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

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

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

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

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

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

Chuck Norris enjoying another beer

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

Chuck Norris and "wife"

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

Chuck Norris inhaling popcorn

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

Fantastic shot of Chuck Norris apparently vomiting. Fascinating!

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

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

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

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

Thanks guys, and congratulations Chuck Norris! link checker .

Three Things From Week Eleven

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

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

1. Busy Anthopoulos

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

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

2. Alomar and Quantrill Inducted

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

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

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

John McDonald after his emotional HR (image from

3. Happy Father’s Day Johnny Mac

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

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

Random Non-Baseball Rants and Raves

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

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

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

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

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

There – back to the Blue Jays.

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

The Replica Ed Sprague

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blast From the Past – Glenallen Hill

After receiving a reader request last week for one of the most obscure Blue Jays of all time Dave Revering, 500 Level Fan received another reader request for a profile of a slightly more well known Jay – Glenallen Hill.

I’ll be honest: for the Revering article I struggled mightily for material.  It was a challenge to write something long enough that was worthwhile to post.  With Hill I have an equal but opposite challenge.  He has a virtual gold mine of material.

Glenallen Hill was an original Pat Gillick draft pick, a 9th round (219th overall) choice in the 1983 draft.  After a few years in the minor league system he made his MLB debut July 31, 1989 going 2 for 3 against the Yankees.  Unfortunately for Hill, he only found his way into 19 games that season, and never really became a full time player in Toronto (138 total games spread across three seasons).  At the trade deadline of ’91 he was shipped to Cleveland with Mark Whiten and Denis Boucher, for knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti and the whitest man in the history of baseball Turner Ward.

Hill bounced around with several teams the rest of his career, and actually enjoyed a few very productive seasons.  In 1995 with San Francisco he hit .264 with 24 HR,  86 RBI, and 25 SB – a 20/20 season.  In 2000 he was dealt at the deadline again, this time from the Cubs to the Yankees, and hit a combined .293 with 27 HR for both teams.  He even won himself a World Series ring that year as the Yankees beat the Mets in the Subway Series – though his total contribution of 0 for 3 in the Series didn’t really help.

In fact, when you look at Glenallen Hill, it isn’t the stats that stand out.  Sure he lasted 13 seasons, hit 186 HR, stole 96 bases, and knocked in 586 runs.  Sure he made the playoffs three different seasons with three different clubs (though his career postseason average of .074 – 2 for 27 with no extra base hits – tells you how little he contributed).  But the career of Glenallen Hill, and his true specialties, lie beyond the numbers.


To put it bluntly: Glenallen Hill sucked in the field.  He was horrendous, atrocious, miserable, you name it.  The “Apperances on Leader Boards” section of his baseball reference page shows him finishing in the top-5 in errors committed on five separate occasions (1992 and 1998 as a LF, and 1995-1997 as a RF), and ranks him 58th on the all time list in errors by a RF.   His career fielding percentage was a vomit-inducing .964 and an advanced stat called Total Fielding Runs Above Average was -33 for his career (meaning his defense actually cost his teams 33 runs).

But like I said, you can’t judge everything by the numbers.  Even the plays he made lacked flair, confidence, and style.  Wikipedia mentions that his nickname during his playing days was The Juggler, because even when trying to field balls cleanly he would bobble them.  Bryan Price, a former Mariners pitching coach, is said that watching Glenallen play defense was “akin to watching a gaffed haddock surface for air.”  Not exactly sure what that means, but you get the point. 

He stunk.


Don’t get me wrong – nobody will ever confuse Hill with Einstein or Edison.  Despite my best efforts I was unable to find out his IQ, his school marks, or his general knowledge level or aptitude.  But on the field, though he often got in his own way, he had a baseball sense that goes beyond normal.  One night in particular higlights what I’m talking about.

Against Detroit one night during his days with the Indians, Hill found himself on first when a commotion began in the outfield.  While players, fans, and umpires alike were focused on the disturbance, Hill nonchalantly walked to second base and stood as if he had always been there.  When play resumed, somehow nobody noticed what happened.  Hill remained on second.  The play became known as the Phantom Steal and Glenallen Hill entered baseball legend.  A brilliant man.


For all that Glenallen Hill accomplished in his career, or in his entire life for that matter, he will forever be remembered for an incident during his stay with the Jays.  His intense fear of spiders landed him on the 15-day DL.

The story has it that Hill had such a terrifying dream about being covered in spiders that he fell out of bed, into a glass table, and down a staircase.  The bumps, cuts, and bruises he suffered were severe enough to disable him for a few weeks.  Judging by his stats for the remainder of his days in a Blue Jays uniform he never recovered.  He did earn a pretty cool nickname though (aside from the Juggler) – Spiderman.

So there you have it.  The life and times of Glenallen Hill.  For those of you who loved him and miss him, fear not.  He spends his time today as a first base coach for the Colorado Rockies, a team Toronto had the pleasure of playing just last week.  Seeing his beautiful face on TV again was enough to make any Jays fan smile. 

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and enemies, the Juggler and the Spiderman, Glenallen Hill.

Glenallen Hill: Career Major League Statistics

13 seasons (1989 – 2001)

7 teams (TOR, CLE, CHC, SF, SEA, NYY, ANA)

.271 average, 186 HR, 586 RBI, 528 R, 96 SB, .804 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.

500 Level Fun – Three for Three Game

Sometimes going to the game just isn’t good enough.  Sometimes you need to spice up your in-game experience, especially in those bad times where the Jays are getting bombed.  Some people do this with booze.  Others do it by playing games within the game.

We here at 500 Level Fan do it with both.

Navin Vaswani’s recent column in the Globe and Mail about a game he calls Loonies (my friends and I play a very similar game we call the Hat Game), got me thinking about other ballpark games that add to the excitement of what is happening on the field.  The first one that came to mind this week is a game that we play every single trip into the Dome.  It is a game that we do not know what the prize is for winning.  It is a game that has actually, to this day, never even had a winner.  But it is a game that adds loads of excitement to the ballgame, because the more ridiculous you make it, the more fun it becomes.

It is a game we call “Three for Three”.

The origination of Three for Three (TFT for short) is unclear, lost in the haze and memory loss of upper deck 20 ounce Bud’s and countless St. Louis’ or Firkin or Lone Star pitchers.  But the two simple rules have been the same since the game was born about four or five years ago:

1. Pick three distinct events you think will happen in the game.

2. Get all three right, you win.

The End

Rule #1 is a lot easier said than done however.  Each event must be approved by the entire group to be considered legal.  Some considerations into selecting events are as follows:

– an event can be team or individual based (i.e. a sacrifice fly by the Jays, or a double by Adam Lind)

– it must be fairly specific (i.e. a base hit by Adam Lind is unacceptable, but a double by Lind, or an opposite field single by Lind, or a base hit in the 5th inning by Lind are acceptable)

– events can not be repeated, not within the group, and not by the same person at multiple games (i.e. a Lind double can not be used more than once in a season)

– an event does not necessarily have to involve a player (i.e. a foul ball will land within two rows of our seats)

As I said before, never in the history of TFT has there been a winner.  Due to this fact, we have no idea what to award as a prize in the event a winner ever occurs.  One thing that is obvious though, is that the prize must be significant.  A victory after years and years of failure just can’t be rewarded with a beer or a shot.  No – something majestic must happen.

But over the years there have been several close calls.  In 2007, already with two events secured, one friend needed a multi-homer game for a Blue Jay.  Adam Lind came up in the bottom of the ninth with one home run already, and launched a 1-2 pitch off the top of the wall in centre field.  Double.  No TFT.

Opening Day of 2009 I chose a 4-6-3 double play, a multiple hit game for Lyle Overbay and a ground rule double.  After the double play was completed in the top of the first inning, and Overbay doubled in the bottom of the first, I was an Overbay ground rule double away from the win.  Did not happen  No TFT.

But by far the most agonizing was last season, with a fellow 500 Level Fan.  Joe Inglett came to the plate with my opponent needing a stand-up triple.  After a  shot to the gap that rattled around the wall, Inglett came flying around second.  When the throw was cut-off, it was obvious there would not be a relay to third.  Inglett had the triple!  The first victory in TFT was upon us!  But NO!!!  Inglett inexplicably slid head-first into the base, ruining the stand-up triple, and costing the TFT win.  He has never lived it down.

One final rule to point out is the bonus rule.  The bonus rule in TFT applies to all players: if Johnny Mac ever goes 5 for 5, it is an automatic win for all involved.

Like I said – we have never had a winner…..

The best part about the game by far is when the most creative choices actually come through.  Some classics in TFT history include:

– a foul grounder to first base coach Ernie Whitt, who makes the catch one-handed, turns, and flips underhand into the crowd

– Miguel Tejada of Baltimore to be ejected for arguing balls and strikes

– a broken bat single between the shortstop and the second base bag

– a fly ball off the DQ ad on the right field wall

– a fan in our section to spill his beer while standing to let other fans into/out of his row

So for anyone heading to the dome this weekend, I encourage you to try it out.  Feel free to email your event selections to and I’ll post the most creative.  Remember, the more creative/wacky/out-there the selections, the sweeter it feels when they come through.

Just don’t ask me what you get for winning… same sites apache web server . website offline link checker .

Why I HATE Interleague Play

Would I still think highly of this fat, jolly man if the Jays played him in the regular season? No f-ing way.

Before I begin my rant on why I can’t stand interleague play let me clarify something: I am a baseball fan.  Though the Blue Jays are my favourite team, this has nothing to do with the fact that Toronto is historically bad at it.  I don’t want to see interleague play removed simply so the Jays will have a better record (though of course that would be nice).  I want it gone because I think baseball would be better (and fairer) without it.

Now, as a baseball fan I understand the rationale behind its introduction.  The players strike of 1994 crippled (and nearly killed) baseball.  The game needed something to bring the fans back.  In 1920, baseball was saved by Babe Ruth after the Black Sox scandal nearly ruined the game.  Interleague play was the Babe Ruth of the ’90’s. 

I admit the intrigue was there at the beginning.  Watching the Jays play the Braves in June was fun.  Having Barry Bonds and Larry Walker and Albert Pujols come to Toronto was neat.  This year, until the G20 summit ruined it, welcoming back Roy Halladay would have been special.  But when a concept is implemented solely to win back fan support at the expense of the league, it is time to right the ship.

Some equate the NHL’s introduction of the shootout as a gimmick to win back fan support.  That is true, but here is the difference between the shootout and interleague play: the shootout impacts all teams equally and fairly, and all fan bases equally and fairly.  Interleague play does not.  Here are a few reasons why:

It only benefits some markets

New York Yankees vs. New York Mets, Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers vs. LA Angels.  Those are huge rivalries in huge sports markets that inflate the interleague attendance figures. 

But what about the Atlanta Braves vs. Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays vs. San Diego Padres, or Detroit Tigers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks?  Nobody cares about those matchups.  The Blue Jays used to have a great rivalry with the Tigers, but with realignment and the introduction of interleague play, now only see them six times per year, only three more times than they see Arizona, San Diego, and the Giants.  Garbage.

The schedule is unfair

To be frank, the schedule being unfair is only partly the fault of interleague play.  The unbalanced schedule is a terrible idea to begin with, as the Jays have to play three of the best teams in baseball (Boston, New York, and Tampa) 18-19 times each, while teams like Minnesota and Detroit get to play Chicago, KC, and Cleveland. 

But interleague play adds another problem.  There is no way to play each National League team an equal number of times, so baseball rotates each year.  This year Toronto faces Arizona, Colorado, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.  All except Arizona are over .500 and contending for a playoff spot.  Conversely, Detroit – a team that the Jays have to beat to get a Wild Card birth – face the Dodgers, Pittsburgh, Washington, Arizona, NY Mets, and Atlanta.  Half of those games are against last place clubs.  Advantage: Detroit.

It technically benefits NL teams

Though the records don’t always prove it, interleague play should benefit National League teams.  The managers are used to the intricacies of the game, such as the double switch.  The pitchers are used to hitting.  Getting to use a DH is an added bonus.  Our friend the Blue Jay Hunter has commented on this here, so I won’t go too deep into it.

THE BIG ONE – It dilutes the power of the World Series

As I write this, Brazil is facing North Korea in the World Cup.  Though expected by many to be an absolute blowout, this match is also one of the most highly anticipated.  Why?  Because pretty much nobody in the ENTIRE WORLD has a friggin’ clue about North Korea.  They are a mysterious, secretive bunch, which makes the game exciting and intriguing.

That is what used to make the  World Series so much fun – the National League teams were exciting, intriguing, and mysterious.  Sure I could see the highlights on TV, but there was something different about actually watching Deion Sanders face Jack Morris, or John Kruk bat against Juan Guzman.  Interleague play spoils that.  How special would it be if CC Sabathia faces Roy Halladay in the World Series this October seeing how they are facing each other tonight?  I rest my case.

So Bud Selig, if you’re reading this (and I bet a $245 bottle of Johnny Blue that you’re not), do us a favour.  Give us back our normal games and save interleague for the playoffs.  The game will be better off.

And I will be happy.  At the end of the day that is all that matters…on this blog anyways.

Three Things From Week Ten

It was a week to forget for Jays fans.  An awful stretch of six games saw the Jays finish week 10 (June 7 – June 13) a dismal 1-5, including a three game sweep in Colorado.  Gone are the good feelings that Toronto worked up in the first portion of the schedule, replaced by disappointment. 

Despite the struggles, it was’t all bad news for Toronto.  The team welcomed back an injured pitcher, continued to get an all star type performance from another starter, and managed to score more runs against Ubaldo Jimenez than any other team this year.

Here are three things that came out of week 10:

1. Where has the offense gone?

Toronto still leads all of baseball in home runs, but you wouldn’t know it from last week.  In the six games during week ten, the Jays managed to score a measly 10 runs, and were shutout twice.  And it wasn’t like they were just failing to cash in runners on base – they weren’t getting on base at all.

The Jays mustered only 31 hits last week, an average of just over five per game.  Winning on five hits is a very difficult thing to do in major league baseball.  For the week they hit for a .173 average and only reached base at a .256 clip.  They struck out 41 times and took only 20 walks.  Jose Bautista went through an 0-24 stretch.  Adam Lind just looks worse and worse. 

It doesn’t get any easier for the Jays either.  They kick off a three game set in baseball’s friendliest pitchers park tonight – Petco Park in San Diego.  Uh-oh.

2. Welcome back Mr. Litsch

This was supposed to be a good thing for Toronto.  Jessie Litsch, after being sidelined for over a year from Tommy John surgery, made his return to the rotation on Sunday.  The move theoretically should have strengthened the rotation and the bullpen with Litsch replacing Brian Tallet who in turn replaced Rommie Lewis.  Unfortunately, the move did not pay off on Sunday.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but perhaps waiting a bit longer to recall Litsch might have been a better move.  He didn’t exactly dominate in his minor league rehab starts (0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in AAA Las Vegas) so a few more warm-up starts couldn’t have hurt.  Giving up 7 ER in 2.1 IP wasn’t exactly the major league start he was looking for.  With the Jays able to skip the 5th spot over the next few turns, don’t be surprised to see Litsch optioned back down to iron out the kinks.

Brett Cecil been dominant for the Jays (photo from

3. Lights Out Cecil

It seems like almost every week Toronto’s ace of the future is being anointed.  First it was Shaun Marcum, then Ricky Romero, followed by Brandon Morrow.  Now, welcome Brett Cecil to the list.  Through 10 starts in 2010 the young lefty has been brilliant: 7-2, 3.22 ERA, 0.995 WHIP, 47 K to 16 BB.

Even better, since having one of his worst career starts against Texas on May 14th, he has been unbeatable in his last five: 5-0, 1.49 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 21 K’s in 36.1 IP.  And his oppostiion hasn’t been too shabby in that time (other than Seattle and Baltimore) as he shut down the Angels, the Yankees, and the Rays for Toronto’s only win last week.  The emergence of Cecil gives the Jays four excellent starters in the rotation and should lay the groundwork for a successful team in the years ahead. expired domains . web archive website offline link checker

Random Blue Jays Thoughts on a Saturday Afternoon

Jose Bautista can grow a beard faster than any man in the history of Earth (photo from

Despite putting about 80% of my attention on the World Cup (and, of course, betting on the World Cup), I woke up this morning with many different thoughts on my mind about the Jays.  No better place to put them than in a random Saturday column.  Here goes:

– I hate rain shortened games in baseball.  Another professional sport does not exist that allows an unfinished game to go in the record books as a final.  I don’t really have a solution, because the sheer number of games in a baseball season makes postponing/rescheduling/resuming games very, very difficult.  But the Blue Jays deserved a better fate last night.  Ubaldo Jimenez without question has been the best pitcher in the game this year, but the Jays touched him up for three runs last night, the most he has allowed in a game all season.  His ERA jumped from 0.93 to 1.16.  But the biggest disappointment was that through six innings, though the Jays were down 5-3, Jimenez had thrown 106 pitches.  That meant that the Rockies were likely going to go to their bullpen for the final three innings.  Colorado’s pen has a very good ERA (3.25, 6th overall in the MLB), but with a record of 6-12 and 6 blown saves, a win was far from a sure thing.  Unfortunately it goes into the books as a loss.  Very unfair in the humble opinion of this lowly sportswriter.

– I don’t understand the uproar I am hearing from people on the Jays decision to send reliever Rommie Lewis to the minors in order to recall Jessie Litsch.  “Why would he go down when he has pitched so well” was a common complaint.  Well friends, a 4.91 ERA in 18.1 IP is nothing to write home about, especially for a situational lefty type reliever.  With Scott Downs and an effective (albeit slightly used) David Purcey already in the pen, and Brian Tallet (a starter who really is better suited as a long reliever) already on the roster, Lewis no longer had a place.  Watching him struggle against New York and Tampa in his last two appearances (3 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB) did little to help his cause.  If Jessie Litsch is truly ready to go, he is a much better fifth starter than Brian “Billy Talent” Tallet, thus strengthening Toronto’s rotation and bullpen.  Besides, what kind of name is Rommie anyways?

– Jose Bautista is struggling.  In his last 24 plate appearances he has 0 hits and 5 walks for a .000 avg, .208 OBP, and a .208 OPS.  Perhaps pitchers have figured out a way to get him out, neutralizing his blazing start.  But forget all that.  Have you watched Jose grow a beard?  Unbelievable.  I feel like I watch a game on a Monday night and Bautista has a full, lush beard.  Then on Tuesday, he is clean shaven, perhaps trying to break out of a slump.  But without a word of a lie, by Thursday night the beard is right back, full, thick, and dark.  Incredible.

– When Kevin Gregg takes the mound in a save situation, I get afraid.  I literally almost vomited on Thursday night when he gave up a leadoff homer and put two men on.  I think I actually might have wet my pants.  Twice.  We need a reliable closer…

– If anybody had the chance to watch This Week In Baseball last weekend, you will understand what I am about to say.  The Blue Jays bullpen needs to get somebody on the team to serenade them with a song each game day.  Go to each bullpen member’s home in the morning, sit cross-legged on his bed while he is still half sleeping, and sing a song while playing guitar.  It works for Cincinnati Reds rookie Mike Leake when “Charles” Bronson Arroyo does it, so why not for the Jays?  Despite my best efforts I can not locate a clip on the internet to link to, but trust me – it was at once the weirdest, strangest, and most uncomfortable thing I have ever seen. same sites expired domains apache web server website offline link checker .

A View From the Cheap Seats