Archive for the ‘Simmer Down’ Category


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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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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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

Nobody is going to tell you that the Jays are playing well, or that the mounting losses of a poor April aren’t troubling, or that they haven’t made an already-difficult task all the more difficult. A dispiriting sweep at the hands of the Yankees, coming off a series in Baltimore in which they avoided a sweep by the skin of their teeth is not good. The club, I’d argue, started playing better against the Yankees this weekend, and still it wasn’t good enough to beat the Overbay- and Wells-powered juggernauts– indicative of just how poor their play had been for the bulk of the month– and pointing out that it’s still early, even though it undeniably is, has begun to ring hollow in the minds of fans keen enough to have conceded that point weeks ago, when .500 wasn’t quite so far off in the distance.

Concern is very legitimate– not concern that this team might be awful, mind you, or shit-dumb insane concern that they may have hired a manager who simply doesn’t know how to sufficiently inspire, but concern that the Jays are in the process of digging themselves a hole that may wind up too deep to climb out of; that in mid-September we’ll be wishing they could have a few of these insufferably pissed-away games back.

That seems entirely reasonable. But now that we’re actually, healthily concerned, we have an additional problem: keeping that concern in line with reality, and not letting it warp our perceptions. So far it has proven a difficult task.

Leading the perception-warping charge this weekend was a piece from Ben Nicholson-Smith over at Sportsnet.

Now, I think Ben does terrific work– I’ve linked him tonnes on this site, we’ve had him on podcasts and Google Hangouts, and I thought it was great to see him make the move from MLB Trade Rumors to the Rogers empire– but given the number of people on Twitter insufferably citing his piece to me every time I try to suggest that panicky lunacy remains a not great idea, I think it needs to be addressed.

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Another Loss…


I call it ‘The First Three Weeks of April, 2013′.

I was speaking to a friend of mine who does’t follow baseball on Sunday night, and knowing what I do for a living, she wondered about all the angst she’d been hearing and seeing on social media over the Jays’ start. “So, what’s their record now?” she asked me. When I told her that, at the time, it was 8-11 she was incredulous. “That’s it!?! And how many games do they have left?”

“A hundred and forty-something,” I replied.

Incredulity thicker than black strap molasses.

When a non-fan can see what’s in front of the face of so many people living and dying by every pitch, I think it’s safe to say that something has gone mighty haywire. The term isn’t short for “fanatics” for nothing, I guess, and yet the fan base also isn’t short on people who don’t need– and are getting as bored reading as I am frustrated by feeling the need to write– what seems to have become a daily talking down from off the ledge.

But I genuinely do feel that need. I think it’s my job to understand and be a part the conversation about the team, and that it’s always been this blog’s mission to try and cut through the bullshit in that conversation. In the process I don’t want to alienate those who are, I think understandably, sick of anything to do with either sides of the conversation that currently consumes us, but as far as sidestepping it goes, there just aren’t a lot of great alternate topics options that I’m seeing.

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Concerning Concerns


It’s insufferable to be a Jays fan right now, and certainly not just because the club is losing. The team will be fine, but clearly that doesn’t stop certain types of braying fucking morons from either outright losing their minds about normal day-to-day baseball failure, or from insanity like asking people like me questions such as, “when is it going to be OK to worry about so-and-so?” or “is tonight a must-win game?” As a consequence of all that, the stoic and rational among us, if they’re anything like me, must by now be deep into a tantric-like focus on the positive, whispering “serenity now” to themselves about all things sane, as though those utterances were some kind of force field keeping the suffocating knee-jerk stupidity that surrounds us out of our brains.

And that’s not even the shitty part! What really sucks is that there actually are things to be dismayed about fifteen games into this 162 game season, but those subjects have become hopelessly difficult to broach, for fear that they’ll send some eighty-games-and-out tool into a frothing, insufferable, perspectiveless rage.

The thing about the completely perspectiveless, though, is fuck them. Let’s not let the shortcomings of their feeble little minds get us too wrapped up in pushing for sanity that we can no longer kinda agree that the Jays haven’t had a very good start. Let’s be up front about what’s actually concerning about this club’s performance, so far, and not hold back. Maybe the truth will set us free– it usually does.

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