Archive for the ‘Articles’ category

Jays Journaling: Sewage water is cleaner than MLB’s public image

June 24, 2020

Sorry for the graphic title.

Labour negotiations involving professional sports leagues are repulsive. I’ve felt this way since the summer and fall of 1994 when I was forced to endure a baseball strike and a hockey lockout.

The MLB work stoppage that year was awful. Suddenly, everyone turned to my favourite sport. Baseball wasn’t cool anymore and the players were “greedy millionaires.”

And now – along with everything else happening – that feeling from 1994 has returned and this time, the storm clouds are much worse.

For the last few weeks, Major League Baseball has embarrassed itself through this ugly feud with the MLBPA.

Instead of trying to figure out how they can run some form of a season safely, the league and union fought over the all mighty dollar.

They had a deal in place back in March. Then the owners freaked out over the thought of empty stadiums and tore up the agreement. Then they pestered the players to give up chunks of salary, while potentially putting their lives at risk.

And in the end, the March agreement was ultimately upheld.

Nicely done, Commissioner Manfred. Nicely done, owners. You wasted everyone’s fucking time. Could’ve put differences and money aside and figured out multiple health and safety procedures. Instead, you picked a petty fight with the PA, while the world is literally burning.

The players didn’t deserve that and neither did we.

So, we’ve got a 60-game schedule under the threat of COVID-19 and a dysfunctional relationship between the league and its players.

Disputes such as this one yield little sympathy. Most see it as “millionaires vs millionaires.” This sentiment leads to decreased interest and viewership. It gets worse when threats of cancelling the season are made.

Losing the 2020 season because of COVID-19 is one thing. I’ve made peace with this and certain I’m not the only one. And given the disturbing rise of new cases in the United States – including a report of at least 40 players and staff testing positive – it’s a “when not if” situation more than ever. It’s simply not safe right now.

But to lose the season directly because of a financial disagreement would’ve been severely detrimental for MLB.

I love baseball and will live and die with the Blue Jays. Nevertheless, MLB’s public image is a towing inferno of dumpster fires.

Commissioner Manfred and the owners have mishandled this situation. Regardless of whether there is a completed season or not, the league has badly damaged its credibility and stature.

It has been discussed ad nauseam about how MLB can increase ticket sales, viewership and interest. The actions of the owners and Commissioner equate thousands of steps backwards.

It could take decades before the league has regained its integrity.

Sorry for the melodramatic conclusion.

ER

Jays Journaling: Replaying the replays of replayed games

May 25, 2020

I am tired of replayed matches.

It’s not the actual games themselves, but rather the reason why they’re airing. You’re reminded every time there’s a commercial break.

It feels like you’ve accidentally touched an active burner. You’re not paying attention and then a sharp pain brings you back to reality.

Again, COVID-19 can go fuck itself.

***

I’ve enjoyed watching KBO highlights. I never took time to watch until I was swept up in the hype created by the broadcast deal with ESPN.

My biggest takeaway was finding out that Matt Williams was managing the KIA Tigers.

My hope was that I would invest my time with one of the teams. Unfortunately, I haven’t formed an emotional bond.

It’s hard when the games are being played overnight. It’s harder when you’re not familiar with any of the players. I was hoping I’d find a club that had a former Blue Jay or two. No dice thus far.

For now, I’m content watching ten-minute highlight packages on YouTube when I feel like it.

***

When I learned of the upcoming E60 documentary about Roy Halladay – Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story – I immediately cringed. The thought of Doc’s struggles being sensationalized made me ill.

This isn’t the first time a celebrity and his/her struggles have been profiled. And if you’re telling a story, you need to include all the chapters. That includes the uncomfortable ones.

But this is Doc we’re talking about.

I already have fond memories of him and just want to leave it at that. My biggest fear with this documentary is that Halladay’s off-the-field struggles will now overshadow everything he did on the field.

Hopefully, that’s not the case. Hopefully, this documentary will help someone with similar struggles.

***

One more item about replayed matches:

I enjoyed watching the “Doc Week” games more than the airings of the 1992-93 and 2015-16 contests.

Along with seeing Doc at his best, it was great watching Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill and all the players who were his teammates back then. We even got to watch Jose and Edwin before they became legends.

I even liked seeing the silver and black uniforms again. And how could you not smile after seeing those “Flashback Friday” power blues? The players weren’t fans of them, but I loved them!

Those late-2000s teams were so frustrating to watch. They could never get it all together. It was either the pitching was good, but the hitting was weak or vice versa. If Doc got a little more run support, he’d probably have at least one more Cy Young.

Yet after all this time, there’s a sense of nostalgia and joy.

Things were different back then. I was different back then. Toronto’s sports landscape was different back then.

It was fun to look back, especially now knowing what came after.

ER

Retro Blue Jays – Eighties, eighties and more eighties

May 10, 2020

Posted by Hockey Joe, DaveWinfieldHOF and Retrontario.

There’s just no escape.

The damn pandemic has saturated our world. It has a presence with every aspect of our lives. More then ever, we need something to give us a little distraction; a little relief.

Along with replays on Sportsnet, MLB Network and the beginning of the KBO season, here are some Blue Jay-themed commercials from the 80s to help take your mind off things:

Tom Henke keeps things professional on and off the field. A true Texas gentleman.

Dave Winfield – playing for the New York Yankees at the time – appears in a commercial for Tourism Toronto. Note the animated seagull at the end of the ad. Pretty sure that wasn’t an accident.

Only the Toronto Sun can give you BLUE JAYS BIRTHDAY BASEBALL!

There’s tough and then there’s “Jim Clancy Tough.”

This promo for an upcoming home series oozes the 80s. The music, the montages, the graphics. Check out Dave Stieb flashing a smile, along with the late Damaso Garcia.

ER

Jays Journaling: Arizona? Sure, whatever

April 16, 2020

The madness continues.

Friday, April 10 was supposed to be my first attended game of the season.

It was supposed to be against the Royals. I was supposed to watch Vladdy, Bo and – likely – Chase Anderson. I was also supposed to eat a matzah sandwich, while wishing I could visit my favourite hot dog vendor at Front and John.

But it didn’t happen. Instead, my baseball fix currently comes from “classic” and “rewind” matches on Sportsnet. It fills the void, but only temporarily.

Again, COVID-19 can go fuck itself.

A family member recently brought up an important point: Even when this is all over, it will be a while before life fully returns to normal. We have to remember that.

It would be foolish to think that we could go from physical distancing and isolation one day and then pack Skydome the next. There’s no way the province and city would allow that.

So, we have to make peace with the possibility that even when/if baseball returns, fans won’t be allowed inside ballparks for the entire season.

And I’m okay with that.

I’d rather have baseball played in empty stadiums than nothing at all.

The Jays might not even play any games in Toronto. They might be in Arizona for the entire modified 2020 season.

And I’m okay with that too.

I’d rather see big leaguers play in empty minor league facilities (and Chase Field) than nothing at all.

This Arizona plan is certainly unique. But it’s also problematic, not to mention the ambitious mid-May start.

But we are living in unprecedented times; so, it’s worth a shot.

However – and I can’t stress this enough – I don’t want this to happen if it compromises player and personnel health.

Safety is paramount and if the curve is not flattened in Arizona, then no one should step on the field.

I badly need baseball, but not at the expense of anyone’s well-being. It is my hope that the state’s health department will work with MLB and not be afraid to stand up to the league if there’s any kind of threat.

It’s been over a month since baseball and everything else stopped. It stings and the pain feels worse every day. Eventually, this will pass. The problem is we don’t know when.

Therefore, I have to be patient, even though it’s messing with my sanity.

ER

Jays Journaling (Could I could get sued for that title?)

March 23, 2020

I miss baseball.

I miss it so much.

COVID-19 can go fuck itself.

One of the worst things about the Coronavirus is that the items we use for escape have been shutdown. It’s messed up, but we have to move forward. We have no choice.

Anyway, I’ve got a few things swimming around my head. Some of it was written before the shit hit the fan. So please bear with the mish, the mash and the combined mish-mash.

***

So this is baseball amidst a global pandemic.

It was inevitable once the NBA suspended play. I patiently waited for the other sports to follow. Now we are stuck in a hideous holding pattern.

It’s terrible, but it is the right course of action. It would’ve been incredibly selfish and foolish if MLB chose to defy the other leagues and proceeded accordingly.

Not worried about how the schedule will be restructured. That will work itself out. Maybe we’ll experience a World Series in December (not likely).

I am thinking about the part-staff that work at the games: Ushers, security, food and beverage, hype crews, ticket takers, box office staff, etc. Very pleased to see the Jays working with the MLSE clubs to create a fund for those affected. Don’t forget about those working in restaurants and bars around Skydome. And don’t forget about your hot dog vendors either. When this storm clears, I hope prosperity can return.

***

You might’ve heard that Jose Bautista was supposed to be playing for the Dominican Republic at an upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament. From all accounts, he would’ve been at first base. However, it appeared he was also trying to reinvent himself as a two-way player.

That’s right! Joey Bats is/was attempting to become a pitcher and I think that’s BRILLIANT!

I’m sure many scoffed and rolled their eyes at the notion. But to paraphrase Talk Talk, “It’s his life. Don’t you forget.”

So what if he’s turning 40 this fall? So what if the analytics aren’t in his favour? So what if evolution caught up to him on the offensive side?

If Joey Bats wants to pitch, I’m all for it. If he still has that passion, a desire to compete and his body can handle it, then who are we to say no?

It’s silly to expect him to be a Max Scherzer or Mariano Rivera. But I certainly hope he finds success with this endeavour; whether that’s in the majors, indy ball or any league outside of North America.

Besides, transitioning to a pitcher gave Anthony Gose another shot.

***

Could we dial back on the Reese McGuire parking lot jokes?

It’s getting ridiculous.

The kid did something very stupid and (hopefully) feels awful about it.

If there’s one thing our society excels at it’s kicking someone when they’re down. I’m as guilty of it as you are.

I’m not saying we should ignore what allegedly happened, but it would be better to simply acknowledge the situation and let the legal process run its course. There could be a mental health or addiction issue at play.

I realize this request will be in vain, but I figured I’d make it anyway.

***

The cheating scandal involving the Houston Astros is detrimental. Personally, I would’ve stripped them of the 2017 World Series title. Alas, the Commissioner did not feel that was necessary.

What occurred at Minute Maid Park was horrible. However, in a twisted kind of way, it was also a good thing.

A story is more intriguing when there’s a villain.

And the Astros are THE villains of the season. Wherever they go, there will be hype and interest. Such excitement will lead to increased ticket sales and more eyeballs watching the TV.

Remember when A.J. Burnett returned as a New York Yankee in 2009 and faced Roy Halladay? Skydome was nearly packed and the atmosphere appeared to be electric.

All because Burnett was a villain who left the Jays to play for the evil empire.

Why else are we – as Jays fans – obsessed with the Yankees and Red Sox? It’s because they’re villains and we want to witness them fail.

Now Houston’s been added to that mix.

It would not surprise if the Jays’ home series against the Astros – whenever it happens – will be one of the most attended. It’s the best chance for fans to jeer the villains.

And just imagine if Houston embraces the villain-role. Just imagine if they reach the World Series. The ratings and ticket sales will take off like a rocket.

Ca-ching 💰💰💰

***

Officially rooting for Patrick Murphy.

I hope you read Arden Zwelling’s article about the young hurler. The poor kid has had an injury setback and a metaphoric breaking ball thrown at him.

Love to see Murphy overcome all these obstacles and find success at the big league level.

Alejandro Kirk has also piqued my interest. Of course, it’s likely we won’t see him at Skydome any time soon.

Nevertheless, he was gaining a lot of traction and attention. Then again, I am a sucker for unique characters.

***

Please be patient with Nate Pearson. The worst thing we can do is set over-the-top expectations.

I’m begging you.

ER

Remembering Tony Fernandez

February 17, 2020

Tony Fernandez had four separate stints with the Blue Jays. I was too young to witness his first tenure with the team. However, I clearly remember the remaining three.

The Jays reacquired Fernandez in June 1993 after Dick Schofield sustained a season-ending injury.

Fernandez’s return seemed to be a spark that helped turn things around. They struggled in the early part of that season. Fortunately, they straightened out before capturing their second straight World Series title. Fernandez played a role in that.

His 1999 season really sticks out in my mind. 37-years-old and an incredible .877 OPS!

I was fortunate enough to be at Skydome one Sunday afternoon and witnessed him nearly hit for the cycle against Montreal. From my perch in the 100s – right field foul territory, to be specific – I can recall the majestic flight of a ball he sent into the Expos’ bullpen. Along with Shawn Green, he would ultimately receive a well-deserved trip to the All-Star Game.

From an aesthetic point – and I don’t know why this caught my attention – I always loved how his last name and number were displayed on the back of the uniform. Something about a long last name on top of a thin “1” was mesmerizing.

It’s easy to see why he’s on the Level of Excellence: Single-season leader in games played (1986), at-bats (1986) and triples (1990); all-time team leader in hits, as well as singles and triples. Appeared in more matches than any other Blue Jay; five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner.

He was one of the best to ever wear a Jays uniform. From all accounts, he was also a great individual.

Gone way too soon, but will never be forgotten.

May his memory be a blessing.

ER

Happy Holidays! Why do I put up with this “Jays Twitter” crap?

December 22, 2019

2019 was an ugly year for the Blue Jays, but not for what happened on the field.

We knew what to expect from this team. It was a season of development and debuts. There were many losses, with a few good moments sprinkled in.

However, the real ugliness occurred online; specifically, “Jays Twitter.”

Twitter as a whole has become an ugly place. Everyone is viciously fighting for their opinions to dominate the masses. Anyone with a blue checkmark – and it seems like everyone is verified these days – is telling me how to think, how to feel, who I should fight, why I should fight, what happens if I don’t fight and that I’m a horrible person if I think differently or choose to stay silent.

It’s upsetting, stressful and overwhelming. I just can’t give myself to EVERY SINGLE CAUSE. I’m sorry.

I blame America’s toxic political climate for the ugliness I see on social media. Even worse is that this toxicity has seeped into all walks of life, including a sub-group like Jays Twitter.

Truthfully, Jays Twitter really pissed me off this year. It was a land of unnecessary anger, gross impatience and brutal divisiveness. I’ve never expected everyone to get along and sing “Kumbaya,” but it seems there were more temper tantrums than ever before.

My timeline was dominated by the anti-Shapiro crowd and other glass-half-empty types. It was the same non-stop messages:

THE CORPORATE OWNERS ARE CHEAP AND DON’T CARE ABOUT WINNING!

MARK SHAPIRO IS RUINING THE BLUE JAYS!

THE STADIUM IS TRASH!

JAYS NEED TO SPEND BILLIONS ON FREE AGENTS!

RUSS ATKINS IS SHAPIRO’S PUPPET, INCOMPETENT, FULL OF SHIT AND HAS TERRIBLE PUBLIC RELATIONS SKILLS!

FIRE EVERYONE AND BRING BACK THE MAGIC FROM 2015-16!

Nobody wants to embrace the pain. Nobody wants to be patient. Nobody wants to focus on the exciting potential surrounding the young core. Nobody wants to let things to grow organically. Nobody wants to let the story play out. Nobody wants to acknowledge that the window of opportunity closed at the end of 2016. Nobody wants to move on. Nobody constructively criticizes.

Everyone wants immediate satisfaction. Everyone wants the Jays to spend lavishly on free agents. Everyone is looking for the smallest crumb to use against the front office. Everyone wants to run Shapiro out of town. Everyone scoffs at everything Shapiro says. Everyone wants Atkins to serve everything to them on a silver platter, brush their teeth and wipe their asses. Everyone suddenly cares about optics and how a message is delivered. Everyone is mad because they took 2015-16 for granted. Everyone wants to declare failure before failure occurs. Everyone is sarcastic and acts like a total jerk when rendering judgements. Everyone gets upset over things that are out of their control.

I see all the nastiness and it takes so much energy not to lash out. It makes me wonder why I’m still on Twitter and why I keep this blog alive.

Seriously, what’s the fucking point?

I’m just one Jays-themed Twitter account posting in a far over-crowded pool of Jays-themed accounts.

I’ve never earned a single cent from doing DNJT and I’d be shocked if any money came my way. DNJT is a moped driving next to giant SUVs like Jays Journal, Bluebird Banter and Blue Jays Nation; not to mention the mainstream media juggernauts.

I thought about pulling the plug more than ever this year. I don’t need the negativity. I don’t need to waste my time on a glorified hobby.

But I can’t do it.

I can’t pull the trigger.

I can’t kill @thehek or DNJT because I’ve always wanted to be more than just a fan. I can’t pull the trigger because it would sever the last thread to a dream that’s been dead for a long time and I’m too stubborn to acknowledge it.

So, I have to live it.

People will always be upset and vent on Twitter. That’s their prerogative. It was happening well before 2015-16. Besides, I’ve had my moments too.

It reminds me of an episode of Gilmore Girls when Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) – after months of frustration – has this epiphany about his rebellious nephew, Jess (Milo Ventimiglia). He realizes that Jess is not going to change his behaviour and any forced attempts to do so are futile. This allows Luke to achieve a sense of calm and peace.

Perhaps that’s the state of mind I should aim for.

Jays Twitter, you are what you are and despite my frustration, I can’t change that. There’s no point in getting angry about something that’s out of my control. I’ll have my opinions; you’ll have yours.

Look, we all want the same thing. Some of us are a little more patient than others. Some of us are a little more optimistic than others. Some of us are assholes. Some of us aren’t.

We can analyze stats and contracts to death. In the end, everything settles on one idea: Things will work out or they won’t.

You have to accept it. I have to accept it.

I guess that’s my cliched New Year’s resolution. Perhaps a “New Decade” resolution.

Speaking of which, I do wish you and your family the very best this holiday season. As always, thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. I really do appreciate it.

2020 will mark the eighth year (and ninth baseball season) of DNJT. You can expect the usual stuff. I’ve also been toying with the idea of rebooting the podcast. However, that will be a long-term project.

Here’s hoping 2020 will be a little better than 2019, on and off the field. After all, spring training is just a few weeks away.

ER

UPDATE: A few hours after I published this post, Hyun-Jin Ryu signed a four-year deal with the Jays. I’m happy! Annoyed with my personal timing, but happy nonetheless. More importantly, Jays Twitter is happy……for now.

Let’s pretend I’m a card-carrying member of the BBWAA

December 5, 2019

Sometimes, it’s fun to do a little role-playing.

Nothing like acting out a fantasy and spicing things up. Life’s hard as it is; so indulge me as I get imaginative.

Let’s pretend I’m a long-standing member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and I have an enticing hall-of-fame ballot.

Photo: @MLB

What did you think I meant? Get your mind out of the gutter 😕

As was the case last year, I have no interest in explaining myself. The names I selected are based on memories, feelings, emotions, bias and a little bit of Baseball-Reference.com.

My votes go to…

  • Larry Walker 🇨🇦
  • Derek Jeter
  • Roger Clemens
  • Barry Bonds
  • Omar Vizquel
  • Todd Helton
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Scott Rolen
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Cliff Lee
  • Jeff Kent
  • Jason Giambi

Frankly, I don’t care about who’s elected, as long as Larry Walker is one of them. He deserves to be there.

We’ll find out soon.

ER

Final Thoughts: Don’t bet against the Washington Nationals (née Montreal Expos)

November 3, 2019

Lesson learned: Don’t bet against those Nats.

Allow me to present this cautionary tale…

Milwaukee will win the Wildcard, I thought.
That didn’t happen.

There’s no way Washington will defeat Los Angeles. Heck, the Dodgers are my pick to win the whole thing.
Wrong. Very wrong.

Okay, I’ll buy into the hype. They’ll defeat St. Louis, but it’ll be a battle.
The Cards got anillated.

World Series, baby! It’s been fun, but Houston is a better team. Besides, the Nats haven’t played in a week. That’s usually a disadvantage.
Washington goes up 2-0, defeating Cole and Verlander on the road.

Is this really happening?

Oh, look. Houston just won three straight. They’re heading back to H-Town, one win away from their second championship in three years. Everything makes sense again.
Nope. Nope. Nope.

The Nats’ victory is stark reminder that everything resets in the playoffs. Each round is a clean slate and whatever happened previously goes out the window. Sometimes, the narrative follows though; sometimes, it doesn’t.

I’m thrilled Washington won. They are – technically – the Montreal Expos after all.

It was interesting how Expo fans viewed the World Series. I saw a fair amount of salty feelings. Some Montreal-based organizations divorced themselves from the Nationals by stating the Expos were “paused” in 2004. Respectfully, it’s a little absurd to deny the historical lineage.

Nevertheless, the District of Columbia will fly the banner, Houston got what they deserved and Bryce Harper saw his former teammates reach the promised land without him – his choice, of course.

Congrats to the Nationals, especially to the former Blue Jays on their championship roster/coaching staff:

  • Daniel Hudson
  • Yan Gomes
  • Henry Blanco
  • Javy Guerra
  • Dave Martinez

Aplogies to anyone I missed. Long live Baby Shark!

ER

2019 World Series Guess

October 22, 2019

Got the pennant winners right! Can’t believe Washington steam-rolled St. Louis. I love a dramatic tale and the Nats’ run has been thrilling.

Seven months ago, they said goodbye to Bryce Harper. Now, they’re basking in the glory of a National League pennant and making their first World Series appearance.

Having said that…

Houston over Washington

In my head, the Astros are a better team. They’ve also had less of a break between rounds than the Nationals. Sometimes, that affects the result.

Let’s find out.

ER


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