Friday, May 30, 2008

Back in the saddle

Hello darlin's. Nice to see ya again.

It's been a hellish time for your humble scribe over the past week, and right about now, we're dying to get back to our daily Jays-oriented rituals.

We almost hesitate to make any sort of a comeback to the blogoworld, because a) the Jays have been doing quite well, thank you, since we went away, and b) we're only halfway done with our secret missions.

We'll confess to being a bit out of the loop, as we've read game stories or boxscores but have only seen a handful of innings since our last post. So in all truth, you probably know way more than we do about how the Jays are trending.

God almighty, we're looking forward to sitting back and enjoying a game. Listening to JaysTalk wingnuts. Reading the Drunks and understanding the references. Just a few more days to go.

Gibby, reconsidered
If there is one self-criticism that we would level at our own blog, it is the way we bounce back and forth on John Gibbons. Just a few weeks ago, we were eulogizing him. Now, he's won his 300th game as the Blue Jays' manager, and sits behind only Cito and Bobby Cox in that category. The Jays have pulled off a bit of a winning run, and have done so with several regulars in and out of the lineup with injuries. Maybe the good ol' boy has been pulling the right strings, or maybe it's all luck and balls are falling in. Or maybe there are benefits to facing the Royals for four games.

In the end, we shouldn't be praising Gibby for this run any more than we should be blaming him for the team going into the tank a few weeks back. Still, we have to admire his resiliency. No matter how many times we (and others like us) count him out, John Gibbons gets up of the canvas and gets back on his feet. That's got to be worth something.

A final introspective thought
We'd generally hesitate to respond to anonymous comments, but this one had us befuddled and bemused: "This blog just doesn't have the same enterainment quality as the drunks. That, and a past anti-American quip was unwarranted."

Let's just say that we'd generally agree that the Drunks have a higher "enterainment" factor than we do. But we're way prettier.

Also, can anyone think of the anti-American quip that we made? Not that we're above such a thing, but we can't remember it. (A note to the anonymous American: Develop a thicker skin. You're going to need it in the coming years.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Don't hurry back Scrappy Doo

Take your time. Your grittiness is not needed at the moment. Not when Marco Scutaro is driving in four two-out RsBI in a 7-1 win over the Royals.

We'll confess that we were only able to smuggle highlight footage into the battlefield, but as long as that footage features lots of Blue Jays runs, we feel confident in stating one thing about the team's performance:


Also, Aaron Hill is so defensively awesome that it makes us completely forget that other second baseman that the Jays used to have that was good with the glove.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ernie Whitt for General Manager!

Getting this out of the way first: hooray, a win. Lyle Overbay rocks, just like we knew he would.

But the real fireworks tonight were on the post-game show, and we can only hope that Wilner gets the thing posted soon so that you can hear the lunacy for yourself.

One particularly well-informed caller complained about J.P.'s lack of GM skills, then suggested that Ernie Whitt should be named the General Manager (not Manager, mind you, but GM!) We get the fact that sometimes, these alleged Jays fans are looking for any port in a storm to sort out what ails the team, but this has to rank up there with the all-time nuttiest ideas ever. (Not just on JaysTalk...we're talking in the history of the world.)

Wilner was so flabbergasted, he actually thought out loud "I don't know how much longer this being nice to the callers thing can last." (That might not be it word for word, but it is pretty much what he meant.)

The audio should be up in the familiar Rogers Radio digital confines later tonight, so go have a listen, and check out the subsequent pro-Ernie calls.

In a season that has been decidedly "meh", the JaysTalk callers never disappoint with their abilities to provide highly entertaining nonsensical pontifications.

Speaking of "meh"
A.J.'s mohawk? Lame. It's like he went to get a hair cut, but the strip through the middle opted out.

(In our head, that was way funnier).

Radio silence?
We're off on a secret mission for a week or so, but will be checking in as time permits.
We're traversing time zones, so cut us a little slack if we're not necessarily on top of the latest news and notes.

Don't you forget about we.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

At least they lead the league in something

After hitting into three more tonight, your Toronto Blue Jays have pulled away from the competition and now solidly lead the league in grounding into double plays with a magnificent 58. Oh, and they probably lead the league in hitting into triple plays as well.

A note of caution about this stat: Yeah, it's as frustrating as all get out when you see the Jays snuff out another rally in this manner, but at the same time, the mighty BoSox and their unstoppable offense rank second in this category, so we're not even sure if it means anything.

A few other random thoughts:

You can't pitch around Vlad
Didja see the pitch that he hit for the three-run bomb in the third? Yeah, sure, we got to see him hit those on the occasional Expos game that was briadcast back in the day, but it's still pretty stunning to see him go that far inside and hit it like it was a fastball grooved down the middle of the plate.

When is an RBI not a cause for celebration?
When you see Alex Rios drive in a run (finally), but he looks very much like he did in his rookie year, when he was pretty much a soft singles hitter. And of course, when he does put a ride into a ball tonight, he gets robbed by Sarge Junior. Somedays, we hate this stupid game.

JaysTalk listeners: LISTEN UP TO THIS, IDIOTS
For the last goddamn time...this is Major League MickeyFicking Baseball. This isn't your glory days on the crushed gravel Little League diamonds of Buttfuck, Wherever. This is the Big Leagues, so STOP TALKING ABOUT BUNTING! We get that you're a frickin' Mosquito League coach who teaches fundamentals to all of the ADD cases that get pawned off on you, and we're sure that you're the Sparky Anderson or Casey Stengel of Barrie or North Bay or whatever. But laying down a bunt and hoping that the fielders working their way through their awkward phase throw it over the chain link back stop and into the swamp behind doesn't work at this level.

Seriously. Stop extrapolating your experience in adolescent scrub leagues onto the players who are infinitely more capable than you or your inbred demon spawn.

Much obliged.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mike Piazza is no longer an option

Mike Piazza, who is definitely not gay, is no longer an option for us (or Mike Wilner) to idly speculate on as an answer to the team's occasional offensive woes.

The former All-Star catcher, who nearly perfected the art of the unironic porn 'stache and served as the target for Roger Clemens' bat-tossing exploits, announced his retirement today. He's planning on staying home with his somewhat hot wife (former Playmate Alicia Rickter, who looks a little torn down these days) and the children that he absolutely sired himself with the fruit of his own loins, because he is definitely not gay. No gay stuff for Mikey. Totally straight.

The Interleague Intern checks in

As noted previously, we took a brave step forward in engaging an intern to write us a summary of his experiences at this weekend's Jays-Phillies series.

As with any intern, the enthusiasm for the task was definitely there, even if the work itself needed a little tidying up.

The Interleague Intern shall remain nameless, if only because we know that having your name tied to certain debaucherous activities can be met with a certain amount of scorn in the corporate offices of, oh, let's say a big insurance company.

Here are the (mostly) unexpunged thoughts from the intern's adventures in the city of Brotherly (and apparently Sisterly) Love:

Got into Philadelphia about 3 O'clock on Friday afternoon and had to make to required 1st stop at Jim's Steaks in south Philly, forget Pat's and Geno's (the places you always see on TV) they pale in comparison to what Jim's has to offer. After increasing my risk of heart disease, my friends and I proceeded to check into our hotel about 10 miles outside downtown Philly. Staying outside of Philly sucks, but since it was graduation weekend for seemingly all of Philadelphia's Universities (they have more colleges than A.J. Burnett has stints on the DL) I had no choice but to stay farther away than I'd like and taxi it around due to my constant drunken state.

Went to a titty bar in East Philly which was a $20 cover, but being able to bring your own beer makes it all the worth while. (The EDITORS ASK: Is this a common practice in the States? How do they call themselves a bar if they don't sell booze?) Was able to stay anonymous as a Jays fan which was fine by me since we got our asses handed to us by Jayson Werth. Not sure if what went on was legal in this bar, but I must say, the 11:30 "Lesbian Show" was completely fucking insane. I figured perhaps some girls grinding on each other and some light spanking, but I was pleasantly shocked by what I saw. 4 girls took the stage and paired off into two's, two of them proceeded (EDITORS NOTE: Yikes! Various unnatural acts censored, for the sake of the children!) while making out. I could not believe it, but it sure was as satisfying as back to back world series wins. No Blue Jays fans seen this night, even in the tourist areas later that evening. We headed back to our hotel about 3 a.m. and drank some more knowing the Saturday game wasn't until 7 at night.

Day 2. Arrive about 5 at Citizens Bank Park, which is a nice field, but too far from downtown to walk. My friends and I go to our seats in left center field by the bullpens and watch batting practice. So after watching the Phillies hit, the Jays start their thing and based on their BP you figure they can actually hit in games, as we all know this isn't the case. I managed to catch a BP HR from Matt Stairs. Rios sure can mash when there's no pressure and no velocity, I hope he can start killing the ball again in live games and even little David Eckstein managed to park a BP homer. I think after he did that, he ran down to the clubhouse to call his mom and ask how proud she is of him. Anyways, to the game itself - Scott Rolen was heavily booed for some reason (Philly fans are completely oblivious to the fact that the Phils traded him) and he ripped a double down the line. A base running blunder (first of many) ended the inning. In the 2nd, bases loaded with Barajas up (more booing from the retarded Phillies fans - he had his option declined by Philly after last year) I was just praying for a clutch hit which we don't get very often, but was shocked as hell when the ball went over the fence. I went nuts and got shit thrown on me for doing so. After that the game got pretty dull for a while, AJ surprisingly never had the horrendous inning I expect from him each start. The Phillies inched to within 1 going into the ninth but after Barajas came through again, and a key error by that fat ass Howard we had a nice cushion for B.J. and the game was sealed. Player of the game obviously Barajas and Goat of the game was obviously Howard (0-4 3K and an Error) I find it amazing how the Philly fans can cheer Howard and his .185 batting average, but boo Santa Claus. Anyways finally while leaving the stadium I got some verbal abuse from some drunk idiots one guy actually asked to fight in the parking lot, but I just reminded him of 1993 and kept walking. It's amazing that every time a cordial Phillies fan asked where I'm from they always phrased it "Are you actually from Canada?" (I'm not, but am not surprised that one assumes that all Jays fans are Canadian) When I state that I'm from Virginia, they remind me that apparently I'm a bad U.S. citizen for rooting for the Jays and proceed to be an asshole after asking nicely. Saturday night was pretty calm compared to Friday, got hammered and went to bed.

Day 3. RAIN - and lots of it. Kinda spoiled the Phanatic's birthday. Marcum had 3K's in the first, but unfortunately a 2 run HR by fat ass Howard put Philly up. After a boring ass 2 hour rain delay only exciting part was watching the Pens/Flyers on the big screen and seeing more Philadelphia misery, the game resumed. For the second day in a row, a shocking big HR got us going (if only we could get back 2006 Overbay while Wells is hurt). More rain and another shocking big hit from Shannon Stewart. A fantastic relief performance by Doc, an unsteady 9th from B.J.and it was 2 wins in 2 day for me to witness. It was back to the lot and 6 hours of driving for me to go back home but of course some more venom from the Philly faithful who were extra pissed due to the constant reminder of the Flyers score throughout the game, but I didn't care I'll always have 1993 and they got nothing on us,and once again we took the series just like we did back in the day. I left the city with visions of Cheese steaks, vagina, alcohol, and obnoxious Philly fans, but still the only thing I could hear was "Touch them all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life"

Overall, Jays fans were few and far between, maybe saw 30 of them over the two days perhaps that's why the Philly fans weren't too bad, I've seen the way they treat Mets fans, but since we hardly ever play each other and they have nothing on us I didn't get too much shit. Hopefully I'll see more Jays fans when I travel to Yankee stadium at the end of August.

It's a good thing we own Philly, but then again who doesn't (over 10,000 losses and counting, 1 world series in 125 years, and oddly enough, they were officially the Philadelphia Blue Jays from 1944 to 1945)

Monday, May 19, 2008

High Five! We're back to .500!

We hope all you junior hockey fans are happy that we ended up missing a great game yesterday.

Overbay homers? Doc makes his first relief appearance since 2001? Jays win 6-5 and return to .500? Who'd want to watch that?

(And while we're on the topic: any chance that people could dial back the "the veterans of Canada's wars fought for our freedom, therefore we will have a hockey tournament in their honour" jive? Because, really, it is a hockey tournament sponsored by a credit card company, not a quiet moment at the cenotaph.)

It is probably too early to think in these terms, but the Blue Jays are four games behind Boston in the AL East, and three games behind Tampa for the Wild Card. So all is not lost.

Bizzarro stat of the year so far
The Blue Jays are 13-22 in night games, but they are 10-1 in day games. If you can figure that one out for us, by all means let us know why.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

You can't keep Hector Luna down

We were reasonably sure that we'd never write these words again, but Hector Luna has been called up to the Jays from Syracuse for the weekend's series. So the Jorge Velandia Era may be over almost as quickly as it started.

Luna takes the place of Friday's emergency starter David Purcey, who is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to AAA where he can get the fuck away from Jayson Werth and pitch to minor league calibre hitters again. God speed.

(And incidentally, the fact that Jesse Litsch had to come mop up after Purcey kinda defeats the purpose of having brought him up in the first place...but we're sure it will all be fine in the end. Right?)

Scrappy Doo Eckstein will come off the DL and be back with the team on Thursday, so Luna's stay will be brief.

How Greene is my middle infield?
Speaking of infielders, we've been letting Jeff Blair's notion of Khalil Greene coming to the Jays stew in our noggin for a few days now, and we're now convinced that this would be the Single Greatest Player Personnel Move in the History of the Blue Jays. (Okay, that might be hyperbole, but we like to get the strongest opinion possible out there first, if only to stake out the territory for ourselves.)

Don't be deceived by the appearances. Sure, Greene pretty much sucks ass this year. We're not even clear how it is possible to have a sub .600 OPS, but he's managed to pull it off. Nevertheless, he managed 27 homers and 97 RsBI last year, playing half of his games in the cavernous neverland that is PetCo Park. Even if for the season Greene regresses back to his mean (15 homers in each of his last three years), he'll still be a far more productive hitter than Scrappy Doo. Moreover, he is a better defender than Eckstein, and he tends to heat up in July and August.

If the Pads are looking to hold a yard sale, then we sincerely hope that J.P. will be like our crazy aunt: get there at the crack of dawn carrying only a change purse and the negotiating skills of a third-world dictator.

The Tao's Interleague Intern in Philly
Having received many generous offers from readers this week willing to act as interns after our plaintive call for help, we took up one particular reader on his offer to send us missives from his road trip to Philly this weekend. The first reports back from the field were filed at about 4 am, and speak to the level of depraved individual to which our blog proudly appeals:
"went to a titty bar, byob, and full nude, saw not a single jays fan, but it was cold and rainy and we got our asses kicked. didn't wear my jays gear, because not sure if the titty bar would allow hats and jerseys.....

pussy good here, philies fans not so much. Got my 93 hat to show off and a modern hat too. fuck them mother fuckers, 1993 was a glorious year. JOE CARTER

will report later when I actually go to a game tomorrow........"
Go forth and do us proud, young taoist.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A new theme for 2008 - Sweep or be swept

The old theme for this year was "If the Jays..." (with all due deference to the blog of that name).

Now that we know that the answer to the majority of the "if the Jays" questions is a resounding "oh no they won't", it's time to move on.

It's the next episode: Jays '08 - Sweep or Be Swept.

Scott Rolen remains the Greatest Jay of All Time
Not only does he go 2 for 5 with a double and a run batted in, but he scores the winning run. And by the way, we loved him first.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stairsy makes Boof go poof

First inning grand slams are awesome, especially when they come from Matt Stairs.

We missed most of the first inning last night, so imagine our shock when we tune in and see the score at 4-3 before the sixth out of the game had been registered. Especially with Halladay on the mound, who deserved the extra run support for once.

Other things to like about last night's game:
  • Two hits for Brad Wilkerson.
  • Doc fighting back, and somehow becoming a strikeout pitcher again.
  • That slider that Brian Tallet threw in the eighth to strike out Brendan Harris. That was so nasty, we had Janet Jackson songs running through our head for the rest of the night.
  • Getting six runs on six hits, while holding the Twins to five runs on eleven hits.
Taking some time away from blogging to spend more time with work
Unfortunately, the real world has crept into our life and left us with a monstrous stack of work (real work!), so unless the Jays sign Barry Bonds or trade for Adam Dunn, things might be a tad slower in this corner in the coming days.

We could really use an intern.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An indictment with fourteen more charges against Barry Bonds

And now that we know this, is there a chance that some of people who tirelessly rant on about the Jays' urgent need for a 43 year-old outfielder who hasn't swung a bat in anger in eight months can shut up and give it a rest already?

We get that in an ideal world, Bonds could contribute greatly to the struggling offence. But seriously, do the Blue Jays really need this? Do they need the headaches that would go along with trying to get him back and forth across the border about 20 times in the next four months, or the negative attention that he would bring to the team?

Even if Bonds were an asset on the field to any team, the idea that you would invest in someone who you knew could be yanked out of your lineup (in handcuffs, no less) before the end of the season doesn't make it worth the risk.

Massive offensive explosion!

Ten hits! Five runs! Put 'em on the boooooooooard...yes! Jays win!

It's just one win, and we're not going to ascribe any more meaning to it than it deserves. But it was a relief to see the Jays actually hit the ball solidly into the outfield with runners on base last night. Notably, Shannon Stewart actually looked a little more comfortable at the plate last night, even if his fourth inning RBI double was a bit of a gift from former teammate Mike Cuddyer.

Gibbons Watch returns
It's been a while since we made use of the Gibbons Watch tag on the blog, but seeing as how we are convinced like everyone else that he's about to get the can tied to him any day now, every decision he makes is going to be examined under a microscope.

Like last night's decision to pull Jesse Litsch after 70 pitches. We kinda get the rationale, given that the Twins big bats were coming up and the Jays have oodles of lefties in their pen now. Still, it seemed like the move of a manager who is coaching to save his job (hello, Carlos Tosca!). Last night's moves worked more or less...well...Jesse Carlson giving up a triple probably wasn't the anticipated result, but they got the win anyhow. But if Gibby continues to be this aggressive in his management style and it doesn't work, he's going to get pilloried.

Then again, he probably would anyway.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Pit and the Pendulum

Let's start with this: it's not fair.

Then again, fair's got nothin' to do with it.

No matter the level of genius or motivation or scrappy gritty leadership a manager demonstrates, the Pink Slip is coming for him, sooner or later.

And that time is creeping sooner for John Gibbons. Let's face it: Gibby was on borrowed time to begin with, seeing as how even his best moments we're never quite up to snuff. Now, the blade is getting closer, the walls are heating up and closing in, and the eternal pit of unemployment is gaping hungrily below him. His time's almost up.

The fact is that this team, with the way they have played since April of 2007, is a bad team. At best a middle of the pack team with an outside shot at contention, this team has played to the lowest ends of its potential. This is a team that is going to have to scrape and claw to regain its traditional slot in third place in the AL East, never mind contending for a Wild Card berth. And does the responsibility for the assembly of players on the field fall with Gibby? Not especially.

Gibby's managerial decisions have been marginally better in the later part of 2007 and early in 2008, but again, that's not going to help him make the case for continued employment with this club. It's a bottom line business, and the bottom line shows the Jays four games in the red.

We don't want to make any guesses as to the when and how it happens, nor do we want to take excessive glee in his downfall. Know this: If Gibbons gets canned, it's not likely the start of a turnaround for the 2008 Jays. It's more likely to be the start of another three-to-five year cycle of re-evaluation and rebuilding.

Gibby ain't Jimy
What we're going to hear in the days that follow Gibbons' firing are a lot of analogies to the 1989 Blue Jays, who shitcanned Jimy Williams and went on to win the division. That kettle there ain't this kettle here.

Jimy was a hard ass manager who had lost the respect of some of his players. He didn't have the people skills to manage a group of young players (a fact that would be replicated in Boston and Houston), nor could he deal with a team that was transitioning from one era to the next.

And while Cito had initial success that year, the teams that eventually won the World Series three and four years later were significantly different from the one he took over. The 1989 Jays made the best of a down year in the AL East (their 89 wins would have put them in fourth in the West that year), but they weren't a championship team that just needed Cito to unlock their potential.

The incremental changes made in each year throughout that period (including the acquisition of Mookie Wilson in 1989, the elevation of John Olerud and Pat Borders in 1990, and the acquisitions of Joe Carter, Robbie Alomar and Devon White and the emergence of Juan Guzman in 1991) made the Jays a radically different and vastly improved team by the time of their back to back championships. It wasn't Cito, it was the personnel.

If the current Jays think that they can move forward by continuing to champion mediocrity with long-term deals to players who don't even remotely belong amongst the elite at their position, than this is going to be a much longer process indeed.

Another losing streak is finished

Five losses later, the Jays survive an unassisted triple play in the nightcap of last night's double header to salvage a win.


Five and a half back, five back of the Wild Card. Last place in the AL East. And while it is not exactly late, it's scarcely early in the season either.

Before finally busting out with a three-run tenth last night, the Jays had gone 31 innings without pushing across a run. Take a look at the team offensive totals, and you see the Jays languishing near the bottom of almost every category with the likes of the Giants and Royals and Padres.

This is a really bad team offensively. Not one that just needs to get on track either. It's just bad, and after six weeks of play, we're not sure when the moment of great clarity is supposed to occur, when the Jays pull themselves out of this funk.

We're coming to a sad realization: that 2006 was the aberration, not 2007.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Because at this point in a lousy season, we could all use a laugh

We're not sure exactly whose batting stances this kid (in a Red Sox cap, it should be noted) is emulating. It's like a weird confluence of Rod Carew, a cricket batsman, a ping pong player, our drunken uncle and Tommy Tune.

Someday, this kid is going to look back on his decision to post this video as a learning experience, we're sure.

(Via All Your Base Are Belong to Rios.)

Trying to accentuate the positive

If nothing else, at least the Jays didn't get their asses handed to them on Sunday. Right?

While we're trying to fight back at the darkness, Jon Hale drops the knowledge on us that Frank Thomas is hitting marginally better in his time with the A's. And although he's still not setting the world on fire, he's still hitting better than just about anyone on the Jays over the past few weeks.

Let's play two
It doesn't appear as though Sportsnet will be airing the early game today, which is too bad because the matchup (Fausto Carmona versus A.J. Burnett on an extra day of rest) should be a good one. The late game kicks off 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first, and features the reincarnation of Sandy Koufax, Cliff Lee (6-0, 0.81 ERA) versus Shaun Marcum, which is nothing to sneeze at.

(Update: According to the preamble on Gregg Zaun's blog, Sportsnet will be airing both games, so feel free to go ahead and fill your boots.)

The message to Lind
Speaking of Sportsnet blogs, Jamie Campbell wonders about the message being sent to Adam Lind with his demotion and the team's acquisition of Brad Wilkerson. To be honest, we don't think that Lind got a fair shake, as he faced more major league calibre left-handed pitching in his brief recall than we think he should have in an ideal world. Still, it's better to have Lind in the lineup and getting his reps everyday than to have him in some sort of job-sharing situation with Matt Stairs and Shannon Stewart, never mind Wilkerson or Kevin Mench.

Still, Lind is 25, and by now he should be established as a part of the team's present, not their future.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Vernon Wells would like you to sign his cast

Vernon Wells is gone for six to eight weeks with a broken wrist. Jeremy Accardo's on the DL. All the ugliness is available at

John Gibbons could build a complex of townhouses with the bricks he must be shitting right now.

Nobody panic. Everything is going to be just fine, now that we have Kevin Mench.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What a Mench!

Hey now!

Not only have the Jays made it official by acquiring Brad Wilkerson, but they've also gone out and traded a sack full of mountie quarters to the Texas Rangers for Kevin Mench and his gigantic fucking cranium. (Which, as we pointed out before, couldn't have come from excessive intake of Lik-a-Maid. Swedish Berries, maybe.)

DFA'ed to make room for the two new dudes? Sergio Santos (we barely knew ye) and Gus Chacin. The Machine is dead. Long live the Machine.

Incidentally, it was Mench who hammered a comebacker off Roy Halladay's leg a couple of years back in Texas, so Doc should at least be allowed to get one good lick in on Heavy Kevy before his first game. Towel whipping, bag tag, indian burn, purple nurple...whatever the weapon of choice, Mench should prepare himself for the worst.

Now the question is: where in hell do you find the lineup spots for Stewart, Mench, Wilkerson, and Matt Stairs? And what happens when Scrappy Doo and the PMoD are back in the house in 15 days?

Moreover, What's Edgardo Alfonzo up to these days?

Waiting for Wilkerson

We're still waiting for the official word, but who are we to doubt Jeff Blair's report from last night that the Jays are about to sign Brad Wilkerson.

We've got mixed thoughts on this one. We like Wilkerson, but he really hasn't played well since leaving Montreal. There could be an argument made that the spacious grounds at RFK Stadium ate into his power numbers, but that wouldn't explain why his strikeouts have gone up and his walk rate has diminshed over the past few seasons. (Unless he was always swinging for the fences.)

As for the odd stat that he hits lefties better than righties, we can't shake the feeling that somehow, that's a bit of a fluke. We know that sounds stupid, but we also remember the lousy year he had against lefties in 2006, and wonder why he suddenly couldn't hit them.

Still, Wilkerson is a versatile player who can play anywhere in the outfield and at first. For the dirt cheap price that the Jays will end up paying, he's at least worth a look.

Useless Wilkerson Trivia
This will be the third Canadian city in which Wilkerson plays, after stints in Ottawa and Montreal. We'll bet he's still got a sack full of loonies and mountie quarters that he'll want to get rid of.

Also, Wilkerson's always worn a single digit number in the big leagues (usually 6 or 7), but all of the single digit numbers with the Jays have been claimed. Maybe a nice Timex watch express posted to Curtis Thigpen would wrest lucky number 7 out of his grasp.

(And yes, sad as it is, we care about such things. Numerology matters. Just ask our numerologist.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Missed opportunities

Well that sucks.

Not that we want to engage in any discussions of the relative merits of scrappy left fielders. But Shannon Stewart has to take that bat of his shoulder with a man at third and the pitch dead red right down the middle of the plate in extra innings. That was just brutal.

There's no excuse for the Jays handing this game back to the Rays. None.

P.S. We think Shawn Camp may be a double agent. Somebody hook up some electrodes to his nether regions and make him deny it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Shaun Marcum's so awesome that Gregg Zaun had to touch his bum

Whatever happened in the ninth, Shaun Marcum pitched his ass off in tonight's 6-2 win over the mighty Rays. And in case you didn't know by now, Marcum leads the Jays starters in ERA (2.59) strikeouts (44) and wins (4, for whatever that's worth).

We had our apprehensions about Marcum before the season, especially after a couple of lousy spring outings. But seeing the great control he has demonstrated over his pitches over his past three outings and watching him get the strikeout when he needs it (22 over his past three outings) has us wondering if this isn't a whole other sort of breakout season for the supposed number four starter.

Oh, and another thing. Marcum's singlehandedly delivered a free slice of pizza for all of the fans in attendance at his last two starts, so show his some appreciation. Shaun Marcum is your pizza man. Manga!

Six runs!
As Jerry and Alan pointed out on the radiocast, the Jays hadn't scored more than five runs in twenty games coming into tonight's contest. The last team to have that sort of streak? The 43-win 2003 Detroit Tigers. Kinda makes ya think: If it weren't for the starters pitching their asses off in this first five weeks of the season, this could be much uglier.

With that in mind, we were immensely relieved in the eighth inning after the Jays, apparently using some sort of tantric approach scoring, finally put a five spot on board. Hell, Marco Scutaro drove in two runs, so you know that something was working.

Actually, we think that what was mostly working for the Jays in tonight's game was that they finally got into a team's bullpen. Seeing the Jays have the chance to get their cuts in against the three stooges the Rays brought in to relieve Matt Garza reminded us of just how many starters were going late into games against them over the past few weeks.

Hinske: You suck, tubby!
Watching Hinske go 0 for 3, with 2 Ks reminds us of the old days. The days he seems to have forgotten, but that are etched in our mind like a teenage cutter's scars. The days when he squandered his promise, ate himself out of a job and stole the Blue Jays' money for four years. The days when he worked his hardest to make sure that Marty Cordova wasn't the biggest Rookie of the Year flameout in recent memory.

One last thought
Scott Rolen is the greatest Jay ever.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

O Cruel Fate!

We were in transit from the gym to the Tao's heavily-fortified Fortress of Solitude when we heard that Scrappy Doo was taken out of the lineup due to some nebulous injury which hampered his grittitude.

So we thought to ourselves: "Isn't this a great opportunity for Johnny Mac to steal the job away from the little blonde moppet?" And certainly, when McDonald stroked a solid base hit, we had this great notion that this would be a turning point in his season.

Alas, it was only too true.

There's nothing quite as sickening as seeing a look of panicked pain like the one on McDonald's face after he caught a cleat on the Rogers Centre turf in the sixth. That look pretty much foretold of a long stay on the DL. Groan.

As Wilner said to open the JaysTalk, welcome to the Jorge Velandia era.

The word from the Jays' PR shop (via Wilner) isthat they are waiting for the swelling to go down, and having been there before ourselves, we're guessing that means ligament damage. Ouch.

Thou shalt not lust after other teams' shortstops
Not that we think that we have this sort of power, but we'd been thinking all day about Rafael Furcal. Thinking about how he might be available for the right price at some point this season. Or about how he might be available to the highest bidder next year.

We thought longingly about his .448 OBP and his 1.045 OPS, and the fact that if anyone is this mythical "prototypical lead-off hitter" that people talk about endlessly, it is him. (Eckstein and Reed Johnson couldn't hold his jock in this respect.) Furcal is a plus fielder to boot, and would be an upgrade over Scrappy Doo if nothing else.

But wait! Are we being punished by God for our covetousness? Have the heavens rained down calamities on our middle infielders because we yearned lustily for the middle infielders of others? Cripes...Guess this means it's back to the self-flagellation for the rest of the night.

If anyone is having second thoughts about Eric Hinske after watching him hit that bomb...
Remember that if the Jays hadn't sent him packing, and if he didn't realize that he was at the very end of his career rope, then he'd be here in Toronto as a fat, cheese-eating dead weight with a stupid goatee and a stupid flattop taking up more than his share of the bench. And he probably wouldn't have taken the, er, "necessary steps" to get himself game ready for this year. (And for Tampa fans: there's still plenty of time for him to discover all of the fine waffle houses that Florida has to offer.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Some gems have jagged edges

Yeah, it's May, but we were perched on the edge of the chesterfield in the nervous ninth inning of tonight's 1-0 win over the ChiSox. Rocking back and forth, uttering curse words of encouragement to B.J. would have sworn that tonight's game meant something.

In the end, the Jays win, sweep the series, win their fifth in a row and remain undefeated in May. How's that for meaningful wins?

A few random thoughts below.

The greatest McGowan since Shane
Maybe the lambchops were holding Dustin McGowan back early in the season, because in two starts since razing them, he's been ridiculously awesome. In tonight's 7.1 innings of four-hit, six strikeout, shutout ball, McGowan looked calm and in control the whole way. He was never in trouble, but even when runners reached base, he looked cool as ice on the mound. And maybe that was all a big heap of cliché, but we felt like McGowan was fully in control the entire time, in spite of the Jays lack of run support.

Shannon Stewart does not run like a girl
Didja see Shannon Stewart beat out that throw in the eighth? Or leg out the triple in the sixth? Didja? Because if you did, could you do us a solid and shut the fuck up about Reed Johnson for at least one day? Thanks!

Things we never thought we'd say
John Gibbons managed an excellent game tonight. Seriously. The lineup made great sense, with Scrappy Doo hitting ninth, where he belongs. Moreover, Gibby smartly brought in John McDonald in the ninth (FINALLY!), even if the Prime Minister of Defense didn't need to make a play.

The Mainstream Media is awesome!
For all of the bitching and moaning that we've done week about the media, mad props go to the crew at Sportsnet for catching the ninth inning conversation between home plate umpire Ron Kulpa and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. The Southsiders' pitching coach Don Cooper began chirping about B.J. Ryan's delivery, calling for a balk on every pitch after Paul Konerko's walk. Kulpa eventually took off his mask, looked into the dugout and declared "He's stopping." That Sportnet not only had a mic open but also had a close up of Kulpa on the ready added immensely to the drama.

Speaking of media, welcome to a whole new era
The Drunk Jays Fans are on the air, in podcast form. Their inaugural episode was recorded this weekend, and is sitting on the Score's website for your listening pleasure. The first week's guests included JaysTalk's Mike Wilner, former in-game hostess Jill Clark (mrroawr!) and a certain Blue Jays blogger, who liked to use the words "ummm" and "y'know" a lot, and stopped in mid-sentence to sigh a lot. Not that we're obsessing.

We do not fear Aaron Rowand and his hot streak

So the news came across the wire that our arch nemesis Aaron Rowand hit a couple of bombs last week.

Oooh. We're soo scared.

Sure, this puts the San Francisco centerfielder a few homers closer to forcing us to make good on our promise to eat a pound of raw bacon if he hits 20 for the season. But even with last week's offensive onslaught, the man with the second dumbest contract on the Giants is still on a pace to hit just 15 homers for the season. Plus, his two dingers last week came in Colorado (thin air!) and Philadelphia (Little League dimensions!), and you had to figure that he'd get a couple in those surroundings anyways.

Rowand still has just one homer at Telephone Company Park, and is posting a .684 OPS in the ballpark by the Bay.

We're not sweating this. Yet.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekend win streak

As we brace ourselves to go back into the breach for another week, at least we can look back at a weekend where the Jays were able to get a few breaks and four straight wins.

That extra hit here or a missed call in their favour there, and that's pretty much the difference between last week's losing streak and the current four-game winning streak. The line between losing and winning is really that slim.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

3-0! Undefeated in May

The powerhouse Jays are unstoppable! Sure, the Chicago Southsiders booted the ball around the park in today's 5-2 win, but at least the Jays were able to take advantage. It certainly wasn't the case last month...but April seems like so long ago, doesn't it?

More media thoughts
We're not going to beat any dead horses, but we would like to concur with the Drunk Jays Fans' Stoeten with regard to the fact that the Prime Time Sports crew should stop talking baseball. In Friday's show, the assembled crew got themselves worked into a lather about two year old minor league contract signings, and actually got simultaneously angry about the fact that J.P. Ricciardi had a "FIVE YEAR PLAN!!!", and that he had "NO PLAN"!!! Seriously guys...would you all like for J.P. to send you the Jays' player personnel strategy in a duotang so that you can review it and sign off on it?

We get that BobCat McCown hates J.P. since he refused to come on the show, but his petty vendetta against the Jays GM is tiresome.

And by the way: Is it just us, or is James Deacon getting a little dimmer with each passing year? Maybe we just gave him too much credit to begin with, since he is well-coiffed and well-dressed and wears glasses. Lately, Deacon sounds like Captain Obvious on the air, piping in with incredibly dull "insight". We get the impression that he's just hanging around the studio, agreeing with McCown, because he's got nothing better to do.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Middle aged white dudes have had enough of your blogs and your hippity hop music

We were going to look the other way on this whole Buzz Bissinger vs. the Blogs nonsense, until we saw the overly sympathetic treatment that Buzz and his pathetic, howly, angry old man routine got from the Globe's Bill Houston. Now that we have the local angle, let's dive in.

We're sure that this has been pointed out in about a thousand other sports blogs by now, but somehow, it's hard to take someone seriously who professes to be shocked and appalled at the profane and thoughtless nature of the vast majority of blogs by spitting out profane inanities like: "This pisses the shit out of me."

Bissinger cried and moaned about how Leitch's stated preference not to have "access" and his aversion to the press box mentality somehow equates to an aversion to the facts. And yet, as this interview with Boog Sciambi from a couple of years back painfully demonstrates, Bissinger is as averse to doing any legwork as anyone, preferring to lord his access to the anecdotal thoughts of Nolan Ryan or Tony LaRussa over anyone who would dare question his "facts". When confronted on what seemed to be a lack of real information about pitchers allegedly being rushed to the majors, Bissinger scampers and bites like a cornered ferret, calling another host a "slimebucket". So, yeah, Bissinger is doing a great job upholding journalistic civility.

In the aftermath of the televised battle royale, Bissinger is doing little to make his own case, telling Dan LeBatard that "I never want to be an expert in the field of blogs. That would be way too pathetic."

Well, that's fine. But why present yourself as a dissenting voice against them if you don't really know much of anything about them? If you can't distinguish between the content and the comments, then why set yourself out as a the voice of authority on all that is wrong with the blogosphere?

Between Costas and Bissinger (and to a lesser extent, Houston), there seems to be this generally accepted notion that the huge, vast majority of sports blogs are ugly, crass, poorly written, mean-spirited and ultimately detrimental to society.

Then again, maybe these aging journalists would do well to look back in their own lives, when a multitude of other media were referred to in the same way. Movies, television, rock and roll, Pop culture, talk radio...hell, even newspapers if you go back far enough...all of them have been singled out as a corrupting influence at some point or another.

The reason why blogs raise the ire of these types is that they are struggling to preserve what they view as an inherently good thing (sports journalism), and yet they look out every day and see this sacred thing being undermined by the fast, quick, profane poor quality blogs.

But they're missing the point.

Blogs haven't caused the decline of sports journalism. Sports journalism has caused the decline of sports journalism.

The reason why we now are as likely to seek out information on blogs every day isn't because we want to take glee at the misfortunes of others. It's because there is so much more out there than the perfunctory ramblings of the columnists in the daily papers.

The whole idea that bloggers are somehow going to eat the lunch of newspaper writers is ludicrous. We'd suggest that Houston get on the horn with the web crew at the Globe and see how many in-bound visitors they have received over the past year to their website courtesy of the Tao, or the Drunks, or the Mockingbird, or the Southpaw, or whoever. Then tell us what the value of those links were to Globe. Because the fact is that we're not making a cent on this, and as Leitch quite rightly pointed out, this is hard work.

We link to the Globe or the Star or wherever because we want to continue the conversation on our own terms. We don't want to sign in to your site to make a two line comment. We want to go on at length, and examine and discuss. Journalists don't have an inherent right to the last word on any subject, and there is immense value to the extension of the dialogue beyond the newsprint and ink. Sometimes we want to hold up your writings to be praised, and sometimes we post them out of scorn. But it's ultimately healthy to have someone out there watching the watchers.

As to the quality of the writing, we'd point out that we don't have the luxury of sitting in a newsroom, formulating our thoughts, running our work past an editor and then past a copy editor to ensure that all of the kinks are ironed out before our posts get sent out into the world. So "professional" "accredited" newspaper writers shouldn't get all up on their high horses about the low quality of the writing on blogs unless they'd like to share with us their unexpurgated first drafts.

And as for all of this talk about your sanctified "objectivity"? Get over yourselves. The truth is that there is no such thing as objectivity, just shared subjectivity. And the reason why we read the blogs we do is because on some level, they share an interest or a viewpoint. They provide further context (sometimes statistical, sometimes historical, sometimes hysterical) that help amplify our ability to defend our own position, or completely tear our arguments down.

We love that. That's a good thing.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Win! Woohoo! Break out the party hats! PLAYOFFS!

Jays win. Fuck yeah.

Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to put down this drink of sorrow, and pick up a drink of joy.

Mmm. Tasty.

What if we're really this bad?

Here's the scary thought that popped into our head as we woke up at 3 am: What if this isn't just a bad streak? What if this isn't just a spot where our boys are hitting some "at 'em balls" and having some bad luck?

What if the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays are really this bad?

The reason that this pops into our head is that last year's paltry performances from a number of the club's putative offensive contributors were pretty much written off before the season began. Bad shoulder, bad wrist, bad whatever...the 2007 Jays were said to have underperformed for a number of reasons, but that should not have been taken to mean that they weren't capable of much more this year.

But what if Vernon Wells really is a .260, 20 homer, 85 RsBI, sub-.800 OPS kind of player? What if Lyle Overbay is destined to hit .270, with a dozen homers? What if Alex Rios topped out last year?

It might have been easy to cast these dark thoughts aside a few weeks ago. But after watching this team go 1-7 on this road trip, and 4-12 since the sweep of the lowly Rangers in Arlignton, those awful thoughts are getting harder to suppress.