fullcountBlair

Pretty good book, but lacked the quality GIFs necessary to make it a bestseller.

When it was revealed that Jeff Blair was set to publish a book on four decades of Blue Jays baseball, it was seen as the cherry on top of a perfect off-season for Blue Jays fans. The release of the book has been kind of a mess. There’s been been confusion over the release date, April 5th, and the lack of marketing hasn’t helped with that. Blair himself was under the impression a month ago the book wasn’t coming out until this week. My local Chapters had 56 copies of Full Count sitting in a box in their storage room and I had to fight (read: beg) someone to let me buy a copy. That can’t be good for book sales.

While it’s possible that the book was quickly pushed through to publication in order to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the 2013 Jays, it’s a tribute to the quality of Blair’s writing that the book never feels like it was rushed.

Four decades of Blue Jays baseball are indeed mentioned in Full Count but more accurately, Blair really starts up where Stephen Brunt left off in Diamond Dreams (the strike-shortened 1994 season). The first 15 years features some great stories from Paul Beeston, but mostly those years are used to not-so-subtly point to Alex Anthopoulos as the heir to Pat Gillick’s “Doing It The Right Way” crown, as the man who will eventually lead the Jays to the promised land– a major theme throughout Full Count.

There is, of course, a couple of chapters on the World Series Championship teams of 1992 and 1993. Blair absolutely shines in his retelling of Roberto Alomar’s franchise-altering home run off of Dennis Eckersley in game 4 of the ’92 ALCS. It’s the kind of storytelling, full of context, that allows the reader to fully capture the greatness of the moment.

The meat of the book, however, is written on the 20 mediocre years that followed the Blue Jays’ last playoff appearance: Gord Ash and his years with a few excellent individual players, the sale of the Jays to Rogers, the Riccardi era, and finally AA and the bumps along the way that lead to THE trade.

Blair expertly crafts interviews with all the major players over this span into a compelling story that makes all the Oral Histories that are currently in vogue seem lazy. His in-depth look at Ted Rogers and the inner-workings and motives of the Rogers corporation as owners of the Blue Jays is especially intriguing. But it is Blair’s balanced treatment of the polarizing J.P. Riccardi that stands out in the book. The criticism of how J.P. handled his players, staff and the media is there, but so are J.P’s successes. Most importantly, the reader gets a feel for the complexities of running a sports franchise.

The book isn’t perfect. The attention given to baseball in Canada, and Lawrie in particular, in the introduction and final chapter of Full Count, though somewhat interesting, seem out of place. At times, because Blair is trying to connect the dots for new Blue Jays fans, it did feel like the reader was being talked to instead of part of the conversation. And if I never have to read about the Farrell saga again, I’ll feel pretty good about how my life turned out.

As a Jays fan, having this kind of reporting to go through is nothing but fun. There are so many fascinating rumours (the ‘93 Jays went after Randy Johnson?? Whaaat!), needed reminders (Carlos Delgado was mind blowingly good) and odd tidbits (AA only made $38,500 in his first year as AGM of the Jays? That’s nuts!). How many fans of other teams get to read a history of their team’s down years written by one of the best sports columnists in the country?

Throughout the book, while writing about almost 20 years of mediocrity, all the hurdles and missteps and bad luck, Blair is constantly pointing to the messiah that is Anthopoulos and this 2013 team. His positive view of the current team and belief that AA is making the right decisions is contagious.

I put Full Count down, excited for the season to come. I wish I had read it in beginning of April, when it apparently came out.

*******
For those interested, Opera Bobs tweeted out yesterday that they’re holding a book launch for Full Count tonight at 6:00pm.

Thanks to Dave Burrows for the post. I repeat, this is a guest post.

Comments (59)

  1. Hahaha. “lacked the quality GIFs to make it a bestseller”. Great stuff.

  2. who the fuck wants to read this right now?? seriously.

    no one.

    get the fucking act together and play some decent baseball. we can talk books later.

    gibby should bring a caseload and burn them in the clubhouse. later, he should sweep up the ashes and collect them in a box. any mutherfucker who gets out on 3 or less pitches should be taking a handful of that ash and eating it for their lunch.

    this isn’t weekend warrior rec league shit. these guys should have more pride. every missed catch, error, and embarassing at-bat should be just that: it should be a life & death and maybe they ought to stand in the corner and think about what they’ve done.

    morons. they look like little league out there.

    • Who the fuck wants to read this right now, dipshit?

    • Looks like you accidently wrote a T instead of a D in your handle

    • has to be trolling.

      • Nope, he must have thought this was a game threat. I have avoided every one this season, so I can’t be positive, but this is what I imagine they have been like.

        I want to read this cock gobbler. Why you might ask? Because I love the Jays, I enjoy Jeff Blair’s writing and I am able to control my fucking emotions.

    • Sweet jesus. You just made me feel dumber, just by reading that post.

      • I’m constantly amazed at how angry people can be for so long? I’ve seen people get hit by a car, get mad for a minute, realize they’re alright and carry on.
        Sure ya get pissed off when they don’t play well, but that normally subsides after you open the next beer.
        It must be exhausting to have been this fuming mad since 4pm Sunday afternoon and carried into today. Screaming at everyone that walks by, firing off angry e-mails at work and to friends… takes a lot of energy

    • Whoa, great idea. Who wants to join a Weekend Warrior Rec League?

    • Tocher Douche

  3. Dave Cameron wrote a solid piece on how the Jays may be buttfucked.

    An excerpt that basically sums up the doom of the Jays:

    If the Blue Jays play .525 baseball the rest of the way, they’ll finish 80-82. To win 90 games and give themselves a real shot at either of the wild card spots, they’d have to play .596 baseball over the remaining 136 games, which is a 96 win pace over a full season. That’s not impossible. Every year, three to five teams play around .600 baseball from May 1st to the end of the season.

    Not looking too promising.

    • Every year, three to five teams play around .600 baseball from May 1st to the end of the season.”

      If you thought the Jays were one of the 3 best teams in baseball at the start of the year, and many of us did, then its not that far fetched. Difficult for sure but not impossible. Could be a lot of fun

      • It could be. I’m still pulling out hope. I mean, the pitching seems to be rounding out, and the AB’s the hitters are having aren’t all 3-pitch outs anymore – in fact, many of them seem to be going 5-7 now. The defense seems to be improving too.

        Looking at the team on paper, they seem to be good enough to pull it off, but it’s so unlikely when the strikeouts are still going rampant (which may go down with the aforementioned good AB’s lately).

      • Its not just about how “good” you are. Its about how good your opponents are. With teams in other divisions getting to feast on much weaker bottom dwelling opponents while the jays have no soft divisional under belly to dine upon. Infact this year you play your own division even MORE than before. (as impossible as that may seem).

        Subtract Jose reyes for two more moths…and you have a recipe for a high 70, low 80′s win season

        • @Voice of Reason.

          Sad but true.

          Given that there are 4 strong teams in the AL East , it’s hard for the Jays to pummel the Orioles or Rays pre 2008.
          The thought in March was that the Jays would take advantage of the injury depleted yankees & weaker red Sox.

          Jays even lost a series to the now weak Indians.

          The team should play better, so just enjoy the summer.

    • Or, because the Jays finally have depth at starting pitching, the could reel off 8 or 10 in a row, and just have to play around .530 ball the rest of the time to get to 90 wins.

      Blue coloured glasses do I ware?, perhaps, but not crazy or impossible.

      • Lets start by sweeping John Farrell.

      • @Famous..

        Umm OK. but I don’t see 5 strong pitchers currently. I see Johnson & Dickey with potential injuries.

        Buerhle is mediocre so far especially against the AL East.

        I would look for a stronger offense to help the Jays.

    • Okay, I accept that the precedents don’t look good. But the fact is you just can’t compare this Jays team to those teams because those teams tended to be shitty. The fact is we’re much closer to the 2001 A’s or 2011 Red Sox than the 2008 Royals.

      Most importantly, all this shit is becoming really tiresome. The Jays are doing a lot of things shittily right now. Will they be doing the same shitty things in September? Who the fuck knows? Can we please just focus on whether the Jays have been getting better over the past week? Whether things are looking good for the next few series?

    • +5. That was an excellent piece by Cameron.

      Too bad the end of April apologists didn’t read it. It say that playofs are possible but unlikely.

      Let’s say the Jays play 550 baseball from here on out. That mean there will be many victories to celebrate.

      It’s not the end of the world if the Jays miss the playoffs. I am not sure why so many in the media are vehemently outraged if you point out the statistics that a team that wins 36% of its games by May 1st, particularly in the AL East has a very low chance of making the playoffs or even getting 85 plus wins?

      Are they worried that page views & hence income will go down if the team isn’t competitive?

      If anything, more people will post “what’s wrong with the Jays” etc.

      It’s hilarious to have the focus turn to Bash the Jays fans post after post.

      Did everyone forget how to analyze players performances? Call ups? Prospects?

      It seems to be a bit too easy to have Jays fans turn on each other.

  4. Was there any mention of the “Players Mutiny”? The one that made Beeston go down to Baltimore to clear it up? I believe it was either the end of ’08 or ’09?

    If anyone knows anything about it, I’d appreciate hearing about it (C’mon Kritzer, spill the beans!).

    Thanks.

    • Blair discusses it, yes. Not in crazy, crazy detail, though. Buy the book, give it a read.

      • I’m interested in “crazy, crazy detail”. Any thoughts on how I would attain that?

      • +1 Will do.

        I also wantto read about Rogers purchase of the Jays.

        I am curious about the inside scoop. In the old days, beer companies used to own sports teams, because it was an easy way to market beer tosports fans.

        Now its all about communications companies marketing bandwith to sports fans who want to watch the game whenever or wherever they want.

        I think Stoeten should do a post on the Guy from AEG who is the new president of MLSE. That’s big news. If you study AEG, it’s all about putting good content n the field year after year. Good News for Jays fans, since Rogers owns part of MLse & had to sign off on the hiring.

  5. Optimistically we win tomorrow and finish the month 10-17 and 8.5 games out.

    Rather than try and make up all of that ground at once, the goal should be small measurable successes. There are 29 games in May. An 18-11 month would put us back at .500 heading into June with Jose Reyes’ return likely only a few weeks out. We would be 28-28 with 106 games to go.

    The Red Sox are on pace to set the major league record for wins. That won’t continue. The Yankees will not continue to get elite performances out of guys whose careers have appeared over for a few years now. We WILL get more out of guys with proven track records who have done the square root of f*ck all thus far.

    Disappointed but not yet ready to wave the white flag.

  6. Just bought the kindle version. Thanks for spreading the good word on this, looking forward to reading this.

  7. 12/14 position players currently batting .250 or below. Wow. Brutal.

    • are you seriously saying that batting average is the precedent that you use to determine players stats?

    • RRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

      REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

      SOUND DA A’LARM!!! OH YA OH YA SOUND DA ALARM.

      Here we go. Clubhouse vibes bombing, Gibby useless for a 2nd time.

      RRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER

      Stoeten’s gonna be losing it. He’s losing his grip on controlling the conversation. He’s gettin’ it from all sides: his beloved Rasmus, POOPY. His beloved Dickey: AVERAGE, his beloved GIBBY: Ineffective.

      Rearing its ugly head: The Ghost of CITO CITO CITO. The man that got shit done, despite the scorn of Professional Sports Stats BLoggerz World Wide (Web) TM.

      RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERR

      Snider wasn’t all that Parkes / Stoeten hoped.

      REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
      RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER

      BRING DA ALARM!!!!

      DRABEK Not the shit either.

      RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

      • Meanwhile….the guys everyone wanted to doubt are the guys who bring the goods:

        Bautista
        Jannsen
        Cecil

        RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

        Ghost of Villaneuva coming to haunt the Bloggerzzzzz
        Ditto Molina (another guy with massive value to anyone with a pair of eyes)

        RRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRR

        Meanwhile Bloggerz support the following over-hyped Confirmed Losers (TM) at every turn:

        Rowdy Travis Snider
        Jason Fucking Frasor
        Francisco Fuck Me II Codero
        Jibby Gibby (Peterborough by way of Texas look)
        Shrinking Violet Santos
        J.P. Arencibia
        Chad Mottola

        and each and every goddamn time the stats-first approach was a pile of dung. The rationalizing. oh the rationalizing that went on. The up-sell on Bonifacilicious. The up-sell, oh the up-sell. my head hurts from so much god damn up sell!!!!!!!!!!

      • Tocher with the best trolling I’ve ever seen. This is tremendous.

        • Can you blame me? look at the reaction I get out of him.

          It started off a year or 2 ago with valid rationale points, which were dismissed out-of-hand in an arrogant manner by a couple of bloggerz who thought that they’d hit on the motherload by discovering a couple of stats. With this evil power in their control they promptly went about spewing a bunch of malarky that made even the most stalwart fan snort coffee through his noise during his morning read.

          they cackled and laughed at people’s excitement and respect for guys like Cito. They poo=poo’d notions of genuine talent by Bautista and Perez and Villan and Cecil.

          They big upped fucking losers like Farrell & Frank Francisco. They rationalized their poor performance. Even to go so far as to call guys like that idiot Frasor dependable. Like we didn’t have a pair of eyes. Good lord…sometimes you even wondered if they had a soft spot for Brian Tallet. Brian Tallet~!!!!

          More recently they tried to minimize the loss of guys like Butterfield. They affixed their best grinchy grinch smirk sidewise at the mention of Dwayne Murphy (for he was guilty by association – Cito of course. Always Cito. Cito ruined their widdle Snidey, etc etc.)

          now we have a bunch of guys that go out there smiling away……….like losing games with a 40 Mil payroll increase is a funny thing. What are you SMILING at Bonifacio? Seriously? what the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck are you smiling at….

          (its too easy)

          • @ Tocher

            Will you be on the next DJF Podcast?

            I do recall Parkes complaining about signing Bautista for 65 million. He wanted the Jays to wait out 2011, when Bautista had another great year & collect the draft picks if Bautista ended up wanting 100 million.

            What would the Jays be without Bautista & 2 picks in the 2012 draft….

            I think Stoeten did give up on Coco after a while. He did it before Mike Wilner so that’s plus.

            • I love how you fucking idiots just remember all the specific. anecdotal examples of when so and so was wrong. Holy fuck., someone actually thought Travis Snider was going to be a star and so if he isn’t that appearently means everything he ever said was stupid or wrong? This despite the fact that there was every indication that Travis Snider would be a huge star? The way you write, the fact that you use straw man arguments and make very little sense is bad. but clearly you are on the internet just to get a reaction from people you don’t know, which is pathetic. Ands its clear youre doing that because no one could be so stupid for real.

  8. I have been a Jays fan since day one and trust me on this, there are times when you just watch the games and make your own conclusions. Forget about all the bullshit out there kids and your soul will be free.

  9. They should be pissed off as a clubhouse. I would be concerned if someone wasn’t trying to wipe the smirk off whomever is happy to just go about their business.

    • I wonder how Blair knows about these clubhouse issues?

      Is Buerhle upset about his dogs?

      Are the Latinos on the team too clickish?

      I don’t know where this issue came from.

  10. RRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRR

    I’m half cut right now, but that was some funny shit. Let’s hear some more free-form poetry slammin’, Toche. I say we dig up the ole’ nugget about the first big mistake of the decade-long “we know what we’re doing” rebuild – letting Carlos Delgado walk.

  11. I was at the book launch tonight (girlfriend interned at Random House and got us in). It was pretty cool. Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris were there. Dirk seems like a pretty cool dude with zero ego. He kind of looked like he just wanted to stand off to the side. Not in a dickish kind of way, just didn’t want to be the centre of attention. He demolished a cheese tray, played a quick air guitar when AC/DC came on, and I’m pretty sure checked out my girlfriend.
    Morris asked me how it was going and the only thing I could think of was overrated. Managed to blurt out some small talk though.
    Chatted with Blair a bit. Pretty normal guy. Wanted to ask him about some of his recent comments but didn’t have time.
    I could see myself enjoying a game or two and a brew or 12 at Opera Bob’s.

    • I think to put you post into context you are obligated to post a link to pictures of said girlfriend.

    • I really like Dirk. He asks questions that are meaningful, but also in a way that doesn’t come off as a jerk. He’s a professional and he’s smart. I really enjoy the broadcasts when he takes part.

  12. The speculation that the jays would get their hands on the big unit ran hard for weeks in the early summer of 1993. At the time, the pitching was struggling (this was the reverse of the 1992 squad which pitched their balls off but struggled to hit at times).

    When Gillick landed Rickey instead of Johnson, everyone was shocked. that move took plums, he was saying fuck it we’ll outscore everyone.

    I distinctly remember a Steinbrenner quote the next day along the lines of “those goddamn Blue Jays are buying the pennant!”.

  13. I was suprised to see you were suprised that the Jays were after Randy Johnson. If memory serves. the Jays had aquired Johnson in a trade with Seatle only after alrady agreeing to aquire Rickey Henderson and then Gillick, being a man of his word, had to back out of the Johnson aquisition. That, at least, was the word on the street back when I was 10.

  14. you did, the web will be a lot more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *