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.
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.