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Here are a few random thoughts about various Jays- and baseball-related things.

  • I can see into the future, and here's what is going to happen next to Shea Hillenbrand:
    • Estimated date on which Shea Hillenbrand starts playing for his new team, probably in the AL West: July 31.
    • Estimated date on which Shea starts a hitting streak for his new club: August 1.
    • Estimated date on which one of the Toronto papers prints an interview with Shea in which he rips his old club: August 15.
    • Estimated date on which he reverts to his normal hitting level: August 22.

    I agree with Mike Green's post in the other thread: there are probably at least three versions of what happened yesterday. But if Hillenbrand did write "The ship is sinking" on the clubhouse whiteboard, he deserves to go.

  • It must be fun to be the Boston Red Sox right now. They have the division lead, and just finished playing Kansas City, a team that is rather easy to beat most of the time. Now that they've finished pounding the Royals into mush, they can sit back and watch their divisional rivals beat each other up all weekend. There is much rejoicing in New England!

  • The baseball season can be cruel. In its six months, the average player spends about 500 hours playing or watching baseball games. He performs endless weight reps, flexibility drills, skills practices, and wind sprints. He spends dozens of hours on airplane flights, eats weird food at odd times, and endures arrival times at all hours of the day and night. He plays through pain, illness, and ordinary household crises. And all this work can be outdone by the outcome of one or two bad games.

  • I have recently finished reading two books on Barry Bonds and/or steroids. I was struck by the similarities between Bonds and two other men with enormous achievements on the field and tremendous difficulties off it: Ty Cobb and Pete Rose. All three men shared a single-minded focus on the game and their place in it, to the detriment of everything else in their lives. Given what happened to Cobb (who died alone, bitter and in pain) and Rose (who wound up in jail and out of the Hall of Fame), you have to wonder what will happen to Bonds.

  • I still haven't quite figured out what I don't like about the writings of certain Toronto baseball columnists. (And if you think I'm going to name names here, you're crazy.) I sometimes get the impression, though, that certain writers look down on the very idea of being a Blue Jays fan. It's like they're carnival employees, and we're the rubes.

    But I've also realized that baseball writers and fans will always be at cross-purposes. By its very nature, a baseball writer's perspective is different from a fan's perspective: a writer sees the team close up, day after day, and his job is to examine the team with a dispassionate eye and report what he believes to be the truth. A fan, on the other hand, may be aware that their team isn't good enough, but is still hoping wildly anyway, because that's what we do.

    This is why I've never wanted to visit the clubhouse or ever meet any of the players: it's more fun to be a fan than to be an insider, I think!
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Craig B - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#151077) #

All three men shared a single-minded focus on the game and their place in it, to the detriment of everything else in their lives. Given what happened to Cobb (who died alone, bitter and in pain)

No comment on Pete Rose or Barry Bonds, whose stories are both far from finished and for both of whom I still retain a great deal of hope.  But I think this is very unfair to Ty Cobb, who was very successful as a man of business after his baseball career and founded an educational charity which continues to do good work in Georgia to this day and a hospital which still serves his hometown.  Cobb also helped dozens of young players who came after him - yeah, he was horribly prickly and thoroughly unpleasant, but he contributed a great deal to the society around him.

Many of us will die alone and will not distinguish ourselves when we do, surrounded by friends or no.

Dave Till - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#151078) #
Craig: thanks for the info on Cobb. My description was based on an article I read years ago by Al Stump, in which Cobb was portrayed as difficult to get along with, to put it mildly. But that's just one data source.

Interestingly enough: according to Wikipedia, Cobb's immediate family were at his funeral, but only three men from major league baseball were there, plus a representative from the Hall of Fame. Not sure if that means anything.

And I just looked up Bill James' entry on Cobb in his Historical Abstract, and he had this to say: "When Ty Cobb felt threatened he lashed out at the world. He felt threatened a lot - but as long as he wasn't challenged, he was a very nice man." I've known people like this - the problem, of course, is that, with some people, it is never clear what constitutes "threatened", except when it's too late. Did Cobb's friends and acquaintances tend to step very lightly around him?

jjdynomite - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#151080) #
Hi Dave, I read "Game of Shadows" myself; it is almost shocking how Bonds continually took advantage of his (enhanced) skills to the extent of thinking he's above the law, re: tax evasion.  Almost.  As the Shea situation reiterates to a much lesser extent, people who are mean to others (f----ot comment to Epstein) and disruptive to colleagues have no place on my team, whether they "bring intensity" or otherwise.

There has to be a clean hierarchy in a clubhouse (or in any organization) or a team is going nowhere.  That's why Joe Torre will be going to the Hall of Fame as a manager, and Gibbons probably won't, because Torre can maintain the hierarchy in the face of prima donnas like Sheffield and Johnson.

Other than that, the Jays have had crazy run of bad circumstances in this year of high expectations:
* Towers lost it
* Burnett and Chacin missed months (not weeks)
* The bullpen in general has been suprisingly weaker *than 2005* across the board, except for BJ
* The Russ Adams Experience
* Rios breaks out and then gets a staph infection (which I had 14 years ago, I had no illusion when the diagnosis came in that he'd be out for a month plus; as a healthy 19 year old, I was KO-ed for a month)
* Taubenheim, replacement starter follows up with his own staph infection
* Shea again

Good fortune:
* Johnson, Cat and Zaun playing better than expected (Rios *was* playing great)
* Hill looks like a player.  That's about it.

Only the Yanks have had similar adversities, with Sheffield/Matsui and Pavano/Chacon, but an extra $120 million can compensate for a lot.  Did I mention their manager is Joe Torre?
Craig B - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 12:08 PM EDT (#151082) #

Did Cobb's friends and acquaintances tend to step very lightly around him?

Not to put too fine a point on it, Cobb didn't have many friends.  He was too quick to anger and too slow to forgive for that.  Cobb had many friendships and acquaintances founder on tiny slights that the rest of us would never notice.  And drinking made it worse, and he drank a lot.  A lot a lot.

That doesn't mean that he wasn't a helpful and generous man, or that he was personally miserable.  You know, we don't have many public figures of his type anymore, but once upon a time they were common...

Twilight - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#151095) #
What I don't understand is how quickly Hillenbrand was shown the door. I'm sure things have been brewing for a while, but a few professional, grown men can't reconcile a few differences? This is about baseball, not politics, how friendly the front office is, or which players are fooling around with what. In professional sports the bottom line is making money, and it's hard to make money when you aren't winning anything. At least for the sake of the team, keep Hillenbrand around until they can work out a trade which will at least get something for the Jays. I mean, can you expect to make the playoffs DHing Chad Motolla? It's hard to play your bargaining chips when they're DFA'd.

While Hillenbrand's conduct leaves a lot to be desired, so does JP's. He blasted his own players at the All-Star Break for their supposed lack of run production, when it's obvious that scoring runs and hitting is not the team's weakness. Yes, he apologized, and yes, he is an emotional guy, but obviously emotion is not confined to one member of the organization. There have been plenty of times where I have had to work disputes out in the workplace and in school because there was a much greater goal at stake that was not worth the bickering.

This is such small beans that it will be completely forgotten in a short time. Hillenbrand doesn't hate JP or Gibbons, and JP and Gibbons don't hate Shea. There are many more mature ways to deal with things than just pushing them out of your face. Sure, I may sound overly diplomatic, but I have never met someone that I couldn't get along with, at least in a non-personal working relationship. This whole thing is just silly and if everyone would shut up and calm down, maybe things would work out.

Mike Forbes - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 01:35 PM EDT (#151101) #

Just something to note here, Rotoworld is reporting that the Jays are hot and heavy for Julio Lugo...

 "The Blue Jays have always been a good team, a winning team," Lugo said. "It's a good place to play. I like Toronto." - I like Julio's comments way better than Shea's. ;)

Dave Till - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 02:11 PM EDT (#151107) #
Sure, I may sound overly diplomatic, but I have never met someone that I couldn't get along with, at least in a non-personal working relationship.

Sadly, I have. (And I'm very easy to get along with in person.) A good working relationship requires both parties to show at least some willingness to be reasonable. If one party is constantly unreasonable, the relationship is unworkable.

I guess the moral of this story is: never have a player on your roster who isn't happy to be there. (This is known as the Boomer Wells Syndrome.) The Jays may have some problems, but they're trying their very best to be a winning organization, they're not cheapskates, and they're not owned by George Steinbrenner. There are likely a number of players who would be eager to come here.
Geoff - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 02:20 PM EDT (#151110) #
I wouldn't take Lugo's comments to the media at face value, just as I wouldn't take Vernon's comments at face value.

As a leader of the team, and a spokesman for the clubhouse, and still a player union rep if I'm not mistaken, Vernon has a small duty to paint every player in a positive light, particularly if the player is mad as hell and DFA'd. He'll say he's a good guy and misunderstood and will be missed. It doesn't mean that privately, he's satisfied that Shea's on the way out and that he thinks that management is wise and doing what should be done. Vernon wouldn't want to see any bridges burt.

I also don't take Shea's comments about how much fun he has with his teammates at face value. He's posturing, as one would expect.

Interesting to find out if the "This is a sinking ship." writing on the wall is true or not, as Shea completely denied that he or anyone else wrote that in today's interview on The Fan. He also denies ripping the flag off.

Shea's portrayal is that the manager is a hothead, and I don't expect any player to confirm that until he's gone. And from Shea's comments before last night's game, he seems to be quite the hothead himself despite how cool and collected he appears in today's interview.
Flex - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 02:42 PM EDT (#151116) #
I heard the interview and Hillenbrand did not sound credible when he denied those things. There was a clear shift in his manner and he mumbled his words and sounded like somebody looking for a way out.
iconoclast37 - Thursday, July 20 2006 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#151121) #

Shea's portrayal is that the manager is a hothead, and I don't expect any player to confirm that until he's gone.

On the ESPN day game broadcast, l'affaire Hillenbrand was discussed.  In particular, Hillenbrand's accusation that Gibbons burst into the team meeting out of control was raised.  For what it's worth, Steve Phillips, the commentator and former Mets general manager, mentioned that he and Gibbons go back a long way, and that Gibbons is, in his opinion, "a very laid-back guy."

I have followed Hillenbrand fairly closely during his career, and I'll say it again:  this is a petulant, immature player with an overinflated concept of his talent and worth.  Ripping club management to reporters (because they didn't congratulate him in a timely fashion on he and his wife's adoption!) was bad enough.  Writing "This is a sinking ship" on the team chalkboard, and then trying to pass it off as humour, speaks volumes.

A manager who doesn't maintain discipline in his clubhouse, who allows an individual to poison the well, is not much of a manager, and will lose the respect of his team.  Gibbons did exactly what he should have done.

Do you think the man standing in the visitor's dugout tonight would have done differently?  How about the manager of the Cardinals?

Think about it ...

Geoff - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 08:28 AM EDT (#151162) #
A bit of trivia for the Wells homer:

Now that Vernon has joined the illustrious group of major leaguers to get a regular season home run off the great Mariano Rivera,
[a group that includes Andruw Jones, Juan Gonzalez, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, Griffey Jr, Bobby Bonilla, Mark McGwire, Pudge, Jim Thome, Mo Vaughn, Bengie Molina, Luis Sojo, Ed Sprague, Troy Glaus, Bill Selby and Jack Cust among others...]
well now Vernon has a chance to join the exclusive group of players who has hit more than one home run off the great Mariano Rivera. An exclusive group of two players, not mentioned above, who have hit two home runs off yadda yadda yadda.

No player has yet hit three, and depending where Shea goes, he's still in the running for his second. Troy and Bengie are also searching for number 2. Let the race begin...

Jordan - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 10:02 AM EDT (#151170) #

Looks like the Blue Jays aren't the only Team Turmoil at the Rogers Centre right now. A-Rod's error saved the Jays' bacon last night.

Bringing in Ryan was the right move. Doc wasn't necessarily tired, but he wasn't at his sharpest last night, and Giambi pounces on mistake pitches. Ryan makes lefty hitters look terrible, and Giambi ended up on base only because of an opposite-field dinker (Four Seamer makes a good point about the wisdom of the shift with Ryan pitching -- Giambi is not going to pull BJ Ryan to the right side). If I'm John Gibbons, I don't hesitate to make that move -- that was one of those "the benefits are overwhelming" changes. Imagine if Giambi had tagged Doc for the game-tying HR with Ryan rested and ready in the pen.

Chuck - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 10:12 AM EDT (#151172) #
Agree with Jordan (and others) here. When Halladay gets tired, he's known to hang a curve or two. Ryan was the right move. Sadly, he's human.

I don't want to make too much of one AB, but after Giambi's single, Ryan was either being very careful with ARod (thus the 5-pitch walk) or was uncharacteristically wild. Given that he hasn't seemed to pitch around anyone all year, I'm thinking that it's the latter, and that a little fatigue may be setting in. Either that, or Hillenbrand left a little kryptonite in Ryan's locker as a parting gift.
Mike Green - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#151173) #
Ryan to face Giambi for Halladay with 2 outs in the eighth of a 4-3 game?  That's an easy one.  Wait, life kinda imitates "art".
jjdynomite - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#151174) #
Funny article, Jordan; Mussina has always been an ornery type, but as opposed to Shea he actually backs it up with Hall of Fame numbers.  And as a starter his unplesantness impacts the field only every 5 days.  Still, if I had a choice I'd pick a character like Doc any day; Doc would never come down on a teammate like that.

My only problem with Gibbons of last night was that BJ already pitched the night prior in a "loser-hold" type situation (is there a term for an ace reliever coming in to "preserve" a close deficit?)  Yes, Wednesday night was only 13 pitches, but he already blew a save this week when pitching on no days rest.  It's therefore unsurprising that BJ was less than dominant against the Yanks.  They were lucky hits by Giambi and Posada, but they were still hits, not errors, and he also walked two.

It is not a stretch to assume that Mussina-Halladay would have been a close game, and as such, BJ should have been held out of Wednesday's game in preparation (and probably used on Tuesday instead of Loogy in an actual winner-hold situation with men on, which is about as high leverage as you can get).

But hey, I forgive Gibbons, he obviously had a fair bit on his mind Wednesday, like contemplating quitting if Hillenbrand stayed on the team while JP was busy getting acupuncture treatment.  Really makes you wonder why Gibbons was lobbying so hard to keep him in spring training; maybe he thought he was the one who could finally put Shea's head on straight.  We'll probably never know until Gibbon's tell-all book comes out.

Well, let's hope for a blowout tonight... by the good guys, of course.
Dave Till - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 10:37 AM EDT (#151177) #
Looks like the Blue Jays aren't the only Team Turmoil at the Rogers Centre right now. A-Rod's error saved the Jays' bacon last night.

Hoo ha! Mike Mussina is one of my least favourite players ever. Recall his showing up Cito Gaston by getting himself up to warm up in the bullpen in the 1993 All-Star Game. Also recall his complaining that the ceremony honouring Tom Cheek was interfering with his pre-game preparations. Seeing him get stiffed by poor defense adds happy sparkles to my day.

I agree that replacing Halladay with Ryan was a good move. B.J. was just unlucky, is all.

Credit goes to the bullpen, which has been dissed a lot lately: B.J. got the Yanks out in the 9th, Speier got 'em out in the 10th, and Tallet got 'em out in the 11th.
Chuck - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#151179) #
Does it seem right that Mussina got charged with 4 earned runs last night (Dave's unbridled dislike for the man notwithstanding)?

A quirk in the scoring rules effectively allowed ARod's error to not be taken into account. Hill scored as a result of the error, but this was treated no differently than if ARod had fielded the ball cleanly and then not thrown it, just standing there watching the world go by.

To my mind, one of Hill or Johnson should have been out on that play, so with both of them scoring, one of them should have been considered an unearned run.

I wouldn't have thought that this situation would be analogous to an outfielder's throwing error that did not cost an out but simply allowed for baserunner advancement., but it sure seems to be treated that way. In other words, had ARod fielded the groundball and not thrown it anywhere, Johnson would get an FC (as he did) and Hill would have stayed at 3rd, to eventually score in the inning anyway. All ARod's error did was allow for Hill to advance. The error wasn't charged with the assumption of a blown out on the play. Since Hill would have later advanced anyway, the error doesn't factor in.
zeppelinkm - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#151192) #
Maybe the Yanks will appeal, like the Cubs did for Maddux.

Pistol - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 02:16 PM EDT (#151193) #

Looks like the Blue Jays aren't the only Team Turmoil at the Rogers Centre right now

In Olney's blog he wrote that based on his time covering the O's that Mussina's comments were definately calculated and that he wouldn't have said them if he didn't think he was speaking for the lockerroom.

MatO - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#151195) #
I see a trade opportunity.  Hillenbrand for ARod.  The Yanks get a "gamer" to play third base and the Jays take that "wuss" off their hands to play SS and the Yanks throw in some cash too :-)
TimberLee - Friday, July 21 2006 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#151198) #
I hate to quibble over your heading, but we don't do "sods" at the Rogers Centre.
ken_warren - Saturday, July 22 2006 @ 01:01 AM EDT (#151230) #

I agree that replacing Halladay with Ryan was a good move. B.J. was just unlucky, is all.

How about the same understanding when SS is "just unlucky".
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