Posted tagged ‘pitching’

The Awful Performance

June 8, 2017

The cruelest expressions in baseball
involve only three words:
Cut him loose
Low levage situations
Designated for assignment

Horrors of an awful performance
swim freely in the mind
Poisoning your confidence
Drowning the best moments
of a long career
to a point where you even wonder if they actually happened

Personal venom that doesn’t even leave room
for columnists who declare your time is up
and fans with the uncanny ability of kicking you when you’re already hurt

It’s already out there;
so why bother searching for it?

Reporters want to showcase your pain because it will make their jobs eaiser
Your pain writes itself, they think to themselves
They have the headline all set:
40-year-old washed up reliever embarresses himself

But today
you are not opening that window for them
Today
you choose to disconnect from the present
Today
your pain shall remain internal

Players continue to mingle
while post-game meals are consumed
To you, it is just meaningless noise
The body might be in the clubhouse
but the soul is not there

Somewhere
amongst the drakness and silence
is the reason why you still put on a uniform

It still exists

Somewhere

Understanding the Blue Jays’ poor April performance with a little helping of fake news and alternative facts

May 1, 2017

Things ended nicely with two wins and a series victory over Tampa Bay. However, nothing can eclipse the ugly performance the Blue Jays gave in April. So pardon me as I take a page out of the Trump administration’s playbook:

The offence did not struggle. They simply conserved thier power and talent, allowing the confidence of the opposing pitchers to remain intact. 

The bullpen did not have moments of implosion. They simply wanted to remind the world about the importance of being charitable. That deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. 

Yes, several players are currently on the DL. But this allows the Jays’ training staff to find groundbreaking ways of aiding the recovery process. 

Of course, here’s what really happened: 

Here’s hoping for a better result in May. 

ER

Short, scribbled thoughts about the fugly start to the regular season

April 17, 2017

Wish I could tell you it will get better. But the truth is I can’t. There are few guarantees in baseball, so I can only hope for the best and be positive.

The Blue Jays will either figure it out or they won’t.

You can push as many panic buttons as possible. You can demand they fire Gibby. You can beg for Rowdy Tellez to be called up. You can curse Mark Shapiro and Russ Atkins for all entirety. You can refuse to purchase tickets. Just understand one thing: We have no control over the fate of the team. Like it or not, we have to let the process work itself out and show some – here’s a word you might not like – patience.

Gregg Zaun sometimes criticizes certain fans for wanting instant gratification. It’s a theory I subscribe to as well. We live in a society that values anything quick and aggressive, while discarding items that are slow and can’t instantly capture attention. Baseball clashes with this kind of society; in the game itself and with the length of the season. The adage of the regular season being a marathon and not a sprint certainly applies to the Jays’ situation.

The consensus couldn’t be clearer: There’s nothing fun about how this season has gone so far, especially after Sunday’s 11-4 dumpster fire loss to Baltimore. Greater concern is Aaron Sanchez’s blister problem and J.A. Happ’s elbow; issues that are incredibly alarming. Can’t forget the nightmarish offensive production either. So as much as it sucks – and it really does suck – there is nothing we can do, but to simply let things breathe. It might be painful, but it’s the right course of action.

If that won’t work for you, consider this: If the worst thing in your life is a 2-10 baseball team, then you have a pretty good life.

ER


MVP at the WBC

March 26, 2017

It mattered the most
so Stroman answered the call
with flare and style

ER

Short, scribbled thoughts about Brett Cecil

November 21, 2016

I guess my earliest memory of Brett Cecil would have been around 2007-2008. All the bloggers were writing about two specific “prospects” in the Jays’ system: Cecil and Travis Snider.

He debuted in 2009 with a shaved head and wearing fancy sports goggles. There were some teachable moments.

There was a match against the Yankees where he threw a ball out of play, but forgot to call ‘time out.’ New York, being such savy veterans, took advantage.

Another time, he entered the dugout after a bad performance. It prompted Cito Gaston to walk over to the young hurler and have a heart-to-heart. Cito was calm and father-like with his message. It was critical, but also encouraging. It was something Cecil needed to hear.

Surley lost amongst the discussion of Cecil’s departure would be his strong 2010 performance. He started 28 games, posting a 15-7 record, with a 4.22 ERA and 1.326 WHIP. Had it not been for Jose Bautista’s incredible offensive outburst that season, Cecil would’ve been the best part of 2010.

However, things fell apart in 2011-2012. Cecil pitched poorly and it clearly affected him. Countless times he left a poor performance and threw a tantrum. Things were smashed and tossed, with plenty of profanity. I attended one of his starts in 2011 that didn’t go well. I followed him back to the dugout on the jumbotron. As soon as he started venting his frustrations, the screen quickly cut away to a video. It was as if the Skydome control room wasn’t familiar with Cecil’s tantrums, which had unfortunately became his calling card.

Ultimately, he was sent down to AA New Hampshire. It wasn’t as bad of a demotion as one would think. At the time, the Jays’ AAA affiliate was in the offence-friendly Pacific Coast League. It only made sense for Cecil to pitch with the Fishercats, where the results wouldn’t be skewed.

But things turned around in 2013 when Cecil successfully reinvented himself as a reliever. He had a sparkling 2.83 ERA and 1.104 WHIP. It was a performance that earned an appearance at the All-Star game. In a season that was ripe with unfulfilled promise and disappointment, Cecil and fellow reliever Steve Delabar were the lone bright stars.

While Delabar was unable to match his 2013 performance, Cecil has maintained his course. Yes, he had moments of imperfection. However, when things mattered the most, Cecil got the job done. Never forget the strong finishes he posted in 2015 and this past season.

Now he’s off to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m sad and disappointed to see him leave, but I certainly wish him the very best. I’m grateful not only  for what he did wearing a Blue Jay uniform, but to also witness him go from a young man full of emotion and blossom into a mature and professional veteran. His development happened right in front of us.

My lasting memory of Brett Cecil was after game three of the 2016 ALDS. Amongst the incredible euphoria, Cecil was on the field with his three little children and wife, Jennifer. As the celebration went on, Cecil lined up his children for a family photo. It was a wonderful moment and he couldn’t have picked a better setting.

ER


Screw you guys! I like R.A. Dickey and I’m glad he wore a Blue Jay uniform

November 15, 2016

There are two types of sports fans: Those who jump to conclusions without considering consequences and those who recognize that while results, standings and stats are important, there’s more to sports than just those three items.

There’s really no right style to go with. The former is passionate, direct and is not afraid to state an opinion. The ladder is compassionate, direct if needed and tries to be more constructive with any criticism.

I personally fall with the ladder. Sure, I might be wearing “rose-coloured glasses.” Sure, I might be talking – or writing – out of my ass. But I’m happy with the way I am.

These clashing styles of fandom could not be more evident than how R.A. Dickey’s tenure in Toronto was viewed.

Before continuing, I want to express a few things: For starters, Dickey is one my favourite athletes. He’s a unique character and I’ve always been personally drawn to athletes with rarities. Let’s not forget the incredible hurdles and horrific trauma he had to overcome to get where he is; nor should we forget the charitable work he does off the field.

With that in mind, I have no problem admitting that the Mets won the trade and Dickey’s overall performance these last four seasons was below the level we had originally hoped for. Limiting his starts down the stretch this season and keeping him off the playoff roster was the right thing to do.

To be honest, a part of me is also relived he’s no longer on the team. Almost every time he started a game, I would get very nervous. It was the same anxiety I felt when Roger Clemens or Roy Halladay – who I admired – stepped on the mound.  Like Clemens (pre-allegations) and Halladay, I badly wanted Dickey to have an amazing performance and play a significant role in a Jays victory. Therefore, I invested a lot more emotion than I would for – as an example – Pat Hentgen, A.J. Burnett or Marcus Stroman. Sometimes, my investment paid off; sometimes, it painfully didn’t.

Upon reflection, it is appropriate to say that while Dickey performed well below our original expectations, he was certainly not a disaster.

As CBN’s Andrew Hendriks recently pointed out…

Perhaps Mike Wilner summed up Dickey’s tenure appropriately with this mid-season tweet.

Speaking for myself, I was naïve when Dickey was acquired. I ignored the fact that pitching in the AL East is different than the NL East; arguably more challenging. I also didn’t appreciate the unpredictable nature of the knuckleball. In time, I learned there would be “Cy Young innings” and “beach ball innings.”

This is where the two styles of fandom clash.

Those who jump to conclusions witnessed Dickey have a poor performance against the Cleveland Indians in his first-ever regular season start for the Jays, followed by a disastrous start five games later against the Boston Red Sox.

From that point on, these fans viewed Dickey as a bust. No matter what he did, he would be given the same treatment earmarked for Larry Murphy, Andrea Bargnani and Eric Hinske, just to name a few. It also didn’t help that Noah Syndergaard actually became a stud with the Mets.

Those who are compassionate – the camp I fall with – recognized that Dickey wasn’t the ace of the staff or a Cy Young-dominant starter. However, we also saw that he properly filled the role of a middle to back-end starter who ate innings and held things together, while the top starters rested and usually lightened the workload for the bullpen. In other words, Dickey couldn’t fulfill a leading role, but he was certainly a strong supporting cast member. We simply adjusted our expectations and were satisfied.

Unfortunately, our satisfaction was constantly challenged by those who decided early on that he was nothing more than a failure

Sadly, some fans insist in having a scapegoat when things go wrong. Dickey was that scapegoat and the treatment he received was harsher than what other Blue Jays who struggled dealt with. It was painfully familiar to the 2013 villianization of J.P. Arencibia.

Yes, Dickey wasn’t perfect. Yes, he deserved criticism. However, some of this criticism was far too excessive.

There were two people in my personal life who I would constantly debate with about Dickey. Unfortunately, it nearly got heated on a couple of occasions. There were countless times I would read something negative about Dickey on Facebook and Twitter that crossed a line and it would put me in a bad mood. Don’t even ask me how many times I thought of telling Sportsnet’s George Rusic – an unapologetic anti-Dickey proponent – to go screw himself.

Rusic and colleague Dean Blundell made my blood pressure rise to dangerous levels at times. If Dickey had a bad game, they would loudly remind us who the Jays gave up for him. If Dickey pitched well, they would focus on other ways to criticize him; making fun of his beard, the way he spoke or his age.

It is worth noting that Blundell would change his tune about Dickey as the season went on, defending the knuckleballer mostly in an effort to provoke Rusic. Blundell also interviewed Dickey this past season, which was civil and pleasant, though I suspect there was some “behind the scenes” stuff I wasn’t privy to.

Regardless, the smallest and nastiest comment would set me off.

I hate how some people still expected him to be an ace. I hate how some people called him a “one-hit wonder.” I hate how some people are still upset about trading Syndergaard; seriously, Noah was an unproven talent and had a 50/50 chance of meeting his forecasted potential. That’s why teams trade “prospects” for proven commodities in an effort to field the best lineup.

I hate how some people put the 14-2 result of game four of the 2015 ALCS entirely on Dickey. Yes, he deserves blame. But it’s infuriating that the bullpen – with the exception of Liam Hendriks – gets off scot-free, despite surrendering nine of the 14 runs.

I hate how some would blame Russell Martin’s 2015 offensive struggles on having to catch Dickey. Many would call BS on that, with Russell being the first to say it.

I also hate how some people vilified Dickey because he needed Josh Thole. In fact, I hate every single rude comment that was made towards Thole. People with no knowledge of baseball would read every single ugly statement and think Thole was suppose to hit 40 homers, collect 100 RBIs and have an OPS over 1.000. There’s no denying that Thole is more suitable for the AAA level, but he wasn’t here for his bat. He was here to catch Dickey because he was the best option. It didn’t work out with JPA, Henry Blanco, Erik Kratz and Martin. So like it or not, Thole was the guy. Cry and moan about Thole taking a roster spot as much as you want. His job was to catch a knuckleball. Get over it.

In the end, I will reflect fondly on Dickey’s great moments and he had his share. Here are a few that come to mind:

2013 – Two phenomenal starts against San Francisco and Tampa Bay. A Gold Glove award as well.

2014 – Three victories over Boston. A tough 1-0 loss on the final day of the season against Baltimore. Dickey had a number of losses due to a lack of run support.

2015 – 2.80 ERA in the second half. Most notably was his start at Yankee Stadium on a Friday night in August. He held New York to one run in a match the Jays would win in extra innings and ultimately sweep the Yankees.

2016 – A phenomenal start against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, the same place his professional career started nearly 20 years ago and where he suffered his most embarrassing performance in 2006. Don’t forget about his final start as a Blue Jay: September 16 against the Angels, where he threw five scoreless innings in a 5-0 Jays victory. At a time when the team needed Dickey the most, he answered the call successfully.

Don’t forget his start in game four of the 2015 ALDS where he held Texas to one earned run over 4.2 innings. His performance that day was better than David Price, who replaced RAD in the fifth inning. Sure, he had a lot of run support in the match. However, if Dickey didn’t hold the fort, there wouldn’t have been a game five and there wouldn’t have a been a legendary bat flip. Dickey’s effort kept the Jays alive.

While I was proud to wear a t-shirt with Dickey’s number 43 on it, I knew he wasn’t coming back in 2017. So it wasn’t a surprise when I found out he signed with the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves are a perfect fit for Dickey. They’re a team in the re-tooling stage and would certainly benefit from a veteran starter that can gobble up innings. Plus he’ll work with Bartolo Colon, forming a very unique tag team.

So I wish R.A. Dickey the wish the very best. He might not have been the superstar we originally hoped for, but he certainly fulfilled an important supporting role. Nevertheless, I’m grateful his narrative came through Toronto.

ER

Episode 78 [Season Finale]: Highs, Lows and a Postseason Appearance

October 23, 2016

This year marked the 40th anniversary season of Blue Jays baseball, which turned out to be more than just a historic milestone.

Brendan Panikkar of BaseballHotCorner.com looks back at the 2016 Jays and what the off-season could entail.

Episode 78 Direct MP3 Download

…or…

***Thanks for listening to the fifth season of DNJT! Enjoy the World Series and the off-season.***


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