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Limb by limb and tooth by tooth
Stirring up inside of me
Every hour
I wish that I,

The 2021 Blue Jays certainly haven't been bulletproof thus far, with their 17-16 record and sitting four games back of the surprising Boston Red Sox (we just can't have nice things, can we?). On this off day, like last time I'm gonna take a quick look at a few positives and a few negatives. Lets roll.

Top of the Second

Marcus Said -- Nobody sure seems to pondering Marcus Semien's potentially fluke 2019 season lately. He still seems strangely allergic to hitting the ball to the opposite field (before Sunday's game it was 9.8 percent according to BBRef, while his career average is 18.9 percent) and the stats and eyes agree he's pulling everything... it's just that he's now hitting the ball much harder while doing it. Geez, it's still hard to truly know what this guy is... his isolated slugging percentage is now in line with his breakout 2019 season as is his average exit velocity, but how much of that is boosted by his excellent series back home in Oakland? I still can't draw any conclusions on Semien: he also started slow in 2020 but as we all know kicked it into high gear later on (apologizes for the accidental rhymes there, I know it is a bad habit many readers cannot bear). Hey though, with Spring Shoes/Gorgeous George back on the IL shelf (that dude needs a good nickname)... Semien finding his bat, even just an extended hot streak, is exactly what this battered team needs.

(Also, double bonus points for anyone who caught my Sloan reference).

Bullpen Again -- I think at this point the front office deserves some credit: they have consistently been able to assemble solid bullpen arms even for otherwise dreadful teams, and this season so far is the jewel of that crown. Last time I said in half-jest that the bullpen was the MVP of the team so far, and while I'm not gonna actually make that case (don't worry!) I will say again that with all the injuries and slow starts from certain hitters... it's frightening to think how this year might be going if most of these relievers had merely been okay instead of brilliant, never mind *gulp* bad. Some of these great comebacks would've been impossible without shutout reliever innings.

The injuries though (I'll get to that later) are clearly challenging the depth, and it's simply impossible to keep asking so much from these key guys without it finally blowing up (like Friday in Houston). Here's a something, and a something I'm not necessarily arguing for: say Nate Pearson takes another start or two and continues struggling... maybe you try him in the Trent Thornton role instead? Multiple innings out of the pen, so that he's still reasonably stretched out and he can learn more about how to get major league hitters out, trusting his stuff and getting more comfortable. It's not sexy but it's also not giving up on him as a starting pitcher yet, it's simply giving him a chance to find what works at this highest level. You obviously don't want to yank him back and forth like Kelvim Escobar (it's no coincidence he had his best seasons after leaving). As for Thornton himself, I do wonder if they're being cautious (considering his injury problems last year) and are thus tentative about committing to him as a full time starting pitcher.   

Robert Glenn Ray and The Curiously Tight Pants -- Ray walked nine batters in his first two starts of the season in a total of ten innings. Since then? Well in that span he's walked as many major league hitters as I have (MLB hitters would love my low 50s slop). The last time Robbie Ray had three consecutive MLB starts without issuing a base-on-balls? That would be... never. Even in his all-star 2017 season his best run was two starts and that only happened once. Hey, I don't expect him to be Tom Glavine out there, but Ray at least getting his walk rate to an average-ish level would be substantial. He still gives up way too many home runs (and always has), but he also doesn't give up many hits either.

The biggest question though, as Arden Zwelling, Drew Fairservice and Tao of Stieb among countless others have commented on: why the hell are his pants so tight??? Is that why he grunts so much? Did the equipment manager misread his measurements? Did he gain a ton of lower body weight while nursing his elbow injury? Is it 1978 and he just really likes tight pants? The queries are endless.

Penthouses and Basements -- This season throughout MLB has been wild thus far, with already 4(!) no-hitters (as a Reds fan, I wish I'd seen Miley's live but the condensed version is worth a watch) and the amazing Shohei Ohtani doing things few have ever done. What has interested me, at least for the purpose of this piece, is how nobody thus far is running away with any division, nor is anyone completely burnt toast yet (except the Tigers). It's still early, and if the Giants wind up being a Top 2 team in the National League that would be ridiculous and hilarious. The point is that it seems half the teams in MLB are currently in that same range as the Blue Jays: jumping back and forth around the .500 line like Homer Simpson over the Australian border. Nobody is running away with anything yet either, which is also refreshingly hopeful. Could be a fun summer to watch these races teeter... just as long as the Red Sox fall back onto the see-saw at least. Please give me that, I've endured too much these past several months.

Bottom of the Second

Injuries, Damn Injuries -- Seriously, this has become tragically absurd. I am somewhat concerned about the bullpen now, which has been so good but now Dolis is out (hopefully not for long) and David Phelps (which considering the ominousness of what we've heard... probably is much worse). George Springer is back on the IL too of course, which is multiple flavours of disappointment... especially how good his bat looked even when he was so limited. Kinda like we got the slider version of Springer, not the entire juicy burger (sorry I also write food reviews, heh). We haven't seen Julian Merryweather since early April, Teoscar Hernandez missed three weeks with Freaking COVID(TM), Alejandro Kirk messed up his hip just as his bat was ready to steal a job, Anthony Castro and his frisbee slider looked like a thing for a while... it just goes on and on.

House of Lourdes -- He is historically streaky, and I think with Springer out you at least keep sending him out to see if he finally gets going... but it's been pretty ugly for the younger Gurriel thus far. The eye test concludes he isn't hitting the ball hard at all, and the stats indeed confirm the observation (an ISO slugging of .093 coming into Sunday, compared to .206 for his career). Gurriel is never going to get on base via his patience, and he doesn't strike out a ton either (his K rate in 2021 is exactly within his career norms)... it's just that he's putting the ball in play a lot without any mustard on it. At this point, I'm somewhat concerned. Even his hits seem to be little bloops or seeing eye numbers, not the lasers we've seen before. As an outfielder... I think we can all agree he isn't particularly great out there. I genuinely cringe when he's planted under a fly ball and his body language seems unsure, though the actual problem seems to be his initial read on a ball hit right to him. For a corner outfielder that is indeed the hardest ball to instantly react to, and a reminder that he is still a natural infielder playing out there. Personally, I don't think he's as much of a butcher out there as Teoscar Hernandez was a couple years ago. Meanwhile, Gurriel's arm from the outfield remains all kinds of awesome. Holy smokes. There was a play Sunday where I was sure the runner from second would score, but he stopped because of Gurriel. They have become afraid. He's got the tools, as they say.

Seriously, Injuries -- It seems impossible to comprehend, considering what we've witnessed and endured, but the Blue Jays are currently not the most injured team in MLB. I think it was Andrew Stoeten (a seemingly unpopular name in these parts) who pointed out the Padres and Brewers each have 13 players on the IL as of Saturday. The Brewers have been so wrecked with injuries they've been using Luke Maile as their everyday catcher for a week. Seriously! It is hurting the Blue Jays more than the average team, but this is a trend throughout MLB this season so far: everybody's getting hurt. Heck, my favourite player in all of MLB just broke his thumb and is out for weeks now... we just can't have nice things.

I am objectively curious why injuries have been so prevalent in 2021. Thankfully I can ask such a question on Da Box, with a discourse several tiers above the "these overpaid babies can't hold a candle to the toughness of players back fifty years ago etc" (I'd counter and say players obviously got seriously hurt back then also, but many couldn't say anything for multiple social and financial reasons so were forced to play through such ailments). Seriously though, my straw man cast aside.. why are so many players going on the IL this year? Are teams just being more cautious than usual? Is an effect of the shortened 2020 season that just threw the routines of these players off? I really have no definitive answer... beyond keeping Shohei Ohtani encased in bubble wrap when he's not on the field.

Well that's it for me. *nudge* *nudge* Huh? A trivia question? Okay fine... who was the first player who previously won an MVP award to play on the Blue Jays?* Genuinely not sure if this is easy or hard (I suspect one particular person knows it for sure, heh...) but have at it. Happy Monday everyone.

(*bonus points you can name the second guy, excluding George Bell)

Off Day Blues Vol. 2 | 38 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
hypobole - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 07:26 AM EDT (#397669) #
I believe I have the answer to the quiz, although I kinda cheated by looking at MVP's until I got to a "I think I remember him".

Learned 2 things. Fangraphs definitely didn't vote for him his MVP year. And he had a Moonlight Graham-ish moment with us.
scottt - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 07:53 AM EDT (#397670) #
The Dodgers are 18-17.

The surprising Red Sox played Baltimore 9 times, Detroit 3.
They dropped the first 3 games against the Orioles but won the next 6.
They took 2 out of 3 against Detroit.
They swept the Rays, but they faced Hill and Archer.

They swept the Mets in 2 games.
They swept the Twins.
They lost the series against the Rangers.

They will be in Dunedin next week.
They'll hit a tough stretch in June. Houston-Yankees-Houston-Toronto-Atlanta-KC-Tampa-Yankees.

They'll be the surprising Red Sox indeed if they're still at the top on Canada Day.

mathesond - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 08:33 AM EDT (#397673) #
(Also, double bonus points for anyone who caught my Sloan reference).

I'll take those points, now that the song has been (ahem) Smeared back into my consciousness (to be fair, the Spotify algorithm hit me with Sugartune this weekend). Bonus points to you for not taking the easy route with 500 Up.
Mike Green - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 09:25 AM EDT (#397675) #
House of Lourdes

Wasn't sure whether the reference was to the British institution or the (late) Toronto hair salon- the latter probably works better for Lourdes.  It's funny that the linked article refers to David Bowie getting his hair cut there- I always associated the salon with the hair metal bands of the 80s. 
Magpie - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#397677) #
whether the reference was to the British institution or the (late) Toronto hair salon

Well, I happen to know that the author grew up just down the street from that fabled hair emporium. I myself patronized it exactly once. (There comes a time when a man of my resources can no longer presume to have a hairstyle, and that time came sooner for me than for many others.)

Injuries - well, I think we heard a lot of fretting and worrying even before spring training started about the possible impact of the truncated nature of 2020's baseball activity on players trying to ramp back up in 2021. Those concerns don't exactly look misplaced.
electric carrot - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 11:33 AM EDT (#397680) #
Not only do I know the Sloan reference but I once I knew the Marcus who I believe the song "Marcus Said" was written about. It's on their first album. I've heard them play it live a few times.
92-93 - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#397681) #
It was reported that Semien turned down multi-year offers from the Jays. Hopefully his gamble on himself will pay off and he can maintain this level of performance all season.

Supposedly the OAK broadcast had a stat about Jansen being #1 in the league in blocking balls in the dirt over the last two seasons. He raised his OPS from .255 to .432 with 3 hits over 3 games, and had to be one of the worst statistical PHs (with that many PA) that a team has ever used when Montoyo called on him on Sunday. The Atlanta series sets up nicely for Jansen and the Jays with them facing two lefties before a day game on Thursday against an RHP.
99BlueJaysWay - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#397682) #
On the injury question, I recently listened to an episode of Bobcat’s podcast where he had Dave Perkins on. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it tough to listen to. Curious if any other members here heard it, and what they thought.

My takeaway was that Perkins feels that modern training and the pursuit of velocity have ruined the game. He also thinks teams should focus more on stretching and staying loose, rather than whatever it is they’re currently doing. I thought he sounded so out of touch I couldn’t believe he was still a columnist for the Star.

If anyone else heard the interview I’d be interested to hear your views.
hypobole - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#397686) #
So i'm hearing crickets and curiosity is getting the best of me. Was 1985 the 1st time the Jays had an ex-MVP?
mathesond - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#397687) #
1985 - did they pick up Jeff Burroughs that year? I also remember Al Oliver coming over, but I'm pretty sure he didn't win an MVP.
hypobole - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#397688) #
AA has signed Tanner Roark to a minors deal. Unfortunately for the Bisons, pandemic scheduling means they will not face Gwinnett this season.
Magpie - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#397690) #
1985 - did they pick up Jeff Burroughs that year?

Yes they did. I assume Dave Parker is the other guy.
scottt - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#397691) #
I think Roark could have success being a guy similar to Scrubb.
Throw lots of curves. Aim for the corners. Focus on throwing the fastball in the same slot as the curve.

hypobole - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#397692) #
It's humorous looking up old MVP's on Fangraphs. The WAR Leaderboard is 30 lines, can't see him on Page 1, oh he's halfway down page 2. But clicking the Standard tab and sorting by RBI's always gets instant results.
hypobole - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#397693) #
So anyone get the Jeff Burroughs/Moonlight Graham reference?
Magpie - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 02:32 PM EDT (#397699) #
So anyone get the Jeff Burroughs/Moonlight Graham reference?

I'm wracking my brain and nothing happens. (Same old story?) Best I've got is Burroughs came to bat but never played the field. Graham was the opposite.
DavidtheDeuce - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 03:13 PM EDT (#397700) #
He saved a choking teammate?
hypobole - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#397701) #
You got it with playoff Burroughs, Magpie.

16 years in the majors, but never in the playoffs till 1985 with the Jays.

Had one plate appearance and that was the end of his major league career.
pooks137 - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#397702) #
If anyone else heard the interview I’d be interested to hear your views.

I don't think Perkins is an active journalist at The Star anymore. Quick googling shows he penned a farewell article in August 2013

I really enjoy Bob Mccown's new YouTube video podcast, especially when they do a Jays roundtable. The viewcounts are dreadful though, many of the episodes with big name guests have less than 1000 views, which are hobbyist numbers. I guess it goes to show you how hard it is to make a buck on YouTube even with an established brand and a huge Rolodex of guests like McCown has.

I've watched David Perkins a few times this spring on Bob's podcast and he is always full of "Old man shouts at cloud" hot takes. I can't say I thought that highly of him as a columnist, but he comes off even more out-of-touch and crotchety live.

Bob McCown and John Shannon have also been exposed a few times on the podcast that they don't keep up with the modern game. About a month ago, Bob opened up an episode stating that he believed that the July trading deadline is followed by an August period where you could no longer trade with your opposite league, but can still trade with your half.

To Perkins point about pitching injuries, I don't think this any putting the pursuit of velocity back into the toothpaste tube. Even yesterday, I saw many comments that Nate Pearson was "only" sitting at 95 and wild.

It makes you wonder if teams or anyone have invested research into why some workhorses like Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens could combine velocity and durability and dominance and longevity. Is there a genetic component? Can you screen or select prospects for it? Can injuries be mitigated by mechanics? By training methods?

Magpie - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 03:49 PM EDT (#397703) #
I've got another Moonlight Graham type story. It even involves McGraw's Giants. I happen to be doing some World Series research and the Giants played the White Sox in 1917. Dave Robertson was the Giants right fielder, a LH slugger (he'd led the NL in homers in 1916 and 1917 - he hit 12 of them both years!) But in Game Five, in Chicago, the Sox started a southpaw named Reb Russell. So McGraw started Jim Thorpe in right field.

This was the Jim Thorpe, maybe the most legendary multi-sport athlete who ever lived. Olympic gold medallist (decathlon and pentathlon) in 1912, one of the first great football players. Had some trouble with the curve, though...

But what happened is the Giants knocked Russell out of the game almost immediately. By the time Thorpe's spot in the order came up, Eddie Cicotte was on the mound. So Robertson pinch-hit and took over right field in the bottom of the first inning.

And that was as close as the great Jim Thorpe ever came to playing in a World Series game. Had his name in the starting lineup. Never got to take the field.
John Northey - Monday, May 10 2021 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#397706) #
Jim Thorpe's baseball career is odd. OPS+ from start to finish (full season): 11-27-80-96-103-142. Kept getting better his final season was over 62 games hitting 327/359/428. Doubt you'll find many players whose OPS+ grew every season they played. His Avg and OBP both grew every year, his Slg almost (229 his first year, 226 his second then it increased every year). LF/CF/RF/PH/and 2 games at 1B his final season. He played 3 more years in the minors. Just 2 in the minors before reaching the majors after taking 2 seasons off (one for the Olympics). Quite the sporting life he had.
Leaside Cowboy - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 09:57 AM EDT (#397712) #
Curmudgeon Bob McCown still got some ratings. Alas, Sportsnet wanted to skew towards a younger demographic, and so Tim & Sid took over. Mere months later, Sid is now off to ruin Breakfast Television, and TSN 1050 is number one.

Imagine, a telecommunications megacorporation unable to produce a simple radio broadcast for baseball games.
dalimon5 - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#397713) #

Get off your high horse. They have a perfect track record until the pandemic hit. Remember? The one where people aren't allowed to go to work and which has turned the economy upside down?

TSN is brutal and at least you have some broadcast to listen to on the radio. Before Covid 19 there was a huge movement to cutting the cable and that affects bottom line.

This discussion has been done over and over and over here at Batters Box.

pooks137 - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#397714) #
Curmudgeon Bob McCown still got some ratings.

I just can't get over how few views McCown's podcast gets on YouTube. Episodes I watch that have been out for a few days often have less than a thousand views despite having A-list guests and media types on. I hope his audio download numbers are a lot better.

The Let's Play videos of amateurs playing niche video games on YouTube that I watch occasionally have much higher view counts in saturated spaces.

Bob has been back doing his Primetime Sports-style podcast for about a year now and it hasn't gained any traction. There was an article last year on McCown suggesting he returned to broadcasting once his non-compete clause ran out with Sportsnet because he was having financial troubles after a failed investment in a winery and a 3rd or 4th divorce.

I didn't even realize McCown was back on the airwaves until I saw it casually mentioned on Reddit in a Blue Jays thread last fall. His podcast has apparently been picked up for simulcasting on a small Mississauga radio station, so the format has morphed into a more traditional format with structured pauses for commercial breaks and Bob obsessing about being tight on time.

I'm rooting for McCown to succeed, but it's hard to believe that his podcast is making any revenue one year in at this point, let alone the largesse that he had grown accustomed to in drivetime radio.

92-93 - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#397715) #
Did Bob McCown just say what I think he said?!

Bobcat was great for baseball (and golf) fans because he was a welcome respite from the usual "hockey hockey hockey" that pollutes the local airwaves. The sports radio landscape just isn't the same without him and Francesa.

The radio/TV simulcast would be fine if they hired another professional broadcaster (or taught a new one) to mesh with Shulman, who is obviously excellent. Buck & Tabby just don't work on the radio. The radio broadcast is a very odd place for Rogers to be cutting corners.
hypobole - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 02:29 PM EDT (#397718) #
Article is about Jesus Aguilar, but this line belongs here:

Only two other active major leaguers have managed to bring their K% below 20% after posting a prior season finishing with a K% of at least 30%: Randal Grichuk and Trevor Story.
Eephus - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#397720) #
Yes they did. I assume Dave Parker is the other guy.

Burroughs and Parker are indeed correct! I actually thought the second guy was Frank Thomas until I looked it up.

I've heard them play it live a few times.

I've seen Sloan about three times live and I think maaaaybe they played it the first time I saw them? It was at the Mod Club (RIP) about 14 years ago though, and my memory of that show is hazy for various reasons heh. That is cool though, I never knew the song was about an actual person.
electric carrot - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#397723) #
That is cool though, I never knew the song was about an actual person.

I may need to back down a bit from my original assertion. I had always assumed it was about this guy Marcus who was an artist who I knew and was also friends with members of the band. But I looked at the lyrics and now I think it's less likely than I had originally presumed.

But I have heard them play it live a few times and was never underwhelmed. .
mathesond - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#397734) #
electric carrot, is it safe to assume you are (or were) in Halifax? I spent a few years there over 2 different times (90-94, 96-98). I saw Sloan at the Double Deuce and Grawood a few times during my first stint there, but only once since then, at the Metro in Chicago in the early 2000s. Heckuva show they put on then, the place was jumpin'.
Magpie - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#397741) #
I saw Sloan at the Double Deuce

The Double Deuce? The Double Deuce?

You mean Road House was a documentary?
mathesond - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#397743) #
You mean Road House was a documentary?

Only the towns were changed to protect the innocent.

I was told when I first started going there that it's history including being a biker bar of sorts, so youneverknow...
Magpie - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#397744) #
Burroughs and Parker are indeed correct!

I'd actually forgotten about Burroughs, but I remembered Parker. He just looked so wrong as a Jay. A man out of uniform, like Dave Righetti. Frank Viola.
electric carrot - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 08:19 PM EDT (#397745) #
Mathesond you are correct. I was at the Double Deuce all the time. We probably ran into one another or maybe know one another. I went to a lot shows and ended up editing some music videos for bands of that era. And later, I made a long a radio doc for the CBC on the music scene. Those were interesting times. I remember them fondly. I haven't lived there though since 1995 but come back all the time to visit.
mathesond - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 09:49 PM EDT (#397747) #
I spent many a Friday & Saturday evening at the Deuce, so I wouldn't be surprised if we attended many of the same shows (I always tried to catch Eric's Trip & Hardship Post when they played). As to whether we knew each other, well, I worked at MacAskill's in the Dartmouth Ferry terminal, and went to Dal for a couple of years, but only really enjoyed my Spanish classes before dropping out to eventually cook my way across the country. If that sounds like anyone you know...
electric carrot - Tuesday, May 11 2021 @ 10:08 PM EDT (#397748) #
Not sure we knew one another but I did see Eric's Trip and Hardship Post at the Deuce. I bet we ran into one another. I actually edited three Eric's Trip music videos. They were a unique band. It's good to see that Julie Doiron is still making music. She was a little bit unheralded in that band but may actually have been the strongest songwriter after all. I have liked what I have heard from her -- but haven't checked in in a few years. Thanks Mathesond for bringing it all back. A special time for music in Hali!
Spifficus - Wednesday, May 12 2021 @ 12:52 AM EDT (#397753) #
Sounds like you two were there just before this King's dropout arrived during the Halifax On Music era.
mathesond - Wednesday, May 12 2021 @ 07:47 AM EDT (#397757) #
Heh, I 'm not familiar with Halifax On. I remember Cod Can't Hear being a thing (and I wish I still had my old cassette copy of a compilation put out under that name).
Spifficus - Wednesday, May 12 2021 @ 02:28 PM EDT (#397771) #
Heh, yeah, that would have been just when you left. Halifax On Music was a 4 year name change for the first iteration of the Halifax Pop Explosion. I have quite a few vague and hazy memories of mid-october nights during that time...
Off Day Blues Vol. 2 | 38 comments | Create New Account
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