Archive for the ‘DJF Guides’ Category

It’s December, which means the Winter Meetings are over and most of the off-season dust has begun to settle. It’s time for baseball players league wide to stop worrying about where they’ll be playing next season and start worrying about the gifts they’ll be receiving from loved ones. Yes, the holiday season is upon us and in the true spirit of giving I’m here to lay out a guide to the greatest gifts you can give that special Blue Jay in your life that you no-doubt know on a personal level*.

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The 2011 Toronto Blue Jays season is at its end, and while I’m pretty sure nobody is quite yet ready to relive all the… uh… magical ups and downs we’ve been through together, I’ve been re-reading The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll and am full-on ready to rip off one their guide formats. Besides, what the fuck else are we going to talk about around here for the next month? The playoffs? Now that’s depressing.

So here we go, the definitively non-definitive DJF guide to the 2011 Jays season. See you on the other side…

Alex Anthopoulos will murder you
The silent motherfucking assassin. By unloading the Vernon Wells contract, Alex Anthopoulos pretty much had as great an off-season as humanly possible, and he continued his pillage of MLB into the season, inking Yunel Escobar to a contract extension that made JJ Hardy’s look like it was devised by the Baltimore Orioles, and turning a bunch of spare parts into Colby Rasmus– one of the best young players in baseball, regardless of what the local media will moronically tell you after 130-odd plate appearances. Any guide to what the Jays did in 2011 has to start with this cold-blooded wizard of a General Manager… especially if it’s an alphabetical one.

Bautista’s contract pays off
I can’t imagine what kind of fucking assholes would have argued that Jose Bautista’s 2010 did not provide anywhere close to a sufficient amount of data to justify handing him a giant contract last winter, but thank fuck the Blue Jays didn’t listen to them. All Bautista did as an encore was lead the Majors in home runs, OPS and slugging, he put up the highest on-base of any AL player since the roidy heyday of 2002, and led the American League in rWAR. For all that, his new contract averages $13-million a season– or $8-million less than what Vernon Wells will make each of the next three years.

Chad Mottola
Before 2011 most Jays fans– if they remembered him at all– would have best known Chad Mottola for his years with the Syracuse SkyChiefs from 2005 to 2007. His returned to our consciousness this year as the hitting coach in Las Vegas. Mottola raised eyebrows with the performance of his 51s hitters, who led the triple-A Pacific Coast League in on-base percentage, and for his “call up” in September. When manager John Farrell spoke openly to the media late in the season about the need for his hitters to go deeper into counts, and to make opposing pitchers work harder, it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to start wondering if Mottola might be in line for a bigger role in the organization.

Drabek loses control
Kyle Drabek entered the season as the Jays’ best pitching prospect– if not their best prospect– and the centrepiece of the Roy Halladay deal. He allowed just one hit and struck out seven in his season debut and sported a 1.93 ERA after three outings, but after that it all went fucking downhill. By the time he was demoted in mid-June he’d completely forgotten how to throw strikes, and his summer in the hitter’s wet dream that is the PCL appeared to provide little in the way of help. He exits 2011 as perhaps the least promising of the three pieces ultimately acquired for Halladay. The stuff appears to still be there, but until he remembers how to command it, what the hell is it going to matter?

E5′s adventures in fielding
Edwin Encarnacion wasn’t a great third baseman in 2010, but with just 18 errors (I know, not the best measure) over 841 innings, he wasn’t exactly unplayably effing terrible either. But that didn’t stop the Jays from assuring fans when they brought him back that he was to be a DH and insurance at first base for Adam Lind. Yet, for some reason, at the end of spring training, they pulled a complete reversal, moving Jose Bautista to his preferred position in right field, and anointing Edwin the clubs third baseman. It… um…. it didn’t go so well. In fact, it was kinda like a goddamn canyon-sized nuclear holocaust of a disasterfuck. And not only did Encarnacion make eight errors and put up a ghastly -6.8 UZR over the 273 innings he played at third in 2011, he took his defensive fucking awfulness with him to the plate, and looked like absolutely one of the worst players in the game. After he was moved off the position for good on July 24th he snapped out of his funk, hitting .289/.375/.507/.882 the rest of the way.

Frank Francisco’s tale of two seasons
When the Jays traded Vernon Wells last winter they ended up with Mike Napoli, and not knowing he was about to embark on one of the greatest offensive seasons for a catcher in baseball history, the club decided to flip him to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco. The big right-hander was hurt for most of the spring, and at the start of the season it showed more plainly than Eric Hinske’s bitch tits. Francisco entered the All-Star break with a 5.92 ERA, an .880 OPS against, and a bulls-eye on his back from every mouth-breathing Wilner caller in the GTA. He had even lost his job to the somehow-even-shittier Jon fucking Rauch. But then a funny thing happened: he absolutely destroyed the second half of 2011, looking every bit the elite late-inning reliever the Jays thought they were getting in putting up a 1.37 ERA and a .543 OPS against. Even at the cost of a draft pick, the fucker might be worth bringing back.

Gillick and Alomar enter the Hall of Fame
There were only like twenty seven ceremonies for it over the course of the season, so I’m not entirely sure that you’ve heard, but it turns out Robbie Alomar and Pat Gillick were both elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. The architect of the Jays’ 1992 and 1993 World Series champions– not to mention a bunch of great Jays teams before that, as well as outstanding teams with the Orioles, Mariners and Phillies– and the most talented player in franchise history were enshrined on a sunny day in late July in Cooperstown (perfect for inadvertently stealing a jersey!). Alomar was honoured again a week later by the Jays, who retired his number 12 prior to a kick-ass 7-3 win over Texas.

Hill and McDonald depart
I’m not entirely sure why, but the Jays broke many a heart early this September when they shipped lovable utility player John McDonald and two-year underachiever Aaron Hill to the Arizona Diamondbacks for second baseman Kelly Johnson. Or… well… OK, I kinda get the heartbreak when it comes to the folk hero McDonald, whose Father’s Day 2010 home run, mere weeks after his father’s passing, and defensive wizardry endeared him to Jays fans like no other benchwarmer in at least generation. But Hill? The one-time up-and-comer who’d struggled im-fucking-mensely for so long? That heartbreak made almost as little sense as why anyone was listening to the pissing and moaning of “fans” who hadn’t paid attention for two years in the first place.

International signings
Largely reported as a footnote, the Blue Jays were exceptionally active on the international free agent market this summer, picking up seven players from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Mexico in late August– including 16-year-old Robert Osuna, who was already pitching against men in the Mexican league, and was, along with fellow signing Wuilmer Becerra, among Baseball America’s Top 40 international prospects. Add in early-July signing Dawel Lugo– who received a reported $1.3-million bonus, almost as much as sandwich round draft pick Kevin Comer– and it was quite the impressive haul for the Jays, who continue to stock their farm system with high-end talent.

John Farrell
The learning curve was steep for Jays manager John Farrell in his rookie season behind the bench. The players say they love him and he’s by all accounts an intelligent man, self-reflexive, and a natural leader. But while he certainly improved as the season went on– and after Alex Anthopoulos took away his opportunities to have Octavio Dotel face fucking left-handers, and to let Corey Patterson run wild, sending the pair to St. Louis in the Colby Rasmus deal– there are still far too many bunts and too many strange permutations of the lineup in his repertoire to call him anything but a work in progress.

K. Nelson, Amy
Along with co-author Peter Keating, ESPN’s Amy Nelson ham-fistedly attempted in an early August feature to assert that the Jays were cheats, based on some stories from White Sox relievers about a signalling “man in white” in the Rogers Centre outfield and a molehill of statistical “evidence.” The pair ended up chickenshitting out with a third-rate barely high school-calibre final paragraph that admitted they couldn’t tie together the strands of what they were seeing and being told, concluding only that “every pitch to a Blue Jay in Toronto is worth watching.” Their statistical evidence, of course, wasn’t just inconclusive, it was monumentally fucking laughable– a fact that quickly became somewhat overlooked as Nelson was singled out made the target of a great deal of misogynist commentary from across the internet, including some that I, regrettably, re-printed here.

Lind’s back!
After an absolutely putrid 2010– where he OPS’d an unbelievably awful .341 against left-handers, and just .712 overall– Adam Lind started 2011 on fire. He slumped slightly in mid-April before surging like a fucking freight train again into the first week of May, when his season derailed thanks to a back injury. A month on the shelf did wonders and he looked great in his return… for a little while. His OPS was at 1.017 on June 18th, but as the rigors of his first season at first base began taking their toll on his body– especially his wonky back– Lind slumped again, and over the 79 games following that high point, he OPS’d a godawful .576. Yeesh.

McGowan returns
When Jason Frasor was traded to Chicago as part of the Rasmus deal, Dustin McGowan became the longest tenured Toronto Blue Jay, but you’d hardly have known it. At the time it had been over three years since he’d actually last thrown a pitch for the club. But after multiple surgeries and years of rehabbing, McGowan remarkably returned to the majors in 2011, ending his year as a member of the Jays’ rotation, starting four times to varying degrees of success. And not only was his comeback remarkable in its own right, he flashed enough of his old “stuff“– which ex-catcher Sal Fasano, now manager of the Jays’ double-A affiliate in New Hampshire, called the best he’d seen in his life– to set the minds of Jays fans spinning for what he might be able to offer if he can stay healthy going forward, and manages to shake off the rust.

No-hit by Verlander
In what would be an early indicator of the incredible season he was embarking on, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers came to Rogers Centre on May 7th, and before a crowd of 23,435 no-hit the Jays. It’s never easy to see your team so thoroughly dominated, but you had to hand it to Verlander, who was just spectacular, maintaining his high-90s heat through to the ninth inning, and accomplishing the feat in just 108 pitches. All that separated him from a perfect game was a JP Arencibia walk (no, really) in the bottom of the eighth. A double play quickly followed, and Verlander ended up facing just 27 batters in the best-pitched game at Rogers Centre since Brandon Morrow’s 17 strikeout August 2010 masterpiece.

Overbay, Rios, Wells, Gonzalez, and Hill
Some of the worst regulars in baseball during the 2011 season had very familiar names to Jays fans. Five ex-Jays spent a great deal of time plumbing the depths of FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboard, with Lyle Overbay, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Alex Gonzalez and Aaron Hill somehow all getting regular playing time, while combining to produce less than one Win Above Replacement. And most of that value came from Aaron Hill’s season-ending post-trade swoon, where his 1.6 WAR over 33 games in the desert offset the -0.8 wins he provided during his time as a Jay. Amazingly, Hill and Overbay are in the playoffs with the Diamondbacks, while Gonzalez’s Braves held the NL Wildcard until the last day of the season, and Wells’ Angels were in the race into September. Still… good riddance to them all. And since I’m not going to mention him elsewhere in this guide, you can throw Jo-Jo Reyes and that whole experiment in out-of-options shitballers in there too.

Patterson of centrefield
Thanks to some early-season hot streaks forcing his bat into the lineup, and a lack of other viable options, Corey Patterson played 30 games in centrefield for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, and anybody who watched him there would surely agree, it was 30 too many. While he may be fleet-footed– and I really do mean may, because I tend to think he’s actually kinda not– his slow jumps, shitty arm, bad routes to balls and straight-up miscues made routine plays sometimes so tough to watch that we were actually pining to see the fullback-like build of Travis Snider patrolling centre– and for a handful of games in July, prior to the Rasmus deal, the Jays actually tried it. Hey, but I guess if Patterson’s good enough for Tony LaRussa, who am I to judge? At least he’s the Genius’s problem now.

Quest for a double-play
Despite the record, the ERA, and the string of fugly starts from mid-August to mid-September, according to what he refers to as “nerd stats,” Brandon Morrow had a pretty good year– better than Ricky Romero’s, if you can believe it, according to FanGraphs’ FIP-driven version of WAR. However, his FIP really only looks so nice because the stat assumes that pitchers can’t control what happens to a batted ball once it’s in play– a sound principle most of the time, but one that’s kinda undone by something like a pitcher having a historically fucking difficult time inducing double plays, as Morrow did in 2011. It took him 29 starts and the introduction of a cutter before he managed his first and only one of the year, September 23rd at Tampa Bay– a span of 170 innings. If the Jays are to succeed, he’ll have to do a lot better– and he’s certainly capable, as he’s shown in flashes during his two seasons in Toronto.

Rauch, Jon fucking
If there was ever any doubt that Alex Anthopoulos was trying to game MLB’s free agent compensation system, it was put to rest last winter when the Jays traded cash to the Rockies for Miguel Olivo just to procure a draft pick. That move worked out swimmingly, but not every attempt Anthopoulos makes at getting an extra draft pick is going to, as Jays fans found out the hard way in 2011 by having to suffer through the vomitous performances of Kevin Gregg 2.0, Jon Rauch– aka Jon fucking Rauch. Mercifully put out of his misery with a season-ending trip to the DL thanks to a combination of appendicitis and knee trouble known in these parts as right arm shittiness, Rauch blew five of his 16 save opportunities, contributed a negative WPA in 15 of his 53 appearances, and finished the season below replacement level, with a -0.6 WAR according to FanGraphs. Ugh.

Seeing Mike McCoy pitch
On Saturday, June 11th, the Jays were blown out by the Boston Red Sox, 16-4, with Brandon Morrow getting torched for 9 runs over 4.1 innnings. It was an ugly day at the Rogers Centre, but the few fans who stuck around to the bitter end were at least treated to a rare sight, when the Jays’ super-utility man, Mike McCoy– Mikey Mick!– came out to pitch the ninth inning. With a “fast”ball that averaged just 76.1 mph and a 62 mph curve, McCoy somewhat impressively retired the three batters he faced on just twelve pitches, popping up Carl Crawford before Marco Scutaro flied out to left and JD Drew grounded out to McCoy’s replacement at second base, Jayson Nix. I’d take him over Rauch any day.

Travis Snider
What guide to the Jays’ 2011 season would be complete without a mention of Travis Snider? The dicked-around mega-prospect was again supposed to have the everyday left field job for good or for ill, and again was demoted after a criminally-low number of plate appearances– albeit a criminally-low number of plate appearances in which he was fucking terrible. And this happened not once but twice during the season. Still just 23, Snider has plenty of career left in which to find the swing that made scouts once salivate over him, but next spring he’ll be entering yet another season as a giant question mark– no thanks to the Jays’ treatment of him over the last few years (i.e. the dicking around).

Unsigned first-rounder Tyler Beede
A lot was made– especially by the hysterical fuck brigade that likes to moronically pounce on any hint of tightfistedness– of the Jays’ inability to sign 2011 first round pick, Tyler Beede, who rather hilariously valued a Vanderbilt education more than the $2.5-million he was being offered by the club. But believe it or not, the Jays’ draft was still ultimately a major success. The club gets an extra first rounder next year as compensation for failing to sign Beede, and they did sign second-rounder Dan Norris– likely a brighter talent anyway, who dropped because his price scared teams off. They also added a host of other high-end talents that other teams avoided due to signability concerns– or, in the case of steal-of-a-potential-closer John Stilson, injury concerns. The digital ink spilled in outrage over Beede was, in a word, slightly re-fucking-diculous.

Vancouver Canadians
When Alex Anthopoulos answered questions in French during his introductory press conference two years ago, you could tell right away that the Jays had finally started to remember that the whole of Canada is a potential market for them. A big step toward creating a more national brand for the club was taken in 2011, as the single-A Vancouver Canadians began their first year as a Jays affiliate. And with record-breaking attendance at Nat Bailey Stadium, their first Northwest League championship, and a spectacular season from 2010 second-rounder Justin Nicolino– who was eventually promoted– there is no doubt that the experiment in Vancouver was an unqualified success.

Where’s Brett Lawrie?
The question of the summer was finally, finally and thunderously answered on August 5th, when Brett Lawrie– the Canadian third baseman acquired from Milwaukee last winter for Shaun Marcum, who had torched triple-A all season– made his debut at Camden Yards in Baltimore, hitting an RBI single in his first at-bat, and homering the next night. It was off and running from there, as Lawrie put up a .953 OPS over the season’s final two months, before a broken finger did what American Leauge pitching couldn’t, shutting him down prematurely in late September. His OPS, could he have kept it up for a full year, would have been bettered by only seven hitters in majors, all of whom will receive MVP votes. Unreal.

X-tra innings
X is hard, so I’ll go with this bastardized spelling of “extra innings,” in which the Jays were incredibly fantastic during the 2011 season. That’s especially true– in fact, entirely true– when they were at home, as they went 13-4 in extra inning games overall, but a remarkable 11-0 at the Rogers Centre. That 11-0 record includes an Edwin Encarnacion walk-off homer in the final home game of the season, and a pair of fourteen inning wins that were somehow both among my too few trips to the former SkyDome this season: an impossible Corey Patterson walk-off home run against the White Sox in May, and Rajai Davis bunting his way on, stealing second, then third, then coming home on a John McDonald sac fly to finally, mercifully beat Seattle in July.

Yu Darvish
Next to Albert Pujols’s birth certificate, the thing baseball fans will probably be hearing about most this winter is the posting fee for Yu Darvish, the spellbinding pitcher for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters– and if the mid-season trip Alex Anthopoulos made to see the Japanese ace is any indication, the Blue Jays are going to be in that conversation a lot. Not only have they already been identified as frontrunners by ESPN’s Buster Olney, both Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell have indicated that they’d like to add a front-line pitcher to the club’s rotation. Might the flashy, but incredibly expensive and frighteningly untested Darvish be that piece?

Zaun the air!
After catching a couple spring training games for the San Diego Padres, ex-Jay Gregg Zaun decided that his heart wasn’t in it and that it was time for him to retire from baseball. He was quickly picked up by Rogers Sportsnet, who he’d worked with for a number of years as a between-innings analyst during the playoffs, and provided us with a season of something all too rare for Rogers: refreshingly unvarnished, interesting commentary. Zaun also spent time in the radio booth, filling in for Alan Ashby the few times “Buns” moved to the TV side to give viewers a fleeting taste of what quality broadcasting actually sounds like. Perhaps more shuffling is still in the cards– one can certainly hope.

If you look back through the archives over the last few weeks, you’ll notice that the only stories not whining and complaining about Brian Tallet’s eligibility for the starting rotation were focused on the Dot Com Dash, a half-mile race between The Hardest Working Man In The Show Business, Jordan Bastian and some hack MLB.com writer who covers both the Yankees and Mets, because, yeah, that’s just what the baseball world needs more of – Yankees and Mets coverage.

As you may recall, Tony DiComo narrowly defeated THWMITSB, meaning that DJF had to dip into its enormous financial resources to donate $25 to Harlem RBI, an excellent organization that uses baseball skills to keep kids in school. In addition to the charitable donation, the terms of the wager between DJF and Mersgrrl.com dictated that the losing party would host a guest post from the winner.

Metsgrrl was kind enough to put together this helpful guide to surviving New York City for visiting Jays fans.

The Jays visit New York during the following dates: July 2 -4, August 2-4 and September 3-5.

You’ve finally done it. You’re in the Big Apple, on your way to see Your Toronto Blue Jays playing the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. You’re excited, but you’d like to get home in one piece. I offer you the insider’s secrets, a real New Yorker’s guide to going to the Bronx…and getting out without having to see the inside of a New York City jail.

(I have another more mundane guide to the House of Evil available here.)

RULE #1: Despite what you may have seen on tv or in the movies, you cannot buy a beer, put it into a little paper sack, and walk around with it openly. It’s what we call “open alcohol” and there is nothing a New York City foot patrolman (or woman) would like better than to catch your Canadian ass out and “aboout” with open alcohol on a subway platform or walking down the street.

RULE #2: Bars in NYC are generally Mets bars, or Yankees bars. Any bar that says “We welcome fans of both teams” are (pardon my French – oh wait, you speak that too, right?) pussies who just care about making $$$. As the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and you will be welcomed with open arms in any bar that has a neon Mets logo in the window. Because, let’s remember that the Mets are 14-4 against the Blue Jays all-time and have never lost a home game to Toronto.

RULE #3: No smoking. No seriously, we don’t smoke anywhere, and don’t make the rookie mistake of assuming that just because a subway station is out of doors that it’s okay to smoke there. More tourist friends I know who are otherwise smart cookies have gotten stung with that one.

RULE #4: DO NOT come straight to the Bronx from the airport or bus or train or dog sled with your suitcases in hand, because Yankee Stadium does not allow backpacks, bags or briefcases of any kind (unless you’re a yuppie suit who’s sitting in a suite, in which case I don’t care much about trying to help you out). If you show up with a bag of any size (besides a clear plastic bag you have your food in – more on that below) you will be directed to a bowling alley in the vicinity of River Avenue and 158th Street (which is called, guess what, Ball Park Lanes) where a shady character will hand you a dirty, crumpled piece of laminated cardboard that serves as a claim check. If you’re lucky enough to be a woman, or you can procure one to accompany your party, she can bring a purse in, or she can do what I do, which is toss a handful of feminine products and a tube of lipstick in the top section of my camera bag. Voila, purse.

RULE #5: Buy water and soda BEFORE you go into the ballpark. I know you’re going to be drinking beer, but why pay $24.50 for a bottle of True Yankee Water when any bodega (corner store) will sell you the same thing for a dollar. The little known secret about the House of Evil is that you CAN bring sealed bottles of beverages, or even food, inside. Do Canadians eat peanuts at the ball game or just poutine? Well, you can bring your peanuts in too and spend your money on the steak sandwich (the best food item at the House of Evil) over by section 139 on the field level. It just all has to be in a clear plastic bag.

RULE #6: You don’t want to sit in the outfield bleachers. You really don’t. I know, you’re tough and all, but the Bleacher Creatures are just going to roll over you, stuff you inside a nice Italian roll, and eat you for a snack. Heckling is dead serious and a way of life out there. It’s not fun, you’ll spend your time defending your vintage Jays hat from being knocked off your head repeatedly and totally miss the game.

RULE #7: Wearing gear that identifies you as a fan of the opposing team means that you are going to be gently heckled at the very least. You will be heckled more if you lose than if you win, and when the shoe’s on the other foot, some well-placed barbs are always fun. And when the Jays are up 11-2, no Yankees fan will have a comeback (beyond a drunkenly slurred “YOU SUCK”) when you point out that the Steinbrenners could’ve blown the $100 million elsewhere and still have had their team embarrassed this game. You’ll be fine as long as you follow 3 simple rules: don’t throw stuff, don’t ever make physical contact, and don’t act like a total d-bag.

RULE #8: Don’t drink too much. You don’t want to drink too much so you don’t do or say something stupid, so you don’t trip and fall down the stairs, and most importantly, so you can make a quick getaway in the unfortunate occurrence that your team loses. Case in point: remember that Mets/Yankees game where Luis Castillo dropped that fly ball? I was never so glad that I was able to get outside of the stadium and be on the subway platform before the MFY’s (think about it, you’ll get it) were done high-fiving and smacking each other’s butts.

RULE #9: You want to take the subway to the game. You really do. You do, because it’s cheap, and because it’s fast, and because it’s what New Yorkers do, and because there are enough witnesses to testify in case someone gets stupid. But that’s not going to happen, because there are cops ALL OVER the goddamn subway platforms after the games (waiting to bust people for either a) open alcohol or b) smoking) and once you’re crammed inside the subway car, there’s no room to take a shot at you. But if you’re standing on River Avenue lamely trying to hail a cab to take you back to Midtown like you’re some rich Wall Street dude, you’re on your own.

RULE #10: Parking is like $3200. Okay maybe there’s an extra zero or two in there, but holy Flying Spaghetti Monster it’s expensive to park in the official Yankee Stadium lots. But, unless you have parked in NYC before or are traveling with someone who has, don’t try to street park. You will not read the signs right and your car will get towed and while I know there’s some dude movie out there where the four main characters go on a jaunty adventure through nighttime NYC trying to find the tow pound, in reality it’s a time sucking expensive PITA.

Have a great time in the Big Apple, and Let’s Go Jays!

Every year, around this time, I make some sort of joke about Max Headroom inventing the internet and then I roam through the Jays blogosphere, mercilessly shitting down the throats of everyone who provides some level of online content about the Toronto Blue Jays.

Well, this year I’m going to try to take things a bit more seriously and do the whole bullshit letter grade thing because it makes me feel a little bit like God when he travels around the world, visiting resorts and handing out those star ratings that everyone follows when they plan drinking vacations to Mexico.

Speaking of drinking vacations, we’ll start things off with the mainstream media types and work our way down to the lowly bloggers who Bob Elliott tries to block from following him on Twitter.

Miked Up – A

Reading the FAN 590′s Mike Wilner is like traveling abroad for years and then finally coming home to the people who understand your slang, your jokes and your references.

Wilner, unlike any other Jays reporter, gives in to his fandom without bowing to the gods of homerism or irrationality. He proposes real ideas on what the team should do, and is fair in dishing out criticism and praise for players and management alike.

While his reactions to the Air Canada Centre Jays fans may seem schtickish at times, Wilner, quite possibly more than anyone else, has managed to educate Canadian baseball fans on baseball metrics to the point that WHIP, OPS and newer measurements are verging on common knowledge even among the set that Wilner mocks.

This is an enormous accomplishment considering that it wasn’t that long ago people in Toronto would suggest that the Blue Jays should trade for draft picks.

Major League Bastian – A

Jordan Bastian from MLB.com is a workhorse. He’s the part of the rotation that you can count on for 220 IP each and every year. At times, Bastian can seem more prolific than the proverbial infinite number of monkeys pounding typewriter keys, writing three articles a day and still having time for a blog post.

Even more impressive than his production is that he’s able to write so many pieces without alienating either the hard core Jays fans who know Travis Snider’s daily calorie intake or the casual fan who merely knows that Vernon Wells is overpaid.

Bastian’s platform at BlueJays.com would make it easy for him to pander to the lowest common denominators looking for quick updates, but the Michigan State grad will write about any issue while making no assumptions of his readers.

Who else could write a story about the possibility of Jeremy Accardo being non-tendered that even Quarter Past Cuckoo could understand?

The Canadian Press – B

Shi Davidi is the rockstar of Canadian baseball writers. His groupies are newspapers and he’s been in every one of them – multiple times.

Davidi’s greatest strength is his ability to write stories that haven’t been filed by every single other Jays beat reporter. His greatest weakness: not having a single simple platform from which fans can access his work.

That’s not a bad weakness to have, but it still means a B rating from this prestigious ranking system, and I’m sure that will keep Davidi up at night.

The Toronto Star Baseball Blog – C+

Dear Richard,

Are you aware that blogs aren’t merely a place to do weekly Q&As?

Dustin, Tank Nation

Dear Dustin,

I can’t think of a way to turn this question into an assault on former Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, so I’m not interested in answering it.

Sincerely,
Richard

The most maddening thing about Richard Griffin is that he obviously loves baseball and anyone who read his entries from the winter meetings in Las Vegas last year knows he can be an excellent writer.

Unfortunately, too often Griffin would rather sling shit or grasp at air to defend some of his rather illogical and archaic perspectives.

Still, as much as we may be prone to shitting on him on this site, there’s something romantic about Griffin when you think of him in terms of an old sports columnist, scribbling away at whatever he wants, with a “who gives a fuck” attitude toward the next generation.

And as I said before, he loves baseball far too much to not deserve some measure of respect.

Morgan Campbell also writes about baseball for The Toronto Star, focusing more on game summaries. Nothing against Campbell, but I miss Cathal Kelly.

Globe On Baseball – C-

Since the departure of Jeff Blair from the Globe and Mail’s regular Jays beat, this blog has become me in my last year of university. It’s unmotivated and late with the infrequent completion of assignments. All it’s missing is an outrageous bar tab.

I’m sure Robert McLeod is a great guy and his game summaries that also appear in the actual newspaper are competent if nothing else. It’s just that there’s no love or inspiration there.

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant where you got everything you expected from what you ordered, but still left the place feeling unsatisfied? That is the Globe On Baseball.

Fortunately for the Globe’s baseball coverage, Jeff Blair continues to write about baseball occassionally, and his Twitter feed is a must follow. I just don’t understand why he uses both “Geezus!” and “Christ!” Isn’t it blasphemous without his middle name: Jesus Murphy Christ!

Posted Sports – C-

At the time of writing, The National Post is still a newspaper, and Posted Sports is still a bloggish part of their website.

I’m almost inclined to feel sorry for John Lott, Jeremy Sandler and Erin Valois. They all do competent work in keeping the baseball element of the blog active, but the layout is so ridiculously terrible that in the time it takes you to find all of the baseball stories, you’ve likely already gotten news, commentary and dissent on the same issue on another site.

Sandler does a fine job writing summaries of each game, which appear both online and in the print edition, but it’s rare to read anything ground breaking.

The Toronto Sun – C-

After searching through pictures of butter faces, car accidents and drug overdoses, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Toronto Sun does not have a baseball blog. What it does boast, baseball-wise, is the incoherent rambling of one of the hardest to read writers to ever be published.

The defence of Bob Elliott has always been that while he may not be the best wordsmith, his reporting is bang on. However, his verging-on-comic reliance on the “unnamed NL scout” and some horrendous gaffes during Halladay Trade Week has quickly laid this claim to rest.

What remains for Elliott is a similar charm to that of Richard Griffin. He loves the game and his many years covering it deserve respect. It’s also worth mentioning that few people have more of a passion for Canadian baseball than Elliott, who will never stop doing his best to promote talented youngsters from this country.

While he may not blog, he does have a Twitter account, which as I hinted at earlier, he has hilariously blocked DJF from following. I’m not sure what his specific beef is, or if he understands that we can still read his Tweets and use them to – how dare we – direct traffic to his stories, but sadly we will never be graced with his updates in Tweet Deck.

Rogers Sportsnet – D+

The most interesting thing about Rogers Sportsnet’s online coverage of the Toronto Blue Jays is how spectacularly they’ve failed at their attempts to find interesting content.

The terrible idea of having watered down versions of athlete’s blogs hit a new snag last year when they chose Jeremy Accardo to verbally meander endlessly about how great it is to be a Toronto Blue Jay when the reliever spent most of the season in Las Vegas.

The year before, it was Gregg Zaun writing for the site before injuries forced him out of the starting job and into the role of bitter old backup.

Filling Accardo’s void last year was Scott Carson, Jamie Campbell and occasionally Sam Consentino. There’s nothing wrong with Carson and Consentino . . . it’s just that it’s always hand jobs and ass licks whenever they talk about the Jays.

Campbell on the other hand brings such a dark mystery to his writing that he has more in common with Aleister Crowley than a regular baseball analyst. The former play by play voice of the Jays would litter his columns with a grotesqueness usually reserved for the most heinous of sexual deviants.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that Buck Martinez won’t be bothered to write a blog on the website because a) I’m not entirely sure he’s literate; and b) it’s Buck Fucking Martinez.

With his new book coming out, look for Sportsnet to approach Dirk Hayhurst to be this year’s cursed one. If he’s at all interested in making the team, Hayhurst would be wise to refuse.

TSN – Double Play – D

TSN’s baseball coverage is only slightly better than The Score’s, and The Score’s coverage consists of a line of programming and a contract with an outside news organization.

For a few glorious months, TSN made all the ladies jealous by having former Jays executive Will Hill’s quill. However, his thoughtful and heartfelt pieces are no longer featured on the website, and so now the only reason to ever visit TSN’s baseball blog is when you accidently click on it after reading one of the seven hockey bloggers and columnists currently on the website.

I’m really surprised that Martin St. Louis was overlooked for the Canadian Olympic roster. He’s having an outstanding season and works well with just about any type of centreman.

Drunk Jays Fans – A

Jesus Christ! Did you check our shit out when that whole Halladay trade went down? The ol’ blog has still got it. Jumping sharks is for fags.

The Tao Of Stieb – A

If you’re reading DJF on anything close to a regular basis, you’re more than likely also reading The Tao . . . that’s because you’ve got moderately above average taste.

The Tao combines all of the dry, sarcastic wit of a British panel show with the timely news of a sports ticker that isn’t Sportsnet’s. It’s pretty much the shit.

The inclusion of their new weekend correspondent The Ack was a stroke of genius, and believe you me, I stroke my little genius everytime he posts.

There is one thing about the Tao we don’t necessarily care for, but we just can’t put our finger on it right now.

Ghostrunner On First – A-

I asked Drew from Ghostrunner On First what he wanted me to say in this little capsule review because The Score Force or whatever it’s called pays us to be friends, but his lips were too tightly wrapped around Rocco Baldelli’s cock for me to understand a single word coming out of his mouth.

GoF, despite its unfortunate acronym, is everything a blog should be: humourous, insightful and slightly revealing about its author. Reading The Barber’s posts on Ghostrunner is unlike reading anyone else online. He has his voice and he uses it to make his readers feel as though there’s a root or foundation to their ongoing interaction with the ideas and facts of that are presented on his blog almost daily.

My only criticism: I think the look and feel of the site is ugly.

Batter’s Box – B

Batter’s Box is a very thorough blog that acts as a great jumping off point for discussion on a multitude of topics. Back in the day before easy-to-access stats websites, Batter’s Box was worth reading specifically for their incredible research into statistics.

Batter’s Box’s focus on prospects and name games doesn’t exactly get my clock from 6:30 to 12:00 if you know what I’m saying, but it’s difficult to argue with the great comment section that somehow, miraculously, manages to avoid messages directed at the author’s mother.

The Batter’s Box roster of writers contains five Irish, two unisex and one Scandanavian name. They are all most assuredly white men with too much time on their hands.

The Southpaw – B-

This blog’s tagline says it all: Because you’re too lazy to look it up yourself.

God knows I am a lazy man. A lazy, lazy man. The thing is: if you’re advertising your blog to be a shortcut for the lazies, you really shouldn’t post Brattainesque essays.

Having said that, The Southpaw is thorough and you’ll seldom read a post that’s not a well thought out reaction to the most current of situations.

The site is sort of like sex with a hot chick that you don’t really have a rapport with. It feels good and you might’ve even learned a thing or two, but you don’t get that post-coital exhausted moment where you think back to how enjoyable the experience was.

Hum And Chuck – B-

Girls are weird. They don’t have balls and rarely drink Scotch, so I don’t completely trust them. But they do have other appealing aspects.

Take Joanna from Hum and Chuck for instance. She’s all woman and a baseball fan, which makes her crazy sexy, like when you go to the bar and you see a table of non-bull dyke indie looking chicks all drinking beer from the bottle.

She’s also a pretty good writer. My beef, or beouf if you will, is that sometimes the talent of her writing gets washed away in the super fandom she has a tendency to exhibit. A little more anger, which has been on display for the last month or so on her blog, is a good thing. It keeps things interesting.

Everyone knows that hard to please girls are the hottest.

The Blue Jay Hunter – C+

The top five reasons why I’m giving Ian Hunter of The Blue Jay Hunter a C+ grade:

5. He uses a lot of lists on his site.

4. He uses a lot of gimmicks on his site.

3. He uses pie charts a lot, which is cool.

2. He takes risks in his jokes on his site by avoiding the backbone of most blogs: cynicism. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but you’ve got to hand it to him for being genuine in his writing and ideas.

1. Ian is a really supportive guy, and he clearly cares about the community of Jays bloggers out there. I don’t think that there’s a single blogger who leaves as many positive comments on as many sites as Ian does and he works hard to bring those who love the team together.

Bluebird Banter – C-

Bluebird Banter is one of the more popular Jays blogs out there thanks to its association with SB Nation, which is associated with Yahoo! like your retarded bastard half brother is associated with you.

The blog is professional and quick to post news as it happens. However, I don’t understand the appeal of reading a blog that presents news and opinions in the same fashion as any other mainstream media site out there.

It’s like paying a whore to fuck you like your girlfriend.

I want a bit more flare and personality from a blog. In many ways Bluebird Banter is the emptiness to Ghostrunner On First’s soulfullness. The Ben Affleck to their Mabel Simmons.

Go Jays Go – C-

It’s a little unfair to compare a tumbleblog with a regular blog.

For those who don’t have to push their glasses up the bridge of their nose repeatedly, a tumbleblog uses many images and little text to follow a topic. It’s like a Twitter account being run in a blog format.

Go Jays Go does a great job of unearthing some quality stuff. However, they also repeat what other blogs have posted months ago. If you’re going to go that route, your shit has got to be more original than valuing OBP.

Mop Up Duty – C-

Mop Up Duty is one of the longest serving Jays blogs and I find it uneven reading. Ocassionally one of the two writers will strike blogging gold, but too often the posts are living in the past, recalling an obscure moment in Jays history.

It reminds me a bit of when you meet someone new who’s close to your age and you sit there and pretend to be amazed that they watched the same children’s television programming that you did. It’s fucking amazing dipshit, that two people born in the same year, raised in the same region and income bracket would watch the same shit.

Please don’t get me started on their unironic music montages to OK Blue Jays.

Blue Jays Daze
/ Jays Journal – C-

Both of these blogs are written by Mat Germain. I find his collection of information useful, but I’m a little unimpressed by his analysis.

His focus on prospects is most insightful when he’s repeating the facts he’s collected from other sites. However, once the words turn to his own, I’m a little bit skeptical.

As one of the newer bloggers out there, I’d remind Mat that the first Late Night With Conan O’Brien episodes were shittier than shit before the host found his stride. Let’s hope that Mat is the same way.

John McDonald’s Cabinet
– D

Fratboy #1: Hey dude, let’s get wasted and head to the game.

Fratboy #2: Totally dude, let me just finish this finish this blog post.

Fratboy #1: Fuck dude!

A quick glance at JMC’s large roster of writers reminds me of university and living with five dudes in a huge house. One time we soaked a stack of bricks in lighter fluid and lit them on fire in the front lawn while others tossed bricks from the balcony trying to knock down the tower of flaming bricks.

We thought we were hilariously original. Truth be told, any prank or crazy idea we could’ve possibly come up with had been done before . . . many, many times before.

While reading JMC, I can’t help but whisper to myself, “Been there, done that.”

The Te of Inglett – D

I’ll get around to writing a review of this site just as soon as this site gets around to posting regularly.

Infield Fly
– NA

Infield Fly has been around for a year, but because I still subscribe to Rolling Stone instead of NME, I’m just reading them now for the first time.

I like what I see: a good blend of news, opinion, humour and blogginess, without epic explanations and annoying alliterations. I’m going to totally start ripping them off before people start reading them regularly.

If you reminisce with anyone who can remember high school with the least bit of fondness, you’re likely to hear about a teacher who did more than merely instruct that person in the ways of mathematics. A good high school teacher has the potential to be a lasting influence in a student’s life.

Unfortunately, most high school teachers are complete and utter hacks.

However, even these hacks fall into two categories. On the one end of the spectrum are the hacks that somehow, despite their incompetence, convince themselves that they actually make a difference in the lives of their students. These are the teachers who claim that teaching isn’t just a job, “it’s a calling.” Yet, despite their moral grandstanding, they have absolutely zero knowledge worthy of imparting to students, and even if they did, they’d likely be far too lazy to bother with it anyway.

On the opposite side of the coin are the hacks who know they’re hacks, and they’re okay with it. They don’t have to bother convincing themselves that they’re doing a great service to the world. They’re refreshingly comfortable doing a formidable job and collecting their bi-weekly pay cheque without trying to sound self-important to students.

My high school History teacher Mr. Adams was just such a creature. In fact, the only thing I can clearly remember from any of his classes was that tanks were first used at The Battle of the Somme, and that’s only because he’d ask the class, “What was first used at The Battle of the Somme?” When someone would answer, “Tanks.” He’d reply, “You’re welcome, but what was first used at The Battle of the Somme?”

That’s a long and indirect way at getting at the word tank, and not even in the usage I’m going for either, but it’s my fucking blog and if I want to write a dull semi-stream of conscience intro about high school teachers, I will.

There are several theories as to why the term “tank” can refer to giving up: like falling in a dunk tank, diving into a water tank or toilet, fuel being spent from an empty tank, etc.

However, one thing is clear, the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays should just fucking tank it. And, as the most rabid of Jays fans, we should support the impending tank job. That is, as long as they do it right.

Roster Management

Pitchers

Talking about the Blue Jays pitching situation and not mentioning Roy Halladay is like talking about a hot piece of talent and not mentioning her tits. They’re both sweet, luscious and you totally want to stick your dick between them.

Anyway, the obvious first step toward Tank Nation is ridding the team of its best player. Hopefully, a Halladay trade nets the Jays another young rotation-ready pitcher with a good upside, but whatever the return is, it should dictate the team’s next several moves.

A tanked season gives the team the opportunity to try out all sorts of shit in the rotation, and between Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Brad Mills, David Purcey, Robert Ray, Scott Richmond, Ricky Romero, Marc Rzepczynski and whatever they get for Halladay, it should be more than fucking possible to find five guys that can eventually give this team a chance to compete.

In the bullpen, the team should do whatever it can to deal Shawn Camp, Jason Frasor and Brian Tallet. If they can’t swing a trade, I wonder about the point of even offering Camp and Tallet arbitration. I realize it’s unlikely that non tender anyone, but please explain to me why paying more than a million dollars for Brian Tallet’s arm is worthwhile for a lost season.

Frasor, on the other hand, I guess I can see because he has the opportunity to become a free agent after 2010, and with a good showing this year, could potentially nab the Jays a draft pick once he’s signed by another team.

Trading Scott Downs could be a money-saver for this season as well, but he also has the potential to earn the Jays some compensation when he signs elsewhere next season.

Ideally, what you’d be left with is a bullpen consisting of Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Casey Janssen, Brandon League, Josh Roenicke with spots available for Fabio Castro, Dirk Hayhurst, Sean Henn, Luis Perez, Zach Stewart, Brian Wolfe and any of the potential starters who don’t make the cut.

Catcher

J.P. Arencibia had an unexpectedly disappointing season at Triple A last year, and that’s thrown a shitload of shit out of whack. As much as I’m all about the Tank Nation ethos of youth over talent, the catcher position might be an exception to my arbitrary rules. Bringing back Rod Barajas or signing a veteran catcher would be an important part of making a young, inexperienced staff become comfortable pitching in the big leagues.

Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo are interesting free agent options, if you expand the definition of interesting to include shitty. But if we’re going to go crazy, why not consider Ivan Rodriguez? You could do much worse than Pudge mentor-wise, and that’s speaking for both Arencibia and the young staff.

While he’s certainly not going to put up numbers like he did in his prime, Rodriguez isn’t looking to get paid like he was back then either. Pudge made $1.5 million last year with Houston and Texas.

First Base

Dump Lyle Overbay. No, he’s not terrible, and his salary isn’t that out of proportion with what he can do for a club. Unfortunately, Lyle Overbay and his $8 million owed have no place on the rebuilding 2010 Toronto Blue Jays.

The team has nothing to lose by watching Brian Dopriak and Randy Ruiz (and Adam Lind, if his footwork can impress blog commenters) play 1B and occasionally hit from the DH spot this season.

While the two righties battle it out for playing time, the Jays can keep an eye on David Cooper on the farm, as long as he improves from his thus far disastrous Arizona Fall League play.

Second Base

I’m not against trading Aaron Hill, but I just don’t think that it would be a fruitful endeavour to concentrate on shopping him around. He’s got a good contract and he’s locked up with team options until 2014, but the necessary return on the Jays best asset after Halladay isn’t going to be easily had.

Even if he can’t equal the 37 HRs he hit in 2009, there will always be a place in the Jays lineup for Hill, and it’s not that difficult to imagine, four years down the road, Hill as the veteran leader of this ballclub. Fuck, never mind four years, it should be the case in 2010.

Third Base

As part of the punishment for offloading Scott Rolen to the Cincinnati Reds, the Jays were saddled with the contract of Edwin Encarnacion. The model of inconsistency slugged 8 homers in just over 40 games for the Jays, all while playing with a bum wrist that was corrected through surgery in the offseason.

A $4.75 million contract would make E5 one of the highest paid players in Tank Nation, but it was only a year ago that Encarnacion was coming off three straight seasons with an OPS + over 100.

He’s at his lowest value trade-wise right now, and if we’ve learned anything about Tank Nation, it’s that now is the time to take risks and give playing time to those potentially under-valued players. Dumping Encarnacion will shave almost $5 million off the payroll, but there will be little to no return if anyone’s even interested in acquiring him.

There’s no third baseman in the system knocking on the door for playing time. Let Brian Butterfield work his fungo bat magic over the whole season with Encarnacion, and we’ll see what emerges at the end of the year.

Shortstop

Do not resign Marco Scutaro. Don’t even pretend to be interested in bringing him back. It’s pointless.

Scutaro played better than he ever has during his time in Toronto. There’s no doubt, but bringing back a 34 year old coming off his best season ever to a rebuilding team makes absolutely no sense at all. And that’s before considering the two draft picks that the Jays could receive once he signs elsewhere.

Like third base, there’s no one from the system ready to step in at shortstop, and that’s why I’ve been pushing the idea of bringing back John McDonald for another season. He would be cheap, and despite his sub par bat, there’s no question that he’s a fan favourite in Toronto.

As sad as it sounds, another option for the Blue Jays is waiver pickup Mike McCoy. McCoy had a breakout year in the Pacific Coast League this past season, putting up a .405 OBP while hitting over .300. He’s transferred this success to the Mexican Winter League to the tune of a .878 OPS in just under 100 at bats.

Perhaps more than any other player, McCoy fits the Tank Nation qualifications of being a below radar flyer, who could possibly soar if only a team were willing to give him MLB at bats.

Welcome to Toronto, Mike.

Right Field

Thank fuck, I’m not writing about Alex Rios in this space. But uh, who am I writing about?

Jose Bautista played a surprisingly good defense from the outfield last season, but I can’t justify paying Bautista an arbitration eligible raise from the $2.4 million he made last year to put up these numbers: .239 AVG / .349 OBP / .408 SLG.

If ever there was a candidate for non-tendering, it should be Bautista.

Without Bautista, Travis Snider could move over from left field, if the Jays are serious about playing Adam Lind there. Otherwise, they’re going to have to look at bringing in a free agent or getting someone through trade.

Unfortunately, the 2010 class of free agent outfielders is broken up into two categories: a) The old and expensive; and b) The old and shitty. There are no outfielders available that anyone would mistake as a potential target for a rebuilding team.

Of course, if the Jays were to get someone through trade, they’d ideally acquire a new centre fielder, and move Vernon Wells into right.

Centre Field

This is Vernon Wells’ spot, and it’s likely to remain that way for a while. Wells will make $12.5 million while receiving the final $8.5 million bonus installment. In 2011, he’ll make $23 million, and then $21 million annually for the three years after that.

Wells apparently played through an injury again last year, but if Wells puts up similar numbers again this season, the only way Jays fans will be able to rid themselves of this contract is by making life so miserable for Wells that he takes the opt out clause in his contract after the 2011 season.

That would mean giving up $63 million.

As much ire as Jays fans are able to raise (see comments section), I can’t see anyone willing to take it to the levels necessary to make Wells opt out. And that’s probably a good thing. After all, we don’t live in Philadelphia.

Left Field

Finally, a position to get excited about. Here we have Travis Snider and Adam Lind, who, along with Aaron Hill, are really the cornerstone of this team. In all likelihood we’ll see Snider playing in left while Lind hits from the DH spot, and that doesn’t bother me so much.

What does bother me is the fact that Cito Gaston might not give Snider the opportunity to bat against lefties. And this is really a legitimate fear for every position in Tank Nation. This year has to be about experimentation and seeing what players who have never gotten the chance can do when they’re actually given the chance.

If we can gather anything from the last two months of the 2009 season, it’s that Gaston is either unwilling or too stupid to give this chance to players. In the final year of his reunion managerial tour, is this going to change? It really fucking better.

Back to Snider and Lind, these are important years for both of them. Lind, coming off a career year, his first full one in the Majors, has to show that he can replicate the Silver Slugger numbers. Snider, who showed glimpses of brilliance, hitting opposite field home runs and consistently playing good defense, really needs to be last year’s Lind on this year’s team. He should certainly receive the at-bats to do it.

Optics

I know what you’re thinking: Baseball has a hard enough time doing well in this city when the Jays are at least pretending to try to compete. What’s going to happen when Tank Nation ascends to power?

Just as the Jays need to experiment on the field to find success, they have to adopt a “throw all the shit you can against the wall and see what sticks” philosophy with their fan relations policies as well.

I don’t think it’s overstating anything right now to suggest that fan loyalty is low. As fans of this ballclub, we have every right to feel slighted. This last season was a colossal waste of time and money for everyone. We tolerated a lame duck GM, an interim President and handcuffs on roster moves . . . all of which could’ve been avoided if Paul Beeston would’ve made the same fucking decision 10-12 months earlier.

Step one to improving the fan-team relationship is to stop insulting the intelligence of the fans. Using the term “build” instead of “rebuild” isn’t fooling anyone, especially after hearing bullshit like “reload” the year before. Giving clear and concise answers to general questions that fans are asking about the direction of the ballclub would be a step in the right direction that wouldn’t damage a team’s situation when dealing with other ballclubs.

No other team is going to be shocked that the Toronto Blue Jays are rebuilding their system.

I think hiring Alex Anthopoulos is a great idea, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does for this club, but his conversations with the press thus far have been idiotic. Have a seat with Jay Stenhouse for an afternoon and learn how to talk to the media. I’m sure in your mind, you want to be thoughtful with responses, but four minutes into the last teleconference, everyone was lost in the vagaries and ambiguous answers you were providing.

Be clear and concise: We are rebuilding this team to consistently compete and sustain future success.

Be honest: We realize that this team hasn’t made the playoffs in more than 15 years. That’s a problem. It’s a problem that needs more than just a bunch of money thrown at it. We don’t want to make the playoffs once and then take another 15 year hiatus. That’s why we’re rebuilding this team to consistently compete and sustain future success.

Be on the side of fans: We’re fans of the ballclub too. No one has more invested in this team than its front office. That’s why we’re rebuilding this team to consistently compete and sustain future success.

. . . and it never hurts to stay on message.

While we’re doing away with insulting the intelligence of fans, let’s eliminate Flashback Fridays. However many dollars it costs to fly Homer Bush into Toronto and put him up for the weekend can be better spent on the fucking fans.

Locally, this means grass-roots promotion throughout Southern Ontario. Send Adam Lind and Travis Snider to Peterborough for a day. Have them sit down with the local paper’s sports editor for a half hour, sign autographs for kids and visit local monuments. Locals will eat this shit up, and it shows a commitment from the team to its fan base.

It says, “Look, our team is shit right now. But these two guys, Lind and Snider, are going to lead us into the Promised Land. They’re down-to-earth and they like your community. Now, go buy tickets and merchandise, and watch us on television.”

Nationally, the team needs to take advantage of being the only Major League baseball team in Canada. This is a bit trickier than visiting small towns across Ontario on off days. The Jays need to talk to Bob Elliot or someone from Baseball Canada, or fuck, why not David from Saskatchewan, and find out what they can do to raise their profile in other provinces.

Would it be helpful to sponsor youth leagues out West or is it logistically possible to play a weekend series in Montreal? I don’t have a fucking clue, but a couple weeks of market research and conversations with people in the know would do wonders.

At the very least they could turn Flashback Friday into Out-Of-Town Fan’s Friday. Have contestants from across Canada send in a video explaining why they deserve to be put up for the weekend in Toronto by the Blue Jays. Promote the fuck out of this by showing the entries on Rogers Sportsnet, showing them on the website and showing them at ballgames.

If that doesn’t float the team’s boat, how about putting together an actual Web 2.0 strategy? It’s ridiculous the amount of promotion that blogs like DJF put into the Toronto Blue Jays without any reward.

Invite two or three blogs, each homestand, to cover a game or two, assign a media officer to them, and show them the ropes. Yeah, the old media guys are going to give you dirty looks for it, but invite them to giv e the bloggers advice as well. And anyway, should the team really care what print journalists think? It’s not like their precious newspapers are going to be around much longer anyway. I kid. I kid.

I can even understand not wanting to offend the Jamie Campbell’s Grandmas For Baseball Association by giving any recognition to a blog like DJF that says fuck and shit, and even cuntette sometimes, but for every swear word typed on this site, there is a more acceptable Blue Jays blog that should receive some level of appreciation for the amount of promotion they do for the team.

So, that’s how you do it, Blue Jays. That’s how you successfully make Tank Nation a reality and keep the fans with you. It really boils down to two things: a) rid the team of any player that doesn’t fit long term, with a few exceptions; and b) don’t dick around the fan base.

You’re welcome.

So, we’re a few days away from opening day, and I figured I’d give you all the weekend to properly prepare yourselves for Monday night. After all, it’s been a long offseason, made even longer by the lack of movement in the Jays roster.

We’ll have the next few months to gripe and groan over disappointing baseball. For this coming weekend, we should focus on opening day, and the delusional hope that creeps inside even the most cynical of fucks, finding entrances wherever it can, getting right up inside you, squirming around, boring through your mind, through your tummy, through your anus.

Which brings us to our first point.

Get Excited

In all likelihood, this season is going to be a wash. Take advantage of the fact that the Jays get to start the year at .500 in a tie for the lead in their division. Outside of the first week, the chance may not come again.

For some of us, there isn’t much more to live for than sitting on a hard plastic chair with a cold beer in hand, watching pitchers from the stretch, listening to the crack of a bat and telling the racial minority in front of you to simmer down after they stand up and shout for every single motherfucking routine fly ball as though it’s a home run.

As the Danimal, drunk as skull, said a couple of home openers back, “You can go to a bar with a field, or you can go to a bar.” I’m not sure what he meant either, but I’m fairly confident that it best encapsulates how you should treat your team’s first home game of the year.

Pre/Post Game Libation

If you weren’t already aware, there’s a little brewery just South East of the Rogers Centre, across Bremner Boulevard. If you play your cards right you can score a couple of free drinks while you mull over going on the brewery tour.

Don’t bother with the tour, but do bother with picking up six beers, walking around to the nearby park and discreetly drinking some bottles of Sprite. Please, for everyone’s sake, discretion is key.

Speaking of discretion, I tend to avoid the whole 500 people get-togethers with matching T-shirts that have a play on words with BJs. It’s kind of lame, and I really hate that group mentality affecting individuals where they start saying/doing things they’d never normally have the balls for.

Instead, after the game, I’m more inclined to journey down to a little bar on Wellington and enjoy a celebratory Caesar with a pickled bean and some serious hot sauce. The burning mouth rids the stale aftertaste of the ten beers you drank at the stadium.

Don’t Be Total Douches To Ushers

Let’s be honest, you’re probably going to be incoherently drunk by the third inning. Pretending otherwise is about as effective as hoping that teaching abstinence will curb teenage pregnancy.

However, your fortification doesn’t mean you have to be a total douche to the usher who asks you not to stand up on your seat and holler at Nate Robertson to “take off his fucking cum shields and shave his faggoty ginger facial hair” in front of the two six year olds sitting in the row behind you.

Yes, a minority of the ushers and usherettes (purrlo!) are total power trippin’ cunts and cuntettes, but the majority are fans just like us. They’re already going to have to tolerate a shitload of Tigers fans who are getting drunk for the very first time. Don’t be a shit in their cut.

Avoid Physical Confrontation

I know what you’re thinking. Pacifism is for pussies. Well, you’re wrong meathead.

Are you seriously in kindergarten or are you just not clever enough to think up derogatory comments to solve confrontations.

On the whole, Tigers fans don’t act as annoyingly entitled as Red Sox fans, but I’m sure there will be a share of dickheads getting wasted and trying to explain that if Miguel Cabrera retired today he’d be a Hall of Famer.

It wouldn’t surprise me for one instant if at some point on Monday night, you’ll get Matt Stairs eyes over some douche bag in a Verlander jersey calling you out, and you’re going to want to punch him in the friggin’ throat.

Steady. Hold. Steady. Unless he’s insulting your girlfriend, mother or sister, stay calm. Call him out for being a fucking caveman from Detroit. Let him know that you could probably afford all of his city’s downtown core with your next pay cheque. Bring up Dontrelle Willis. Fuck, mention Joel Zumaya.

Although, if you have to fight, try to avoid fighting a guy in the row behind you. That one level of elevation can make a huge difference.

The Field Is For The Players

Yo, it’s actually not cool to run onto the field during the game.

But if you really didn’t get enough attention as a child and you enjoy getting it in the most ill-advised ways possible, don’t be half-assed about it, take off ALL your clothes . . . and can you please be an incredibly attractive hot chick, and not a frumpy whale.

Read The Drunk Jays Fans Guides

Look, it’s likely been at least six months since you were at your last game. Even the best of us will be a little bit rusty. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

Check out the frame to the right of this post. You should find all the information you need to start your baseball season on the right foot.

Skip the guide to sneaking down because even the mightiest DJF can’t pull that shit at the home opener, and the reading guide was done soberly and ill advisedly . . . and the interweb guide isn’t really all that relevant . . . but the rest, yeah, the rest will tell you all you need to know from where to park your car, what beer to buy, what to do when you catch a foul ball and what to do with your foul balls.

However, for your benefit, I’ll give you a quick do / don’t summary:

Do think before you wave, do park on Front St. West of the Dome, do get off at Bremner on the Spadina Street Car, don’t use a glove to catch a foul ball, do give foul balls to a nearby kid, don’t lose your shit for a free T-shirt, don’t buy beer from the Harry Potter-looking tallboy peddler, do buy your program from the Falling Down dude wearing shorts with semen stains, and finally, do use the exit ramps near section 108 or section 135 to get the fuck out of there.

Read it, learn it and love it.

Finally

Don’t you dare fucking pass out!

If you’re anything like me (it feels good doesn’t it?), you’re more amped about tonight’s home opener than an electric eel attached to Benjamin Franklin’s kite in a lightning storm.

It’s okay to get excited. We’re not all cold, calculated robot men with no souls. For some of us, there isn’t much more to live for than sitting on a hard plastic chair with a cold beer in your hand, watching pitchers from the stretch, listening to the crack of a bat and telling the racial minority in front of you to simmer down after they stand up and shout for every single motherfucking routine fly ball as though it’s a home run.

Baseball is back in our city and it’s our duty as fans to give it the welcome back that it deserves.

However, it’s also important to remember a few key things about tonight’s game.

1) Don’t Be A Total Douche To Ushers

Let’s be honest, you’re probably going to be incoherently drunk by the third inning, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a total douche to the usher who asks you not to stand up on your seat and holler at Mike Lowell to “go back to Florida and fucking shoot up, you Cuban faggot” in front of the two six year olds sitting in the row behind you.

Yes, a minority of the ushers and usherettes (purrlo!) are total power trippin’ cunts and cuntettes, but the majority are fans just like us. They’re already going to have to tolerate the shitload of Red Sox fans who are acting as though they’re drunk for the very first time because there’s a whole extra percent of alcohol in Canadian beer. Don’t be a shit in their cut.

2) Avoid Physical Confrontation

I know what you’re thinking. Pacifism is for pussies. Well, you’re wrong meathead.

Are you seriously in kindegarten or are you just not clever enough to think up derogitory comments to solve confrontations.

As I expressed earlier, there are going to be a shitload of poorly educated Masswads coming into our stadium. They’re going to adapt a bullshit blue collar attitude and over enunciate their Boston accent because they’re “prawd” of their step-above-poverty upbringing and complete ignorance of anything outside of their own self-congratulatory existence.

In other words, you’re going to want to punch the living fuck out of the first douche bag in a Youkilis jersey and moustache who challenges you to fisticuffs. Stay strong! Mock him. Make him feel small and stupid. Call him out for being a caveman who thinks the odour of pepporoni on his breath is charming.

If you have to fight, try to avoid fighting a guy in the row behind you. That one level of elevation can make a huge difference.

3) Read The Drunk Jays Fans Guides

Look, it’s likely been at least six months since you were at your last game. Even the best of us will be a little bit rusty. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.

Check out the frame to the right of this post. Scroll down to between a shitty Google Ad and our blog archive. Right there you’ll find all the information you need to start your baseball season on the right foot.

Skip the guide to sneaking down because even the mightiest DJF can’t pull that shit at the home opener, and the reading guide was done soberly and ill advisedly . . . and the interweb guide isn’t really all that relevant . . . but the rest, yeah, the rest will tell you all you need to know from where to park your car, what beer to buy, what to do when you catch a foul ball and what to do with your foul balls.

Read it, learn it and love it.

4) Pictures And Videos

Remember when I posted the picture of that young girl with Jeremy Accardo and Brian Tallet, and everyone got all “oh, it’s okay to make fun of people in theory, but making fun of real people is crossing a moral line that I just made up, and I’m mentioning this not because I’m actually offended, but just because I recognize it as possibly being what other people would consider offensive?”

Well, you can get made fun of too.

Post your own favourite home opener pictures and videos on our Facebook Fan Page (because we’re trying to up our cool quotient), and we’ll select our favourites and post them on the blog, along with some derogitory remarks. The owner of the best picture or video, as subjectively decided by whichever DJF writer is more sober, will receive a special Drunk Jays Fans Experience invitation for the May 23rd game against Kansas City.

Actually, it’s just a couple tickets to the Royals game that some guy from Ottawa is going to send us, but if you want you can sit near us, and we might buy you a drink.

Check out some DJF Cam samplings to see what we’re looking for.

5) Final Warning

Don’t you dare fucking pass out!