Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let's turn the page on April

And with tonight's tremendously entertaining, brutally heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the BoSox, that's a wrap for the first month of the season.

11-17.

Good riddance to April.

Random thoughts on tonight uniquely spirit-crushing loss
  • Dustin McGowan, sans lambchops (not porkchops, as Jamie Campbell called them), looked brilliant on the mound tonight, and deserved better. (Hmm...where'd we hear that before?)
  • Speaking of Campbell, dude has to get over his mancrush on all things to do with Boston. We know he's a ginger and his people are there in Boston, but please, JC, stop gushing over every play, every tradition, every Neil Diamond singalong, every douchebag in the stands...just stop.
  • Johnny Mac's margin of error is very slim, so a gaffe on the bases like tonight's is going to stand out for a while.
  • You've got to feel for Vernon Wells, who made one great throw and one good throw that hit the mound in the ninth. Redemption is such a fleeting thing.
  • Quien es mas macho? Scott Rolen (four doubles and one homer in five games) es mas macho. Muy macho!
  • One image we're totally fucking tired of seeing: Kevin Youkilis and his gigantic cranium and his stupid goatee dancing around the infield in celebration. There's a roll of loonies and our gently used copy of the August 2001 copy of Playboy (featuring Belinda Carlisle!) to the first Jays pitcher who plants one in his ear.
  • Another futile plea for sanity from JaysTalk callers: Reed Johnson was not going to go into the stands to bring back that Big Papi homer, and Rios didn't have a shot at it unless he ran full speed into the stands (and even then...)
  • Speaking of JaysTalk callers: We're weeping for the state of the English language. We missed the first few minutes, but was there some sort of announcement that tonight was Malapropism Night, and we just weren't in on the joke?
  • It's not even May yet, but listening to J.P. Ricciardi on Wednesdays with J.P. is already pretty classic. The GM was wound pretty tight tonight, especially when giving his unequivocal assurance that the Jays would not in any situation sign Barry Bonds. It sounds to us like he's sick of answering the question.
  • Did you see that kid in the stands that got the David Eckstein foul ball in kisser? Yeesh. It was only a fleeting shot of an anguished bloody face that showed up on TV, but that was some serious nightmare fuel.

Double your misery

It's not just that they Jays are displaying an historic ineptitude in hitting with runners in scoring position this season. They're also wiping themselves out of innings by hitting into more double plays than any other team so far this season.

Worse still, it is the guys in the middle of the lineup that are doing most of the work producing outs for the other team rather than runs for their own. Vernon "Whipping Boy" Wells and Lyle Overbay have both ground into five twin killings apiece, while Shannon Stewart, Matt Stairs and Scrappy-Doo Eckstein have each grounded into four.

And just for good measure, Frank Thomas ground into three while he was still here.

It's one thing to get guys on base - the Jays are still posting a respectable .342 OBP, fourth in the AL - but seriously, and for fuck's sake, they've gotta stop with this, or we might just go batty.

Requiem for Goat Boy

The initial reaction after last night's crushing 1-0 loss to the Red Sox was to heap scorn upon Vernon Wells for his inability to come up with Kevin Youkilis' line drive single cleanly, allowing David Ortiz to rumble home with the winning run. Some people might have even questioned Wells' manhood for his inability to come up with that ball cleanly in the comment sections of other blogs. (Although we can't imagine who.)

But having watched the play endlessly, frame by frame, it looked to us as though the ball took a funny bounce just in front of Wells, and he did an okay job of keeping the ball in front of himself. Not a great job, just okay.

If that's the seventh inning, it's just another play. And if the Jays hadn't looked patently awful at the plate all night, it wouldn't have mattered. But with the Blue Jays' season quickly slip-sliding away in April, things are starting to get desperate, and reason is starting to get tossed out the window.

In contrast to the JaysTalk callers, we're not sure how the Jays' monumental ineptitude in hitting with runners in scoring position can be John Gibbons' fault. But if they can't win one of the next two games, by hook or by crook, we've got a sneaking suspicion that Gibby might not make it back to the home dugout in the Rogers Centre.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Roy Halladay must really suck

After all, he's now TWO GAMES BELOW .500! He must not have enough scrappy grit.

The object of our consternation

Regardless of who the Jays add in any given off season, or who comes through the system, or whatever complementary parts they add to beef up their line up, no one will receive the day-to-day scrutiny that Vernon Wells does.

Nor should they.

The Globe's snappy Jeff Blair has a bit of a think piece on V-Dub this morning, calling on the centerfielder to step up and assume the role of the franchise's cornerstone by taking a leadership role in the team that is too easily handed off to players who drift in and out of the Jays' clubhouse (like new acquisition Scott Rolen). (The Drunks beg to differ, mostly.)

We don't want to engage in the pseudo-proletarian debate about how the size and legnth of Vernon's monster contract should dictate his performance. The truth is that it's not really about the money.

But the team has bent over backwards in recent years to make Wells the franchise's centerpiece, even when his performance hasn't dictated that he deserved that role. For instance, Wells has spent much of the last three years hitting third, even though he would probably serve the team better hitting lower in the lineup. Wells is more of a fastball hitter and a free swinger, attributes that would be better suited to a spot in the lineup where he could hit with runners on base.

For his career, Wells hits vastly better in the five and six hole (.877 and .894 OPS respectively) than he does in the three spot (.823).

If this team is going to go anhywhere, Vernon and his healthy labrum are going to have to produce, and management needs to have the courage to use him in a manner that best fits the team's needs.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Here we go again with the injuries

Blairsy drops the news on the GlobeBallBlog that Scott Downs' shoulder is feeling a bit ouchy, (possibly from all that finger penmanship on the back of the mound?) and cryptically notes that the situation "bears monitoring".

Cripes.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Don't look a gift win in the mouth

It's not to say that the Royals just rolled over and let the Jays rub their belly today in today's 5-2 getaway day win. But it didn't hurt to watch them play a little Alphonse and Gaston out in center field in the 9th, allowing the Jays to get their only "hit" with runners in scoring position today (in seven at bats.)

Jesse's got himself a win: After being placed on the jet train back to Syracuse by various and sundry psuedo-prescient pontificators, Jesse Litsch finally put together a pink/round/efficient outing by going seven innings, striking out four and giving up the two earned runs on five hits. And the bill on his cap was flat enough that he looked about 36% goofier today , if that is even possible.

Lineup Madness!! We came at John Gibbons with knives out last year for his constant lineup shenanigans. But today's rejigging of the batting order (necessitated by the day off given the Scrappy-Doo the Short Stop) worked out mostly for the better. We would prefer to see Alex Rios hitting third as opposed to leading off, but it's a bit hard to argue with the results. Also, dropping Vernon Wells down in the lineup is a good start, especially considering that he has a grand total of one extra base hit since April 12.

Scott Rolen is the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time: Maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves, but we find something appealing about Rolen's homer, two doubles and four RsBI in three games.

A lefty is a lefty is a lefty: We were a little surprised to hear Mike Wilner stressing on JaysTalk about the decision to bring B.J. Ryan into the game in the eighth. We figured Wilner wouldn't have been as strident about using the closer only for the ninth, and given the amount of rest that the Beej has had (due mostly to the Jays' stupendously sucktastic week), it made sense to get him in the game at that point. If the Jays wait an inning and the Royals suddenly start cracking on the bullpen like George Brett and Frank White, B.J.'s first action might have been pushed back to Tuesday against the Red Sox. As an added bonus, Jesse Carlson, our new favorite Jay, got his first career save.

Next up: The BoSox, who just got swept by the Tampa Rays. Just so you know that we're in good company.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scott Rolen is Third Base Jesus

He turns water into VitaminWater.

He turns runners in scoring position into runs scored.

He turns spiraling last place teams into contenders.

The Blue Jays' saviour hath come at last. He is the way and the light.

(For our sakes, he godamned well better be.)

Speaking of Geezus: Ever notice how much Blairsy likes to use the word "Geezus". On the radio and on the blog. All the time. Geezus Geezus Geezus. It's actually kinda fun to hear, because he usually pulls it out at the height of exasperation, and puts a lot of energy into it. And when you watch PTS on TV, you get the added dimension of seeing the simultaneous cringe, sneer, shoulder shrug and head tilt that make the whole thing a bit of a performance piece. Watching Blairsy exclaim "Geezus" is like watching John Olerud swing a bat.

Jays Shit The Bed In Orlando

Things aren't getting any better for John Gibbons' crew. Bringing Scott Rolen and Adam Lind will help, but we still feel like there is a lack of cohesion on the team that results in uneven efforts every single night. The blood is in the water.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why is this man smiling?

a) Because his sudden expulsion from the Blue Jays saved him the trouble of going to Orlando.

b) Because he watched his old team suck bag and lick arse in said three-game series in Orlando.

c) Because he went from being dropped by a last place team to being picked up by a first place team.

d) Because in his new home, he can go 0-3 and people will still love him. (Well, for a few more weeks, anyways.)

Here's a challenge for the logicians

So we're catching up on our podcasts today, listening to McCown and Brunt talk to Dan Shulman on PTS, which we figure should be gold. But then the conversation turns towards Reed Johnson, and the everlasting mancrush that all three gentlemen have for him.

That's when it got strange. Shulman said the following in comparing Reed Johnson to his putative replacement Shannon Stewart:

"Shannon Stewart doesn't have the intangibles that Reed Johnson does."

We had to stop the podcast, sit down on a rock like Rodin's Thinker and figure this one out for ourselves.

If intangibles are things that you can't quantify or measure, then how can we judge whether or not if one person has more immeasurable qualities than another? How can we assess the relative value on things which have no palpable value?

Maybe Shulman (along with the two ditto heads in the Fan 590 booth) should have dropped the voice authority and pseudo-expertise and just said flat out "I like Reed Johnson better." Because how ever much you want to pretty it up with false analysis, that's exactly what he was saying.

And really, there's really no shame in that. Except for the fact that Reed Johnson runs like a girl.

What's that awful taste in our mouth

Is it the two days worth of retching until we blew out the capillaries around our eyes, or is it the fact that we just watched the Jays, with last night's 5-3 loss to the Disney World Rays, slip into last place in the AL East.

We're leaning towards the latter.

A few thoughts on the past couple of nights.

How many catchers can you fit into one lineup? Apparently, at least three. With Zaunie handling the actual catching duties, Rod Barajas taking over for an ailing Lyle Overbay at first, and rookie Robinson Diaz DHing, the Jays packed the lineup with backstops last night. Being the negative Nellies that we are, we immediately started contemplating what would happen if Gorman Thomas came crashing into Zaun, and the Jays were forced to re-jig the lineup on the go. Thankfully, all three of them made it through the game healthy, although their performance (0-11, topped off by a Diaz flailing at a Troy Percival breaking ball for strike three in the ninth) left something to be desired.

At least were not along in our misery: Apparently, we're not the only ones who are miserably sick. There is some sort of flu-like thing going through the Jays' clubhouse, which felled Alex Rios last night. Not that we're looking to make excuses for the team, but if they had anything close to what we had, then we get why they've looked listlessly awful over the past week, losing six of their last eight.

Who needs a bullpen? It took Roy Halladay 107 pitches to get through last night's game for his second straight complete game loss. The question for us is: Are the Jays running the risk of burning him out this early in the season? Doc looked fine at that point, and his greatest strength is his efficiency, so surely there's nothing to worry about. Right?

Matt Stairs is awesome: Boo yah!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

As we lay dying

We've been struck by some industrial-strength stomach virus, and without going into details...yuck. All the ginger ale and Pepto in the world isn't a match for this particularly nasty creature.

And as if that wasn't enough, seeing Eric Hinske tee off last night (on a lefty, no less) probably chipped away significantly at our gag threshold.

Also, Jesse Litsch kinda sucked last night, no?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Irresponsible speculation: Carlos Delgado edition

The New York Post wonders about the possibility that the Mets might follow the Jays' lead and cut ties with their slumping first baseman Carlos Delgado.
Which raises the question for us: IF the Mets tie the can to Delgado, would King Carlos consider a return to Toronto? And more to the point, would the Jays' front office want him?

Delgado has been in decline for a couple of seasons, although if you were the sort of person who cherrypicked the stats you wanted to make your point, you could show that Delgado was as effective as Matt Stairs versus righties in 2007.

Delgado vs RHP: 367 ABs, 20 HRs, 57 RsBI, .818 OPS.
Stairs vs RHP: 312 ABs, 21 HRs, 53 RsBI, er, um....931 OPS.

Okay...maybe not quite as effective. But vaguely comparable. Almost.

Speaking of faint praise, the Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson told the New York Times that Delgado's 2008 performance is "not as bad as it looks."

We'd usually dump on anyone who came up with this sort of fanciful BS notion of returning a player to the team for completely sentimental reasons. But there's something about the idea of seeing Delgado back in Toronto that melts away all of our reason and good sense.

We're goin' to Disney World

Well, not us personally, but the Jays, for a three game set against the Tampa Rays. (If they've dropped the "Devil", surely they can drop the "Bay".)

Rays blog DRays Bay has a Q and A with the Drunk Jays fans, who are still recovering from watching a bunch of hillbillies in tights tussle with one another in Montreal. And for clarification's sake, we should note that it was Saturday night's ultraviolence in which the DJF partook, not last night's tomfoolery. (Olé olé olé indeed.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Professor Griff knows (J.P.'s signings are toast!)

We've done our best to avoid any discussions of Richard Griffin lately. Really, who needs that level of aggravation?

But Griff's assessment of Frank Thomas as the team's worst ever free agent pick up seems a bit daft to us. Thomas wasn't great last year, but he was certainly good enough that he shouldn't rate as the worst when compared to Erik Hanson's execrable three-year tour.

Plus, Griff's supposedly authoritative top five list of the worst pick ups seems to skew a bit too much towards the J.P. era. Really: Is it fair to call Dougie Burnett a monumentally bad signing?

What about Mike Stanley? Dick Schofield? Ken Dayley? Frank Viola? Danny Darwin? Lance Parrish? Mike Flanagan? Benito Santiago? Doug Bair? Darnell Coles? Mike Huff? Ozzie Virgil? Juan Samuel? Are you trying to tell us that A.J., er, Dougie, and Frank were worse signings than those?

Hell, we could even make a case that A.J., er, Gord Burnett was a better signing than Dave Stewart over the course of his contract.

We know that those signings don't necessarily fit Griff's ongoing narrative ("J.P. is the Devil! Ruining baseball in Toronto! Nor respect for the good guys! Je me souviens des Expos! Vas-y Youppi!") But this article seems to be a pretty opportunistic hatchet job on a move that was really for the best.

UPDATE: Griff's decided to open up the mail bag two days early, because there were so many reactionary douchebags - you know, Griff's peeps - who wanted to pass judgement on this move immediately.

(*Editors note: We accidentally published an early version of this post with all sorts of grammatical errors and nonsense, and have been scrambling to fix it. So if you read this once and it didn't make any sense, or if there were more fautes d'orthographe than usual, we hope we've been able to fix it to your liking. We sincerely regret the error.)

Hurts to say goodbye

With the benefit of a little time and a little sleep, we're starting to wrap our head around the sudden release of Frank Thomas.

Whatever happens this year or even next, this transaction is going to be a topic of discussion any time the Jays start to struggle, much in the same way that the Shea Hillenbrand, Ted Lilly and Reed Johnson blowouts keep coming out amongst post-game show callers.

When things are going well, it will be forgotten that the Jays managed to rid themselves of what had become a black hole in their lineup. When they lose, the state of the franchise will be called into question, J.P. will be labeled a blundering caustic fool, and Pat Gillick's name will be brought up with reverence.

The hard truth about this is that the signing of Thomas was a reach from the get-go, and to say he has been terrible since March this year would be an understatement. Thomas was growling and grunting at umpires for calling the outside strike on him, but in truth, he wasn't able to get to those pitches anyways.

Moreover, he was able to do anything with pitches inside, so he had become a one-dimensional slugging machine who wasn't able to hit much other than mistake pitches over the heart of the plate. All three of his homers and all 11 of his RsBI came off relievers, and marginal relievers at that. The Jays couldn't continue to pencil his name into the lineup (in the five slot or the eight spot or whatever) if he wasn't going to be able to produce in his first two or three at bats in any given game.

Maybe Thomas catches on somewhere, and maybe he pulls his stuff together. But as an asset that was producing diminishing returns, the Jays made the right call to move on now.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Parting is such sweet sorrow

The best part about the Jays releasing Frank Thomas is that it should put an end to the chants of "Frank the Tank" at the Rogers SkyDome. Because that had gotten more than a little tiresome.

While we think it is possible that there was still a little fight left in the Big Hurt, chances are that he wouldn't have reached either the 26 homer or 96 RsBI plateaus from last year. The Jays were facing a situation where they either cut bait soon, or ended up stuck with a seriously diminished asset. With the depth that was assembled in the off season, and Adam Lind on the outside looking in, they made the proper decision.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nothing but blue skies

It's ridiculously frigging beautiful out this weekend. The dome is open, and we've got our first sunburn of the season. And we're a bit hammered.

Hope everyone enjoyed B.J. Ryan's excellent outing this afternoon, and hope you're all drinking on a patio at some point this weekend.

Incidentally, seeing Beej striking out elite hitters without all of his velocity back was incredibly heartening to us. We're not sure that he's all the way back, but he's looking good in these initial outings.

Summer's coming. Fuck yeah!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The wit and wisdom of talk radio callers

We'd rather not discuss last night's 4-1 loss to the Rangers, in which the Blue Jays were asleep at the plate and Doc Halladay sacked up and went the distance to preserve the bullpen for the weekend series. (For whatever that moral victory is worth.)

Instead, we'd like to focus on the Jays Talk callers, and specifically, David from Toronto.

The old philosopher Dave, who sounded like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys and seemed about as lucid. His comment for Wilner after last night's game has to rate amongst the all-time headslappers.

Dave was of the considered opinion that the Jays need "to bring up some rookies to get those guys around." We're presuming that Ranger rookie David Murphy's 3 for 4 night had something to do with this, but when Wilner tried to inject a little sanity into the situation by noting that maybe veterans with experience would do as good if not a better job at "bringing those guys around", Dave made clear that the rookies "want to prove themselves."

Also, Dave assured us that Gibby was an idiot for how he used the bullpen in Wednesday's 14 inning game. "Any good manager's always got plan for a 14 inning game!" Dave informed us. Wilner offered that the Jays might have a couple of those sorts of games per year, our baseball savant wasn't having any of it.

"This is the AL East! Come on!"

It's hard to argue with logic like that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pitching staff merry-go-round

So here's the newest latest and the band of brothers in the bullpen:

Randy Wells gets sent back to Chicago: Thanks for your time, but you're just not what we're looking for.

Brian Wolfe goes to the DL: Somehow, you had to figure that one arm was going to get mangled in the first month of the season, and after pitching three times in four days, Wolfe blew his tricep.

But most importantly, David Purcey gets the call!!: We know we shouldn't get overly excited about a few early season Triple-A stats, but still, a 1.89 ERA and a 21/6 K to BB ratio in 19 innings is nothing to sneeze at. The baldfaced speculation has Purcey taking the mound on Friday, with last night's late night losing pitcher Dougie Burnett* getting moved to Saturday.

Now the only question is who gets to carry the Dora the Explorer bag o' treats out to the bullpen.

(*NB: We think we might start calling A.J. Burnett "Dougie" or "Gord", because we believe it will make him a more relatable, cuddly figure to Canadian sports fans.)

Happy belated birthday to us

We can't believe we missed this, but yesterday marked one full year of the Tao of Stieb.

And from such modest beginnings, we have grown from a time waster for one lonely Blue Jays fan to a full blown movement which helps to kill the productivity levels of hundreds of Blue Jays fans everyday. It's a modest achievement, but one that we're proud of.

We've got to admit that when we started the blog, we figured that we'd fart about with it for a few weeks and then get bored and move on to something else. But here we are, 367 days later, and we're still finding minutiae to kvetch about.

Mostly, we keep on keepin' on because you keep coming back to read our crayon scribblings every day, and for that, we thank you immensely.

Also, thanks and praise to all of you who have linked to our blog over the past year, and who have sent folks in our direction. There's a whole wide world of weblogs out there, but we are grateful to belong to a community of Blue Jays bloggers who bring their unique and distinct views and talents to help push the level of discourse on our beloved team upwards. We thank all of you for your contributions.

We'd especially like to thank Neate Sager at Out of Left Field, who was an early champion of our blog and who continues to grace us with links and his witty repartee in the comments section.

Praise and thanks also goes to all of the Drunk Jays Fans, who prove everyday that they are smarter, funnier, and way more drunk than we are. You gentlemen are the gold standard, and we strive everyday to keep pace with you.

Thanks also to Will at Deadspin for the link early on last year that helped put us on the map; to Art Martone of the Providence Journal's Sox Blog for sending members of the Red Sox Nation in our direction so that we can heap scorn upon them; to 'Duk of Yahoo's Big League Stew for the link and the opportunity to peddle our wares on his blog; to our co-conspirator Shortwaveboy, whose contributions to the blog are greater than the sum of his blog posts; to Blairsy, Globe Junior, Cathal, Bastian and Wilner for giving us something to chew on every day; and to the men who put on the uniform every day, because what you do is infinitely more challenging than any of us give you credit for.

And last but not least, to Mrs. Tao, for not only tolerating our blogging pursuits, but for encouraging us along the way.

God bless you all for your continued patronage.

After a game like that, the snooze button is your friend

Extra innings can be fun. On a summer afternoon, with the lid open, free baseball is just the ticket.

But on a school night, with myriad projects to work on and a pressing need for sleep, last night's 14 inning, 7-5 loss to the Rangers was a bit of a shit sandwich. After seeing an A.J. Burnett sinking stinkball skitter between Gregg Zaun's wickets in the top of the 14th, we rolled over and told Mrs. Tao to wake us up if they managed to come back.

Unfortunately for us, the only thing that woke us up was the demonic squeal of the alarm clock.

Random thinkings

Gregg Zaun continues to like small ball, breakfast: When the Zaunbie King took second on a barely passed ball in the 12th, we were almost ready to concede that this whole small-ball, tempting fate running the bases like a maniac thing might just be working. Almost.

Joe Inglett is the saviour is a bum: Zaun's baserunning might have meant a little more if Joe Inglett could have done something more (or maybe more to the point, something less) with Franklyn German's splitters in the dirt.

Don't be fooled by Brian Tallet's ERA: Sure, it's sitting at a sweet 2.00, but Tallet's two walks and a hit in two-thirds of an inning was a flaming bag of poo left on Jesse Litsch's doorstep.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We need a Blue Jays Babe

Reading Michael Hiestand's piece in USA Today on ESPN sideline sweetie Erin Andrews got us to thinking about the sorry state of babes in the Blue Jays universe. Surely, we Blue Jays fans deserve to have someone serve as the focus of our admirations, if not our dirty dreams.

There have been contenders in the recent past: The Drunk Jays Fans have gone on at length about their love of former in-game hostess-with-the-mostest Jill Clark, pictured below.

Alas and alack, poor Jill wasn't invited back (yay! More Ryan Greer assaulting our eardrums!)

There's also a whole slew of anchorthingies out there that could be the objects of our affections, but your typical Horton-Hedger-Osmak are more focussed on sniffing the hinies of the Maple Leaves, and Martine Gaillard has been around so long that she feels more like a kooky cougar aunt than a sex object. We don't mind looking at Daru Dhillon, who looks hot in skinny jeans in spite of the random places where she decides to drop h's in her name, but we fear that she might just spontaneously combust if someone took her teleprompter away from her.

And again, those are all women who spend the vast majority of their waking lives in Agincourt, so as pent up with testosterone as the brawling masses at the Rogers SkyDome seem to be, it's hard to lust after someone who's safely tucked so far away from the city centre.

We need a babe on the sidelines.

(And we say this with all due deference to Sam Cosentino...you maybe be the prettiest guy on the Sportsnet telecast, but the brush cut is just way too Susan Powterish for us to cut you any slack here.)

It's not like this is a novel idea. When Sportsnet first started to dig into the Jays coverage six years ago, they had ski bunny Ashley Herod hosting J-Zone and flouncing about the SkyDome during games to ask people how they felt. It was as though she was singing Bob Dylan karaoke, but the disc got stuck. Those were dark days indeed.

From there, we had Hazel Mae.

And it says something about the sorry state of babes in Jaysland that we still hear people pining for her, five years after she took her pixie-sized frame and her platform heels to Massholechusetts.

Seriously boys, we need something to fixate on other than Wilner, or we might just as well throw in the towel along with our dignity, grab us a twenty-sided dice and head down to the basement for a marathon game of Mazes and Monsters.

So who are the candidates? Who can possibly step up and make themselves available to be drrrroooled over by a bunch of, well, drunk jays fans?

There are the hot servers who work the "In The Action" seats, but lately, they seem to be avoiding the camera. And they don't seem hot enough anymore to make us want to break the bank to legitimately buy one of those seats. (We'd probably be more interested in talking to Geddy Lee than flirting with them, and we're kinda anti-prog.)

After some consideration, we feel that we're left with one last option. One babe to rule us all: Nicorette Girl.

She's the babe in the green hoodie and short-shorts who stands beside the aforementioned idiot Greer during a between innings promotion, mostly just to be there and look hot. And good gosh'amighty, does she look hot.

(Mind you, we're not sure if there is just one babe, or if Nicorette sends blister packs of eight Nicorette Girls, and the Jays just pop them out through the foil as they need them.)

In any case, we're making a request. If you're at the games this week and weekend, do us a solid: snap a picture of Nicorette Girl, and send it our way. If we're going to get our random idolatry movement off the ground, we're gonna need us some visuals to get things started.

(And if you are Nicorette Girl, then please know this: we love you. We didn't plan it this way. It just happened. But please don't get creeped out by us just because we write Brattainian posts in you honour. We might even quit smoking for you!)

Now that's an ass-whuppin'

Thoughts on last night's 11-3 annihilation of the Orioles:

Signs that it is time to give up baseball and pick up a nice hobby: Listening to the radiocast, Jerry and Alan went on at length about the difference in speeds between Steve Trachsel's fastball (which was hitting around 82-84 MPH) and his changeup (which was hovering around 77-80 MPH). It was right about this time that Traschsel mixed in a curve to Aaron Hill, and boom went the dynamite, a three-run blast. We're thinking Trachsel should probably take his deliberate pitching routine, pack it up in a duffel bag and head out on a cruise to Tahiti, where he can put people to sleep with his shuffleboard skills.

Was that really necessary? We get that Marty Pevey is supposed to be more aggressive as the third base coach, but did he really need to send Gregg Zaun on what was going to be a close play at the plate and the Jays up 10-3? It might have been bad form, although we'd like to think that Pevey wasn't thinking about the Orioles' feelings on the play. It might have just been a matter of Pevey seeing the play and reacting to it. Or maybe Zaunie had to get to the dugout to write a blog post. In any case, we're not opposed to watching our guys run up the score.

Oh, and Shaun Marcum rocks: Marcum gave up a couple of big flies, but was rock steady for the rest of the night (6.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs). We'll confess that the one guy in the rotation that we were apprehensive about in this off season was Marcum, as we weren't sure that he'd be able to replicate last year's exceptional performance. However, watching the ease of Marcum's delivery and the way that he stays calm on the mound, we're really coming to appreciate anew the gem that we've got in this guy. If that's our fourth starter, we can deal.

Frank Thomas is sleepy: Frank Thomas drove in just one run since leaving the friendly confines of the Rogers SkyDome. While he did get hits in all three games of the Baltimore series, his average has slipped below the Mendoza line. So let's not get overly excited about him having a better start to this season quite yet.

Apparitions: We were caught off guard last night by seeing Guillermo Quiroz, the Ghost of Catchers of the Future, er, Past. And just as we were snapping our head around to see Alex Rios' old running mate, dude waved at a ball that slipped past him like he was a matador. Nice to see you again, Q.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eckstein just dropped down a sac bunt

Fourth inning, none out and Scutaro on second, Little X drops down the sac bunt to move Scoots to third.

Any chance that you small-ball loving jackasses might pour yourselves a nice steaming cup of shut the fuck up, at least for a few nights?

Much obliged.

Blue Jays go do-do against the O's

We'll confess to having checked out last night before Alex Rios' futile ninth inning homer last night (because we needed to maintain peace on the homefront), but the Blue Jays' offensive performance in last night's 4-3 loss to Baltimore was a tad sleepy.

Mind you, the Orioles didn't roll over and let the Jays scratch their belly in the same way that the Rangers did all weekend, and with only friends and family on hand at faux-retro Camden Yards, one can understand how they might have slipped off into a slumber.

Oh, Gibby: It's probably not worth busting out the Fire Gibbons tag just yet, but his decision in the eighth to stick with Matt Stairs against the left-handed Jamie Walker while Alex Rios sat on the bench was a little...um...perplexing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Battle for AL East Supremacy Begins

Sure, it's only two weeks into the season, but the Jays and Orioles sit a half game ahead of the Red Sox atop the AL East. We hope that O's fans are relishing this moment.

We really shouldn't gloat over what we anticipate will be a precipitous fall from grace for the Baltimoreans, seeing as how last year's team (which pretty much sucked as much as we anticipate this year's will) went 8-10 against the Jays.

Tonight's pitching matchup features Dustin McGowan and his Lambchops of Vengeance versus Matt Albers (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Tomorrow night, it's Shaun Marcum versus the Human Rain Delay, Steve Trachsel. For those of you planning to PVR the game, please remember to add an extra hour or two.

Jon Hale is our Pitch F/X Pool Boy: Hale is supposed to be on vacation, but he's taken time out to affirm that we were correct when we stated that Laz Diaz was giving Halladay some pitches off the plate on Saturday. Of course, Diaz is know to have a pretty consistently wide strike zone, so it's not as though Halladay was getting away with anything. Also of interest on the Mockingbird is a breakdown of Beej's return.

Jim Lang loves Whitey Herzog, in theory: Jim Lang, a man whose tenure on Canada's airwaves defies explanation, went off on a "I hate Moneyball" rant on his Sportsnet.ca blog last week. Of course, being a Canadian sports anchor, Jim's areas of expertise tend to fall more in the area of junior hockey and scrub-league football. (Yeah, we're looking your way, CFL.) So you'll have to forgive Jimmer if he kinda muffed up his facts. Lang's notion that the Jays should give up lots of outs to get one run doesn't exactly square with, you know, reality. Or the fact that Whitey's teams were OBP machines.

Fire Joe Morgan, who took time out of their busy day to give Lang the bidness, must be wondering about the crappy state of baseball commentary in Canada. This marks the second time in as many weeks that they've had to take a Toronto sports media goon to the shed, after last week's Professor Griff takedown.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome back, Beej!

He gave up a triple to the first batter he faced, and he never looked particularly overpowering, but who gives a flippin' fadoo when B.J. Ryan comes back and nails down the save in a 5-4 extra inning win to seal a series sweep against the Rangers.

It might not mean much, but the looks of excitement on the faces of the Jays as they shook hands after the game was pretty priceless. We saw Roy Halladay crack a smile for the second time in as many days...which is a little creepy, but seems like a good thing.

Also of note: Joe Inglett suddenly turned into Mike Schmidt. How'd that happen?

Congrats to Doc for making it out of Texas with his shin intact

Watching Roy Halladay pitch masterfully in the Jays' 4-1 win in Arlington last night, we couldn't shake the image of seeing Doc writhing on the ground after taking a Kevin Mench liner to his leg a couple of years back. Yikes.

This was Halladay's best start of the year by far, perhaps aided and abetted by a generously wide strike zone by home plate umpire Laz Diaz. (As always, we defer to Hale to confirm whether if our eyes were lying to us.)

Incidentally, to all of the baseball scribes who have referred to Halladay as "brittle" or "injury-prone", we'd like to point out that he has missed time primarily because of that freaky line drive off the leg and his uppity appendix last year (which he ripped out with his bare hands, then returned to pitch three weeks later). So, no: Not so brittle, not so much.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Please re-embark on the bandwagon in an orderly manner

Thoughts on last night's 8-5 win over the stumbly Rangers:

You know it's a trend when Gregg Zaun steals home: It wasn't your Mondesi-Hill variety straight steal of home for Zaun, but kudos to the veteran for taking advantage of the poor judgement and worse throw by his Texas counterpart, Gerald Laird. Incredibly, with the four bags swiped last night, the Blue Jays lead the Major Leagues in stolen bases with 13, while they have been caught four times. Credit goes to the Jays' coaching staff for forcing the issue with other teams on the basepaths while still being smart about when and how they send runners this year.

Please give it up for your AL RsBI Leader, Vernon Wells: So where are all of those voices questioning Wells' lucrative extension now? With two more driven in last night in his hometown, Vernon shares the league lead with Rays Carlos Pena (who's huge performance last year may not be as much of a mirage as we thought.)

News from the Pink/Round/Efficient File: It is easy to forget that Jesse Litsch just turned 23 last month. Nothing about him seems overwhelming, but you can't argue with his performance. He won his second game of the season last night, striking out five (versus two walks), and made a great play on a Josh Hamilton screamer back through the box in the first.

Good luck, Buck: Our favorite new Blue Jay Buck Coats got the start in left field last night, only to be given the bum's rush down to Syracuse following the game. Not that this is a reason for his demotion, by Coats goofed up defensively last night by allowing David Eckstein to call him off a play that the diminutive scrappy gamer grittily dropped. The Jays recalled Joe Inglett, who is off to a torrid start to the season (1.121 OPS, 17 total bases in 8 games), but who will be hard-pressed to find playing with amongst Little X, Scutaro, and McDonald. We liked how the Jays used Coats as a late inning defensive replacement for Matt Stairs and Shannon Stewart, and we're not sure that we like the idea of either of them patrolling the outfield in a close game.

Finding new favorites: It's hard for us not to like Jesse Carlson. Any relief pitcher with a goofy delivery hits us in our soft spot. Our first favorite baseball player was Kent Tekulve, and all these years later, we can't have a catch with our buddies without tossing at least one with our Mark Eichorn delivery. (Which usually bounces up to their feet, but we weren't making any claims to our athletic prowess.) Carlson pitched on back-to-back nights, and has held down the fort nicely (no runs, no hits, 2 Ks in 2 innings), unlike...

John Gibbons' mancrush, Brian Wolfe: Wolfe made his fifth appearance of the season, and gave up a home run to Josh Hamilton that may still be traveling through Oklahoma at this point.

Friday, April 11, 2008

An open letter to douchebag 500-level drunken brawlers

Dear douchebags,

Fuck off.

No seriously. Fuck right off.

What do you think? That by starting scraps in the stands and on GO Train platforms that you're gonna prove to all of your pathetic friends what a man you are? That you're gonna show the world how no one should fuck with you after a couple of $10 beers? That you're at the game to drink some beer and kick some ass?

You know what you are? You're not a scrappy drinker with heart who's out to show how tough you are. You're not a tough guy.

You are pathetic.

You are the scum of the fucking earth. The lowest of the low.

Why is it that when there's something that is good (like cheap seats to Jays games for those who aren't made of money), idiots like you want to come along and smear yourselves all over it? So now there will be no beer sales for anyone in the 500s during those games, including those that can handle it. Everyone is going to get patted down, and it's going to take forever to get into the building because we're going to get felt up and patted down by security every game.

Do you realize that the rest of the world is laughing at us because you stupid fucking idiots? They're not saying "Hey man, don't mess with Toronto fans! They're tough!" They are saying "Toronto fans can't hold their liquor." They are mocking you.

Are you happy? Are you pleased with yourselves? Do you get a big boner when you watch yourselves on shakey YouTube videos? Do you fancy yourselves as some Tyler Durden type of primal manly man because you let your drunken adrenaline get the best of you? What's wrong with you? What is your fucking purpose?

If you want to get drunk and pick fights, then stay at Hooters and get charged up on chicken wings and pitchers, and then spill out onto John Street and fight amongst yourselves.

Stay away from our team. We'd rather be mocked by other baseball fans for not being able to fill our seats than to be mocked for being a bunch of lightweight hooligans.

(Thanks to the Drunk Jays Fans, Neate's guest Andy Grabia and others for their thoughts.)

The Farm Fresh Report

After an ugly series like the one that just finished against Oakland, it's time to cast our eyes to the next generation of Jays, if only to keep ourselves from doing something rash. Like tossing ourselves out the window. (Then again, since we are like all bloggers and writing this from our parents' basement, throwing defenestrating ourselves out and up onto street level isn't a very effective way to deal with our frustrations.)

First, allow us to introduce the experts
You may have seen this posted elsewhere, but we'd be remiss if we didn't tip our retro caps to Dave Rouleau and Marc Hulet for the bang-up job that they are doing with their new electronic magazine Behind the Dish. Blogging for shits and giggles is fun, but the BTD dudes are doing an excellent job of taking on real reportage on the Blue Jays' farm system. You can find the first two issues here, and they are worth your time, especially as we try to determine who is going to get the call to salvage our hopes and dreams for a playoff season. We highly recommend it.

Adam Lind makes his case
Obviously, these are early days, but Adam Lind is flat out raking in the first week-plus of the season. With two homers, nine RsBI and a gaudy 1.259 OPS over the first eight games of the season, one has to wonder how long the Jays can keep him in the 'Cuse.

David Purcey might be a good pitcher
Making the case that he should be the first hurler to get the call when the inevitable pitching staff DL stint arrives, David Purcey has been stellar through his first two starts in Triple-A. In 12 innings, he's struck out 14 (against four walks), allowed two earned runs (for a 1.50 ERA) and is rocking a 1.00 WHIP.

On the other hand
There's that other left hander, Ricky Romero. Sigh. Yeah, sure, it was one bad game at Double-A, but still. Sigh.

Travis Snider can still hit
Three doubles and two homers (and a stolen base!) so far for our Great White Hope.

How are things on the farm?
  • Syracuse: 3-5, taking on Rochester and Buffalo next week.
  • New Hampshire: 0-6 (yikes), taking on Connecticut and New Britain.
  • Dunedin: 6-2 (first place in their division!), taking on Tampa and Clearwater.
  • Lansing: 6-1 (first place in their division too!), taking on Cedar Rapids and Burlington.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We're in the middle of a big bike race

With no time to comment on possible three-game losing streaks. At least not tonight.

But jiminy christmas, do ya think this team can put away one win this week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A.J. tosses BP

To be kind, it was a less-than-stellar showing by A.J. Burnett in last night's 9-8 loss to the A's. Burnett, who gave up 10 hits and six earned in less than five innings of work, didn't seem to have it working for him at all. We always defer to the Mighty Hale on the location, speed and movement of pitches, but it looked like A.J. threw a lot of fastballs after Mike Sweeney hammered a hanging curve ball for a double in the first.

It's funny that Hale drops a Nuke Laloosh reference in the title of his post, because that's exactly what we thought of when watching the A's crush pitch after pitch in the five-run second.

Other than Brian Wolfe's inning and a third, none of the Jays pitchers looked especially sharp last night.

Looking for the silver lining
Credit the Jays' offense for not rolling over at any point. Aaron Hill continues to impress, going 4-4 with a homer and two RsBI, while Vernon Wells' swing looks scary good, and Frank Thomas seems to have awakened from his spring slumber. One of the many big "ifs" this season revolved around the offense's ability to return to form, but so far (acknowledging the standard caveat that these are early days in a long season), it looks like this lineup could be as potent as we had hoped.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Blue Jays Blog Roundup

Saddle up, little doggies. We're gonna rustle us up some links from around the Jays' blogosphere.

Phil Cuzzi is still a douchebag

Phil Cuzzi is at it again. The douchebag umpire, who gets off on calling ball and strikes like Ronnie Milsap after a six-week bender, tossed Ozzie Guillen after blowing a call on a high strike in the third inning of yesterday's game between the White Sox and the Twins.

It was Cuzzi, you may remember, who gave Roy Halladay the heave-ho for hitting Rocco Baldelli with a pitch in his second-to-last start of the season in 2003, at a time when there were significant implications for Doc's Cy Young aspirations and a number of Blue Jays team records on the line.

He also put himself front and center in the 2005 NLCS when he tossed Jim Edmonds for asking where a called strike was.

Cuzzi likes to present himself as a story of faith, family and determination, as evidenced by the fact that he was shit-canned by the league in 1993, but managed to sneak in the back door to the Majors again in 1999 when a slew of the umpires resigned as part of Richie Phillips' ill-advised labour negotiation tactics.

We can't wait to see Cuzzi umpire a Jays game this season.

Monday, April 7, 2008

We're in the Stew

It seems like everybody loves the powder blues, including Kevin Kaduk, the Grand Poobah of Yahoo's excellent baseball blog, Big League Stew.

When 'Duk asked us to pass along our two cents worth on the sublime awesomeness of the new retro unis, we couldn't possibly refuse the opportunity to sing their praises to the whole of the Interwebs.

(Thanks 'Duk!)

A smashing start to the season

So that wasn't scary at all, was it?

The joint was still buzzing on Sunday from the Prime Minister of Defense's jaw-dropping play to throw out Dustin Pedroia from his stomach. (It looked to us like Pedroia was safe but who are we to question the umpire when he makes a call in favour of our team?)

And then, moments later, we see our Gold Glove calibre shortstop and our Gold Glove winning centerfielder colliding while laying out at top speed to snag a Kevin Youkilis blooper. While the two lay motionless on the turf for what seemed like an eternity, visions of Vernon's prolonged absence from the lineup flashed through our mind like a fever dream. Thankfully, both stayed in the game and appear to be fine.

And from this moment of panic came a moment of levity in the ninth. After a similar pop-up was hit to just about the same area, and the entire stadium collectively held its breath as McDonald furiously waved everyone off to make the catch, the big screen showed Vernon and the PMoD sharing a laugh at the fact that they had managed to avoid a demolition derby in the outfield this time.

We're glad they could laugh, because we're going to be on edge about injuries all freakin' season.

How we learned to stop worrying and lov...er, appreciate Red Sox Nation

We were ready to go nuts about the invasion of Rogers Centre by Red Sox Nation this weekend, and were in a bit of a Costanzaesque rage about all of the goofballs strutting into the stadium in their Red Sox regalia.

But a funny thing happened in the midst of this weekend's home opening weekend: the Red Sox fans made it better.

Don't get us wrong. We're not going to turncoat on our team, nor do we let Paul Godfrey and Kevin Elster's dumber brother off the hook for the arrogant and short sighted way that they went about selling tickets to Red Sox fans before their own. In the long run, this franchise will be judged not for merely putting bums in the seats, but for reigniting the passion and interest in the game within their own community.

If there massive amount of powder blue and retro gear around the stadium this weekend was any indication, there are a lot of people who are hungering for those glory days to return. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays front office, you can only sell nostalgia for so long.

But back to the Red Sox and their fans. There are two essential reason that we observed and that we can't deny about why it was good to host Red Sox Nation this weekend.

The first was that in spite of all that we had heard and had expected, they were by and large respectful. Most of them that we encountered at the stadium and around town were polite, and their worst crime committed (so far as we know) was cheering for their team.

Which brings us to second reason it was good to have them there. Whenever Red Sox fans cheered, Blue Jays fans cheered louder. When the applause would rise for Papi or Manny or Youuuk, the boo-birds would drown them out. And when big moments occurred, the crowd this weekend was as loud and engaged as we have heard in a long time. If it takes having a few thousand of the other team's fans in the house to offend our sensibilities and get Toronto baseball spectators off their god damned hands for minute or two, then we're for it. (With reservations.)

Then again, if the Red Sox had swept the Jays and we had to spend all weekend hearing about it, we might have a different feeling tonight.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

SWEEEEEEP!

The Jays pounded the world travelling BoSox to sweep the three game series. More to come.

Eckstein and Scutaro show value early and often

John McDonald represents most of us --- low key, underrated, flawed but ready to show that we are good at something if only given half a chance. After last season, the empathetic amongst us felt good (ie. validated) about JP Riccardi rewarding Johnny Mac with some real money. Not me. I don't want someone like me playing shortstop for the Jays. I want a guy who excels at all facets of the game and wants to win on every play and every at bat. McDonald is an excellent defender but, apart from a brief stretch of horseshoe up the anus offensive surge last year, is a liability at the plate (career .240 avg and --- ugh --- .279 obp).

After a week of play, it's clear that the Jays have a couple of new guys who, although they lack the superior genes of Derek Jeter, have the ability to play both ends of an inning:

David Eckstein - He doesn't flash the leather like McDonald, but he's no slouch at short. Offensively Eckstein is a creative and effective player. Other than yesterday, I can't remember ever seeing a player dash to first base on ball four. Eckstein has only one mode --- intense --- which puts pressure on opponents on every play. A career .286 hitter (.351 obp), Eckstein turned it up a notch last year and hit .306. Anything close to that will help keep the Jays competitive.

Marco Scutaro - From what I've seen so far, Scutaro will give McDonald a serious run for highlight reel grabs this year. Combine that with the fact that his career obp percentage is 40 points higher than McDonald's and that he's stolen 3 bases already, the glove has been slapped and the competition for premier Jays utility guy is on. Tao's mancrush Jeff Blair even suggests that he may be a better offensive option than either David Eckstein or John McDonald. We'll see about that.
McDonald gets his first start of the season today a bigger underdog than he's been as a Jay.

UPDATE: McDonald turned in several dazzling plays, almost put Vernon Wells out of commission, walked once and struck out three times. Eckstein watched the game from the bench...with intensity.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Boston, beatdowns and boobs

We're not sure what was in the drinks being served in sections 516 and 517 at tonight's home opener, but it looked like Hell Night at Lake Havasu over there.

We can't be sure what precipitated the nasty scraps in that section, but the pasty shirtless ginger dude certainly looked like a Masshole.

(Then again, there were more than a few douchebag Jays fans in attendance. To the dude in our section who wore his sunglasses all night inside the dome and chanted "U-S-A!" every five minutes, you are the exact opposite of cool. You are early 90's Corey Feldman-stlye ridiculous.)

There was also the girl in the same section flashing her lady pillows, to much applause from the Jerry Springer crowd around her. Although this being Toronto, even the rowdy douchey drunks were polite enough not to yell "show your tits" more than once.

To top it off, there was the couple who decided to strip to the waist and run on the field with two out in the ninth and Accardo.If only they had as much brains as Miss Fluffy Fragrance had boobs. We hope they enjoy their night in the drunk tank together.

And above all, Jays win. A bonerific night for all.

In Yankee Stadium, it can go all wrong so quickly

Various and sundry ponderings on Game #3:

Cold hands aren't soft hands: Alan Ashby went on at length on the radiocast last night about the poor fielding by the Jays (especially by Aaron Hill), and how the cold temperatures might be contributing to their inability to field the ball cleanly. We're not sure if that explains Scott Downs' Riverdance routine fielding Johnny Damon's sacrifice bunt eighth, which would lead to the Yankees scoring the winning run. But we're hopeful that someone shovels some coal in the furnace at the Rogers Centre and gets those hands warm, toasty and reliable in time for this weekend's series against the Red Sox.

David Eckstein is grittily and scrapily trying to make us love him: Little X, who Blair notes will have his work cut out for him in winning over the Blue Jays faithful, got the engine of the Love Train started with a 2-for-4 night with a run scored and one driven in. Which is good and all, but we'll still be among those at the former SkyDome hooting and cheering for John McDonald when he's introduced as part of the starting lineup tonight.

Frank Thomas shouldn't SHOULD be losing his shit over that: We'd need for Jon Hale to rev up the Pitch F/Xulator 3500 to confirm it, but it looked to us like the three borderline pitches that Thomas took in his at bat last night were all strikes, so he shouldn't be breathing fire from his nostrils because home plate ump Bill Miller finally got the call right. (UPDATE: Scratch that: Hale is already on it, and he shows that called third strike as being almost half a foot inside. Yikes.)

Powder Blues! Tonight!: Shaun Marcum cinches up the retro gear and squares off against aging knuckler Tim Wakefield. Wakefield's always pitched well against the Jays (15-10 lifetime, 3.86 ERA and 3-2 in 2007 with a 3.86). Last April, he pitched a gem in April under the dome, although to be fair, Jason Phillips was hitting seventh that day, which says something about the state of the team's lineup at that point.

Bring on the Massholes!: We're totally ready to rumble this weekend. Which is why it's good that we read the Drunk Jays Fans' Guide to Home Openers, specifically the bit about avoiding physical confrontation. We wouldn't want to descend to the level of your typical Red Sox fan, although we're secretly hoping that there are a few of them that get rowdy and obnoxious, if only because we'd like to catch it on video and share it with y'all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chalk one up for the the good guys

Random thoughts on Game #2:

That butterflies-in-the-belly feeling is back: After a seemingly endless off-season and six weeks of fake games, it's easy to forget how intensely enveloped you can get in the final outs of a ballgame. Last night's nervous ninth was a treat to watch, with Jeremy Accardo pitching out of a two-on, none-out jam by striking out A-Rod and inducing pop ups out of Giambi and Cano. The strikeout was particularly satisfying, not only because it was A-Rod (who posed and pranced like a Miss Fitness America pageant contestant after his homer earlier in the game) , but also because of how well Accardo worked at setting him up before finishing him off with heat that painted the outside corner.

A.J. looked wicked awesome, but...: Did anyone else get a nauseous feeling when A.J. Burnett came up lame after misfielding a ball and firing it off Derek Jeter into right field? From the looks of the replay, it's possible that he might have twisted himself a bit awkwardly, but come on! Does that really necessitate a visit from the trainer and extra warm up pitches to make sure that his knee wasn't too hurty to go on? Why do we get this gnawing feeling that last night wasn't the last time this season that we see A.J. pull this hobbling, walking wounded routine?

Speaking of that play: Sure, you can give Rios grief about his baserunning brain fart in the first inning of Tuesday's game. But last night, he was El Hombre Gigante when he backed up first base, snagged A.J.'s errant throw and fired the ball to second to get Jeter by a couple of steps. It's as if he wanted to rationalize the creative direction of that Young-Alex-tossing-pebbles-at- the-15th- floor-window commercial. Hola Alex!

Grounding into double plays isn't cool: As Jeff Blair notes, David Eckstein has yet to hit the ball out of the infield, and hit into two double plays last night. Yeah, it's too early to hit the panic button and start campaigning for the Prime Minister of Defense, but Little X gets no points from this corner for hustling down the line when he's erasing scoring opportunities in nearly every at bat.

Gareth Wheeler can rest easy...there's a "glimmer of hope" for V-Dub: We get the fact that the host of SunTV's the Grill Room wants to elicit some sort of discussion. But starting off the discussion with Mike Wilner, the Drunk Jays Fans' Stoeten and some random Sun writer by asking them "Is there a glimmer of hope for Vernon Wells?" exactly one game into the season was a little much. It was even funnier to see this conversation after the game, in which Wells went 3-for-4 with a homer, 2 RsBI and two runs scored. Is it just us, or does Gareth have all of the feral nervous energy of a ferret backed into a corner? Kudos go out to Stoeten for locking down the gig, and for resisting the impulse to reach across the table and shake some sense into the host, who trotted out just about every tired Toronto hockey-centric media cliché about the Jays and especially J.P..

Up next: 7:05 @ Yankee Stadium: The Great Yankee Hype Machine's Player of the Moment Phillip Hughes takes the mound versus Dustin McGowan, supposing that his flu-like symptoms have subsided. Otherwise, we're probably looking at Marcum, with Lambchops getting the nod in the home opener.

HOME OPENER TOMORROW!!: Fuck yeah!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Enemies List grows: Mike Mussina

Let's just get this out of the way, first and foremost. Mike Mussina sucks moose dong.

Aside from that, there are numerous reasons for us to add the Yankees has-been to our list. Most of which were more eloquently summarized by the commenters in this morning's post. But we'll summarize the summarizations.

-He showed up Cito: In the 1993 All Star Game in Camden Yards, Mussina got up in the bullpen in the late innings like a petulant teenager, trying to force Cito Gaston into playing him. This, of course, elicited wild applause from crack-smoking Bodymore, Murderland crowd. (Green House Gas is hot! Get it! Greehouse Gas!) Cito had no intention of putting him in (why would he, with Duane Ward on the mound?), but Mussina's presumptuous act resulted in years worth of hostility towards Cito from the Orioles' faithful (stupid bastards). Mussina repaid the team's loyalty by signing with the Yankees.

-He whined about the inconvenience of a ceremony honouring Tom Cheek: Sorry you got thrown off your routine, there, doucheboy. It was only a brief ceremony to honour one of the most important figures in the history of baseball in Canada, and a man who had fallen ill. So sorry that you had to soft toss for a few extra minutes in the bullpen. Your routine should really take precedence over giving a man of humble greatness the recognition he deserves.

-He's a Yankee: And all Yankees are inherently douchebags. (Yes, Derek Jeter included.) Also, we'd like to point out that the Yankees have won exactly ZERO World Series since Mussina arrived. Coincidence?

-He was in an overly precious documentary about doing crosswords: Yeah, this one. It was actually really pretty dull, and Mussina was the dullest part of the whole thing. But we're so pround of your linguistic skills, Mikey. You're super smart. We bet you could kick Johnny Damon's ass at Boggle. Smart guy.

-We hate his teeth: Nice chompers.

-He's tonight's starting pitcher: That's kind of the short view. Still, it's relevant to us.

For all of these dubious achievements and more, we welcome to the Mike Mussina to the Tao of Stieb's Enemies List. Guard your grill, jackass.

Sloppy grit doesn't equal wins


A few random thoughts on Game 1:

There's your running game for ya: Given all of the criticism the Jays received last year for not being the 1985 Cardinals, it's worth noting that the three bags that they swiped and the one runner that Zaunie cut down (Derek Jeter, no less) didn't automatically add up to a W. It's only one game, but the Jays' inability to cash in the runners that they put in scoring position with timely and effective hitting remains a problem. You have to feel for Marco Scutaro, who hit a laser the other way at a drawn in Jason Giambi, who miraculously came up with the grab.

Aaron Hill is frickin' wicked: Hill made Melky Cabrera work in centre field last night, and might have had three doubles instead of one if Johnny Damon were patrolling that position. Dude is dialed in, and we're guessing that he's hitting regularly in the two, five or six spot in the lineup by the end of the month. (And by the way, one of those Melky catches was a Jim Edmonds fake-hustle special, where he dove after the ball was in his glove. Poncey bastrich.)

Doc is an intense, angry man: Roy Halladay pitched last night as though it were Game 1 of the World Series. When things go wrong for Doc, we usually get the sense that he's swearing at himself on the mound. Last night, though, he glared in at home plate umpire Gary Darling (who was ridiculously awful), swore at the bogus dimensions of Yankee Stadium (314 feet my ass), and generally looked as though he was about to scale the outside of the Empire State Building and swat away at fighter planes.

David Eckstein can make poor decisions with scrappy heart: Little X didn't win us over with his dopey decision to try for the most arduous route to a double play rather than just tagging out Giambi and keeping the double play in order. He did make a nice play up the middle earlier, for whatever that's worth.

Up next: A.J. versus Mike Mussina, who we still hate from the 1993 All Star Game when he got up in the bullpen to embarass Cito Gaston. Yeah, we can carry a grudge for 15 years.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Enough with the monkeyshines! Let's play some frickin' baseball!

How many Opening Days can we handle before we lose our goddamned mind?

Globe Junior MacLeod says that the weather is promising, but he didn't really say what it was promising. The Weather Channel (not to be mistaken for our own Weather Network, the former home of the Sportsnet anchorthingy Martine Gaillard) is calling for wicked gusts of wind and a chance of lightning.

Given the Blue Jays' luck over the past year, we're not sure that we want to see Alex Rios patrolling the outfield in a lightning storm, lest he end up like this guy.


Drunken Sloppy Livebloggage
The Drunk Jays Fans have reassembled to give the liveblogging another try tonight. God help them if tonight's game gets washed out, because even their herculean livers are going to start breaking down if they do three consecutive nights of considerable imbibing and considered blogging.