All posts by 500LevelFan

April Showers Bring May Flowers….May Flowers Bring TERRIBLE JUNE HITTING!

Lind strikes out - a daily occurence in June (from daylife.com)

 

Poor Ricky Romero.  The Blue Jay left-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record.  At 6-4, on the surface Romero appears to be an above-average starter.  But he has been the victim of horrendous run support all season long – most notably in his last two starts.  Despite going 15 innings and allowing only 2 ER, Romero ended up 0-1 with a no-decision as Toronto provided him with a single run of support.  A 1-0 loss to St. Louis last Wednesday was followed by a 2-1 loss to the Indians last night.

But it isn’t just the past week or so that runs have been at a premium.  Toronto’s offensive production in June has completely fallen off the map.  The MLB home run leaders are looking more toothless by the day.  Just look at some of these statistics for the month of June:

Average: .223, dead last in baseball – 15 points back of Seattle for 29th

OBP: .294, second last in baseball

Slugging: .378, 25th (April – .446, 6th; May – .493, 2nd)

OPS: .673, 26th (April – .749, 15th; May – .810, 4th)

Runs: 75, 29th (April – 110, 11th; May – 164, 3rd)

The runs scored figure is particularly discouraging.  In April and May, Toronto’s average and on-base percentage were both poor, yet they still ranked in the top half of all of baseball in runs scored.  Suddenly, they sit second last in the league for the month of June.  75 runs scored equates to an average of only 3.1 per game, and ranks the Jays ahead of only Seattle.  They have scored nearly 100 fewer runs than Texas . 

To state the obvious – if you don’t score you can’t win.  The Blue Jays are 9-15 in June.  They plated three runs or less in 16 of those 24 games, including a stretch of eight games in a row.  It is asking a lot from your pitching staff to win more games than you lose with hitting like that.

So who are the culprits?  The Jays have eight players with over 50 AB this month, and only one – Lyle Overbay of all people – is hitting higher than .280.

Considering an average level of major league production, only Wells (power), Buck (power), Overbay (on base) and Lewis (on base) are having decent months – and that’s stretching it a bit.

The easiest guys to point fingers at are Hill and Lind.  There are 84 players in the American League with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.  Of those 84, Aaron Hill is 78th in OPS and Adam Lind is 81st.  Compared to this point last season (June 28th) the dropoff is astounding:

Hill (2009): .305 average, .512 slugging, .856 OPS, 19 HR, 56 RBI

Hill (2010): .189 average, .365 slugging, .645 OPS, 11 HR, 28 RBI

Lind (2009): .307 average, .545 slugging, .930 OPS, 15 HR, 52 RBI

Lind (2010): .204 average, .344 slugging, .609 OPS, 9 HR, 34 RBI

But even though they have struggled, nobody is picking up the slack this month.

Go ahead and expand the sample to include the rest of the roster, and the picture is even bleaker.  Edwin Encarnacion was sent down due to his terrible performance (.167 average, .313 slugging).  His replacement Jarrett Hoffpauir is hitting .174.  Little used subs Johnny Mac (.143) and DeWayne Wise (.167) are actually hitting worse.  Jose Molina, at 5/14 .357, has been Toronto’s best hitter, but that sample size is too small to mean anything.

But there is good news.  Baseball is, and always has been, a cyclical sport full of ups and downs.  The Blue Jays are only (hopefully) bottoming out, reaching the bottom of the valley before starting an ascent back upwards.  Slumps don’t last forever.  Hell, even the great Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Joe Mauer are hitting well off their career norms, so we shouldn’t be all that upset that Jose Bautista has hit a dry patch.

The best news of all however concerns who is getting close to making an impact on the Blue Jays roster.  Travis Snider is nearing a return and is supposed to return after the all star break.  Triple-A stats have to be taken with a grain of salt (after all Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .407 with a 1.115 OPS since being sent down) but down on the farm, Brett Wallace (.301 average, .869 OPS), JP Arencibia (.306 average, .969 OPS), Chris Lubanski (.308 average, .964 OPS), and Brad Emaus (.310 average, .888 OPS) are tearing it up.  Any of them could make an appearance in Toronto before the season is out. 

But…if the Jays keep hitting like they have been in June, any (or all) of them could make an appearance before July is out.

Three Things From Week Twelve

It was a tough week for the Jays, no doubt about it.  Not only were they involved in interleague action, which they traditionally dislike (Toronto finished 7-11 this season), but they also played both series against contending National League teams (Philadelphia and St. Louis).  To make things tougher on the Jays, their three game “home” series against the Phillies took place in Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.

With all of that bad conspiring against them, it isn’t much of a surprise that the Blue Jays completed week 12 (June 21 – 27) with a losing 2-4 record.  To make matters worse, while Tampa Bay is slumping and coming back to the Jays, Boston is on fire and has jumped into second.  In the tough AL East, gaining ground is much easier said than done.

Here are three thing that came out of week 12:

1. Home “Not So” Sweet Home

Halladay destroyed the Jays on Friday (from mlb.com)

Furious.  Angry.  Outraged.  Sad.  Devastated.  Take your pick of those words, but any of them could have described the way Blue Jays fans felt when it was announced the series against the Phillies was being shifted to Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.  Not only did it deny us a chance to see the two-time defending NL Champions first hand, it also destroyed our chance to see the return of the greatest Blue Jay pitcher of all time Roy Halladay.  But after seeing the way Toronto played over the weekend, it might have been a good thing that they were away from the dome, to save them from the wrath of the Rogers Centre faithful.

Despite winning the middle game of the set, the Jays were thoroughly thumped in Philly.  Yesterday they were befuddled by the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer in an 11-2 rout, a game in which Toronto committed a season high four errors.  Friday was the epic duel against the Doc, and the Jays proved to be no challenge to their former ace.  Halladay dominated Toronto for seven innings in an eventual 9-0 Philly victory.  It would have been interesting to see the fans reaction in Toronto upon Halladay’s departure if the series was still here.  One good thing – the Jays will NOT be going back to Philly anytime soon…unless it’s the World Series.

2. Cito Wakes Up

Any other manager would have reacted long ago, but our big and lovable Cito doesn’t like to rock the ship very often.  Of course I’m referring to the vanishing Blue Jays offense.   After tearing up the league in the early part of the season, Toronto’s power and run scoring have gone AWOL in June.  Aaron Hill is still hitting below the Mendoza line, Adam Lind is hitting nowhere near the pace of last season, and even Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista have dropped off.  After a tough 1-0 loss to Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals, Gaston finally reacted.

In hopes of springing the offense back to life, he shuffled Adam Lind and Aaron Hill down, bumped Alex Gonzalez up, and was rewarded with a 5-0 win on Thursday.  The tinkering conitnued on the weekend, with Cito even going so far as to bat Johnny Mac leadoff on Sunday.  Though the results didn’t immediately pay off (only seven runs scored in the three game set in Philly), it’s good to finally see Cito recognizing the problem and trying to fix it instead of letting the boys play through it.

3. Rotation Questions

What a difference a few weeks make.  After going through an unreal stretch where every week a different starting pitcher was dominating and becoming the next ace, Toronto has entered a tumultuous time.  Sure Romero, Marcum, and Morrow are still lights out, but at last check it takes five quality starters to win at the big league level, and with the recent struggles of Brett Cecil and Jessie “Tommy John” Litsch, Alex Anthopoulos might have some tinkering of his own to do.

With Brian Tallet seemingly at the end of his effectiveness, and David Purcey being trusted less than a 3-year old with a rifle, there really isn’t any options at the major league level.  Fortunately for the Jays, there are a few other alternatives.  Marc Rzepczynski finally appears to be coming around at triple-A Vegas.  Though his overall numbers are ugly (3-3 7.01 ERA), he is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA (13.2 IP) over his past two starts.  Brad Mills is starting to settle down after a few atrocious starts, and way down at Dunedin – though he was just placed on the 7-day DL – Canadian Scott Richmond is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA (15.2 IP) as he makes his return from injury.  Personally I would give Litsch one more start then demote him for Rzep, but that’s why I watch the games from my couch or the 500 Level, and not the executive suites.  It will be interesting to see what AA does in the upcoming week or two.

Blast From the Past – Doug Linton

If you are a fan of the Blue Jays teams from the glory years – the World Series years of ’92 and ’93 – there is a very good chance you remember Doug Linton.  If you didn’t follow the Jays at that time, well you’re likely out of luck.  Linton was one of the rare Blue Jays who had not one, but two separate cup-of-coffee stints with the club – 31 appearances (mainly out of the bullpen) in 1992/1993, and seven more relief appearances in 2003.  Unfortunately for him, he did not fare well.

Doug was selected by the Jays in the 43rd round of the 1986 draft and toiled in Toronto’s minor league system for parts of six seasons before making his major league debut with the Jays on August 3, 1992.  He came in from the bullpen in Boston’s Fenway Park, and had a succesful outing – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 4 K’s.  In fact, his first three relief appearances were so good (10 IP, 2 ER, 1.80 ERA, 10 K’s), that the Jays actually moved him into the rotation.  He made his first major league start on August 13th against the Baltimore Orioles and dominated – 8 IP, 2 ER, 4 K’s, while picking up his first career major league victory.  Things were looking good for Linton.  The Jays had found another ace!

But just as soon as he appeared, he blew up.  Figuratively of course, though if he literally blew up it might have saved the Jays a few losses.  He made two more abysmal starts before being demoted back to the bullpen, and then was absolutely demolished in relief by the Brewers (6 ER in 0.1 IP).  One more relief appearance was all she wrote for Linton in ’92.  He was promptly demoted back to AAA Syracuse – rotten timing as he missed the World Series victory.  But if you were Pat Gillick what would you do?  In his final four appearances for the Jays Linton stunk.  Badly.  2 starts, 2 relief appearances, 6 IP, 19 ER, 11 BB to 2 K, 3 HR allowed, for an 0-2 record, 28.50 ERA, 5.17 WHIP, and a .571 batting average against.  Think about that: opposing batters hit .571 against him!  Incredible!

Linton popped back up in 1993 with the Jays, making four appearances (0-1, 6.55 ERA) before somehow being claimed on waivers by the Angels.  In 2003 he came back to the Jays and actually was fairly effective for the month of April, but was eventually deemed superfluous and sent back down to Syracuse.  Again.

But as I have said before, I will say again – there is more to a major league player than the numbers he puts up.  This rings true for Linton.  Two things stand out about him.  The first is that Doug Linton is the definition of a journeyman ball player.  He made his professional debut in 1987 at single-A Myrtle Beach, and over the next 17 seasons bounced around a ton.  Linton played for:

– 4 different professional levels (A, AA, AAA, MLB)

– 11 different minor league teams (Myrtle Beach, Knoxville, Dunedin, Syracuse, Norfolk, Omaha, Salt Lake, Rochester, Colorado Springs, Richmond, Wichita)

– 5 different major league teams (Toronto, California, NY Mets, Kansas City, Baltimore)

He was even a member of two teams that released him before spring training even ended – the Yankees in 1998, and the Dodgers in 2001.  Tough luck.

The second thing that stands out about Doug Linton was the very first thing I noticed about him in 1992 when I was 13 years old.  He did not have sideburns.  No stubble, no faint trace of a sideburn – nothing.  His hair was cleanly shaved above his ear.  Not only did it look unnatural, it looked ridiculous.  I was able to find a photo of a sideburn free Linton (looking rather dorky) on checkoutmycards.com.  Judge for yourself:

The Doug Linton story is tough to tell due to his many failures, but it does have a happy ending.  Despite his horrendous major league pitching statistics, Linton has found work and remains in baseball as the pitching coach of the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox, minor league affiliate of the C0lorado Rockies.

There you have it.  Doug Linton – Blue Jay legend.

Doug Linton: Career Major League Statistics

7 seasons (1992 – 1996, 1999, 2003)

5 teams (TOR, CAL, NYM, KC, BAL)

17-20 record, 305.1 IP, 5.78 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 206 K:125 BB

*Blast From the Past is a feature dedicated to bringing back the memory of classic Jays from days past – the lesser known the better.  If you have any suggestions please contact 500 Level Fan.

SPECIAL – 100 Level Fan of the Game – June 23rd, 2010

Fez - 100 Level Fan of the Game

The G20 Summit is making life difficult in Toronto.  As a guy who lives downtown, right near the dome, everything has been altered.  From fences erected all over the place, to literally thousands of police walking, riding bikes, on horseback, or in riot gear, it really does look like a war zone.

But two good things have come out of the Summit: 1 – I was able to work from home this entire week, meaning I didn’t miss a single minute of the World Cup, and 2 – the Blue Jays series was shifted to Philadelphia.  Before you flood my email box with angry messages about number 2, let me explain.  I’m as angry as the next guy that we are denied the chance to see Roy Halladay come back to Toronto.  I was looking forward to this series since the schedule was released.  But here is the bonus – I am a Toronto Star season pass holder.  While season ticket holders were given refunds for the games they lost this weekend, I was expecting nothing.  Instead I received an envelope in the mail from the Blue Jays giving me one “best available seat” voucher for each game that was moved.  That means that for three games between now and the end of the season, I have a chance to move down to ANY seat in the dome!  Since a 100 level premium dugout seat goes for $62 – $75 depending on the game, essentially my pass paid for itself two-fold.

And so it was a rarity on Wednesday night.  Accompanied by my dad (500 Level Fan Sr.) I made a trip to the good seats.

And it was in section 120, row 9 that I sat beside the 100 Level Fan of the Game – Fez from That 70’s Show.

To be honest – it wasn’t actually Fez.  But I’ll be buggered if he didn’t sound exactly like him, the same Mexican-accented, higher pitched, squeaky voice.  Every time I heard his voice while watching the game, I had to look to my right to make sure that it actually wasn’t Fez.  And by every time, I mean every time – probably over 85 glances.

Three things stood out about Fez:

1. He liked to drink.  He sucked back pints like they were going out of style.  Upon his arrival in the first inning, he had two beers in hand.  They were gone almost instantly.  What followed was pure fascination on my part.  Every time a beer vendor would walk down the aisle, Fez would stop him and order two more.  I lost count of the amount of beers he consumed, but was treated to some further entertainment in the 7th inning when his buddy told him that beer sales stopped after the bottom half of the inning.  Panicked, Fez tried to drink as fast as he could in order to sprint to the concourse level.  He never made it.

2. He liked to heckle.  Imagine hearing somebody with Fez’s voice heckling.  Amazing.  The problem was that he didn’t know a whole lot about baseball.  When Aaron Hill couldn’t come up with a line drive that flew six feet over his head, Fez was angry: “Come on Aaron, I’ve seen you make that before.”  When Pujols was on deck, Fez grilled him: “Pujols! Pooooooo – hooooooles!  You suck sh*t Pujols!”

3. He could control the future.  Seriously – what ever Fez said happened.  During one Pujols at bat, this took place:

Fez – “Come on Pujols!  Watch the ball.  You can’t hit that.”

Pujols – watched strike one

Fez – “Ha!  One more Albert, you can’t touch this.  Leave the bat on your shoulder.”

Pujols – watched strike two

Fez – “Now….swing!”

Pujols – swung and laced a base hit to centre field

Twice in the game he predicted a double play the second before the pitch was thrown, including the Alex Gonzalez back-breaker in the ninth.  Quite a performance.

While I still prefer the 500 Level for sheer entertainment value, Fez did his best to win me over for further trips to the good seats.  Congratulations Fez, on winning a rare 100 Level Fan of the Game award. link checker

Scouted 500 Level Fan of the Game – June 22nd, 2010

Due to my incredible golfing skills, I was unable to attend the Blue Jays / Cardinals game at the dome last night.  By winning a bet on the links, I was reaping my rewards at the Jack Astors bar at Yonge and Dundas – dinner and multiple pitchers of beer.  While it is always disappointing to miss a Jays game in person, it looked like last night was a good one to miss, as Toronto was thumped by the powerful Cards 9-4.

However, more 500 Level Fan scouts were in attendance, and came back with a fantastic report for a fan of the game from last night.  Ladies and Gentleman, I am proud to present the FLF of the game from June 22 – Chuck Norris.

Here is the account from my witty, top notch, and drunk upper deck scouts:

The game began and we instantly noticed this man who looked like Chuck Norris.  If he was just a regular fan, we would not be having this conversation.  Rather, he was at the Dome for reasons other than our beloved Blue Jays.  Namely, beer drinking, MILF hunting, teen courting, pop corn eating and more booze drinking (and subsequent puking).

The night began when we noticed this worn looking man complete with grey skin, an oversized/wrinkled nose (thanks to decades of booze abuse), and frizzy hair in need of conditioning.  That said, he was full of energy and looked to be a fun loving guy. He looked like Chuck Norris. apache web server

Chuck Norris enjoying another beer

Next, we could not help but notice that he drank a lot.  He always had a beer in his hand and was always looking to see where his next beer could be found.  In fact, at one point he made his way down the tunnel to get a new beer.  However to our surprise he came back empty handed for the first time all game.  This is when we saw him borrow money from his ‘loved one’for the beer and then made his way back down the tunnel.  This time he didn’t come back empty handed.  He also drank his beers at a rapid pace, taking huge gulps and finishing off big draft beers with ease.

Chuck Norris and "wife"


Chuck was also a man who loves woman.  Not only was he romancing his wife (the MILF-ish battle axe in the pink outfit), but he was attempting to romance of group of teens two rows above him.  With the confidence level of the real Chuck Norris, he engaged the teens in superficial discussions all evening.

Chuck Norris inhaling popcorn


Next came the munchies.  Chuck was hungry and somewhat exhausted with the amount of alcohol he consumed, and as a result needed a salty snack to hold over his appetite.  What better snack than a handful of popcorn?  We think he was missing a few teeth, so his consumption style was awry.  My theory is that he let the popcorn soak in his saliva and then simply swallowed them.

Fantastic shot of Chuck Norris apparently vomiting. Fascinating!

Now for the disturbing part.  Chuck drank too much, and it was apparent two-fold.  First, he keeled over during the 7th inning stretch and looked to have puked on his seat.  He was tired, lethargic, and severely booze-abused at this point.

Freshly changed, Chuck is a stud. What 18 year old girl wouldn't want him?

Secondly, after his apparent vomit, Chuck went to the boys room to freshen up. He came back in a new shirt but not just any new shirt.  Chuck changed from his ragged Black t-shirt to a full button up lime green collared shirt.  We figured that Chuck had remnants of vomit on his shirt and thus needed a change.  We can also assume he made the change to enhance his appearance as he began to make more frequent moves on the teenagers two rows up.

All in all Chuck was a joy to watch, analyze and observe.  Now only if the Jays gave us the same reasons to watch.

Thanks guys, and congratulations Chuck Norris! link checker .

Three Things From Week Eleven

The Jays rebounded in a big way during week 11 (June 14 – June 20), winning four of six against NL West contenders San Diego and San Francisco.   After being lit up last week against Colorado and Tampa, this is exactly the type of response that Blue Jays fans were hoping for.  In late June, nearing the mid-point of the season, Toronto is still hanging in the pennant race, sitting only 5.5 games back of the Yankees for first in the AL East, and only 4.5 games back of Tampa Bay and Boston in the Wild Card chase. It looks like we might be treated to an entertaining summer after all.

Here are three things that came out of week 11 of the season:

1. Busy Anthopoulos

Quite a week for Toronto’s rookie GM.  Not only did he get some good news on the field with a 4-2 record and a near home sweep of the Giants, he also got some good news at the gate, as the Jays attracted over 60,700 fans for the series against San Francisco – impressive considering Toronto’s downtown core (especially near the dome) resembles a war zone due to the G20 Summit.  But AA also had some very good news off the field as well.

Staring straight in the face of JP Ricciardi’s 2009 draft pick fiasco (where he failed to sign three of the first four picks), AA got off to a great start by signing 18 of his 56 picks in six days, including three of the first four.  He then followed up his draft pick signings by making a few roster moves – signing infielder Nick Green and optioning Mike McCoy to AAA Vegas, then designating Edwin Encarnacion for assignment, recalling Jarrett Hoffpauir, and activating Scott Richmond from the DL.  Sending McCoy down was a smart move to help with his development, but the EE move has proven to be controversial.  This was the same type of move made with Rios last year that came back to bite them in a big way.  AA is confident that EE will not be claimed on waivers due to his high salary and horrendous performance, but stranger things have happened.  All in all, a risky move, but just another one in a busy week for our GM.

2. Alomar and Quantrill Inducted

So this doesn’t necessarily relate to on-field performance, but I want to take a moment to recognize the achievement of Paul Quantrill and Roberto Alomar.   Both were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on the weekend in St. Mary’s, Ontario.  Quantrill appeared in 841 MLB games in his career, 35th on the all time list, ahead of such notable names as Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson.  386 of those appearances came in a Blue Jays uniform between 1996 and 2001, where he became known as one of the best relief pitchers in the game.

Alomar is of course one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time.  His enshrinement comes as no suprise, as he will likely be making an induction speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in a year or two.  Alomar has always represented the Blue Jays, the city of Toronto, and Canada with dignity and class, and recent rumours might have him joining the Jays in an official capacity sometime soon.

Overall, a great week for both players, and a great honour.  For more detail on the ceremony, please refer to the Blue Jay Hunter, who was in St. Mary’s.

John McDonald after his emotional HR (image from daylife.com)

3. Happy Father’s Day Johnny Mac

One of the most difficult weeks in John McDonald’s life took place last week.  The fan favourite was placed on the bereavement list after the unfortunate passing of his father Jack on Tuesday morning at the young age of 60.  After spending the past two weeks away from the team, Johnny Mac rejoined the Jays on Saturday, the day after his father’s funeral, and saw his first game action on Sunday – which just happened to be Father’s Day.

Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, with the Jays down by six, Johnny laced the second pitch he saw into the bullpen for his first home run of the season.  The blast sent the Rogers Centre into a frenzy, and the fact that Toronto lost the game was forgotten as the moment was so special.  Post game, McDonald held back tears describing the bomb, saying it was difficult because he couldn’t call his Dad after the game to tell him about it.  Though the week was tough, the finish was perfect, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.

Random Non-Baseball Rants and Raves

I know, I know.  This is a Blue Jays blog.  I should not be using this space to go off on a tangent about things non-Jays, or non-baseball.  But I have four quick and random non-baseball thoughts to get off my chest.

1. The on-field action at the World Cup has been poor at best.  I can only remember a few good games thus far, maybe Brazil vs. North Korea, Cameroon vs. Denmark, and perhaps Ghana vs. website offline . Australia.  The heavyweights have been brutal.  Italy has been horrendous, France sucks the bag, and England – well, don’t get me started about my boys.  They have been terrible, and even worse they have been painful to watch.  I only hope that the big boys wake up in time, or progression from the group stage will be impossible.

2. The off-field action at the World Cup has been bizarre.  From the annoying vuvuzelas to the backlash against the refereeing, it seems like the actions off the pitch are taking precedence.  But of all the strange activity, nothing has been weirder than the French.  Anelka is sent home because he had an argument with his coach.  Then the players bond together and refuse to practice, in order to show their support for their banished team-mate.  Then, team captain Patrice Evra gets in a near physical confrontation with France’s head trainer.  Then the players leave the practice facility, forcing coach Domenech to read a statement.  Then the team director quits, and throws his credentials to the ground in a fit of fury.  Amazing!  This team is more dysfunctional than the Blue Jays of John Gibbons!

3. Montreal’s trade of Jaroslav Halak is downright baffling.  I understand that he is probably at the peak of his value now, and will demand a lucrative contract.  But that’s all you could get for him?  Judging by how “well” Carey Price has played over the past few seasons, this is a huge risk.  Good thing I’m a Leaf fan or I’d be very upset.  Actually, is that a good thing?

4. The US Open: wow.  Watching that unfold yesterday was like watching a train wreck.  Nobody wanted to win.  Tiger, Phil, Ernie, and Davis Love, all kept moving backwards.  Dustin Johnson did his best impression of me on the 2nd hole, with an amazing flub.  No-name Gregory Havret moved within a stroke of the lead, then blew two golden chances on 17 and 18.  Through it all, leader Graeme McDowell had a chance to blow the field away, but kept bogeying holes of his own.  It was a remarkable tournament that seemed destined to never end.  I don’t think anybody could have caught McDowell even if they added holes.  That was drama and poor shot making at its finest.

There – back to the Blue Jays.

500 Level Fan of the Game – June 18th, 2010

The Replica Ed Sprague

Whether it was the security fences and hundreds upon hundreds of police officers, or the fact that the boring Giants were in town, the game on Friday was lacking its normal degree of lunatic upper deck fans.  Most of the crowd 18,000+ were fans that were happy to be there and glad to follow the game.  While something like that is good for the team, it is awful for Five Hundred Level Fan.

That said, there were a few candidates for FLF of the game, including:

– Original Raptor: a 20-something dude wearing an original purple Toronto Raptors jersey with Marcus Camby on the back

– The Young Man Lover: a 50-something man who made sure he sat within 15 feet of a group of shirtless boys.  Disturbing.

– The Underage Drinkers: similar to the fan of the game from June 1st, only a large group of them.

But the winner for this night, based purely on the mix of his volume, passion for the game, level of intoxication, and most importantly his jersey, goes to Replica Ed Sprague.

He was noticeable as soon as we arrived, in a classic Ed Sprague jersey, half un-buttoned with a black tank top underneath.  In fact, it could very well have been the ONLY Ed Sprague jersey I have ever seen.  Sprague was extremely animated, moving between three or four different rows, up and down, all game long.  He was very loud, cheering hugely for every good play by a Jay, defense and offense.

To be honest, he didn’t really do anything memorable.  No ejections.  No vomits.  No heckling.  No spitting, or swearing, or fighting, or dancing.  But he did have an aura about him, something that made him stand out.  Part of me believed he actually might have been Sprague, if not for the fact that he definitely wasn’t with former synchronized swimmer Kristen Babb-Sprague.  His date was ugly.

All in all, if this is what we have in store for the Cardinals series – fans who stay relatively composed – it is going to be a slow week at the dome.  It might end up being a week where we actually focus on the game instead of the fans.  That is not always a bad thing.

But for one night, Mr. Sprague came through with at least some mild entertainment.  Congratulations Replica Ed Sprague, FLF of the game! apache web server . website offline link checker

Classic Quotes from the Upper Deck – June 18th, 2010

A few comments from the 500 Level during Toronto’s 3-2 win over the Giants on Friday night:

  • “After nine years that has never happened to me!” – 500 Level vendor (the lady who always chants “when I say Vernon, you say hit!” – also affectionately known as the Bird Lady) after walking directly into a fan carrying a large beer and having him spill it all over her.
  • “It got in my mouth!” – Bird Lady after a few drops of beer were swallowed post-collision.
  • “The Bird Lady is back and dryer than ever!!!” – friend of mine, after the re-appearance of the Bird Lady (now dry), in the 4th inning
  • “The Giants aren’t holding Molina on!  Come on Cito send him!” – great fan.  Steal Molina steal!
  • “Hey Zito – go back to your early 20’s!” – strange heckle from a drunkard in the 10th row
  • “You – you are a huge douche bag.  You smart-phone checking, back stabbing, idiot.” – drunk girl in Lone Star post-game, directed towards me for reasons unknown.  She made up to me by buying me a shot later.  Great end to the night.

As always, if you have can provide any overheard quotes from the upper deck at a Jays game, feel free to post them in the comment box below or send them to 500 Level Fan. same sites apache web server website offline . link checker .