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Here's part two of my June report card. Someday I might even do research before posting one of these things.
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For those of us who aren't educated enough to come up with ballplayers whose names match those of famous philosophers (or whose knowledge of same comes mostly from Monty Python's Australian philosophers drinking song), here's another fun game to occupy or kill off unneeded brain cells: chains of players.

Here's how it works: find a player whose last name is the same as the first name of another player, and build a chain.
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Their four-game "slump" behind them, the Jays begin a four-game set with Baltimore tonight in Baltimore. Doug Davis goes for Toronto, and his opponent is Jason Johnson. Reed Johnson gets a day off, Josh Phelps is at DH, Tom Wilson is behind the plate. All zeros after one, but obviously it's unlikely it will stay that way. Enjoy the game.
Their four-game "slump" behind them, the Jays begin a four-game set with Baltimore tonight in Baltimore. Doug Davis goes for Toronto, and his opponent is Jason Johnson. Reed Johnson gets a day off, Josh Phelps is at DH, Tom Wilson is behind the plate. All zeros after one, but obviously it's unlikely it will stay that way. Enjoy the game.
Fresh off vacation, the Advance Scout is back -- featuring the *sigh* Orioles. The Jays have gotten rather familiar with the O's, with a four-game set last week in Toronto preceded by a rain-shortened two-gamer at Oriole Park the week before. Once again, the singles-hitting Marylanders have the potential to jolt the Jays' playoff bandwagon unless the Jays pitchers stay in the strike zone.

None of the Orioles' starters will necessarily be an easy mark, but all are beatable. With the Red Sox and Yankees set to tangle this weekend, the Jays can gain plenty of ground with a big series.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Like their big-league brethren, many of the Jays' more interesting minor-leaguers cooled off somewhat in June, but not to the extent of taking the shine off their prospect status. If anything, many of the hitters have simply consolidated their gains and showed that they're for real. The pitchers are a step or two behind, but we knew that would be the case already. Here are some snapshots of the Jays farmhands who most bear watching. Comments and compliments are welcome as always; criticisms will be forwarded to the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Bid Committee.
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That's right ... it's the return of Baseball's Hall of Names: Philosophy 101 Edition. Inspired by a teriffically interesting discussion in the We'd Love To Help, Here's Ten Bucks thread -- hey, any discussion that includes a legitimate comparison of John Stuart Mill to Barry Bonds qualifies as interesting -- I thought we'd try to build an All-Philosophers Team.

No, not the Garry "If I Ain't Startin', I Ain't Departin'" Templeton type of philosopher, but rather a team of players who share names with noted philosophers, theologians, etc.

Here's the thing, though ... it seems that virtually every candidate I can come up with was a pitcher. Which leads to an interesting, ah, philosophical question of sorts in itself. Do philosophers make better pitchers? Or is it the reverse?

Read on for a rotation from Kuhn to Jung and a bullpen stocked with Foucault and Hume. And let's build a real lineup ... if, ah, reality exists, that is ...
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The last time Roy Halladay faced the Tigers, he spun a closing day masterpiece -- allowing just two hits (and no walks) in eight IP, for a 1-0 win, his 19th of the 2002 season. Doc is 6-1, 1.97 in seven starts against Detroit, but even he needs a little support, so let's hope the slumbering Toronto bats wake up tonight against Adam Bernero. Johnson's in RF, Cat's at DH, Phelps keeps waiting for that Stewart trade.

According to a very interesting Washington Post article, MLB is taking a look at measures to test Dominican prospects for drugs. This follows some shocking and brutal revelations in another recent Post article that Dominican prospects are abusing drugs and supplements intended for veterinary use. At least two young ballplayers, Lino Ortiz and William Felix, have died after taking stimulants, dietary supplements, or steroids intended for horses and other animals.
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Here's an interesting "pinch hit" from one of our regular readers. Gerry takes a lighthearted look at some of the first-half numbers.

Stats, Stats and more Stats

by Gerry McDonald

Some notes from the Jays statistics at ESPN.COM, at the halfway point. Many of these stats will not be surprising to the ZLC, but the degree to which the Jays vary from other teams, in some categories, was surprising to me.
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Mike Ulmer of the Sun takes a look at so-called truisms in baseball. This is an enjoyable holiday read, including sharp contrasts -- the insight of Keith Law is juxtaposed with the "traditional wisdom" of Lloyd McClendon:

"Once you consider the fact everyone hits better with men on base, you find that there is no such thing as a clutch hitter," Law said. "You can go back as far as you want. No player has over the course of any real timespan hit better in the clutch."

"I would disagree with that," McClendon said. "Certain guys who I played with tended to bring their game up when something was on the line. Myself for one. If I played as well all the time as I did in the clutch, I'd have been a hell of a player."

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It's another end of month, so it's time for my favourite self-indulgence: another monthly report card. First, the hitters: there are a couple of poor grades here, but most everybody kicked butt and took names. But you know that already.
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Last night, I said anything less than a sweep in Detroit would be disappointing. A Jays win tonight would hardly be considered a triumph, but another loss would be viewed by some as catastrophic. If that happens, please resist the urge to push the panic button. Remind yourself, it could be worse -- you could be a Twins fan, or an Angels fan. Even a great team goes through stretches of futility, and if the hitters are in a slump, it won't last long. The concern, as always, is the pitching.

Who knows what to expect from Mark Hendrickson? The tallest man ever to hit a big-league homer couldn't be any closer to a demotion. After two pretty good starts against NL clubs, he was hit hard by Baltimore in his latest and knocked out in the third inning. I expect the Tigers to try more bunts tonight, so Lurch may have to help himself with the glove. He won't be alone out there; you can be sure coach Butterfield worked with the infielders today, and Hudson, much quicker than Bordick, is back at 2B.

Rookie Matt Roney has made just two career starts, failing to last four innings either time. He faces what I believe to be the Jays' best lineup -- Josh Phelps is the DH, and Cat's in RF. Sorry, Reed. You'll get your chance to play every day once Stewart is traded.
Park Factors can be calculated in a myriad of ways. The following are general park factors - which measure the overall impact of the parks a team plays in on run scoring.

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What's with these guys? Pete Walker, Eric Hinske, and now Cliff Politte have all let their teammates down this season (and risked their own careers) in stupid displays of machismo. Playing banged up -- nasty-looking eye bruises, a split fingernail, everyday aches and pains due to muscle soreness -- is one thing; peers respect and admire that. Dragging yourself out there to hit with a broken hand or pitch with a rotator cuff injury is another.

From today's story by Mike Rutsey in the Sun:

"I was completely caught off guard on it," Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said of Politte's shoulder problem. "He, at times, had a little treatment on his triceps but I had no idea anything was going on in his shoulder until the trainer came in this morning and said they were sending him to the doctor (for an MRI test)."

The skipper mentions Lopez, Miller, Acevedo (when he returns from bereavement leave) and Sturtze as his late inning "mix and match" combination. Mike Smith and Jason Kershner have been called up to provide additional bullpen depth.
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