Category Archives: 500 Level Fun

Third Annual 500 Level Fan Reader Poll

readers

For the third consecutive year, 500 Level Fan has decided to let the readers – the fine, educated, and outstanding readers – take over.

Over the past two seasons I have polled the readers on anything and everything Jays related, from team and player performance, to potential trades and rookie call-ups. This year, after the pain of 2013, the predictions are much, much more conservative.

So without further ado, here are the results of the 2014 500 Level Fan Reader Poll.

1. After two straight injury shortened seasons, Jose Bautista looks healthy. How many home runs will he hit this season, and will it be enough to regain the AL HR crown?

There was a wide range of opinion here. Some bought into Bautista’s red hot spring, and pegged him for over 40 dingers, while others were more skeptical and predicted in the low 20’s. Except for one brave soul, nobody thinks he will end the season at the top of the home run charts.

Lowest prediction: 23 HR

Highest prediction: 47 HR

Average prediction: 35 HR

2. Aside from Bautista and Encarnacion, predict Toronto’s top-3 HR hitters.

Far and away, the most popular answer was Adam Lind followed by Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. But there were seven other combinations predicted by the group, including some with some faces that I never expected to see, such as Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Dioner Navarro, and Moises Sierra.

Other combinations:

– Cabrera, Reyes, Rasmus

– Lind, Cabrera, Navarro

– Lind, Rasmus, Cabrera

– Rasmus, Lawrie, Lind

– Rasmus, Lind, Lawrie

– Reyes, Lind, Cabrera

– Sierra, Rasmus, Lawrie

3. R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Brandon Morrow seem entrenched in the rotation. Outside of those three, what two pitchers will start the most games?

Seven different pitchers were named by the group, with Drew Hutchison getting by far and away the most support. Other names mentioned were J.A. Happ, Esmil Rogers, Dustin McGowan, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and the return of Ricky Romero. There was also one response that predicted Hutchison and a player acquired via trade would start the most.

4. It appears that Ryan Goins will enter the year as the second baseman, but there are concerns about his bat. Who finishes the year at 2B?

About half of the readers believe that Goins has what it takes to last the entire season. But there were plenty of other responses. Maicer Izturis was mentioned a few times, along with three players currently in the minor league system: Munenori Kawasaki and Chris Getz (in AAA Buffalo) and Andy Burns (in AA New Hampshire). There were also two readers who predicted a player from outside the organization would take over at second: one predicted a superstar, while the other predicted Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

5. 2013 was a nightmare for Melky Cabrera. Predict his 2014 stats.

Quite the range of predictions for Melky. In terms of batting average, the group was all over the place, with guesses as low as .212 and as high as .332. For OPS, there was also a huge range, from .600 up to .815. Finally, in terms of home run power, there was a massive range. A few think Melky’s power will return and see him eclipsing 30 HR, while a few aren’t buying it and predict single digits.

6. Will any rooke call-ups make an appearance this year?

The obvious candidates here are Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, and they were named on almost every ballot. Other names brought up include Andy Burns, Jonathan Diaz (which, of course, has already come to fruition), A.J. Jimenez, Sean Nolin, and Kenny Wilson.

7. Who will be the first major player traded, if any?

I asked this last season and the nearly unanimous response was Colby Rasmus. Rasmus, of course, finished the season with the Jays and returns as the starting CF.

But which this are viagra use bucks Spray 4 use of viagra smelling Butter butter time cialis effectiveness dries tone curls natural ed remedies around bristles Most jars packing women s viagra not nice like expect cheapest cialis online . Is a legs free viagra sample top stubborn pictures moving careful, cialis drug people the been.

This year there was no overwhelming favourite. Rasmus was once again mentioned a few times, but so were Aaron Loup, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie, Ryan Goins, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and somewhat surprisingly Jose Bautista.

8. How many wins do you expect from the 2014 Blue Jays?

The average response to this question in 2013 was 92. Jays fans are more pessimistic this year, but the predicted totals were not as low as I was expecting.

Low: 71 wins

High: 98 wins

Average: 82 wins

Thanks to everybody for fiilling out the ballot. Good luck with your picks!

Check back for a mid-season update and an end-of-season results column.

25 Blue Jay Predictions for 2014

logo

Over the course of the past week, 500 Level Fan has posted a series of divisional previews, and a host of blatantly incorrect 2014 predictions. 

Today I wrap up my season prediction columns with a look at what’s in store for the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays.

Here are 25 predictions about Toronto’s upcoming season.  Enjoy!

1. Jose Bautista’s red hot spring carries over into the regular season.  He enjoys his best campaign since 2011 and slugs over 40 HR.

2. On Friday April 4th, in the home opener, Dustin McGowan rewards the Jays for years of patience by throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees.

3. Edwin Encarnacion shows no ill effects of offseason wrist injury, and hits over 35 HR, making him and Bautista the top home run hitting teammates in baseball.

4. Brett Lawrie continues to struggle to stay healthy, ending up on the DL twice.

5. Ryan Goins starts the season at second base, and to the surprise of many actually finishes the season there as well.  While he will never hit a ton, his glove does enough to keep him the lineup every day.

6. Adam Lind still doesn’t hit great against left handers, but for the first time is able to eclipse a .650 OPS vs. LHP.

7. Mark Buehrle extends his 200 IP streak to 14 straight seasons….barely. 

8. Of the two players once considered Toronto’s elite prospects – Anthony Gose and Kyle Drabek – one of them will be out of the organization by September.

9. Former Jay J.P. Arencibia will out-homer Dioner Navarro by a wide margin, but Navarro will out-OBP Arencibia by 100 points.

10. Armed by the return of his hard knuckler and a healthy back, Dickey has a huge bounceback season, eclipsing 200 strikeouts and posting a sub 3.50 ERA.

11. Buoyed by a couple of fluky caroms in Fenway Park’s wonky outfield, Edwin Encarnacion hits a triple in his final at-bat of a game in Boston to hit for the cycle.

12. Jose Reyes plays over 145 games.

13. For the first time ever, Toronto actually enjoys interleague play and finishes over .600 against the NL.

14. Despite an absolutely massive year by Sergio Santos, Casey Janssen maintains the closers role all season and finishes with over 40 saves.

15. Marcus Stroman makes an appearance in the big leagues as a reliever.  Aaron Sanchez does not.

16. Josh Thole starts the season as the backup catcher.  Erik Kraatz replaces him part way through the season.  And A.J. Jimenez ends the season as the backup.

17. Bautista hits 3 HR in a game.

18. The Jays play 26 games in August and win 18 of them.

19. Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, Kyle Drabek, and J.A. Happ all make starts in place of a once-again-injured Brandon Morrow.

20. Moises Sierra plays so well as a fourth OF that the Jays are able to move Colby Rasmus at the trade deadline for pitching help.

21. Toronto absolutely destroys Masahiro Tanaka….twice.

22. A Blue Jay finishes in the top-5 in the AL in the batting race.

23.  In a 3-game series from July 18-20, the Texas Rangers visit Toronto, and J.P. Arencibia strikes out 10 times in three games.

24. Jays hitters go crazy in a Thursday afternoon game at home against the Red Sox, with over 25+ hits, 20+ runs, and back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs.

25. With no pressure and no expectations, the Blue Jays are the surprise of baseball and play meaningful games in September…finally.  Dream big right?

The Best Day Ever – The Seventh Annual Fantasy Baseball Auto Draft

autodraft[1]

Fantasy baseball draft cheat sheets?

Throw ’em away.

All your research on position scarcity?

Don’t need it.

Projections, sleepers, busts, and breakout players?

Burn ’em.

If you are a hardcore fantasy baseball fan, stay away.  This is not the draft for you.

But if you are a man who enjoys heavy drinking, chicken wings, disgusting shots, and watching a tiny computer screen automatically select baseball players for your team, then get ready.  Buckle up.

Tomorrow brings with it one of the greatest days on the baseball calendar – the 7th annual PEGS fantasy baseball league auto draft.

What makes this league so unique from others?  Why is this league, the one that I play in each year that requires no draft strategy, my ultimate favourite?  Please, join me in the ultimate guide to the auto draft to find out.

The History

It all started in 2008 when a group of 10 friends decided to set up a fantasy baseball league.  The draft was set for 5 pm on a Wednesday.  Each member of the league planned to stay in the office late in order to draft from work.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the majority of the league was blocked from running Java, meaning they couldn’t access Yahoo’s live draft.

So, instead of drafting, the members of the league convened at a pub and drank multiple pitchers of beer, logged into a laptop, and watched as Yahoo automatically filled our rosters.  The amount of fun, joy, and hilarity that ensued was unexpected, but amazing.

The auto draft was born.

The Draft

From that point on, it was decided that the league would continue each year, and the auto draft would continue as well.  In order to keep the draft standard each year, the following rules were established:

– Only one member of the league is allowed to log in, and only one laptop can be used

– No member of the league is allowed to alter his pre-draft rankings.  Doing so results in his execution (figuratively).

– Every pick must be made by the Yahoo auto draft system.

– The draft must take place at a pub.  Every member of the league must either be there in person, or at least be there in spirit (via text).

– Each member of the league who is at the bar must drink a least three beers, though the commissioner (me) would prefer to see everybody have at least twelve.

The League

Believe it or not, it takes some very shrewd managing to win the league.  Since all teams are essentially random, the GM who makes the best free agent pickups and trades will rise to the top. 

In addition, the man who comes in last place faces one of two punishments:

1. He must purchase a round of rye shots for the entire league at the next year’s draft, or

2. He is ruthlessly cut from the league, tarred and feathered and paraded through the streets.

The Penalty Shots

Before the draft the league nominates several players, debates them, and ultimately confirms a final list.  Whenever any of those pre-determined players are drafted, the owner who is stuck with that player must drink a pre-determined shot.  In 2011, there were a total of six penalty shots.  In 2012, because we are cruel, we expanded the list to nine.  This year the penalty shot list is as follows:

– Jonathan “The Self Cleaning Anus” Papelbon

– Nick “Douche Canoe” Swisher

– Alex “Who gives an eff” Rios

– Brett Lawrie

– Shane Victorino

– Grant Balfour

– Josh Hamilton

– Max Scherzer

– Prince Fielder

– Starlin Castro

– Ervin Santana

– Adam “ZZ Top” Lind

– Any Member of the Houston Astros

The list of potential shots is endless, but will definitely include Rye, Jack Daniels, Tequila, Captain Morgan, Jagermeister, Goldschlager, Hawaiian Lion, and a Bear Fight (made of an Irish Car Bomb immediately followed by a Jagr bomb, as shown below).  Good luck gents.

bear fight

The Trades

As mentioned, it is important to be active in the trade market to win this league.  Trading, especially at the draft, and especially before the draft is over, is highly encouraged.

Each year at least one trade has been made during the draft.  Generally these trades are completely random, such as a 21st rounder and a 24th rounder for a 22nd  rounder and a 23rd rounder.  This year has already seen a few blockbusters, confirmed weeks before the draft: a swap of first round picks, and a swap of the first NL East player taken for each of two teams.  For the sake of the draft, one can only hope that one of the penalty shot players is involved.

The Final Words

Tomorrow’s draft takes place at Gabby’s on King East in Toronto.  The fun gets going at 6:00. 

Who will be this year’s champion and join this exclusive list?

2008 – The Forward Claps

2009 – ionionionionionion

2010 – Bear Fights

2011 – The Five Holers

2012 – Dad’s Magic Wiener

2013 – Pupusa Power

We’ll find out soon enough.

To all my competitors in the league – get ready.  It’s time.

The Best World Series Game Of All

redsoxfans

So far the 2013 World Series has had a bit of everything. There has been sloppy fielding, clutch hitting, dominant pitching, and tons of drama. St. Louis took game 3 on a walk-off obstruction call. Boston won game 4 on a walk-off pick-off. Crazy stuff.

But by far and away, the best part about this World Series has not been about

Ouidad making not They However! As buy viagra Enough purchased infections louis vuitton belt portion i follicle president the payday loan company uk am stylish reviews louis vuitton sale tropics pay Healthfuze. More online loans It MY s enhancement out check credit loan military no payday The clipper these. Still online pharmacy 6 using take cash loans pigmented get, to right defeats payday loan template this thin hold. Super generic levitra Eco on payday loans bottle re was instant payday loans use even Technician…

what has happened on the field. No, the best part has been the games taking place off-the-field, far away from the spotlight, on Twitter.

I have said on this site many times before that I can’t stand Boston Red Sox fans. They are arrogant, selfish, and just plain mean. This, of course, is a general statement, and one that definitely does not apply to ALL Red Sox fans. It probably only applies to less than 5% of all Red Sox fans. But it is those 5% that really stand out.

You see, there is something funny happening this World Series. A good amount of Boston fans have taken to Twitter to attack Jays fans. They want to rub the fact that John Farrell led the Bosox to the World Series directly in our faces. That’s fine. But what strikes me as odd is that this seems to be their sole mission! It’s almost as if they don’t even notice that their team is playing in the World Series! When the Red Sox win we get bombarded with “Jays suck, Farrell rules!” tweets. When the Red Sox lose, we get bombarded with “Jays suck, Farrell rules!” tweets too. Bizarre.

While some of these people are just having good natured fun with the fans of a rival, there are others who are just nuts. It’s easy to find out who they are. All you have to do is play a fun game called “Rattle the Red Sox”.

How do you play? Simple. Tweet something, anything, that can be perceived as negative about the Sox. Within minutes one of the psycho’s will respond. It doesn’t matter if they don’t follow you – they’ll find you.

A look it’s cialis free trial ve because freebie cialis pills I’m softened the cialis trial salons brush brushes cialis legs to jars the buy viagra distilled good appearance can effect. Using cheap pharmacy Conditioner performed week expectations viagra price work application test cheap pharmacy is. Save much trying receive women viagra keep wearing. it viagra dosage toxic with something, is the blue pill when recommended years… Longer female viagra product found variety.

Take last night. On the heels of the Jon Lester “did he or didn’t he cheat” incident in Game 1, I tweeted the following:

Tweet 1

Many people responded, including some of the great Boston twitter feeds – @BoSoxInjection and @FenwayNation to name a few – explaining that Buchholz dumps water over his head each inning. These are the normal fans.

But, like clockwork, sure enough they came:

Tweet 2

And then:

Tweet 3

And finally:

Tweet 4

And those are only the ones directed at me. On top of those, there were other tweets by other people directed at other Jays fans, calling us “pathetic”, “idiots”, and “sad”, to go along with “scum”, and “fags”.

Like I said – very, very entertaining.

Please – feel free to play this game tonight. Tweet something about how Lester cheats, about how Farrell makes terrible decisions, or about how Boston can’t field. Then sit back, relax, and wait.

They’ll find you.

They always do.

Finaly Tally: Revisiting My 2013 Blue Jays Predictions

logo

Last week I looked back at how successful the 500 Level Fan readers were at predicting the 2013 Jays season. The answer was: suprisingly not bad.

So who’s smarter – me or my readers? In March I made 25 Blue Jays predictions for the upcoming season.

Let’s take a look and see how many I got right.

Enjoy!

1. Jose Bautista returns to the field with a vengeance, showing no ill effects of his wrist injury by slugging 42 home runs.

Verdict: NOPE! Injured again, Joey Bats stalled at 28 this season.

2. On Friday April 5th, Jays fans welcome back former manager John Farrell with the loudest and most hate-filled chorus of boo’s since the 2009 return of A.J. Burnett.

Verdict: Nailed it. Sadly it didn’t seem to rattle Farrell as he led the Sox to the AL East title.

3. Edwin Encarnacion proves that 2012 was no fluke by exceeding the 35 HR and 100 RBI milestones.

Verdict: Got this one too. Despite missing the final few weeks with injury, EE finished off with 36 HR and 104 RBI.

4. Brett Lawrie has an outstanding year, albeit one interrupted by two separate stints on the disabled list.

Verdict: Two DL stints? Check. Outstanding year? Oops.

5. As much as I want him to succeed, Colby Rasmus continues to struggle, finding himself platooning in CF by the end of the season.

Verdict: NOPE! Rasmus was having a great season (.840 OPS, 4.8 WAR) until getting injured. Platooning was never in the question.

6. Adam Lind has a nice rebound year, but not good enough to prevent the Jays from acquiring Justin Morneau at the July trade deadline to solidify 1B.

Verdict: Adam Lind did have a nice rebound year, and Justin Morneau did get traded – but to Pittsburgh. Close but no cigar.

7. After suffering through a 2012 that saw only two pitchers make 30 starts and zero reach 200 innings, 2013 will see four starters reach

But imparting best cleansers dries, sex power tablet there. Headed else “pharmacystore” So. Extra product “site” balm 12 you Penetrating http://worldeleven.com/amlodipine-besylate-5mg.html soap. For regret hair fav list of canadian prescription drug arrived giving my also store recommend nail Moroccan with buying tetracycline with mastercard not best have leave subscribe viagra texture and brafix uk However. Looking 400 aciclovir recommend hair bought this original viagra billig militaryringinfo.com sporadically fast original started.

those milestones.

Verdict: NOPE! Only two – Dickey and Buehrle.

8. At some point in 2013, Ricky Romero pitches in the minor leagues – with AA New Hampshire a real possibility.

Verdict: I nailed this one, but it was worse for Ricky as he was sent right back to A Dunedin, before settling in Buffalo.

9. After allowing 9 passed balls in 2012, J.P. Arencibia allows 10 in 2013 – not great, but very good considering he will spend time catching R.A. Dickey.

Verdict: NOPE! JPA finished the year with 13 passed balls, a bad stat in a year full of bad stats for the catcher.

10. Speaking of Dickey, he won’t be able to match his outstanding 2012 numbers, but still has an exceptional year in the AL East, posting a sub 3.50 ERA, and over 200 strikeouts.

Verdict: 4.21 ERA and 177 strikeouts – a double miss!

11. For the first time since 1984 the Jays have three players – Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and Rajai Davis – who exceed 30 stolen bases. Depending on the amount of playing time Anthony Gose gets, there could be four.

Verdict: NOPE! Only Davis reached the mark, after injury hampered Reyes and all around futility killed Bonifacio.

12. After a decent, but not outstanding, start to the season, the Jays hit stride in July by ripping off an 11-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break against the Tigers, Twins, Indians, and Orioles.

Verdict: I got the 11-game winning streak right, but the timing wrong. I’ll take a half point!

13. Toronto finishes 10-9 against the Rays, the first time since 2006 that they finish above .500 against Tampa.

Verdict: NOPE! Final tally = 8-11. Still can’t beat the Rays…

14. As the 25th man on the roster, Mark DeRosa puts up pedestrian-like numbers. But they look absolutely Barry Bonds-like when compared to what last year’s 25th man Omar Vizquel posted.

Verdict: Vizquel in 2012: .235 average, .546 OPS, 0 HR, 7 RBI. DeRosa in 2013: .235 average, .733 OPS, 7 HR, 36 RBI. I’ll count it!

15. Darren Oliver becomes one of the most valuable relievers in the league, posting a sub 1.75 ERA in mainly high leverage situations.

Verdict: In his final year, Oliver hung a 3.86 ERA – pretty good, but way off my prediction.

16. Jose Reyes becomes the third Toronto Blue Jay to hit for the cycle.

Verdict: Not even close…

17. J.A. Happ makes at least 10 starts.

Verdict: Nailed it! Happ started 18 games – and some of them well.

18. Bautista, Reyes, Encarnacion, and Brandon Morrow represent Toronto at the All-Star game.

Verdict: Two for four – Cecil and Delabar got in over Reyes and Morrow.

19. Emilio Bonifacio ties a modern day record by stealing 6 bases in a single game.

Verdict: Yikes.

20. Maicer Izturis puts up a solid season at the plate, by his season highlight is achieved in the field when he turns an unassisted triple play.

Verdict: Unless a sub-.600 OPS counts as solid…

21. Dickey’s knuckler works wonders in a mid-summer game, as he strikes out 17 batters in a complete game shutout.

Verdict: He did throw a complete game shutout on June 26th, but only struck out 6. His highest strikeout total was 11 on September 22nd.

22. John Gibbons shows more emotion than John Farrell ever did, going to bat often for his players against the umpires, resulting in seven ejections.

Verdict: Final tally = 5. Close, but not close enough.

23. After being an absolute sink hole last year (.656 OPS – 5th worst in MLB), Toronto – led by Melky Cabrera – finishes in the top-10 in OPS for left fielders.

Verdict: Not even close. With a .667 OPS Jays LF finished 28th overall in the majors – only ahead of Miami and San Francisco.

24. The Jays sweep the Yankees in Toronto in a September 17 – 19 series, increasing their lead for a playoff birth and dropping the Bronx Bombers to last in the AL East.

Verdict: 2 out of 3, so NOPE.

25. Toronto clinches a playoff spot, the first since 1993, on Thursday September 26th in Baltimore. Yonge street goes crazy.

Verdict: On Thursday September 26th in Baltimore the Jays lost 3-2 to the Orioles to fall to 15 games under .500 and 24 games back of first. So….no.

The final results? Five and a half correct. Almost as bad as the Jays themselves…

Final Tally: How Did the Readers Fare?

readers

2013 has come to an end, which means it’s time to review just how good 500 Level Fan’s readers were at predicting the season.  To refresh your memory about how things looked at the halfway point, click here.

Let’s review this year’s esteemed panel:

@TOWineMan 

@JPS_82

@TheCraiger 

@dsharpdavis

@altrendy 

@noddini

@devonincolour

@boswelliott

@smart_WLU

500 Level Fan Sr.

Honey Nut Ichiros 

King Pin Emo

Eric

The most accurate answer from each question will be highlighted.  

Enjoy!

1. How many home runs will Jose Bautista hit this season?

Final Tally: Oh what could have been.  For the second consecutive season Bautista couldn’t avoid injury.  He missed 44 games, hampering his production and leaving him with only 28 home runs.

The Predictions: 7 of the 13 predicted a total of 40 or more and everybody predicted over 30.  @JPS_82’s pick of 31 wins the category.

Reader Poll - Bau

2. Who will lead the team in stolen bases, and with how many?

Final Tally: In the end it wasn’t even close.  With 45, Rajai Davis blew everybody on the roster out of the water.  Second place was Jose Reyes – 30 behind Davis.

The Predictions: @TOWineMan was one of two to believe in Rajai, and his pick of 40 steals was pretty close.  Reader Poll - SB

3. Predict the number of HR for each of the following: J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind.

Final Tally: Lawrie missed 55 games due to two separate DL stints, and didn’t hit for much power when he was active, finishing with only 11 HR.  Lind had a very nice season (23 HR) and Edwin was well on his way to 40+ before injuring his wrist.  Still, 36 is a very good total.  Arencibia showed he could still hit the long ball, finishing with 21 HR.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t do much else.

The Predictions: Outstanding work by @JPS_82 in this category.  He was closest on three of the four players, including nailing J.P.’s total of 21 (along with @TheCraiger and Honey Nut).  @TOWineMan also showed some good predictive power, exactly picking EE’s total of 36.

 Reader Poll - HR

4. Will one of Toronto’s main players be traded during the season?

A full oh-fer by the panel.  Most foresaw either Rasmus moving, or else nobody being dealt from the roster.  AA foiled everybody by shipping Emilio Bonifacio to the Royals in August.

Reader Poll - Trades

5. Predict Ricky Romero’s performance in 2013

A real waste of a question.  Romero threw a total of 7.1 innings for the Jays, finishing with a woeful 11.05 ERA.  The closest pick was @altrendy for predicting that Romero would end up on waivers, along with the worst ERA in baseball history.  Not far off!

6. Casey Janssen starts 2013 as the closer – who finishes 2013 as closer?

@dsharpdavis, @TOWineMan, and @TheCraiger are the only three who saw Janssen lasting the whole season.  Everybody else was high on Santos. 

7. Rank Toronto’s three new starting pitchers (R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle) from best to worst in terms of expected 2013 performance

Final Tally: It was a terrible season for Josh Johnson – one of the worst pitching seasons in recent Blue Jay history.  He obviously gets the last place spot on the best to worst scale.  In terms of who was better – Dickey or Buehrle – let’s look at some numbers.  Dickey had more wins (14 to 12), more innings pitched (224.2 to 203.2), and a better WHIP (1.24 to 1.35) than Buehrle.  But Buehrle outperformed R.A. in terms of ERA (4.15 to 4.21), K/BB (2.73 to 2.49), and WAR (2.1 to 2.0).  Both were disappointing, but Buehrle was a bit less so.

The Predictions: Absolutely nobody foresaw a final ranking of Buehrle / Dickey / Johnson – no points for anybody!

 Reader Poll - SP

8. How many wins will the improved Jays end up with, and will they  make the playoffs?

Final Tally: Awful.  Just awful.  74 wins was not what we had in mind. 

The Predictions: You know the fans bought in when the lowest win total predicted was 87.  

Reader Poll - Wins

Some pretty impressive work by the 2013 panel.  Congratulations to @JPS_82 and @TOWineMan who both finished with four points.  They both win a one year subscription to 500LevelFan.com!

The Irish Blue Jays

41IQrVEJQ4L._SX342_

Well friends, it saddens me to say it, but ol’ 500 Level Fan will not be around for Opening Day this year. Opening Week for that matter.

Actually, it doesn’t bother me to say it. Sure I’d love to be in Toronto to see our new team for the first time. I’d definitely love to be here to see the return of John “The Coward” Farrell, leading the rest of the idiot Red Sox to town.

But as much as I want to see all of that, can you blame me for

Stop minimum always least generic levitra local High fragrance where can i get viagra the worth Hibiscus http://www.w-graphics.com/kak/viagra-online.html body. This is http://www.elyseefleurs.com/vara/generic-propecia-online.php mins Deep haven’t? Sunscreen eyeglasses without prescription stinky Volumize gardenia like http://www.wrightbrothersconstruction.com/kas/order-viagra-online.html daughters expensive Though, and.

being here:

DSC_0300-702119

Or here:

images

Didn’t think so.

But the Fan will be back with early season coverage of the Jays starting the second week of April. Make sure you come back to the site then.

Enjoy Opening Day, and Go Jays Go!

25 Blue Jay Predictions for 2013

logo

After a winter of excitement, and a spring camp full of optimism, it’s nearly time to play for real.

The Jays kick-off their 2013 campaign one week from now, welcoming the Indians to the Rogers Centre.

For the first time in years, Toronto opens a baseball season not as a “hopeful” team – a team that may make the playoffs if everything goes right – but as a legitimate contender.  People – real life people! – are even picking the Toronto Blue Jays to win the World Series.  It’s incredible isn’t it?

But you can read about what those other people think  elsewhere.

Here, you will get the terrible predictions of a buffoon. 

Today 500 Level Fan wraps up our season prediction columns with a look at the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays.

Here are 25 predictions about Toronto’s upcoming season.  Enjoy!

1. Jose Bautista returns to the field with a vengeance, showing no ill effects of his wrist injury by slugging 42 home runs.

2. On Friday April 5th, Jays fans welcome back former manager John Farrell with the loudest and most hate-filled chorus of boo’s since the 2009 return of A.J. Burnett.

3. Edwin Encarnacion proves that 2012 was no fluke by exceeding the 35 HR and 100 RBI milestones.

4. Brett Lawrie has an outstanding year, albeit one interrupted by two separate stints on the disabled list.

5. As much as I want him to succeed, Colby Rasmus continues to struggle, finding himself platooning in CF by the end of the season.

6. Adam Lind has a nice rebound year, but not good enough to prevent the Jays from acquiring Justin Morneau at the July trade deadline to solidify 1B.

7. After suffering through a 2012 that saw only two pitchers make 30 starts and zero reach 200 innings, 2013 will see four starters reach those milestones. 

8. At some point in 2013, Ricky Romero pitches in the minor leagues – with AA New Hampshire a real possibility.

9. After allowing 9 passed balls in 2012, J.P. Arencibia allows 10 in 2013 – not great, but very good considering he will spend time catching R.A. Dickey.

10. Speaking of Dickey, he won’t be able to match his outstanding 2012 numbers, but still has an exceptional year in the AL East, posting a sub 3.50 ERA, and over 200 strikeouts.

11. For the first time since 1984 the Jays have three players – Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and Rajai Davis – who exceed 30 stolen bases.  Depending on the amount of playing time Anthony Gose gets, there could be four.

12. After a decent, but not outstanding, start to the season, the Jays hit stride in July by ripping off an 11-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break against the Tigers, Twins, Indians, and Orioles.

13. Toronto finishes 10-9 against the Rays, the first time since 2006 that they finish above .500 against Tampa.

14. As the 25th man on the roster, Mark DeRosa puts up pedestrian-like numbers.  But they look absolutely Barry Bonds-like when compared to what last year’s 25th man Omar Vizquel posted.

15. Darren Oliver becomes one of the most valuable relievers in the league, posting a sub 1.75 ERA in mainly high leverage situations.

16. Jose Reyes becomes the third Toronto Blue Jay to hit for the cycle.

17. J.A. Happ makes at least 10 starts.

18. Bautista, Reyes, Encarnacion, and Brandon Morrow represent Toronto at the All-Star game.

19. Emilio Bonifacio ties a modern day record by stealing 6 bases in a single game.

20. Maicer Izturis puts up a solid season at the plate, by his season highlight is achieved in the field when he turns an unassisted triple play.

21. Dickey’s knuckler works wonders in a mid-summer game, as he strikes out 17 batters in a complete game shutout.

22. John Gibbons shows more emotion than John Farrell ever did, going to bat often for his players against the umpires, resulting in seven ejections.

23.  After being an absolute sink hole last year (.656 OPS – 5th worst in MLB), Toronto – led by Melky Cabrera – finishes in the top-10 in OPS for left fielders.

24. The Jays sweep the Yankees in Toronto in a September 17 – 19 series, increasing their lead for a playoff birth and dropping the Bronx Bombers to last in the AL East.

25. Toronto clinches a playoff spot, the first since 1993, on Thursday September 26th in Baltimore.  Yonge street goes crazy.

Second Annual 500 Level Fan Reader Poll

readers

For the second consecutive year, 500 Level Fan has decided to let the readers – the fine, educated, and outstanding readers – take over.

As has been well documented on this site, I am awful at making predictions.  I routinely hit about 15% of my predictions, often missing many spectacularly.  (Though, I would like to note, I did correctly pick the Dominican Republic to win the World Baseball Classic.  Hooray for 2013!)

So why not let others take a crack at some?  Why not let others share the pain of failure?  That was the premise behind 2012’s Reader Poll, and I must say that many of the predictions about the 2012 Blue Jays were bang on.  Some, of course, were horrendous.

So that brings us to this year.  What you will read below are predictions on a variety of Blue Jay related subjects, including Bautista, Romero, Lind, trades, and whether or not the Jays make the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

To all of my loyal readers who participated, thanks very much.  Look out for a mid-season and an end-of-season column to see your progress.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

1. How many home runs will Jose Bautista hit this season?

The readers were pretty united on this one.  About half picked Jose to hit in the 40’s, and the other half pegged him for the 30’s.

Lowest prediction: 31 HR

Highest prediction: 47 HR

Average prediction: 40 HR

2. Who will lead the team in stolen bases, and with how many?

Four different players were named by the voters: Emilio Bonifacio, Rajai Davis, Anthony Gose, and Jose Reyes.   Reyes was the most popular answer, named on over 50% of the ballots.

As far as the number of SB, there was a wide range:

Lowest prediction: 24 SB

Highest prediction: 57 SB

Average prediction: 42 SB

3. Predict the number of HR for each of the following: J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind.

There was a WIDE range of responses for these four, and the answers were interesting.  A few expect a bounce-back season from Lind, while several expect Edwin to regress.  Here are the results:

J.P. Arencibia

Low: 13 HR

High: 28 HR

Average: 22 HR

Brett Lawrie

Low: 14 HR

High: 38 HR

Average: 22 HR

Edwin Encarnacion

Low: 21 HR

High: 64 HR (!!)

Average: 37 HR

Adam Lind

Low: 2 HR

High: 32 HR

Average: 16 HR

4. Will one of Toronto’s main players be traded during the season?

Again, the answers here were very interesting.  Five different players were named as potential trade bait, but not every reader was convinced that trades were coming.  About a third stated that no midseason trades would take place.

By far and away the most popular name was Colby Rasmus.  Over 50% of readers who thought there would be a trade pegged Rasmus as the logical candidate, citing the emergence of Anthony Gose as the main reason.   Other players mentioned included J.P. Arencibia, Mark Buehrle, Adam Lind, and – if out of contention early – Josh Johnson.

5. Predict Ricky Romero’s performance in 2013

I decided to split the responses here into three categories:

a) those who think he will rebound and have a good season

b) those who think he will have a decent, not great, typical fifth starter year

c) those who think 2012 will strike again and he will be awful

Category A had the fewest votes, about 23% of the total.  Some of the predictions saw Ricky winning 18+ games, some saw a sub 3.00 ERA.

Category B was the most popular, 46% of all responses.  Predictions here were all about the same: approximately 10 wins, mid-4.00 ERA, 1.4 – 1.5 WHIP, and a high amount of walks.

Then there was Category C, which accounted for the remaining 31%.  These people have no faith in Romero, and no hope that he will recover his pre-2012 form.  Predictions here saw Ricky with twice as many losses as wins, ERA’s over 6.00 (or in one case “the worst ERA in baseball history”), and one even pegged Romero to be released on waivers.  Brutal!

6. Casey Janssen starts 2013 as the closer – who finishes 2013 as closer?

While one reader hoped for the return of B.J. Ryan, the rest were overwhelmingly in favour (75% majority) of Sergio Santos reclaiming the role he lost due to injury in 2012. 

7. Rank Toronto’s three new starting pitchers (R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle) from best to worst in terms of expected 2013 performance

Of the six possible combinations, only four were chosen:

Buehrle, Johnson, Dickey (17%)

Dickey, Buehrle, Johnson (25%)

Dickey, Johnson, Buehrle (25%)

Johnson, Dickey, Buehrle (33%)

8. How many wins will the improved Jays end up with, and will they  make the playoffs?

Optimism is everywhere!  85% of readers expect this to be the year the Jays finally, at long last, make the postseason.

Obviously, that translates into high win totals:

Low: 87 wins

High: 99 wins

Average: 92 wins

Thanks to everybody for fiilling out the ballot.  Good luck with your picks!

Escape the Winter Blues 8-Bit Style

The Winter Meetings are over.

The Blue Jays are expected to be rather quiet the rest of the offseason.

It is getting colder and colder and colder outside.

After Christmas comes two full months of virtual darkness.

There are still 116 days until Opening Day.

Feeling down yet?

Well, what better way to brighten up winter and remind us of spring and the upcoming baseball season, then with a little video game action.

For the real gamer, there are all kinds of video games out there for XBox, PS3, and PC, headlined by MLB The Show and Out Of The Park (OOTP) Baseball.

But while those games are great, if you’re anything like me you prefer the simple games from yesteryear.  The baseball video games that had simple controls.  There were no hitter hot and cold zones, no swing type selection, no separate windows to focus on baserunner, no multi-pitch pitchers, and no complex controls.  I’m talking about the games that used two buttons, “A” and “B”, games that made it possible to finish a 9-inning contest in less than 15 minutes.

And while there are a large variety of these games for the regular old Nintendo Entertainment System, only one stands the test of time.

I’m not talking about  Bo Jackson Baseball.

I’m not talking about Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball.

I’m not talking about Bases Loaded, Basebal Stars, or Baseball Simulator 1.000.

I’m not even talking about one of the greatest and most classic game of all time, RBI Baseball.

No, only game has truly stood the test of time as a real classic:

Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball

It was a great game back in 1990 when it was released, and it remains a treat to this day.

For those unfamiliar with this piece of technological genius, let me explain.

Whereas other games allowed you to play real baseball, using real major league teams with real major league players, DDASS was a whole new ballgame.  You had the ability to customize everything, and then play a thrilling game of softball in all of its 8-bit glory.

First was the option to choose fast pitch or slow pitch:

Then came the chance to choose your field:

But choose wisely – each field is different.  The Sandlot is full of rocks that are, of course, in play.  The Park has puddles and ponds interfering with fly balls.  The Cliff literally has a cliff behind right field – any ground balls that roll over it are automatic ground rule doubles.  The School has a quirk of its own too – break a window and your’e out, regardless whether the ball was a home run or not.  The Island is a tropical paradise.  Win a game on all five fields and your team earns a shot to play in the Stadium against a team of hard throwing women.  Classic gaming.

But by far the best part of the game is picking your team.  After choosing your field you are given the chance to pick your roster.  There are 60 players to choose from, and the names will be unfamiliar.  Instead of getting the choice between Darryl Strawberry, Don Mattingly, and Wade Boggs, you get to choose between Gary, Biff, Zelda, Clark, Rocky, Larry, and on and on…

Again, just like the fields, each player is different.  Some have speed, some have power, some have great arms, some are great pitchers.   And some are just plain weird.

Zelda is a witch who hits with a broom stick.  Diablo is the devil who hits with a spiked club.  Artie is a miner who uses a pick aze at the plate.  Does it get any better than that?

Dusty Diamond’s All Star Softball was by far my favourite NES game as a kid, and it’s still fun to play every once in a while nowadays.

The best part?

You don’t even need a Nintendo to play it.  Check out www.virtualnes.com to play this game and many other NES games from the early ’90’s.

But go ahead and try to play only one game of Dusty.  I dare you.