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The Jays 2006 season was quite a ride.  Here are a few of the dizzying highs and the devastating lows from the perspective of pinch-hitter Joanna, who has put together her perspective on the 2006 season.

Alex Rios, April 4, 2006 – June 27, 2006

On September 24, Lexi, with his pinch-hit triple and later a double, reminded me of his old self.  The pretty Boricua had a break out first half.  For years, the Jays have been saying: “wait for it”.  And it finally came!  He was hitting and fielding like a superstar.  He made his first All-Star team.  And in the long tradition of pretty Latinos (Alomar, Cruz Jr., A. Gonzalez) he attracted the attention of Toronto girls.  They started sitting in the right field bleachers “to be near him”.  They asked, “Does Alex have a girlfriend? What’s Alex really like?  Will Alex hit a homerun for me?  Does Alex need me to have his babies?”

And then the staph infection washed away his power.  Is Alex for real?  I think so.  More like I hope so.  I guess we’ll see.  But he sure has been fun of late.

B.J. Ryan vs. Milton Bradley

This was particularly ugly.  I actively dislike the A’s.  I don’t really know why.  Maybe it’s because they always seem to play the Jays well or they are usually involved in those bad west-coast road trip swings.  Maybe I’ve got negative golden shoe associations.  Anyway, I don’t like them.  This game featured a great comeback, where they got Oakland’s pretty boy closer to blow a save.  Things were great.  A win seemed assured because BJ was on the mound.   And then Milton “I’m not a psycho, I’m just intense” Bradley came with a hammer and put a nail in the coffin.   It sucked.  The suckage continued immediately after when they got schooled by New York in Yankee Stadium, a series that featured that A.J. meltdown, where he got petulant with the home plate ump (who secretly love it when pitchers get petulant) and felt the need to battle the Gatorade cooler.  Fighting with the umps and taking frustrations out on defenseless objects, A.J.?  I’ll just call it the Milton effect.

All Star Game

For the first time since ’93, five Blue Jays were selected for the All- Star team.  As one entity, I like to call it Mt. Blue Jay, they were 31’11” tall and weighed in at 1145 lbs.  Impressive.

Yankees @ Toronto, July 20 - 23.  Blue Jays @ Minnesota, August 10- 13.

Each of these series, one at home and one on the road, felt like the good old days.  Yes, they swept neither series, but I cite these two series, as two where the team fired on all cylinders. Highlights for me: the Vernon walk off homerun vs. Mo and the Jays inducing 6 ground ball double plays in a series that (momentarily) dismantled all the work the Twins had done to get back into the race.

Roy “No Offensive Support” Halladay

Watching the latest Chacin effort, in which the Blue Jays scored 13 runs off the Red Sox, made me wonder if the Jays secretly hate Roy Halladay.  The man (truly, The Man) pitched his heart out.  He battled.  He owned.  He schooled.  He took down names.  And his teeny little mistakes (which were few) came back to bite him.  He even owned without his best stuff.  But his boys didn’t hit for him.  He must have pissed some of the baseball gods off because Roy could not buy a run of support.  Sometimes mistakes that weren’t his came back to bite him. 

Alex Cora’s fly ball + Alex Rios’ fumblin’ acrobatics + Fenway two-foot right field wall = No win for Doc.
 2-1 lead + Jeremy Accardo’s lack of control + John Gibbons’ too soon hook of Downs = no win for Doc. 
Line drive + elbow = no win for Doc. 
No win for Doc + no win for Doc + no win for Doc = Cy Young for Johan.  

I just hope Doc doesn’t hold a grudge.


There once was a kooky boy named Shea
Who let his ego get in the way.
He butted heads with Gregg Zaun
Made Gibby show his brawn
And now he plays with Barry in the Bay.

Brand New Toys on the Field.

The ’05-’06 off-season, the Jays got everyone buzzing.  Big signings made the sports media say, “Wah?” 

A.J. Burnett-   He was injured for the first half, but has since pulled it together, getting 10 wins.  Ten wins in half a season is Cy Young stuff.  Ten wins total, not so much.  But he has shown flashes of brilliance and hanging out with Halladay can only be a good thing.  Plus, he thinks Toronto is clean and that makes him endearing.

BJ Ryan- Total stud. Never gives in the hitters.  Nice dimples.  Alarmingly skinny legs.  He’s a keeper.

Troy Glaus-  I miss O-Dog.  Sometimes a lot.  But Troy’s a BSB to protect Vernon in the lineup.  And he is pretty darn smooth out there in the field for a guy who walks around like he is 75.  And he has a great head of hair. 

Lyle Overbay- Olerud v. 2.0.  Nice bat and as promised, lots of doubles. 

Bengie Molina: I’ve always liked the Molinas.  I imagine the Molina family house in Puerto Rico to be filled with catchers, learning to catch while listening to reggaeton, while Mrs. Molina stitches the names of all the boys on their chest protectors.  Unfortunately, Bengie’s defense has been spotty.  Maybe there could be a deal.  Bengie could teach his baby brother Yadier to hit, and Yadier shows him some D.

Lilly Smackdown

For whatever reason, one of my favourite aspects of pro-baseball is the weirdo ball player.  I believe Ted “the Tease” Lilly is one of them.  Arnsberg once said that his pitchers are like his sons.  If this is indeed true, Ted must be the black sheep.  So much potential. When he is on, he is really on and when he is off, it’s ugly.  And this can happen mid-inning, between pitches.  I also read that Ted has this habit of casually mentioning injuries, “Oh, by the way, I woke up the other day and my pitching arm was detached and lying on my pillow.  I re-attached it but it kind of feels weird.  Just thought I’d let you know.”

Now Ted was in the middle of blowing an 8-run lead to Oakland (those damn A’s again).  He was clearly mad and embarrassed when Gibby hooked him.  You might say his ego smarted.  And his behaviour made Gibby’s ego smart.  It was this cloud of ego pain that fogged the skip’s judgment and led him down the tunnel to smack and be smacked by his pitcher.  This made international (i.e. American) news.  It was a mess, it was ugly, and it was stupid.  But everyone apologized and Ted has pitched rather brilliantly since then.  I’d resign him.

Halladay Fan Boys

One of the things I’ve noticed about the Jays starting rotation is that they are a bit obsessed with Halladay.  Anytime one of them (especially A.J.) does well, they mention Roy, how they are just trying to be more like Roy, that they watch him and talk to him about his pitching. It amuses me to no end.

It started for AJ one cold night last December.  He knew Doc by reputation, but he had no idea what meeting him in person would do.  “Money, schmoney,” he thought. “I need the Doctor”.  Throughout the season, AJ has watched and learned.  He follows him around and hangs on his every word.  Sometimes, A.J. sits outside Roy’s house.  Wondering what he’s doing, what he’s thinking about, how he’s feeling.  He wonders if they can go to another Raptors game this winter, where the magic all began.

Ted is a bit shyer, a little less open about his feelings.  He just watches Roy from afar and sometimes, when he is really lucky, he gets to sit next to Roy on the bench.  When Ted pitches, Bengie comes out to the mound and tells him, “Hey man, your pitches are nasty.” Ted asks, “Yeah, but does Roy think my pitches are nasty?”  Bengie sighs. “Uh sure, whatever, he tells me that all the time, man.  How ‘bout makin’ a pitch?”  On his way back behind the plate, Bengie mutters, ‘Pendejo.”  Sometimes, Ted works up the nerve to call Roy up; wanting to ask him if what Bengie says is true, that Roy really believes in the nastiness of Ted’s pitches.  Sometimes he just calls to hear Roy’s voice, but hangs up without saying a word.  Roy’s hellos are enough to consider re-signing.

Now Gustavo is even sneakier.  He only sometimes talks to Roy, mostly because that stupid A.J. is always hogging him.  But one night, after a game, Gus thought “what the hell?” and stole one of Roy’s shirts out of his locker.  Gus sleeps with it under his pillow.  Why?  Because it smells like victory.

What of Josh Towers?  Poor Joshua.  He kept a Doc bobble head in his locker and grew a beard and called it “the Roy Halladay Scruff”.  Now he wakes up in a cold sweat.  Some say they could hear him calling Roy’s name in the hot night air of Syracuse. “HALLADAAAAAAAY!”

A big thanks to Joanna for the pinch-hit and we are always willing to look at other contributions.

Pinch-Hit, 2006 Season in Review | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Skills - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#156504) #

I wasn't too sure about this season review after reading the Rios section, but by "Halladay Fan Boys" I was on board. It gave me a nice chuckle while I sit here in class, learning about federal income tax law. Great job Joanna.

Ducey - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#156512) #

"Ted is a bit shyer, a little less open about his feelings."

Has anyone ever seen Ted smile?  Seriously.

I can imagine him signing for $887 million dollars this off season.  They have a press conference where he is asked out by 3 supermodels and interviewed by an extremely funny Conan Obrian.  Laughing gas is pumped into the room.  Yet Ted still has that slightly confused hang dog look on his face.

What gives?

VBF - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#156514) #

I saw a Ted smile once. I was in Cleveland watching and photographing Ted playing catch with AJ Burnett. Ted went into a crouch while AJ was working on his stuff and be bounced one low. Ted didn't try to block it, but it took a ridiculous hop and just about hit me. I kinda chuckled and Ted broke a laugh. In very Ted-like manner, it was almost like he realized he was laughing, scolded himself, and went back to his regular scheduled emotionless face.

He's quite interesting though. I think National Geographic should do a documentary on him.

Awesome stuff Cornfax!

Geoff - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#156516) #
I think the story needs an addendum on the subject of Hill and Adams.
Joanna - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#156519) #
 Eeyore is the name I sometimes call Ted.  But instead of always losing his tail, it's the strike zone that always goes missing.
jjdynomite - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#156521) #
I think Ted's head is too small for his body and that compresses his facial bone structure so he simply cannot smile.  The Beetlejuice Effect.  Anyway, Cornfax, er, Jo, nice visuals in your recap.  I would also be interested in your feminine take on the sad state of Rogers Blue Jays marketing commercials:

1. Mighty Troy hits a pinata out of the backyard.  If he, too, was blindfolded it "might" have been more impressive.
2. V-Dub plays hide-'n-seek across town.  This would have been more appropriate for the Carl Crawfords who can steal home.  How long will the girl be looking for him, until she starves?
3. Doc unleashes wasps on the kids.  Sure they may have been bad seeds, but it was not like they were throwing rocks at the nest from outside a daycare or seniors residence.

1. AJ gloats about his 5+ year old no-hitter when playing chess with a sleep-deprived 10-year-old.
2. "Kyle" cheats to get the free watch.  Maybe when he reaches free agency he can afford to buy his own.
3. Warren Sawkiw is force-fed the Alice Fazooli's all-you-can-eat buffet until he explodes like the fat dude in Monty Python's "Meaning Of Life", eliciting tears of joy from Jays fans around the world.

The last one was wishful thinking, but if any Rogers marketing people are reading this, I am available for freelance.
VBF - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#156522) #

Well if we're going to turn the discussion away from Cornfax's fun piece and towards Jays marketing commercials, I too would do differently but I'll say one thing:

They don't market to us. We're already fans. So if we like the commercials, they're probably doing something wrong. Ask Joe Schmoe who may be a sports fan but doesn't follow the Jays for one or the other (these people are becoming extinct btw) and see what he thinks about the commercial. I'm willing to bet that they stemmed some interest.

Jays marketing is by far the most important department that doesn't deal with player personnel. Like the on-field management, they're about 4 moves ahead of anyone who thought they should have done this or that. Though when I am working for them one day, I do have a couple things in mind...

Jonny German - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#156524) #

Wow, JJ, you're hard to please. Are you intentionally missing the point, the "it's always game time" premise? I find the TV commercials run-of-the-mill, but the radio spots with Lyle and A.J. are quite funny. The one you didn't mention is the one that merits criticism - Russ Adams playing foosball with his Mom.

Great work Joanna.

VBF - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#156525) #

Warren Sawkiw is force-fed the Alice Fazooli's all-you-can-eat buffet until he explodes like the fat dude in Monty Python's "Meaning Of Life", eliciting tears of joy from Jays fans around the world.

Dude, this is a classic. I actually enjoy them talking about Alice Fazoolis and seeing all the creative ways they transition to the topic of food from baseball. It's become a staple, and I hope Alice Fazoolis remains a sponsor for years to come.

"And Johnny Mac makes a diving play, sweeping the ball off the turf and into Hill's glove. Speaking of sweeping, the new clam chowder at Alice Fazoolis will sweep YOU, of your feet!"

It's like the W.B. Mason sign at Yankee Stadium. Sure it's a big ugly advertisement, but it's such a staple, it would seem odd to not have it.

Ryan Day - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#156527) #

 I didn't think the commercials were too bad, but they did seem ill-timed - "It's always Game Time" seemed kind of humourous when Burnett was on the DL for half the season and Adams was either benched or demoted.  The kid asking AJ if his arm was getting tired was particularly funny.

  I liked the Overbay one a lot, though.

jjdynomite - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#156529) #
Jonny G, I admit that the first time I heard the Kyle/Lyle commercial it was humorous, but after the 19th time per game it got very tired.  This is my problem with advertisements in general: familiarity breeds contempt.  I simply can't imagine any fairweather Jays fans who hear AJ's whiny chess partner the umpteenth time getting *more* interested in the team.

I personally feel there are funnier and more (visually, for TV) creative ways to run with the "It's Always Game Time" tagline, or "You Gotta Believe", or whatever jargon they decide to use to coin the season.  In Joanna's recap alone there were funnier anecdotes (i.e. the meme of female Jays fans lusting after Latino players) that could be turned into more appealing repeated-viewing commercials (i.e. spoofing "Chicks dig the long ball").  It's really not that difficult, in my opinion.

As for the Russ Adams foosball, correct me if I'm wrong but I think they pulled it from frequent rotation... for obvious reasons.  Now, if they had Russ Adams bulking up with Alice Fazooli's pasta because he's jealous of Aaron Hill's physique, that would one for the ages.  Or at least, one for the season.
VBF - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#156531) #

familiarity breeds contempt

For one, I don't think a hatred for a Jays commercial would cause someone to boycott the team, if they did, they certainly wouldn't last being a baseball fan, what with all the failures and percentages. You hate the commercial, but it didn't stop you from being a fan, did it?

(i.e. the meme of female Jays fans lusting after Latino players)

This has been done already so many times in baseball. The Jays even did it once, though they probably didn't pick the best Jay to do it.

The team is at the point where the city knows who they are, recognizes the star players, and is now eagerly anticipating a winner. They need to eliminate the "Hi, we're the Jays, nice to meet you" marketing idea. The Jays are a winner, 12 games over .500 and looking to build on that. That's what they should be focusing on. A winning team looking to take the pennant.

Have commercials like the replay clips at the RC. Put them to music, inspirational music, blended in with clips of the glory years past. Just an idea... but the idea is to market winning.

Of course it could all backfire, but the risk has to be taken. The Jays have the attention of Toronto. Make something of it.

Jonny German - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#156534) #
This is my problem with advertisements in general
And is that not the bigger problem? I'm much sicker of Rogers Home Phone and Texas Lonestar Grill commercials at this point than I am of the Blue Jay spots.
I personally feel there are funnier and more (visually, for TV) creative ways
You're not really playing by the rules, though. Sure, the Warren Sawkiw example is funny as a post here, but it's not a feasible concept (not that you meant it as such). Your examples involving female fans are also not so easy to do - political correctness kills most of the humour potential.
As for the Russ Adams foosball, correct me if I'm wrong but I think they pulled it from frequent rotation
Correct. First they edited out the part where he says "I'm a shortstop", then they pulled it altogether when he was sent to the minors. It was a bad call to use Russ in the first place, not being a very established player, and the script was pretty weak.
Joanna - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#156538) #

Personally, I sort of love the tv comercials.  Highlights?  Roy's fist pump ( I want to know if that was his idea, or the director's) after the kids run away from the bees.

Troy's disgusted head shake and eye roll ("pssh, these stupid kids can't even hit a freakin' pinata") and their stunned silence as it goes over the fence, like "can we still have the candy?"

Plus watching Vernon run is always fun.  Plus he gets in a dumpster (did they hose that thing out, big guy?) and the little girl going "Vernon?"

It's always fun when grown men with lots of money ruin  the fun of children, but I guess I'm kinda mean.

VBF - Wednesday, October 04 2006 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#156539) #

I think the best part of that Glaus commercial was his hair. It was gelled and slicked back with a part, like how a mother would comb her son's hair before he went to a birthday party and pulled out the finest plaid shirt she could find.

Very Millhouse.

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