Archive for the ‘Opening Day’ Category

Opening Lame!


See what I did there with the title?

Seriously, though, what a wet fart of a dull thud of a *whack-off motion* of a way to start the season. Not that I have to tell anybody that.

Yet, it was a great time at Opera Bob’s, and a great day — thanks in part to the fact that @SporstBarHeroes (who you should still totally follow) learning that they’ve cleared the first hurdle in terms of getting funded! — even if what we watched on the field took a near-immediate nosedive into the shitter, as Jose Reyes pulled up lame in his first plate appearance, and R.A. Dickey struggled badly.

Some other things happened, too, of course — for example, Ryan Goins didn’t exactly look like the defensive dynamo he’s been billed as (or needs to be in order to justify having his bat in the lineup), the club’s pitiful bench and up-the-middle depth was exposed (not just in-game, with Goins and Izturis getting the reps, but with the Goins-esque Jonathan Diaz being the one called-up in Reyes’s place), Jeremy Jeffress looked like a guy who is only on the team because of some nonsense fear of losing him on waivers — but, with apologies to Erik Kratz, obviously what happened with the two front line players is by far the most important.

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Not pictured: the team that’s gonna fuckin’ win today!!

I think I’ve come down with a case of trench foot after traversing the slushy streets of Montreal from Parc-X to the train station yesterday, and the weather back here at home has hardly been less abysmal. And yet… baseball. Holy fucking shitting fucking baseball! It’s here! Today!

At 4:10 PM ET, to be precise!

Arriving with the exact opposite of the sort of fanfare that we were swept up in last year — the “coronation” that so irked Cleveland broadcasters — the Jays begin under the radar, under the ugly catwalks of Tropicana Field, and under nothing like the same weight of expectations. None of this, in other words. In fact, most pundits figure the club will finish last in the division, and with the question marks in the rotation and elsewhere, it’s hard to blame them.

But why focus on that on a day like this? Because we learned very quickly last year that what all of the predictions and projections amount to is something approximating jack fuckin’ shit. So, while it may be flawed to simply think that this is basically the same roster that was expected to contend this year, therefore they must be contenders again — sorry, it’s not at all the same roster, in terms of reasonable expectations, and it’s not as though the teams around them have remained static — that doesn’t mean that things can’t go really, really well.

There is a lot of talent here, and a lot to actually be excited about. Drew Hutchison is untested, but looking very good, and certainly not the sort of injury-waiting-to-happen that those who want to slag him for having had Tommy John surgery — sort of like everyone does — want to believe. Morrow and McGowan will almost assuredly pitch well for as long as they can stay healthy, and when they do break down, the club could do worse than giving a few turns to Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers or Marcus Stroman, before shifting their gaze to where Aaron Sanchez is at in double-A, having looked far more the potential front line big leaguer during the spring than his minor league record, and its 134 walks in 256 minor innings, has shown.

The bullpen, even without Casey Janssen out of the gate, looks to be as strong as ever, and the lineup, even with its glaring holes — its lack of a true platoon partner for Lind, its lack of a true centre field backup, its lack of a late inning pinch runner, its Ryan Goins — will find all kinds of ways to hit, even with less-twitchy 2014 Brett Lawrie still topping everything in sight. And defensively, Goins at least won’t bring the kind of butchery we saw at second last year. Reyes — despite it being eminently true that, as a defensive shortstop, he’s a really good hitter — is certainly a better sight there than Munenori Kawasaki or Maicer Izturis (who, combined, played in 85 games at short, in whole or in part, in 2013). And the successful removal of a tumour on Melky Cabrera’s spinal column has made him look an eternity removed from the arthritic sloth we saw in left field last season.

So lets get excited! Like these guys two years ago at Opera Bob’s:

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Got plans for Opening Day? Well… break ‘em. And be sure you’re thoroughly dried out from your trip to Montreal this weekend, because real actual fucking baseball starts on Monday at 4:10 PM ET with the Jays taking on the Rays in Tampa, and it’s going to craziness at Opera Bob’s (1112 Dundas St. W, just east of Ossington), where I’ll be watching it along with some of my fellow cast members and people behind Sports Bar Heroes. And hopefully a whole bunch of you, too!

Here’s the Facebook event page, if you’re into that sort of thing, which promises of hot dogs, Cracker Jack, and — most importantly — beer specials.

For those of you who’ve somehow missed it, Sports Bar Heroes is a web series created by some extremely talented and creative people who had a brief mental lapse and asked me to be a part of it — I’m even slated to act in it, apparently (which will no doubt will be a quiet triumph). Lofty goals here, but think The League meets It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, meets Toronto sports — as you can see in the demo below, which Pat Smith and the guys at 83 Pictures put together as a part of a package to secure funding to get this passion project of theirs made. Though… I’m not entirely convinced Pat isn’t just doing this in an attempt to meet Robbie Alomar (by getting him to guest star and writing him into an episode getting cock blocked at Opera Bob’s by the character Pat plays), which… actually seems reason enough to do anything, if you ask me.

Anyway, it’s going to be really Toronto sports-centric, and specifically the downtown-centred subculture many of the readers of this blog likely feel a part of (not to mention rather Jays-focussed, as well), so it just might find itself in a lot of your wheelhouses and we hope you like it as much as we do.

The funding will be partly granted based on the appetite that’s show for the demo, which you can show by giving it a watch to drive up the view count on YouTube, and by giving @SportsBarHeroes a follow on Twitter.

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So That Was… Weird

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays lost 4-1 to the Clevelands in an Opening Day that may have really been for the best. Fifty-thousand people showed up expecting to see the launching of a juggernaut, ready to cheer on the curbstomping of an indisputably inferior opponent, unaware they were about to take part in a long sequence of falling flat– from the catching to the hitting to the pitching to the crowd’s mood itself. As a veteran of too many Opening Days to count, it was fuckin’ weird in there, man.

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Bad karma? Tempting the Baseball gods? Shit, like they– or at the very least Rogers, and perhaps even those swine at Interbrew– don’t owe us something for the last 20 years.

Worse-than-usual Photoshopping? OK, you got me on that one. But who could blame me with the excitement of Opening Day coursing through my veins? There are only 161 games left after this, so damn it, I’m going to savour it!

And with that in mind, do I really even need to write anything else in this preamble? It’s baseball season!

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Spring is finally over, and the Jays’ roster is set, so… uh… what do we have, exactly?


Melky Cabrera hit the ball hard this spring, and hasn’t shown any signs of shrivelling into the turnip half the world expects him to just yet. I’m sure every idiot with a mouth will be ready to pile on him at the first sign that he might be, so it’s at least good for our collective sanity that he didn’t have an awful spring, not that it means any more than Ryan Braun’s name turning up in a Biogenesis notebook. IT WAS A CONSULTATION, PEOPLE!

The corner outfield spots are some of the better insulated positions for the Jays, with several guys capable of filling in if called on, both in the Majors– Rajai Davis, Emilio Bonifacio– and the minors– Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose. Shit, even Ryan Langerhans has warranted some consideration, should any kind of horrible tragedy occur where none of the other fill-in options are available. And it’s so far so good when it comes to the worries that Cabrera would turn out to be more powdered Melk– if you synthetic testosterone what I’m injecting– than Grade-A unpasteurized awkward food metaphor.

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R.A. Dickey, who makes his debut tonight for the Toronto Blue Jays in the “crazy good” knuckleballing climate underneath the closed Rogers Centre roof, is so good that it’s got the Globe and Mail dabbling in Pitch F/X.

Think about that for a second.

Canada’s paper of record. A web-focused, iPad optimized, animation-heavy and, frankly, pretty cool foray into Sabermetric data. R.A. Dickey is that good.

And apparently he feels that good in his new digs, too– the controlled environment of which, in case you’ve forgotten, was supposedly a big reason that the Jays identified the NL Cy Young winner as a key trade target this winter. “Sunday afternoon, in a deserted stadium, Dickey threw a side session on the bump where he will pitch against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night,” wrote Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun in the article foreshadowed by the tweet above. “He came away from the experience with barely concealed excitement.”

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