Dustin Parkes

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It was my third or fourth time down at the Rogers Centre with a media pass. I had somehow convinced theScore to let me try to rip off Craig Kilborn’s 5 Questions, but with baseball players, and the results were … awkward. Forget about a camera adding ten pounds. For me, it magnified how horribly unnatural and self-conscious I am.

My very first experience involved asking Aaron Hill a question about the Eric Clapton song Layla. We included it in the list of questions because in a Blue Jays player profile, the team’s second baseman at the time had said that it was his favorite song to play on guitar. In reality, he hadn’t even heard of it, and the segment only got worse from there.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on, and on this specific day, I approached fan-favorite, back up infielder John McDonald to answer questions about whose jock he’d least like to wear if he forgot his own (Rod Barajas).

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running2It’s one of the dumbest things you can do at a baseball game. Forget the extreme likelihood of it being alcohol-fueled. Forget the potential for personal ramifications. Forget the disruptive attributes. Forget the long line of questionable characters who went before you, and with whom, you are henceforth linked.

As a spectator who dares to tread on the stage of the spectacle, your actions are informing 50,000 people – many of whom paid a not-insignificant amount of money to be there – that it is ALL about you. You are altering their experience into a moment of selfish gratification for your own personal attention starvation. You are stealing their time, their focus and their gaze. You are a thief. You are that guy.

Personally, I hate you. I despise you with more energy than is remotely reasonable. I watch you zig-zag around the field, hopeful that a violent blow will befall you that physical pain and existential questions to resonate throughout your body and being. That’s just me.

Fortunately, there are many who are not like me. There are others in possession of a – most likely – healthier attitude toward fans traversing the boundaries of common sense and the field of play. They can laugh at such things.

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rickyromerowoeRicky Romero used to be good. Then he was bad. After unfair comparisons to the quickly developing players in his draft class, Romero emerged in 2009 as a promising young southpaw with one of the better off-speed pitches in baseball. In 2010, he made good on this promise, producing a good enough season to give fans a semblance of hope in a year that would otherwise feel dreadful for its sudden absence of previous staff ace Roy Halladay.

In 2011, it all clicked. Romero was trending in the right direction in terms of strikeouts, walks and ground balls. Buoyed by a low BABIP and high strand rate – numbers typically attributed to events outside of a pitcher’s control – the Blue Jays ace finished the season with a career high in wins and an ERA below three.

Given the somewhat disappointing results of the rest of the young and inexperienced staff, Romero’s performance stood out as something that was actually encouraging to fans, and presumably to management, who prior to his breakout year, had locked up the left-handed pitcher’s services for the next five seasons at the seemingly low cost of a guaranteed $30.1 million.

Then came 2012.

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The 2012 MLB Rule IV draft will most likely be seen as a failure. Prior to the draft, we discussed on multiple occasions how the new rules put in place to limit spending on signing bonuses were supposedly a means of ensure the most talented players were drafted first. Instead, it’s opened the door for organizations to take advantage of a lack of leverage given to college seniors, while attempting to allocate the majority of their spending limits to their first few draft picks.

For the uninitiated, here is a summary of the new rules:

MLB has set a predetermined value for every pick, from $7.2 million for the number one choice to $100,000 for any pick after the 300th. These are the resulting slot allowances for every team, also with the amounts of money that each team spent in the first ten rounds of last year’s draft, as well as the overall amount they spent:

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According to multiple sources, including his .403 wOBA and .949 OPS for the Las Vegas 51s, Toronto Blue Jays 23 year-old catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud has conquered Triple A. According to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, he’s “awfully close” to being ready for promotion.

With Kyle Drabek’s disappointing development and the bullet dodging transactions that eventually turned Michael Taylor into Anthony Gose, D’Arnaud’s status as the top catching prospect in baseball (again according to Goldstein) is the only good news to directly come out of the infamous trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies and a new team dynamic to the Blue Jays.

The only problem with bringing D’Arnaud up is that there happens to be a young slugging catcher already in place at the Major League level in J.P. Arencibia, or Aaron Cibia if you prefer. The most likely scenario will see D’Arnaud eventually usurp the fan favourite as the starting catcher, offering the Blue Jays a prized trading chip in Arencibia, who could be described as a young, and hopefully more consistently powerful, John Buck.

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A Battle Of Perspectives

In the top of the eighth inning of tonight’s 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was called out on a controversial base running play.

MLB’s official rule 7.02 states the following:

In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order. If forced to return, he shall retouch all bases in reverse order.

A runner is “forced to return” when a fly ball that is in the air is caught by a fielder on an opposing team. Such was the case tonight when Lawrie, already on first base, advanced to second on Yan Gomes fly ball while it was still in the air. Once it was caught by B.J. Upton in center field, Lawrie went back to first base.

He didn’t touch second base on his way back because he claims he didn’t leave the base in the direction of third base:

But as umpire Rob Drake saw things, he most certainly did advance to third before heading back to first base without touching the bag at second:

Lawrie failed to make friends once again with the umpiring crew, two days after returning from a suspension for the last time he aggressively questioned a decision. Things were moderate by comparison this time as his helmet stayed on his head after the energetic player jogged a dozen or so feet in the umpire’s direction to ask why he was called out.

According to Lawrie in the post game scrum, “Don’t argue,” was the only response that Drake would offer. Perhaps, in addition to not invading an umpire’s space, Lawrie would also be better served by not knocking them out of the game with foul balls either.

Although, watching that second GIF again, I don’t know what possible defense he could’ve offered to justify what was ultimately his base running error.

Brett Lawrie plays baseball with passion. Sometimes that passion is good. Sometimes it’s bad. Incredibly bad.

The Toronto Blue Jays third baseman came up to bat in the ninth inning with his team down a run to the Tampa Bay Rays. He took two straight balls before fouling one off and then taking a third ball. With the count at 3-1, Lawrie again took the fifth pitch of the at bat and began walking to first base when the umpire called it strike two.

As we can see below, it was a bad call.

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