So That Was… Weird

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays lost 4-1 to the Clevelands in an Opening Day that may have really been for the best. Fifty-thousand people showed up expecting to see the launching of a juggernaut, ready to cheer on the curbstomping of an indisputably inferior opponent, unaware they were about to take part in a long sequence of falling flat– from the catching to the hitting to the pitching to the crowd’s mood itself. As a veteran of too many Opening Days to count, it was fuckin’ weird in there, man.

The joyous, rambunctious atmosphere that typifies these events was present in during the player introductions, Geddy Lee’s ceremonial first pitch, the hilarious, unnecessary, over-the-top patriotic pomp of the national anthems, and into the first inning, as fans rose from their seats to cheer for R.A. Dickey when he took Nick Swisher to a two strike count. The J.P. Arencibia passed ball that allowed Asdrubal Cabrera to take second base was grumbled about, but hardly took the wind out of anybody’s sails.

What did, however, was in the bottom half of the frame, when Melky Cabrera squared up a Justin Masterson pitch, with Jose Reyes already aboard, only to have stung it right into the glove the Clevelands’ Cabrera. Somehow the rally wasn’t killed yet, after Jose Bautista singled and Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch, but Adam Lind struck out to end the renewed threat– a sign of things to come for a lower half of the lineup that looks, especially with Brett Lawrie out, a hell of lot more like the club’s weak underbelly than whatever bullshit was being fed from some corners about the bullpen.

It’s only one game, of course, and those guys aren’t going to be completely hopeless every time out. Though the same maybe can’t be said for the knuckleball receiving abilities of J.P. Arencibia, who found out quickly that catching R.A. Dickey isn’t the same in regular season MLB action isn’t the same, even, that the passable work he did for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. I don’t think you give up on having him catch Dickey completely after last night’s disaster, but you certainly limit it to side sessions until he’s really comfortable.

In the top of the second inning last night he wasn’t, and that’s really when the atmosphere left the building.

Dickey wasn’t necessarily at his best either– though some of that, it must be said, could be down to poor framing of some borderline pitches as well– but it’s hard to accept it when the game-winning runs come in a frame where you only give up a couple of singles, including one that Brett Lawrie very possibly gets to if he’s there instead of Izturis.

Two passed balls with runners on will do that, though, and I’d be shocked if Henry Blanco didn’t get his first chance to catch Dickey the next time out.

From there things didn’t so much spiral downward for the Jays and their fans, as they fell hopelessly flat. The buzz in the stadium basically ceased, presumably as it began to dawn on the would-be revellers that baseball is hard, that losses for even good teams are plentiful, and that this just didn’t feel like it was going to be our night. I’m sure a couple of damn runs might have changed things, but by the eighth and ninth innings, the anger– like fuckface captain homophobia behind me– and the boredom– as hordes streamed into the aisles after eight innings, looking for an early exit– of people who maybe had forgotten about the marathon that baseball is had taken over.

That kind of stuff is pretty typical, though, and what really struck me was just how subdued the crowd was, and how far the energy level seemed to be from getting back to where it was at the time of the first pitch. Maybe that’s because, rather than so many being there to fight and party as they’d been in years past, a greater percentage of fans were there to actually watch the game and see the club’s new stars.

And maybe, as I said off the top, it’s a good thing. A lesson for the Jays that Arencibia can’t, through sheer force of personality, be something he’s maybe not, and a reminder to fans that baseball is a long fucking slog, and this season isn’t going to be a cakewalk that too many– myself included sometimes– seem to get it in their heads that we’re owed.

Only 80 more home date left– including one tonight against shitty Ubaldo Jimenez. Time to get back on that horse.

Comments (88)

  1. Well written Stoeten, well done sir!

    • I second this. I was there and Stoeten has it right.

    • +1. You’re right stoeten.

      Expectations have to be brought down. This is not a cakewalk & the Jays may not get to 90 wins.

      I was sitting near several Seniors who had very cool 1992-93 world series jackets

  2. well written, people need to calm the fuck down

  3. “Maybe that’s because, rather than so many being there to fight and party as they’d been in years past, a greater percentage of fans were there to actually watch the game and see the club’s new stars.
    And maybe, as I said off the top, it’s a good thing. A lesson for the Jays that Arencibia can’t, through sheer force of personality, be something he’s maybe not, and a reminder to fans that baseball is a long fucking slog, and this season isn’t going to be a cakewalk that too many– myself included sometimes– seem to get it in their heads that we’re owed.”

    Nail – meet head.

  4. Completely agree with you Stoeten. I’m sure there would have been a lot more energy if the Jays had been able to do anything offensively. Their only ruin came on the most disappointing play of the game. Still.. as you said. Good teams still loose a lot of games in baseball – and tonight we face Ubaldo Jiminez sooooooo. here’s why pitching depth matters in a 162 game season!

    • * only run…

      … but also sorta their only ruin as well.

    • maybe there would have been more runs had there been more energy…crows at jays game r completely lame. I think it has to do with uneducated fans more than anything, getting bored over a looong 9 innings, and just basically not knowing the game and therefore not being emotionally into the game. And whats the excuse for the second game? I seen plenty of empty seats, we need real ball fans who really know about baseball to fill those seats..

  5. The only real negative for me was another Bautista pissy-fit when he got called out on strikes. That shit needs to stop…last April/May it was every call that went against him. Otherwise yeah, one game out of 162. The doomsday tone of TSN Radio’s post-game was hilarious. One game!

    • +100
      Everyone in my surrounding area was all like, “shut the fuck up Jose and walk away”. First game of the season. Yeesh.

  6. Wakey wakey fella. ;)

  7. Was it just me or was Sportsnet blowing camera shots all game? They were constantly on the shitty behind the catcher camera where we can’t see the pitch for shit. They kept showing the fans like they were trying to get everyone in the entire ball park on camera at some point. SHow the fucking game!!!

    The count was consistantly wrong, the pitch fx thing they were using was distracting and looked way out of wack with the umpire. And who gives a shit about pitch count from the start of the game or from a reliever?! Show the MPH and thats it.

    It looked like a rookie producer was incharge of this thing from the start.

    • +1 Felt like I kept missing key moments because they were trying new shit out. And what’s with the advertising scroll along the bottom?

    • Were they using those annoying, ugly frggin’ virtual ads last night? Cuz when I watched the highlights when I got home I sure didn’t remember seeing any fuckin’ Booster Juice ads on the field.

      • There was at least three shots of the same rich fucker’s brace-faced chunkster child up in Windowless Windows (also: private function on the opener? WTF?!)

        The last shot of the game was pretty some face-painted dildo gesticulating wildly for no reason. They didn’t even cut back in time to capture the final pitch until it was almost in Santana’s glove.

        Amateur. Though watching that shill take absolutely no pleasure in giving away a Honda Whatever was amusing in an awkward sort of way.

      • Yeah, between the Honda logo that covered the batter’s eye and then suddenly disappeared, and the rotating logos in the coaches boxes, the extra virtual advertising gets pretty annoying.

  8. Such is the nature of baseball.

  9. Fantastic. I agree with you all the way. You gotta wonder whether Dickey himself was impacted by JP’s inability to catch his knucklle ball. I personnaly didn’t think he pitched that bad. Nothing was hit very hard. Even the homer was just a sky scrapper fly ball that carried.

    • This concerned me while I was watching, too. You can’t have your pitcher worrying about passed balls.

      sky’s not falling.
      but Blanco should start Dickey’s next game and 2-3 after that before Arencibia is revisited as a possibility.

      • Blanco/Thole/3rd k-ball catcher in AAA should be Dickey’s catcher before ANY thought is given to letting JPA near the extra large catcher’s glove, especially when pissing away games due to JPA’s ego could truly mean the difference between playoffs and no playoffs.

  10. JPA’s performance was terrible. His pitch framing was terrible. His catching was terrible. His batting was terrible. JPA needs to focus less on catching Dickey and more on being an at least mediocre level catcher which he is not. He can’t bat worth a shit and he is the worst catcher i have ever seen at framing pitches. Part of Romero’s problems are that his catcher is fucking brutal and excels at making any pitch even close to the strike zone look like a ball a foot off the plate. I know a lot of the female Blue Jays fans love JPA because he is cute and carry’s himself like a star but he isn’t. He’s fucking brutal. He’s on of the worst defensive catchers in baseball, couldn’t frame a fucking pitch to save his life and is a fucking strike out machine. Its a fucking miracle if the guy can see more then 4 or 5 pitchers per at bat before striking out. I’d love to see JPA traded for a sack of baseballs and a couple of rozin bags because he is fucking brutal and when you hear him talk, clearly he is too dense or full of piss and vinegar to acknowledge how he hurts this team. All his bull shit bravado about catching Dickey this spring training. The fucking guy can’t even catch a normal fucking pitcher and frame his pitches in a way so that borderline pitches are called strikes. That really fucking bothers me. Gibby should tell him to fuck off with the notion of catching Dickey and just focus on framing and catching for the other pitchers and not striking out 2 times per game. FUCK OFF JPA!

    • But how do you really feel?

      • Championships are won by strong catching. Borders couldn’t hit but could catch and frame pitches. JPA can’t do anything even remotely well. This is a guy who has one of the worst 2 strike approaches in all of MLB baseball yet 2 years later is still too fucking stupid to swing for contact when sitting in his typical 2-0 count. Instead the dumb ass takes the same approach every fucking time. Pitchers must get hard on’s when they see JPA on deck because the guy is such a fucking idiot.

        • Yeah Arencibia is Borders. Borders was pretty shitty in 92 and 93, but the Jays won with him. He even won the World Series MVP. It’s one game, relax.

          • I’m not a huge Arencibia fan but that’s the reality.

          • I would take Pat Borders every day over JPA. Hell, i’d take Mathis every day over JPA. JPA is the biggest weakness on this team. Having a catcher like JPA with the pitching staff we have is like having a fleet of state of the art fighter aircraft but having them serviced by the drunk fucking carny who fixes the tilt a whirl at the Ex.

            • +1…and +1 again for:

              “Having a catcher like JPA with the pitching staff we have is like having a fleet of state of the art fighter aircraft but having them serviced by the drunk fucking carny who fixes the tilt a whirl at the Ex.”

              i cant remember laughing that hard at a comment in a long time!

        • Also, 24 other guys.

    • Not a huge JP fan either. Charisma, backup catcher bat, backup catcher glove. He could use a step back, at least.

    • I’m a female Blue Jays fan + I loathe JPA. His physical appearance + attitude are both not something I’m interested in. And I admit to being pretty superficial @ times.

    • So I have to agree with the vitriol expelled in this write up.

      - Framing, god awful, he actually basketcatched some pitches, we need Lou Brown to telling “Don’t ever fucking do that again”

      - Passed balls, god if he can block me on twitter (actually blocked by him for nothing offensive) then he can catch a ball or two.

      - There needs to be a fine for striking out looking…that’s it!

  11. Exactly. One game of 162. Well said Stoeten.

    • Can we stop with this one game shit? Ya, it was one game but who the fuck let JP play? Who okayed that? There has to be some accountability. Someone own it. I’ve beaten this dead horse and will stop now but someone tell me whether they think Maddon starts JP. All this shit about Farrell and one game into the season I’m already at odds with Gibbons.

  12. Why is Toronto so lame? The game in my living room is louder then watching live.

  13. The difference this year was the 905 1-game douchebag crowd was completely shut out of the ticketing. It was practically sold out before tickets got to the public. To be in the building last night, you had to be a season ticket holder or a flex pack holder or a well-connected individual. At least $500 or so committed to tickets throughout the year to even get through the door.

    • wait, what? your saying the atmosphere was bad because people that live in the 905 couldn’t go to the game? Also you are saying that people in the 905 only go to one game but couldn’t go to this game and thats why its sold out? I really don’t know what you are trying to say.

      • As a resident of the 905, I can’t help but feel a little insulted.

        The “1-game douchebag crowd” isn’t sole-sourced from the 905, they come from everywhere and it’s like that every season opener/weekend.

  14. Yes well said.
    It was my first home opener – in the 500′s natch and while the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, the atmosphere was as rowdy as I expected. One “incident” up behind me in my section and I don’t think it was even a fight.
    And as you touched upon, maybe more people were out to actually watch the team/game. However 3/4 of these new fans didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about.
    Like the dumbass behind me complaining about Dickey- to which I turned around and gave a one sentence explanation about knuckleballers. An explanation that dumbass seemed to accept until they started complaining about not having a catcher that can actually catch the ball. Frustrating, but maybe dumbass had a point.
    At least the guys beside us managed to sneak in some vodka soaked oranges. They were good. (Unlike the draft which smelled and tasted like ass)
    Going again Friday. ( SUCK IT FARREL) Hopefully things are, uh, better.

    • Meant to say “NOT as rowdy as I expected”.

      • It was my first home opener in the 500s as I generally avoid it like the plague. But I saw maybe one guy get kicked out the entire night. It was almost like it was a bizzaro home opener based on prior years. No fights…nothing being thrown on the field…no announcements saying the game can be forfeited if you keep throwing stuff…etc

  15. Well written is correct, except no mention of the bat wielding nut above the dugout when Kipnis threw his bat? That look on his face along with the gif was epic.

  16. Also enough with the I love BJs tshirts….

  17. Well put sir, it was quite an odd night.

  18. Well said!

    Opening Day/Night is always too ramped up for baseball…but especially this year with everything getting so much extra hype.

    And it’s extra true that all these new/returning/bandwagon/fair-weather fans don’t really understand the marathon that is baseball…or baseball in general.

    I’ll keep watching…but from my sofa…

  19. I believe they only started JPA because he earned the opening day start. I’d be surprised to see him out in Game 6

  20. quit fucking reading my mind stoeten…

  21. Isn’t Friday the REAL opening night? No one cares about the Clevelands, but Friday is going to be a good old drunks fighting in the stands skydome showdown, isn’t it? Let’s hope Gibby gets into the action and clocks Farrell square in the jaw. Although, now that I think about it – Farrell’s the type of guy who will phone in sick on Friday, isn’t he – with something like “food poisoning” or “flu-like syptoms”

  22. Am I too late for the Stoeten ball washing conference?

    Im not? thank god….

    Well said Stoeten!!

  23. Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA Trade JPA

  24. You don’t get RBIs when you hit into a double play.

  25. No RBI on a double play. I should have started instead of Dickey

    • Sure Rickey but how about we send your old battery mate down to Florida to play catch with you instead?

  26. Good article.

    Lets win one tonight!

  27. Logical and rational as usual. Let us all get ready for tonight!

  28. Agreed with everything you said. I thought Dickey pitched pretty well considering how bad JPA was and how poorly he pitched for the most part of the spring. A few grounder singles and a homerun that wasn’t too bad of a pitch. Santos also looked solid. Although the hitting was ugly, but it is only one game. Masterson’s pitches were right down the middle too :(

    • Stop giving away tomorrow morning’s post!

    • That was the best part of the game by far!!!! I was the only one that noticed it out of my buddies and no one knew what I was laughing at. Now I can share…. THANK YOU.

  29. Enjoyed reading, except for use of “Captain Homophobia”

    Homophobia is a stupid word.

  30. Great as always.

    I enjoyed last night, a really positive atmosphere without the usual morons that accompany the opening game.

    The result wasn’t what the city expected but perhaps a reality check for a lot of the ‘johnny come-latelys’ who forget that this is a long old season and even the best teams lose at least a third of their games.

    Arencibia looked nervous and really rather poor. Not only is framing a problem but i feel he does a poor job of getting his body behind the ball and smoothering the pitch. I’m still struggling to understand why Thole – the guy who caught Dickey’s Cy Young season, is not with the club and catching Dickey’s starts.

    Oh and I thought Masterson was excellent. Let’s see how the offense do against Jimenez.

    @OK Blue Jays. A hitter is not credited with an RBI if he hits into a double-play.

  31. Calm down, people. It’s one game of 162. Observations:

    Dickey looked to be nervous and not quite himself. He spent most of his pro career flying under the radar. All of a sudden, he comes to Toronto and he’s the #1 starter? May be pressuring himself too much. He’ll calm down. He still pitched 6 innings and kept his team in the game.

    Arencibia will catch Dickey again. However, I would put money on Blanco getting the next start, just from a “time to play your backup” argument. He looked like his problems on defence carried over into his hitting, which is hit and miss at the best of times.

    A couple of well stung balls (Cabera and Lind) were caught and could have changed the complexion of the game.

    Lind’s bat looked slow.

    Bautista needs to stop whining about close calls.

  32. The Jays can’t win every game! Yes, it was a disappointment last night, but as you said it’s a long season…and with that it was just the first game. Although I wasn’t at the game, I was shocked at the lack of cheer from the sold-out crowd. There may not have been a lot to cheer about, but if the fans got into the game a little bit more the Jays may have responded to the cheers with a few more hits. Watching the game on SportsNet and see that the only time the fans got excited was when the cameras were doing crowd close ups…sad!

  33. All I know is I’m going to Dickeys start on Sunday and I’ll be saving my loudest cheer for when Blanco is introduced, just for being not JP.

    I still think people shitting all over the decision to start him is dumb. For all you know he’s looked perfectly capable of catching Dickey in side sessions, or at least capable enough to compensate for the offensive black hole that is Blanco. Not saying that’s the case because I admit I don’t have the info Gibbons does. Everyone shitting on the decision should stop acting so all-fucking-knowing and step back off the ledge.

    That being said, I fully anticipate seeing Blanco Sunday.

  34. Tv coverage was awful. I doubt if there was a fan in the building who didnt get a closeup on the roving camera whoo hooing and giving thumbs up. It was amateur…..and ifyou were in windows(less) you were guaranteed a closeup. . . Bad angles and extraneous bullshit. . . . Really bad. If we have to see these crowd shots all year, I’ll strangle myself

    • Going for that FOX Sports “baseball feel”? ie- 30 camera shots quickly cutting, cutting, cutting , from shot, to shot, to shot?

  35. I’m way late to the commenting party, here, but I also want to commend you, Stoeten, on a bang on post. The whole game felt weird, without question.

    As for JPA, it is already clear to me that Gibbons is good at defining roles for his players, and I expect to see Blanco against the Red Sox on Sunday. At the same time, take away the Dickey walks and the game is tied 1-1, right? Or do the Jays lose 2-1? Either way, the passed balls did not lose the game, but did show us a lot for future reference.

  36. Maybe they should play pre- recorded crowd noise over the speakers during the game to give the illusion of an excited pumped up crowd.

  37. I think it might help with atmosphere if fans actually had room to sit, much less cheer. When it’s sold out like that, you have to sit sideways even in the 100s. “Rally poms” are a joke if you can’t swing them…

  38. Stoeten, I was mocking the guy behind you. As if somebody stupid enough to yell out slurs of any kind would parse “homophobia” like that. Yikes.

  39. It was definitely weird as hell in there. I think it was the knuckleball that did it. It changes the cheer patterns.

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