The Jays begin a four game set in Baltimore later this afternoon with game one an old school twi-night doubleheader (making up for the rainout of August 26th), and as much as I’d hope we’ve all stopped having anything resembling faith in the Jays’ ability to win in any given outing, seeing as even they seem to have checked out weeks ago– they were .500 at the All-Star Break, and have been nineteen games below in the second half– this series certainly does present a wicked opportunity for our boys in blue to deliciously set back Baltimore’s little, impossibly ridiculous dream.

OK, so maybe it’s a little fucking shameful to be rooting so openly and vigorously against a team and a fan base that closely mirrors our own– and, therefore, for the status quo to essentially be maintained, and the Yankees to hold strong in the division– but that’s part of what, for me at least, makes the seething I feel unstoppable. I mean, O’s fans have experienced AL East frustration on par with what we have over the last decade– probably worse– and what they’re doing now is precisely what JP Ricciardi was always talking when he tried to soothe our jangled nerves by insisting that the clubs he put together really could be contenders, just as long as everything broke right.

That magical year where the hitters do their jobs, every dicey starting pitching option thrown against the wall seems to stick, and a solid bullpen has itself a staggering run like the 2005 White Sox or ’08 Rays? It’s happening right now. And it’s happening in fucking Baltimore.

Now the Jays have four chances to– unlikely an outcome as it may be, given their recent state– to put a dent in Baltimore’s hopes. At the very least, this makes the next for games eminently watchable, which is more than I can say for whatever fucking around out here they’ve been doing for the last few weeks.

And, as much as it will never stop hurting to watch the Yankees cruise into the playoffs every damn year, in an odd way it’s comforting to at least we know that, with their resources, the deck is stacked so heavily in their favour that nobody is going to draw any pseudo-meaningful conclusions from it. The Orioles’ success, however, elicits insanity like this, from a recent Richard Griffin piece for the Toronto Star:

“Baseball is a copycat industry and the O’s are a good role model for Anthopoulos.”

Ugh. Now, I would never suggest that there couldn’t possibly things about Baltimore’s success to be examined or followed, but it’s preposterous to suggest that they’re some kind of revolutionary unit who recognized that everybody was getting it wrong by not having a strong bullpen, a decent lineup, a deep well of mediocre starters, and an oil tanker full of shit eating luck.

And it’s not like Anthopoulos hasn’t already begun to follow at least one of these ideas. He’s improved the bullpen on the fly over the course of this season, admitting that it was less a priority in the past, and largely a mechanism to produce value outside of the field of play, in the form of trade chips and supplemental round draft picks.

It sounds as though he’s more willing than in the past to follow another path somewhat “blazed” by the O’s, though not for any reason to do with them, I suspect.

“Instead of stockpiling veteran arms to pitch at Triple-A in case of injury to the youngsters, as he did unsuccessfully this season,” Griffin writes, “he will stockpile young arms at the Triple-A level (now Buffalo) in case of injuries to the veteran talent he plans to reach out for as free agents and in trade this coming off-season. It’s a huge difference.”

It’s a huge difference, I submit, made possible by the fact that the club has got the fuck out of Las Vegas, where they’ve been reluctant to send their best pitching prospects– demonstrated by the fact that we saw Brett Cecil intentionally avoid it when he chose to go to New Hampshire this spring, following his demotion. And I think it’s no small coincidence that, in his talk with the media, Anthopoulos suggests going back to the model of the 2007 season, when Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, and Jesse Litsch buoyed the rotation after the veteran “help” they brought in– Tomo Ohka, Victor Zambrano, John Thomson– failed spectacularly.

That season would be the second last that the Jays had their Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse.

In just the past two years we’ve seen Henderson Alvarez, Drew Hutchison, Joel Carreno, Aaron Loup, Sam Dyson and Evan Crawford make the jump past Vegas in order to make their big league debuts straight out of New Hampshire. Kyle Drabek did so in September of 2010, as well.

The fear of the desert– the thin, dry, hot air that keeps pitches from breaking as much, allows balls to fly harder off the bat, and creates a tough field to play defensively– forcing impressionable young pitchers to change what had worked for them in a more neutral environment surely played into the decision last winter to give big league opportunities to guys like McGowan, Litsch, Drabek, Alvarez, Cecil and Hutchison, rather than to bring in a collection of middling starters that would have forced some of those young arms to Vegas. The fact that they’d now be sent to Buffalo, I think, opens the door to the much needed change in approach that Anthopoulos talks about– not, as Griffin may be implying, anything to do with Baltimore.

We’ll see a rather intriguingly improbable product of Baltimore’s savvy this afternoon in Steve Johnson. The 24-year-old former Dodgers 13th rounder is in his eighth season as a pro, his first in the Majors, and is sitting on a 1.91 ERA in ten appearances, including two starts– one of which came August 25th against the Jays, where he tossed seven strikeouts in six innings, giving up just two earned runs in a win that marked Brandon Morrow’s return and Jose Bautista’s final at-bat of the season for the Jays.

I mean… fuck everything.

Romero goes later tonight. Would be a nice night for good Ricky to make an appearance. Dial that change back a touch!

Comments (41)

  1. I’m all in favor of the Orioles playoff push but I don’t think I could stomach them possibly clinching there playoff spot against the fucking Jays

  2. Griffin is ridiculous, I agree.

    Bring back Johnny Thom and reverse the Jays’ misfortunes!

  3. If there’s one positive I take from the insanely unpredictably great seasons from Baltimore and Oakland – it’s that the gap between the ‘elite’ teams and the also rans seems to have shrunken considerably in the American league.

    If Baltimore had a nutty year like this back in the mid 2000s, they probably would have won 85 games and finished 10 games back of Boston for the WildCard.

    Massive contract lengths and the luxury tax limit seem to be really penalizing teams that are locked in to playing aging stars far past their prime. Factor in a second wild card, and making the playoffs looks far less daunting going forward than it did even a few years ago.

    • Uh…. well… far less daunting if the Jays don’t play like the have since the beginning of August.

    • Yeah, agreed. Silver lining here is that parity in the AL has seemingly improved. And as you say with the 2nd Wildcard, if you’re over .500 (which the Jays have usually been in recent history) you’re never all that far away from contention.

      As maddening as this year has been for us, I’m actually more hopeful now than in along while. Time was for many years you had NYY and Boston running things, one would win the division and the other would get the wildcard, and that’d be that. Tampa, Toronto, and Baltimore just existed to fill out their schedules. Tampa has become good for 5 years running, Boston has imploded, even Baltimore is getting in on the fun.

      As Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a-becoming quite different….

  4. i’ll be rooting unashamedly for Baltimore and hope they sweep us. i don’t think the organization deserves a division title – and they’re going to win 70 games next year – but i know what it’s like as a fan for september to suck and october to be for bandwagons.

  5. Of course I want Baltimore to fail.

    Why would I want one of the luckiest teams in baseball history to do what the Jays have been trying to do through good process?

    That said, there’s a very good chance Baltimore is at least in the play-in game. They must lose.

    Baltimore does not deserve any extra revenue gained through playoff games.

    I could care less that their fanbase has suffered as long as ours.

    However, if they come back next year and win 90 games with a solid run differential and peripherals that match their record, good for them. I could handle that.

    • That would definitely be more palatable. And with Machado and Bundy, they’re heading real fast in the right direction, unfortunately.

    • In terms of the postseason, Orioles fans have not suffered as long as we Blue Jays fans. They last made the playoffs in 1997. What kills me is that they’ve flat out fucking sucked for the fourteen years that followed. And they should be sucking again this year save for some baseball god voodoo shit they’ve got working for them. Perhaps the good news is that Baltimore finished with a 69-93 record last year, which is where the Blue Jays will probably end up. Post hoc ergo proctor hoc – 2013 playoffs here we come!!!

  6. The thought of the Orioles making the playoffs before the Blue Jays makes me ill and angry. The prospect of enduring a full off-season where this has happened…..fuuuuuuck you! I want so badly for them to fall flat on their faces from here on out but that’s not looking good. I’ll take the shit-assed Yankees in the playoffs over this Orioles team any day.

  7. Don’t tempt fate stoeten.

    2010 SFG
    2011 STL
    2012 BAL

    The O’s would actually fit in well, oddly enough.

  8. It’s amazing to me that when the stats don’t produce the expected results, it fucks everybody’s head so badly.
    It’s like their whole world has been shaken to the core of their belief system..
    Stats are important but are only a part of the game.
    Enjoy the unexpected.

    • Dimwit, who in the shit would ever claim that a stat would produce a result? A stat is a descriptor of a result.

      Your comment makes ZERO sense. Who the fuck are the imaginary herd you believe your comment is representing?

      I’ll enjoy you shutting up.

    • + um … a lot

      • this gets confusing … it was a + woof to radar

        • Thanks Smelly
          I’m not trying to get into a flame war with the guy,just pointing out that when Stats are used to produce things like “Pythag Wins” and people treat that as “The Gospel” or try to think it’s all predetermined,I have a problem with it.
          It’s great to see that strange stuff that defies the odds .As a fan, it gives me hope that anything can happen.

          • You hit no nerve, but you did craft a comment based on some inane notion that there is a mass of fans that expect things to play out in a predetermined fashion.

            This is an idiotic thought.

          • The reason I went from a lurker to a commenter was because some people here were berating another commenter who asked an innocent question.They used a variety of sabermetric stats to demean the guy. and basically mocked him for a period of time.

            There are people who try to use their knowledge of advanced metrics to be pretentious.
            I’m not the most knowledgable and I learn stuff all the time.A lot from the other commenters here.

          • +1

            I enjoy the analysis, but I also appreciate the intangibles – like Showalter sacrificing an oriole to JuJu in the 2011 off-season.

          • “When Stats are used to produce things like “Pythag Wins” and people treat that as “The Gospel” or try to think it’s all predetermined,I have a problem with it.”

            Since nobody ever does this, think your problem must therefore be reading comprehension.

  9. Eff the effing Orioles. That is all.

  10. Forget the Yanks, I’m going underdog all the way.

  11. Johnson’s 25.

  12. Can we have a 4 game sweep, and the Angels replace the O’s in the playoffs? I guess that’s asking to much when 3 of your 4 starters are Romero, CV and Laffey.

  13. Yeah well I’m rooting for Balto. They came from nowhere. Everyone dissed them. They’ve taken it down to the wire and good luck to them. Yeah they got lucky but I’m glad they did and this isn’t another Yankees/Sux/Rays snoozefest. I really wish it had been us but it isn’t and I’ve had a soft spot for Balto ever since the final game of last season.

  14. I’ll still be cheering for the Jays this series but have been hoping for Baltimore to do well. It took me a while to come around to cheering for the Orioles. Until I realized that, as mentioned by others, the organization absolutely does not deserve this, and very little about their process should be emulated. But, the O’s fans definitely deserve this and largely the players do too.

  15. Can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want the Yanks to make the playoffs over the O’s. Yes it sucks that the Orioles make it before the Jays, but fuck the Yankees. Seeing the Yanks fail is easily worth it.

  16. I agree that AAA-level should serve as credible depth for the MLB club. Moving to Buffalo (in terms of the league, the park and getting out of LV) will help in this regard.

    I am concerned though when AA discusses guys like Zambrano, et all from 2007. He admits they were the wrong signings. But I’m concerned he’s going to take the same dumpster diving approach again, looking for MLB retreat to fill SP 3-5 rather than going for true performing MLB players for the rotation.

    Admittedly, I’ve become undeniably sceptical this season, but signing SP retreads just seems to easy a path…we’ve seen this in TO before.

    • @J. Reimer When has AA ever targeted veterans to fill out the 3-5 SP? Seems to me his philosophy has always been to let controllable inexpensive pitchers (Happ, Alvarez, Hutchinson etc.) fill out those positions and that he’d prefer to target FA pitchers who are capable of being front-line starters. I swear some people just make up narratives to rag on AA.

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