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When the going gets tough, the tough get lucky. A week ago, objects in my rear-view mirror were too close for comfort. Yesterday, waiver pickup Scott Elarton tossed an unlikely 2-hit shutout at the White Sox, leading my BBFL club to a first-round playoff bye with a 10-1 trouncing of cellar-dwelling Jick’s Rays. It proves that even an old, blind Walrus occasionally stumbles over a tasty seal.

The other contenders for top spot weren't so fortunate. Mebion Glyndwr led 8-3 entering Sunday play, but hannibal’s cannibals got four solid pitching starts to pull out a 6-5 decision. AGF fell out of the running for the regular-season title as the Thunderbirds, desperate to avoid relegation, beat the third-place squad 10-2 to move from 17th to 15th in the standings.
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The minor league system exists to develop players for the Blue Jays. Placing competitive teams at each level, moving players up the ladder, coaching, drafting: these are all -- at the end of the day -- designed to develop players to play for the Blue Jays or to trade away for someone who can. While Dick Scott and other members of his team focus on development, JP Ricciardi is probably more interested in what players will be ready to play at the major-league level.

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You know it's been a bad season when you look to Howard Jones for inspiration. Yesterday brought a fifth straight loss for the Jays, the latest an 18-6 home-field humiliation at the bats of the dreaded Yankees. It seems that taking a 4-0 lead over the New Yorkers only serves to get their attention.

But the fact is, things really can't get worse for Toronto. At this point, the games are as much mental as they are played out on the field, and the mental games are winnable.
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Did we give up?
But we always worked things out
And all my doubts and fears
Kept me wondering, yeah
If i'd always, always be in love
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Then she slipped into my pocket
With my car keys
She said you've taken me for granted
Because I please you
Wearing these diamonds
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Ted Lilly, Toronto's best starting pitcher this season, opposes Kevin Brown. Vernon Wells DHs and bats third and Chris Woodward starts at shortstop. Gregg Zaun catches again, despite a day game after a night game; Kevin Cash hasn't gotten a start since August 22 and has a grand total of 23 at-bats this month.
Getting up to splash my face
Wanting just to stay awake
Wondering how much I can take
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Éric Gagné made what might (or might not) be his last ever trip to Montreal this week, and pitched in a blowout win to give the hometown fans one final look at probably the best pitcher ever to emerge from la belle province (with apologies to Claude Raymond). Gagné's emotional return will not be topped by a Larry Walker cameo -- the Cardinals are done in Montreal for the year.
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It's not really E______ L_____'s fault that Bauxites now regard him as a figure of Voldemortesque proportions. L_____'s tenure in Toronto may have ended poorly, with the Jays reportedly happy to clear him from the clubhouse, visions of Mike Young perhaps fresh in their minds. But L_____, winner of the inaugural Batter's Box Andujar Award, hasn't really said anything nasty about the franchise, and credited his Toronto pitching coach for teaching him (a little late) the cutter that made him a Cy Young candidate in Chicago last year. But 2004 has been another story for E______, whose Yankee ERA now stands at a sterling 7.08 and who is in danger of falling from the patchwork Yankee rotation. There would be few greater pleasures for the Blue Jays than to be the team that knocks L_____ into the bullpen; behind the stylings of The Illustrated Man, Justin Miller, they'll try to do that tonight. A pitcher's duel, this does not shape up to be; look for a lot of runs and a lot of bullpen activity tonight.
Okay, some of us already really dislike the Yankees. For those of you teetering on the edge, or even those of you who (gasp) like the Yankees, this might swing you into our camp:
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Kids, it's time to drum some sense into those Yankees. I hear it'll be pretty full in there, especially for this weekend's festivities, so if we're not in 518, look for us on the first base side closer to the outfield (517 or 516 or so). I know for sure that we have the drum with us tonight, but I'm not sure what the situation for the rest of the series is.
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The fire is cooking
And they're starving babies
While the slaves are working
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It's Jon Lieber versus Dave Bush, first of a four-game set. Here's the game preview. Wells is still out of the lineup; Hinske's DHing and batting 5th. Bush has allowed 3 or fewer earned runs in 7 of his 9 starts. Lieber four-hit the Blue Jays over 8 innings at Yankee Stadium earlier this month. Enjoy the game.
On last night's game thread several Bauxites were discussing Justin Speier and how he has underperformed in pressure situations, but has overperformed in non-pressure situations, leading to the conclusion that Speier hasn't been as good as his stats. This isn't the first time this has been mentioned at Batter's Box; Speier's frustrating year despite his very good stuff has been the subject of much comment.

I thought I'd take a look at this, to confirm whether it is true.
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And a man comes on and tell me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarettes as me
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