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Is this the year? The Braves have won fourteen straight division titles and they are about to start chasing number fifteen. They have survived the loss of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Javy Lopez, Gary Sheffield and now Rafael Furcal is gone. But this off-season has brought a new concern, the loss of Leo Mazzone. Could his departure be the tipping point that ends the Braves run? The Braves players and management are confident about their prospects for 2006 but this could finally be the year when the streak ends.
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Prior to the offseason we had a free agent prediction contest here at Da Box.

After tallying up the results the winner is Wildrose!

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Baseball Withdrawal Syndrome, written about here by Gerry, is a terrible affliction with which we here at Batter's Box are all too familiar. The cures, sadly, tend to wear thin and provide only temporary relief. I have flirted with all manner of substitute addictions in my attempts to find one that will stick: academics, hockey, politics, the Olympics, literature, the NBA, Jack Bauer, theatre, Cuban rum... nothing worked. What do Americans do to prevent the rabies-like, Trainspotting-style withdrawal lunacy that I am on the brink of confronting? How do they stave off the November, December, January, February and March madness? By staring the beast down and - much like naming your new dog after your old girlfriend - calling the cure March Madness!

Here at Superfluous U, you will be brought up to date on the favourite Baseball Withdrawal Syndrome cure of our glamourous, colourful and honourable neighbours to the south: college hoops. Not only that, this is the primer specifically for Jays fans and other Canadians.

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Believe it or not, the answer is "yes, sort of." Many times we have heard from new members (and even occasionally from someone affiliated with the Blue Jays) wondering what the official "code of conduct" is or was or will be or (insert "to be" tense of your choice here).

And Batter's Box not only has an official "code of conduct" ("What are the ground rules?") published as part of the site's FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, there's also a Privacy Policy on the good ol' Legal page. And yet, believe it or not, Da Box has never made a big deal out of pointing to these pages because 99.64 percent of the time, there is no reason to.

So why bring this up now? Precisely because ..

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According to our good pals over at, there are still 53 free agents left on the market. Should make for a pretty good "All-Free Agent" team, huh? Actually, maybe not so much.

And the real question is, who do you really want from this group? ...

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136 wins, 116 losses. 1,230 runs scored, 1,056 runs allowed, representing a 144-108 pythagorean record. A win in the All Star Game. A four game sweep in the World Series. That is how the American League dominated the National League in 2005. What about 2006?
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Over the next couple months, we'll be using the polling station here at the Box to generate collective projections for the 2006 Blue Jays. For hitters, we'll be projecting number of at-bats, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. For pitchers we'll estimate innings pitched and earned run averge. These stats can be used to generate rough estimates of runs created and and runs allowed, respectively. Add these up for an entire team and you come up with the total runs for and against; from this you can calculate a Pythagorean winning percentage; and from this you know precisely how many games the team will win. Okay, maybe not quite precisely. But hopefully it's an entertaining exercise.

For each poll set, the relevant statisical history of the player in question will be included as the first comment in the "AB" or "IP" poll. When in doubt, users are encouraged to refer to these stats before responding. As always, discussion related to the polls is encouraged. Let's begin! What do we think Mr. Roy Halladay will do in 2006?
B.J. Ryan, 5 years $47M. A.J. Burnett, 5 years, $55M. Lyle Overbay for Bush and Jackson and Gross. Troy Glaus for Hudson and Batista. How’s a longsuffering Blue Jay fan feel about all this?

This one feels culture shock.

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So what baseball related gifts did people get?
Everyone seems to think it's a done deal but the specifics are lacking. Troy Glaus appears to be headed for the great white north while Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista are headed south. There could be a prospect headed to Toronto; the cash side of the deal is unknown; and whether Glaus had to have his deal sweetened is also unknown.
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By Fawaz.

Every time I read a suggestion that Orlando Hudson is headed to Team X for John Q. Slugger, one name pops into my mind: John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams. I vividly recall my cursing out loud (to the chagrin of a 10-year-old Fawaz’ parents) and the ensuing swoon in my fandom following the announcement that the Phoenix Suns had finally acquired the big man that was going to put them over the top. I didn’t know much about the guy. He was 6’11” and I had his basketball card, though I never looked at it. I knew everything about the guy he was traded for. He was an all-star, went for 16-5-4 in 1994-95 and knocked down threes whenever Charles Barkley felt moved to pass the ball. (He was in town last season doing the colour commentary for the Suns broadcast and before the game he started knocking down long three-balls in his suit… one-handed.) He was Thunder Dan Majerle.

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Don't worry, that's not a prediction -- it's a challenge. It is, if you will, today's Question of the Day ...
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As the title might imply, this is a Spring Training thread. Not about the players, non-roster invites and positional battles, but about the actual activity itself. Readers with Florida experience are welcomed to join in with advice and anyone with questions about attending exhibition baseball is welcomed to pose them here -- odds are, someone can answer them!

So if you have questions about Spring Training in Dunedin (or other Florida locations), questions about the area or if you just want to know the best way to get there and simply enjoy baseball, read on.

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Two months into the baseball off-season and I am starting to get restless, itchy, looking for my baseball fix. I am not talking about baseball in the big sense of the word, I am talking the game, on the field, seeing a nasty change-up, a beautifully turned double play, a runner turning a double into a triple, an Ichiro gun to third, a Rolen laser to first, Mariano mowing them down, you get the picture.
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Be sure to go and vote for Tom Cheek today for the Ford C. Frick Award. It's your last chance.
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