Baseball’s a hell of a thing, eh? That was one fucking crazy weekend, and not in the way that I think anybody would have wagered back on Friday afternoon, as our venom for John Farrell really started pulsating. A J.A. Happ shutout, an R.A. Dickey blowout, and a whole lot of words written about what was going on in the stands later and the Jays sit at 2-4– a record barely worth panicking over for an NFL team, let alone a team that plays a 162 game season. Though, as you’ll see through this little exercise, there’s no goddamn reasoning with some people when it comes to that stuff.
I was at Friday’s game, and I can report that the atmosphere was terrific. Much better than the home opener, even. The Jays were behind for much of the night, but the crowd was nowhere near as flat as they were on Tuesday, when J.P. Arencibia’s passed balls combined with a rally-killing double play to take the wind out of their sails. Things were raucous, fans were excitable, and mostly civil, too. At least, from the small portion (or portions, as it were) of the crowd where I sat– which was a few sections over from most of the paper airplane activity that was so derided and shamed. Personally, I’ll take a paper airplane hitting me in the back of the head over some jackass standing up to do the wave in front of me at a crucial moment any day of the week and twice on Sundays, but shit, I don’t mind kids playing on my lawn, either.
I also didn’t mind John Farrell getting booed when he came out to check on Jose Iglesias after the Sox shortstop took a Josh Johnson pitch off the arm, quite frankly. It’s not like anyone was booing the injured player, or confused about who scorn was being heaped down on, so… so what? (When they did it to the pitching coach by mistake, on the other hand– OK, that was kinda lame). Farrell was the one who put his players in that position anyway, and who egged on the crowd with his awesomely facetious hat tip as he returned to the vistors’ dugout after exchanging lineup cards– a pure shitheel turn that almost had me respecting him, until I realized that such a display of an actual human quality like having a sense of humour would never have happened while he was here, occupied as he was with his poor little feeble-brained pangs of sadness for not being king of the Masshole fuckfaces.
As for the crowd on Sunday… I wasn’t there, but like any gathering of 40,000 people there really aren’t any easy generalizations to be made, tempting as they might be. The simplest thing to say is that there are plenty of fans who I’d say get it, plenty who don’t, and plenty who evidently have no fucking interest in getting it. But, to me, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to construct a one-size-fits-all strawman and bash the living piss out of it, as though the “Jays fans” are some kind of singular, and usually moronic, thing. So… let’s use the astonishing words that somehow came out of the mouths of specific individuals to do all that! It’s– after the longest preamble in DJF history– Anatomy Of A JaysTalk!!!
You can hear the full audio of the show by way of Wilner’s column at Fan590.com.
Caller One: Frank in Halifax
Frank wants to start off on a good foot, calling fans irrational, suggesting that a six game season might warrant this kind of panic, but otherwise appeals for calm. He then asks about what we’ve seen so far out of Brett Cecil.
Why I want desperately for this to be a harbinger of calls to come: Because Frank is damn reasonable, and brushes aside the insane panic, then asks about something actually interesting. I was going to say it was nice that he brought up something positive, too, but even I can admit that’s a bit rich. Nobody wants to hear a post-game show full exclusively of creamy blowjobs, especially after the steaming turd the Jays had just laid on the field, but yeah… some damn perspective sure is nice to start with.
Caller Two: John in Toronto
John doesn’t think the Jays are going to be very good this year, because he checked out Dickey today and he he had nothing. He thinks that 80% of the Jays’ rotation are National League pitchers, and this is his “big concern.”
Why this is very possibly actually the closest to making sense someone moronically panicking is going to say: Unlike some of the braying dolts who will show up later in the show, John at least accurately notes that four of the five guys in the Jays’ rotation pitched some innings in the National League last year. Thing is, y’know, so what if J.A. Happ pitched 40 innings in the AL and was fine, or that Dickey’s first year in the NL came when he was 35, or that 2482 of Mark Buehrle’s 2684 career innings have been in the AL. It’s too late! They’ve been tainted! They’re NL PITCHERS! Scawwwwwwy!!!!
Caller Three: Dan in Waterloo
Dan is surprised and disappointed by Melky Cabrera’s defence, for some reason, but pulls it out of the fire by saying he’s embarrassed to be associated by some of the people at the stadium and calling into the show.
Why this is going to lead to some great points from Wilner: I think booing a player on your own team for trying his best yet not quite being able to do something that’s impossibly fucking difficult is about the second dumbest thing a person can do, after justifying booing a player on his or her own team for trying his best yet not being able to do something that’s impossibly fucking difficult. That said, some of Sunday’s tsk-tsking maybe went a bit far, though I thought Wilner was bang on when he said that many of the people– and I use the term loosely– booing the shit out of R.A. Dickey today will probably end up loving him two months from now (thanks, presumably, to their incredible ability to indulge their own knee-jerk reactions), and also when he suggested that today’s display probably didn’t give John Farrell any pangs of regret that he’d made the wrong move by leaving town.
Caller Four: Ken in Toronto
Ken is aghast that the Jays had 42,000 people out, and couldn’t even get a run! They showed no emotion! Dickey should have been taken out in the second inning! He was giving up a run every inning! There wasn’t anybody even standing up in the bullpen! He doesn’t want to shit on Gibbons, but– this team isn’t hitting! You’re not going to win this thing with just home runs, it’s about averages! Encarnacion isn’t hitting .100! THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE TEAM! YOU CAN SEE IT! Gibbons didn’t make some changes to spark the offence in the fifth inning! Hands down Rasmus should have been in there! Do SOMETHING!
Why this herp derp herpy derpy fucking erpy slurpie goddamn fucking derp-herp: Yeah, they FUCKING CHOSE NOT TO SCORE A RUN. And Gibbons should have killed his bullpen even though Dickey basically settled down, giving up just three runs in 4.2 innings with not his best stuff following the little BP session he tossed to open the first. And… basically whatever happened today was WRONG and it was UNACCEPTABLE because… who the fuck knows??? This guy sure as shit doesn’t.
Caller Five: Antonio in Ottawa
Antonio wants to put things in perspective, noting Cole Hamels, David Price, and the other number ones who had bad days today as well. He also think fans want instant results, and doesn’t like the US media and the way that they’ve been ripping on Jays fans, and points out Jon Heyman’s ridiculous tweet comparing the Jays to last year’s Marlins. He also wants people to stop shitting on J.P. Arencibia.
Why Antonio didn’t even go far enough with the first part, then lost it: The perspective is great– though Matt Cain and Justin Verlander also weren’t great, for the second time, in Verlander’s case, and the Nationals lost 15-0 on Friday. Regardless, shitting on Heyman’s horseshit is completely acceptable. But as much as it’s insufferably dumb to start panicking at this point in the season, it’s equally bad to go anointing J.P. Arencibia anything. It’s six games. And as for the Boston media, they’ve got an audience to speak to, so… whatever. I don’t have a problem with them for that, per se, though I can’t help but have been reminded by this weekend that Peter Abraham is kinda the fucking worst.
Caller Six: Joel in Toronto
Joel was embarrassed by the fan reaction throughout the game: the booing of Dickey, the paper airplanes, the pitch invasions. He’s been to other games in other ballparks and finds other places they aren’t so overly negative. Maybe they’re booing the moment but he just wants to tell everybody to be quiet when they’re like that. He can’t imagine being an athlete being booed when they’re trying their best.
Why Joel is mostly bang fucking on: Joel brings up the “booing the moment” thing, which I think is a real thing. Some fans are definitely booing the moment when they unnecessarily rain shit down on the first fucking guy who’d tell you that his performance wasn’t good enough. I don’t think the distinction matters a whole hell of a lot, though, and I still think there are a tonne of people who actually, bizarrely, feel aggrieved, as though a ballplayer could have made a positive result happen and just didn’t. I can’t speak much to behaviour in other places, but it’s true that, for whatever reason, fans here are insanely fucking negative, often to the point of absurdity. And I say that as someone who pretty much shits on everything, but seriously, booing a pickoff move your team routinely pulls without you batting an eyelash? Booing Nick Swisher because you recognize his name or don’ like the look of his face? Booing your own team because they have a bad day, but the next time they play well, hey! Just kidding!
Nobody is asking anybody not to be upset or dismayed by Sunday’s shellacking, it’s just… there are ways to express those sentiments that don’t involve being assholes or showing yourself to be failing so fucking miserably at life as to have nothing resembling the vaguest fucking clue about how the game you just paid good money to see actually works. Like… seriously, what the fuck is that?
I understand that obviously it’s every paying customer’s right to act as cheap and boorish as they want– I sure as fuck have done it myself, too– I guess I just also think that it’s my right to point out what their behaviour says about them when viewed by someone not so blinded by booze and emotion as to be able to think on a level higher than that of a four year old who wants its toy. It’s fucked up.
Caller Seven: Malcolm in Gatineau
Malcolm imparts some much needed reason to the fanbase. Some days are diamonds and some days are stone, he says. You can get trounced one day and come back and trounce the other guy. The snow isn’t even off the ground, he says. Relax. Relax!
Why Malcolm is the absolute best: After being told by Wilner that his comments were very zen he quipped, “Is it zen? I didn’t think it was a zen, I thought it was baseball!”
Caller Eight: John in Toronto
John is concerned by two things: that the Jays didn’t play well in front of a big crowd, and that only J.A. Happ has had a decent outing among the Jays pitchers.
Why this is less infuriating that most, but off-base: John is calm and rational, but saying that only one of the Jays’ starters had pitched well so far– though he agreed with Wilner when it was pointed out that Brandon Morrow was good, too. I don’t think Dickey’s first start was particularly bad, either, and Josh Johnson’s six inning outing with just three earned, two walks and six strikeouts wasn’t atrocious, though the nine hits were obviously too much. It will be fine. Or it won’t. But it probably will, and there’s not a whole hell of a lot that can be done about it at this point if it isn’t, so…
Oh yeah, and crowd size. Not really a reason to expect a win– if it were only that easy…
Caller Nine: Mark in Caledonia
Mark wants to talk about R.A. Dickey– his whole body of work. He’s a .500 pitcher! His ERA is well over five for his career! Take away his Cy Young year and he’s a .500 pitcher! You’re putting him on a pedestal! “8-13 is outstanding?” he scoffs. “You have low expectations, my friend!”
“And he will miss Citi Field when he pitches at the Rogers Centre and the balls are going over well over his head,” he smugly ends on.
Why this hurts my fucking brain: Dickey had a better FIP, xFIP, walk rate, and strikeout rate on the road last year, and his ERA was lower at home by only 0.3. The same was true about the peripherals in 2010– except for the walk rate, though the ERAs were farther apart– and in 2011 he had a better ERA on the road (though those same peripherals weren’t quite as good). No matter how you slice those odd numbers, it seems plain that he was certainly not a creation of Citi Field. And he won the damn Cy Young in the year they moved the fences in! He also does not have an ERA above five for his career– it sat at 3.99 heading into yesterday. Of course, this guy has no idea what the fuck any of that means. 8-13 that one year, though!
Caller Ten: Marcus in Oakville
Marcus thinks that the risk you take when you buy a ticket is that you’re going to see a loss, and thinks that fans expectations– especially in the wake of the off-season– are out of whack. He reiterates the point about not booing your own team.
Caller Eleven: Donald in Toronto
Donald says his expectations are no longer high on R.A. Dickey– y’know, because of two fucking games– but he hopes he figures it out.
Caller Twelve: Aaron in Toronto
Aaron wants to know how the dome effects the knuckleball. [Hint: it's thought to help it.]
Caller Thirteen: Jed in Fort MacMurray
Jed points out that Justin Verlander got beat up, and David Price, and Cole Hamels, telling people to relax, calling this all a mountain out of a molehill, bashing Twitter ridiculousness, and basically telling Wilner that he’s doing the Lord’s work.
Caller Fourteen: Thomas in Toronto
Thomas is a Rogers customer– he subscribes to multiple services. And if any one of those services craps out on him, he’s immediately going to call and be a shit in the cut of some poor call centre employee the fucking second the disruption hits! He expects to get service the way it’s advertised! He subscribes to two “services” from the Blue Jays– offence and defence. And when he doesn’t get those two services from the Jays, he has a right to boo or to call in to express his displeasure that tiny synapses in his pea brain keep on firing with the expectation of INSTANT GRATIFICATION, mostly because he clearly doesn’t comprehend the sport that he gives this much of a shit about. It’s about accountability and it’s his right! If he doesn’t get the service that he’s paying for, he deserves to not be told to calm down! He’s paying for a service, either to see his team score runs or to see a pitcher pitch a good game! Thomas expects to be entertained, and WAS THIS ENTERTAINING? WAS THIS ENTERTAINING?
Why this kinda makes me weep for humanity: All the parenting books and websites and classes in the world can’t stop people from popping out more and more little person-shaped balls of hopelessly delusional entitlement, can they? Shame on all of us, really.