Inching towards mediocrity.


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.)



Is there a doctor in the house?

(Editor’s Note: I had meant to publish this blog much earlier, but in my haste, hit “save draft” instead of “publish”. On the one hand, I was lucky; it saved my draft. On the other hand, it didn’t publish. Fate is indeed a fickle thing.)

Well.

Next season marks the end of Roy Halladay’s contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. At the end of the 2010 season, he will be a free agent; this means, if another team wants him (and they will), and if he wants to go (and he will), he can. And will. And, let’s face it – probably should. He is one of the best pitchers the MLB has ever produced: controlled, fiercely competitive, and deadly serious about the game of baseball and his role within it. He has spent his entire career with the Blue Jays. He has never won a World Series, and with this team on it’s current course (they swear they have a plan, but they don’t) he probably never will. He is 32 years old, and he deserves to play in October more than anybody.

Now. With that out of the way, let me tell you why I believe Roy should stay.

The main reason is fairly simple. In Toronto, Roy is a pitcher. A baseball player. If he were to go to an American team, and especially a big team like the Yankees or the Red Sox, he would be a celebrity. Doesn’t sound too bad – except he would come under a lot more scrutiny, both personally and professionally. Everything he did, good or bad, would be under the microscope. In Toronto, A.J. Burnett was a solid number two starting pitcher, and a successor to Halladay. In New York, he’s still a solid number three man, and having a decent enough year – but his high pay check and somewhat inconsistent season is getting a lot of attention. And not good attention, either.

Secondly, Halladay is currently the face of the franchise. With Vernon Wells not playing up to par, and Alex Rios traded to the White Sox, Roy is our guy. He’s the veteran, and the unofficial team leader. A celebrity, sure, but not in a bad way. Just sort of the go-to-guy if we ever need anything good to say about the team.

And lastly, he’s playing for more than just himself, and even more than just the Blue Jays. As I said, he is the face of the franchise – the only one currently in Canada. If, by some miracle, we do make the playoffs anytime soon, Roy won’t be playing just for the Blue Jays, or even Toronto. He’ll be playing (and hopefully winning) for a damn country.

Something to think about, anyways.

Oh, and his wife loves Toronto. And I’ve seen Brandy Halladay – you really want to lock that down. At age 32, Roy might be looking at the most comfortable way to continue his career. And this might just be it.

That competitive edge, though…he wants to win, needs to win, and should win.

But he’s loyal, and promised to see how the team was doing in 2010 before making any major decisions. Whether the earlier trade debacle this year will have any effect on that outlook remains to be seen. The important thing is, Roy Halladay is a Blue Jay for at least one more season.

And, if the rest of the team manages to step up to his level, hopefully many more after that.



Halladazed

Well.

Last night’s game certainly didn’t go as planned. Especially for Roy “Doc” Halladay, our starting ace. He picked up his first ever loss agains the Minnesota Twins, in a generally decent outing – he went the whole nine frames and only allowed four runs. Vintage Doc? Not even close. But for most teams, it would have been good enough.

The Blue Jays offense, however, deemed the Doc’s performance to be less than stellar (which to be fair, for him it was), and scored only one run in the entire game. Perhaps they were expecting another one-hitter from Halladay, as in Friday’s game against the superior (to the Jays as well as the Twins) New York Yankees. Perhaps not. Either way, Halladay earned his ninth loss of the season, and not much else – except his seventh complete game, the current high in the American League.

So. Is Doc slipping? Is he still the dominating force in baseball he’s always been? Is he still the best pitcher in baseball?

It’s hard to say, really. I think the trade talks earlier may have gotten to him; also, as much as I respect him for it, I think his tendancy to play so many complete games is also taking it’s toll. (That, and the fact that it’s now September.)

If he were on a contending team, like say the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Phillies or the Dodgers, I’m sure he’d have twenty-plus wins by now easily. A nine inning game with only four runs given up is still pretty good; the Yankees or the BoSox would have easily given him the run support he needed. Not only that, but they would have (I’m assuming) properly pulled him from the game earlier. Doc’s insistence on throwing complete games is, I’m sure, as much his choice as it is necessity. When you’re bullpen is struggling, and somewhat depleted, you keep your Ace in for as long as you possibly can.

I’m sure Doc will return to his former glory by next season. The man is a competitor, straight up. He takes the game more seriously than perhaps, well, anyone. When he’s not pitching, he’s training. When he’s not training, he’s thinking about pitching. And so on.

Regardless of how he’s pitching next season, it may be his last with the Toronto Blue Jays. By the end of 2010, the face of the franchise will become a free-agent, and a fairly sought after one I’m sure. He’s not in it for the money, though; he’s in it for the win. Which, of course, does not bode well for our struggling team.

But more on that later. Tomorrow, in fact.

Until then, keep hitting those dingers!*

(* it’s like Don Cherry’s “keep your stick on the ice” saying, only more terrible!)



Weekend Wrap-Up

Well.

Hell of a series in Toronto this weekend! The Blue Jays and the visiting New York Yankees battled back and forth, each winning two games in this four game series. It was an impressive showing from both teams, but especially from the beleaguered Blue Jays – at this point ANY win is a good win for the club, and two wins against the best team in the Majors? Not bad at all.

Too bad it’s September.

At times, even I get a little bit confused as to why I still care so much. Loyalty to a team is one thing, but at this point, in this season, there’s very little to hang on to – except maybe finishing strong, preferably over .500. I just happen to like these guys, and love to see them do well, even this late in a go-nowhere season. Roy Halladay pitched a one-hitter agains the Bronx Bombers on Friday, allowing the Jays a 6-0 win, his 14th of the season. Does it matter? Not really – but it matters to Halladay’s stats, and it’s a helluva lot of fun to watch.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: while the Jays are clearly out of contention for this year, and maybe even for next year, I still remain eternally hopeful. The pieces are certainly there. Halladay remains one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball. Aaron Hill had a break-out year at 2nd base, making the All-Star roster and hitting over 30 home-runs. Adam Lind has turned into a fantastic batter, posting an average above .300 and hitting almost 30 homers himself. Marco Scutaro had a break-year as well, becoming one of the most delightful short-stops in baseball, with a respectable batting average. Rod Barajas is a nice clutch hitter. Ricky Romero looks to be on his way to becoming an amazing starting pitcher himself, Jason Frasor a respectable closer. Randy Ruiz, a career minor leaguer, has brought a huge bat to the lineup. Even the perpetually slumping Vernon Wells has shown us that he still has the stuff in the outfield, making some truly spectacular catches. And John McDonald continues to be just all around amazing.

Will we see October baseball next year? Doubtful. But if the pieces in our lineup manage to come together into a cohesive whole, we may at least see some Wild Card spot action. Not the actual spot, mind you – just the fun of vying for it. We’re in a tough division; the Yankees and the Red Sox are consistently dominant, and the Rays seem to want it a lot more than we do.

Regardless, I’m going to keep watching this lost season. And I’ll be back NEXT season, and the season after that.

Not matter where we are in the standings.