Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day 2008!

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It has seemed like it's been years since we've last seen regular season baseball, but today the drought is finally over. The Toronto Blue Jays kick of the regular season later today against the New York Yankees.

In preparation for this season, I've created this Blue Jays superfan video.
GO JAYS GO!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jays Beat the Sawks

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Amongst all the drama that was yesterday’s game between the Jays and Red Sox, the Jays actually squeaked out a victory; handing the Red Sox a 4-3 loss. Not much attention was paid to itself, more so the controversy surrounding the dispute between coaches and training staff over compensation for their upcoming trip to Japan.

The game itself was delayed an hour, and the Sawks threatened to not the play the game at all; plus not go on their 7 day tour of Japan unless the coaches were given the money. I guess they were expected to pay the required $40,000 out of their own pocket for the trip, which is pretty ridiculous considering that coaches and support staff’s salaries pale in comparison to players.

The Drunk Jays Fans make a very hilarious reference to communism in a piece posted yesterday. Wow - not very often that the “red” comes out, but when it does - instant hilarity.

So the Jays beat the Red Sox 4-3! Okajima gave up 4 runs in the 8th inning, to give the Blue birds the victory. Given that most of the Red Sox roster was either crying in the clubhouse, or playing in minor league games; but still! Yes, the win was buried in the headlines, but any attention that the Jays can get from the USA media is great.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fly with Rios Airlines, and Your Top Comes Off

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In an attempt to make the Blue Jays more “down to earth”, the Toronto Star has a weekly article called Blue Jay Banter, which tells us “peasant fans” what the Jays players like to do in their spare time.

Along with seducing twenty-something sorority sisters, Alex Rios also apparently enjoys flying remote controlled miniature helicopters. He’s been doing this for 5 months, and has become such an expert flyer, that he can actually unhook women’s bras simply by flying the helicopter past them.

The Doc also got in on the helicopter-flying action, being a model airplane enthusiast himself.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Burnett possible spokesman for Sally Hansen Nails

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Never have I been so interested in nails, since the episode of Seinfeld when Elaine sent George’s father into a nail salon to spy on the manicurists. A lot of attention is being paid to A.J. Burnett’s injury (if you could even call it that). Yesterday, he told the papers that he could have been wearing an acrylic nail attached to his finger two weeks ago to aid the process. A.J. however, declined the nail because the colour didn’t match with his baby blue eyes.

His actual reason for not doing it was that he wanted to hone his changeup and slider, before resorting back to his curveball. Yes, better to have four average pitches, than two nasty pitches (his fastball, and curveball). So I can see why he didn’t want to go the Sally Hansen route.

In related news, B.J. Ryan threw another scoreless inning in yesterday’s 4-1 loss to the Pirates. Though afterwards, he complained of soreness in his left elbow. Not ordinary soreness, like “I just woke up after banging Pam Anderson all night” soreness. But the trainers say it’s nothing to worry about.

Again, that’s like Tommy Lee saying “Yeah baby, don’t worry - it’s just a rash, nothing to worry about!”. Then it ends up being Hepatitis B. Sorry Pam.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Billy Crystal Scandal

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Never has one fake baseball player caused so much controversy in so little time. Overrated comedian Billy Crystal possibly had the most infamous strikeout in history on Thursday when he struck out in a Spring Training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Many baseball purists are calling the move a “disgrace to baseball”, a “publicity stunt” and “something else ridiculous in quotation marks”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, other folks think it was a nice gesture, and a way to bring more positive attention to baseball.

I myself sit on the fence on the issue (if you’re wondering where exactly on the fence, I’d probably say right-centre field). I think it’s unfair that any Hollywood star can just throw on a baseball jersey and play for a pro baseball team. It is a bit of a joke that someone with no professional experience can just go and swing a bat 6 times and have the entire world enthralled about it.

But on the other hand, it’s nice to see that such a big fan of baseball got to live their lifelong dream by playing for the Yankees. And after all, it’s only a preseason game - and it was only one at-bat. Hey, if Garth Brooks can do it for three teams, then why not the guy who was in City Slickers, My Giant, and City Slickers 2.

It makes me think that with enough money and by being famous, that I too can one day step into the batter’s box with the Toronto Blue Jays - but I know that won’t happen any time soon. *tear*

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Noooooooo !!!

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That pretty much explains my reaction when I found out Casey Janssen was sidelined for the entire 2008 season. It’s a big blow - especially since the season hasn’t even started yet. This was also the year that the Jays “Weren’t going to get hurt”; well, so much for that. It’s the first of what I’m sure are many injuries to come.

Doctors discovered that Janssen had a torn labrum; a shoulder injury which can sideline pitchers for the rest of their career if not careful. Apparently, they discovered the tear back in September, but thought surgery wasn’t necessary at the time.

So this pretty much gives Jesse Litsch the 5th starting position by default; considering that Chacin is about as useful as a box of staples. Ricciardi said that the position won’t be gift wrapped, and he might possibly be looking outside the Jays for more pitching help.

Enter Armando Benitiez; the 35 year old closer signed to a minor-league deal on Tuesday. In 2008, Benitez had 17 saves in 54 games split between the Marlins and the Giants. This is a good move - even if it is a minor league deal. You can never have too many arms in the bullpen.

Although losing Janssen is a big deal, I think the Jays will be able to cope. Since Accardo stepped up last year, confidence in the bullpen is very high this season. If BJ is ready, Accardo will be a deadly setup man - followed by Scott Downs, Brandon League and Brian Wolfe. Better to lose Janssen now, then 3 days into the season - right?

I Heart Fantasy Baseball

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You know, I can’t help it - but I have a confession to make. I am addicted to Fantasy Baseball.

There’s something about pretending to be a General Manager that makes the whole thing seem special. It’s your opportunity to assemble your baseball dream team - and most of the time, it’s merely for bragging rights (occasionally it’s for a small amount of money).

Whoever’s idea it was to come up with Fantasy Baseball (and Fantasy Sports in general) is a genius. After digging a little further, it looks like we have Harvard University sociologist William Gamson and Magazine writer/editor Daniel Okrent to thank.

There are many reasons why I love Fantasy Baseball, but maybe one of the most important is that it helps me apprectiate teams and players I would otherwise not follow. Ordinarily I would only care how players on the Blue Jays perform; but if I drafted only Jays, my team would probably be a sitting duck. But by drafting different players from different teams, it gives me a new appreciation for these players. It makes me feel as though they are “mine”, and that’s why I follow them so closely.

Fantasy baseball is also a great way to keep on top of the latest player statistics. Avid players are always aware of which players are leading which categories. Fantasy players also have the latest injury updates on players. I usually drop players quicker than Britney Spears’ baby if I find out they are on the DL.

Although in retrospect, some might see Fantasy Baseball as a waste of time, I see it as a labour of love. Since I will never play on a Major Leauge Baseball team, or ever own one, Fantasy Baseball is the next best thing.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Beej Pushed Back

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The original excitement surrounding the return of B.J. Ryan has unfortunately fizzled out, when it was announced on Thursday that he will not participate in a Spring Training game as originally planned. The doctor who performed Tommy John surgery has advised the Blue Jays to not play Ryan on Saturday, as it might be a little too soon.

Instead, the Beej will now participate in two more simulated sessions before returning to the mound. Dr. Timothy Kremcheck has told Jays management to avoid using Ryan on consecutive days in April, and in instances of more than one inning. It looks like the Beej is still a way from being at 100 percent, but thankfully Accardo is waiting in the wings if Ryan is not ready for Opening Day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Frank Won’t Leave without a Long ball

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We all remember Frank Thomas’ woes in the first half of the season last year, and the Big Hurt plans on demolishing those memories from people’s minds. In fact, he’s going to do it with the long ball. He said that he will either hit a homerun at Knology Park, or he won’t feel good about heading north for the start of the regular season.

Apparently Knology Park in Dunedin is infamous for eating up balls into the outfield, so Frank T. plans on crushing one out of the park before he leaves Spring Training. This is a much more aggressive side of Thomas compared to last year; when he was ho-hum about Grapefruit league games, resulting in an abysmal April, May and June.

So far, the only Jays players to hit for homeruns so far in Grapefruit League games this season have been Buck Coates, Matty Stairs, Joe Inglett, and David Eckstein. So Frank better get swinging if he wants to make it up to New York for the season opener!

Stupid Fingernail

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Not since Joel Zumaya’s “Guitar Hero” injury has this much attention been paid to one sole finger. After slamming his finger in a car door, it sounds like A.J. Burnett will be without his curveball throwing abilities for at least 10 days.

Burnett apparently even went so far as to visit a manicurist to see if he could get another nail glued on, as to speed up the healing process. So I’m guessing no one else on the Jays has questioned why A.J.’s cuticles are so nicely manicured, after his visit to the manicurist? It was to check out a torn nail … riiight!

Gibby Likes What He Sees

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Coaches are expected to say cliché things. They’re expected to freak out on reporters. And coaches are even expected to be a little crazy (but not so much so that they make up war-stories from ‘Nam.) So it was no surprise when asked about his team, that John Gibbons said that the 2008 Jays are the best Jays he has seen in tenure so far in Toronto.

Yes, that’s easy to say in Spring Training when most players don’t even have their feet wet yet, but this is good news. Gibby said that a lot of question marks in the pitching department have been answered, and this year’s lineup is poised to do a lot of damage. This is true: coming into the 2007 season, there were a lot more uncertainties than this season. Really, the only questions we need answered this year is “Who is the 5th starter?” and “Will BJ be ready for Opening Day”.

Gibbons also said in the interview that expects V-Dub to have a bounce-back year. Well, I would certainly hope so, because it can’t get any shittier than last season’s nightmare for Wells. He also expects Lizzle Overbizzle (gangsta for Lyle Overbay) to come back strong in 2008 too.

Of course, even if he thought his team sucked, would John Gibbons say so? Hell no. But it’s encouraging to hear him say that he’s optimistic about the ’08 Jays.

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