Category Archives: 500 Level Fun

Final Tally: How Did the Readers Fare?


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:










500 Level Fan Sr.

Honey Nut Ichiros 

King Pin Emo


The most accurate answer from each question will be highlighted.  


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!

The Irish Blue Jays


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

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being here:


Or here:


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


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


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 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.

Time To Focus On What Really Matters

Dear readers,

Today I bring to you sad, sad news.

The 2012 MLB season is essentially over for your Toronto Blue Jays. The team is currently 53 – 55, losers of two straight games, and sitting in dead last in the AL East.

Today’s lineup is enough to make a grown man cry: Davis, Rasmus, Encarnacion, Escobar, Cooper, Sierra, Mathis, Vizquel, Hechavarria. At the beginning of the season, three of those players were bench players, and three were in the minors.

Let’s face it. We’re not going to catch Tampa Bay or Baltimore (I can’t believe I’m writing that!). We’re not going to catch the Yankees, the Tigers, or the White Sox. We’re not going to win more than the Angels, A’s, or Rangers. There is no hope for a Wild Card birth. We’re sunk.

But as sad as that may seem, the games are not over.

There is still one team that the Toronto Blue Jays can catch.

And because of that, there is still one very important thing on the line, a thing I refer to as “The Bet”.

On April 7th of this year, after the Jays gutted out a 7-4, 12 inning victory in Cleveland to improve to 2-0, a very important wager was placed between myself and a friend, and two Boston Red Sox fans.

The bet was simple. We bet that the Blue Jays would finish ahead of Boston in the standings. They bet the opposite.

The prize? A case of beer….each. That’s right, if Toronto finishes behind the Sox, I owe not one, but two cases of beer.

Ladies and gentlemen, the stakes are massive, and the competition is intense.

Things looked great early on. After finishing off a 4-game sweep of the Royals on April 23rd, the Jays were 10-6, 4.5 games up on Boston. At the end of April, the teams were close, but the Jays still had the upper hand, 0.5 games up. It wasn’t until June 2nd that the Red Sox finally caught and overtook Toronto, in a head-to-head series at the Rogers Centre.

But the season race between the two has been close. Very, very close. The biggest lead the Jays have had was 5.5 games, achieved on May 10th when the Jays were 18-14 and Boston was 12-19. Toronto’s biggest deficit came on June 19th, a gap of 2.5 games. As it stands right now, the two clubs are separated by a mere game, with Toronto having two games in hand.

It’s not really

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surprising that these two bitter enemies have been so closely matched all season. Both have great offenses (Boston’s 551 runs scored ranks 2nd in the AL, Toronto is 4th with 525). Both have sub-par pitching staffs (Boston is 11th in runs allowed with

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519, the Jays are 12th with 520).

The Jays injury situation has been well documented, but Boston has been hit hard too. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, and Clay Buchholz (among others) have all spent time on the DL. In fact, the Red Sox have used a total of 47 players thus far in 2012 (pitchers included) close to Toronto’s total of 50.

Finally, both teams have been hit hard by their so called “aces”. Ricky Romero has an ERA of 5.47 and has lost seven straight decisions, not the kind of numbers one would expect from the #1 guy in the rotation. One of Boston’s biggest strengths was the thought that they had two aces in the starting staff in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Both have been horrendous. Lester is 5-10 with a 5.36 ERA, and Beckett isn’t much better, struggling along at 5-9 with a 4.97 ERA.

So it appears that these two teams will be close right down to the wire. Neither seems to be able to put together a big streak and separate from the other.

What might decide it in the end is mid-September. Toronto visits Fenway Park for a three-game set from September 7-9, and Boston comes to TO from Sep. 14-16.

The winner of those series might just end up determining “The Bet”.

And I hope it’s the Blue Jays helping me to fill my belly with beer.

500 Level Fan Review: Out Of The Park Baseball ’13

When I was a kid I was addicted to a game called Hockey League Simulator.  It was a game that allowed you to control a hockey team, everything from drafting and acquiring players, to setting lines, to managing the minor league system.  Since you didn’t actually play the games it was possible to play an entire season in a short period of time.  I would play that game for hours and hours, trying to put together a good enough package to acquire Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.  It was awesome.

Fast forward about 15 years to present day and you’ll find me obsessed with a new simulation game, one much more advanced and with an incredible amount of detail.  When I was first contacted by Out of the Park Developments and asked if I was interested in testing out OOTP ’13, I had no idea what I was in store for.  I had never played any prior version of OOTP Baseball, so I was simply expecting a game that gave me a chance to manage a team, make some trades, and watch how my moves played out in a simulated season.

I was wrong.  Incredibly wrong.

OOTP ’13 is an unbelievable simulation game with a ridiculous amount of detail.  I’ve been playing it for a few weeks and have barely even scratched the surface of what is available. 

The game comes equipped with all of 2012’s rule changes – including the second wild card, full 2012 rosterrs, and also includes the Houston Astros move to the AL West in 2013.  But if you don’t want to play this year’s season, don’t worry about it.  You can play ANY season EVER.  Want to see if you can manage the 1985 Blue Jays to the World Series?  Go for it.   Think you can avoid Toronto’s collapse in ’87?  Give it a shot.  The game has it all.

And as I said, the level of detail is incredible.  It includes the entire minor leagues.  There are detailed injury reports, weekly power rankings, news articles, contract negotiations, and of course tons and tons of statistics.  As a GM, you have the option of starting out unemployed and hoping to catch on somewhere, or you can start with a job in A-ball and try to work your way up.  Or, if you can handle it, jump right into the big leagues at the helm of your favourite team.  That’s what I tried to do – and I failed.  Miserably.  I used to think I could handle being a major league GM.  Now I highly, highly doubt it.

While so many things are possible in this game, by far my favourite thing to do is simply sit back and simulate a season.  In my first crack at simming the 2012 season, the Jays made it the playoffs as the second Wild Card before losing to the Angels.  The LF question was also solved as Toronto traded Eric Thames to the Angels for a prospect.  The traded turned out to be a blessing for LA, as Thames lead all of baseball with 134 RBI’s in 2013!

Overall, I give OOTP ’13 a 10 out of 10.  Everything you’d ever want in a simulation is here, plus a whole lot more.  If there is anything to complain about it would be this: the game predicted a Boston Red Sox World Series title this year. 

As a Jays fan, that is something I can’t endorse.

But as a game, I highly recommend it.  You won’t be disappointed.

To download a copy of the game, visit

500 Level Fan – The Readers Speak!

In the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to participate in a few different blogger roundtables (for Mop Up Duty’s roundtable, click here, and for C70 At The Bat’s roundtable, stay tuned – expected post date is March 27).  Each is basically a collaboration of a number of Jays bloggers giving their opinions about the off-season and expectations about the coming season.

So I thought I’d take that idea and tweak it a bit.  Instead of asking other bloggers to provide opinions I decided to reach out to my readers and gather their thoughts.  Do Blue Jays fans expect the team to make the playoffs this year?  How will Colby Rasmus fare?  Will Brett Cecil rebound and become a solid #3 starter?

Read on and find out.

1. How many HR will Jose Bautista hit in 2012?

The answers here ranged from a low of 35 (not a lot of faith in the big man by my Dad, 500 Level Fan Sr.!) to a high of 57.  In fact, there were two who pegged Bau to eclipse the 50 home run mark, and each gave quite specific answers:

“57.  He will also win the home run derby and hit a grand slam in the all star game.”

“54 – the mild winter should help the ball carry this year, plus the cement in the dome is finally dry so he won’t have the “McGriff” issue.” (great Sky High – The Story of the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays reference)

Overall, the average of the responses was just over 42, so it looks like we expect another 40+ HR season from Mr. Bautista.

2. What type of season do you expect from Colby Rasmus?

Here is a sample of some of the words that were used in the answers: breakout, bullish, good, solid, meh, bad, very bad, spectacular, and “he baffles me”.

Basically, the opinions on Colby were all over the place.  While one expects an .800 + OPS and over 20 HR, another expects him to struggle to reach a .700 OPS and barely hit double digit home runs. 

The one consistent theme was defense.  Most expect solid to outstanding defense in CF from Colby, with one reader even predicting a Gold Glove award.  A few also predicted good things speed-wise from Rasmus, with double digit steals.

Overall, the poll suggests that most aren’t as excited about Rasmus in 2012 as I am, but most agree that he is not as bad as he was in 2011. 

3. What do you expect from Brett Cecil this season?

The overwhelming majority of responses to this question were negative.  Apparently we have NO FAITH in Brett Cecil.

– “I have reservations about him.”

– “He has velocity issues.  Best hope is a decent 4-5 starter.  The guy just doesn’t make me confident.”

– “Inconsistent.  He may end up a bullpen guy unfortunately.”

– “I think he struggles with his velocity, continues to give up lots of HR, and probably ends up on the DL.  5.15 ERA.”

– “Demoted or bullpen by June.”

But it was not all doom and gloom for Mr. Cecil.  One responder called him a “lean mean no. 3 starter” while another said he would have a “good year.”

There was a battle over his appearance though, with two readers taking polar opposite positions:

– “I expect big things…I like his glasses.”

– “I don’t trust pitchers with glasses unless they are named Rick Vaughn.”

Prove us wrong Brett.

4. Do you anticipate a big trade before the deadline?  If so, who comes and who goes?

Every single response I received said yes – there will be a trade, but were unsure as to whether it would be big or not.  Most said they had no idea who would go, and for what, but that some moves would be made.  The consensus was:

– any trade will likely catch us off guard

– tweaks would likely be minor

– AA would not target a rental player

– any potential trade would bring back starting pitching and/or first base help

Some did name names that they expect to see leaving the franchise, specifically one (or more) of Adam Lind, Travis Snider, Colby Rasmus, Eric Thames, Kyle Drabek, J.P. Arencibia, and Brett Cecil.  Some interesting names were floated as potential targets for Anthopoulos including Josh Johnson of the Marlins, and Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, and Brandon Beachy of the Braves.

Oh – and I would be doing an injustice if I didn’t mention the baffling response of one man who simply said: “The Big Hurt will rise again”. 


5. How many wins will the Jays have in 2012?

For all of the griping and whining that Jays fans did this offseason, you wouldn’t know it by reading the responses to this question.  Either the angry fans who thought the Jays missed the boat this past winter are in the minority, or my readers are heavily drinking the 500 Level Fan Kool-Aid, because nothing but high numbers came back.

Seriously – the lowest number of wins predicted is 86, which would mark a five game improvement over 2011.  The high was 94. Three different people see the Jays eclipsing the 90-win plateau.  Over 50% of all respondents gave the same number: 88. 

Optimism is high in Blue Jay-ville right now.

6. Will the Jays make the playoffs?

Based on the number of wins expected, it shouldn’t come as a shock that over 60% of the readers expect to see Toronto making their first post-season appearance since 1993.  Those who don’t think the 88-odd wins will be enough added a note that said that the Jays will be close, and that September will be exciting for the first time in a while.

Some even went as far as to predict some playoff success as well, with two saying that Toronto would win the one-game Wild Card round.  In fact, Toronto will “win with a final score of 6 to 3…there will be a game changing double because the ball ends up under the opponents foul line bullpen and gets stuck in a jacket/cup just like Luis Sojo when the Mariners beat the Angels in a one game playoff in 1995.”

Long live Sojo.

Bonus – Tell me the stat line (AVG / HR / RBI) for Edwin Encarnacion

As 500 Level Fan readers are well aware, I have an issue with EE.  I love him.  I hate him.  I want him to lead the team to glory.  I want him released.  I think he is amazing.  I think he sucks.  I am basically all over the place on him.  But right now I am extremely high on EE.  I even drafted him in a Dynasty Keeper Fantasy Baseball League. 


Apparently others don’t share that love.  This is the average stat line I received:

.272 average, 20 HR, 66 RBI.

Those are decent numbers, pretty much right on par with his production last year, but not as high as I see them going in 2012 (for my prediction check back soon for the 2012 MLB and Blue Jay prediction columns).

One respondent expects Edwin to have 0 home runs at the All-Star break, then pick it up.  One respondent flat out refused to answer, saying “there will be enough posts from the 500 Level Fan himself on EE.  I will read those, comment, and ridicule them.”  One anticipates Edwin to miss 12 games due a mild oblique strain, and another 4 for violating team conduct rules.

Friends, I ask you – where is the love?

500 Level Fan Presents…The Packs Game

When I was a kid I was a huge card collector.  I would sometimes spend entire Saturday’s at the card shop, spending my allowance on packs of Upper Deck, or searching through boxes of commons to try and complete my sets.

It was always such a great feeling, opening a fresh pack of baseball cards.  The only thing that topped it was the excitement of pulling your favourite player.  For me, seeing the beautiful smiling face of a Tony Fernandez was worth the price of the pack all by itself.  In fact, pulling any Toronto Blue Jay was always good for a thrill.

If you read those first two paragraphs and got a smile on your face from the fond memories, AND if you like drinking enormous amounts of beer, then 500 Level Fan has the perfect game for you. 

We call it the Packs Game.

The Packs Game was invented a few years ago, after a Jays game that saw a few of us have one or two (or six) too many brown pops.  Walking along the concourse of the dome, we noticed a series of vending machines scattered all over the 500 Level (they are also on the 100 and 200 levels).  In the machines were rows upon rows of baseball cards.  And not just any baseball cards – the premium cards of my youth.

I saw 1991 and 1992 Upper Deck.

1989 Donruss.

1991 Fleer.

1991 Score.

They were all there.  And they looked glorious.

So what else would a group of guys in their 20’s do but buy a ton of them?  Of course we would!

Stopping at the nearest bar we could find, we ordered drinks and proceeded to invent the greatest game ever played.

Here are the rules:

It is very similar to the card game War, where everybody plays one card at a time, and whoever has the highest card wins.

In the Packs Game, everybody grabs a pack, preferably the same pack.  1992 Upper Deck is a classic.

With the cards hidden so nobody can see ANY (either yours or anybody elses), each player puts one card on the table.  Whoever has the highest priority card wins the entire collection of cards on the table.

How do you determine the highest priority card?  Like this:

First Trump – A Blue Jay, in full uniform.  If anybody pulls a Jay, say a Lloyd Moseby, or a Devon White, or a Dave Stieb, they win.

Second Trump – A Blue Jay, not in uniform.  This is a player who at one point in their career played for Toronto, but did not play for them on this particular card.  Maybe it’s a Tony Fernandez card when he was a Padre, or Rickey Henderson as an A, or Joe Carter as an Indian.  Because the actual Blue Jay logo doesn’t appear, they lose to the First Trunp.

Third Trump and Above – If none of the above were pulled in the round, it’s time to have fun.  The third trump is something that the entire group agrees upon before the game begins.  It can be a stat.  It can be geographical.  It can be physical.  Some popular plays in the past have been:


– Most Career HR

– Lowest Career ERA

– Most Stolen Bases in 1988


– Team closest to Toronto

– Hometown that is the earliest alphabetical


– Fullest moustache

– Fattest man

Once it is determined who wins the round, that player gets every card that was played.  At the end of the pack, the player with the most cards wins.

But that isn’t the fun part.  The fun part is this:

The player with the fewest cards is penalized.  Heavily.  By drinking.

If you’re at a bar, order a shot of something.  If you’re at home, make the loser do a shotgun.  Better yet, place bets on the outcome.  Once we had a man guarantee he wouldn’t lose or he’d shotgun three consecutive cans.  He lost.  He shotgunned.  The resulting burp was incredible.

So next time you’re at the Rogers Centre and you walk by the baseball card vending machine, do yourself a favour.

Stop and buy a few packs.

You won’t regret it.

Merry Christmas From 500 Level Fan!!!

This is my first Christmas post as a blogger.  With other guys doing a great job posting things they want for the Jays in 2011, I thought I’d leave that stuff alone.

I only want to make one simple request.

If you have an old school Blue Jays tuque, please wear it.

This man did and it made my holidays:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everybody.

Thanks for making 500 Level Fan’s first seven months so much fun.