if he isn't there already. He's dropped off of most publications' lists of top Blue Jays prospects, and he didn't handle the jump to Syracuse especially well this year. With Marco Scutaro, Russ Adams and Joe Inglett muddying up the Jays' infield picture, 2008 looks to be Santos' last chance to establish himself.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Gord Ash on the Sirotka Deal: "Our Doctor Was a Putz"

Or something to that effect.

In an artice in today's Seattle Times dealing with the Bedard-to-Mariners-for-Adam-Jones'-Degenerated-Hip trade, the dark spectre of the Mike Sirotka deal is mentioned, and former Jays' GM Gord Ash addressed the deal.

"(Buyer beware) has been, and remains, the standard in baseball. In this particular case, our doctor signed off on Sirotka. Obviously, he was wrong."

Aw, snap! We're not sure who that doctor was, or where he is now, but dude's got some bus tire tracks across his sternum right about now.

Scary Thought
What if the same doctor cleared Scott Rolen? (It seems unlikely, but someone set us straight, or we might not sleep until April.)

Vernon Wells Feels Defeat at the Hands of a Two-Pound Pink Weight

In what passes for news at this point, Vernon Wells told the assembled reporters at last night's Salute to Upscale Luxury Bathrooms (For Our Childrens' Future) event that he was undone by effeminate gym equipment after his offseason shoulder surgery.
"I kind of lost all the strength in my shoulder, and the little two-pound pink weight that I had was kicking my butt. So it was a little scary there for a little while." (From the National Post's unreliable Jeremy Sandler.)

He hastened to add: "But its all better now." Which presumably means that he's kicking ass with that four-pound aquamarine weight.

Unfortunately, there was no follow up questions to find out if V-Dub is able to pull on his leg warmers by himself yet.

Wells assessed himself thusly: "I'm pretty much 100%." With a ringing self-endorsement like that, we should plan on at least 30 homers this year, right?

Those Mutton Chops Won't Keep You Warm In This Weather, Hoss's Jordan Bastian, who may or may not have mistook the Upscale Luxury BathroomTM potpourri for trail mix, reports that Dustin McGowan wasn't fond of Toronto's piss-freezing cold January weather.

"I walked outside and the wind was blowing as hard as it could blow," McGowan said. "I don't think I've felt cold like that before."

McGowan was also overwhelmingly confident when discussing the Jays' chances this year: "I think we'll be pretty good." Print those World Series tickets now!