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Spring Training Game Report: Yankees 8, Jays 0.

Mrs. Hank pretty much caught the essence of last night's game in one sentence. And while we did not shut it off and watch Survivor because I have some perverse sense of duty that made me watch to the end in order to be fully informed so that I could do a bang-up job on this game report, I didn't go back and watch my recording of the first couple of innings that I had only heard on the car radio. I couldn't do it to myself.

Good stuff happened, sure, but not too much of it. Yesterday afternoon I asked where the real Yankees had gone, and, well, here they were: relentless, especially when presented with a juicy error or misplay to capitalize on. Russ Adams had as many great plays as bad ones, but I think that's good news -- it shows that he can make the great play, not just the error.

The broadcast was better than I was expecting: it wasn't HD, but it was above average for standard definition stuff. The sound was great, very simple and clean with a minimum of things that go WHOOSH or ZOOM (and a total absence of things that crackle like they're on fire). The sound of the bat contacting the ball and the sound of the ball thumping into the catcher's glove were just perfect, the stadium announcer could be heard with lots of atmospheric stadium echos, and individual voices could be heard in the crowd. Sportsnet people: if you gave us a sound mix like that, it would elevate your broadcasts from a low A to complete perfection.

I was surprised that the YES-men didn't give us too many howlers. Actually, the howler of the week, perhaps of the month, maybe even the howler of the whole off-season, came from one of our own:

"I guess J.P. can't leave well enough alone. Team is rolling along, flips Batista into the pen for no apparent reason and then they get spanked by the Yankees 8-bagel. UGH!!!"

Now, regardless of whether you view Batista-as-closer as a good or bad thing, I cannot see how Batista-as-closer lost last night's game for the Jays. It's so totally beyond my capability to comprehend that I have decided to make this the subject of an NFH Challenge. I know, I know, the original poster was just venting frustration and picked J.P.'s most recent move as a convenient target. But, in the spirit of the NFH Challenge, no post is safe! You better believe it if you're going to throw it out here for everyone to read. And so:

NFH Challenges anyone to explain to him how Batista's switch to the role of closer caused the Jays to lose 8-0 to the Yankees on March 10th, 2005. Yes, the original poster is more than welcome to defend him or herself.

Here are the scenarios that I came up with and dismissed:

1: Batista is so much better as a starter than Chacin that there would have been no Yankee runs scored.
Reason for dismissal: Batista was not scheduled to start last night. Also, even if Batista had no-hit the Yankees, the Jays could not have won without scoring any runs.

2: Batista's move to the closer role shook up and demoralized the rest of the pitching staff.
Reason for dismissal: Moving Batista to the role of closer means that both Towers and Chacin are virtually guaranteed major-league starting jobs when the regular season starts. They'd be the opposite of demoralized, they'd be elated -- they'd both been dueling for one spot, and now they both get one. That's pretty win-win if you ask me. And those two guys gave up the majority of the runs.

3: With Towers and Chacin guaranteed starting jobs, they became lazy and pitched poorly or were working on new pitches for the upcoming season.
Reason for dismissal: Lazy? You've got one guy who's been in the minors a little too long looking at his big break, and another who's never turned in a lazy performance in his life. I'm not going to buy that for either of them. Now, they could have been working on new pitches -- it's Spring Training, why not try out your new stuff on the Yankees? That's the whole point of Spring Training. But then I can't see how we get an "UGH!!!" comment out of that, because it's not negative, not the fault of J.P. Ricciardi, and not something to be concerned or upset about. So that cannot be what the original poster meant.

4: Batista, filled with excitement at being named the closer, taunted the other Jays pitchers as they were pitching, calling out "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii aaaaaaammmmmmmmm theeeeeeeee CLOSER!" during their windup and release, throwing them off.
Reason for dismissal: The audio of the game last night was great, and we would have heard it.

5: Batista gave Chacin those sunglasses and told him, "Here, go pitch with these on, you'll look cool," and the glasses were really mild prescription lenses and messed up Chacin's depth perception.
Reason for dismissal: Batista would have done that even if he wasn't the closer.

Can you come up with something better? There's a fabulous* prize involved here. Points will be awarded for both plausibility and creativity. And remember, if there's no proof that it's false, well, it could be true.

Oh yeah, and let's talk a bit about that Batista-as-closer thing. I don't have a problem with it, because he came out and got the job done last year. It wasn't pretty, but pretty doesn't count in baseball anyways, or that fuscia-socked team that Moffatt showed us in yesterday's Report would be tearing up the league. Who cares what his starter numbers say? They're only tangentially related to how he'll perform as a closer. Maybe Batista is the Jack Morris of closers. I know, that comment is going to drive a lot of people up the wall. Sorry, I had to.

Anyways, this move gives Chacin a shot at the big-time, and I want to see if he's really got what it takes. That funky delivery is a lot of fun to watch.

*some words have different meanings to different people.

"Come on, can't we turn this off and watch Survivor?" | 54 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:07 AM EST (#105644) #
Great stuff, NFH!

The problem with changing the channel from the game to Survivor is that you have to watch Survivor.

So what does everyone think of yesterday's pitching shuffle, now we've had time to think about it? It appears the moves are as follows:

Batista -> closer
Chacin -> starter
Koch -> Robot Hell
Speier -> some non-closer bullpen spot

Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:12 AM EST (#105645) #
Koch -> Robot Hell

Was Koch replaced by a replicant some time in the recent past? It would explain a lot.

Ryan Day - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:16 AM EST (#105646) #
Batista, filled with excitement at being named the closer, taunted the other Jays pitchers as they were pitching, calling out "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii aaaaaaammmmmmmmm theeeeeeeee CLOSER!" during their windup and release, throwing them off. Reason for dismissal: The audio of the game last night was great, and we would have heard it.

Ah, but what if he were miming it?

Or a variation on the theory: After being named closer, Batista spent 20 minutes dancing with glee around the clubhouse. While naked.

Pepper Moffatt - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:18 AM EST (#105649) #
I know I couldn't pitch well under such circumstances.

Then again, I couldn't pitch well no matter what the circumstances. :)
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:21 AM EST (#105650) #
NAKED BATISTA DESTROYS ROOKIE'S CONCENTRATION

That sounds like a Toronto Sun headline. (The day the Sun ran the headline SUPERMODELS LIVING IN FEAR on the front I had to walk back to the newspaper boxes and make sure that some prankster hadn't put in a satirical front page.)
kpataky - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:32 AM EST (#105653) #
There's a good article on the Jays being Canada's team here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/features/050311jays.html on Baseball America's website.
kpataky - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:38 AM EST (#105654) #
I thought the YES telecast was aweful. They alled the game when the Yankees batted, and half heartedly did when the Jays batted. They then seemed to get disinterested when the Yankees took a commanding lead and started to babble about anything and everything. They didn't announce when players were replaced in the field, and when guys like John Ford Griffin came in, they might have said "this is John Ford Griffin, ex Yankee farm hand" but they didn't say who he was batting for or anything. Michael Kaye even got lost after he failed to realize Aaron Hill replaced Russ adams at the plate and walked, then replaced him in the field. And when Hill made an error late in the game, Kaye jumped all over Adams claiming Adams made a second errror.

Dreadful, dreadful broadcast if you ask me.
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:51 AM EST (#105655) #
I wasn't really grading the announcers, more the audio and video presentation. I didn't think that they were dreadful, but they certainly did get bored in the later innings.

At least they said some nice things about Vernon Wells.

To stimulate some interest in the Challenge, I will reveal that the prize is, in fact, a DVD. It is baseball-related, and it is not Mr. Baseball starring Tom Sellick or Mr. 3000 starring Bernie Mac. I am not that cruel.

Jordan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:53 AM EST (#105656) #
I'm not thrilled with two developments in BlueJayLand today.

Batista as closer -- I'm not convinced. As Dave Till said last night, closers are aggressive, throw strikes and have at least one dominant pitch; Batista displayed none of those characteristics in his closer stint last year, the purpose of which was expressly to see if this was the right role for him. His 9th innings were often rocky and he seemed uncertain; moreover, he's spent the off-season planning for a return to the rotation. Batista might well have the best cutter this side of Rivera, but until I see him throw it consistently and effectively in game situations, I consider it more rumour than fact.

I'm not disputing that Chacin may be ready for the bigs -- last night's poor performance can be attributed in large part to his defence. And I agree that the Jays have a lot of promising arms coming up and they need to sort out now who's useful and who's not. But I need more convincing that the Jays are better off with Chacin and Towers both in the rotation and Batista as closer than with Chacin and Batista in the rotation and Towers in another organization. For a club that will leave Gabe Gross in Syracuse because they don't want too many rookies in the majors, this seems like an odd move.

Even if we accept that Chacin has earned a rotation spot and Batista must go to the pen, I simply don't think the closer role is best for him. Batista has been remarkably effective earlier in his career as a swing man -- long relief, middle relief, spot starting -- and I see no reason why he can't do that again. Such roles can be the linchpins of good staffs -- the Yankees thrived by using Ramiro Mendoza in exactly that fashion. I don't care how much Batista is earning -- on opening day, salary takes a back seat to performance in dictating playing time and usage. This bullpen has no true long man (sorry, Pete Walker), and that's precisely the role Batista could fill. And this doesn't even address Justin Speier, who must be wondering what he did to lose the closer's job he was all but promised. The last thing this bullpen needs is resurrected fears about the uncertainty of their various roles.

As usual, I hope I'm wrong, and that Batista roars into the ninth inning with a superb cutter and changeup and registers 40 saves for this ballclub, and folks can have themselves a good chortle at my expense. But my prediction here is that one of Chacin or Towers will flame out and that Batista will be back in the rotation before Canada Day.

The other piece of news I don't much care for comes out of Rogers Sportsnet: Jamie Campbell, the new play-by-play man, will have no fewer than four colour partners this year: Pat Tabler, Rance Mulliniks, Tom Candiotti and Darrin Fletcher. I have never heard of any broadcast team, anywhere, that uses four colour commentators, least of all with a brand-new play-by-play man who could use some stability and veteran presence beside him. Campbell deserves better than to spend his first year on the job holding open tryouts for his broadcast partner.

The Globe today quotes Sportsnet's Rick Briggs-Jude as saying that "the rotation of four analysts will enhance the broadcasts. 'With Jamie being in his first year, I thought having a variety of voices would be a novel way to approach it and interesting to our viewers.'" Sorry, I don't buy it. Either this is a gimmicky approach to broadcasting, reminiscent of Dennis Miller on the Monday Night Football crew, or this was a case where the suits couldn't say "no" to any of the former Jays vying for the job, so they said yes to all of them. That's no way to establish a rapport and chemistry in your announcing team, and it's no way to run a professional broadcast booth. Thumbs down on this one.
Joe - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 10:57 AM EST (#105657) #
Batista, filled with excitement at being named the closer, taunted the other Jays pitchers as they were pitching, calling out "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii aaaaaaammmmmmmmm theeeeeeeee CLOSER!" during their windup and release, throwing them off.

Don't you mean, "By the power of Greyskull, I am the closeeerrrrrr!"?

Mike Green - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 11:16 AM EST (#105659) #
I have 2 concerns with the Batista to closer move, the timing and the merits.

The timing is strange. Ted Lilly's recovery from his shoulder stiffness is not complete. He has soft-tossed, but hasn't taken the mound yet. I cannot understand why any move to take a starter out of the rotation could not wait until Lilly at least made his first appearance and the team could see how his shoulder responds.

As for the merits, I do not see how Koch's inability to contribute to the bullpen affects this decision. It seems to me that the issue is whether it makes sense to start the season with Batista as a starter and Chacin (or Towers) in long relief or to move both Chacin and Towers into the rotation and use Batista as a closer.

The advantages of leaving Batista as a starter to begin the season are pretty clear. Speier was told that he would be the closer; the early role redefinition is not good for pitcher confidence. The bullpen prior to the move was not a particular weakness. Speier, League, Frasor, Schoeneweis, Chulk, and one or two others would be fine. In addition, starting Chacin off in long relief for 3 months or so, Earl Weaver style, would probably be a good idea for his development.

I've said before that Batista does have a history of losing steam after about 160 innings, and a mid-season change in his role might be advisable, but July is a long way off.
mistermike - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 11:27 AM EST (#105661) #
I thought the YES telecast was aweful. They alled the game when the Yankees batted, and half heartedly did when the Jays batted.

They spell it "awful".

If a Yanks fan was watching a Jays broadcast, he'd say the same thing. YES is selling to their audience. I thought they did a more than balanced job.

Marc Hulet - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 11:34 AM EST (#105662) #
I am not sold on Chacin as a number four starter at this point... I would be OK with him as a number five guy, but I also like Towers in the five slot, and he is definitely not a number four guy. I also hope this does not put too much pressure on David Bush, in his first full season. But that said, why not give it a shot. Batista was 5 for 5 in save opportunities last season. And if he uses his cutter more like Zaun suggested, and cuts down on his repertoire, maybe he can be a great closer. Why not take some time and find out, while they are in a rebuilding mode. Batista, Speier, Frasor, League, Schoeneweis, Chulk and (Miller, Glynn, Gaudin or Downs) is a pretty nice bullpen. I expect Ligtenberg will start the season on the DL and Koch will either be in triple-A or retire.
Grand Funk RR - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 11:46 AM EST (#105663) #
I attribute Chacin's poor outing last night to the old "deer-in-the-headlights" syndrome. The poor guy probably just found out yesterday afternoon that he had a rotation spot locked up, then he had to try and clear his head and not be excited and go out and pitch. Of course he's going to get roughed up. I think he'll come back down to earth in his next outing, and will surprise a lot of people come the beginning of the season. I'm not upset at having 2 lefties in the roation, either.
Craig B - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:01 PM EST (#105665) #
You know, as Marc points out, this is really the ideal time to figure out Batista. I guess my problem is that if you do find out Batista's a great closer, what have you gained? Batista's 34 years old and he's only signed through the end of this season. So if he dominates as a closer and gets 40 saves, either (1) he'll be off at the end of the season to a richer team and you'll need to develop a closer all over again; or (2) he'll command a very high salary.

I don't think Batista-as-closer is a particularly good use of the team's resources. From a short-term baseball standpoint, it's a very defensible move. But I think it's another example of letting fear of young players get in the way of building long-term success. Of course, if it's the only way to get Chacin a full year as a starter, it also becomes more defensible from a long-term point of view. :)
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:02 PM EST (#105666) #
Why not take some time and find out, while they are in a rebuilding mode.

Exactly. Batista as closer is not going to prevent the Jays from winning the World Series this year.

Joe - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:12 PM EST (#105667) #
Actually, Batista is signed through next season, too — he signed a 3-year contract in December 2003. I'm not sure how that changes what we think of the move.

Also, I'm not certain how putting Batista into the closer's role shows a fear of young players. Speier is only 2 years younger than Batista, after all. Maybe you're talking about Brandon League? (Personally, I'd rather let League stay in AAA most of the year, and let him force the Jays' hand if he absolutely tears it up.)

Ducey - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:14 PM EST (#105669) #
A couple of points:
a) why the hell do the Jays have to keep announcing things? They say Speier is the closer, Batista is a starter, Gross can't make the team - now they have to make announcements contrary to some of this. Why not just shut up and let things work themselves out by the end of spring training?
b) Batista seems to have a million dollar arm and a ten cent head. If too many pitches is his problem, can't they just order him to throw three as a starter or they will sell him to a Japanese team (or something).
c) I actually don't ming Batista as closer as he may have some of the best stuff on the team and he can come in throwing 96-97 MPH. Presumably he can throw in the pen long enough to figure out what he wants to do.
d) wouldn't Batista make a better 5th guy than Towers?
e) I may have missed the "announcement" but who will be in the pen assuming they go with 12 guys? Batista, Speier, Scott S, Frasor, Koch, League, Chulk?
Jdog - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:16 PM EST (#105670) #
Easy Boys,.......


Chacin didn't have that bad of a night last night. Yeah his control was a bit off but he was facing the yankees and there was a lot of mistakes made by the infield that don't show up any where in the boxscore.....such as Hillenbrand's bonhead move( i did that in little league ONCE) and russ adams got a ground ball and could have got an out at second but never made a throw....so its not like he was getting pounded all night.
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:18 PM EST (#105671) #
a) why the hell do the Jays have to keep announcing things? They say Speier is the closer, Batista is a starter, Gross can't make the team - now they have to make announcements contrary to some of this. Why not just shut up and let things work themselves out by the end of spring training?

Well, none of these "announcements" were accompanied by a press release or a press conference -- they were all simply answers to questions asked by reporters. And I'm sure that each and every one was true at the time, and I'm doubly sure that we don't have all the information that the decision-makers have.

Craig B - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:20 PM EST (#105672) #
I forgot about Batista's contract. The longer contract makes the move much more defensible in my view, yes.
daryn - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:33 PM EST (#105674) #
How about, moving Batista to closer scared the rest of the staff so badly, that they were over-throwing their pitches, trying to end the game before the last inning could happen..

?
NDG - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:36 PM EST (#105676) #
And if he uses his cutter more like Zaun suggested, and cuts down on his repertoire, maybe he can be a great closer.

Well we heard that all of last year, and if I remember correctly, Batista'a catcher in Arizona also said similar things. Obviously Batista feels hes most effective throwing 11 different pitches, so I don't see how this move will change that thinking.

NDG - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:40 PM EST (#105677) #
Another thing about Chacin's start last night was that he was waving Zaun off constantly. Maybe he was trying something new, or the comfort level is just not there yet. Hopefully that will work itself out before the end of the spring.
Wildrose - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:42 PM EST (#105679) #
Batista is signed for $4.75 million through 2006.

I'm not going to play armchair pitching coach, if it's good enough for someone with as much repute as Brad Arnsperger, it's good enough for me. I think we can however, speculate why this move was made.

-Batista does actually have one outstanding pitch ,( two, if you believe Zaun re. his cutter), his four seam fastball consistently clocks at 96-97 MPH. That's a good building block to build upon as a reliever.

-I'd argue his control problems are directly related to his over-abundance of pitch types. Put him in the pen, pare down his repetoire, and I think this will improve his control.

- Nothing is formed in cement. This gives an opportunity to see what we have in Chacin. If it doesn't work out, and Batista is struggling, you can as Jordan points out, use him in a swing role and eventually get him back into the rotation with a better command of some limited pitches. I'm not sure how you can argue Gross should get a shot (and I agree he should) and Chacin not.

Mylegacy - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 12:54 PM EST (#105680) #
I can live with the moves. Lets see how they work out.

A point from the broadcast last night. An announcer was talking about JFG and how he had been a top Yankees draft choice, and he made an interesting point, which I am paraphrasing; "JFG shows why it's so hard to project college hitters. They are godzilla with the aluminium bat, they get wood bats and they just arn't near as good." They then talked about other guys with the same problem and pondered why MLB doesn't provide colleges with wood bats so they could save millions on bonuses to guys that can't hit with wood.

So much rides on these guys surely MLB would SAVE money by at least subsidizing wood bats for the colleges? Anyone agree?

Lugnut Fan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 01:03 PM EST (#105684) #
Down here in the states, I got to watch the game on the YES network. It was truely nauseating. Not only di dthe Jays play poorly, I had to listen to announcers discuss how it was a forgone conclusion that the Yankees were going to the World Series this year and how they felt bad for the Jays because they play in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees. I beleive the exact comment was "It must be tough knowing you can't finish any higher than third in this division.".

With that said, here are my comments. Catalantto in my opinion is not a lead off hitter. Orlando Hudson should be in that roll. Also, I don't think Koskie is a clean up guy. He should be a number 3 or number 5. Chacin is a starter in my opion, but I don't like Bautista as a closer. He is more of a set up man in my opinion. Adams at short made some solid plays although he did have that throwing error. From what I saw of him, when plays develop so fast that he doesn't have time to think, he is pretty solid. On the routine plays though, I think he thinks about it too much. They will be okay, but definitely need some work. On a personal note, I hope that they taped the YES network broadcast as bulletin board material.
BCMike - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 01:22 PM EST (#105701) #
The timing of the Batista decision makes me think that, for whatever reason, the Jays do not believe that he will be an effective starter.

Maybe there is an injury we haven't heard about, or maybe it was really what JP wanted to do from the start. If we had landed Clement there isn't much doubt that Batista would have been in the bullpen, most likely as the closer, so perhaps this is what they originally had planned.

Another thing to consider is that they may have plans to trade Batista in July. Batista with 15-20 saves is probably more attractive than a 5-5 ~4.70 ERA Batista. Or they may intend to move Towers or Chacin. Chacin would certainly be more attractive if he has decent numbers as a starter, rather than as a long-man out of the pen.

Wildrose - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 01:24 PM EST (#105702) #
I think we also have to remember that were not operating in a vacum here, I assume Batista's throwing on the side during spring training has been not going well, and that Chacin conversely ,has looked good. Factors that were not aware of may be driving this decision.
Jordan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 02:19 PM EST (#105759) #
So much rides on these guys surely MLB would SAVE money by at least subsidizing wood bats for the colleges? Anyone agree?

It's possible, but there are at least two other factors at stake, if I recall correctly. The first is that there are a lot of college baseball teams in the US, and equipping them all with wooden bats would be a tremendously expensive exercise. The schools themselves don't have that kind of money -- or at least, if they do, they're not spending it on breakable replaceable bats.

The other factor, relating to the number of college baseball programs, is the sheer amount of lumber required. Consider this: according to Louisville Slugger, the average major-league ballplayer goes through 100 bats per season. Multiply that by 25 players by 30 teams and you have 75,000 bats annually. Now consider that there are about 300 college baseball teams in Division I alone. Never mind the snowy owl; I don't think it's in anyone's best interests to equip college teams with wood bats. If the final offensive stats are misleading, well, that's why you have scouts, who are trained to see past that.

Keep in mind, too, that John-Ford Griffin hit over .400 in college -- twice. Aluminum can't fake that.

GrrBear - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 02:20 PM EST (#105760) #
Re: Aluminum/wood bats
I think the problem isn't so much that colleges can't afford wooden bats - it's that the players hit the ball farther with aluminum bats. Unless the whole college system forced a switch, how many hitters would want to potentially lower their counting stats and batting averages by switching to wood? The Jays could donate hundreds of wooden bats, but I doubt the hitters would be lining up to use them voluntarily.

Re: Batista as closer
I like Chacin, so I'm glad this move gives him a chance to start. Heck, since Henke and Ward left, have we even had a closer that didn't make us all nervous?
GrrBear - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 02:22 PM EST (#105763) #
Dang! One minute too late... :)
Pistol - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 02:30 PM EST (#105773) #
I used to indirectly do a fair amount of work with timber companies. I'd be shocked if the quantity of wood was any kind of a limiting factor in colleges using wood bats.

I think it's solely an economic issue for colleges, HSs, etc..

---

Regarding Batista - I'm not crazy about the move. There's nothing in his past history to suggest that he's a dominant reliever.

I think the reason for the move is that the Jays want to find out what they have in Chacin now, and perhaps may be showcasing him in a trade. A decent starting pitcher in his pre-arbitration years is pretty valuable.
Pistol - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 02:32 PM EST (#105777) #
I think it's solely an economic issue for colleges, HSs, etc..

And of course it's the preference for hitters.

6-4-3 - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 02:35 PM EST (#105781) #
"NFH Challenges anyone to explain to him how Batista's switch to the role of closer caused the Jays to lose 8-0 to the Yankees on March 10th, 2005. Yes, the original poster is more than welcome to defend him or herself."

Well, someone has to win the DVD, even if it is a copy of Major League 3 . . .

There is a possible chain of causality from Batista being named the closer to Towers and Chacin tanking. Follow along, and be mystified.

If a person has a keen eye, they will notice that the responsibility for yesterday's loss must be spread around to several people . . . let's, for the sake of fairness, call them co-conspirators. Sure, Towers got the loss, but Chacin gave up 6 runs. Yes, Chacin gave up 6 runs, but Cat, O-Dog, Wells, and Rios went a combined 0 for 13. There is a connection there, but we shall come to it in good time (warning: good time might actually be > 1000 words)

There is a clear conspirator here. A man who has had fate frown on him. A man who has had some success in the majors, but has been passed by, by the likes of Jose Jiminez, Brian Fuentes, Jason Frasor, Kerry Ligtenberg, and *shudder* Terry Adams. A man who decided to put up with another year in Toronto just for the opportunity to close. A man willing to put up with O-Dog's yapping, the scary view of Reed's infamous 'tripod' position from the bullpen, and the constant requests by JP Ricciardi to join him at the laptop for yet another game of MVP 2005. Yes, the man who must be behind this is, of course, Justin Speier. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Speier had both the means, motives, and opportunity to get his teammates to tank the game. Clearly, if he could somehow manipulate events so that Towers and Chacin would be hammered and embarrassed by the Yankees, then Batista would have to go back into the rotation, giving Speier the coveted closer role, and the possibilities of a big contract next season, or a trade to a contender this season. Oh yes, Speier did want that closer's role. But to get it, he needed some allies.

Cat, O-Dog, Wells, and Rios went along with the plan, sure enough. They were all assured of spots on the team, and if they all went 0 for the game, no-one would blink an eye. After all, not many people can hit Pavano and Mussina, and it is just spring training. But why would they tank a game? Doesn't that go against their competitive nature? Well, Speier was able to convince them that Batista had a secret and malicious plan. After reading "Ball Four" two years ago, Miguel realized that he too could write an interesting memoir about baseball. All he needed was the right opportunity. Finding a dysfunctional team that had little chance to win, Miguel quickly signed a long-term deal with the Blue Jays. Phase one was complete. In phase two, Miguel "shockingly" lost his effectiveness. Game after game, Batista found himself running out of gas, throwing a bizarre (and ineffective) pitch that he called the "fast, 2-seam slurvder knuckle-change", and eventually finding himself, like Bouton did, demoted to the bullpen, where he could more easily write his memoirs. Using the cover story that he was writing a "murder mystery" about "Carl Delgada", Batista was able to write in peace and quiet, collecting interesting stories about Jason Frasor, while rarely getting the call to save games. It was perfect. During the off-season, he began perfecting another pitch. The knuckleball. Everything was set . . . .

When Speier told the Jays this story, they immediately wanted revenge. Batista would lose his coveted closer's role, and his easy writing opportunities would vanish!

With this, Speier was assured of very little offensive production, but that still didn't take care of Towers and Chacin. Towers was virtually assured of a rotation spot, and his competitive nature meant that any attempt by Speier to influence him would result in failure. Chacin also needed a great performance to make the team. Speier had little hope of getting to him. There needed to be others.

Shea Hillenbrand was the ideal target for Speier's scheme. After being cruelly cast away by Moneyballing GM Theo Epstein, Shea spent two years in the desert, on one of the worst teams in the National League. He bided his time, and soon found his opportunity for revenge on those stat-crunching GMs, when he was traded to Toronto. Eager to strike back against Moneyball, Shea was looking forward to his opportunities in Toronto. When recruited by Speier, Shea waited for his chance to influence the game. He was smart about it, and pulled the Joe Jackson routine, hitting a long, meaningless double early in the game. Later, Shea found the perfect opportunity. With Chacin pitching and Posada on third, a ground ball found its way into his glove, with Posada hopelessly lost in between third and home. Shea "bungled" the rundown, allowing Jorge to get back to third safely. The bases were loaded, and Chacin was in trouble. Three runs later, Chacin's confidence was shattered, and there would be no return for the Blue Jays. Surely it couldn't be an accident. No decent player will fail to execute a rundown. No, Mr. Hillenbrand was just conspirator #6 in this web of lies, closing, and bad mystery novels.

That would wrap it up nicely enough. Speier wanted the closing job, he used Batista's "tell-all" book and Shea's hatred of Moneyball to convince others to help him, and he would make Chacin get demoted to AAA. Everything was perfect.

But there is one problem with that neat little story. Why would Speier try to execute such a risky plan? Why not just wait until mid-April, when a combination of Batista introducing a new, 13th pitch and Towers' home run problem would have sent Miguel back to the rotation?

All signs then, point to another man. The real story of this loss begins in Atlanta. A competent outfielder finds himself the subject of humiliation as he makes one of the all-time boneheaded plays to end a World Series. Utterly humiliated, the player vows revenge. On December 7, 1995, he signs with the Blue Jays. In 1996, as his plans to tank the team begin, he goes .286/.377/.327, and 'leads' the team to a fourth place finish. Not good enough. In 1997, he goes .262/.343/.304, and manages to get his arch-nemesis, Cito Gaston fired. But before his plans to get the team moved to Las Vegas come to fruition, he is traded to LA. In 1999, at the age of 40, he returns to the site of his greatest humiliation. Washed-up, but still looking for revenge, he slowly masters the art of mind control, until a 25 year old pitcher finds himself under the spell of the mastermind. Justin Speier finds himself claimed on waivers by the Indians. He is traded the Mets. He is selected off of waivers by the Rockies. Finally, he can sign with the Blue Jays. Aiming to take control of the closerís role, and become the single man responsible for the fate of the Blue Jays, Speier was a victim of horrible circumstances. An injury, Jason Frasor, and then Miguel Batista all stymied his chances. Finally, in the off-season, he was able to convince JP to make him the closer . . . only to be foiled by Batista again! Action had to be taken . . .

And so, on March 10th, Speier, Catalanotto, Wells, Hudson, Rios, and Hillenbrand all took action to make Gustavo Chacin look bad . . . and they all were puppets of the anonymous Brave who bunted to end the World Series . . . yes, Otis Nixon was behind the Jaysí loss last night. Can you prove otherwise?
Anders - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 03:00 PM EST (#105795) #
And so, on March 10th, Speier, Catalanotto, Wells, Hudson, Rios, and Hillenbrand all took action to make Gustavo Chacin look bad . . . and they all were puppets of the anonymous Brave who bunted to end the World Series . . . yes, Otis Nixon was behind the Jaysí loss last night. Can you prove otherwise? [ Reply to this comment ] "Come on, can't we turn this off and watch Survivor?" | 35 comments | Create New Account Newest First Oldest First Flat Nested No Comments Threaded

Give this man the DVD NFH. And a good one too. Like 8 Men out.

Otis Nixon. I sould have known

Fawaz - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST (#105816) #
Alas, if all of this skullduggery were taking place this spring, one Tom Verducci would have picked up on it. By all accounts, the team is full of good guys. I don't buy it. Besides, If the decision to use Batista came just before the game, Nixon (or his minion Speier) would have had to get the wheels in motion faster than they could have.

No, the impetus for this dastardly affair emanated from Bell Globemedia. A high profile loss against the Yankees on TV would turn so many fans off (see 'UGH') the team, the newly coronated 'Rogers Centre' would remain empty and fall into ruin; a symbol of the decaying Rogers empire. With Rogers new payroll commitment to the team and the expensive renovations, a failing team would be crippling.

So, how then, did they get J.P. to agree to this? Not difficult. It was explained to him that the rise of the Globe would mean the demise of the Star, and the end of his mortal enemy, GRIFFIN. Knowing his stathead legions would say white is black if he decreed so, he felt comfortable making this decision without a backlash. It is unlikely that this would have an effect on his post-Jay career, as nobody pays attention to us anyway. He still has 'Beane-shine' in the eyes of the rest of the league.

So J.P. makes the announcement, causing Chacin's head to explode. Although they stitch him back together (the shades covered the seams), he could barely see the plate. J.P. a.k.a. the Puppetmaster also makes sure that Gibbons puts Shea (the bitter moneyball hater - not all of that other scenario was bunk) at first. Finally, he had the equipment manager load the bats with lead, making them so heavy, the players were often reluctant to move them off their shoulders.

Jays 0, Yanks 8
Mick Doherty - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 03:33 PM EST (#105818) #
I think he should win solely for the genius description of and introduction of a new nickname for "Shoeless Shea Hillenbrand."
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 03:35 PM EST (#105821) #
Fawaz, that was a good try, but I think that I'm just going to declare 6-4-3 the winner. Little did I suspect that so much intrigue was going on behind the scenes, and that Otis Nixon was behind it all.

6-4-3, click on my name and send me some e-mail, you've got yourself a DVD.
Craig B - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 03:44 PM EST (#105829) #
Rod Roddy, aren't you going to tell the folks about tonight's grand prize?
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:11 PM EST (#105832) #
If I told him what the DVD was, he might not give me his address so I can send it to him.
VBF - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:16 PM EST (#105833) #
The timing factor is certainly strange. They went from 100% commited to Speier to 100% commited to Batista. I'm positive that J.P. didn't wake up one day and say "I think Miguel will be our closer". Something must have or will happen.

Secondly, I sure hope something will happen such as a trade because Chacin AND Towers in the rotation doesn't instill alot of confidence in me.

J.P. couldn't have a trade ready. Could he? Weird time for a trade.
6-4-3 - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:33 PM EST (#105836) #
Oh great, now I'm wondering what it could be. "The Best of Terry Adams, 2004"? John Goodman's masterpiece, "The Babe"? "Little Big League"? The upcoming film version of "Juiced", featuring uncut recreations of the McGwire / Canseco / Tejada / Wilson Alvarez bathroom injections? Worse?

As for a possible trade, around this time last year, Werth was suddenly sent off for Frasor. So something could happen, although I have no idea who could get traded, and who they'd get traded for.
rtcaino - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:34 PM EST (#105837) #
Another scandal, another Nixon. The only question now is what to name the event?

Yankeegate
Closergate
Otisgate

I dunnoÖ Iím sure Jobu will think of something.
Mike Green - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:41 PM EST (#105839) #

The upcoming film version of "Juiced", featuring uncut recreations of the McGwire / Canseco / Tejada / Wilson Alvarez bathroom injections? Worse?

Worse? Not possible. In this life, if you're really, really bad, you die and get to watch the film version of "Juiced" over and over and over again.

Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:44 PM EST (#105840) #
John Goodman's masterpiece, "The Babe"

You could have this instead of what I'm sending you, if you wanted. I've never watched it -- I was sent it by accident when I ordered a copy of Babe, the talking pig movie, and then they sent me Babe and did not require their copy of The Babe back in exchange.

6-4-3 - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 04:50 PM EST (#105843) #

Come to think of it, I'd rather not see an actor playing Jose Canseco inject this:

with steroids.

And I'd also rather take the mystery box, as opposed to the 'other' babe.

Suggested title for the closer scandel: "Chacin[g] Nixon" or "Reign of Speier"
King Ryan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 05:02 PM EST (#105846) #
Yeesh Aaron, I'm pretty sure the guy was just joking.

As for Batista. Well, here's the thing I have: Why does he have to be the closer? Why can't the Jays just announce that he's moving to the bullpen and let the roles sort themselves out? I just don't see the point in coming out and saying "BATISTA IS CLOSSAARR." If Speier winds up being the better option, then he can be closer and Batista can move to long relief or something, can't he?

I suppose maybe Miguel could have said something like "I'll only move to the 'pen if you let me close." But, that doesn't really seem like something he'd say. Not that I know him or anything.

Meh. Weird.
BCMike - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 05:22 PM EST (#105852) #

Why can't the Jays just announce that he's moving to the bullpen and let the roles sort themselves out?

Ya that worked out pretty well last year ;)

King Ryan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 05:26 PM EST (#105854) #
They did that last year?
Named For Hank - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 05:43 PM EST (#105860) #
Yeesh Aaron, I'm pretty sure the guy was just joking

I'm pretty sure I am, too.

BCMike - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 06:22 PM EST (#105862) #
"They did that last year?"

Well they tried the closer by commitee thing.
King Ryan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 06:23 PM EST (#105863) #
...eventually. :)
King Ryan - Friday, March 11 2005 @ 06:23 PM EST (#105864) #
Uh, that was in reference to NFH.
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