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Oh baby, donít it feel like heaven right now
Donít it feel like somethiní from a dream
Yeah, Iíve never known nothing quite like this
Donít it feel like tonight might never be again

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part.

My 2005 Game Report record: 1 golden win, 5 losses. Thank you, Theodore Lilly.

Iíve gotta say, the last thing I expected was that my season-long Game Report losing streak would end in a Ted Lilly start against the best team in the National League, following a whitewash at the hands of the same team the previous night. Baseballís great that way.

A few thoughts on last nightís Blue Jays victory.

--> Ted Lilly can win ballgames. Granted, it helps when the Cardinals donít have Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds or the surprisingly effective David Eckstein in the lineup, as was the case last night. Even Albert Pujols canít do everything himself. But Lilly was unquestionably on top of his game, and the reason isnít hard to fathom: he threw his damn fastball (and last night, especially, his sinker). The more Lilly plays and nibbles with his breaking stuff, the more hitters lay back and pound the fastballs when they do come. This has been obvious pretty much since the day he arrived in Toronto, if not the major leagues.

This is nothing new to anyone outside the Lilly household, of course, but when he leads with the heater and features the breaking stuff, heís very tough to beat. When he tries to do it the other way around, he gets launched. The trouble is, thereís no telling, from one start to the next, whether Lilly will bring his A-gameplan to the mound. Whatever physical gifts Lilly possesses Ė and theyíre considerable Ė they come packaged with a quirky personality that could easily be mistaken for sheer bloody-mindedness. ďTed the Tease,Ē Magpie called him last night, and it fits. Itís one of the reasons why heís not in the ballclubís long-term plans, and will very likely be shipped out if he can string together enough performances like last night to interest a playoff contender.

--> I actually think Russ Adams is doing better than the numbers would indicate. His June stats have been awful (.214/.241/.286), but to my mind, his approach at the plate still seems sound. Heís seeing a lot of pitches and I think heís getting good swings. He ripped a double for the only hit off Chris Carpenter two nights ago, and he had another safety last night. Itís slow progress, and you can see how hard heís trying, maybe too hard. But I donít think heís really pressing yet, and I donít think heís overmatched or losing his focus. A few bloop hits here and there, and I think youíll see the confidence grow and the batting average rise. He is a good hitter, and I believe heíll be fine if they run him out there every day.

--> Judging from last nightís game, youíd never have imagined that Aaron Hill has spent most of the last several years playing shortstop. Heís taken to third base as if he belongs there Ė in the third inning, he handled all three chances, including a slow bouncer on which Lilly almost blocked him from making a play. He started a critical double play with the bases loaded in the 8th inning that turned the game around, and another in the ninth for good measure. His arm is more than equal to the long throws from the hot corner, and what he lacks in range, he appears to make up for in sure-handedness. And frankly, anyone who would stand at third base with a glove on his hand and with Albert Pujols in the batterís box is a far braver man than me.

I have to imagine that, way above the field, JP Ricciardi is looking down at this first-round draft pick and thinking about his incumbent corner infielders. He knows that he has an aging and rather brittle third baseman on the disabled list with $11M coming to him the next two years, as well as a competent but otherwise unextraordinary first baseman with about $10 million on the way during that time. Heís got to be looking at Aaron Hill and thinking that hereís a guy who could fix three problems at once: how to upgrade the offence in the infield while freeing up salary room and providing the team with a tradeable veteran. If the 2006 Blue Jays opened the season with Corey Koskie at first base and Aaron Hill at third, I would not be the least bit surprised.

--> Boy, does Gregg Zaun look tired. And if I were the only thing standing between Ken Huckaby and four at-bats per game, Iíd be tired too. Recognizing that the current situation was mostly beyond his control, JP Ricciardi really has to find some catching help, even if itís only of the Pat Borders variety. Surely thereís another Molina brother hanging around, looking for a chance to don the tools of ignorance. Theyíre probably like the Sutters and Zendejases; they just churn out professional sports players like widgets.

--> Hey, hereís a fun thought for you: Larry Walker, starting DH, 2006 Toronto Blue Jays.

--> You have got to be so patient with young players. Alex Rios has been in the big leagues for more than a year, but heís just now beginning to come into his own. His batting average is off this month, but heís starting to find his power stroke: 6 doubles and 2 homers halfway through June, after just 8 doubles and 2 homers in April and May combined. Itís a slow and painful process, watching a hitter find himself at the big-league level, but Rios is absolutely getting there. The thing is, heís needed more than a year just to get to this point: Russ Adams and David Bush, not to mention Aaron Hill when he finally slumps, are more polished players, but theyíre still going to take just about as long to steady themselves. If you find yourself getting impatient with rookies and second-year players, try to remember the one-year rule, and try to dwell on the rewards of patience.

--> If the technology had allowed me to do so, I would have stepped through my TV screen last night and administered a swift kick in the groin to the moronic fan in the front-row seats who leaned way over the railing and picked up Aaron Hillís live-and-very-much-in-play extra-base hit down the right-field line. In case you missed the 5th inning: Blue Jays leading 3-0, Shea Hillenbrand at third, Eric Hinkse at first, one out, Aaron Hill delivers an opposite-field liner into right field, which rapidly rolls into foul territory as So Taguchi gives chase and the batters circle the bases. Then Moron Fan, along with several others, leans over and grabs the ball, turning the play into a ground-rule double and, in theory, sending Hinske (who had scored) back to third base.

The first-base umpire made a judgment call, however (apparently, anyway), that Hinske would have scored from first base regardless of the fan interference, and allowed his run to stand. Tony La Russa didnít really argue it, which surprised me slightly, but any way you cut it, the Jays caught a huge break. What I really hope is that that fan (a) was summarily ejected from the ballpark, (b) was showered with abuse and peanut shells by the nearby fans who actually know something about the game, and (c) was unofficially roughed up by security personnel in a dark tunnel underneath the stadium before being tossed. Since Iím pretty sure that only (a) is both likely and legal, Iíll have to content myself with that alone. But it just frustrates me no end that people come to a ballgame with no understanding of the fact that (a) you donít interfere with the play on the field, and (b) you most certainly donít do it when the home team has runners zipping around the bases. Talk about reinforcing the stereotype of hoser Canadians who donít understand the gameÖ.

--> Speaking of my TV screen Ö I just canít stand it anymore. I have to say it: the TSN broadcasts are almost unbearable. Look, I know Rod Black is a wonderful guy, does all sorts of great work for poverty-stricken children in Africa and elsewhere. And for all I know, heís a fine figure-skating announcer (Mrs. Gideon interjects at this point to vehemently disagree). And Pat Tabler, while heís not the most exciting guy to listen to, knows the game and can make salient points when paired with Jamie Campbell. But I just canít stand listening to this combination anymore. And itís for one simple reason: theyíre not talking about the game.

Theyíre talking about virtually everything else: Canadian Olympic baseball hopefuls, the new Yankee Stadium, the prevalence of right-handed power hitters in the list of the Top 5 RBI producers in the last five seasons, what Pat is going to be doing on Friday when Rance Mulliniks is filling in for him, what colour shirts theyíre wearing tonight, the odds of a political revolution in Bolivia, whatever Ė guys, thereís a baseball game going on. Right there, on the field, below you. Talk about it!

In the third or fourth inning, Lilly was in a groove, firing strikes and getting three straight groundballs pulled to Hill at third base. Did that mean Lilly was throwing strikes with his fastball and thereby getting the hitters to pull the breaking stuff on the inside half of the plate? Or was that just the effect of a really good, moving, sinking fastball? I really wanted the announcers to pick up on that and analyze it: whatís Lilly doing here thatís working so well? Are those in fact off-speed pitches that the Cardinal batters are chasing, and if so, what does that say about the excellent pitch selection by Zaun and Lilly? Considering that Lilly has been the rotationís enigma all season, does this sort of performance indicate he might finally be getting his groove back? Or is he likely to fall back into old habits next time out?

These are the things I need my teamís announcing crew to discuss and hash out. Thatís the value-add that I want when tuning into a broadcast. What I get instead, in addition to the relative trivia mentioned above, is drive-by commentary on the game, as if mentioned in passing (Ö"that pitch was called a strike, so itís 2 and 2 to ZaunÖ Rios has had a great night tonight, a double and a single Ö Marquis is struggling with his control out thereÖĒ). The guys need to take a lesson from Ted Lilly: lead with the hard stuff, the trenchant commentary, the analysis, the unfolding story of the game in the context of the night, the homestand and the season. When youíve established the nuts and bolts of the analysis, then you can throw in a bunch of change-ups about how the Orioles are the surprise team of the AL East and how miserable the weatherís been in Toronto the last few days. Steak first, then sizzle.

So anyway, there are my comments on the game. Following a little more grousing to come, Iíll finish up with a Media Roundup.

Interleague Play: Krusty No Like

With the Cardinals on their way out of town (surprised and disappointed with a 1-2 Canadian visit, I imagine), the end of the interleague schedule draws ever closer. Itís fairly ironic that the Jaysí next interleague opponent is Milwaukee, a long-time AL club that would give the Blue Jays fits back when the Brew Crew was in the AL East. Then the Nationals come to town, and when the obligatory ďformer ExposĒ stories have passed into history and that series is done, weíll see the end, for this season anyway, of my least favourite feature of the modern game.

I dislike interleague play today only slightly less than I did when it was first introduced in 1997. Back then, I thought it was a shameful and unnecessary break with decades of valuable tradition, cheapening the thrill of the World Series and pulling baseball even further down to the level of other sports, all for the sake of short-term revenue gains, cheap marketing gimmickry and short-sighted post-strike public-image damage control.

Today Ė well, actually, today I hold pretty much the same opinion. Itís just that I donít get quite so upset about it. I think oneís natural store of adrenalin and oneís resignation towards lifeís vagaries must dwindle and grow in tandem. I still believe there was no good reason to tear down the longstanding brick wall between the leagues, and that interleague play is yet another engineering project powered by greed. But my outrage capacity just isnít what it used to be. The rage is always the first thing to go.

The shame of interleague play is what weíve lost to it: the unique nature of the gameís championship series. It wasnít just that baseballís final two playoff teams hadnít met during the regular season; itís that they couldnít have met. For historical reasons (and fascinating ones, too), the World Series started out as a grudge match between rival leagues, and for a long time, everyone from owners to players to fans took that distinction pretty seriously (the ďJunior CircuitĒ wasnít just a nickname, it was an insult).

The American League and the National League were always leagues, just like the National Football League or the National Basketball Association. They are (or rather, were) distinct entities, with their own presidents, their own administrations, and their own characteristics. For years, the NL was the speed league, with power pitchers and rabbit-like baserunners, while the AL was the bomber circuit, with crafty breaking-ball hurlers and burly sluggers. Even the umpiring crews were different, and thanks mostly to a bizarre equipment quirk (the nature of the chest protectors the umpires wore), the strike zones were different. When the AL introduced the designated hitter in 1973, the NL refused to follow suit, and the gap between the two widened further.

Most of that has changed now, and actually, by and large, itís for the better. Free agency was the biggest battering ram in striking down the ramparts between the leagues, and George Steinbrenner notwithstanding, itís been a good thing. The AL and NL Presidents had become figureheads with the evolution of the Commissionerís office, and the umpiring situation had deteriorated so badly that radical changes were required, including merging all the umpires into one major-league crew. Players had long since ceased to care which league won the All-Star Game (and despite Seligís nonsense about the All-Star winner getting home-field advantage in the Series, they still donít). And while the DH gap continues, Iíd really rather see it disappear altogether or be used in both leagues. Consistency is a virtue, in moderation.

But the one thing that remained sacrosanct through all these changes was that the leagues were still widely considered two separate entities. Baseball doesnít have the American Conference and the National Conference; but thanks to interleague play, thatís what we now might as well call them. Before interleague play, there was a genuine sense of excitement when the World Series started, because we were seeing two teams match up that had never met in the regular season. The Series was special precisely, and only, because of that feature unique among the major sports.

Fittingly, the last pre-interleague Series, in 1996, was a great one. It marked the return of the Yankee dynasty in a thrilling 6-game victory over the star-crossed Braves that featured a host of future Hall-of-Famers and a rare comeback from a 2-0 series deficit. And equally fittingly, the first post-interleague Series was one of the worst in memory, Floridaís mercenary Marlins in a sloppy, draggy 7-game win over the surly and unpleasant Cleveland Indians.

And every time interleague play rolls around, we see another classic World Series matchup diminished, in a small way, by a subsequent interleague series. The 2000 Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets was a bust, in no small part because the tremendous thrill of this long-anticipated matchup had been given away cheap to Fox Sports for a meaningless Saturday afternoon contest years before. Last night alone, we saw three former World Series matchups acted out in pantomime fashion. The 1960 Pirates-Yankees Series, ended by the first walk-off home run in Series history, was replayed to much less effect in the Bronx. The all-time great 1975 clash between Cincinnati and Boston became a little less special with the current series between todayís putrid Reds and the defending champions at Fenway. And the classic 1984 Series between the Padres and Tigers was Ė okay, letís not exaggerate; that Series was a snoozer, as was last nightís San Diego-Detroit tilt.

But still, what was the last World Series matchup that hasnít been since replayed in interleague competition? (Thatís a rhetorical question, not a trivia challenge, but feel free to track down the answer if you like.) I do think, in a certain sense, that even past World Series like these get a little devalued when the teams meet again under vastly different and less inspiring circumstances.

Now, some fans will defend interleague play, claiming that the ďexcitementĒ of seeing great teams and big stars from the other league makes it worth while (overlooking all those must-see Colorado-Kansas City games, apparently). To them, Iíd pose one question. Once the novelty has worn off Ė then what? Several years from now, when every National League team has finally made its way to Toronto for the obligatory series at Rogers Centre, when the Dodgers and Braves have become about as familiar to Jays fans as the Orioles and Devil Rays Ė then might we ask what the point of all this was? Is that when weíll realize that the ďexcitementĒ was never about seeing the other leagueís teams, but was only ever about that familiar and longstanding urge to get whatís long been denied to us, to have our grasp exceed our reach?

I dislike interleague play. And having thought about it, itís not so much because of its impact on baseball Ė since after all, it really is just a game, and games have to evolve, for good and for bad. I think I dislike it because of what it says about us. And thatís why Iím looking forward to the end of the Washington series and the completion of this yearís annual blight on the gameís landscape.

Roundup

Blue Jays recall Gross (Sun) - Gross is in Toronto to take over from Gold Glover Vernon Wells, who'll miss the Milwaukee series as he wife prepares to give birth to their second child. I assume Alex Rios will shift over to centerfield, but I'm not sure who'll play right field against lefties like Doug Davis, Friday's Brewer starter (Sparky presumably gets the call in left field). I suppose Gross will have to do his best against the southpaw. Unlike his last recall, Gross has actually been swinging a hot bat in Syracuse, and while I wish the Jays would find him a regular spot, that will probably have to wait till after a Frank Catalanotto trade (unless Gross himself becomes trade bait).

Gaudin sent to minors (MLB) Ė Maybe John Gibbons saw the results of the latest Batterís Box poll. I'm not sure why Gaudin was surprised by his demotion, as he apparently was -- he's not helping the Blue Jays at the moment and he's sure not helping himself. He'll be back, though, probably as a reliever, and I think he'll be contributing a lot more in future appearances.

Ricciardi not anxious to trade (MLB) Ė Iím not sure that headline is entirely accurate. I think JP would gladly make a deal right now if someone offered him a useable bat. But the market is quite dormant at the moment, as it usually is in June when half of baseball is theoretically in the wild-card hunt. You canít force a trade, and you never want to deal from a position of weakness, which is where the Jays are right now. You also donít want to exacerbate that position of weakness by giving interviews that result in headlines like ďRicciardi anxious to trade.Ē

Q & A with Jon Lalonde (Baseball Analysts) Ė The Blue Jaysí Director of Scouting pulls into Rich Ledererís interview chair for an interesting and enjoyable chat about Ricky Romero, Zach Jackson, and other scouting-related issues of import. I donít think itís a slight on Richís excellent piece to say that youíll be at least as impressed, if not moreso, with our own upcoming Batterís Box interview with Jon, who took the time to speak at length with our own Gerry McDonald, Mike Green and Pistol. Thatís a lot of online media work for a guy whoís been pretty busy signing no fewer than 23 players chosen in Tuesdayís draft, including 4th-round outfielder Ryan Patterson and 6th-round catcher Josh Bell.

Today's collection of SLAM Sports! synonyms for "defeat," as listed on their baseball page:

crown
hammer
maul
sweep
down
trounce
edge
club

Gagne may be gone for the year (Star) - There are a lot of unhappy fantasy baseall players out there this morning, but Paul DePodesta is unhappier than any of them. Both Paul and the roto-heads are going to find out how much they can count on Yhency Brazoban for the balance of the year. Big hit to the Dodgers' hopes this season, and just another reason why you don't take a closer in the first three rounds of your draft. Hopefully, the news will be better than expected for the pride of Mascouche.

My Long National Nightmare is Over | 66 comments | Create New Account
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Named For Hank - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#119741) #
and just another reason why you don't take a closer in the first three rounds of your draft

That explains why everyone thinks I'm crazy in my fantasy league! My first three rounds were Tejada, K-Rod, Lidge.

Pistol - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 09:31 AM EDT (#119743) #
Lalonde mentioned in the interview that Robert Ray, the pitcher from Texas A&M taken in round 7 had signed earlier this week.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 09:41 AM EDT (#119744) #

Here's a fine baseball Father's Day story by Martin O'Malley.

Gross for Gaudin is an interesting move. First off, it means that the Jays will be going with a 6 man pen at least while Vernon is away. Good. One suspects that this is just a temporary fill-in situation and that Gross will not see much action, but youneverknow.

Jon Lalonde also told us that 5th rounder Eric Fowler signed yesterday.

hugh - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 09:44 AM EDT (#119745) #
Nice work, Jordan. You summed up exactly how I feel about interleague play (except for the it-prevents-balanced-scheduling argument, but that's for another day).

Re: Fan interference and the ground rule double:

There were a couple guys reaching over the wall for that ball, and one of 'em was wearing a Cards shirt. So it might have actually been a strategic move by the fan. Although I still don't condone it -- or actually really believe it -- the fan might have thought he was saving a run.

I still think that (b) and (c) should have been implemented anyway. At least the ump got it right.
Mike Green - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#119747) #
Cool, Jordan. The Cardinals are undoubtedly saying that even the losers get lucky sometimes.

In the chat last night, Mike Forbes mentioned that lefty Doug Davis was starting on Friday for the Brew Crew, and that Menechino and McDonald could very well start. One alternative to this for Gibbons would be to go with the same infield as yesterday, sit Hinske and let Menechino DH. Davis is just the kind of lefty, i.e. soft-tossing, that I'd want Adams to hit against, and Hudson's glove is probably more valuable than Hinske's bat against a lefty.

Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:06 AM EDT (#119749) #
Excellent, excellent game report. And the highly excellent discussion of the inadequacies of Rod Black and Pat Tabler allow me to state for the record that I now long for, I crave and dream about, the ability to turn the announcing feed off and just listen to the sounds of the game.

Didn't they try that a decade ago? Someone did, and I didn't understand it then. I was young and inexperienced in the ways of life, and needed announcers to tell me what to think and feel. Now I am a man, and able to think for myself, and what I want to listen to is NOT Rod Black innanities but the crack of the bat and the cheers of the crowd.

Please.
Thomas - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#119750) #
Did JP say anything of note on WWJP?
Elijah - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#119752) #
Jordan, in addition to being summarily ejected from the ballpark, you neglected to mention that the usher should force the fan to cough up the spoils. Getting thrown out and having the baseball taken away would be just fine. (b) and (c) would just be gravy.

As for interleague play, I don't care for it too much and the annual rematch of teams that haven't played since 19xx World Series always brings an interesting storyline (this year: 1918 Cubs vs. Red Sox; 1960 Pirates vs. Yankees; 1970 Reds vs. Orioles; 1975 Reds vs. Red Sox). While the novelty for me has clearly worn off with the exception of some matchups (Cubs/Sox; Cubs/Yankees this weekend), I think I just have to accept the fact that it's here and not going away.

I was born in 1972 so I have not known AL baseball without the DH. Growing up with it, that's just the way it's always been for me. The NL had no DH, the AL did. That was one of the differences. Many fans that grew up before the enactment of the DH seemed to like it the way it was before 1973. While I wouldn't mind the end of the DH, I'm also fine with things as they are now. I kind of like the differences in the leagues. (For the record, I would hate to see the DH in both leagues - if baseball wants to have consistency between the leagues, I'd rather eliminate the DH).

So I wonder if we look forward 20 years from now whether the fan that grew up with interleague play will just accept it as, "Well, that's the way it's always been." What's so bad about it? Like the DH, I don't think it's going to go away and a 30-something year old fan in 2025 will think, "What were things like before interleague play?" And while I'll talk about the uniqueness of World Series matchups and the uncertainty of teams not having the opportunity to face off during the regular season, the young 'un will say, "It's fine the way it is."

I guess it just gets down to what people are used to. Other sports like basketball, American football and hockey seem to have rule changes every year to try to improve the quality of the game or make it safer. The baseball establishment appears to be very reluctant to have any changes. And significant changes such as the DH or interleague play or perhaps a change in the statistical rules (the productive out, anyone?) always seem to cause an uproar from some corner of the baseball world.
Pistol - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:31 AM EDT (#119753) #
I crave and dream about, the ability to turn the announcing feed off and just listen to the sounds of the game. Didn't they try that a decade ago?

This was tried in a football game in the early 80s I believe. I think it last one game.

Mike - did I mix Ray and Folwer up, or were both signed?

Named For Hank - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:32 AM EDT (#119754) #
Thomas, I missed it, but Jonny had this to say in the IR thread:

On Wednesdays With JP somebody was asking about the 4th starter spot and JP said something about "wait until Friday", apparently they're planning something... a promotion, a trade, I don't know.

Ooh, ooh, something's happening tomorrow!

Coach - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#119755) #
Hey, hereís a fun thought for you: Larry Walker, starting DH, 2006 Toronto Blue Jays.

Monday night, while salivating, er, speculating, about that possibility, I mentioned Jays fans should be rooting for St. Louis to win it all this year. My theory was that if Walker gets his ring, he'd be more likely to come here for the sheer enjoyment of bookending his career in Canada. Later, I heard his pregame interview, where he said that a championship would make it an easy decision to retire. So our best shot seems to be that the Cards don't win, they don't offer him a one-year deal to return, then Larry picks Toronto over the other AL teams that would love to have him.

Needless to say, the Jays landing an arm like Arnsberg disciple A.J. Burnett and one more big bat (I still like Carlos Lee) would allow Walker to make his farewell tour while playing for a Canadian contender.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:41 AM EDT (#119756) #
But still, what was the last World Series matchup that hasnít been since replayed in interleague competition?

I'm just guessing here, but I'd say the 1982 Milwaukee/SSt. Louis Series has not been replayed in interleague competition, though it's conceiveable they met in 1997.

Mike Green - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:46 AM EDT (#119757) #
Both Ray and Fowler were signed, leaving only Romero and Pettway yet to be signed from the top 16 picks.
Jonny German - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 10:57 AM EDT (#119758) #

Davis is just the kind of lefty, i.e. soft-tossing, that I'd want Adams to hit against

Conversely, the type of pitcher I'd want McDonald to hit against does not exist in the major leagues. I quite like Gibbons in general, but he's pushed his luck far enough using the Minister of Defence for more than his glove. McDonald is a known quantity: Defensive specialist. Adams could be anything from a utility infielder to an All-Star shortstop: the time to find out is now.

Did JP say anything of note on WWJP?

When asked about the 4th starter spot, he hinted that something is going to happen on Friday. I don't think he was refering to Walker-Gaudin-Gross, because he wouldn't comment further. Otherwise, not much of note... hoping for the best, preparing for the worst with Koskie, going to worry about what to do with Hill when the time comes (Me: absolutely no way Hill goes down. Somebody gets injured or traded or released). I was surprised that JP had virtually no comment on the draft, saying that he basically just sees the first rounders, says you gotta ask Lalonde. Wilner chimed in at this point quoting Lalonde saying that the 20th rounder is his favourite sleeper (outfielder Zach Kalter, not signed yet). Romero will be played much like Purcey & Jackson, limited action this year after a lot of college innings. Oh, JP sounds quite sure that Lind, Cannon, Janssen will all reach AA this year. Quoted Roberts' and Cannon's home run totals, that impressed me.

Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#119761) #
I heard JP's "wait till Friday" and to me he sounded pretty jazzed about it, as if he had something big cooking and it was gonna wow people.

I can hardly wait.
Chuck - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:16 AM EDT (#119763) #
If the technology had allowed me to do so, I would have stepped through my TV screen last night and administered a swift kick in the groin to the moronic fan in the front-row seats who leaned way over the railing and picked up Aaron Hillís live-and-very-much-in-play extra-base hit down the right-field line.

There was a time when they would show the morons in question being ushered out of the park by security. I wonder why they don't do that any more? It could serve as a useful educational tool for other morons. In fact, they should show such morons on the jumbotron (or whatever it's called) and pipe in audience booing sounds.

Judging from last nightís game, youíd never have imagined that Aaron Hill has spent most of the last several years playing shortstop.

This is highly unscientific, but Hill doesn't look like a shortstop. Not the way Ripken didn't because he was tall, but because he (Hill) doesn't seem lithe enough. He seems to have a stocky body (even slightly pear-shaped) that just screams out third baseman.

Dave Till - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#119764) #
In the game chat last night, we wondered whether the guy who touched Aaron Hill's double was a Cardinals fan. There was at least one fan in Cardinal regalia sitting near the offender in question. That might explain why Hinske was allowed to score on the play.

I agree that there's no way Hill goes back down to the minors now. I still would like to see what happens when pitchers discover his weak spots (since all players have them), but he sure looks like a big leaguer.

I'd like to see him get an extended run at short while Koskie is out. Unless they're already convinced that he either can or can't play short at the major league level. This will help the Jays decide what to do when Koskie returns.

You have more patience with Adams and Rios than I do - you may well be right about them, and I hope you are.

I worry that Pete Walker might injure himself again if put into the starting rotation, but he's certainly earned a shot at it.

Larry Walker as a DH in Toronto in 2006. Y'know, that sounds plausible. Has he ever expressed any interest in playing in Canada again?
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#119765) #
For some reason I think nothing will end up happening friday.

I like interleague play, instead of playing our division or the west/central once more we face teams we only see 1 time every few years.
Magpie - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#119766) #
but I'd say the 1982 Milwaukee/SSt. Louis Series has not been replayed in interleague competition, though it's conceiveable they met in 1997.

They DID meet in inter-league in 1997, three games in Milwaukee. St. Louis swept the series!

Paul D - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#119767) #
Did anyone see the play, I think it was in the 3rd inning, when Hillenbrand's bat went flying into the stands?

Rob and Pat went on about how nice the father was to get the bat for his son, but it looked to me like the father stole the bat from the little kid sitting in front of him.
Coach - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#119768) #
Boy, does Gregg Zaun look tired. And if I were the only thing standing between Ken Huckaby and four at-bats per game, Iíd be tired too.

Awesome report, Jordan. Zaun's frustration is directed internally and making him play tense. A day off won't help, either, if he doesn't use it to relax. You gotta have fun out there -- trying too hard only extends slumps. A productive backup would be nice, but who? I don't hear much clamoring for the return of Kevin Cash. I'd be asking about Pete LaForest or even Tom Wilson so Zaunie could sit vs. lefties.

Aaron Hill, now there's someone having fun. There's so much joy in his game. His range at third is actually a plus, instead of being the only question mark at short. Russ Adams, who may be looking over his shoulder a little and could play with a bit more exuberance, is the better shortstop. My mom, 77 years young, is a huge baseball fan who never misses the Jays on TV. She adores Hill and said of Adams the other day, "he's sure a big improvement on that Woodward."

Mom won't see Monday's game because she's having surgery. As tough and wise as Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra, she'll be wearing her lucky cap and talking to the screen again Tuesday. God bless her.

To re-hijack in yet another personal direction, belated congratulations to "my" Ursula Franklin Academy Flames for a great season. Magpie joked that if they went all the way this year while I was on hiatus, I'd feel just like Buck Showalter when "his" Diamondbacks won. Unfortunately, UFA lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion North Toronto. I'm disappointed, sad to have been on the sidelines and hoping to return next season, maybe as hitting coach for what will be the school's best senior crop ever.

There's an exciting triple-header at the Dome Formerly Known As Sky today -- the Prentice Cup, Ontario's high school championship, or as Eric Hinske called it while we watched Carlos Tosca make the trophy presentations, "State." The second semi-final (Loyola vs. St. Aloysius Gonzaga) should just be getting under way. Earlier today, Dunbarton met St. Mary's. Several of the Toronto Star All-Stars are still in action and there's plenty of time for GTA fans to see the 3:00 final. Admission has always been free in the past but you usually have to find an open door, somewhere around Gate 8, or ask the security guard at Gate 9. A few of us from UFA will be there.
VBF - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#119769) #
Did anyone see the play, I think it was in the 3rd inning, when Hillenbrand's bat went flying into the stands?

The bat left Shea's hands just as he was following through, so it landed about 10 rows up behind the Blue Jay dugout on the side closer to behind home plate (section 122-3ish). Miraculously, amongst a bunch of crowded fans, the falling bat found a couple of padded seats to rest on.

BCMike - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#119770) #
This is highly unscientific, but Hill doesn't look like a shortstop. Not the way Ripken didn't because he was tall, but because he (Hill) doesn't seem lithe enough. He seems to have a stocky body (even slightly pear-shaped) that just screams out third baseman.

I was thinking the exact same thing last night. He really doesn't look like a middle infielder, but he sure looks great at 3rd.

VBF - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#119775) #
Also Thomas, for what it's worth (probably nothing), J.P. revealed that he was offered Kyle Farnsworth for Gabe Bross and Josh Banks, but he obviously rejected the offer.
Pistol - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#119777) #
Man, I don't even get trade offers that rediculous in my fantasy leagues.
Fawaz - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#119778) #
My favourite Rod Black moment of the season (and there have been a few doozies) came last night. Discussing the White Sox and the Cards, Tabby asks Black about the two best teams in baseball...

Tabler: What do they have in common?
Black: (With amazing confidence) They play hard.
Tabler: (Dumbfounded) Great starting pitching.
Black: Ah, yes.
John Northey - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#119780) #
First game of the year for me at the park (was there with my 14 year old brother-in-law and his class, down from Fort Frances, ON - a 20 hour drive away) and that was great fun. Told the kids that they have to come by more often as they get the Jays winning. Great thing to see, gang of 13/14 year olds who mainly didn't care for baseball having a blast, making noise, and hearing a few say 'I really didn't think it would be that much fun'. I suspect a lot of new fans of Aaron Hill will emerge from this too.

The new setup at the park is great, with the game review as the 9th inning started, the clear screens that weren't overdone all around the park, the upper deck cleaned up, etc. If you haven't been to a game yet this year be sure to go. Lots of scalpers selling for 1/2 price outside too. Although the food is still too expensive and I really would like sausages rather than steamed hotdogs. But that really was my only complaint.

Btw, I heard Walker say on the radio that he would consider Toronto in '06 but he sounded very much like the World Cup will be the end, with Canada on his jersey.
StephenT - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#119781) #
Blame the Jays, not the fans, that spectators can reach onto the field. They just have to put a tarp over the first row of seats so that the fans can't reach onto the field. There is 16 years of evidence that asking people nicely not to do it doesn't work. (It was 14 years of evidence last time we wrote about this: http://www.battersbox.ca/comment.php?mode=view&cid=88185 ).
Mylegacy - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 01:04 PM EDT (#119782) #
Hey Coach. Good luck to your Mom! I'll put in a word for her with the guys upstairs. That's JP and you know Who.

Jorge Bell - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#119786) #
Hi guys, new poster here. I just had to chime in with my two cents about the fan 'incident' last night.

I was sitting behind the guy who interfered with the ball, a couple of seats to his left. The guy had never been to a ball-game before, he was visiting from Australia and had no idea that he wasn't allowed to do what he did.

Add to that the fact that there were three kids beside him, obviously from Toronto, were the ones who actually kept the ball and I thought the Aussie got a bit of a raw deal. I realize it's a baseball rule and not a Blue Jays rule but I figured they would make an exception for a guy who has never been to a game before, probably will never go again now and had no idea he was doing something wrong.

On JP's comments last night, he said that they have something that will address the #4 spot in the rotation and that it will be done by Friday. He sure sounded confident that it would happen and JP has always been very candid with the media. Any thoughts on who or what it might be? Considering his comments on Kearns from yesterday, I'm thinking it may be a package deal from the Reds? Pure speculation on my part of course.
Skills - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 01:40 PM EDT (#119791) #
If it is Kearns, I'm gonna be really upset if they give up anything significant for him. Do the Reds have any good pitching prospects that we could get in a package? Judging by their pitching staff, I'm guessing that's unlikely.
Cristian - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#119801) #
I was sitting behind the guy who interfered with the ball, a couple of seats to his left. The guy had never been to a ball-game before, he was visiting from Australia and had no idea that he wasn't allowed to do what he did.

That ball would have been in play in cricket as well (no foul territory) so I don't think he's to be let off the hook just because he's Australian.

Mike Forbes - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#119802) #
Random thoughts

- Why don't we look into getting Jose Molina from the Angels? He played well while brother Benji was on the DL.

- Aaron Hill could very well be the next Scott Rolen or Eric Chavez at third. Pick that opinion apart all you want, he really showed me something last night.

- I don't think anything is gonna happen Friday pitching-wise, maybe we'll aquire some AAAA bat like Michael Ryan or something but thats likely it.

- If Ted Lilly can consistantly turn in some more starts like this then we might actually get a nice package of players for him at the trade deadline.

- I'm excited to see Gross back, hopefully he'll continue his hot hitting here in Toronto.

- I'd be even more excited to not see John McDonald starting Friday night.

- I'm looking forward to seeing Alex Rios in center. I remember how when he was coming up he was always compared to Vernon out there.
Anders - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#119807) #
This big news seems exciting and mysterious. A trade perhaps? Did we get Roger Clemens!!! (One fo the dumbest rumours out there by the way.) This is the kind of mystery that we should be solving with our polls.

Also, congrats to UFA Coach. My sister played on the girls softball team this year, and will again in the future (shes in grad 10)
Jordan - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#119808) #
Jorge, welcome aboard! And thanks for the first-hand account of the incident in the stands. I hereby retract the vitriol I directed at our friend from Down Under -- I doubt I'd do any better if I was attending an Aussie Rules Football Game and something similar happened to me. He may well have been egged on by those around him. Anyway, henceforth I'll have to restrict my condemnation to fans from this hemisphere. :-)

Re JP's comments: strange that he'd say he's addressing the #4 rotation spot, when that isn't really something that needs addressing -- not like the offence, anyway. For that reason, I think -- maybe even hope -- that there's nothing major cooking. Because the #4 starter, as far as I'm concerned, is Dave Bush, and I worry that any move that doesn't bring him up is going to ship him out instead. I'll try not to think about that any longer.
Magpie - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#119810) #
Well done, Jordan. Enjoy the feeling. Wallow in it. I'd just like to draw Rob's attention to the following:

[More: 3571 words]

The waiting is indeed the hardest point, especially when you've had to live with some hard promises. (As a grauduation present back in 1986, my father took me to Buffalo to see Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and the Grateful Dead. My dad being a Dead-head and all. And "The Waiting" is about the only song I remember from the whole day...)

CeeBee - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#119812) #
Thoughts on Mike's Random thought. (Hope you don't mind) :)

Why don't we look into getting Jose Molina from the Angels? He played well while brother Benji was on the DL.
- Even Tom Sawyer would realize that Huck just isn't getting it done hitting wise. The Jays need help here more than any position.

Aaron Hill could very well be the next Scott Rolen or Eric Chavez at third. Pick that opinion apart all you want, he really showed me something last night.
- Amen to that... but lets see what a year or so brings :)

I don't think anything is gonna happen Friday pitching-wise, maybe we'll aquire some AAAA bat like Michael Ryan or something but thats likely it.
- Maybe Bush is on his way back, or maybe its the Romero signing and introduction to the fans?

If Ted Lilly can consistantly turn in some more starts like this then we might actually get a nice package of players for him at the trade deadline.
-The Dodgers are rumoured to be interested. A few more solid starts and there may be a longer lineup at the dance... maybe thow Shea's name in as well.

I'm excited to see Gross back, hopefully he'll continue his hot hitting here in Toronto.
-Time for Babe.... ahem Gabe to step up to the plate and prove spring training was no fluke- or was it?

I'd be even more excited to not see John McDonald starting Friday night
-me too!

I'm looking forward to seeing Alex Rios in center. I remember how when he was coming up he was always compared to Vernon out there.
-I have a feeling that Rios may be the Jays future center fielder.... maybe as soon as the trading deadline. Nah, strike that feeling but you never know.
Skills - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#119813) #
Isn't the waiting the hardest part? And I agree, we should have a poll for what JPs surprise for tomorrow is.
Skills - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#119815) #
I have a question for everyone: I often read from various sportswriters about how Vernon's 2003 may have been an aberration (which I think is ridiculous, although he may not quite match it again), if this is so, do people actually support trading him? I for one, while potentially excited about what we could get in return for Hillenbrand or Lilly, am almost horrified at the thought of losing Big Vern.
Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#119817) #
I heard the Ricciardi moment and I don't recall him referring to it specifically as fixing the #4 slot, but more vaguely as bringing in some help for the rotation. He did mention the #4 slot last night, but only in saying that they considered Dave Bush their #4 guy as soon as he righted himself.
Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#119824) #
Re Skills' question, as frustrating as it is watching Wells flail and fail at the plate, he is only 26. His potential is still untapped. As he hits ages 27 to 29, there's every reason to think something will click with him and then watch him go.

I also think he'd be better off not as The Man in the lineup, but as a complimentary piece.
Jonny German - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#119825) #
For the record, JP didn't specify that The Great Friday Maneuvre will directly address the #4 starter spot - rather, it was in response to a question about the #4 starter spot that he said "Wait until Friday". Maybe (and I would say probably) the move he has in mind doesn't involve acquiring a pitcher at all, but rather the point is that it has a ripple effect involving the starting rotation.
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#119826) #
Am I the only one who thinks Reed will be playing CF this weekend?
Mike Green - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#119827) #
I detect an unusual degree of consensus among Bauxites about the current state of affairs. But the poll showing that 28% of Bauxites think that Field of Dreams was a better movie than Eight Men Out, Major League and Bull Durham really confuses me. I mean, I chose Eight Men Out. I can see the other two, but Field of Dreams? Supporters, please tell me what the attraction is.
Jorge Bell - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#119828) #
Thanks for the welcome Jordan. I've been reading here for a while, a couple of years anyway, so I figured I may as well finally write something.

I agree with those on the JP comments, they can be taken a number of ways. While he was vague on what exactly he was doing, it was in response to a question about the #4 pitching slot and how they were going to address it. I guess that doesn't necessarily mean he's going after a pitcher. I'd like to see him pick up a bat or two, but of course they are expensive to acquire both in terms of players and dollars. I guess we will see tomorrow.
Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:26 PM EDT (#119829) #
Mike, Bull Durham and Eight Men Out are great movies, but Field of Dreams captures the magic of baseball better than any movie ever made. It's sentimental as hell, but every time I watch it I get pulled in. And it all boils down to that last moment, when Kevin gets to "have a catch" with his Dad.

I'm choking up just thinking about it.
Brian B. - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#119834) #
My guess on Friday's big surprise is just the Romero signing.

Something more would be nice, but......
Ryan C - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#119842) #
I can see the other two, but Field of Dreams?

You can see people picking Major League but not Field of Dreams? Now you've got me confused.

I agree with the comment that the movie does a great job of capturing the nostalgic "magic" of baseball. It's more like a modern day fairy tale then anything. This might sound pretty corny, but I love the monologues ("People will most definitely come") and some of the dialog exchanges from that movie.

Named For Hank - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#119843) #
I love Field of Dreams, and I'm a huge Phil Alden Robinson fan, but I voted for Eight Men Out.
Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#119844) #
Further to the Friday rumour, there's an item in the LA Times today that talks about the Dogers' need for starting pitching. It mentions that scouts were watching Ted Lilly, among others.

Given how well Lilly pitched last night, and given that it's an old Ricciardi chum running the Dodgers, is it conceivable that something it in the works there?

I wonder if it might be a three-way that includes Oakland.
Flex - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#119846) #
Apologies for all the ridiculous typos in that previous post.
Four Seamer - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#119847) #
I love Field of Dreams, and I'm a huge Phil Alden Robinson fan, but I voted for Eight Men Out.

I also voted for Eight Men Out, but I really wanted to vote for Tom Selleck's Mr. Baseball instead. I never thought Magnum would top Three Men and a Little Lady, but he sure proved me wrong ;)

Gitz - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#119848) #
Apologies for all the ridiculous typos in that previous post.

Yeah. I'm gettin' sick of all those supurfluous "u's."

Cristian - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 07:00 PM EDT (#119857) #
My complete and total guess regarding tomorrow's surprise:

Joe Kennedy to the Jays for Gabe Gross.*

*I am making it clear that I have no source and I am pulling this out of thin air. And that is not a Colorado pun...well, maybe it is.

BTW, the best baseball movie since 1980 is The Sandlot.
rtcaino - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#119861) #
LOL, I took Gagne for my first round pick for the Toronto Baseball Guys Baseball League. It was a Diamond Mind sim league going by the '03 disc. I blame this bad pick on Jobu. Yes Jobu. He told me it was a good idea. Then He took Clemens a few picks later.
portnoy - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#119862) #
In response to a much earlier post, if we did acquire Kearns I'd be ecstatic. He has superstar potential -- and I think he'll realize it, when he's away from the circus in Cincy. The fact that Bowden's so clearly incompetent gives me some hope that Kearns can be had for less than he's worth.
The Bone - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 07:27 PM EDT (#119863) #
Four Seamer - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 07:28 PM EDT (#119864) #
The fact that Bowden's so clearly incompetent gives me some hope that Kearns can be had for less than he's worth.

Given that Bowden isn't the GM of the Reds, I'm not sure how his competence, or lack thereof, would assist JP in getting Kearns for less than fair value (which I think is pretty minimal at this stage anyways).

portnoy - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 08:36 PM EDT (#119866) #
sorry -- meant o'brien of course. who has been a disaster.
StephenT - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:04 PM EDT (#119882) #
In-context Jays stats for the past 22 games. Despite the league's worst offense over that time, the Jays were 3rd in the A.L. East in wins.

Josh Phelps had a .299 EqA over his last 44 plate appearances before being designated. Is he still interested in being a catcher?

Named For Hank - Thursday, June 16 2005 @ 11:45 PM EDT (#119888) #
I think he stopped playing catcher because his knees couldn't take it.
SimonB - Friday, June 17 2005 @ 12:25 AM EDT (#119890) #
Wow....i just realized how terrible statistically our offense is.

There are six guys (including Hill and McDonald) batting above .284. Everyone else is hitting south of .252. With a starting second baseman, catcher, first baseman, centre fielder, and shortstop mired between .235 and .252, only one of whom has more than 6 home runs, this is a truly terrible offensive ballclub.
HippyGilmore - Friday, June 17 2005 @ 01:48 AM EDT (#119895) #
Field of Dreams might be my favourite movie ever. I mean, I've seen BETTER movies, but I don't think I've ever seen a movie that made me feel as deeply as it did. Loved Mr. Baseball and The Natural, too.
Paul S - Friday, June 17 2005 @ 04:14 AM EDT (#119898) #
I was in the same section as the guy who got tossed. He seemed to be in disbelief. Maybe part of that was a group of guys around me serenading him with NA NA NA HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE. The kids who got the ball seemed proud as hell about it as they left, too. Cocky little bastards.

That was the most fun I've ever had at a game. There was this group of really fun guys from Ottawa sitting near me, and it was one big party. I'm surprised everyone didn't get on TV when we serenaded Walker with O Canada during his last at bat. We got a nice round of applause from nearby sections. Larry seems intent on hanging it up after this year because of all the aches and pains: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.nsf/cardinals/story/4CC8E56707ABC71A8625702300186CAA?OpenDocument
alsiem - Friday, June 17 2005 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#119913) #
That ball would have been in play in cricket as well (no foul territory) so I don't think he's to be let off the hook just because he's Australian. I'm no expert but I think that a ball hitting the field boundary in cricket is dead and the batter is awarded 4 runs. In case your interested, the equivalent of a home run in cricket is six runs. Maybe the Jays can use cricket scoring when they play at home. :)
Max Parkinson - Friday, June 17 2005 @ 10:43 AM EDT (#119914) #
Coach,

That explains why I recognized the guy who looks like Bill James. I was a couple of rows in front of you, a little to your left (Blue Jays golf shirt). It was a fun day for me at the RC, as I have 5 players on the champion LP Spartans, 3 on the finalist Loyola team, and 2 on the Gonzaga team that lost in the semis.

It was a pretty good display of HS baseball.
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