Category Archives: Absolutely Random

If Only…Our Answer at Third

Let’s be honest.  The 2010 offseason has been a bit depressing thus far.

Sure we can rejoice in the fact that Cliff Lee chose the Phillies over the Yankees, but what else is their to be happy about as a Jays fan?

Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez went to the Red Sox.  Detroit is much stronger after picking up Joaquin Benoit and Victor Martinez.  The White Sox added Adam Dunn.  The Yankees are still formidable.  The road to the Wild Card got a lot tougher.

So instead of focusing on the doom and gloom – as I admit that I have been guilty of doing – I thought I’d shake things up a bit here at 500 Level Fan.

I am introducing a new series of columns entitled “If Only”.  They are meant to be nothing more than a fun, light-hearted, satirical look at players that would fit in perfectly on the Blue Jays…if only it was possible to sign them.  Why can’t we sign them?  Well…keep reading….

First up is third base.

With E5 gone, the Jays don’t have a third baseman on the roster.  There has been talk of shifting Jose Bautista from RF to 3B, or of moving Aaron Hill from 2B.  But how about this man, the perfect man, to take over the position?

If only we could sign Roger Dorn.

For those not familiar with Dorn, he was the everyday third baseman for the Cleveland Indians in the movie Major League.  For those of you who know who he is, you are likely asking why?

He was overpaid – “I thought you didn’t have any high-priced talent”, “Forget about Dorn ’cause he’s only high-priced.”

He was a terrible defender – “Come on Dorn, get in front of the damn ball.  Don’t give me any of this ole bullsh*t.”

He refused to take instruction from management – “Lou, my contract say I don’t have to do any calisthenics that I deem unnecessary, so what do you think about that!”

Most of all he was a bad teammate – “What’s the matter rookie f*ck wad, can’t you take a joke?”

But if you look past that, two things stand out about Roger Dorn: he was constantly improving as the season moved forward (he ended up having a respectable year with numbers better than Encarnacion), and when the going got tough, Dorn got going.

Seriously.  With the Indians in contention near the end of the season, there was Dorn taking extra infield practice.  With the Indians down 2-0 in the 8th inning of a one game playoff against the Yankees, it was Dorn who started a rally with a two-out single.  When Vaughn came in to pitch in the ninth with the bases loaded and the score tied, it was Dorn who delivered the motivational speech that Ricky needed to get the final out (“Let’s cut through the crap Vaughn.  I’ve only got one thing to say to you.  Strike this mother f*cker out!”)

Toronto wouldn’t need him to be a leader.  They already have Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista to fill that role.  They don’t need him to be a 30 HR guy, not with Bau, Vern, Lind, and Hill on the team.  They don’t need gold glove defense, because anything would be an improvement over Encarnacion.  They just need a solid defender who can get on base – exactly what Roger Dorn can do.

As an added bonus, if Rogers fails as an owner, Dorn can simply buy the team, like he did with the Indians in Major League 2.

2011 would be a great season if it were possible to bring in Roger Dorn.

If only…

Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

Actual work to do at the day job + an extremely busy weekend + a two day hangover = slow posting at good ol’ 500 Level Fan…

But I have had enough time to throw together a few random thoughts about a few random subjects.

1. Toronto’s own Joey Votto won the National League MVP award yesterday.  Congratulations are in order for Votto, who joins Ferguson Jenkins, Larry Walker, and Justin Morneau as the only Canadians to win MLB awards. 

Let’s be honest – Votto had an outstanding season in 2010, but to this date nothing touches Larry Walker’s 1997 MVP campaign.  Compare the two:

Walker 1997: 49 HR, 130 RBI, .366 avg, .452 OBP, 1.172 OPS

Votto 2010: 37 HR, 113 RBI, .324 avg, .424 OBP, 1.024 OPS

Before looking it up, I assumed that Walker’s numbers were heavily inflated from playing half his games in the thin air of Colorado, but he actually produced better numbers on the road than at home:

Home: 20 HR, 68 RBI, .384 avg, .460 OBP, 1.169 OPS

Road: 29 HR, 62 RBI, .346 avg, .443 OBP, 1.176 OPS

Throw in the fact that Walker stole 33 bases to Votto’s 16, and it’s hard to deny Larry.  Even after giving Votto bonus points for leading his team to the playoffs and for being from Toronto, he still falls a bit short.

2. I love looking at the voting results for all awards, but especially love the MVP because each voter chooses a ten-man ballot.  Choosing ten players almost always leads to some curious names, and 2010 didn’t dissapoint.  Carlos Ruiz (Philadelphia catcher) finished tied for 17th.  Corey Hart of Milwaukee was 25th.  But the most bizarre of all was Martin Prado of Atlanta finishing in the top-10. 

Yes, he was an All-Star.  But come on.  He hit 15 HR and had 66 RBI.  His batting average was .307.  His OPS was .809, lowest among any non-pitcher named on a ballot.  I could understand a few votes for him, but 51 points?  He was named on 17 ballots, as high as 5th place.  The 51 points meant that he was deemed to be more valuable than Ryan Howard, Buster Posey, Matt Holliday, Brian Wilson, Ryan Braun, Adam Wainwright, and two of his own teammates Jason Heyward and Brian McCann.  Stunning.

3. The AL MVP award will be announced in a few hours.  I expect the winner to be Josh Hamilton.  I would hope that Jose Bautista would finish second, but I expect to him finish 4th.  Maybe even lower.  My ballot would have Hamilton followed by Bautista, Cabrera, and Cano, but no way the Yankee finishes behind the Blue Jay.  No way.

4. I would love to see more than one Blue Jay earn MVP votes.  I think Vernon Wells might be good for at least one, and if Carlos Ruiz can get some votes, why not John Buck?

5. News out of Detroit this morning is that the Tigers have signed Victor Martinez.  If that is true, than congratulations to me for guessing that correctly in my “Where Will They Sign” column.

6. I like Justin Upton as much as the next guy.  I would love to have him roaming the outfield in a Jays powder blue next season.  But if getting him means losing one or more of J.P. Arencibia, Travis Snider, Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, or Brett Cecil, then no thanks.  I said it before and I’ll say it again:  pretty sure we just watched the San Francisco Giants win the World Series because they refused to part with a stud young catcher, and young power arms.  Don’t do it.

7. With all the talk about Movember these days, I started thinking about one man I would love for the Blue Jays to sign.  He would be a great fit on the team, providing veteran leadership and some additional power.  Unfortunately, signing him is impossible.  Not because he would ask for too much money, but because he is fictional.  That’s right – Jack Elliot, a.k.a. Mr. Baseball, played by Tom Selleck.  Imagine a batting order of Wells, Bautista, then Elliot?  If only it was possible…

The All-Time All-Moustache Blue Jays

In honour of Movember, which this writer is proud to be participating in, I thought I’d take a stab at naming the Blue Jays all-time, all-moustache team. 

The following roster of greats has nothing to do with talent, career statistics, or overall contribution to the team. 

It is based solely on the quality of the ‘stache (hence Otto Velez beating out Jesse Barfield for the coveted RF spot).

Feel free to let me know if I missed anybody, which I undoubtedly did…

C – Ernie Whitt

1B – Willie Upshaw

2B – Nelson Liriano

3B – Rance Mulliniks

SS – Manny Lee

RF – Otto Velez

CF – Barry Bonnell

LF – George Bell

DH – Cliff Johnson

SP – Dave Stieb

SP – Jim Gott

SP – Juan Guzman

SP – Jim Clancy

RP – Dennis Lamp

RP – Mark Eichhorn

Please use the comments section to let me know who I missed, and to let me know your favourite.  Personally I like Lamp, but would be willing to grow myself a nice little Eichhorn this month.

The Things You See When You’re Blind Drunk…

So a few friends and I went to a beer tasting event last night at the Berkeley Church (Queen Street East).  The Toronto Beer Experience.  Great beers.  Lots of beers.  Memory is hazy. 

We left the show around 11:30.

What happened next will go down in history.

In hindsight, was it wise to walk into a bar called The Blue Sea on Queen and Jarvis just before midnight, three guys, four sheets to the wind?  Maybe not.

But walk in we did.

Other than the “interesting” clientele, consisting mainly of a man with no teeth wearing a Detroit Tigers hat, and a man with thinning hair who begged us to insult him, one thing caught my eye hanging on the wall behind the bar.

A glorious sight:

Who said this was only a Leafs town?

Good on you Blue Sea.  Good on you.

Merry Drabek-mas

I am a member of the minority of Canadians who gets Sp0rtsnet One.

That means tonight is a huge night.

The crown jewel of our farm system makes his major league debut.

The biggest piece of the Halladay trade will pitch for the Blue Jays.

For me, this is more exciting than Phaneuf’s first game in a Leaf sweater. 

It’s more exciting than DeRosario’s debut for TFC. 

It’s more exciting than any Raptors game.  Ever.

Tonight will feel like Christmas in September.

I can’t wait.

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Drabek-mas everybody.

S.C.A.S.D.!!!!!

He looks sad, which made me happy (from daylife.com)

What follows is a list of things I really, really enjoy:

1. Beer

2. Scotch

3. Tony Fernandez

4. Golfing

5. Sitting in the upper deck at a Jays game

6. Good food

7. When Jonathan Papelbon (the Self Cleaning Anus) fails

I got to see number 7 live and in person  yesterday.  It was amazing.

Thanks Papbelon for the S.C.A.S.D.

Self

Cleaning

Anus

Self

Destructs

“This Is My Kind of Team Charlie, My Kind of Team” – RIP Lou Brown

For me the funniest scene of the funniest movie ever made occurs very close to the beginning.  The Indians are trying to assemble a team from scratch, including a new manager.  GM Charlie Donovan calls former minor league skipper Lou Brown to offer him the job:

Donovan: “Hey Lou, it’s Charlie Donovan, GM of the Cleveland Indians.  How would you like to manage this years club?”

Lou: “Oh Iiiiiiiiiiiii dunno….”

Donovan: “What do you mean you don’t know?  This is your chance to manage in the big leagues!”

Lou: “Let me get back to you Charlie I got a guy on the other line looking for some white walls.”

No matter how many times I watch Major League (and by now I am pushing triple digits) I still laugh out loud at that part.  For my money, even though the cast is huge (Corbin Bernsen, Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Dennis “President Palmer” Haysbert) James Gammon as Lou Brown is the funniest and most beloved character.

Gammon passed away this past weekend from cancer at age 70.  Even though he acted in 137 different TV shows and movies (according to IMDB) he will always be Lou Brown to me. 

I never met the man and had no personal connection to him, but I’m saddened by his passing for this reason: I have been reciting Lou Brown quotes in my daily life for so long that it feels like a) the character was real and b) I knew him.  For instance:

– It’s become part of my lexicon in the 500 Level on days when Ricky Romero pitches to yell a Brown quote when he reaches two strikes on the batter: “Forget about the curveball Ricky, give him the heater!”

– When an error is made either at the Dome or in beer league softball: “Come on Dorn. Get in front of the damn ball.  Don’t give me this ole bullsh*t.” 

Other favourites include:

– “Nice catch Hayes, don’t ever f#$%ing do it again.”

– “I’m too old to go diving behind lockers.”

– “I’m getting sick and tired of this nickel and dime stuff.”

– “You may run like Hayes but you hit like sh*t.”

– Taylor: “Would I bullsh*t you about something like that?” Brown: “You’d better if you want to make this team.”

There are too many more to mention.  The biggest impact of Brown on me came in the dark years of the Jays, the Buck Martinez, Carlos Tosca, Tim Johnson years.  I would often sit and watch the Blue Jays blow game after game and wonder “what would Lou Brown have done with this team.”  At the very least he would have provided some character.

Real or not, Lou Brown will always be remembered.  Now, Major League will never be the same.

RIP James “Lou Brown” Gammon

Backyard Lawn Chair of the Game

I have presented several awards for 500 Level Fan of the Game, and even an occassional 100 Level Fan of the Game.  But never did I think I would present a fan of the game award to an inanimate object.

Until now.

Feast your eyes on this:

What a specimen!  What a chair!  The old fashioned Blue Jays logo nearly brought a tear to my eye.  And ladies and gentlemen: what craftsmanship!  The weave of the wool perfect, the colour combination incredible, and the seat cushion sublime.

But friends, not only was I given the great blessing of seeing this chair, I also was given an opportunity to sit in it.  I can tell you that the comfort level was out of this world.  I could have slept I was so at peace.

There was more than just comfort however.  This chair is a piece of history.  I didn’t get a chance to ask the owner how old it was, but judging by the logo it must be weathered.  Sitting in it was like sitting in a time warp.  As soon as I made contact with the cushion my mind was flooded with classic Blue Jay memories, all seeped into the woolly fabric. 

It was 1977 (forget for a second that I wasn’t born yet) and Doug Ault was swatting two home runs in a snowy Exhibition Stadium leading the Jays to victory in the franchise opener.

Then it became 1985, and George Bell caught the AL East division clinching fly out in left field while sinking to his knees.  His cap was falling off his head as he screamed, then embraced Tony Fernandez, while fans flooded the field celebrating Toronto’s first title.

I could feel the energy of the 1989 title, as Henke struck out the Orioles in the ninth to seal the division.  I could feel the power of Dave Stieb’s 1990 no-hitter in Cleveland, and the euphoria of back-to-back World Series wins in ’92 and ’93.

But most of all I felt the joy of winning.  You’re familiar with the phrase “if walls could talk”, well if this chair could talk I’m sure it would have some great stories to tell. 

Upon standing I was full of hope and love for the Jays, which they immediately ruined by losing 9-0 to the Phillies.

But one loss can’t kill the magic of the chair.

If it didn’t belong to very friendly neighbours of my parents I would have considered stealing it.

In fact, I still might…