Archive for the ‘Simmer Down’ Category

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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The difference, in baseball, between victory and defeat can be– often is— a matter of inches. We can see this above, with these images of how close Miguel Cabrera was to snagging a pair of key doubles in yesterday’s come-from-behind win over the Tigers. But it was also evident in the mere inches Prince Fielder beat the ball to first base on a pair of hits that didn’t make it out of the infield, in the slight difference between a ball and a strike during Casey Janssen’s impressive ninth, and in essentially every single other play that took place over the course of the six-plus hours from the scheduled first pitch until Andy Dirks lined out to Maicer Izturis.

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Listen, we all know that sitting and waiting for a baseball trade to be processed in the middle of November is about as stressful as things can possibly be, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to minimize the insanity and maximize your experience of such an exciting time. As an expert in creative ways to waste time and hide mental instability, I have compiled a pretty comprehensive DO and DON’T list to get us all through this trying time. Read the rest of this entry »

And the Comments Go Nuts

We lost a lot of good minds out there yesterday. Over an injury to Kyle Drabek???

Seriously. Check the comments on the post about it.

I don’t quite know why that was the catalyst, but combined with a sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals, Brandon Morrow’s injury, abandonment by Vlad Guerrero and the creeping sensation that this is just another season to be swallowed whole by the dark cloud that is the Jays’ Mediocrity Era, a lot of commenters began to come absolutely fucking unhinged.

Granted, those who comment here make up a pretty tiny portion of overall readership (sorry, RADAR), and many who do were fighting the good fight against the tyranny of saying ball-gobblingly absurd things, but given that Wilner has similarly felt the need to address the mood of the room in his latest at Sportsnet, I think it’s safe to say a lot of people are having these same feelings– these same ridiculous feelings.

Thing is, though, quite honestly, it makes my fucking head hurt to even contemplate going back into it more than I already have today– all this past winter’s battles about Rogers, payroll, timelines for contention, laughable horseshit who’s an apologist, saying fuck it and trading Bautista, and…

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