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Hey folks, long time, no write. Since my last post (holy fuck, that long ago? And an obit? That’s telling), things haven’t changed so much. Still loving baseball with all my alcohol-soaked heart. It’s just that I’ve gotten lazier. And the fact I’m the only one of the three of us who didn’t manage to make writing this blog part of my official job description as well. … I’m not bitter, just lazy.

But with the weather changing and the start of the baseball season less than two weeks away, I’m feeling a renewed burst of energy that should be good for at least one half-assed post. Or half a half-assed post. Because with these positive changes come equally disappointing realizations. That after a too-short spring will come heat that, combined with the congestion in this city, makes it smell like a shit tank and that for the next two months we’d still rather be looking at a sheet of ice than the pastoral beauty of a baseball field.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Toronto’s bars. For some reason, until June you’re more likely to see two teams who aren’t your home team bashing the shit out of each other at your local watering hole while the Jays are playing. OK, if the Leafs did manage the totally mediocre feat of being the eighth best (or eighth worst) team in their division and squeak into the playoffs, I’d understand. But to suddenly pretend that I give a shit about other hockey teams because your home team didn’t make it? What’s that about? Have we all turned into Portuguese football fans?

Point is, the seasons are changing, both literally and sportally speaking. The beginning of the baseball season is a joyous time for Jays fans. For those first few games you can be at your optimistic best. Whether starting off with a 4-2 record or a 2-4 one, you can get yourself into a feverish excitement and think, “We’re only a game out of this. … You know, we might just win this fucker this year.” Two factors are at work in this city to deflate this excitement: 1) The team’s owners themselves airing the first two games of their second series on their piece of shit Sportsnet One, and 2) The bar that can broadcast these games for you has opted to show hockey instead.

I say this year should be different. Baseball-loving drunks unite and let your watering hole know that if they won’t play the Jays game for you, you don’t need their alcohol (I mean, you need alcohol, you’ll just get it somewhere else).

To celebrate the changing of seasons, we’re having a last-minute get-together at Opera Bob’s, who have so generously demonstrated in the past that you can show a baseball game with sound in a bar and still be full capacity. In anticipation of the season and to compliment our optimism, we’re going to be screening the Blue Jays 1992 & 1993 World Series DVD. Come share in the nostalgia and have it warm your heart with our past glories, or sadden your soul at the realization of how fucking stacked we were back then and really don’t have a prayer of competing this year. Whatever reaction you have, there will be delicious beer on tap to see you through it.

We get started at 6 p.m. tomorrow. Opera Bob’s is at 1112 Dundas Street West. Come by for a drink, talk about the upcoming season and shed a tear for Carter’s epic dinger. Hope to see you there. Go Jays.

R.I.P. James "Lou Brown" Gammon

Hey all. Well, after last night’s shitshow, I figured we could all use a little distraction. And what better way to lighten the mood than with an obituary? Seriously though, there is no disrespect intended when I say that after seeing the news that actor James Gammon passed away, I temporarily felt better. Obviously, not at the news of his passing. But more at the thought of him in his memorable role as baseball manager Lou Brown in Major League.

Gammon’s speech about midway through the film when he reveals to the fictional (yet so believable! As if Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes and Charlie Sheen wouldn’t make for an amazing ball team! … Bearing in mind, these were pre-tax evasion and Two and a Half Men times) Cleveland Indians that they had been assembled with the purpose to fail — the original tank nation, if you will.

While I realize it’s Berenger who gets to do the whole “I guess there’s only one thing to do. Win the whole fuckin’ thing” line, it’s Gammon’s enthusiasm, confidence and giddiness as he presents a cut-out of owner Rachel Phelps with the removable sections stating: “I figure it’s gonna take 32 more victories to win this thing. Every time we win, we peel a square” that gets me every time.

And Gammon was no one-hit-film wonder (dude was in Cool Hand Luke) but I’m imagining that he’s best known for Major League cause, seeing that film as a kid, that’s what you envisioned a baseball manager to be. Gruff yet caring (“Well, you may run like Mays, but you hit like shit”), apathetic yet passionate (when he pulls Harris for Vaughn in the 9th? That’s how you pull a pitcher!) … OK, shit, I realize this looks more like an obituary for a fictional character but James Gammon as Lou Brown was an inspiration (and probably the reason for my irrational belief that the Jays could also just randomly be inspired to go on a 32-game tear and make the postseason), and regardless of what people say about managers and their role, I’d want to win playing for this guy.

R.I.P. James Gammon.

STOETEN HIJACK: I posted on this, including some video, this morning over at The Score. Asshole!

Folks, it’s another beautiful day for baseball. Despite the dreary weather and the sourness surrounding a certain incident this weekend, the Jays have brought on the sunshine. Other than wasting over four hours of my life, yesterday’s 14-inning game was pretty fucking inspiring. A bullpen-that-was-supposed-to-a-sure-bet-but-then-kinda-sucked-it totally stepped it up beyond expectations. Remember, we lose in extra innings. It’s almost not even an intangible statistic when it comes to the Jays. But then we get two confident, stellar innings from Dirty Janssen, two from the always-excellent Shawn Camp and, hey, Kevin Gregg found the strike zone! Nails all around.

Brandon Morrow and the Jays look to sweep the Evil Empire and continue to embarrass the fuck out of Teixeira.
Go Jays.

Toronto Blue Jays

Lewis – LF
Hill – 2B
Lind – DH
Wells – CF
Bautista – 3B
Gonzalez – SS
Overbay – 1B
Reed – RF
Molina – C

Morrow – P

New York Shitfucks

Jeter – SS
Swisher – RF
Teixeira – 1B
Rodriguez – 3B
Cano – 2B
Posada – DH
Granderson – CF
Cervelli – C
Gardner – LF

Vazquez – P

Whatever your feelings about the Wilner incident, it sure was nice to see the Jays kick some Yankee ass last night. I gotta admit, I thought I’d be writing a “June is the cruelest month” post this morning. I know the Rays are higher in the standings but there is something about the Yankees lineup that just makes you shit your shorts after not having seen them play in such a long time (might have something to do with 2/3 of ‘em hitting over .300). And seeing how many pitches Cecil had to go through to get through the top of the 1st, I was prepared for the worst. But then of course, the guy fucking nails it. And the bats come through. All against AJ Burnett. It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a great day for baseball.

Today, some douche called Andy Pettitte is going for a milestone of notching a 200th win. I really hope he doesn’t reach it. Ever. Fuck you Yankees. Go Jays.

Toronto Blue Jays

Lewis – LF
Hill – 2B
Lind – DH
Wells – CF
Bautista – RF
Gonzalez – SS
Overbay – 1B
Buck – C
Encarnacion – 3B

Romero – P

New York Shitheads

Jeter – SS
Swisher – RF
Teixeira – 1B
Rodriguez – 3B
Cano – 2B
Posada – DH
Thames – LF
Cervelli – C
Gardner – CF

Pettitte – FORGET ABOUT IT

Free Wilner!

Hey folks. Happy Saturday. I know Stoeten and Parkes are going to have plenty to say about this but I was thinking this week how I should try to get off my lazy ass and get to doing some weekend posts again. Only to start with this shitshow news that Mike Wilner has been suspended for the weekend following his altercation with Cito Gaston.

You guys have had plenty to say about it already in the comments from yesterday’s game and some of you are calling it a welcome dose of humility for him while others are crying absolute horseshit.

I gotta say, I probably side with the latter. And that’s not just a DJF-sucks-Wilner’s-cock deal. In fact, I’ve frequently called Wilner out on his comments (well, back when I used to write. Fuck, 2007? Who was this Josh Towers guy I kept mentioning in posts back then?) and I’ve found Jays Talk to become increasingly unlistenable as he does seem to pounce on the first opportunity to take a shot at a caller regarding the pettiest of details. That said, I’ve had the pleasure of talking with him on the podcast and via email and found he’s of the complete opposite demeanour. It’s not like he’s angrily taking calls at Jays Talk wishing for it to end. After he’s done, he’s fucking writing some epic post on his blog. The guy eats, drinks, shits and sleeps baseball. It’s his life and he loves it.

Now, we don’t know exactly what went down during that fateful media scrum on Wednesday. Was Wilner rabidly taunting Gaston about his bullpen strategy? Was Gaston unjustly acting as if he was being attacked in this situation? As some of you have noted, Wilner’s comments regarding Gaston’s management do seem to be getting increasingly personal (“There’s not one other manager in baseball that does that”) but at the same time, a baseball manager isn’t supposed to like the questions or comments made about him necessarily. Gaston, you’re a big boy, stick up for yourself. Answer the man’s questions. If Wilner now has a history of going after Gaston, Gaston most certainly has a history of abusing his status to make himself out to be a victim (“If you aren’t a racist I apologize. If you are, I don’t”).

I really think this goes beyond whether you like Wilner or not. Throughout our numerous Richard Griffin shitstorms, we’ve always said the one thing we could all admire is his courage to write what he does and then be right back in the clubhouse the next day to ask the questions other reporters don’t want to. It shouldn’t be surprising that Griffin is the one who’s been vocal about Wilner’s suspension. As chapter president of The Toronto Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Griffin sent Paul Beeston a letter yesterday stating:

“The baseball writers association would like to officially voice its support of the right of Mr. Wilner or any other reporter to ask challenging questions. … Similar lines of questioning in the wake of difficult losses are not uncommon in all pro sports. The concern of the BBWAA is that this amounts to an attempt to either censor or intimidate the media coverage that the Jays receive on a daily basis in all four newspapers and the wire services.”

And it’s hard not to support that. Without commenting on the matter, the Fan 590 is basically saying it doesn’t support reporting that goes contrary to the interests of Blue Jays management. And that kinda takes out a big component of what reporting is supposed to be. I mean, it might still be journalism, but more of the kind you find on The Shopping Channel. I don’t want to get into some overblown-false-Utopia-”1984″-”Brave New World”-type analogy here but I do think it’s pretty telling that Wilner’s only comment in response to this has been: “My only comment is that I have the weekend off.”

Now, if he’s too steamed to say anything, that’s one thing. I’m just more worried that he might not be allowed to say what he wants to. And, you know, that’s pretty fucking scary. Jays Talk could always be worse:

“Hey there Blue Jays fans. Well, despite the 17-0 loss, Cito sure did manage a heck of a game didn’t he?”

Game Threat to follow.

The calming effects of Dwayne Murphy

As I was prepping the noose after last night’s heartbreaking shitshow, I had come to the conclusion that all was lost (well, I was prepping a noose). But I happened to catch Mike Wilner’s post-game chat with Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and I gotta say, it had quite the calming effect.

Like many Jays fans, I become idiotically hysterical with the outcome of such games as last night’s (to be fair, last night’s game was enough to drive even the most rational ball fan insane). I tend to get terminally depressed, start yelling and the TV and convince myself that this one game is going to be the difference for the whole season. That this kick to the team’s collective nuts will take all the drive out of the Jays and that we can expect a full-on implosion from which we’ll never recover. It is, granted, kinda exhausting and totally stupid. (I’m starting to think that this frustration could also be the result of committing about three hours of my life every day to these games when I could be exploring different avenues that might actually expand my mind and make a positive difference towards a brighter future instead of sitting on my ass and getting fatter and pinning all my hopes and dreams on the success of a professional sports team that frankly, really won’t do anything for my status in life apart from the fact that I can maybe one day drunkenly relate to my hopefully not inbred grandchildren how the Jays came close to making the playoffs in 2010.)

Anyway, yeah, Murphy kinda put this all into a bit more of a calm perspective. I’m not going to say there was anything mindblowing there that went beyond the usual PR “We just gotta go out tomorrow and give 110%,” but there was a calm confidence in response to a heartbreaking loss that wasn’t there last year. Of course, last year’s paralysis didn’t come till a bit later and, who am I kidding, last season’s a total drunken blur that I can’t cite exact dates of to save my life, but it just feels different now.

On that note, after Lind struck out in the bottom of the ninth last night, Buck Martinez threw to Sam Cosentino and before I could yell “Go fuck yourself Sam Cosentino, I really don’t give a flying fuck about who’s sitting in the fat-ass green chairs right now,” he gave a quick update that all the Jays were on the edge of their seats in the dugout fully expecting a comeback. And you gotta admit, Wells’ following hit was pretty boneriffic even if it did fall short of tying the game. For some reason, I take comfort in Murphy’s comments regarding where the Jays go from here:

Murphy: Right now this team’s pretty confident. … If you’re going to win, you’re going to lose some tough games, some games you know you should’ve won. If you’re going to compete and you’re going to be a good team you gotta bounce back the next day. So as soon as they walk out of this clubhouse I expect them to forget about today’s game, come in there tomorrow, be ready to hit, be ready to swing and produce some runs.

Wilner: And no better guy to have on the mound than Shaun Marcum.

Murphy: Fuckin’ right.

So maybe it’s because I thought Murphy wanted to end the interview like that. And maybe it’s because Murphy’s voice kinda sounds like that of a friendly veteran wrestler. And maybe it’s because I’m brainwashed after listening to the interview close to 100 times while writing this post. But I feel better. Recommended listening. … Although you might want to cut it off afterwards, Jays Talk nearly had me tying the noose all over again. Heyo!

Go Jays.

Baseball Day in Canada

The only thing better than watching Adam Lind’s two-out, 9th-inning heroics yesterday would’ve been seeing it with a frosty beverage in hand and a group of like-minded Jays fans in a state of losing their fucking mind collective bliss. That, and maybe with a side of pulled pork, beans and garlic bread.

But that’s impossible, right? We’re in the middle of playoffs in a city where people make affinities with teams they normally don’t give a fuck about all year just to justify still watching a sport that takes place on ice even though spring is in bloom. …

OK, I have to admit, it’s been kinda inspiring watching the Habs’ playoff run so far. So if you’d be forgiven for tuning in to game 4 tonight if you’re so inclined. However, that series still has at least two games to go. But a chance to watch the Jays on TV at a bar with the sound on is truly a rare occurrence. One that the good people at Opera Bob’s are kind enough to grace us with from time to time in addition to good eats and brews. Speaking of which, if Mill Street is your drink of choice (or even if it isn’t) you might want to consider tanking up on it large as there’s a potential Jays jersey to be won (that doesn’t have Towers on the back or anything. Heyo!).

Seriously, the get-togethers at Opera Bob’s have been pretty awesome. I was describing the experience of watching the season opener there to my brother and started getting a bit misty-eyed about the baseball-televised-with-sound-in-a-Toronto-bar mini revolution that’s happening. He proceeded to inform my parents that I might be gay. But seriously, if we can reach just a handful of people and show them that you can enjoy something other than hockey in a bar, well, a handful of people will have had a good time.

Let’s get behind this mutherfuckin’ winning streak and support Dana Eveland when he takes the mound tonight. Game starts at 8:10 p.m. Drinking starts whenever you like. Hope to see you there.

Go Jays.

P.S. Stoeten, that picture in the post below looks pretty good. If I’m not careful you’re totally going to surpass my MS Paint skills.