McGowanChops3

Dusty Lambchops? Roy Halladay? What fucking year is this? …

RCGrass

The expansion to BMO Field was voted on by Toronto’s city council yesterday, and the motion passed by a count of 39-3, with Rob and Doug Ford both being among the three to vote nay. Never heard of them.

The Toronto Star has the details on the vote, which almost certainly ensures that BMO will be the new home of the Toronto Argonauts.

But the thing about that is, don’t get too excited about grass showing up at the Rogers Centre anytime soon. BMO itself is a big undertaking, and they haven’t cleared all the hurdles quite yet — though Duncan Fletcher of TFC blog Walking The Red, who for obvious reasons has been following the issue closely, doesn’t see that as being a problem.

Next up is getting the $10m that MLSE is asking for from the provincial and federal governments, but let’s face it, that’s already in the bag, the appropriate people have already been wined and dined and taken to see a Leafs game with Drake, all that sort of thing. Though Ottawa seems to be talking a tough game, this will happen.

So… the Argos are moving to BMO, and the plan — given how obvious the need is for them to get out of Rogers Centre, and all the talk about using the upgraded version of the facility for the Pan Am Games — seems to be to make it sooner rather than later, yes. But here’s something: I’ve heard a whisper that part of the reason some of the talk from the Jays and Rogers that makes it seem like they’re more in the “later rather than sooner” camp on this is actually because what the Jays are planning — in addition to the added grass and all of Paul Beeston’s convoluted blather about wind currents or whateverthefuck — is a much bigger project than maybe you think.

Read the rest of this entry »

beestonStCatharines

Oh lord. Here’s what I’m sure is exactly the way the Jays were hoping to spend a love-in of a day with baseball returning to the city for a new year, full of new hopes and a small sense of optimism pulled out of the fire thanks to a Drew Hutchison, Mark Buehrle, and the people of Montreal: Payroll Parameters!

But, of course, thanks to last night’s report at Fox Sports from Ken Rosenthal, it’s no longer avoidable, and Paul Beeston sure didn’t do much to stop the story’s momentum when he joined the excellent Matt Galloway on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning earlier today.

You can hear the full audio here, and it’s worth a listen, as he rambles into bizarre territory about the necessity of building the farm system and having young, controllable, cheap talent on the roster (sort of like the kind that the Jays traded away last year in what we now see as a feeble and suddenly-unsustainable push to become competitive), and also addresses the craft beer situation in purely myopic, short-term, capitalist terms, after first trying to make the suggestion that Labatt and Budweiser (majority owned by Belgian-Brazilian multinational Anheuser Busch-InBev) should count as locally brewed. But it was the budget stuff and the deferral scheme that provided the money quotes.

“There was discussion about that, Matt,” he said when asked about the deferral report. “And to be very honest with you, I think if it had gone that way it would have been fine.”

Let’s not mince words: that Beeston was aware of this is insane. That it went to his level, and that he didn’t say “I’ve heard of that report but I can’t speak to it, I know nothing about it,” bends the mind just a little bit. Or at least brings up thoughts of Alex Anthopoulos in his office, smacking himself in the forehead as he listens. And that he didn’t bother to clarify whether the suggestion came from the club or the players? Just… wow.

It also maybe plays into the speculation I was indulging in the previous post about the front office perhaps wanting this sort of thing to get out there, but realistically, they’ve got six months of the season left to do a thing like that, and I’m preeeety sure this isn’t what anybody down there wants to be talking about on a day like today. Unfortunately for them, though, Beeston — who, I must concede, may be more shrewd in all this than I’m about to give him credit for — continued.

“Well, we’re a business!” he exclaimed when asked if the club’s budget has been capped. “We’re a business. So the answer to that is we have a budget. So the answer is it’s not ‘capped,’ because we can increase our revenue, we can increase our expenses, but we run it as a business, Matt.”

It was at that point that Galloway asked him what that means for the club as a business when other teams have continued building and the Jays have already spent their money last year — a point which Beeston tacitly conceded, before diving into an explanation about building through other means, such as trades and the draft. Beeston then slipped in a statement about money not being a problem, before talking about building a system with guys like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez (and evidently not Noah Syndergaard, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, etc.), who are the kinds of players, we’re told, that you need to integrate into your organization. “You need a mixture of the players who are at the minimum together with the ones that are your stars,” he lectures.

So, in essence, we’re back to square one with this crew. Also: stars and scrubs, everyone! Always works!

Ugh. And it’s just… you get the sense that in a different era, before the internet — which he doesn’t use — exploded and the fans learned all the minutiae about this club that they could stuff into their brains, maybe Beeston would be able to get away with this kind of stuff and not come off like a hopeless bullshit-fanning old hack. It’s like the difference between Rob Ford speaking to people who are even just mildly interested in the details of whatever paint-by-numbers talking point garbage he’s trying to slam his way through on, and him speaking to people who are still swept up by all the hollow narratives and reductive populism.

Beeston could be the mayor of the Jays equivalent of Ford Nation, in other words, but when people are actually paying attention to what he says and does, it gets kinda tricky.

tedstatue2

In a move that ought to be unfathomable — but, of course, is entirely fathomable because of the company we’re ultimately talking about here — in Ken Rosenthal’s latest for Fox Sports, he tells us that last month Blue Jays players offered to restructure their contracts in order to help the team free up the payroll necessary to get Ervin Santana’s name on a deal, and his arm into the club’s rotation.

It was as if the Toronto Blue Jays passed around a hat, trying to collect enough money to sign free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana.

Several Jays players discussed deferring portions of their salaries to clear payroll for Santana last month, according to major league sources.

Apparently the talks didn’t get past the conversation stage — Rosenthal spoke to an agent who explained that even if they did, they wouldn’t likely have been able to get the scheme past the union — but that’s not really the point, nor is that whole bit even the damn kicker here. We’re also told that “it is not clear whether the impetus for the talks about deferring money came from the players or from the Jays’ front office. The players, however, likely would not have engaged in such discussions unless they believed the team was unable or unwilling to pay Santana $14 million.”

Um… what?

There’s a chance that management may have come to the players with this?

There… really can’t be, though, right? Not really.

I mean, sure, there’s a chance of anything, but this is just Rosenthal covering his bases and making as clear as possible what the information he has is, even though it almost certainly must have been a suggestion coming from players desperate to see the team sign their friend, make good on their commitment to actually try to be a competitive baseball team, and add to a rotation in desperate need. Right???

Read the rest of this entry »

halladayterminator

So remember when I scoffed in tonight’s Game Threat about the Jays opening the gates to tomorrow’s Home Opener at 5 PM, and their encouraging fans to get there early? Um… so it turns out I might have to eat those words about showing up at the last minute. For those of you who haven’t seen the title of this post or can’t see the picture above, to wit:

That. Is. Awesome.

Right?

I mean, ceremonial first pitches are pretty dumb, but that’s awesome, right?

morrowMTL

Here we go, folks. Brandon Morrow, who was rusty at the start of camp but came out firing during his last tuneup, in front of a big Montreal crowd last Saturday, and looks to keep the momentum going as he makes his first big league appearance in over ten months. And he does so with about as much on the line as you could expect out of the first game of any given season.

I say that only half seriously, because I really don’t want to make too much of game four of 162 — plus, I’m sure there will be all kinds of narrative-based drivel availabel out there for anybody who wants to indulge in it — but would it ever feel fucking good for this club to start the season 3-1 with a series victory in Tampa and a fighting chance to do well over the weekend against the likes of an overanxious Masahiro Tanaka, Michael “New York version of Dustin McGowan” Pineda, and the old grey mare who ain’t what she used to be that they call Sabbathia. Then the Astros come in!

Things are setup well to get off to a good start of the season, in other words, but saying so means getting well, well ahead of ourselves. A lot of work will have to be done, and a lot of pitching questions will have to be answered in a positive way, if the Jays are going to find themselves in Baltimore on April 11th feeling pretty damn good about their record– and the first big one is asked of Morrow, and it will be answered tonight.

Though we all know enough to not make too much of how a team plays in the early season, wins is wins, and if the Jays start banking them now, that would be a very good thing. A tough Tampa team stands in the way, which is OK, since a loss would hardly be anything remotely catastrophic, but holy shit, let’s get this monkey off our fucking backs and start to fucking roll already. Why not us?

Scuttlebutt

According to a team release issued this afternoon, the Blue Jays will be opening the gates early tomorrow — at 5 PM ET — in order to better accommodate the sold out crowd that will fill the Rogers Centre to watch McGowan take on Tanaka. So if you don’t drink, get out of our way, because we’re loading up on booze and sure as shit aren’t going to sit in the stadium for two hours before the game paying $13 a pint (or whatever it costs these days).

Worse news for those of you headed to the games on Saturday and Sunday, as the TTC tweets that stations will be closed those two days from Bloor Station to St. Andrew. From Bloor to St. Andrew! No Union. No Yonge line. They’re telling you to transfer at St. George, then take it to St. Andrew and walk. I’m telling you to get there early, because it sounds like a real clusterfuck in the making.

According to a tweet from Barry Davis, on the radio this morning, John Gibbons explained that Sergio Santos wouldn’t be available to pitch tonight, having taken us for a wild ride in back-to-back wins on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Though originally in the lineup, Wil Myers was removed due to flu-like symptoms, according to a tweet from Shi Davidi. The lineup below has been updated to reflect the change.

Don’t forget to follow DJF on Instagram, especially tomorrow, as I’ll be posting a bunch of pictures from the Home Opener — for real this time, not like from Opera Bob’s on Monday, where I pretty quickly made the call that I didn’t feel like documenting a wake. Will be good!

Says here we’ll do a podcast tomorrow.

TV: Sportsnet

Next game: Tomorrow, 7:07 PM ET, vs. New York (AL). The Home Opener!

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app. And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

LF Melky Cabrera (S)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
1B Adam Lind (L)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
SS Ryan Goins (L)

RHP Brandon Morrow

Tampa Bay Rays

DH David DeJesus (L)
CF Desmond Jennings (R)
2B Ben Zobrist (S)
3B Evan Longoria (R)
1B James Loney (L)
LF Logan Forsythe (R)
RF Matt Joyce (L)
C Ryan Hanigan (R)
SS Yunel Escobar (R)

RHP Chris Archer

buehrleross

You wouldn’t believe how long it took for Grof to get this pose right.

Marcus Stroman is on the hill in Buffalo, as the Bisons make their season debut today, while Aaron Sanchez will be in Trenton starting for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and Brandon Morrow will look to carry over his excellent-ish performance from Montreal as the Jays hope to actually complete a rare series win in Tampa… but let’s not start looking to the future just yet. Let’s savour a little bit about last night, as Mark Buehrle was simply brilliant against the Rays.

Read the rest of this entry »