Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine

October 30, 2010

Following are works of fiction. These, or something like them, might appear in a newspaper in a little under five years.

TORONTO - B.J.'s not a Blue Jay anymore.

In a move that has shocked baseball fans around the majors, B.J. Ryan, the closer for the Toronto Blue Jays, announced on Friday his decision to retire from baseball.

"The Jays have been really good to me," he said during a press conference in Toronto on Friday morning. "I just know in my heart that my best days are behind me, and I want to go out on my own terms."

Ryan spent five years in a Blue Jays uniform, leading the club to two post-season berths while compiling more than 150 saves. The stout lefthander was signed to a 5-year, $47 million (all figures U.S.) contract before the Blue Jays' pivotal 2006 season, at that time the largest contract ever given to a reliever. The 2006 season would see the Blue Jays achieve a 90-72 record, missing the playoffs by 3 games. That year, Ryan saved 43, going 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA.

The next season was more difficult for the portsider. "You know, not too many people would have stood behind me after my accident in 2007." Ryan was injured at his home in Louisiana during the All-Star break in 2007, breaking his right leg in a multi-vehicle accident that nearly cost him his career. "J.P. called me up once I was out of the hospital and told me not to worry about when I'd be coming back, that the Jays were behind me 100% and to take as much time as I needed." He didn't pitch again that season.

Ryan's career took a marked uptick in 2008, a year in which his 57 saves put him in contention for the A.L. Cy Young—an award that eventually went to his teammate, Roy Halladay. That season he also locked down three post-season saves, and one World Series win in a dramatic come-from-behind victory in Game 5.

The last two years for the Blue Jays have been seen by fans and management as rebuilding years after the playoff runs in 2007 and 2008. Even on a team with fewer save opportunities, he managed to convert 43 of 47 saves in 2009, and 36 of 40 this past season. Even though the Blue Jays didn't contend for the post-season in those seasons, he's quick to point out that he enjoyed himself. "It's a different sort of fun. As you get older, you stop wanting to do everything yourself. Some of the young guys here have really latched on to me, and I love helping them whenever I can, even if it's just being an ear to bounce ideas off of. I'm going to miss that."

Ryan's coaches and teammates were shocked by his announcement. "I didn't see it coming, not in a million years," Jays manager Ernie Whitt said in a telephone interview from his home in Michigan. "B.J. has been lights-out for us for a number of years now, and I don't know what we'll do without him."

"It's a huge shock," staff ace Roy Halladay said when asked about the announcement. "B.J. wasn't just the best pitcher in the bullpen, he was one of the best guys on the team. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have coming in for me in the ninth. He was basically automatic. A better teammate—a better all-around person—you just won't find."

When asked what his most enduring memory from the Blue Jays was, B.J.'s answer came right away. "The game we clinched the division in 2008, without a doubt. It was at home, in Toronto, the crowd was going nuts, and all I can remember is Doc jumping out of the dugout and hugging me once that last pitch was thrown. That whole season was amazing, but that moment is magic."

Ryan didn't specify what his plans were for the future. "Would I consider a job coaching for the Jays? Sure, in three or four years. My priority right now is unwinding. You know, staying at home, fishing, maybe a little pickup basketball with the boys. Just living life. Baseball's been great to me, but it's time to move on."

TORONTO - B.J.'s not a Blue Jay anymore.

Now that the 2010 season has ended, B.J. Ryan's contract has finally come off the Rogers books. Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi signed the portly lefthander to the largest contract ever given a reliever, a 5 year, $47 million (all figures U.S.) deal, before the 2006 season—a move that critics point to as the final nail in Ricciardi's coffin.

Ryan had two good, but not outstanding, seasons closing games for the Blue Jays before tearing his rotator cuff in the spring training of 2008. Those seasons were marked by high velocity, high strikeout counts, and low walk counts, all attributes of a good reliever. His injury ended all that, and the Blue Jays' playoff hopes for the subsequent three years probably ended with it.

Three failed surgeries to repair his $10 million shoulder left Ryan discouraged and in almost constant pain. Months of rehab combined with a strict training regimen finally found him back in the major leagues, but his velocity never came back, his strikeouts plummeted and his walk totals increased. In short, he wasn't the same pitcher the Blue Jays hired to finish out games, and that was never more evident when he was given his unconditional release after the 2008 season. Since then, the Blue Jays have been crippled under the weight of his contract, almost unable to sign free agents or deal for higher-priced players.

Ryan didn't return our calls, but his agent said that he's living a "quiet life at home, enjoying some fishing and pickup games of basketball."

IN OTHER NEWS... A Rogers spokesperson, speaking under condition of anonymity, said that talks to sell the Jays to "an American conglomerate" are progressing slowly. It's unclear whether the Rogers Centre will be part of any deal, but Rogers has stated publicly that Rogers Sportsnet will not be sold.

A Tale of Two Possibilities | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
mathesond - Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 08:25 AM EST (#133725) #
So, the Jays were able to get out from under the crippling weight of Delgado's $17-19M per year contract, but not Ryan's $10M per year deal.

The future is a scary place - or a salary-capped one
VBF - Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 10:33 AM EST (#133741) #
Sounds like something Jack McCoy would say before the final credits.
Alexander - Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 11:00 AM EST (#133746) #
"J.P. called me up once I was out of the hospital and told me not to worry about when I'd be coming back, that the Jays were behind me 100% and to take as much time as I needed."

Hmmmm. Dunno about that. This seems more realistic:

"I never heard from J.P. after my accident - he would not return my calls. I turned on the fan 590 one day and heard him telling Wilner how a scout was at fault for not disclosing my tendency for high - risk activities. Wilner agreed with everything he said during the course of the conversation."
VBF - Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 11:58 AM EST (#133761) #
Why would JP not return his calls?
Ryan C - Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 02:05 PM EST (#133798) #
No no, you dont get it. JP is a robot. He relies on computers and scary math for everything and he hates scouts because they're the devil. He also has no social skills and rubs everyone the wrong way. Intentionally. And he makes babies cry just by walking in the room. And I know all this for a fact even though Ive never met the man.
VBF - Wednesday, November 30 2005 @ 02:28 PM EST (#133800) #
Richard? Is that you?
Alexander - Thursday, December 01 2005 @ 01:46 AM EST (#133903) #

"I called into the station to try and sort things out with JP. He pretended he didnt know me. Wilner got all confused, and apparently JP shot him an icy glare. Wilner sudenly forgot who I was as well. JP told Wilner that the signing of "that closer with the outrageous contract" was based purely on info he got from ex-Oakland/Jay affiliates of his and statistics he pulled from an online database, therefore clearing him of any actual responsibility or fault. Wilner agreed. Again."
Named For Hank - Thursday, December 01 2005 @ 06:56 AM EST (#133907) #
Please tell me that you're joking and don't really believe any of that... really bizarre stuff.
Alexander - Thursday, December 01 2005 @ 08:36 AM EST (#133908) #
Only half serious. ;)

A Tale of Two Possibilities | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.