Every year, around this time, I make some sort of joke about Max Headroom inventing the internet and then I roam through the Jays blogosphere, mercilessly shitting down the throats of everyone who provides some level of online content about the Toronto Blue Jays.
Well, this year I’m going to try to take things a bit more seriously and do the whole bullshit letter grade thing because it makes me feel a little bit like God when he travels around the world, visiting resorts and handing out those star ratings that everyone follows when they plan drinking vacations to Mexico.
Speaking of drinking vacations, we’ll start things off with the mainstream media types and work our way down to the lowly bloggers who Bob Elliott tries to block from following him on Twitter.
Miked Up – A
Reading the FAN 590′s Mike Wilner is like traveling abroad for years and then finally coming home to the people who understand your slang, your jokes and your references.
Wilner, unlike any other Jays reporter, gives in to his fandom without bowing to the gods of homerism or irrationality. He proposes real ideas on what the team should do, and is fair in dishing out criticism and praise for players and management alike.
While his reactions to the Air Canada Centre Jays fans may seem schtickish at times, Wilner, quite possibly more than anyone else, has managed to educate Canadian baseball fans on baseball metrics to the point that WHIP, OPS and newer measurements are verging on common knowledge even among the set that Wilner mocks.
This is an enormous accomplishment considering that it wasn’t that long ago people in Toronto would suggest that the Blue Jays should trade for draft picks.
Jordan Bastian from MLB.com is a workhorse. He’s the part of the rotation that you can count on for 220 IP each and every year. At times, Bastian can seem more prolific than the proverbial infinite number of monkeys pounding typewriter keys, writing three articles a day and still having time for a blog post.
Even more impressive than his production is that he’s able to write so many pieces without alienating either the hard core Jays fans who know Travis Snider’s daily calorie intake or the casual fan who merely knows that Vernon Wells is overpaid.
Bastian’s platform at BlueJays.com would make it easy for him to pander to the lowest common denominators looking for quick updates, but the Michigan State grad will write about any issue while making no assumptions of his readers.
Who else could write a story about the possibility of Jeremy Accardo being non-tendered that even Quarter Past Cuckoo could understand?
Shi Davidi is the rockstar of Canadian baseball writers. His groupies are newspapers and he’s been in every one of them – multiple times.
Davidi’s greatest strength is his ability to write stories that haven’t been filed by every single other Jays beat reporter. His greatest weakness: not having a single simple platform from which fans can access his work.
That’s not a bad weakness to have, but it still means a B rating from this prestigious ranking system, and I’m sure that will keep Davidi up at night.
Are you aware that blogs aren’t merely a place to do weekly Q&As?
Dustin, Tank Nation
I can’t think of a way to turn this question into an assault on former Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, so I’m not interested in answering it.
The most maddening thing about Richard Griffin is that he obviously loves baseball and anyone who read his entries from the winter meetings in Las Vegas last year knows he can be an excellent writer.
Unfortunately, too often Griffin would rather sling shit or grasp at air to defend some of his rather illogical and archaic perspectives.
Still, as much as we may be prone to shitting on him on this site, there’s something romantic about Griffin when you think of him in terms of an old sports columnist, scribbling away at whatever he wants, with a “who gives a fuck” attitude toward the next generation.
And as I said before, he loves baseball far too much to not deserve some measure of respect.
Morgan Campbell also writes about baseball for The Toronto Star, focusing more on game summaries. Nothing against Campbell, but I miss Cathal Kelly.
Globe On Baseball – C-
Since the departure of Jeff Blair from the Globe and Mail’s regular Jays beat, this blog has become me in my last year of university. It’s unmotivated and late with the infrequent completion of assignments. All it’s missing is an outrageous bar tab.
I’m sure Robert McLeod is a great guy and his game summaries that also appear in the actual newspaper are competent if nothing else. It’s just that there’s no love or inspiration there.
Have you ever eaten at a restaurant where you got everything you expected from what you ordered, but still left the place feeling unsatisfied? That is the Globe On Baseball.
Fortunately for the Globe’s baseball coverage, Jeff Blair continues to write about baseball occassionally, and his Twitter feed is a must follow. I just don’t understand why he uses both “Geezus!” and “Christ!” Isn’t it blasphemous without his middle name: Jesus Murphy Christ!
Posted Sports – C-
At the time of writing, The National Post is still a newspaper, and Posted Sports is still a bloggish part of their website.
I’m almost inclined to feel sorry for John Lott, Jeremy Sandler and Erin Valois. They all do competent work in keeping the baseball element of the blog active, but the layout is so ridiculously terrible that in the time it takes you to find all of the baseball stories, you’ve likely already gotten news, commentary and dissent on the same issue on another site.
Sandler does a fine job writing summaries of each game, which appear both online and in the print edition, but it’s rare to read anything ground breaking.
The Toronto Sun – C-
After searching through pictures of butter faces, car accidents and drug overdoses, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Toronto Sun does not have a baseball blog. What it does boast, baseball-wise, is the incoherent rambling of one of the hardest to read writers to ever be published.
The defence of Bob Elliott has always been that while he may not be the best wordsmith, his reporting is bang on. However, his verging-on-comic reliance on the “unnamed NL scout” and some horrendous gaffes during Halladay Trade Week has quickly laid this claim to rest.
What remains for Elliott is a similar charm to that of Richard Griffin. He loves the game and his many years covering it deserve respect. It’s also worth mentioning that few people have more of a passion for Canadian baseball than Elliott, who will never stop doing his best to promote talented youngsters from this country.
While he may not blog, he does have a Twitter account, which as I hinted at earlier, he has hilariously blocked DJF from following. I’m not sure what his specific beef is, or if he understands that we can still read his Tweets and use them to – how dare we – direct traffic to his stories, but sadly we will never be graced with his updates in Tweet Deck.
Rogers Sportsnet – D+
The most interesting thing about Rogers Sportsnet’s online coverage of the Toronto Blue Jays is how spectacularly they’ve failed at their attempts to find interesting content.
The terrible idea of having watered down versions of athlete’s blogs hit a new snag last year when they chose Jeremy Accardo to verbally meander endlessly about how great it is to be a Toronto Blue Jay when the reliever spent most of the season in Las Vegas.
The year before, it was Gregg Zaun writing for the site before injuries forced him out of the starting job and into the role of bitter old backup.
Filling Accardo’s void last year was Scott Carson, Jamie Campbell and occasionally Sam Consentino. There’s nothing wrong with Carson and Consentino . . . it’s just that it’s always hand jobs and ass licks whenever they talk about the Jays.
Campbell on the other hand brings such a dark mystery to his writing that he has more in common with Aleister Crowley than a regular baseball analyst. The former play by play voice of the Jays would litter his columns with a grotesqueness usually reserved for the most heinous of sexual deviants.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that Buck Martinez won’t be bothered to write a blog on the website because a) I’m not entirely sure he’s literate; and b) it’s Buck Fucking Martinez.
With his new book coming out, look for Sportsnet to approach Dirk Hayhurst to be this year’s cursed one. If he’s at all interested in making the team, Hayhurst would be wise to refuse.
TSN’s baseball coverage is only slightly better than The Score’s, and The Score’s coverage consists of a line of programming and a contract with an outside news organization.
For a few glorious months, TSN made all the ladies jealous by having former Jays executive Will Hill’s quill. However, his thoughtful and heartfelt pieces are no longer featured on the website, and so now the only reason to ever visit TSN’s baseball blog is when you accidently click on it after reading one of the seven hockey bloggers and columnists currently on the website.
I’m really surprised that Martin St. Louis was overlooked for the Canadian Olympic roster. He’s having an outstanding season and works well with just about any type of centreman.
Drunk Jays Fans – A
Jesus Christ! Did you check our shit out when that whole Halladay trade went down? The ol’ blog has still got it. Jumping sharks is for fags.
The Tao Of Stieb – A
If you’re reading DJF on anything close to a regular basis, you’re more than likely also reading The Tao . . . that’s because you’ve got moderately above average taste.
The Tao combines all of the dry, sarcastic wit of a British panel show with the timely news of a sports ticker that isn’t Sportsnet’s. It’s pretty much the shit.
The inclusion of their new weekend correspondent The Ack was a stroke of genius, and believe you me, I stroke my little genius everytime he posts.
There is one thing about the Tao we don’t necessarily care for, but we just can’t put our finger on it right now.
Ghostrunner On First – A-
I asked Drew from Ghostrunner On First what he wanted me to say in this little capsule review because The Score Force or whatever it’s called pays us to be friends, but his lips were too tightly wrapped around Rocco Baldelli’s cock for me to understand a single word coming out of his mouth.
GoF, despite its unfortunate acronym, is everything a blog should be: humourous, insightful and slightly revealing about its author. Reading The Barber’s posts on Ghostrunner is unlike reading anyone else online. He has his voice and he uses it to make his readers feel as though there’s a root or foundation to their ongoing interaction with the ideas and facts of that are presented on his blog almost daily.
My only criticism: I think the look and feel of the site is ugly.
Batter’s Box – B
Batter’s Box is a very thorough blog that acts as a great jumping off point for discussion on a multitude of topics. Back in the day before easy-to-access stats websites, Batter’s Box was worth reading specifically for their incredible research into statistics.
Batter’s Box’s focus on prospects and name games doesn’t exactly get my clock from 6:30 to 12:00 if you know what I’m saying, but it’s difficult to argue with the great comment section that somehow, miraculously, manages to avoid messages directed at the author’s mother.
The Batter’s Box roster of writers contains five Irish, two unisex and one Scandanavian name. They are all most assuredly white men with too much time on their hands.
The Southpaw – B-
This blog’s tagline says it all: Because you’re too lazy to look it up yourself.
God knows I am a lazy man. A lazy, lazy man. The thing is: if you’re advertising your blog to be a shortcut for the lazies, you really shouldn’t post Brattainesque essays.
Having said that, The Southpaw is thorough and you’ll seldom read a post that’s not a well thought out reaction to the most current of situations.
The site is sort of like sex with a hot chick that you don’t really have a rapport with. It feels good and you might’ve even learned a thing or two, but you don’t get that post-coital exhausted moment where you think back to how enjoyable the experience was.
Hum And Chuck – B-
Girls are weird. They don’t have balls and rarely drink Scotch, so I don’t completely trust them. But they do have other appealing aspects.
Take Joanna from Hum and Chuck for instance. She’s all woman and a baseball fan, which makes her crazy sexy, like when you go to the bar and you see a table of non-bull dyke indie looking chicks all drinking beer from the bottle.
She’s also a pretty good writer. My beef, or beouf if you will, is that sometimes the talent of her writing gets washed away in the super fandom she has a tendency to exhibit. A little more anger, which has been on display for the last month or so on her blog, is a good thing. It keeps things interesting.
Everyone knows that hard to please girls are the hottest.
The Blue Jay Hunter – C+
The top five reasons why I’m giving Ian Hunter of The Blue Jay Hunter a C+ grade:
5. He uses a lot of lists on his site.
4. He uses a lot of gimmicks on his site.
3. He uses pie charts a lot, which is cool.
2. He takes risks in his jokes on his site by avoiding the backbone of most blogs: cynicism. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but you’ve got to hand it to him for being genuine in his writing and ideas.
1. Ian is a really supportive guy, and he clearly cares about the community of Jays bloggers out there. I don’t think that there’s a single blogger who leaves as many positive comments on as many sites as Ian does and he works hard to bring those who love the team together.
Bluebird Banter – C-
Bluebird Banter is one of the more popular Jays blogs out there thanks to its association with SB Nation, which is associated with Yahoo! like your retarded bastard half brother is associated with you.
The blog is professional and quick to post news as it happens. However, I don’t understand the appeal of reading a blog that presents news and opinions in the same fashion as any other mainstream media site out there.
It’s like paying a whore to fuck you like your girlfriend.
I want a bit more flare and personality from a blog. In many ways Bluebird Banter is the emptiness to Ghostrunner On First’s soulfullness. The Ben Affleck to their Mabel Simmons.
Go Jays Go – C-
It’s a little unfair to compare a tumbleblog with a regular blog.
For those who don’t have to push their glasses up the bridge of their nose repeatedly, a tumbleblog uses many images and little text to follow a topic. It’s like a Twitter account being run in a blog format.
Go Jays Go does a great job of unearthing some quality stuff. However, they also repeat what other blogs have posted months ago. If you’re going to go that route, your shit has got to be more original than valuing OBP.
Mop Up Duty – C-
Mop Up Duty is one of the longest serving Jays blogs and I find it uneven reading. Ocassionally one of the two writers will strike blogging gold, but too often the posts are living in the past, recalling an obscure moment in Jays history.
It reminds me a bit of when you meet someone new who’s close to your age and you sit there and pretend to be amazed that they watched the same children’s television programming that you did. It’s fucking amazing dipshit, that two people born in the same year, raised in the same region and income bracket would watch the same shit.
Both of these blogs are written by Mat Germain. I find his collection of information useful, but I’m a little unimpressed by his analysis.
His focus on prospects is most insightful when he’s repeating the facts he’s collected from other sites. However, once the words turn to his own, I’m a little bit skeptical.
As one of the newer bloggers out there, I’d remind Mat that the first Late Night With Conan O’Brien episodes were shittier than shit before the host found his stride. Let’s hope that Mat is the same way.
John McDonald’s Cabinet – D
Fratboy #1: Hey dude, let’s get wasted and head to the game.
Fratboy #2: Totally dude, let me just finish this finish this blog post.
Fratboy #1: Fuck dude!
A quick glance at JMC’s large roster of writers reminds me of university and living with five dudes in a huge house. One time we soaked a stack of bricks in lighter fluid and lit them on fire in the front lawn while others tossed bricks from the balcony trying to knock down the tower of flaming bricks.
We thought we were hilariously original. Truth be told, any prank or crazy idea we could’ve possibly come up with had been done before . . . many, many times before.
While reading JMC, I can’t help but whisper to myself, “Been there, done that.”
I’ll get around to writing a review of this site just as soon as this site gets around to posting regularly.
Infield Fly – NA
Infield Fly has been around for a year, but because I still subscribe to Rolling Stone instead of NME, I’m just reading them now for the first time.
I like what I see: a good blend of news, opinion, humour and blogginess, without epic explanations and annoying alliterations. I’m going to totally start ripping them off before people start reading them regularly.