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The Blue Jays couldn't keep it going yesterday afternoon against Mike Mussina, after knocking Randy Johnson up and down Front Street. The result is a simple two-game split, leaving both teams at the .500 mark they entered the series with, and further behind the Red Sox.

Now, while the Advance Scouts are generally some of the best work on this site (he says humbly), I was thinking the other day: do we ever look back at them after the fact? Not to point out the flaws, of course, but to see how helpful it was. The fact that I'm reviewing an Advance Scout that I didn't write is purely coincidental; I assure you I am a fan of Bruce Wrigley's writing -- I actually have a book of his from a few years ago and I endorse it heartily. So that's not the point here -- it's simply a fun exercise in hindsight.

On to the Advance Scout Review!

General: The Yankees came into the series hitting .301 with a .502 slugging average -- it's now down a bit after they went .279 and .471 respectively ... The top-to-bottom offense fell off somewhat, as just six different regulars (plus Kelly Stinnett) got a hit in Tuesday's game and five regulars did so yesterday (plus Andy Phillips) ... Still two games under their Pythagorean record of 9-5 ... Speaking of indifferent defense, how about Gary Sheffield? ... Shawn Chacon was used out of the bullpen on Tuesday, two days after doing so on Sunday, so give Bruce another point ... Whatever "Satan, Lord of Darkness" refers to, I wasn't aware of it yesterday. The only non-baseball person I saw on the diamond was Cindy Klassen, who is possibly the exact opposite of the devil ...

Mariano Rivera: Nothing out of the ordinary here -- though after being held out of Tuesday's game, he was probably coming in yesterday even if it wasn't a save situation ...

Jason Giambi: Went a combined 1-for-6 against Chacin and Lilly, just in line with his now-career marks of 5-for-24 ... Was pretty bad defensively, at least one time, on Tuesday -- where was that throw going, anyway? ...

Randy Johnson: Not so tough to get a hit off this time, with nine base knocks by the Blue Jays ... Alex Rios picked up a double and a homer in the first two frames off Johnson, Johnson singled and walked, and Molina got a hit -- so their past success continued ...

Mike Mussina: Has yet to pitch in Yankee Stadium this year ... Allowed seven hits (six singles) after allowing six hits (all singles) against Minny ... Owned the Jays in the day game ...

Bernie Williams: Rose his average against non-KC pitching to .167 with his 1-for-5 series showing ...

Johnny Damon: Bruce Wrigley went 2-for-3 here ... Damon put up an 0-fer vs. the lefties (check) ... Showed off some Torii Hunter-like moves (hardly like The Maestro/Herbert von Karajan comparison, so nope) and is, amazingly, still a goofball! ...

Alex Rodriguez: No longer in the slump, with homers in both games ... Was better against Chacin than Lilly, as expected ... Still has no hits against B.J. Ryan (but don't look that up or else you'll see why) ... Wasn't up with the bases loaded, but was walked to load them yesterday -- am I the only one who didn't like that move? ...

Gary Sheffield: Had a nice lefthanded pitcher buffet, with five hits in six AB ... Stole another base, even if it was a double steal with Jeter ...

Robinson Cano: Did not walk, and neither did Hill or White -- as of this writing, Monroe was walkless in the bottom of the fifth. (Actually, Rondell White is hitting a lovely .098 and was replaced by Ruben Sierra -- who also batted cleanup! Mike Redmond replaced Joe Mauer, and batted third. The Twins do realize they can change the batting order, right?) ...

Kyle Farnsworth: Faced two batters, got them both out. His lats look fine ...

All in all, a fine job by Bruce Wrigley. Now, as for my thoughts on yesterday's game:

Attending the Game

Believe it or not, this is my first time seeing the Yankees in person. I've at least seen the Red Sox, but that was in Fenway. And I now understand what everyone's saying: Yankee fans are everywhere. I counted six on the GO Train, four more in Union Station, and ten more on the way over. It was easy to tell who was cheering for the New Yorkers -- once A-Rod's homer went over the wall, the pinstriped fans rose, which raises two questions:
Why do Yankee jerseys worn by the fans have names on the back?
Why do ten year olds screech for the Yankees, but simply cheer for Toronto at a level that can be heard by all mammals?

The ten year olds, by the way, were everywhere in 524. It was a school field trip day, but I question bringing the students to a day game, instead of going at night and not using school time for baseball time. As much fun as it is to skip school for Opening Day, "Random Wednesday Game" doesn't have the same pull. And let's be honest, the only schooling going on yesterday was Mike Mussina against Troy Glaus.

I did enjoy reading all the names of the schools in attendance off the ribbon boards, though. There were apparently both "Pope John Paul" and "Pope Paul" contingents in the stands, not to mention "Monsignor Percy Johnson" which I thought was referencing a VIP at the game before it was pointed out to me that a) that's a school in the, uh, non-good part of Toronto and b) when's the last time a "Monsignor" was at a baseball game, anyway?

The 500 level seats are still the best value in baseball. The only issue is that you lose a dimension on the ball. Height has no more meaning, which shouldn't change that much anyway -- you always watch the outfielders not named Gomes to determine where the ball is going. But the kids didn't realize this, and every fly ball was an expected homerun. I'm not disparaging the children, by the way. They do provide noise, a welcome change from the previous Rogers Centre experiences of "let's cheer for the stupid predetermined truck race and shut up when Wells steps in to the box."

It's hard to follow a game in person at Rogers Centre, though. There are a lot of distractions: people standing up (as one person in front of me did FOR AN ENTIRE HALF INNING...ahem, pardon me...), the wave going by, screaming kids yelling about a $4.50 ice cream sandwich, learning about Aaron Hill's bowling trophies, my mom drooling over Johnny Damon's mimboness, subtracting the length of the Skywalk hike from the departure time of the 4:10 train to make sure we get there on time, Sportsnet's Jaysvision hockey update in the fifth or sixth inning, and the bizarre "here's Scott Schoeneweis, so let's show on the scoreboard a black stick man with a red pumpkin-shaped head walking down a fashion runway with roses thrown at his feet to signify the power of a LOOGY" introduction thing.

And finally, I cannot tell you how sad I am that I did not get to witness "The Eric Hinske Experience" in person.
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Craig B - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 09:22 AM EDT (#145494) #

you always watch the outfielders not named Gomes to determine where the ball is going

Wouldn't it make sense, if you had Aubrey Huff or Jonny Gomes or Jason Dubois or someone like that in the outfield, to just hire Andre Dawson or Dwighht Evans as a coach to sit in the stands behind him or next to him and shout at him where to go, what base to throw to, etc.?  I like to refer to this as "taking the guesswork out of bad outfielding".

"Left.... Down.... Rotate 62 Degrees..."

VBF - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 09:42 AM EDT (#145496) #

Why do Yankee jerseys worn by the fans have names on the back?

I was always under the impression that the *replica* jerseys which are cheaper have the names, while the authentics don't. I almost barfed when I saw a Babe Ruth jersey with his name spelled on the back.

There is an interesting stat I'd like to point out provided by Kevin Elster who is in charge of Blue Jays Ticket Operations. At any given day at the Rogers Centre, visiting team's fans only consist of 35% of the game attendance at best. There wasn't more than 8,000 Yankee fans at the game yesterday.

One thing I've picked up by going to games on the Upper Deck is that when the ball gets really, really small, really really quickly, it's usually gone. You can also tell from the body movement of the outfielders.

I'm not sure about yesterday, but Tuesday was an electric, 95% pro-Jays atmosphere. The 48,000 fans there were as loud as 48,000 fans anywhere else, and not for any free giveaway either.

Tom Servo - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#145502) #
Actually, they were giving away Blue Jays pencil cases at the RC yesterday. Since my son is under 14, he was the lucky recipient of one of those little beauties.

Exactly what a 19-month-old is going to do with a pencil case, though, is beyond me.

It's too bad the Jays didn't win. I'd have liked to have a better story to tell Gabriel about his first baseball game. Instead, we'll get to laugh at people with names on the backs of their Yankee jerseys. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Anders - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#145507) #
I was always under the impression that the *replica* jerseys which are cheaper have the names, while the authentics don't. I almost barfed when I saw a Babe Ruth jersey with his name spelled on the back.

I saw a guy weaing a Babe Ruth Jersey, except it wasnt a real Yankees jersey (you could clearly tell by seeing the front - it didnt have buttons, it was a sort of pull over) Anyway, it had Babe Ruth's whole fricking name on the back - Babe Ruth. It was so stupid it made me dizzy.
Adrock - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#145513) #

I was at both the Tuesday and Wednesday games and both were great experiences.  At yesterday's game, I was lucky enough to sit 6 rows up, directly behind the Yankee's on deck circle. 

It was a great place from which to heckle, and an even better place to watch Mike Mussina.  While he's on the downside of his career, he was un-be-lievable yesterday.  He was throwing 4 pitches for strikes, with pinpoint command, anywhere in the count, all game long.  I believe he only threw 4 first pitch balls all game.  While it was disappointing to watch the Jays go down so easily, it was a masterful performance, even better than his line showed.

They were also great seats from which to heckle.  For Derek Jeter: "Other than the money, and the championship rings, and all the beautiful women, what have you got Derek?  Nothing!!!" as well as "Do you ever tell A-Rod that nobody likes him?"  I actually earned a smile, which was gratifying.

I did not earn a smile from A-Rod for:  "You're the best player in baseball.  You play hard every day.  You've never been arrested.  And still.  Nobody likes you!!!" followed by  "Chi-Chi Rodriguez is more popular than you.  Ivan Rodriguez is more popular than you.  Sue Rodriguez is more popular than you."  A tad off-side, I know, but I avoid swearing, and for the fans in the stands who are up on the state of the law on voluntary euthanasia in Canada, a little something for them. 

Rather than a chuckle, A-Rod ignored me totally, then stepped up to the plate and smashed a home run.  I guess he showed me.  Still, nobody likes him.

And, to bring a close to the list of "funny" things I yelled at Yankees yesterday, to Jason Giambi:  "Hey Jason, congratulations.  You're the Giambi brother who didn't need 'roids to play major league ball."  No response, but no home run either.

A quick note:  Patrick Elster is the VP of the Jays, and one hell of a guy.  Kevin Elster is his brother. 

And, finally, a stupendous coincidence:  I went to the game with my friend Jules.  On the way there, I called my friend Rick and said "hey, buddy, it's 20 degrees out and the dome's open, you should leave work and come to the game."  5 minutes later, Jules and I have sat down in our spectacular seats, and who should come down the aisle and sit right next to us, but Rick.

"How did you get these seats?" I asked.

"Just bought them from a scalper." says Rick.

Given that he would never buy a seat in the upper bowl, I put the odds of that happening at around 22,000-1. 

"Of all the seats, in all the stadiums, in all the the world..."


Leigh - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 02:08 PM EDT (#145517) #

Adrock, perhaps you and Rosterite Mike D. could get together and heckle:  "Hey ARod - Check Your Head",  "Hey Jeter, you've got the range of a Brass Monkey",  or (using nasal voice) "Hey Ladies".

VBF - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#145519) #

The Jays need 109,000 fans to pass through the turnstiles this weekend to boost their average per game attendance from 27,632 to the 30,000 mark. According to this article, they are expecting full to near full houses. It will be nice to end April with attendance hovering around 30,000 per game. If that can be accomplished, the chances are strong to average 35,000 per game, which would be an above average league attendance and surplant Toronto as a great baseball city-- a reputation that has sorely been lacking for quite a few years.

It also mentioned that the Gardiner will be closed for the entire weekend, so fans need to find other means of getting to the ballpark whether via sideroads, TTC, etc. It'd be a shame to miss the first few innings of either game to be foolishly stuck in traffic.

Joe - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#145525) #
the Gardiner will be closed for the entire weekend
People drive to the stadium? That's inconcievable to me. Take the TTC or GO Transit to Union Station and walk the rest of the way. Anything else is crazy.

Craig B - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 09:19 PM EDT (#145537) #
Take the TTC or GO Transit to Union Station and walk the rest of the way. Anything else is crazy.

Which is easy if you live in Toronto, Joe, or for someone like me who has a GO pass.  But for four people to take the bus/train from Hamilton costs sixty-four bucks.  Parking is twelve, at most, and driving is faster to boot so long as you don't leave right after the game.  So I see why other people do it!
Mike D - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 09:41 PM EDT (#145539) #

Craig's right, Joe.  The cost of and access to public transportation (plus parking at the station), and the availability and cost of parking -- even near the RC on game day -- make driving from the outskirts to downtown a way more rational move in Toronto than in virtually any other big city I've been to. 

If Toronto wants people to "think green," they need to tax parking more heavily and offer way more trains and buses to the game.  From Mississauga, there used to be gameday trains dedicated to getting to and from the ballgame.  (They'd wait around in the event of extra innings.)  But as ridership on those trains diminished post-MLB strike, fares went up and frequency went down, and so on and so on.  This vicious circle pretty much ensured that GO and TTC is simply not  a "Better Way" than driving for the 905 set, since parking is actually pretty affordable and plentiful downtown.

The city and province have to take the step of accepting the possibility that it's worthwhile to schedule some trains and buses that may not be filled to 100% capacity if they're serious of wanting to encourage public transit to sporting events.  As it is, it's pretty much only a no-brainer to subway it if you live or work walking distance from a TTC stop.

Magpie - Thursday, April 20 2006 @ 10:15 PM EDT (#145541) #
Anything else is crazy.

Hey! There are those of us who - well, there's me, at least - who actually pedal our bicycles to the RC.  Though I must admit that the getting home afterwards is not nearly so much fun (five kilometers, uphill all the way.) With a heavy, ancient laptop slung across my back....

I may be getting too old for this...
Paul D - Friday, April 21 2006 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#145561) #
Which is easy if you live in Toronto, Joe, or for someone like me who has a GO pass.  But for four people to take the bus/train from Hamilton costs sixty-four bucks.

Very true, but it's also true that if you live in Hamilton, you can drive, just not to the Stadium.  There's free parking on weekends and after 3PM at a number of GO Train and subway stations.   If parking's only 11 bucks even that might not be worth it, but on days like Wednesday, when it appeared to be that all of downtown Toronto was packed, and it took us the first 3 innings to find a parking spot and hike back to the Rogers Centre, the appeal of not parking is very very strong.
Joe - Friday, April 21 2006 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#145562) #
Several things:

Driving in to the stadium from Durham Region is simply put, not an option. Ever. I can't speak to the traffic on other major parts of the highway systems, but the DVP and the 401 near it is packed close to 100% of the time.

"Game-wait" trains, and special deals for games (Rogers, are you reading this? Talk to GO Transit!), would definitely help. The Group Pass already does - it's 35 bucks for two adults and two children to go to the game and back from Hamilton.

Yes, it's easier for people who are already GO pass holders. And maybe I'm wired differently than most, but I'd much rather take the bus or a train than drive in heavy traffic. So much less stress! I honestly can't fathom doing anything different.
Joe - Friday, April 21 2006 @ 10:45 AM EDT (#145563) #
Oh, and by the way - Parking is always free at every GO station.
braden - Friday, April 21 2006 @ 12:08 PM EDT (#145573) #
The Gardiner will now remain open all weekend.  They have postponed the construction due to the weather forecast.
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