Archive for the ‘Simmer Down’ Category

strawmanargument

So last night I wrote about the Jays and their tumble out of sole possession of first place in the AL East… and into a tie with the Orioles for first place in the AL East. The response to it so far probably hasn’t been what you would expect if you only looked at my too-frequent haranguing of shitty negative people and little else on this site or Twitter. Most people around here get it! They don’t need or want any of that type of hand-holding through things that they already know.

But does that mean I’m fighting some phony battle with straw men, like I’m occasionally accused of? I don’t think so. Not only are commenters here just a small fraction of a readership that itself represents just small fraction of the entirety of Jays fandom, but it’s not like we have to go far to find the kind of infuriating sentiments. Not even as far as the TSN.ca comments, or the ones on BlueJays.com, or Twitter.

I don’t say that merely to excuse my beating on this dead horse, but just to point out that straw men aren’t straw men at all. This conversation exists. These people exist. Most of us know a whole lot of them outside of the online realm, frankly — and, as such, are probably a whole lot more polite with them than things tend to get around here — and my stance is that I see value in combating such attitudes, elucidating reasons why what those people are saying is ridiculous, and… y’know… making sure they know that we know that they’re shitheads.

I don’t know. I guess all of this is just a long way of saying, “Here’s some dumb stuff that was actually written in response to the previous post, by people who really do exist, and why it’s dumb.” So… here it is…

bionic bird says:

whats the difference between this year and last. Last year they won 11 in a row and then played .400 ball the rest of the way. This year 9 in a row and now .360 ball so far with a supposedly better team. They tease us every year. The offense has been mia for a month. Its all home runs or nothing. I just dont see anything changing

To wonder what the difference is is to show that one is simply not paying attention. The Jays were 38-36 last year when the eleven game streak ended on June 23rd. Yes, they played .409 baseball the rest of the way, but… the difference? Let’s look at the difference. Between that date and the end of the season the Jays were without the following pieces: three-fifths of their rotation missed significant time (Brandon Morrow’s season was already over, Josh Johnson’s last action came August 9th, J.A. Happ wouldn’t be back for nearly six weeks), Jose Bautista would miss the final six weeks of the season, Sergio Santos was still five weeks away from returning, Colby Rasmus would miss a month, Steve Delabar would miss a month, Brett Cecil would pitch just one inning over the season’s final month, Brett Lawrie would miss three weeks, Edwin Encarnacion would miss the season’s final two weeks. More difference? J.P. Arencibia played regularly through that whole time as one of the worst offensive players in a hundred years. Melky Cabrera played with a tumour on his spine and was a shell of the player he’s been this year (until he was shut down for the last two months of the year). The club didn’t have a Drew Hutchison or a Marcus Stroman to step in when Morrow and Johnson faltered. Esmil Rogers made 20 starts for the 2013 Jays. Todd Redmond made fourteen. Morrow and Johnson (ERAs of 5.63 and 6.20 respectively) started 26 combined. Ramon Ortiz and Chien-Ming Wang combined to start ten. Seven more went to Chad Jenkins, Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey, and Sean Nolin.

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gibbersgun
The Jays aren’t getting the results lately — fifteen losses in their last 22 games, nine in their last thirteen — and though their slim lead in the AL East is holding, the torrent of insufferable whiny doomsaying that constantly threatens to overrun the conversation surrounding this team seems more than even usual to be ready to breach the floodgates and leave us all awash in sewage.

The main problem with this is that to get to the point of being one of the people who indulges in such things — whether utter negative hogwash spittle leaps from their lemon-sucking mouths or buoyant it’s-May-26th-and-they’ll-never-lose-if-they-never-change-and-trade-Rasmus-because-Gose-is-a-Juan-Francisco-like-found-God optimism — one has to shut off every rational impulse and cling to some air-thick feeling of absolute destiny magically “divined” though a process of, consciously or not, choosing what one wants to believe as the truth, and conditioning oneself to block out flickering pangs of reality like those guys who’ll hold their palms over a flame for as long as they can tolerate it. And in much the same way as with those guys, the obstacles of better judgment one must overcome to constantly piss and shit out this kind of pathological negativity would make a person who allows themselves to be capable of it pretty impressive and bad-ass… if it weren’t all so goddamned stupid.

Here is the reality of what’s going on with the Jays that shouldn’t be ignored: They have a 1.5 game lead in the AL East. They are six games over .500. Their starting pitchers continue to do reasonably well. The bullpen has a practically automatic piece in Casey Janssen, and a second tier of solid high-leverage, go-to relievers who are very dependable despite the occasional blow-up. The defence is OK, but will be quite a bit better when Brett Lawrie returns. The offence is in a rut and missing some firepower, but still strong enough and will only get stronger when Jose Bautista gets back. And the club will unquestionably be buyers on the trade market over the next month, and will almost certainly make themselves stronger in some of their weaker areas.

No, the results haven’t been there of late, but they’re not getting blown out, and their hitters — while a bit colder than you’d like of late, and a bit too reliant on replacement level guys — aren’t all mired in awful slumps. A few too many times for anybody’s taste a good pitching performance has lined up with an abysmal hitting performance. Sometimes pitching  decisions the manager has made or not made haven’t worked out the way that anybody would have hoped. But this is baseball — a team can’t impose its will on a game the way we’re taught to believe is the case with other sports. Batters still have to swing with impeccable timing at pitches they recognize in a split second are hittable, and get the barrel of the bat on the small, fast-moving sphere being thrown at them, hoping from there that their well-struck ball doesn’t simply find a glove. Pitchers need to fool or overpower hitters with perfectly placed pitches to make them swing and miss or to induce weak contact. It isn’t fucking easy! And sometimes, for a while, you’re a pretty alright team who just doesn’t get the breaks you need to convert your meagre success in this game of failure into victories.

That doesn’t mean I think the Jays are a perfect team, or am completely on the other side of the suffocating pessimism coin. It’s not out of the question that they could be in a tailspin, or showing their true colours after teasing us with May’s hot luck. They’re certainly not any more assured of making the playoffs right now than they are guaranteed to already be fucked. And that’s just it: it’s as ridiculous to believe one thing as it is the other. It’s ridiculous to blather nonsense about how things need to change if they’re going to stay in the race. Of course they do, but why wouldn’t they? We know what these players are capable of. We’ve seen that they’re a good team, no matter how much people want to piss in our faces with “a good team doesn’t do [this],” or “a good team can’t rely on a guy like [that].” For the love of fuck, maybe take a look around at all the best teams in the league and realize that you till see a lot of weaknesses and a lot of losses on their record.

Yes, results need to change, yes, they could use some upgrades, yes, the 3.4 runs per game over their last 22 games is pretty abysmal (though if you want to do the arbitrary endpoint thing, add eight more games and the average jumps to a very nice 4.2), but what seems to me has been happening with the Jays of late is a thing called baseball, and not a whole lot more.

They’d be better off with better players, we all agree, but they’re still a long way from falling out of the hunt, and there’s a reason for that: they’re really not a bad team — definitely not as good as May, but not as bad as it has looked lately either. Good enough? Time will tell, but if we’re looking to be frustrated, we really ought not to bind together our actual, legitimate concerns and the fact that they’re just not getting the results at moment — because that is tooooootally just a a thing that happens sometimes. Simmer down.

morrowhidden

Brandon Morrow has hit the DL. John Lott of the National Post was the first to tweet it, as far as my feed was concerned, but several reporters knew something was up beforehand, as Chad Jenkins had returned to the club this afternoon, with no corresponding move announced.

The Jays officially are calling it a right finger sprain, and, somewhat unfortunately, Gregor Chisholm tweets that Morrow felt something pop in his right index finger last night, and that he’s already in Arizona getting an MRI from his personal doctor, while Scott MacArthur adds that it happened in the fifth inning. So, naturally, I say it’s unfortunate because, assuming this is all really what’s happened — and at this point we have no reason not to — it does nothing to explain Morrow’s right-arm shittiness prior to last night’s fifth inning.

Sigh.

The Jays will simply go to a five man rotation, apparently, with J.A. Happ — who was already scheduled to start Monday in Philadelphia — simply taking a regular turn. Not sure why getting guys an extra day of rest is suddenly so unimportant, but I suppose that makes at least as much sense as all of the other roster management this club has undertaken lately — which is to say: enough, but not a whole lot.

So… Happ and McGowan are now in a battle to avoid getting replaced by Marcus Stroman, basically. And hopefully it’s a battle that doesn’t last terribly long — though, of course, that would mean one of the two (let’s be honest: likely Happ) getting himself shitbombed in one of his next couple starts. But hey, this team can afford to keep pissing away games, right?

I’d say that the Jays sure, bizarrely, seem to think so, given the presence of Happ, but while all this stuff with Morrow was going on, reporters were also learning that Sergio Santos has been removed as the club’s closer and that they’ll go with a closer-by-committee approach until Casey Janssen gets back. Barry Davis appears to have been the first to provide a tweet. I said the other day — and have been adamant all along — that I have all the time in the world for Santos, but… um… yeah, this is a move that had to be made. Gotta stop the bleeding… except where we don’t, I guess.

Oh yeah, and Dioner Navarro remains day-to-day with a strained quad muscle — though, according to a tweet from Gregor Chisholm, he’s available to pinch hit, if needed.

Also: it seems like John Gibbons would prefer to see Stroman here, as he’s quoted in John Lott’s story in the National Post last night, explaining that the club is having bullpen troubles because ”there’s no question, it’s a different look down there without Janssen … and McGowan not being down there. It’s a totally different look and I think we’re suffering for it.” (Hey, but imagine this: what if McGowan and Stroman get humming in the rotation while Morrow is on the shelf — do the people bizarrely making too-soon calls to see Morrow in the bullpen get their wish?)

Aaaaaaaaand Brett Lawrie doesn’t seem to like playing second base too much, according to another item from the Post. “ It’s for the team and if we can get an extra bat in there and it gives us a chance to win, then that’s what it has to be,” he told reporters yesterday, while also saying ““I’m a third baseman. I’m not a third base/second base type of guy. I’m a third baseman and that’s my position.”

Fun times! Hey, but at least you probably turned the game off last night before the 9th inning, assuming that they’d won. That probably felt pretty good, right? Right???

The real fucked up thing is, though, that the Jays are just 13-16 and only three games back in the division with five months still to play. So this all feels a lot worse than it really is, probably.

No, it’s not good that Happ is now a fully fledged member of the rotation, but it’s not like Morrow was doing them any fucking good either. And yeah, they’ve already pissed away more games than a team like this can probably afford, but the fact that so often the only difference between a win and a loss has been a hot garbage impersonation from talented relievers out of a bullpen that’s a legitimate strength of the club isn’t nothing.

It’s not good, but it’s not terribly difficult to see that the record doesn’t entirely reflect how well most of the team has played, and that it wouldn’t be surprising at all if they put together a run where they looked pretty alright. Negative shitheads, of course, won’t see it that way, and will want to make grand dumb pronouncements about everything, I’m sure — after all, what negative shithead doesn’t want to be able to crow all winter about how fucked they knew the team was all along, no matter how dumbly early he had to ass-facedly plant his flag in such a position? It sure is easy to look right calling a struggling team projected to be a middling team fucked at a season’s early stage in a sport where only a small percentage of clubs make the playoffs, and to feel like big tough smart guy attuned to some higher plane of insight than the rest of us hopeless dumb optimists, but that really only makes the person doing so as dumb as he (or she, but… let’s be honest, he) is a total fucking pissy pile of human garbage.

Again: last year’s Jays came from being 13-24, nine-and-a-half games out, to reset the schedule, get over .500, and within three games of the Wild Card — tied then with a team that did make the playoffs. That doesn’t mean it’s not really fucking hard to sustain that kind of pace from there out (and yes, I’m being arbitrary endpoint-y here), but it’s not remotely impossible, and this ain’t remotely as bad as that was. Shit, from the point of 13-24 on last year the Jays went 61-64, and that was while variously missing a month or more from: three fifths of their rotation, Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Steve Delabar, Sergio Santos, plus at least two weeks of Brett Lawrie, Brett Cecil, and Edwin Encarnacion, not to mention the fact that it was then still six weeks before Jose Reyes returned.

So… not that the vast majority needs to hear this anyway, but let’s all just relax and enjoy some baseball.

Consider this your game threat.

izturisthrows

Holy shit, people.

Holy. Shit.

Alex Anthopoulos is slow-playing the off-season and apparently it’s breaking brains.

Of course, not helping the increasingly poisonous situation out here among the unwashed masses is the fact that he appears to believe exactly what a whole lot of right-thinking people were saying at the end of the season: that the collection of talent he’s assembled is better than it played in 2013, and could be significantly better by simply upgrading certain positions from total dogshit to at least passable.

Better enough? I’m not sure. And obviously that’s not a sexy approach for “a 74 win team,” as you’ll not-infrequently hear bellowed at the club’s defenders from the gaping maws of negative suckholes. The number, of course, is technically correct, but that’s a pretty jaundiced slant to put on things, given that the assumption therein is that the results of 2013 weren’t thoroughly warped by injury and under-performance. Plus, while I get that nobody wants sunshine blown up their ass after watching the Red Sox win the World Series and the Yankees unload hundreds of millions of dollars on free agents, it’s not like those teams don’t have flaws of their own– the Yankees’ entire infield and back of the rotation are both pretty spotty, while Boston, as it currently stands, are relying on a trio of very-good-to-excellent prospects (Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Will Middlebrooks) to hit the ground running, which they didn’t exactly do in the big leagues in 2013 (the Sox may, however, re-sign Stephen Drew, which would mitigate their risk in that regard substantially).

Pointing out those flaws is not to suggest that Jays fans should be doing cartwheels here, but a little perspective goes a long way to keeping the nonsense in check. I tried to do that back in late August, reminding us, as it was being announced that Brandon Morrow and Melky Cabrera were getting shut down for the season, that “Morrow, Johnson, Dickey, Cabrera, Reyes, Lawrie and Izturis– seven players who accumulated 21 wins above replacement in 2012, per Baseball Reference, … this year have been worth -1.6 combined.”

It looks like I might have had a math error in there, actually, because if you remove the departed Josh Johnson from the equation  it turns out that per Baseball Reference the remaining six players accumulated 21.7 WAR in 2012. The year before that the group was worth 19.9 wins.

In 2013? Just 6.4.

Sure, some could get hurt again, some may never again hit the peaks they reached in the previous two years, and obviously the team could suffer from a drop in value elsewhere– will Rasmus, Encarnacion, Buehrle and Bautista all repeat their excellent seasons?– but the point is, realistically the Jays are starting from a better spot than the “74 win team” stuff suggests. And with that sort of thing in mind, so much of the current angst– and there is a shit-tonne of it– seems maybe a little over the fucking top. And is maybe getting a little bit too insufferable.

After a certain point, at least.

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jayslockers

There was a real delicious bit of red meat for the mouth-breathers at the end of Bob Elliott’s piece in the Toronto Sun from late Sunday, which was ostensibly about Darren Oliver’s final moments in a big league uniform. While the nice thing for us to do would be to not just skip over the whole capping-off-a-great-career bit, who can get all maudlin about Black Magic riding off into the sunset when you read a thing like this?:

“I’ll tell you what the GM needs to do for next year, he needs to go get some grinders, some guys who want to play,” one player said. “Look around at all the these empty lockers. I’m no doctor but you can’t tell me all of these guys are so injured or all in Florida re-habbing that they can’t stay for the final weekend of the season.”

Empty lockers on the final weekend included Edwin Encarnacion (who had wrist surgery), Jose Bautista (currently treating his hip in Dunedin by jogging underwater), Melky Cabrera (knee, back surgery), Brett Cecil (elbow), Maicer Izturis (ankle), Josh Johnson (forearm), Brandon Morrow (forearm) and Colby Rasmus (hit in the eye last week at Fenway Park).

I’ll tell you who can’t get maudlin (unless, that is, you’re referring to his Sammy Maudlin-esque wardrobe*): Don Cherry.

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Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays

Good lord. Baseball player gets angry at umpire in the heat of competition. Stop the fucking presses.

Yes, Jose Bautista was wrong when yesterday afternoon he lost his cool and got himself tossed in the ninth inning of a game that could have easily gone to extra innings. And he was wrong about umpire Gary “don’t call me Ron” Darling missing the call on a low strike in the first pitch of the at-bat, as we can see via Brooks Baseball:

But, to me, at least, two wrongs don’t make a “disgrace,” a “crybaby,” not a “leader,” and whatever else just short of “seal-fucking baby eater” that people want to level on him.

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

I’ve said a few times in the course of the discussion that exploded this weekend about the Jays’ atrocious start to the season that as clean and easy as it may be for us to look strictly at teams’ records from the beginning of the season– and, following that, imbue such data with special significance– it really doesn’t matter when in a season that a team has an awful stretch, because they still have to play out of their minds the rest of the time in order to not be entirely sunk by it.

Granted, this flies in the face of those who think about it in much the same way as the wholly bunk “pitch to the score” theory goes, where it’s somehow better for a team that has built up a lot of wins first to play awfully for a stretch, supposedly because they’ll still be able to “turn it on” when it counts, or whatever inspiring sorts of things need to be concocted in order to explain the ebbs and flows of a season. But, mathematically, it seems to me to be pretty sound. And even though it means the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays have reduced their margin for error to practically zero, when you look at some of the quality teams who have played as awfully for stretches as the Jays did in April, it at least gives you a little bit of hope. For now.

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