Inching towards mediocrity.


Silver Sluggers. (Now with 88% less Robinson Cano!)

Aaron Hill and Adam Lind

Well.

Quick baseball related interlude here, and then we’ll return you to your regularly scheduled “24-centric” programming.

The MLB handed out their annual Golden Glove and Silver Slugger awards, and while the Blue Jays were shut out in defense, they made a big impact in offense.

Only three teams in the entire MLB had multiple recipients of Silver Slugger awards – The New York Yankees (World Series Champions), the LA Dodgers (National League West Champions) and the Toronto Blue Jays (American League East Fourth Place Champions.)

Aaron Hill, our All-Star second basemen, and Adam Lind our All-Star-in-our-hearts designated hitter, each brought home the award.

Congratulations, boys, and hopefully these two will remain the faces of the franchise for a long time – something we’ll definitely need after we inevitably trade Halladay.

Edit:

Huh. It seems that this just happens to be my 32nd blog post.

Roy Halladay’s number.

GUESS HE’S STAYING AFTER ALL, FOLKS.

Please don’t quote me on that.

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A doozy of a weekend wrap-up. (Now with 100% less J.P. Ricciardi!)

Well.

Quite a packed little weekend for our Jays. Last series of the season (they were swepted), mutiny in the dugout,  and of course…the official end to the J.P. Ricciardi era. And it’s been a long time coming.

Baltimore’s like the new Boston, or something.

So let me get this straight…we sweep the Red Sox in a three game series at Fenway…and then lose our final series of the year to the Baltimore Orioles? Seriously?!?

I missed Friday and Saturday’s games because I was busy touring wine country this weekend (dead serious), but managed to catch Sunday’s game to watch Vernon Wells give up at the plate one final time (seriously, dead.)

Incidentally, when I typed “Vernon Wells” into Google image search, this came up:

vernon wells

"John...I'll be ready for you, John."

Apparently the villain in the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Commando” was played by some dude  also named Vernon Wells. Interesting. Unlike the REAL Vernon Wells, this guy didn’t mess around. Sure, by movie’s end he was killed by John Matrix in hilariously dramatic fashion, but at least you can’t say he didn’t give it his all!

And that’s all I have to say on the subject.

Cito-Gate

cito gaston

"Old school? Who's old school?!? Now finish that delicious cigarette and hand me that medicine ball!"

Next up comes news that the players are none to happy with their current manager. This came as a surprise to many; most notably, their manager, Cito Gaston.

The player’s complaints are common, and to some extent, understandable: they don’t like his old-school approach, he’s to negative, he’s not hands on enough, etc, etc.

They claim that half the team or more are upset with Gaston and his managerial style, and they want to speak with president Paul Beeston about it. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen – is there some semblance of truth to these claims, or is it just media speculation that’s been allowed to run rampant? Most of the players are tight-lipped about it. Vernon is deliberately vague, Hill remains diplomatic, and Roy Halladay straight up refuses to talk about it outside of the clubhouse. Hill himself has said that he believes the relationship between team and manager is salvageable. Wells and Lyle Overbay, however, without going into any real specifics, seem less positive.

Could the accusations be true? It’s hard to say. To me, it certainly sounds like Gaston’s style – and that’s not saying anything bad about the man. I have the utmost respect for Cito Gaston, but times have changed. He’s never been a real player manager, and his past with the Blue Jays more or less proves that. People continuously throw the “back to back World Series” trump card in your face whenever discussing Gaston’s worth as a baseball manager, but that’s meaningless. No disprespect to Cito, but as my dad always says: anyone could have managed that team they had in ’92 and ’93. All Cito had to do was show up, make a line-up, and let ’em go. It wasn’t rocket science, and as they were a team of mostly veterans (and well payed ones at that), they didn’t need a lot of hands on work from their manager. They just did what they did.

Regardless, the situation looks grim. Despite what you think of Gaston’s managing either way, there can not be division in the clubhouse. If the players don’t like Cito, whatever the reason, he may have to go. Hill may feel that they have room to work with. But if they don’t, there’s no point in holding on to him for much longer. He came in and it was a huge boost for morale. But he hasn’t lived up to expectations, and we can’t continue to cling to the past like this. It sends a clear message to the fans that Roger’s has no intention of creating a winning ball club. And the more they keep trotting out those Back2Back alumni just reinforces this. There is a future for this team; let’s try looking there for once.

Meet the new boss/same as the old boss…

j.p. ricciardi

Off to Boston with you, then.

Finally, some good news. J.P. Ricciardi has been fired. Some might say a few years too late. But whatever. He’s GONE.

So now we have a NEW general manager to look forward to! A bright young man by the name of Alex Anthopoulos, who used to be…

J.P. Riccardi’s assistant?

DAMMIT!

To be fair, though, I’m assuming this is an interim position until they can find someone to replace them. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

Also to be fair, I don’t know a damn THING about this kid, so maybe he truly is the Jay’s savior. Or, maybe he’s just J.P.’s RIGHT HAND MAN, which almost seems like a step backwards somehow.

Perhaps not quite backwards…I suppose, technically, it’s more like a step to the side.

In any event, he appears to have his work cut out for him, and I’m curious to see what happens in the coming post season. There are a lot of free agents on the team right now, and I’d like to see a number of them back. (Especially Barajas and Johnny Mac.)

Again, I’m not to familiar with the management side of baseball, so I’m not 100% sure what’s in store for Anthopoulos, or the team at this point. All I know is that they have a lot of mending ahead of them for the time being. Whatever the case with Gaston, whatever the case with the free agents, whatever the case with Roy Halladay, I just hope they handle them right, and with a lot more class than Ricciardi was known for.

The team seems to be starting over, or trying to. We’ve got some of the right pieces in there, and with the right moves, I think we could really have something here.

Just as long as we learn from our mistakes, which is something J.P. had trouble doing, so hopefully this kid didn’t inherit that.

And don’t get me wrong; it’s perfectly okay to f*@% up –

Just so long as you don’t f*@% up the same way twice.



Oh, Doctor! (Now with 100% more David Ortiz plunking!)

roy halladayThis one’s for you, Big Papi.

Well.

I didn’t think he’d do it. I said he should, I wanted him to, but it just didn’t seem like the Doc’s style.

Guess I was wrong.

It’s wonderful to know that the Doc is still a team player…despite the trade rumors, a veritable cluster-you-know-what of a season…and yet there he was – nailing David Ortiz on one pitch in the bottom of the second, in EXACTLY the same spot Papelbon plunked Adam Lind on Tuesday night. He of course followed this un-Docly indiscretion by almost completely shutting down the Red Sox, throwing his second complete game shut-out in a row, allowing only three hits the entire night, and striking out nine.

Roy Halladay is the greatest human being to have ever lived.

FACT.

And I’m gonna miss the hell out of him. Thanks for everything, Roy.



The Red Sox are very sore losers. (Now with 62% more bitchin’ about Boston!)

(Edit – Sweet gravy Jesus! Halladay nailed David Ortiz in the second inning! I did NOT think the Doc had it in him! Way to go, Roy!)

Well.

Excellent game last night. The Jays offense was on fire (as it has been for most of September – I like to pretend it’s June!) and they continued to take their newfound role of Wild Card spoiler very seriously. Unfortunately, thanks to the Texas Rangers losing to the Angels last night, it was all for not.

Still, it was nice to see the Jays finally beat the Sox at Fenway this year (twice in a row, no less!), and they did it in impeccable style. (Stylish up until the bullpen almost blew the game in the eighth, allowing the Sox to rally to a 8-7 deficit.) Toronto now leads the American League in home runs this month, and they made sure to add to that tally tonight. The Jays knocked it out of the park six times – Jose Bautista, Kevin Millar and Aaron Hill all went yard, with the ever reliable Adam Lind adding three (count them! Three!) of his own, a career best for him.

Lind’s incredible achievement was short lived though, when in the ninth inning the Red Sox once again proved to be one of the dirtiest and cheapest teams in the MLB – sore losers who act out and throw temper tantrums when things don’t go their way, and when they find out that they ain’t all that. After retiring Bautista and Hill, Boston’s closer Jon Papelbon apparently decided that Adam Lind didn’t deserve his shot at a fourth home run, and proceeded to – on the FIRST PITCH, mind you – launch an inside fastball at Lind, painfully drilling him on his right elbow. Lind dropped to all fours, grimacing in pain, but managed to stay in the game, trotting over to first. Better luck next time, Papelbon!

Vernon Wells hit next, and I wanted nothing more than to see V-Dub drop one over the Green Monster, or better yet, knock a line drive into the front of Papelbon’s skull. Alas, it was not to be, and Vernon predictably popped out. Jason Frasor was closing for the Jays, and managed to not only clean up reliever Shawn Camp’s mess from the eighth inning, but shut down the Sox for good in the bottom of the ninth – ending the game with a strike-out on Red Sox meathead Kevin Youkilis. This allowed rookie Ricky Romero, our starter this evening, to finally pick up his first career win against Boston.

I gotta say though, it’s frustrating to see our guys get hit so much this season. The Red Sox and the Yankees have been particularly nasty with this. It’s dirty, pathetic, and just not good baseball.

Now to be a hippocrite for a second, if I may.

The worst part is, we don’t retaliate! They keep doing it because they keep getting away with it! Papelbon attacks Lind tonight, and we barely even get a hissy fit from our manager, Cito Gaston! Show some passion, Cito! Don’t have a kindly discussion with the umpire…get all up in his face, yo! Sure, maybe you’ll get kicked out, but you’ll rally your team and at least look like you give a damn!

Unfortunately though, like all bullies, the Sox and the Yankees can dish it out but they can’t take it. When we finally did retaliate, as we did in New York a few weeks ago, they throw temper tantrums. And Jesse Carlson didn’t even bean Jorge Posada; he just threw AROUND him, as a warning. And still, the Yankees act as though they’re the ones being mistreated.

Again, I do not condone hitting batters in baseball. Nor do I condone fighting in baseball. But I don’t condone bullying, either, and sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself to get that message through that THIS HAS TO STOP. And this is the perfect time, too. The season is over for us…we have like, what? Four games left? Let the benches clearing brawls begin! Suspensions? Injuries? We’ve got nothing to lose!

But the Red Sox sure do.

Now, while I think it’s totally beneath him and not even remotely in his character, nor his game plan, I gotta say this. You wanna send a message? Tonight, have Roy Halladay knock out one of the Sox (preferably Dustin Pedroia or Youkilis), and then have him just stare them down with that scary laser beam he’s-not-thinking-about-anything-other-than-baseball-at-this-moment-and-that-includes-his-family-or-even-his-own-survival-at-this-or-any-point-within-the-next-nine-innings stare to REALLY drive home the message. Why would a hit from Halladay especially be effective? Because Halladay DOESN’T MISS. If you get beaned by him, you damn well know he meant to do it. And it’s completely unexpected, too, as Halladay has too much respect for the game and the other players to ever lower himself to that level. Which, sadly, is exactly why I DON’T want him to go that route.

But man, would it ever be sweet if he did.

(Or hell…let Roy have his seven innings or whatever, and then get League to drill Veritek or something.)



Another weekend wrap-up. (now with 39% more babbling!)

Well.

Another great series in Toronto this weekend – the Jays managed to win three out of four against the Seattle Mariners, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind continued to be awesome, and Roy Halladay was, well, Roy Halladay.

The Doc played his last home game  of the season on Friday (and, maybe forever), and the Doc was , of course, outstanding.

Nine complete innings pitched? Check. Nine strikeouts? Check. No walks? Check. How many runs does that add up to for Seattle?

None.

Yep, Roy pitched a complete game shut-out, securing his sixteenth win of the season – a five nothing victory for the Jays.

It was a beautiful performance that became all to poignant by the ninth inning, when Halladay returned to the mound to finish what he started. The crowd was on his feet after he left during the eighth; and they stayed that way through most of the ninth. Poignant, because this was his last game at home this season. Even more poignant, because the folks at Rogers have drilled it into our heads that this might be his last game pitching in Toronto as a Blue Jay EVER.

Now, I can’t say for sure whether or not this is true. (Though, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think it is.) The fact is, I’m tired of hearing about it. Especially from the good folks at Rogers Sportsnet. It was pretty damn embarrassing to see Halladay pitch such a magnificent game only to have Sam Cosentino start asking him more trade questions afterwards.

Give it a rest! Please! He doesn’t want to talk about it – I don’t blame him!

And right now…THERE’S NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT.

Yikes.

So. Regardless of the continual Halladay trade fumbling by both the media and the damn Blue Jays management…it was a pretty fun weekend to be a Jays fan.

I even went to Saturday’s game to bid farewell for the season. And, in doing so, had the pleasure of watching Adam Lind knock two out of the park.

(Incidentally, the Jays have more home runs this month than any other team in the American League. Coulda used those numbers in July.)

I seem to have gone out of my way to make these wrap-up posts as incoherently rambling as possible. I’d say the best way to end this post is abruptly.

(and that’s what I did.)



Over the Hill

Well.

Great game last night between the respective fourth and fifth place teams in the American League East – our Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles.

It was a good game to be sure – multiple home runs from third basemen Edwin Encarnacion, leading a rally in the eighth to take the game into extra innings.

But the real story here was second basemen Aaron Hill’s 99th, and then 100th, RBI of the season – a career high for the first time All-Star.

Hill’s 99th RBI came courtesy of a solo home run in the third inning – which was quickly followed by a second solo shot from Encarnacian, tying the game at 2.

The Orioles reclaimed the lead, 5-2, and it didn’t look like the Jays were going to mount much of a comeback. However, a two-run homer from Encarnacion in the eighth, followed by a bases-loaded-hit-by-a-pitch-walk-off-Jose-Bautista (there has GOT to be a better way to say that), tied the game and extended it into the tenth inning, after the Jays failed to bring anymore men home.

The game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the 11th – when Aaron Hill’s walk off double scored Bautista, notched Hill’s 100th RBI, and won the game in suitably dramatic fashion.

The Jays have not been great this season when it comes to extra inning games, walk off wins, or comebacks. But thanks to the ever reliable Mr. Hill, they were able to pull it off, certifying a sweep against Baltimore this series, and certifying Aaron’s reputation as a prominent, and hopefully long-lasting, cornerstone of this team.



Rumble in the Bronx.

Well.

Slugfest. It was indeed last night at Yankee Stadium in New York City, and in more ways than one.

(Specifically, two ways.)

First of all, the Jays offense was on fire – launching five home runs to win the game 10-4. Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacian and Jose Bautista each hit one out of the park, with rookie Travis Snider adding two of his own.

The pitcher was the ever reliable Roy Halladay (15-8), who pitched respectively, if not spectacularly, allowing only two runs in seven innings.

Then came the eighth inning…where things REALLY got out of hand.

A huge rumble erupted in the bottom of the eighth, with reliever Jess Carlson pitching. Carlson, in apparent retaliation for an earlier attack on Aaron Hill, threw a pitch behind the back of Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Posada, none to pleased with this turn of events, had some words with Carlson that briefly cleared both teams benches. Umpire Jim Joyce seemed to settle the matter, and Carlson promptly walked Posada. A few batters later, all hell broke loose.

Carlson allowed a single that scored Posada; on his way back to his dugout, he elbowed Carlson. Carlson fired some remarks back at Posada, and then it was ON.

Joyce immediately ejected Posada, but that didn’t stop him from charging Carlson with Barajas caught in the middle of the fray, attempting to protect his pitcher. Then both teams were on the field, brawling in a huge dog pile of testosterone-y madness, resulting in both Posada and the Jay’s pitcher being sent packing.

Pretty intense.

Now, the Jays have had some trouble lately with getting beaned by other teams pitchers, especially the Yankees and the Red Sox. Whether by accident or not, it all seems a bit convenient. While I do not condone fighting in professional sports (it’s weird to see a group of grown MILLIONAIRES scuffling like drunken frat boys), I think it was about time one of the Jays stepped up to deliver a message. Carlson swears that it wasn’t intentional; just a bad pitch. But it TOTALLY WAS.

Whether or not suspensions are handed out remains to be seen; it was a foolish move on Posada’s part at any rate. While the Jays have pretty much nothing to lose, the Yankees will be heading into the playoffs soon. A suspended player, or worse, an injured player is not something they want or need.

All in all, it was kind of fun to see at least some passion from our boys on the field, even if it may have been directed poorly. But, hey, apparently John MacDonald punched Yankees manager Joe Girardi in the head, so I guess that’s something.