ALCS/NLCS Guesses

Posted October 11, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Baseball

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Well…my ALDS picks were correct. My NLDS picks – in comparison – were a complete disaster.

Was hoping the Dodgers would win everything and Russell Martin would get a ring.

Clearly, the narrative has a different outcome.

Anyway…

ALCS: Houston over NYY
NLCS: Washington over St. Louis

ER

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2019 LDS Guesses

Posted October 3, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Baseball

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Not going to lie. My wildcard picks BOMBED. Totally embarrassed.

Anyway…

NLDS
LA over Washington
Atlanta over St. Louis

ALDS
NYY over Minnestoa
Houston over Tampa Bay

ER

2019 Wildcard Guesses

Posted October 1, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Baseball

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When it comes to the playoffs, I rely on my gut and personal biases.

Anyway…

It shall be a victorious occasion for Milwaukee and Oakland.

ER

The 2019 Blue Jays: A tale of two chapters

Posted September 29, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Blue Jays

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See, that wasn’t so bad!

Right???

Okay…when you look at the standings, it was pretty bad. But we knew this season was going to look like Plan 9 From Outer Space.

I embraced the pain; others chose to complain and bang their drums. Either way, I hope we can sit on a porch one day and laugh about the experience as we sip lemonade.

The 2019 season can be split into two chapters: Before Marcus Stroman was traded and after he was dealt.

As the trade deadline approached, there were storm clouds surrounding the team. There had been a couple of bright spots, but there was sense of dread. Stro – the most popular/polarizing player left from 2015-16 – was going to get traded. We knew it, he knew it, the league and his teammates knew it. Stro was dropping passive-aggressive grenades and the anti-Shapiro mob was sharpening their pitchforks.

Then the trade finally happened, followed by the premature trade of Aaron Sanchez. Jays Twitter was a scene of blinding fire, suffocating smoke and vile screaming.

And then…the smoke cleared, the sun came out and Bo Bichette started making history.

Believe me, I am NOT suggesting Stro was poisoning the clubhouse. I love the guy, his character and his brand! However, things felt and looked different once Marcus was sent to the Mets.

The transition was complete. All remaining band-aids had been ripped off. The roster was officially young and developing. Now, we could say it’s “Vladdy’s team” or “Bo’s team.” If one were to consider the rebuild as u-shaped, then on the evening of July 28, 2019 – when Stro was traded and Bichette was called up – the Blue Jays reached the bottom. The steep, uphill climb had begun.

I saw a team full of youthful energy. It was exciting and fun! Bo took off like a bullet train, Vladdy continued his gradual production, Cavan Biggio made history, Danny Jansen was figuring things out and Lourdes Gurriel and Reese McGuire were pleasant surprises. Sure, they went through a tough stretch in late August-early September. However, as Stephen Brunt pointed out a few weeks ago on Prime Time Sports, we were finally seeing some flickers of light.

The final two months of the season provided all kinds of reasons to watch the Jays, despite their record. My favourite moment was Bichette’s walk off home run, capping a dramatic victory over the Yankees.

As we look towards 2020, it’s important to be cautiously optimistic. There might be flickers of light, but they still have a long way to go before a window of opportunity opens. This season, they won 67 games. In 2020, I would be happy if they pick up 10-15 more victories (77-82).

The outfield corner sports are set, as are the infield positions and behind the plate. They need to figure out centrefield and DH over the offseason and during Spring Training. There are options on the current roster, but said options have been inconsistent. Rowdy Tellez’s struggles are also concerning.

However, the main priority needs to be on PITCHING; starting rotation and bullpen. Right now, Matt Shoemaker and Trent Thronton will likely be in the rotation, while the other three spots are up for grabs. Jacob Waguespack and Ryan Borucki are “question marks,” while Anthony Kay and T.J. Zeuch need to perform well in Spring Training. Don’t forget about the eventual arrival of Nate Pearson.

Ideally, Ken Giles will anchor the bullpen and I’d like to see Wilmer Font return, along with Ryan Tepera, Sam Gavigilo and Derek Law. After that, who knows?

What really scares me is how Bichette’s concussion will effect him. An injury like that is unpredictable. I’m praying he listens to his body and doesn’t try to overdo it as he prepares for 2020.

Things won’t be outstanding next season, but they (hopefully) won’t be as bad as this year. We’d all love to see a vast improvement. However, we must be patient and let the story play out. This team is still developing and I hope the youngsters build from their positive experiences and teachable moments.

Fingers crossed.

ER

***

Time for some “awards!”

Best Jays Hitter: Vladdy Guerrero Jr.
Best Jays Starter: Marcus Stroman
Best Jays Reliever: Ken Giles

Actually, losing 100 games (or more) would be kind of cool

Posted September 10, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Blue Jays

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Think about it.

They haven’t lost 100 games or more since 1979. 40 freaking years! That’s about two generations of Blue Jay fans.

You can’t lose 100 games in a single season with any other sport. Can’t do it in hockey, basketball or football.

In a sick and twisted kind of way, it’s an incredible feat. A negative one, but a feat nonetheless.

Sure, it sucks seeing the Jays lose. But years from now, we’ll look back at the 2019 season and laugh. Similar to Chris Jericho, we’ll sit in our palacial estates, enjoying a glass of the bubbly and reminisce fondly about the misfortunes that occurred over 162 games. It will be our own Plan 9; a badge of honour.

So, the bleeding hearts can bleed and anti-Shapiro mob can light their torches. I’m embracing the pain and preparing for something I’ve never experienced as a Jays fan.

Besides – to paraphrase a meme – if you don’t love the Blue Jays at their worst, then you don’t deserve them at their best.

Think about it.

ER

That’s right, my fellow Xennials. It’s been 25 years since the 1994 Players’ Strike

Posted August 27, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Blue Jays

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We’re in the midst of a very grim anniversary.

25 years ago, a work stoppage hit Major League Baseball and it literally fucked up everything.

The players and owners were at war, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Fans were nothing more the collateral damage.

It was an ugly time.

If you lived in Toronto and loved sports, the fall of 1994 was brutal.

Along with the baseball strike, the NHL was going through a lockout. The Raptors existed, but were a year away from their expansion season. The Argos struggled for attention – much like today, unfortunately – but managed to make the playoffs, despite a 7-11 record. They lost the East Semi-Final to the Baltimore Colts CFLers/soon-to-be Stallions.

Other attempts were made to fill the void.

The Fan 1430 – now known as Sportsnet 590 – would air minor league contests and classic World Series games. They even hooked up with a software company that could generate “live” matches involving teams from different eras and seasons. I can remember the ’61 Yankees battling the ’92 Jays; the ’81 Expos taking on the ’85 Jays. Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth were actually doing play-by-play of these games.

Things were worse in Montreal.

The ’94 Expos were the biggest casualty of the strike. They would’ve/could’ve won it all. Instead, it was the beginning of the end.

A lot changed because of the strike. None of it was positive. To an 11-year-old scrawny kid, it was jarring.

Suddenly, nobody liked baseball. Suddenly, baseball was boring. Suddenly, people started to care about the salaries of athletes and were outraged by them. Suddenly, nobody wanted to watch the Blue Jays or purchase tickets. Suddenly, the stadium was half-full. Suddenly, Skydome wasn’t impressive anymore.

It all came crashing down.

In a short and alarming amount of time, the Jays lost all their popularity.

It was a perfect storm: The ugly strike that cancels the World Series, followed by a last place finish in 1995. All the joy and glory was gone and no matter what the Jays did on or off the field, they couldn’t bring it back.

It wasn’t easy being a Jays/baseball fan in the mid-90s. It was a lonely experience. The sport and the team were scoffed at. Say what you want about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa; what they did in 1998 was a much-needed boost.

The silver lining from this dark chapter: There hasn’t been a work stoppage since. However, I’m concerned that two-plus decades of relative labour peace are now threatened.

During a recent segment on Prime Time Sports, Jeff Blair and Richard Dietsch argued there wouldn’t be another strike like ’94 because neither side would want to negatively affect the lucrative television revenue.

I’m not so convinced.

The players are pissed and I don’t blame them. Needing at least six seasons of service time before they can achieve their true market value is a heavy requirement. Adding to the challenge are front offices evaluating a player’s worth based on what they’re projected to do, rather than their resume.

It’s scary because the Jays are (hopefully) building towards something successful and sustainable. A strike would seriously hinder that.

The current CBA has a couple more years before it’s up for renewal. Things could get intense, especially with the precense of social media. There will be a lot of spin and cryptic messaging from both sides.

It’s said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I’m praying the players and owners consider what happened in 1994 as they strategize.

Neither side can afford a work stoppage. The carnage would be devastating. Much worse than what happened 25 years ago.

ER

Short, scribbled thoughts about the trades that pissed you all off

Posted August 7, 2019 by The Hek
Categories: Articles, Blue Jays

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Yup, last week was nuts. Anyway…

  • Stro’s trade made sense. Would’ve been a waste of his talent to keep him while the Jays are still rebuilding.
  • The deal with Houston is puzzling. Aaron Sanchez was finally starting to build his value back up. If that value continued to rise, he would’ve likely yielded a higher return during the off-season or at next year’s trade deadline. That’s why dealing him now feels premature.
  • The focus should be on pitching. That’s why acquiring Derek Fisher was also puzzling. Russ Atkins really, really, REALLY wanted him and was willing to pay a high price. Poor Fisher is going to be scrutinized to death by this angry fanbase; so here’s hoping he lives up to the potential that Atkins envisions. Reminds me of when AA sent Travis Snider – very popular with fans – to Pittsburgh for Brad Lincoln.
  • I’m glad the small gambles they took on Sogard, Phelps and Hudson yielded/will yeild some younger talent.
  • Of course, it’s very sad to say goodbye to the players that were dealt away. However, I’m thrilled they all get to play for teams making strong playoff pushes, especially Stro, Sanchez and Joe Biagini. They deserve it!
  • Not surprisingly, many fans – aka the anti-Shapiro crowd – were furious with the return the Jays got. Before Anthony Kay, Simeon Woods Richardson and the other acquisitions even reported to their new teams, it seemed like some fans were already labeling them as busts. I understand the anger, but it is absolutely RIDICULOUS to declare these new players as failures before they have a chance to actually fail; if they actually do fail. Honestly, it didn’t matter who the front office got in return. The anti-Shapiro crowd wasn’t going to like it. It was pre-determined.

To be honest, Jays Twitter really pisses me off at times. But that’s for another post….maybe.

ER


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