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A news release today from Rogers Media and the FAN 590 reported that Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek will require additional brain surgery next week.

Please be sure to include Tom and his family in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks. Batter's Box wishes him a successful surgery and speedy recovery, and if you'd like to add your good wishes for Tom please do so in this thread.

I've always thought that predicting an individual player's performance was next to impossible: there are just too many factors to consider, one of which is just plain luck. But, just for fun, I thought I'd make two predictions for each Blue Jay hitter and starting pitcher likely to make the team in 2005. The first prediction will be wildly optimistic, the second wildly pessimistic.

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(Bonus points to anyone who can name the 1980s Canadian band that debuted with that album title.)

There's a lot of sound and fury in sabrmetric circles today, and it's the doing of Bill James. He wrote an article for SABR's Baseball Research Journal titled "Underestimating the Fog," and he's gotten a lot of folks pretty riled up in the process. We don't have access to the essay itself, so here's a link to an article that discusses it.

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The DH was implemented in the American League in 1973 with the stated intention of increasing offence. Unlike most of major-league baseballís innovations, this one actually worked, kind of. Scoring, which had been in the doldrums, perked up: the ALís collective batting average rose 20 points, and the AL has outscored the NL in runs per game in 31 of the 32 seasons that followed (interestingly, the NL actually outscored the AL by 0.05 runs per game in 1974, the year after the DHís introduction).
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March Madness is upon us and I have created a NCAA Pick 'Em tournament for the Batter's Box community.
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Your typical baseball fan knows all about 1961. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, home runs, Whitey Ford, New York Yankees, asterisks, Ralph Houk, Ford Frick, Yogi Berra, a million books, movies, you name it. More boring Yankee crap than you can shake a stick at.

Well, forget it.

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Pistol linked, in another thread, to an online article by Sports Illustratedís Tom Verducci, who spent some time in the Blue Jaysí training camp this spring and has written about it for SI. Better him than Garth Brooks, I say. Suiting up for a big-league team is the secret dream of virtually everyone who writes about baseball, and Verducci clearly had a blast doing that in Dunedin. The article is a lively read, and promises an equally lively feature piece in SI. But it also scores a very positive hit for the Blue Jays organization in other ways.
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One year ago, Smooth Johnny Gizzi told you that whether the Aís would win the West depended on just how good the Angels were, and to a lesser extent what Texas and Seattle did. Turns out the Angels were very good and the Rangers good enough to cause trouble, spelling the end of the Aís 4-year run of playoff appearances. Seven months before the Sox made their incredible comeback against the Yankees and it became fashionable to spread the word that The Curse was so much bunk, there was Jordan saying so. Craig B told you that the Rays were awful and would continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Check.
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So how did I not know about this place before?
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The Blue Jays announced that they'll have $210 million to spend on player salaries from 2005-2007. Here's a look at the projected team for each of those years.
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Spring Training officially gets underway for the Blue Jays today, with pitchers and catchers reporting to the Bobby Mattick Training Center at Englebert Complex in Dunedin, Florida. Four starting pitchers are guaranteed to make the 25-man roster, barring injury, as are five of a possible 6 or 7 relievers.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby issue the first of what will hopefully be many NFH Challenges.

Mr. Robert Dudek, you are so certain that Shea Hillenbrand is a bad investment. What will Mr. Hillenbrand have to do to prove you wrong?
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Congratulations to Simon, who narrowly held off Jes Golbez, Sky, and 76 other contestants to win THE 2004 CONTEST, the annual Batters Box prediction game. Simon garnered 40 points out of possible 100. Final scores ranged from 40 down to 5 with an average of 20. Simon earned victory with his clairvoyance regarding the American League; he picked all three division winners, the wild card, pennant winner, and World Series champion.

It is my understanding that Simon will celebrate his victory by adding chocolate to milk.

The consensus picks tallied only 22 points but did correctly predict Boston's first World Series championship since 1918. The consensus earned additional points for Boston's pennant, Minnesota's division win, Florida's third-place finish, Cincinnati's fourth-place finish, and Vlad Guerrero's MVP award.

On to the highlights and lowlights of this year's voting:

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Coach had a great idea earlier, leading to today's ...

Question/Challenge of the Day: Create an ad campaign or a single commercial -- print, TV, online, don't matter, just tell us which -- for the 2005 Blue Jays featuring Corey Koskie. Canadian Hot Corner Star.
As a public service, we're pleased to present, free of charge, two alternate versions of tomorrow's standard Canadian newspaper article on the Jays' decision [not] to offer arbitration to Carlos Delgado. Since Delgado's return [departure] will be a major story, this will surely be of assistance to harried columnists. Editors should feel free to adapt the article of their choice to suit the precise circumstances and/or agendas of their publications (e.g., search-and-replace "Godfrey" for "Ricciardi.")
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