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I'll pinch-hit for Coach and set up the log for tonight's tilt; Juan Gonzalez has already gone yard. 2-0 Rangers before you can say "2-0 Rangers."
According to a newsflash e-mail from D/FW stalwart Rangers expert Jamey Newberg's legendary Newberg Report, the Toronto Blue Jays have placed a waiver claim on recently-released LHP Doug Davis.

I now officially have a reason to root for Toronto.

Doug Davis ... Blue Jay. Discuss.
So rumor has it that your Toronto Blue Jays might soon be Blue no more. If anything good comes out of this, at least it's another opportunity for ...

Baseball's Hall of Names: Episode III
The True Colors Edition

Let's see if we can build a team entirely composed of players whose last names are colors. (Are the color wheels whirring in your head already? You got your Whites and your Browns and your Greens ...

Ah, but there is one rule (of course) ...
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For a staff that's been far too hittable this season, the wrong opponent is coming into town. Having said that, they're facing a Texas staff that's been, in some ways, even worse (though against very tough opposing lineups). The next three nights may see a pitcher's duel, but I sure wouldn't bet on it.

Of course, the significance of this series goes beyond a mere matchup between two hard-hitting, soft-tossing clubs. Loonie Day or no Loonie Day, the Jays will have a packed house tonight. One of the biggest misconceptions about the Jays, particularly outside the GTA, is that the Jays have become irrelevant to the city of Toronto.

In 2001, even if there were 18,000 at the games, the FAN switchboard lit up with outrage when Gordo waived Tony Batista. Fans care, but we have learned that fans will respond to winning and winning only. There are still an awful lot of people in Toronto that honestly can't understand why the Yankees always get the Mussinas and the Jays settle for the Sturtzes. To them, baseball is a sport where Toronto can win a title and lead the league in payroll, because it really didn't happen too long ago.

Jays fans want to love the team again. They really do. But whenever the Jays have had an opportunity to recapture the city since 1993, the Jays have turned in poor performances. In 1998, 1999 and 2000, the Jays were at least in an interesting situation in August and early September -- only to get hammered in front of large walk-up crowds by the likes of Boston and Oakland. In 1997, the Dome was rocking on Canada Day against the Expos -- but the Jays allowed Jeff Juden (!) to outduel the Rocket.

This year, Opening Day offered another opportunity to impress a large crowd and sell future tickets, which was again missed. Spotlight's on, Jays. Let's turn this season -- and, at the risk of undue hyperbole, the image of this franchise around tonight.

Oh, and two more things: First, it seems a little silly for a Jays fan living in New York City to be the Advance Scout for the Rangers when Batter's Box's very own Mick Doherty resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Mick, please feel free to be the ombudsperson for today's column: We'd all appreciate your insights and corrections.

Second, thanks to all of you who have offered constructive and helpful suggestions for the Advance Scout column. Please feel free to post with further ideas for improvement. And I'd also like to thank the likes of Mike Moffatt, Rodent, Snellville Jones and several other BB regulars for their kind words of encouragement.

On to the Advance Scout!
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It's official. Dollar Day at the Skydome (tonight's game against Texas) is a sellout, with every available seat going for $1. I'm not a season ticket holder, but if I were, I might be wondering if I'll be getting a refund in the mail sometime soon. But never mind that: it's a great PR move. The Jays look like heroes in the fight against the World Health Organization (that is what we're all fighting here, right?), 40,000 more Torontonians than usual get to see the team, and the club might be ready to go on another hot streak following the big Sunday comeback.

The forecast for Toronto today is 15 and sunny, going down to just 10 overnight. If anyone from Skydome Inc. is reading this, would you please consider leaving the Dome open tonight? This is fine springtime weather, perfect for watching baseball wearing a light jacket, cotton shirt and jeans. If 50,000 citizens are willing to brave the SARS epidemic, they can certainly brave a slight nip in the air. The Dome is a 100% better place to watch the game with the roof open; please show this huge windfall of an audience how true that is.
An avalanche of runs in the lower minors can't obscure some fine pitching performances in Toronto's farm system and a rare 4-0 sweep for the Young Jays.
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The second full house of the season will feature A-Rod, but not O-Dog. Berg is at second, which means either Hudson's hurt, or he's become a utility infielder.

Teixeira's status as a platoon hitter continues to baffle me, and I think if I was ever going to start Blalock vs. a lefty, it would be Lurch. I respect Showalter as a strategist and motivator, but I've been questioning his lineup all year.
The performance of the Jays bullpen has improved a bit in recent games: instead of collectively blowing games every time they had a late lead, they have managed to provide effective innings to keep the Jays in the game more frequently.

Here are some bullpen numbers through game 26:
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Two weeks ago I was driving from Las Vegas to San Francisco: an eight-hour trek through desert high and low, past lonely towns barely removed from the 19th century. Regrettably, I did not have a CD player, so I was forced to choose between war talk, sports talk, or the ramblings of my mind. The former was nauseating, the latter boring and depressing. Sports talk it was.
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The AP is reporting The Toronto Blue Jays plan to formally change the teamís name to Jays . There may also be trendy black uniforms. MLB has apparently already been informed and things are in place for tha change to happen next season.

If we can finally get a cool looking cap logo I promise to buy several of the expensive fitted variety.
I admit my Toronto Walrus squad was lucky to be holding an 8-4 lead over Billie's Bashers going into the final day of Week 4 action. My vaunted pitching staff lost Armas to the DL, and a few other guys were simply terrible (Baez had an 81.00 ERA). My hitters weren't much better, so I was going to be content with a split, but ended up on the short end of a 6-4 score.

That was enough to relinquish top spot in the standings. Snelville's Gashouse Gorillas (the only team to breathe that first-place air more than once) have a one game lead, and I'm tied with Jurgen's Baird Brain for second. Against the Jones boys this week, my team had better wake up or we'll get crushed.
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Unlike their real-life namesakes, the Texas Rangers are displaying little fortitude (and less sense) as they prepare to fly into The City Of The Damned today. A-Rod, who's normally more sensible than this, plans to stay in his hotel room during his off-hours, and most of his teammates appear to be following suit. Memo to Alex: from all accounts, the Kansas City Royals are not dropping dead on board their charter airplane, unless Tony Pena had a coronary following yesterday's ninth inning. This is going to get more annoying yet.

Weirdest quote of the day, from Buck Showalter: "I take great pride in washing my hands." I'm happy for you, big guy.
Baseball Prospectus has gone to a mostly pay-per-view system (I haven't tried it yet, though I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has). But there are still some excellent items freely available on their site. One of these is the Prospectus Triple Play, a series of quick-hits on three designated teams. This week, the Jays and Expos are both featured in the TP. The Jays authors point out the effectiveness of the Jays' catching tandem and talk up the progress of Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin. The Expos report gives the lowdown on unsung superstar Jose Vidro and a surprisingly strong 'Spos starting staff.
* In a game that Jayson Stark will be dining off for weeks, St. Louis beat Florida 7-6 in 20 innings. The Marlins scored one run in the 3rd, five in the 9th, and zero in the other 18 innings. They also stranded 21 runners. How depressing must it have been to watch Jeff Torborg and Tony St. Russa match wits for 20 innings?

* Kevin Millwood no-hit the Giants , issuing just three walks and striking out 10 in a 1-0 victory. This proves that the Braves actually won the controversial Millwood trade, as Johnny Estrada already has four hits for Atlanta this year.

* The Houston Texans drafted none other than Yankees third-base suspect Drew Henson in the 6th round of the NFL draft last weekend. Henson, the former Michigan QB who sports a mighty .171/.256/.343 line at AAA Columbus, has long insisted that he's not going to play football, and has now reiterated that stance. George Steinbrenner signed Henson to a $17 million contract before the latter had ever swung a professional bat. Think about that when you're feeling down, and smile.
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