Sunday, September 30, 2007

That's all Folks!

And so, it all comes to an end with a whimper, at 83-79.

The Jays played above .500 (but marginally so) in every month but May, where the one nine-game skid put them in a hole out of which they'd never climb.

Still, there are the positive signs: the emergence of Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch suggest that there may be pitching depth to carry the team (or from which the Jays can trade) in the coming years.

Our hope before the year was for a 90 win season, with the hope of some sort of swoon from the rest of the American League. Obviously, neither happened. Moreover, looking around the AL, it seems unlikely that the Jays are going to catch the likes of Cleveland, Detroit, the Yankees or the Red Sox resting on their laurels, or putting their development into turnaround for a year or two.

If the Jays are truly going to compete when the 2008 season gets underway in six months, they need to look at upgrading at every position, not merely the ones that seem weak now.

It's always instructive to remember that the Jays emerged as a contender when they traded two of the team's best and most popular players in December of 1990. Sometimes, good just isn't enough to put you over the top.

What's next for us
While we were getting our yearbook signed and renting a tux for the prom the other day, we figure that we'll be pressing through the winter with the blog, giving our take on the playoffs over the next month. (We'll have to listen to our friend the Red Sox fan gloat his way through the postseason...again.)

Also, we'll likely go through the team player by player, and tear them all a new one. (Not really...this season was all Josh Towers' and Mickey Brantley's fault anyhow, and they're gone now. So print those 2008 playoff tickets!)

Our posts might be slightly less frequent, but we think about the Jays every day, so we should be able to find something to write about through the offseason.

Final Thoughts
Hey, if nothing else, working on this blog day-in day-out has made this season and all of its peaks and valleys a lot more fun for us, and we thank those of you who have contributed through your comments, emails, links, Ballhype love and random post ideas tossed around over beers...all of it. You rock.

Mostly, we're still amazed that people come to the blog and read our scribblings everyday, and we're eternally grateful to you for including us as part of your day.

Now if only we could figure out a way to make a living at this...

Shortwaveboy Goes To Philly: A Stranger In A Strange Land

Business took me to Philadelphia this week and, as luck would have it, the Phillies are in the middle of an honest to god pennant race. A quick visit to and I bought myself a ticket to a drama that I haven't lived as a Blue Jays fan in many long years.

As I entered the ballpark I couldn't help but think back to '93 when the Phillies last reached the playoffs. A playoff run that ended when the team faced the class franchise of the day, the Toronto Blue Jays. Since that eventful year, the Jays and Phils have followed a pretty similar path --- year after year of mediocrity. But all of that is forgotten in Philidelphia this year. Even Mitch Williams is a distant memory in this city. The images of Schilling burying his face in a towel as the Wild Thing served up the series losing pitch to Joe Carter have been replaced by the hope of this season. Proof of that was the lack of reaction to my retro Blue Jays cap as I walked through the crowd. It made me realize how long ago it was since Jays fans had felt this way this late in the season. It was a bittersweet experience for sure.

A few other notes about my experience:
  • While some teams in Philadelphia rise and fall in prominence from time to time, people in Philadelphia care about ALL of their sports teams. Every conversation that I had --- from the flight in, the cab ride to work, the business meetings, dinner before the game, at the game -- reflected a general love of the city's teams as an extension of the peoples' identity. They talked ball one minute -- jumped to hockey the next ---threw in a couple of points about the Sixers -- and got into the Eagles' chances. This was a refereshing change from the seemingly single minded interest in the Leafs reflected in the Toronto media.
  • Phillies fans know their ball. And not in the obnoxious Beantown manner of flapping gums and getting in each others faces (that is reserved for eagles games apparently). No, they were plenty vocal but it was pretty positive. They cheered at the right times and --- to my surprise --- gave the loudest cheer of the night to the out of town scoreboard when it showed that the Nationals had pulled ahead of the hated New York Metropolitans in the seventh. Torontonians could do a bit better in this department.
  • Citizen's Bank Park is not a stadium. It's a ballyard. And not one of those phony Camden Yards deals. It is just right. I walked the whole perimeter of the place and there was not a bad seat or a misused space. No need to cover seats with tarps in this place. And the out of town scoreboard is out of this world. At some point, the Blue Jays organization will need to build a place like this in Toronto's downtown.
  • JP is no Pat Gillick. While it could be argued that the Phillies benefit from being in a weak division and that as a team they aren't significantly better than the Jays, it's pretty apparent that Gillick has some abilities not seen in Toronto GMs since he left. Since leaving TO, Gillick's teams (Baltimore, Seattle, and --- God willing --- the Phils) all hailed from different divisions and made the playoffs at least once each.

So, while it was a lot of fun to be dead smack in the middle of a pennant race, it got me more than a little bit disallusioned about the state of our beloved franchise. My hope is that if we aren't in first place by next May, that big changes are going to happen fast. Because JP's contracts are turning into pumpkins soon and I'm not sure that I can wait another 5 years for the team to be "rebuilt" once again. But who am I kidding? I'm not going anywhere. Bring on the misery.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The dizzying heights

Wow. So this is what five games over .500 feels like.

Soothsayers soothsaying: Back in July, we participated in a bloggers' roundtable over at Jays Nest, where we predicted that the Jays would end up with a record of 84-78 when it all played out. With today's 5-3 win over the Rays of Sunny Goodness, the Jays need only to win tomorrow to prove us right. (Otherwise, it will be the Drunks, who predicted 83 wins, who will look like the clairvoyants.)

Reed who? We still figure that John-Ford Griffin will be a cog in someone else's system next year, but seeing both he and Adam Lind tag a couple of balls today had us wondering whether Reed Johnson really has what it takes to stick in this lineup next year. (Especially since he runs like a girl.)

"Will you sign my year book?"

Here's one thing we can definitely say about this season: it's almost over.

Still, we're feeling like we do every year at this time: like its that last week of high school. We should be glad that it's over, but we're getting all sentimental, running around to sign one another's yearbook.

So, join us as we make the rounds, and share the love around the Jays' Blogosphere Cafeteria.

Drunk Jays Fans: Can you believe it's really over? The year is so over! Remember back when you found that picture of Richard Griffin drunk on a park bench? That was awesome! You guys are real characters. Don't ever change. See you around sometime, maybe. Cheers (to lots of beers!), The Tao. P.S. "Keep on rockin' in the free world!"

Hey Neate from
Out of Left Field: It was great getting to know you this year, and it was no problem for me to do your homework for you for a few weeks while you were away. Hope there's no hard feelings about you having to do summer school. Anyways, this year was really a trip, and we'll see you around sometime, maybe. Peace, the Tao. P.S. "Rock and roll will never die!"

Dear Joanna from
Hum and Chuck: We are so outta here! You're the most awesome chick that we met here this year, and we're not just sayin' that. Those guys from Drunk Jays Fans are hitting on you for a reason! We're sorry that we kinda picked on your friend A.J. this year. No hard feelings?! Hope not, 'cause u r wicked cool and we're glad we got to know you. Anyways, we'll see you around sometime, maybe. (We should really try to go to the beach sometime!) Cheers Big Ears! Love, The Tao XO. P.S. "You are like a hurricane, there's a calm in your eye."

Yo! Richie Rich from
Home Run Derby! Hey man! This year is so over! We didn't really get to know you much, but you always seemed like a righteous dude, and it was really cool working with you on that B.J. Birdy thing. Anyways, man, we hope you have an awesome time this off-season, and call us if you ever want to party! Rock on! The Tao. P.S., "It's better to burn out, 'cause rust never sleeps!"

Jays Nest! It was great getting to know all of you guys (Dave, David, Jonathan, and that exchange student from New York). We used to think you guys were nerds, but now that we get to know you, we REALLY think you are BIG NERDS! (Just kidding! You're awesome!) Anyways, we had fun with those round tables. We know that we didn't really do our share of the work, but we got through it thanks to you! Anyways, have fun, and we'll see you around sometime, maybe. Cheers, The Tao. P.S. "Catch the mist, catch the myth. Catch the mystery, catch the drift."...Rush rules!

Yo Maldonado Over Everything! Remember when you gave that nerd John Brattain an atomic wedgie? That was awesome! You're really cool, even if we didn't really get to know you that well. Anyways, maybe we'll get the chance to hang out this off-season? Keep in touch, and maybe we can party some time. Cheers, The Tao. P.S. "Long may you run."

Hey Todd at the 500 Level: Hey man...where did you go this year? You're pretty cool. You know a lot about history...can we have your notes? (Just kidding!) Anyways, maybe we'll see each other around soon. Good luck, The Tao.

Hey Fire Gibbons: What'sup?! We used to hang out so much...It's too bad we don't see each other that much anymore. Anyways, you're still awesome, and a real cool guy. I guess we never really got Old Man Gibbons fired, but we tried! Don't let "The Man" change you: You're a rebel! Anyways, maybe we'll see each other around, and we can party when Gibbons finally gets the boot. Cheers, man. The Tao. P.S. "It's better to burn out than to fade to black."

Hey the Ballclub: So sorry to hear about your year. We really hope things work out for you. Be strong. Peace, and God Bless You. The Tao.

Hey Deadspin: You're the coolest guy in the school. We can't believe we're signing your yearbook! (Actually, you left it in the cafeteria, but we're signing it before we bring it back you. Hope you don't mind.) Anyways, it was really cool when you showed everyone that video that we found of the drunken Red Sox fans. We don't know if anyone at this school knew who we were before then! Thanks! Anyways, you're really awesome...we hear you have a book coming out, and we're totally gonna buy it. Call us anytime if you want to party! Keep on rockin'! The ToS. P.S. "Everybody seems to wonder, What it's like down here. I gotta get away from this day-to-day running around, Everybody knows this is nowhere."

Feel free to sign our yearbook in the comments!

Friday, September 28, 2007

That Flushing Sound

These are not happy times for Los Mets, who are driving the good folks over at the Ballclub stark raving mad. We feel your pain, boys.

It's almost like watching the last week of a certain team's '87 season. Except without the Bill Madlock take-out slides and Frank Tanana junkballin'.

Speaking of the NL East: ToS correspondent Shortwaveboy was in Philly for some pennant race action this week. We're assured that there will be pictures to post and stories to tell (and not just of the Phillies's cheerleaders!)

The Tao's Week That Was (as far as we can tell)

We've been working overtime to feed our family, which explains why we've been 60% less clever/engaged/present this week. Still, we managed to glean the following as the highlights of the last seven days.
So that's that. Now, if they'll just unchain us from our desk for a moment, we'll be on our way home to lock the door, load the shotgun and keep our backs to the wall.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Did we forget the Dick Bag?

No. We didn't.

It's just that when Dick starts the Mailbag feature by comparing J.P. Ricciardi to George W. Bush, it's hard to even start to make any fun. It's kinda depressing.

However, for those who live and die by our Mailbag summaries (Hi Mom!), we'll summarize this week's in one sentence: J.P. is a stupid poopy head, and lots of people love Dick and his column.

Thank God the season's almost done.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oh Mickey, what a pity, can't you understand?

A hat tip to the King of Kingston, Neate at Out of Left Field, for passing along the news that the Jays have all-but-officially shitcanned Mickey Brantley.

Brantley is going out swinging, telling the National Post's John Lott "I can't fix broken hands. I can't fix broken backs...I just think it's a really, really bad deal."

Look, we feel for the guy. Getting handed your walking papers ain't nobody's day at the pony rides. But the "our guys were all injured" excuse only goes so far. Even before Lyle Overbay got drilled on the hand, he was struggling. Vernon's approach at the plate has looked terrible, and we don't think that it's his shoulder that's making him swing at bad pitches in odd situations and bad counts.

And of course, Mickey should remember how he inherited the job from Mike Barnett, who had done an okay job but was made the sacrificial lamb after a five game skid in 2005. What comes around...

Anticipating the Rumour - Bring Back Gillick!

The most excellent Ump Bump has the news that Pat Gillick is already paving the way for his retirement after next season.

So allow us, if you will, to anticipate the veritable tidal wave of stories that will soon be written by the Toronto media, calling for the Jays to dump J.P. Ricciardi and bring back Gillick.

You know its coming. It will be relentless once it arrives.

Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Big Hurt brings the noise...but the party's mostly over

Frank Thomas is rolling, marching fiercely towards the century mark in RsBI with another three in tonight's 11-4 throwdown in Baltimore.

We won't get overly pissy about how the Big Hurt's production has picked up after the Jays had slipped out of contention. This is the last week of the season, and we're feeling a little more charitable these days. (Although this late season surge reminds us of Joe Carter's 1995 season, when he basically sucked all year, then turned it on in the last couple of months to reach the 100 RsBI plateau for, like, the thirtieth straight season or whatever.)

If Frank Thomas is on TBS, where will go to see Road House? The fellas at Drunk Jays Fans picked up the news that the Big Hurt will try to fit his enormous cranium within the frame when he sits in on the TBS postseason coverage. Also, Gregg Zaun will sit in with nerdy ginger Jamie Campbell on the Rogers Sportsnet coverage. Zaun has a unique manner of enunciating, and if last year's experience is anything to go on, we figure we'll be well into the LCS before we see his teeth.

Johnny Mac - Doubles Machine, Defensive Liability: We're tracking tonight's game online, so we can't attest to whether if John McDonald made eight spectacular plays. However, it's definitely strange to see in the boxscore that he hit two doubles (to "deep center" no less!), but that he also made an error. It's like the Bizzarro World John McDonald got penciled into the lineup by mistake.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jays split, Litsch makes Yanks his...well, you know

In a stunningly brief (two hours, 42 minutes!), the Chiefs Jays beat the Yankees 4-1 to split the series. You're welcome, Red Sox Nation. Curtis Thigpen (who looks infinitely better at the plate now that he's getting some playing time) stroked a double under the glove of that Alex Rodriguez in the second, and came around to score on a John! McDonald! Double!

How beautiful was this? Speaking of McD, we hope that every manager in the AL had the chance to see Derek Jeter muff a routine ball at short, allowing Alex Rios to score. Because a vote for Jeter for Gold Glove is a vote for mediocrity. And herpes.

Pink/Round/Efficient, Redux: How could we have ever found a way to describe Jesse Litsch if Joanna at Hum and Chuck hadn't given us those three fantastic descriptors. Today's surprise starter looked great, holding the Yanks to five hits and one run, and most importantly, no walks. (See, it's not just a joke! Litsch truly was efficient!)

If we hear that Dane Cook "Only One October" jive one more time...

We're going to drown these kittens.

It's up to you, MLB. Their adorable little lives will be on your conscience.

Another fallen soldier

Sweet Jumpin' Jeebus on a Pogo Stick!

In addition to the multitudes who had already bailed early on the season (Glaus, Wells, likely Overbay, Thomas) and those who were never healthy (Ryan, Romero, Chacin), we now have word that Shaun Marcum is toast for the final week of the season (knee surgery), and that A.J. Burnett had to be scratched for today's 1:05 matchup with the Yanks for personal reasons.

We probably shouldn't really care at this point in the season, given that the playoffs are a faint memory tucked far back in our soul somewhere with all of our other hopes and dreams that have been crushed. But we'd still really like to see this team on the plus side of .500, and doing that with a glorified Syracuse Chiefs roster is going to be a bit of a challenge.

UPDATE, 12:55 - Frank Thomas is in the lineup, though possibly not at his usual full speed lightning-quick first-to-third pace. Also, Curtis Thigpen gets another start at first. We kinda wanted to see John-Ford Griffin get some time at either first of the outfield, if only to get a last look before he scampers off to be stuck at AAA in someone else's system.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stop dragging my heart around

If the past two games had us yelling at the TV screen and pulling our hair out, can you imagine what they would have been like if the Jays were playing for something more than pride?

Last night's 5-4 14 inning marathon sent us into conniption fits, especially when Aaron Hill flubbed the ninth inning game that would have sealed the deal.

In today's 12-11 extra inning loss to the Yanks, it was Matt Stairs getting called out on a close play at the plate that sent us into hysterics. We're actually pretty sure that he was out, but our fandom and wishful thinking had us convinced that he beat the tag.

We can only imagine how physically ill we'd be right now if this team were on the brink of a playoff spot and lost like that.

Wouldn't that be awesome?

The Return of the Gas Can: The Jays did a good job of hiding away the Gas Can for sixteen days, but Josh Towers managed to get out of the bullpen, see his shadow, give up the winning run, and then scamper back to the security of the clubhouse, where he can tell himself what an amazing control pitcher he is, and what a chump Tony Pena is.

Three more to the sick bay: We're wondering just who the hell the Jays are going to run out there in the final week, given that Shaun Marcum, Frank Thomas and Scott Downs all left the game with injuries today. We guess we're going to have to get used to the John-Ford Griffins and Joe Ingletts of the world for the next couple of series.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Tao's Week that Was - Mascots, Sweeps and Powder Blues

Join us as we pull on our retro gear, and reminisce about the good times we had over the past seven days:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So long, Vernon Wells

We'll see you in Dunedin around February-ish, with your labrum intact and your shoulder cyst-free.

Jays outfielder Vernon Wells done for the season, to have surgery Tuesday (CP, via Google)

The Powder Blues Comeback Tour?

According to the forums on this page (via the supremely awesome UniWatch Blog), the Jays will wear the retro powder blues above as an "additional alternate uniform" next year. While it is possible that they might only use them once or twice, it warms our heart immensely to see the old logo, font, and of course, the powder blue.

(A technical note: These unis are belted as opposed to the elastic waistband that the team would have used in that era, so technically speaking, their not authentically retro...then again, the elasticized waists look pretty stupid now, and should be reserved for ill-advised binges at Mother Tuckers.)

Now if only the Jays would swap out the stupid black for a navy or midnight blue, we'd find some peace in our soul.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Freakin' Sweet!

Jesse Litsch was round, pink and efficient tonight (6.2 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 4BBs and 1 K), while Russ Adams crushed a grand slam in the eighth off Jonathan Pablumbomb in a 6-1 win over the suddenly flailing Red Sox.

Russ Adams! All is forgiven!

Wednesdays with J.P. Highlights: A couple of interesting notes from the Mighty Wilner's tete-à-tete with J.P. Ricciardi tonight:
  1. J.P., in answering a question about Bob Elliot's hatchet job in the Sun today, noted that Elliot hasn't spoken to him in five years.
  2. J.P. confirmed - with an awesome snort - that he would not trade Vernon Wells for Tike Redman. (Drunk Jays Fans have the story here on that particular bit of fan insight.)
  3. J.P., given the choice between the Who and Led Zepplin, chose correctly.
Which SS do you love? We really wanted the Jays to pick up Julio Lugo heading into this year, but after seeing him give up on that ground ball bobbled by Ray Olmedo, we'll stick with Johnny Mac.

Why you don't go to the game with Mom

You'll have to stick with this video through about 30 seconds of Jay Onrait's monkeyshines before getting to the real goods, but check out the look on the kid's face when his mom makes him give the ball to the junior douche in the Yankees cap. (Added bonus: the video of Johnny Damon taking $20 from a fan for a baseball, then handing it to the first kid he sees.)

So wrong.

Mind you, as a rule, we don't give the foul balls that we catch to kids, because you know they're going to just get left outside and get caught under the lawnmower in a week's time.

His name is Dick. This is his Bag.

We’re back after taking a week off from our traditional recap of the Dick Griffin Mailbag Bonanza, and we realize now just how much we missed it.

In retrospect, we’re kind of upset at ourselves for bailing on the week where Dick tied the steroid problem in baseball to “Moneyball”. (Dick assured us that “Moneyball is dead”, which I guess should settle it for us all.) Neate at OoLF noted that Fire Joe Morgan tore Dick a new one.
(Although all we have yet to read it, because we're just getting a "Error 400 - Bad Request" message whenever we try. Yo Neate! Send us the goods via email, or fax, or carrier pigeon!)

And with that, let’s get going on this week's edition.

Sycophancy Alert Level – Moderate: Only two ass kissers in this week’s Mailbag, although one credits Dick for his “insightful analysis of the Jays' situation and talents”. The other notes: “Love your columns, even if I don't always agree with them.” (To which we’d note that WE LOVE the mailbag, but only BECAUSE we don’t agree with them.)

Did you know that Dick used to work for the Expos? This week’s mailbag features two not-so-subtle reminders of his time with Les Glorieux, including a rather euphemistic description of how he spent his time on the road: "enjoy the nightlife", my arse.

Dick Hates, Hates, Hates, Hates, HATES J.P.: The depth of Dick’s loathing for J.P. is such that we get the sense that he was terrorized by a minor-league infielder from New England as a child. Dick pretty much reduces every single decision made by J.P. to a fundamental flaw in his character. Keeping Gibby? Pride. 2007 failures? Vanity. Five-Year Plans? Extravagence. By the end of the season, we half-expect to see Griff standing on the pitchers mound with Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box. (And since we’re on the whole cardinal sins tip: can we suppose that Griffin’s wrathful hate-on might stem from envy?)

Dick makes a good point. The Earth spins off its axis: In answering a dumb question about putting natural grass in the Rogers Centre, Dick notes that the Jays should go to a dirt infield, and not just the cutouts around the bases. Although we’d guess that if not for the Argos, the Jays would have made the change already.

You know you’re a Leafs fan if: If you send an email to a baseball mailbag asking why the Jays don’t trade Josh Towers for draft picks, you may be a Leafs fan.

We're sure there is more to come from the other members of the Dick Fan Club, so there'll be linkage to come.

Take that, Dirt Dogs

Douchey corporate mainstream media blog Boston Dirt Dogs (Jimmy Fallon luvs us! Buy our swag!) is completely to blame for last night's 4-3 Jays win versus the Sox.

Oh sure, they didn't give up three walks and two hits like a certain someone from Mascouche.

But when they demonstrated their utter lack of respect for Dusty Lambchops and his outstanding complete game performance on Monday by asserting the Rose McGowan could have mowed down the Sox that night, they clearly angered the Gods of Baseball. The Gods of Baseball love them some lambchops, and love them some Dusty, and won't stand for this sort of navel-gazing from the "Nation". And now, Red Sox fans will be punished for the next 80 years, and will suffer from the Curse of the Dirt Dogs. You read it here first.

A.J. Rocks: A.J. Burnett silenced the critics, even if only momentarily, with another stellar performance last night. Since coming back from the DL on August 12, A.J. has dropped his ERA from 4.09 to 3.40. Anyone who has watched Burnett deal since coming back from the DL that still wants to call him a ".500 pitcher", is obviously a hateful person who hates kittens and ice cream too. Fuck 'em.

Gagné? C'est plutot Perdu! We're not looking for a job as a pitching coach (unless you're offering, in which case, sign us up), but it looks to us as though Eric Gagné has stopped using his strong legs to drive towards the plate, and is standing up in his delivery, leading to all of those pitches high in the zone. It looks as though he is also throwing mostly with his upperbody, which could explain his complete lack of command.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A tale of two B.J.'s

B.J., the Birdie: Not to take all of the credit, but thanks in large part to our extensive campaign last week, B.J. Birdie lives on in the Home Run Derby Mascot Brackets. No word on who's next, but we've now set out sights on a Final Four spot. Also, note that this week's bracket features Youppi! versus some stupid White Sox tandem, and Youppi!'s getting killed. Click here to go vote for Youppi! (We can't help it...typing the word Youppi! makes us happy.)

B.J., the Closer: B.J. Ryan is in Toronto, and throwing from 40 feet. Which is, just for reference sake, about twice the distance at which you'd trust Russ Adams to throw with any accuracy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Big Bang Boom

Which line do you prefer?

F. Thomas dh 4 3 3 5

Or this?

D. McGowan (W, 11-9) 9.0 5 1 1 0 9

Hey, we know it's a nothing game, but you've gotta let us relish our small pleasures.

Somebody call Patch Adams

As if the Jays long season of injury absurdity hadn't thrown enough our way, here comes the news that Scott Downs is going to miss the Boston series due to a case of gout.

Insert your own David Wells comment here.

Meanwhile, Lyle Overbay , seen above testing his wrist strength, will get the screws removed from his faulty appendage next week. He won't likely be available for much of anything in the interim, although we're not sure that his absence will be noticed. (Hey, that's kinda harsh for a guy we like, but at this point, we're just dumping on anyone. It's cathartic.)

Overbay should probably give the screws to Mickey Brantley once they are removed, so he can fondly remember this season and his excuses for the Jays ineptitude in his life after baseball. Which should be starting any day now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

This season is slip-sliding away

It became clear a week or two back that the Jays' ever-so-slim hopes at the Wild Card were done. Still, we're surprised at how the team (and the on-field management staff) seem to folded up the tent.

The Jays are clearly scuffling, going 3-7 in their last ten games. John Gibbons must feel like he's secure for next year, because he managed today's 8-6 loss against the Orioles like a spring training game. We half-expected to see people getting their running in on the warning track.

The Jays are perilously close to finishing the season below .500. That's a fate that would simply be unacceptable, even for apologists like us. If they do fall below .500 for the season, no amount of injury excuses are going to salve the fanbase's pain.

Moreover, the team's clientèle (which is to say, the vast number of people who push the attendance numbers up, but who aren't really the hardcore fans) has a tenuous relationship with team. The Jays' biggest battle in getting people out to the park is to battle fan apathy, and Toronto is notoriously a city where people are scrambling to be the first off the bandwagon. A crappy finish like the one the Jays seem to be fashioning could send the team back a few years.

None of J.P.'s assurances on how much they like this team or how well everyone is going to play next year once they're healthy will keep at bay those who can't wait to begin casting aspersions, and portraying the team as failures (as evidenced by Bob McCown and the Roundtable's rants on Friday, picked up by the Drunk Jays Fans.)

Perception is everything in the Big Smoke, and there will be a monumental gulf between how an 82-80 season is perceived versus how a 80-82 season goes down.

Young Folks, the Good
Seeing Adam Lind and Russ Adams hit back-to-back homers imbued us with more hope than we really deserve to have at this point in the we don't even particularly see them as part of the team's future.

Young Folks, the Bad
We're not sure what the team had in mind for Curtis Thigpen, but the way they have handled him (keeping him on the bench for weeks on end while overworking Old Man Zaun) hasn't done much for his hitting. Thigpen looks awful, and doesn't have a knock since August 13. We've become increasingly concerned that he's about to become yet another "Jays Catcher of the Future" who drifts off slowly into oblivion.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It Turns Out Our Shitty Year Was Due To Bad Luck

Check out this recent story from They report findings that luck has more to do with winning than the strength of your team. Somebody funded this shit?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Vote for BJ Birdy!

The fellas at the always stellar Home Run Derby (Because Chicks Dig the Long BallTM) are running a Mascot Bracket to determine who the most awesome MLB mascot of all.

When it came time for the choice of the Jays mascot to be included in the Feather Division, the HRD crew quite rightly chose to forgo the Jays' overly-focus-grouped Ace in favour of the old classic, BJ Birdy. (Oops, Update: We just realized that Ace is there, as the four seed.)

BJ is the six seed, in tough against the three seed, Baltimore's "The Bird". (No, really, that's what they call him. Why not just "Hey! Look! Mascot!" or "Dude in Costume"?)

At last look, BJ is trailing by a fairly substantial margin, but we have full confidence that at some point over this weekend, you Jays fans will pull yourselves out of your mediocrity-induced bender, and vote for BJ.

So what are you waiting for? Go vote for BJ!

While we support the team, we have to say that BJ was kind of a crappy mascot. Then again, he was our crappy mascot. He's like the stuffed toys that you see at Wonderland: made cheaply, looking like they'll fall apart before you leave the park, but damn it, the kids still love 'em.

On the other hand, Ace kinda creeps us out...he's the Patrick Bateman of mascots: he looks just psychotic enough to be responsible for the 2004 disappearance of his former paramour, Diamond.

"Is Ace gonna have to beat a bitch down with this here bat?"

Joe Torre doesn't care for your video game monkeyshines

Yankees manager Joe Torre got his hernia in a snit this week, when a sixth inning jumbotron video game promotion degenerated into a festival of A-Rod-targeted beanballs.
"It's ridiculous," Torre said after the Yanks beat Toronto, 4-1. "Some of the videos they have period, it's all about violence. There are certain cities, one of our players gets knocked down and they start laughing and cheering. I don't understand it."

"To me, this game is about playing it and not about hurting somebody. To me, if you show it at a ballpark, you're telling the youngsters it's OK to do it and that's not a good message to send. I don't know if it's hockey - it's a little more of a violent game than ours - and I'm not sure if that's a carryover in what they do or how they promote.

"It certainly lacks good sense, I think."

Torre offered no comment on the Chili Pepper Races.

Truth be told, we'd like to see the promotions staff figure a way next year to include Alex Rodriguez in a jumbotron game of Leisure Suit Larry. That would really set Torre off. (Supposing, of course, that Rodriguez is any of Torre's concern next year...somehow, we don't imagine that he'll have the option of hitting A-Rod eighth anytime beyond this season.)

Joe Torre brushes back Jays' A-Rod video game (NY Daily News)

The Tao's (Walk Off) Week that Was

We gather around home plate, and hop up and down as we look at how it all shook down over the last seven days:
Now if you'll excuse us, we've got a bottle of Knob Creek, a carton of Gauloises, and a whole lotta heartache to work through this weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Walk off madness!

You know, some nights, we're watching the highlights, and we see the Nationals or the Pirates win in a walk-off, and we think: "Good for their fans...they could use a little joy in their otherwise miserable existence."

Tonight, someone's thinking that of us. (Please stop us before we start singing "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail.)

You know what? We'll take a win like tonight's 2-1 win over the Bronx Bombers any time. It's a walk off win over the Yankees. It brings us back to .500. And it snaps a five game losing streak.

Speaking of .500
A.J. Burnett has pitched his ass off since coming off the DL. A.J. has gone at least seven innings in all but one start since returning (and he pitched into the seventh that night), and for all of his trouble, he's still 8-7 on the season. Meaning that corpulent turds like the marble-mouthed Jim Kelley on Sportsnet can continue to refer to him as a ".500 pitcher".

Of course, the fact that A.J. dropped his ERA to 3.42 will be likely be lost on an arrogant fart like Kelley.

A dream of .500 ball

Not so long ago, we figured that the Jays would end up at about 83 wins for the season. A disappointment, but still, above .500, which is respectable on some level.

Last night's 4-1 loss to the Yanks (the Jays' fifth straight defeat) drops the Jays below .500. With a schedule packed with Yanks, BoSox and the Mighty Mighty Devil Rays, we're finding it hard to believe that this team ends the season on the right side of the even level.

Gibbons Watch (It's Back!)
Way back in a Jays Nest roundtable, we linked the likelihood of John Gibbons sticking around to the team's win total: "We’d tie this to their Jays’ final record: if they win 83 or fewer games, he’s gone."

As recently as last week, we figured that Gibby was back for sure. Now, with the team in a tailspin, we're wondering if Mickey Brantley might have some company at the dole office.

Update: We note (h/t to Neate) that J.P. said on Jays Talk last night that Gibby will be back...but if this team ends up at or below .500, it seems difficult to imagine that those above the GM in the decision-making process would allow that to happen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today, we steal no thunder

It's Wednesday. There's a Dick Griffin mailbag. It's on the Star's site. We refuse to link to it.

Suffice to say that you know that we think he's full of shit, and there are a multitude of others who'll confirm as much.

We're tired, busy, a little sick of the Jays this week, and we just couldn't be arsed to spend an hour taking down Dick, letter by letter.

We're sure that the posts will start piling up on the other sites shortly, and we'll link to them here.

Update, 10:00 pm: Here's your lone Dick Griffin recap for the day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We read a scary thing in tonight's lineup

Russ Adams, 3B.

Russ throws it away with some regularity from second. With him at third, the people sitting in the first 20 rows should be provided with riot shields.

It's official - Johnny Mac's a millionaire

Two years at $1.9 million per. (

We can't wait to see the gold and diamond-encrusted grill that Johnny Mac will start sporting now that he's rich.

Another reason why John McDonald deserves the Gold Glove
Ask any Hollywood starlet. When it comes to love, Derek Jeter's got no glove.

Monday, September 10, 2007

An ugly way to learn Roy Halladay's limits

That was the most painful half-inning of the year.

Sure, Jeremy Accardo spit that bit over the weekend against the Devil Rays, but that was quick and painful, like tearing of a band-aid. Tonight's four-run ninth inning was prolonged agony, like trying to pass a kidney stone.

It's almost hard to fathom that a bullpen that's been as good as the Jays' this season would hand over two ninth inning 4-1 leads in three days.

What was Gibby thinking?
We've been pretty amazingly civil to Gibby over the past few months, but we've got two nasty words for him right about now: Grady Little.

Halladay looked gassed in the eighth tonight, so running him back out there for the ninth - even if he insisted that he could go - was just moronic. Even if Halladay is absolutely nails, and a fierce competitor, it is incumbent on the manager to step in and, you know, manage his team once in a while. As if to compound his mistake, Gibby sends out Casey Janssen to face a tough lefty with a man on, while leaving Scott Downs in the pen. We're willing to bet at least a tasty pint that Gibby claims that he "had a hunch".

Graceful exits?
Troy Glaus hobbled off the field in the second tonight. We assume that he'll be gone for a while.

Johnny Mac, at $2 million per?
We love the Prime Minister of Defense as much as the next guy, but $2 million per season (as is being reported by ESPN's Buster Onley) seems a little cuckoo. (And we say that even with immeasurable love for tonight's unbelievable shovel-from-the-glove double play.)

Johnny Mac, Gold Glove Love?
And speaking of Johnny Mac, Oakland A's manager Bob Geren pumps up the case for his Gold Glove in an LA Times article. Though the article is supposed to be on Orlando Cabrera's chances of winning the award, Geren drops some serious (and hard to refute) knowledge on the PMoD.
"Errors should not be the criteria," Oakland Manager Bob Geren said. "Fielding percentage is one of the worst averages there is. It doesn't tell you anything about range, positioning. I think the guy in Toronto [John McDonald] is the best, myself. Every major league shortstop is good. McDonald is amazing to me."

You don't suppose someone at the Star is insinuating something

On the weekend that our third baseman gets popped for PEDs, that's an awfully peculiar headline for the Star to drop.

MLB Trade Rumours gives the Jays the once-over

As part of their Needs and Luxuries series, MLB Trade Rumours today turns their gaze towards the Blue Birds.

Obviously, if you've been following the Jays day-in day-out, nothing here will come as too much of a surprise, although we find their notion about shopping Shaun Marcum interesting.

Also note that they do not have the innate love of the PM of Defense that clouds the judgment of we Jays fans.

The Jays' weekend not as bad as Britney's, but remarkably similar

Disappointing, though we have come not to expect much. Listlessly going through the motions. Full of excuses. Seemingly indicating a precipitous fall to come.

And Britney sucked, too.

Looking forward
Roy Halladay takes on the The Gambler at 7:05 tonight in a one-game make-up at Comerica. After that, they do the tour of the AL East, with seven versus the Yanks, six against Baltimore and three each against the Sox and the Mighty Mighty Rays of the the Devil.

Welcome to the fold
Maldonado Over Everything, yet another Jays blog full of angst, bile, and hate for Dick Griffin. As if there weren't enough of that to go around. (And incidentally, MOE used the "Dick in a Bag" joke before we did, although we doubt their as big a JT fan as we are.)

Welcome back
To Joanna from Hum and Chuck. She's back from Italy, and she doesn't much care for what she's seeing from the Jays upon her return. On a positive note, a few weeks of dealing with aggressive Italian men will certainly prepare her for the incessant come-ons from the boys over at DJF.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Someone change the sheets

Because Jeremy Accardo utterly and completely shit the bed last night.

That was painful.

It's worth remembering, though, that even good closers blow games. Henke, Ward and Ryan all blew five or six games in the run of a year, and last night's ninth inning BP session against the Devil Rays was Accardo's fifth.

But you still have to figure that A.J. Burnett wanted to grab Accardo by the mullet and tear it out, strand by strand, after watching his brilliant eight inning, one run, eight strikeout night go for naught.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How do you solve a problem like Troy?

By now, we've been all over the map in trying to figure out what we think about this whole story with Troy Glaus and his performance enhancers.

We've felt betrayed.

We've made excuses for him.

We've shrugged it off.

We considered that we might just be screwed by a guy with a monster contract and little trade value.

We've tried to square our excuses for Glaus with our indictments of other "cheats".

The whole discussion on PEDs and steroids and HGH should be much more complicated than a simple "he cheated, therefore he's a bad guy" equation. There's a profoundly imperfect sliding scale of what is legal and what isn't in terms of drugs and/or supplements, and how actually effective they are at making a ball player bigger, stronger, faster or - maybe most importantly in this case - healthier.

Still, we've been asking ourselves: how will we feel if Troy Glaus hits a game-winning home run this season? How easily can you exchange a general sense of morality for a passionate love of your team?

Recommended reading
The Juice : The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems by Baseball Prospectus writer Will Carroll. If you want a better understanding of what steroids do, and a perspective on their true impact on the players and on the game, this is a must-read.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Oh. God. Please. No. - Glaus gets fingered for steroids

By the time you read this, it will probably be all over everywhere, but here it is anyhow.

Source: Glaus received steroids (
Report: Glaus received steroids in 2003-04 (Fox Sports)

With the Rick Ankiel news from this morning, we actually asked ourselves "Who from the Jays will get embroiled in this mess?"

We should really stop thinking bad thoughts.

It was twenty years ago today (well, this month)

If the Jays' offensive hadn't induced enough nausea for you so far this year, then read this article from the Hardball Times' John Brattain, who compares the Jays' hitting with RISP to that of the Jays during their week long meltdown in 1987.

We're pretty sure that when we get to hell, we will be forced to watch those Jays-Tigers series on an endless loop. But at least this year has braced us for the pain.

The Tao's Week that Was

A look at how it all shook down over the last seven days:

And as we tell ourselves at the end of each week, it's gotta get better next week. Right?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Win! Homers! Screw Small Ball!

When Coco Crisp popped up his bunt in the eighth tonight, we jumped up and shouted "Yeah! Screw your small ball!" (Mrs. Tao shot us a look of death, but we explained that it's better that we yell at the players on TV than at her. She didn't seem to buy it.)

When Vernon Wells cranked one into the deep seats, giving the Jays the 6-4 win over the Red Sox, we felt completely vindicated. (Although a bit more reserved in our cheering, seeing as how no one else would hear it.)

Anyways: Screw small ball.

And another thing
Why do the Massholes look so goddamned pleased with themselves every time they sing Sweet Caroline. It's not as though they don't sing it every home game. It's a Neil Diamond song...get over it! (And that goes double for you, Jamie Campbell!)

Dick in a Bag - Your Weekly Dick Griffin Takedown

You know, it's funny. We decided to put off looking at Dick Griffin's Fan-E-Mail Shenanigans (TM) for a while, and we felt so much better about the world.

Our heart rate evened out. Our blood pressure returned to somewhere vaguely close to normal. Things were good.

Of course, Dick's mailbag is something that we know have to face eventually, like taxes and changing our bedsheets. You can only put it off so long before the wrong people start to notice.

Anyways, on with the takedown.

Sycophancy rating
This week scores surprisingly low on the butt kissing. There is a rather dull joke about being a "long-time-reader-first-time-writer" from someone in Fredericton (the town the Wit forgot), and another writer invited Dick to imagine himself as the GM. On the whole, there isn't the usual collection of writers exclaiming "I love you Richie!" and "Kiss my taint, Griff!" Maybe there's a Star editor who managed to intervene?

Pompous Pontification
Even if the dittoheads were all busy getting soused on Lakeport, that wasn't going to stop Dicky G from stroking his greazy beard and letting fly with all sorts of self-aggrandizing nonsense.

On Gregg Zaun: Initially, Dick doesn't even answer Gregg Zaun question. (Which begs the question, why even bother with the questions, if this is really just another opportunity for Griffin-bore to wank off publicly?) Instead, he again invokes the signings of Ohka, Zambrano, and Thomson as some sort of stupendously monstrous mistake. This, in spite of the fact that the Jays did pretty much all they could to sign Gil Meche, and Lilly wasn't coming back here at any price. And morover, those signings didn't cripple the team's payroll, and were designed as low-risk, low reward moves.

OK, for real...about Gregg Zaun: When he comes around to it, Dick's whole point is that Zaun wasn't the Jays first choice, but then they screwed it up by not being nicer to Rod Barajas. His point that Zaun's skills might be diminishing is nothing particularly earth-shattering, but his assertion that the master plan for Curtis Thigpen was to turn him into the next Craig Biggio by switching to second is a vast overstatement of the facts. Sure, the Jays tried him out for a couple of games there, but then again, they had Reed Johnson take ground balls at second last can't fault the organization for trying to assess all options.

Uncle Richard, tell us about "real" baseball: Griffin's assertion that the Angels are "cutting edge" for employing small ball gives the Anaheim brain trust way too much credit for what is likely a bit of a fluke. Last year, the Angels struggled to produce any runs, and they addressed this shortcoming by signing noted speedster Shea Hillenbrand. (Oh, and Sarge Junior, sure...because if you're going to enter the post-steroid era, you start with him.) But the truth is, no one foresaw the steep reduction in power that has occurred. A trending back to normal, maybe, but nothing like this.

Five year plans? Griff got no use for 'em. Which is interesting, because neither did J.P., no matter what some douche from Whitby who knows Paul Godfrey's son's college roommate's friend's dealer's ho's kid's kindgarten teacher has heard. It's a figment of your fixated imagination, Dick. Drop it, for the love of God.

The Dave Dombrowski Man-Crush? Do you suppose that Dick had this sort of wood for "Double-D" when he was losing 120+ games as Tigers GM? Dombrowski's Tigers, incidentally, are 2.5 games ahead of the Jays right now. Then again, Dombrowski used to work for the Expos...and hey, did you know that Tricky Dick worked for the Expos too?

Pitching from the stretch? You should probably know what that means if you're a baseball fan. Then again, if you're not a baseball fan, that probably explains why you read Richard Griffin.

"Proven Leader"? Sorry, wasn't this question intended for the Leafs mailbag? We love how the writer drops Dave Winfield's name as an example...I mean, if you're pulling names of great ballplayers out of your ass, why not Roberto Clemente, or Babe Fucking Ruth. Yeah...that's exactly what the Jays need!

Anyways, we're exhausted. Suffice to say, we slogged through, and we learned nothing. Another fine Wednesday, wasted away with the mailbag.

"So, when you become a free agent, would you like to come home to Canada?"

Number of at bats it took Joey Votto to hit his first MLB homer: 2

Over/under on the number of months before a Canadian reporter speculates on Votto joining the Jays: 6

Over/under on the age at which Votto, now 23, actually joins the Jays: 35

Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs?

Don't mention playoffs to the Jays' AA NH Fisher Cats, who fell to the Red Sox' Portland Sea Dogs 7-4 in a one-game play-in. (Hat tip to Neate for following up on our post from yesterday.)

Of course, the loss put the Fisher Cats at 70-73 for the season, so by all rights, they probably didn't belong in the postseason.

Unless they were in the National League Central.

Long balls end Fisher Cats' season (Manchester Union Leader)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Another complete game...loss

Roy Halladay scuffled at times tonight, but showed enough tenacity to see the game through to the bitter end, a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Red Sox. This makes seven complete games on the season for Doc, well ahead of anyone else in the Majors.

Halladay threw 126 pitches, making this the third in the last four outings that he has gone over 120. Halladay hasn't, however, won any of those games.

We've never particularly thought that pitch counts are all that people make of them, so we won't get our knickers in a twist about Halladay's workload. Generally, we find that those who harp on pitch count numbers are mostly just trying to prove that they're smarter than the manager, and that's an easy hook. (We, on the other hand, already know that we're smarter than Gibby. And likely more drunk. Go Jays.)

Doc hasn't appeared the labour through these past four games. With hindsight being 20/20 - and a Kevin Youkilis bomb the deep center make that vision that much clearer - we might have brought in a fresher arm in the eighth. (Wolfey, we've missed you!) But at the time, our gut was telling us to let Halladay dust it off, and hope for the offense to come through for him.

Speaking of the offense
Matt Stairs is awesome. The rest of y'all suck. But we're sure that it's because you're hurt.

Speaking of "hurt" and "sucking"
We always thought that Lyle Overbay was supposed to be a "doubles machine", not a "grounds-into-double-plays machine".

Complete games? I got yer complete games right here, pal!
Halladay's recent streak of durability is strangely reminiscent of Our Patron Saint's 1982 campaign. Stieb finished the season with an astounding 19 complete games. From August 10th on, he went at least nine innings in 10 of 12 contests, including a September 16th contest versus the Angels where he went 11 innings and faced 39 batters. (And Roy Lee Jackson got the win in the 12th...which goes to show the value of wins, no?)

Playoff fever - AA style

While their parent clubs will be squaring off in Beantown, the AA affiliates of the Jays and Red Sox will face each other down in a one-game death match to get into the Eastern League's playoffs.

Why should this matter? We firmly believe that players who learn to win and compete in a playoff atmosphere in the minors will learn a lot from the experience.

While there are only a handful of the Fisher Cats that we can forsee as future Jays, the idea of having Ricky Romero, Tracy Thorpe or David Purcey pitching under that sort of pressure can only help with their personal development. If fifty percent of this game is half mental, then the hope is that they can learn to win in a pennant race and in the playoffs, and can bring that experience with them to the big club, sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: More Jays Minor League Playoff Mayhem!
We'd be remiss if we didn't note that the short season A ball Auburn Doubledays have already clinched their division title, and will be playing postseason games starting later this week, while the advanced A ball Lansing Lugnuts have clinched a playoff spot as well.

Dear Diary
Speaking of Romero, he was one of four players to have a player journal on this year. They're not exactly earth-shattering in terms of insight, but it is interesting to track Romero's thought process through this year's injuries and struggles. At just 22, Romero is the youngest player on the AA club, but he seems pretty well-adjusted. Hopefully, he'll be able to contribute within the next year or so at the major league level.