Classic Quotes from the Upper Deck – June 6th, 2010

Here are a few great comments from the fans in the 500 Level during Toronto’s tough 4-3 loss to the Yankees on Sunday:

  • “It’s all about the sweep.  I’m gettin’ f#$%ed up!” – the Shirtless High-Fiver (see today’s 500 Level Fan of the Game) trying to get people excited.  Note: this is only a paraphrase as the high-fiver was extremely intoxicated – so blind drunk that he was speaking three languages at once.  This is what I thought I heard.
  • “We need more of you here to support our economy.” – Shirtless High-Fiver to a random guy wearing a neon-green Boston Red Sox hat.  I guess he assumed the guy was from Boston.
  • “Hey you!  Hey!  Give me a high five!  Hey!  HEY!  Are you a Yankees fan?” – Shirtless High-Fiver to a dad at the game with his young son, with his hand inches from the dad’s face.  Instead of just accepting the five, or laughing, the dad pretended the high-fiver wasn’t there and ignored him, probably scarring his son for life.  They promptly left the 500 Level.
  • “How can you expect to build a fan base with your shirts on?” – Shirtless High-Fiver to the entire 500 Level at an insanely loud volume.
  • “No.  Uh-uh.” – Shirtless High-Fiver when being asked to leave the premises by two Rogers Centre security guards and a police officer. 
  • “It’s about to get real loud in he-ahhh.” – Annoying Yankees fan wearing a Babe Ruth jersey, in an annoying New York accent, walking into section 535 in the 5th inning.  Him and his three friends then said nothing for two innings.  The only words they spoke came after Vernon Wells put the Jays ahead 2-0.  Then, one of them said:
  • “We have more titles than your whole team!” – annoying Yankees fan in a Joe DiMaggio jersey.  I guess that’s supposed to hurt our feelings.
  • “Sit down DiMaggio you a$%hole!  You’re ugly and the lady beside you is fat!” – drunk girl, one row behind me.
  • “Where’s the referee?” – different drunk girl, one row behind me.
  • “Sara!  Sara!  Get up here you snatch face!” – a third drunk girl trying to get the attention of her friend a few rows ahead of her.  Amazing.

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

Battle of the GM’s – Draft Edition Part Two

Last week I posted an entry that compared the first round draft choices by each of Toronto’s three GM’s.  You can read it here.  As always, I rely on my readers to do two things: correct me when I’m wrong (as I was with Chad Jenkins) and give me ideas for future columns.  Well, not long after posting it an email came in to the 500 Level Fan headquarters at fivehundredlevelfan@gmail.com asking if I could possibly expand my analysis to the ENTIRE draft and not just the first round.

Well my friends, ask you and shall receive.

Instead of doing actual work at my day job, I spent a few hours gathering data about each Toronto Blue Jay draft pick from 1977, first round through last.  With a similar premise to last week’s article, my end goal was to determine which of Toronto’s past general managers has set the bar that Alex Anthopoulos has to match.  Again – like last week I looked at each pick and split them into categories, but this time only two: 1 – did the player make the majors? and 2 – was he a “successful” major league player.  As always, with any of these so called studies I have to clarify a few points:

– My definition of “successful” major leaguer is admittedly flawed.  I based it partially in statistics and partially in opinion.  Feel free to disagree or argue.

– Like last week’s post, it is still too early to form a definitive judgment on JP Ricciardi as a lot of his picks are still working (or trying to work) their way up the minor league system.

– I only counted players that were signed out of the draft as players who made the majors.  For instance, the Jays drafted Jim Abbott in 1985, Scott Erickson in 1988, and Ryan Franklin in 1991 but none signed with the club.  All went back into the draft and were selected by other teams in future years.

– Though the final comparison will be based on percentages (of major leaguers and successful picks) it is important to clarify that the draft was much different in Pat Gillick’s years.  While Gord Ash and JP Ricciardi had about 50 picks (roughly) in each draft, the number of rounds ranged wildly for Gillick, from 16 in 1977 to 76 in 1989.  Obviously it is much more difficult to draft a major league player in the 76th round than the 36th.

Now that the ground rules have been stated, on to the results.

Pat Gillick (1977 – 1994)

Draft Stats: 790 player selections, 124 made the major leagues (15.7%), 22 were successful (2.8%)

Looking at the table above, you can see that most of Gillick’s success came early in the draft.  Only three of his picks in round 10 or later had solid careers – Woody Williams, Jeff Kent, and Alex Gonzalez.  Overall, that is a pretty impressive list, especially when you consider how many of those players formed a core part of division title winning teams (Barfield, Moseby, Stieb, Key) and how many were huge in the World Series years (Key, Borders, Hentgen, Sprague, Olerud).

Gord Ash (1995 – 2001)

Draft Stats: 380 player selections, 36 made the major leagues (9.5%), 10 were successful (2.6%)

Similar to Pat Gillick, most of Ash’s good selections came early in the draft.  He did strike gold however with O-Dog in the 43rd round, an astounding 1,280th overall.  What is also notable, however, is that four of the selections on the table above had the bulk of their success with franchises other than Toronto.  Casey Blake, Michael Young, Felipe Lopez, and Brandon Lyon all had successful seasons for various clubs, with Lopez and Young each making all star game appearances.  While Ash had a similar percentage of players enjoying big league success, less than 10% of his picks even made the major leagues, far below the number that Gillick posted.

JP Ricciardi (2002 – 2009)

Draft Stats: 380 player selections, 25 have made the major leagues so far (6.6%), 5 have been successful (1.3%)

To this point, Ricciardi hasn’t had a lot of success in the later rounds of the draft.  But as said earlier, many of his picks are still making their way up the ranks.  In addition, several other players on top of the above list have played for the Blue Jays over the past few years, including David Purcey (1st round, 16th overall in 2004), Casey Janssen (4th round, 117th overall in 2004), Jessie Litsch (24th round, 717th overall in 2004), Brett Cecil (1st round, 38th overall in 2007), and Marc Rzepczynski (5th round, 175th overall in 2007).  Time will tell whether or not those players, and the others not mentioned (JP Arencibia, Kevin Ahrens, David Cooper among others) will have successful careers.

But one thing does stand out, as it did after last week’s first round analysis.  Pat Gillick earned a reputation as one of the greatest GM’s in recent times, and both of these studies back that up.  With over 15% of his draft choices making it to the top level of professional baseball, he definitely has a shrewd eye for talent in the crapshoot that is the MLB first year player draft.

When AA steps up on Monday to take over his first draft, he would do well to emulate the great Gillick.

Blast From the Past – Sil Campusano

Silvestre Diaz Campusano.  It is a beautiful name that rolls off the tongue.  Judging from the photo above, he was a beautiful man in his prime, with a glorious moustache.  He was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, a beautiful place for baseball players.

Unfortunately Sil Campusano did not play beautiful baseball.

Signed by the Jays as an amateur free agent in 1983, Sil went straight to the minor leagues in 1984.  He actually enjoyed a very productive season in ’85 split between single-A Florence and double-A Knoxville (.310 average, .510 SLG, 21 HR) that had people talking – or whispering – that he might be a potential replacement for George Bell.

But a replacement he was not.  He did nothing of any value in the minor leagues ever again, yet somehow his .210 average with a .258 slugging percentage, 0 HR and 0 RBI earned him a call-up to the big leagues.

Sil made his debut in 1988 and was terrifically bad.  He managed to last with Toronto for 73 games putting up numbers that must have made fans feel ill.  He did not hit for average (.218).  He did not hit for power (.641 OPS, 2 HR).  He did not get on base (.282 OBP, 9 walks in 158 plate appearances).  He showed no speed (o SB).  He struck out a lot (33 times, over 20% of his plate appearances).  And on top of it all he couldn’t field.  He played all three outfield positions making at least one error in each.  The only thing of interest on his baseball reference page is that he finished 5th in the AL in most errors committed as a centre fielder.  Amazing.

He was so bad that advanced baseball statistics (specifically wins above replacement (WAR)) give him a negative value, meaning any random minor league player was actually BETTER than Sil.  Poor guy.

But for some reason another team wanted him.  The Phillies claimed him in the Rule 5 draft in 1989, officially ending his career with the Blue Jays.  He played parts of two seasons with Philadelphia, and it was there that he enjoyed the crowning achievement of his career – breaking up a Doug Drabek no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth.

His final big league season was 1991, after which he rode off into the sunset.  While he succeeded in his native Dominican Republic and in China after his MLB days, he didn’t accomplish much during his brief stay at the top.  He never made the playoffs, he never contributed much to his teams, and sadly even in his post-playing days he can’t catch a break.  Campusano has quite possibly the worst Wikipedia write-up in history, ending with the words “he was a very happy player.”

With stats like he had, staying happy just might be his biggest accomplishment of all.

Sil Campusano: Career Major League Statistics

3 seasons (1988 – 1991)

2 teams (TOR, PHI)

.202 average, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 26 R, 1 SB, .584 OPS

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

What’s With the Hatred? The Jays are GOOD!

Fred Lewis is right - the Jays have been closer to #1 than to last this year (from daylife.com)

Fact: The Toronto Blue Jays blew two consecutive games in the ninth inning against Tampa.

Fact: The Tampa Bay Rays are the best team in baseball.

Relax people.  It’s not the end of the world.  Yes, the Jays probably should have won yesterday.  They definitely should have won on Tuesday.  But so what?  I couldn’t believe the negativity I heard this morning from all kinds of different people.  Things like “here comes the collapse”, or “the Jays suck, what a crappy team”, or even “it’s over – there goes the season.” 

Are you kidding me?

It’s time to step back and settle down.

I read a tweet last night from fellow Blue Jays blogger Ian at the Blue Jay Hunter that said “’tis better to have led and lost than to have never led at all.”  This afternoon I read the latest post by another Jays blogger, 1 Blue Jays Way, that said even though they sting, Toronto shouldn’t feel shame from those losses because the Rays are a very, very good team.

Well, I completely and wholeheartedly agree with both.  For all of those fans out there who are jumping off the bandwagon left, right, and centre, I hope you hurt yourself on the fall.  We should be proud and supportive of this club.  What they have accomplished so far this season is astounding.  Will they keep it up?  Who knows.  I hope so, but realistically a downfall might be coming. 

But for all of you who are hating on the Jays right now, let me point you here where Scott Miller of CBS Sportsline predicts Toronto to finish dead last, while poking fun at their no-name roster.  Or how about here where fellow Sportsline columnist Danny Knobler predicts the 2010 Jays to be in the same class as the Pirates, Royals, and Astros.  Need more?  Check out SI’s predictions (you guessed it – Toronto is last) or ESPN’s  (Jayson Stark switched it up a bit – he didn’t pick the Jays in last but placed them amongst the worst nine teams in the game).

Get the picture?  All of these so called “experts” predicted Toronto to finish the season behind Baltimore.  While they might not finish in the top-5 in the sport, they are currently 15 games ahead of the hapless Orioles.  I’m going to go ahead and say they’re safe from that result.

Bottom line is this: enjoy the start to the season.  Stop hating, stop being negative, and start smiling.  The 2010 Toronto Blue Jays are good, blown leads or not. 

Besides, wouldn’t you rather lose competitive games against the best team in baseball while staying within striking distance of the Wild Card than spend the season licking the dirt off Baltimore’s feet?

I know I would…

Don’t Worry Kevin Gregg – Being an Elite Closer is VERY Tough

In the wake of yesterday’s horrendous performance by Kevin Gregg I started thinking about closers.  Watching him nibble around the strike zone, walk batter after batter, and finally completely break down gave me mixed emotions.  In fact, the closer position has always given me mixed feelings.

On one hand, it should be simple.  You are a major league pitcher and all you have to do is record three outs.  In most cases, you are coming into the game 100% fresh.  You haven’t been on the mound for several innings and logged over 100 pitches.  How hard can it be?

On the other hand, it is the most difficult time of the game.  Sure only three outs are required, but the game is close, and all eyes are upon you.  Failure is not an option as you will not have the opportunity to come out in the next inning and fix your mistakes.  Starting pitchers can do that, closers can not.

So to me closers are a mixed bag. They really should have great numbers, but all it takes is one bad outing and the stats go haywire.  It takes a lot of three-up three-down innings to repair the damage done to an ERA by a blown three-run save.

After Gregg’s failure I decided to hunt for how many truly elite closers are out there, by using the incredible data at baseball-reference.com.  According to their wealth of statistical information, a 30-save season has been accomplished 368 times in major league history.  But after sweating though many of Gregg’s saves this season, everybody can clearly tell that there is a difference between a good save and a bad save, and by extension between a good 30-save season and a not-so-good 30-save season.

So what defines a good save?  Obviously, a three-up three-down inning is best.  Putting runners on base, via hit or walk, brings a closer face-to-face with disaster – the blown save.  But clearly a three-up three-down inning can not be accomplished each and every time out.  So what defines a good season for a closer?

To me, ALL of the following criteria have to be met:

– 40+ saves in the season (showing reliability)

– a sub 2.00 ERA (showing the ability to prevent runs)

– a sub 1.00 WHIP (showing dominance – preventing runners from getting on base)

My original hypothesis was that after inputting all of those parameters I would see approximately 75 or more individual seasons on the list, or about three seasons each year from the mid-80’s when closers started to become fashionable.

I was WAY off.

A season that sees a closer save 40 or more games with a sub 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP has been accomplished only 21 times in MLB history, by 15 different men:

– Armando Benitez (2004), Billy Wagner (2003), Bryan Harvey (1991, 1993), Chad Cordero (2005), Dan Quisenberry (1983), Dennis Eckersley (1990, 1992), Eric Gagne (2002, 2003), J.J. Putz (2007), Joakim Soria (2008), Joe Nathan (2004), John Smoltz (2003), Mariano Rivera (1999, 2005, 2009), Michael Jackson (1998), Robb Nen (1998, 2000), Trevor Hoffman (1998)

Two things strike me about that list.  One – there are no Blue Jays on it.  We thought that Tom Henke and Duane Ward were lights out dominant.  I guess they were  a bit below that.  Two – there are only 15 players on it!!!! That tells me that for every save that we have had to bite our nails for with Kevin Gregg, or Billy Koch, or BJ Ryan, or Jason Frasor, virtually EVERY OTHER TEAM IN BASEBALL is doing the same thing!!!

So don’t feel so bad Mr. Gregg.  Though you screwed up royally yesterday, you are definitely not alone. 

But I would dump you in a second for a 1990 version of Dennis Eckersley… website offline . link checker .

Scouted 500 Level Fan of the Game – June 1st, 2010

How old is this child? Old enough to drink in the 500 level!

Sadly I was unable to attend last night’s game at the Rogers Centre between the Jays and Rays.  I guess it actually turned out to be a blessing, because I was sitting on my couch when Kevin Gregg imploded in the ninth, watching it on TV instead of in the 500 Level.  That meant I had instant and arm’s length access to beer, wine, scotch, rye, vodka, and tequila, all of which helped me to forget the disaster I had just seen.

But luckily for me, a few 500 Level Fan scouts were out in the upper deck last night.  Showing what a true company man I am, the scouts paid their own way in, and will continue to receive no compensation.  But great job gentlemen!

And now, in their own words, I present their scouting report.  Tbe first ever scouted 500 Level Fan of the Game – The (very) Underage Drinker!

“As promised, here is the 15 year old beer saving drunkard.

In the third inning we flagged down the beer man for a few tall boys.  As he stood there preparing our frosty delights, suddenly the clearly underage kid in front of us confidently requested not one but TWO Keith’s.

It was a classic moment as he looked no more than 15 and the kid next to him looked 11 at most.  Equally classic was the utter look of confusion or general befuddlement on the face of the beer man.  He clearly could not figure out if he was hearing things or whether he was being made the butt of some punk kid’s joke.

So, the beer man carried on and provided two beers to the cougars a few rows up.  At that time, the kid called out again for his beers at which point the beer man had no choice but to comply.

He took the kids ID and astonishingly rewarded him with two beers, one for him and one for the girl next to him (to this point we hadn’t noticed the girl as we were too in shock that the ID was good).

Clearly satisfied the kid began to enjoy his beer…but I noticed in the top of the 8th that he still hadn’t finished it.  He was stretching out the last few sips.

Overall, the 15 year old beer saving drunkard was confusing, impressive, and lame all at the same time.  An enigma such as this could only be found in the skyward confines of the 500 level.”

Congratulations Underage Drinker for being named fan of the game, and thanks very much to the 500 Level Fan scouts. same sites expired domains . expiration of domains . apache web server website offline . link checker

500 Level Fan(s) of the Game – May 31st, 2010

An incredible sight at the Roger’s Centre last night.  It had nothing to do with Toronto’s 3-2 win over the first place Rays.  It had nothing to do with the disappointing drop in attendance, down to 11.335 despite two 30-win teams going at it. 

It had everything to do with the return of two 500 level legends:

On the left is WWE legend and Hall-of-Famer Bobby Backlund.  On the right is none other than children’s animated TV star Pingu the Penguin.  To fully understand what this means, please join me on a flashback, a trip down memory road.

2002 – My best friend and I begin regularly attending Jays games in the 500 level.  As fresh graduates of York University and still unemployed, the summer of ’02 becomes a summer of freedom.  Sitting in the upper deck and enjoying Hinske, Wells, and Halladay, we notice two striking men a few rows ahead of us in section 524A.  The man on the aisle bears a striking resemblance to Bobby Backlund.  The man in seat 2 looks an awful lot like a penguin.  We continued to see them throughout the summer, each time noticing how the penguin-man, now referred to as Pingu, was silent, and Bobby was chirpy.  He also had tape holding his glasses together.

2004 – After a summer spent out of Toronto, we both return to the city.  Upon re-acclimatizing ourselves to the 500 Level, we are both shocked and excited to see that Pingu and Bobby are still there, still sitting in section 524A.

2005 – Bobby and Pingu remain fixtures in the upper deck, though their behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic.  Bobby continually tries to take photos of children with their parents, and tries game-in and game-out to bet other fans bottles of diet cokes that an opposing player will hit a home run.  Pingu is still quiet.

2006 – Bobby and Pingu vanish.

Fast forward to last night.  We are both back to see the battle of the Jays and Rays, keeping one eye on the game and one eye on the fans.  Section 525 proved fruitless.  Just a bunch of young girls with their boyfriends, and a few rows of older fans.  Nothing crazy.  Section 522 also proves uneventful.  Though the Jays, and Morrow especially, are dominating on the field, the upper deck is strangely quiet.

At this point I turn to my friend: “I wish Bobby and Pingu were still around.  I wonder what happened to them?”

His reply?  “They’re probably dead.”

However, upon moving into section 519, the unthinkable:

Bobby (left) and Pingu (right) - Upper Deck Legends

 

Yes!  The legends have returned! 

While the rest of the ball game was exciting on the field, it did little to match the excitement felt in the 500 Level.  The behaviour of the pair was even more erratic than in years past.  Bobby still had the taped glasses, and still had the faded white t-shirt, but he had found new ways to annoy those around him.  In the 4th inning he started rubbing the head of the fan in front of him.  For every at-bat by Overbay he would yell “You are a moron!”, and then yelled “Overpaid!”  Unfortunately for us around him, he continued to yell “Overpaid” for 25 minutes after Lyle’s at-bat.

In the 5th inning Pingu fell asleep.  Despite Bobby’s best efforts to wake him (a constant barrage of nonsensical chatter, and the occasional slap to the head), he remained out for several batters.  He was quieter than ever until the 8th, when he unleashed a profanity filled tirade at Lyle Overbay.

It was incredible.  We were a few years older, but despite Pingu’s increased girth and rounder belly, they looked the same.  It was like we entered a time warp and it was 2002 all over again.

The Jays won to inch closer to the division lead, but this game will always be remembered for a return to my younger days.  Congratulations Bobby and Pingu, 500 Level Fans of the Game! same sites expired domains expiration of domains apache web server . website offline link checker .

Classic Quotes from the Upper Deck – May 31st, 2010

Here are a few classic comments from the fans in the upper deck of Toronto’s 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Monday night:

  • “It’s been a very physical game thus far.” – man to nobody in particular in Section 519, referring to game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final while listening to a walkman.  I don’t know about anybody else, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  If you want to watch/listen to/follow along with the hockey game so badly, why in the hell would you come to the Blue Jays game?  He wasn’t paying attention to the game at all, but just sat there transfixed by his yellow Sony walkman with 1988 headphones.  Why bother?
  • “Mmmm…” – same hockey follower after pulling out a processed cheese and Wonderbread sandwich from a Blue Jays souvenir shop plastic bag.  Really, really, really gross….
  • “They should score that umpire’s assistance!  Not a hit!  COME ON!!!” – Bobby (see FLF of the game), after Sean Rodriguez broke up Brandon Morrow’s no-hitter with an infield single.
  • “F#$% you Overbay!  You’re playing F#$%ing kids ball you moron!” – Pingu (see FLF of the game), after Overbay grounded out to second in the 8th.
  • “You’re dead now Overbay!  You’re in deep trouble!  I’m gonna be on your ass the rest of the season!” – Pingu, minutes later.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that there was absolutely no chance that Overbay would ever be able to hear his heckles from section 519. 

As always, if you have can provide any overheard quotes from the upper deck at a Jays game, feel free to post them in the comment box below or send them to 500 Level Fan.

I received this link from our friend at “1 Blue Jays Way” about a 500 level experience a few years back. same sites expired domains . expiration of domains . apache web server website offline link checker

Hell Freezes Over

Baseball is a crazy game.  Sometimes things happen that are so bizarre, so extreme, and so crazy that all you can do is simply shake your head.  Unlike other sports, when things happen in baseball we still feel shock or amazement.  Though players try to be innovative in basketball and hockey, fans have pretty much seen every variation of slam dunk and shootout shot that can be seen.

But baseball is different – the unexpected routinely takes place.  Look at what has happened so far this year, only about 1/3 of the way into the season:

– Dallas Braden, with a career record of 14-21, 4.68 ERA coming into this season, throws a perfect game

– Coming into this season there had been 18 perfect games in 130 years, or an average of one every 7+ years.  Three weeks after Braden’s gem, Roy Halladay does it again for the Phillies

– The Blue Jays hit six solo home runs in a game, accouting for all six of their runs, the first time that had happened in 90 years

– Angel Pagan starts a triple play and hits an inside-the-park home run in the same game

– A-Rod nearly decapitates Cleveland pitcher David Huff on a line drive, leaving the pitcher unconscious on the mound for several minutes yet without any serious injury

– Kendry Morales breaks his leg after jumping on home plate to celebrate a walk-off grand slam, potentially injuring himself for the rest of the season

But of all the things that have happened this year, the strangest (for me, BY FAR the strangest) happened this afternoon.  Bottom of the third in Houston, with nobody out and nobody on, this man hit a home run for the Astros:

That’s right – Gustavo Chacin went deep for the ‘Stros this afternoon.

Again – Chacin hit a bomb. 

The Gustavo Chacin.  The same Gus who pitched for the Blue Jays from 2004 – 2007.  The same Chacin who finished 5th in AL Rookie of the Year voting in ’05, after going 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA for Toronto.  The very same Mr. Chacin who became “famous” for a Chacin cologne night in Toronto in 2006.

And the very same Gustavo Chacin who was charged with driving under the influence in 2007, released in 2008, and bounced around the minor leagues for the last few years. 

I never thought I would ever lay eyes on the hairless wonder again, but to my surprise Houston signed him, and on May 7th he made his NL debut, over three years removed from his last major league appearance.  Including today he has made six appearances, with no decisions and a surprisingly effective 1.86 ERA.

But if there was ever to be a player this season to hit a home run, to have more home runs than players like Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Ken Griffey Jr, Grady Sizemore, and Elvis Andrus combined?  I would have bet everything I possibly could have that it would NOT be a man with zero career hits.

I would have guaranteed that it would not be Gustavo Chacin.

But that is why this game is so great.  Because sometimes hell does freeze over. same sites . expired domains expiration of domains . apache web server website offline link checker .

Three Things From Week Eight

The Jays continued their hot start to the season in week seven (May 24 – May 30).  After dropping two of three to the Angels in Anaheim to start the week, they rebounded by sweeping away the horrendous Orioles back home, a good way to start off a nine game homestand.  The Blue Jays need all of those wins because the going is about to get a lot tougher.  The next 24 consecutive games are all against teams that are over .500, giving the club a great chance to prove that they are indeed for real this season.

Here are three things that came out of week seven:

1. Jose Bautista – Home Run Hitting Machine

While many baseball pundits are looking at Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells, and Ricky Romero as the biggest reasons why the Jays are overachieving to this point, the biggest overachiever of all is still flying under the radar.  After Sunday’s game, Bautista has 16 home runs, giving him the outright major league lead and tying his career high.  He is showing no signs of slowing down either, if the last week is any indication.  Bautista dominated the Angels and Orioles pitching staffs, hitting .333 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, and an incredible .565 OBP by drawing 8 walks.

For those who think that his power pace is unsustainable, chew on this: this surge actually began at the end of last season.  Bautista slugged 10 HR in September/October of 2009, giving him 26 from that point on.  Those 26 HR are more than anybody in baseball over that stretch – including names such as Pujols, Rodriguez, Howard, and Braun.  If he even keeps up a portion of his current pace his next stop could very well be Anaheim for the All Star game in July.

2. AL East is Insane

Everybody knew coming into the season that the AL East was the toughest division in baseball, but this is getting ridiculous.  Eight teams across the entire league have 29 or more victories on the season, and four of them reside in the AL East.  With a record of 30-22, Toronto would be in first place in the AL West, NL East, or NL West, but instead find themselves in third, only one game ahead of Boston who are fourth.  With nine straight games on the schedule against Tampa and the Yankees beginning on Monday, the Jays will be getting their first true test against the elite teams of the division.  They could be in first or fourth when that stretch is done.

But regardless of how they fare, Toronto has a legitimate argument to make for some kind of realignment or playoff system modification.  If the season ended today, Toronto would finish sixth overall in the entire MLB yet miss the postseason.  Texas, Philadelphia, and St. Louis – all with poorer records than Toronto – would qualify.  One look at scenarios like that makes it very difficult not to cry foul.  Maybe adding two additional wild card slots would help take away some of unfairness in the current system.  But the chances of that happening? I would put it at 0%.

3. Perfection from the Doc

Halladay celebrates his perfect game (photo from mlb.com)

Technically this is cheating since he no longer plays for the Jays and this is a Blue Jays only feature.  But Roy Halladay is still beloved in these parts, and his perfect game on Saturday will be celebrated all season long by Jays fans.  The way that he mowed down the Marlins in order (11 K’s, 115 pitches) looked effortless, and seeing him smile at the end of the game brought back fond memories of his time here in Toronto.  What made the game even more impressive was that it came after his worst start of the season, an 8-3 shellacking by the Red Sox.

When Halladay came within one out of a no-hitter in his second career start back in 1998, it looked like it was only a matter of time until he threw one.  The only thing surprising about his perfect game was that it took him 12 years to finally get it.  Unfortunately because of the G-20 summit forcing the Jays to move their series against the Phillies down to Philadelphia, Toronto fans won’t get a chance to truly show him our appreciation both for his time spent here and for his gem.  Never-the-less, congratulations Doc!

A View From the Cheap Seats