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Our final Pinch-Hit Game Report of the season comes from Blue Jay Way's Matthew E, a Bauxite who just about finally reached his breaking point following the Blue Jays' dispirited 3-1 loss in the opener of yesterday's doubleheader (the nightcap Game Report will follow later today). Join him in this Keats-inspired lament for another Blue Jays season mere days from departing into the history books.


You'll have to excuse me. I'm having a little baseball crisis at the moment.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Jays lost their 80th game of the season. If they are to have a winning record this year, they'll have to go undefeated the rest of the way, which would require a six-game winning streak. This team hasn't had a six-game winning streak in years.

So, unless the boys go 4-1 or better in the last five days against Boston and Kansas City, that's another losing season in Hogtown. Which would make four losing seasons in the last five, and seven in the last eleven. And I'm so sick of it. I mean, I defend this team to people. I stick up for it. I talk about how great the future looks. And then they go out and lose some more, leaving me standing there with my peanuts and crackerjack in my hand. I don't know how much longer I can do it.

There will be much analysis in the next few months of what the Blue Jays need to do in order to contend, and whether they can do it, and how good a job J.P. Ricciardi is doing of accomplishing that. And I know the arguments. Intellectually, I know there's a basis for some hope.

But it doesn't feel like it. It feels like there's no hope at all. From what I've seen over the past month or two, it feels like this team will never win again, or come close. Like the Yankees and Red Sox will continue to have their way with the Jays for basically ever. And I think to myself, why would I want to keep putting myself through this?

Patience? I've been patient. We all have. And where did it get us? 3-1 Red Sox over the Jays and a 76-80 record. Easy for Ricciardi to tell me to be patient; I've cared what happens to this team for five times as long as he has.

I'd quit. I honestly would. Right now, I'd do it. I would stop being a Blue Jays fan, if it weren't for one thing:

I don't know how.

Really, how does one go about excising fandom from oneself? How do I make it so that I'm not interested in what the score was in the west coast game when I get up in the morning? I mean ... I've been writing this thing all evening. I had Game 2 of the doubleheader on the radio beside me, and the win almost pulled me out of this mood I'm writing about. How do I get to the point where I wouldn't care if it was a win or a loss? I can't imagine there's a way.

Man, it's depressing. Here's a ballclub that wasn't good, that said it was going to get good, that still isn't good, that for all anybody can tell isn't going to be much better next year, and I'm gonna be coming back for more anyway. I feel like such a chump.

So I'm still on board. For the long haul. My heart isn't really in it at the moment, though, so as I say, you'll have to excuse me.

Here's how John Keats might have put it if he'd lived long enough.

O WHAT can ail thee, fan-of-Jays,
Alone and palely loiterin'?
The dome is closed beside the lake,
And no Jays win.

"O what can ail thee, fan-of-Jays!
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The postseason slots are full,
And the season's done.

"I see a furrow on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew.
And your BB-REF sponsorship
Fast expireth, too.

"I saw a team on CTV,
In powder blues—pajama style,
Their arms were long, their bats were strong,
And their eyes were wild.

"I bought some tickets for their games,
And programs too, concession food;
They took positions on the field,
And played pretty good.

"I watched the Jays on TSN,
And nothing else saw all day long;
But every year the team would have
Something go wrong.

"They finally won the World Series,
In '93 and '92;
But even before that I had become,
A fan through and through.

"That was all the Blue Jays got,
And though we've wept and sigh'd full sore;
They haven't had a really good year
Since '94.

"And then I wandered off to sleep,
And then I dream'd—ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
For this old web site.

"I saw Leafs' fans, and Raptors' too,
Couch potatoes, death-pale were they all:
They cried, 'La ball game sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!'

"I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the old web site.

"And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loiterin',
While the dome is closed beside the lake,
And no Jays win."

Opener: La Ball Game Sans Merci | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Flex - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#129010) #
Keats and baseball, what could be better on a sunny September morn?

Nicely done.

By the way, a very interesting piece on AJ Burnett with references to Arnsberg in the Sun-Sentinal this morning:,0,157482.column?coll=sfla-sports-front
Joe - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#129011) #
I can understand intellectually why people have lost their Jays Spirit, but I sure haven't - the future is very bright, and with a couple of lucky breaks (the sort of breaks that seem to have been avoiding the Jays for the past few years), they could be very, very good next season. Optimism! It's what's for dinner.

I'd also like to mention that the Red Sox have not run all over the Jays this season. In fact, it's been quite the opposite, with the Jays' win in the second half of the double-header last night guaranteeing them a season win with 2 games left to play. That's something to like about this season.

But I can understand where the pessimism comes from. Steve Simmons writes "Jays Prospects Not So Great", and then proceeds to gloss over the fact that the Jays have cut payroll and kept production at the same level, using that as a club to beat J.P. Ricciardi. I'm so glad I don't subscribe to the Sun.

Pistol - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#129012) #
I don't get too caught up in the team's record. Is there really a difference between 82-80 and 80-82 just because one is over .500 and a 'winning season' and the other is under and a 'losing season'? Even if it's 77-85 or 82-80 does 5 games mean much?

As far as I'm concerned the Jays today are in the best position they've been in at any time since they last won the World Series.


1. Their run differential is +53, and they're 16-29 in one run games. Unless you're the Royals that tends to even out. The Jays expected record, based on run differential, is 84-73, just 3 games back of NY & Boston.

2. Halladay hasn't pitched since July after getting a fluke injury. And even though he hasn't pitched in over 2 months he's still #2 in the AL in VORP.

3. The Jays have resources to work with - both in terms of money and tradable players - to improve the team in the offseason.

Wells and Koskie have both underperformed (around 35% and 15% percentile of PECOTA projections) and are due to bounce back. Adams (25), Hill (23), and Rios (24) all have room for growth.

Zaun and Hillenbrand are the only players that you would expect declines from.

The offense has been terrible, yet I don't think the Jays are that far away even if they make absolutely no changes this offseason (which isn't going to happen).
Rob - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#129013) #
My feeling towards the Jays is strange now that I have, for all intents and purposes, stopped following them closely. I couldn't tell you their record right now aside from their losses, which stand at 80. (I think.)

I'm so glad I don't subscribe to the Sun.

Nobody does. They just spawn on doorsteps. Why there hasn't been a zombie movie featuring that tabloid, I'll never understand.

Mick Doherty - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#129020) #
Matthew, you don't know how? Good for you! Fans of my NL team, the Reds, are littered with piners for the days of Morgan, Bench and Concepcion (Rose has been excised from the history books) who briefly returned in the Browning-Larkin run of 1990, but who don't show up UNLESS the team is a winner.

And don't get me started on "fans" of the Yankees, my AL team, who think the Ruth-Gehrig-DiMaggio-Mantle "birthright" excuses their mass exodus from The Stadium during the Horace Clarke "era" or the Andy Hawkins years.

Of course, I suspect every team has "fans" like that.
Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 11:59 AM EDT (#129026) #
My feeling towards the Jays is strange now that I have, for all intents and purposes, stopped following them closely.

If you're looking for something to fill the void, I'd recommend going to see The Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir the next time they're in your area. I saw them last night at Call the Office - it was an absolutely incredible show.

Plus, they had even had the Jays-Red Sox game on the TV by the bar!

/shameless plug

Mike Green - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#129028) #
One does not excise fandom from oneself. It may wax and wane, like other passions, but excision (or perhaps exorcism might be closer) is impossible.

I remember going to games in 1981. The team was bad, and the novelty had mostly worn off, but there was hope and going to the games was an enjoyable experience in its own right, win or lose. I suppose that there is still hope for this club and that going to the games remains an enjoyable experience, albeit one that does not have the same freshness as 1981.

Back to the game. Many have suggested that the Jays will trade Orlando Hudson after the season, and will move Aaron Hill to second base. It has also been suggested, including by Wilner last night, that Hudson does not have large trade value. It's this kind of thing that drives me to distraction. Defence at second base is very, very important. Over the last 3 years, the Jays' 3 best players have been Halladay, Hudson and Wells in that order. If you're going to trade your second best player, who is just entering his arbitration years, you have to make sure to get good value.

My own view is that Hudson's market value is likely far below his actual value. It seems to a particular thing with second baseman. Marcus Giles is a great, great player and actually better than Andruw Jones. In recent history Lou Whitaker, Willie Randolph, and Bobby Grich were all horribly underrated.

One of the things that resulted in an increase in my interest when JP took over from Gord Ash is that I thought that he understood this kind of thing clearly. I now have doubts that he does, unlike his peers in Boston and Oakland. I hope that those doubts are dispelled over the off-season.

Named For Hank - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#129035) #
Matthew E, you are brilliant. Hell, you're brillliant, with three Ls.

I look forward to meeting you at a game some time.

Jonny German - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#129036) #
Curious, Mike, what makes you feel Theo Epstein values defence to the same degree you do? Seems to me he fields a pretty poor defensive club, though he does make an effort to have solid defensive backups on hand.
Mylegacy - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 01:06 PM EDT (#129038) #
Pistol, I don't know what you're smoking!

BUT, the truth is I'm smoking something too. I believe that at least two of Hilly, Hinske, Koskie, Wells and Rios are going to be much improved next year. Adams is a REAL ballplayer, so is Hill. I wish the O'Dog was Greek so we could call him the Greek God of Gloves.

Flex linked an article about AJ that has me geting all hot and bothered...we might actually get Burnett! He's the only true difference maker free agent.

JP, go baby go!
Mike Green - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#129041) #
Jonny, it is true that the Sox defence has been poor this year but Epstein hasn't had terrific defensive options at key positions. But, last year, he traded Garciaparra because the Sox felt (and had the statistical back-up for it) that Nomar's defence had slipped irreparably. I expect that the Sox will not hold on to Damon after this year because it's clear that his defence too is slipping albeit at a slower rate than Garciaparra's did.

If I were a Sox fan, I would be satisfied that the organization appropriately weighted defence in its player evaluation judgments.
jvictor - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 02:46 PM EDT (#129051) #
I'm an NFL fan. But I can't understand those of my peers who have developed an emotional attachment to some team in another country, sometimes thousands of miles away. When some ask me who I cheer for, my response is that I just want to watch a good game.

That said, I'm a Jays fan. Can't help it, can't explain it, much less rationalize it. When they lose, I'm in a foul mood, and when they win the sun shines a little brighter and and birds sing a little sweeter. Even that Blue Jay round about trills in lieu of the loud caws. I try to temper my fanatacism with cold hard analyses, but my heart gets in the way.

Yes, this team is not all I would hope for. Yes, I look at JP with a dose of scepticism, always have; he is human and therefore fallible. But there is certainly room for optimism with this team. And given the chioce I'll take that rather than dispair.

No offence to others. That's just me.
Twilight - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 03:24 PM EDT (#129059) #
AJ's game log:

Despite the 12-12 record, I do think he's a top shelf starter. I don't believe he's reached his absolute prime yet, but it seems the Marlins have put up questionable offense numbers as well. Just a few noteables:

Apr 7: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 6 K, 2 ER. Loss
Apr 22: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 13 K, 2 ER. No decision
May 9: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 9 K, 2 ER. Loss
May 31: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 K, 0 ER. No decision
Jun 10: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 10 K, 3 ER. No decision
Sep 20: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 9 K, 1 ER. No decision

Number of 0 ER games: 6
Record in 0 ER games: 5-0

Number of 1 ER games: 2
Record in 1 ER games: 1-0

Number of 2 ER games: 8
Record in 2 ER games: 3-3

Number of 3 ER games: 8
Record in 3 ER games: 2-3

It appears when the guy does do well, he gets a whole lot of nothing from the Marlins offense. If you consider all the really close games he's had, with a better offense, he could easily be hovering around 20. (Although signing with the Jays is not likely going to solve this problem. LOL) It also seems Burnett gives up a lot of singles, which I believe the Jays tight defense will cut down on, as he seems to get a lot of ground balls (he has surrendered 12 HR all season). He does surrender a lot of walks though.

Ah well, at the very least Dave Bush will have someone who understands him. :)
Mike Green - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#129060) #
Like last season's free agent pitching prize, Matt Clement, Burnett would likely see a significant rise in his ERA in a less pitching-friendly environment. Bearing in mind his injury history, the Jays' pitching strength and depth, and the salary Burnett's likely to get, it puzzles me that anyone would be interested. He is about as likely as Dustin McGowan to turn into a really valuable commodity.
Magpie - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#129063) #
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,---
John Northey - Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#129066) #
Mike makes a good point about AJ vs what we have.

What do the Jays have?
1) Halladay - definition of an ace
2) Chacin - hot rookie who has been stable all year
3) Towers - very nice for very little
4) Bush - pitches very nice and has horrid luck
5) Lilly, McGowan, Gaudin, Downs, other prospects

I personally feel Bush and Chacin are not that far apart.
Figures are per 9 innings
Bush 1.99 BB 5.07 K 1.30 HR
Chacin 3.18 BB 5.44 K 0.88 HR

Bush needs to cut down on the HR, Chacin on the walks. Both could be decent, either could blow up.

Maybe this isn't so good of a rotation, but you have 4 guys with RA+'s (Runs Allowed adjusted for park/league via Baseball Prospectus) that are better than average plus guys like Downs and Batista available who also had 1+ RA+'s. Rookies like Marcum and McGowan should fight it out to make the rotation too.

I wouldn't mind AJ coming here of course. Heck, a top starter is always welcome. However, the money could probably be better spent on hitting, via trade or free agent. Btw, Matt Clement has a RA+ of 1.05 (#3 among Boston starters after Wells (1.07) and Wakefield (1.15)) while Bush is 1.04, Downs is 1.05, Towers 1.11, Chacin 1.19, Walker 1.50 and Halladay 2.01. Btw the Yankees are Chacon 1.53, Small 1.42, Johnson 1.13, Wang 1.06, Mussina 0.99, then very ugly stuff. What I'm trying to show is that vs the big 2 the Jays already are in the lead with starters. A bigger lead is always nice but hitting should be the biggest bang for the buck I'd think.
Opener: La Ball Game Sans Merci | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.