Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny being Uncanny


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Well, he got his wish.

Manny Ramirez is giving up the green monster, bawston accents, and the Red Sox to be a Los Angeles Dodger. Jason Bay takes his place in left field, and now the Pittsburgh Pirates have four players to figure out what the hell to do with.

With this deal, I'm reminded of the Jays/Cardinals swapping of 3rd basemen in the offseason. The Red Sox didn't really upgrade in left field, they just shipped away a problem in the clubhouse. It looks like the Dodgers got the best short-term results in this deal, as it could help them in their playoff run to a NL West Title.

Jason Bay will likely be a very welcome addition to the Red Sox clubhouse. With his quiet demeanor and stereotypical Canadian kindness, the Boston baseball media will likely have a field day with Bay's occasional comments.

Blue Jays fans should be esctatic about Manny being traded to the Dodgers - he has feasted on Blue Jays hitting over his career. I don't have the statistics on hand, but I'm pretty sure he's hit the highest amount of homeruns against the Blue Jays. So I say, peace out Manny - hit some long bombs against National League teams!

Trade Deadline - Judgment Day


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Today is the day where playoff-hopeful teams make their moves, and others that don’t have a chance in hell hope to rebuild for the future. Welcome to Trade Deadline Day.

Speaking of teams that are looking to the post-season, the Chicago White Sox acquired Ken Griffey Jr. The deal was announced earlier this morning, but it was waiting on the go ahead from Griffey - now they are just waiting on final approval from the commissioner. The Reds in return will receive Nick Masset and Danny Richar. The question is though - where is Griffey going to fit in? The White Sox outfield already consists of Dye, Quentin and Swisher. Maybe he’ll just DH and replace Jim Thome.

And now, the possible blockbuster of the day; trade winds are swirling into a hurricane of reports that there is a 3-team offer out there between Boston, Florida and Pittsburgh that would send Manny Ramirez to the Marlins, Jason Bay to the Red Sox, and a shitload of prospects to the Pirates. I think the likeliness of this deal happening is very unlikely; if A-Rod can stay in New York after that media circus last year, then Manny can most certainly stay in Boston.

After weeks and weeks of scouting, it is almost certain A.J. Burnett is going to stay with the Jays. Now it looks like the only Jay that could be on the move is Gregg Zaun. The Marlins were looking to fill the catcher position, but with Pudge off the market they could make a move for Zauny. I guess that all depends if the Marlins land Gerald Laird.

Much like the Angels, the Rays are also in the hunt to beef up their offense to solidify a good post season run. Depending on how the Manny-Bay-Prospects deal goes, the Rays could make a run to pick up Jason Bay. Failing that, it appears their backup plan is Adam Dunn. Though apparently the Reds are selling Dunn way too high for any teams to be interested.

And we end with Brian Fuentes - ever since the Rockies began to crumble, it was widely publicized that Colorado would be shopping their flavour-of-the-week closer. But now, they have almost completely backed off of Fuentes trade talks. Maybe they think it’s possible to make up 7 games in the NL West before October. Hell, we’ve seen it before - so why not?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh …… Canada. Riiiiight


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Matt Stairs will now have some Canadian company on the Jays - today, Vancouver’s Scott Richmond takes the hill. Now Stairs and Richmond can converse about being overtaxed, underpaid, and how Americans always think Canadians say “eh?”.

Some flag-wavers are getting all pissy that the Jays called up Richmond, taking him away from the Canadian Olympic baseball team that heads to Beijing in a few weeks. Given the choice between pitching in the majors and representing your country at the Olympics, I don’t blame Richmond for going for the majors. As a pitcher in the minors, Scott Richmond has no doubt always dreamed of pitching at the Major League level.

So I guess depending on how well Richmond does today, the starting rotation will juggle between Parrish, Purcey and Richmond for the final two positions exited by Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch. Though I think eventually it will be Purcey and Parrish holding it down for the rest of the season. Besides, the two of them together sound like a dynamic duo - P & P or PP!

Matt Garza in - The Unhittables


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Tonight, we were back to the Jays of yore as Matt Garza was unhittable with the Jays losing 3-0.

Again, Roy Halladay posted a quality start but the offense could not get it going to give him any run support. For the most part, Garza was solid; many balls were hit deep into the outfield, but as the 3-0 box score shows, he pitched a solid shutout effort. He struck out five Jays, and walked none.

In trade deadline news, the LA Angels just got deadlier after adding Mark Teixeira to their lineup. They traded away Casey Kotchmen and a prospect to land Teixeira, which is a HELL of a deal for the Angels. With this move, the Angels are planning on meaning business in the post-season.

Monday, July 28, 2008

At least I received this lovely parting gift …


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The Jays may have lost 5-1 yesterday, but at least I took home this snazzy Alex Rios figurine. I joked that Rios at least had to get one hit during “Alex Rios Figurine Day”; but he didn’t even get on base. In fact, I think I might be some sort of bad luck charm when Rios is in the lineup. In the 4 games I’ve been to this year, Alex Rios has not had a single hit. I guess Alex could care less that I’m at the ballpark. *tear*

Also, please let me reiterate that it was an Alex Rios FIGURINE, not a DOLL. There is a big difference; a doll has hair, interchangeable outfits, and may or may not have a pink convertible to ride in. A figurine is a small sculpture that depicts a person (Alex Rios) or animal (ALF). Just so we’re clear ...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Holy Comeback, Batman!


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I was almost ready to hang my head in shame, but I was pleasantly surprised to the the Jays pull out the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th last night. Among all the extra-innings wins, that was the first extra-innings win at home.

A lot of people are crediting Ichiro for merely being in position to catch that ball - which he definitely deserves. With any other outfielder, that ball probably would have sailed over their head and the game was over anyway. Unfortunately, the thing about Gold Glove outfielders is that they occasionally make errors - I just so happens it was last night against the Jays.

I'll admit that I did prance around like a school-girl that just got their dream date to prom when Joe Inglett smacked that ball into the outfield. Matty Stairs is also getting out of his funk, and poked his 10th dinger of the season. 5 in a row baby!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Captain Obvious reports A.J. might get traded


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“Gee whiz, did you hear that A.J. Burnett might get traded to another team?”

“Yeah, where the fuck have you been?”

ESPN.com did a feature article about which players are likely to get dealt before the trade deadline, and of course our precious Allan James Burnett is among them. Despite this insight, I don’t think Burnett is going anywhere; especially since the Phillies already picked up the arm they were looking for in Joe Blanton. Although the Yankees have been looking at A.J., Ricciardi already stated he doesn’t want to deal him to a team in AL East. This leaves St. Louis as the only other possible place Burnett could land, but it’s not very likely at this point. So we can look forward to his untimely cap-tipping until the end of the season at least.

But a few other names possibly on the trading block are Matt Stairs, Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet, and David Eckstein. This is the first I’ve heard that Frasor and Tallet could possibly be trade bait, but I could definitely see them going to a team with a shotty bullpen in need of some repair (St. Louis, Colorado, Pittsburgh). Stairs still has another year left on his contract, and I don’t think he’s on the move - Stairsy seems quite content in Toronto. As for Eckstein, I don’t believe there is much of a market out there for him, so he’ll probably just ride out that 1-year contract.

I can see the trade deadline coming and going, without the Blue Jays head office making any moves - and I’m fine with that. The timing for a trade really doesn’t matter at this point, since the Red Sox and Rays already have the division and wild card locked up anyway. But I’ve seen crazier things happen …


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Giveaway Days - Explained


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For some reason, walking away from the baseball park with a little trinket somehow justifies paying for an overpriced ticket at the Rogers Centre. Either that is marketing genius, or I am just a gullable fan. I'm willing to admit it's a little bit of both.

In fact, part of the reason that I'll be going to this Sunday's game against the Mariners is because it is Alex Rios figurine day. Not Alex Rios DOLL DAY, Alex Rios figurine day (yes, there is a difference). Unfortunately, this giveaway is limited to the first 10,000 fans, which means we will probably have to get there 3 hours before the game.

Giveaway days are designed to make fans feel like they are getting something more for their money. In fact, I'm betting that these "giveaways" are probably stock-piled somewhere after manufacturers made way too many souveniers. It's nice to come home with something that you didn't have to pay for, but in reality it probably cost the Blue Jays pennies per item.

In recent memory, there hasn't been a really amazing giveaway day at the Rogers Centre. There is always the T-Shirts, the magnets, and baseball cards. Lately, more ballparks are giving away bobble heads - the Blue Jays might want to rethink that for 2009 (Frank Thomas bobble head day was originally scheduled for May 25th).

Regardless of all this critiscm, I will still enjoy the baseball game on Sunday. But after the game is over, I will now have an Alex Rios figurine to go along with the 40 of Jack Daniels keep me company at my desk during those hard times.

Don't stop bel-EVEN


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Congratulations, Blue Jays - you made it back to .500 for the first time since June 14th. It has been a long and broken road, but you made it. It may have come a week late, but Cito's goal was fulfilled and the prophecy has come true.

Now comes the next phase - making 2008 not just another year of mediocrity. With 60 games left in the schedule, a playoff spot is almost out of the question, but that doesn't mean the Blue Jays can't make a good run. The ultimate goal would be to finish ahead of those fucking Yankees of course, but I'm sure the Blue Jays would happily take third place in the AL East.

The Good Old 1.5 Game


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Today, we will be treated to a very rare occurrence; the illusive 1.5 game day, also known as the “double header minus 3 innings”. I’m not sure what the case is with a pitcher leaving a delayed game - if the Jays hang on to the lead, does A.J. still get the win? He better, because I need all the W’s I can get in my Fantasy league this week.

After the bullpen finishes off the game this afternoon, the Doc will look to bounce back from his 6-4 loss against the Rays on Saturday. It was arguably his worst game of the season, though Halladay was on the bad end of a few calls and it just snowballed after that. I find it funny that a “bad game” for Roy Halladay is still not that far off from a quality start; 6 IP and 5 ER. That just goes to show you how amazing of a pitcher he is; even when Halladay’s having a bad start, it’s still better than most pitcher’s good starts.

With wins in both games, the Jays can climb back to .500 for the first time since early June. That’s a milestone Jays fans have been looking forward to for a long time, and it’s a small hurdle that’s eluded the team for the past few weeks. I just hope they can pull it off, because it won’t get any easier next week with games against the Rays and Rangers. Mediocrity, here we come!

No Rust in the Lind


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It’s not just a reference to that craptacular Kansas ballad from 1977 - Adam Lind is officially back, and he’s kicking ass and taking pitcher’s names.

Tuesday night he went 4 for 5, stopping just a triple short of hitting for the cycle. His 3-run shot in the 7th propelled the Jays back to a 10-8 win, a game which they trailed twice but still managed to get the “W”.

The statistics since Adam Lind has returned from the minors are phenomenal. He’s hitting .375 with 22 RBI’s in just a matter of 21 games. If there was any doubt Adam Lind being the next Jays superstar, he has silenced the critics with his bat. There is no question that he is now the starting left fielder for the rest of the season.

So much for Reed Johnson or Shannon Stewart.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Return of Marcum


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Tonight marks the return of good old southern boy Shaun Marcum to the Blue Jays rotation. The team will welcome his solid 2.65 ERA with open arms, as the team has been pounded offensively as of late.

Marcum has emerged as one of my favourite players over the past few years. His calm demeanor and great pitch location has made him a very dependable pitcher ever since he joined the Jays starting rotation. Before landing on the DL, he was among the leaders in the AL in the categories of ERA and K’s. I think next to the Doc, Marcum is the second most exciting pitcher to watch on the mound. His stuff is not as overpowering as Burnett or McGowan’s, but his pitch placement is absolutely spot on.

To make room for Marcum, the Jays dropped Brian Wolfe down to Triple A for the second time this year. I question that move because I would think that the most likely candidate to go back to the minors was Brandon League. Obviously management wants League to get his shit together, and return to his dominant form of ’06.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bring Tex to Toronto


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The Blue Jays need offense - and the man to bring it, is Big Tex - Mark Teixeira. It’s been widely publicized that Teixeira wants out of Atlanta, so why not bring him to Toronto? He would be a great improvement at first base, and could also deliver that 30+HR 100+RBI power that Jays so desperately need.

I think there’s only one year remaining on Lyle Overbay’s contract, but they could easily buy him out and trade him to Atlanta with maybe a prospect or two to get Teixeira. I myself have nothing against Overbay, but he just hasn’t lived up to expectations the past season and a half.

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with J.P. Ricciardi these past few seasons is that he’s not willing to pay top dollar for top talent. Often times, he hopes to strike lightning in a bottle with a lesser known player (see Tomo Ohka, Royce Clayton, David Eckstein) or he grossly overpays for players who have already hit their peak (see Frank Thomas). So why not spend good money on a good player - Mark Teixeira. It just makes sense; almost too much sense. And that’s probably why it won’t happen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

That could've been one Uggla All Star Game


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For a manager who is coaching an All-Star game, what’s worse; not playing every player, or running out of players to play? Well, we almost saw the latter of the two at the 79th All Star game at Yankee Stadium.

Though many people will question Terry Francona’s coaching decisions last night, it was really all he could do. Yes, he could have pushed a few of his starting pitchers more than one inning, but no one anticipated having to play a 15-inning game. For a while there, it looked like we might have embarassing tie on our hands.

Depending on who you talk to, it was either one of the greatest All Star games played or one the most boring. The game itself was nearly 5 hours; add on the pre and post game show, and you're close to a 7 hour broadcast. I feel bad for Joe Buck and the engineers for trying to pull content inning after inning after inning. Because you can only talk about Josh Hamilton's "road to redemption" so many times.

Dan Uggla almost got himself booed out of Yankee Stadium, bobbling a All Star high 3 errors. Not to mention, he also grounded into a rally-killing double play; which Jays fans are all too familiar with.

Overall, I think it was a fairly good All Star game. From now on, I'm sure the managers will most certainly keep extra innings into consideration and maybe not be so frugal with their starting pitchers.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making the Grade - The Blue Jays first half Report Card


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As everyone but Roy Halladay heads home for the All-Star Break, many of them will be reflecting on the first half of the season. It’s safe to say that it’s been quite an eventful season so far. The Jays cut ties with Frank Thomas, cleaned house on the coaching staff, and saw many players land on the disabled list. Despite all those things, in order to contend the Blue Jays will need to step it up in the second half to make things interesting. Let’s evaluate how they’ve done so far.

Starting Pitching
Grade: A-

If there’s one thing that’s been the saving grace of the 2008 Blue Jays, it’s been their starting pitching. The starting pitching ranks in the top 3 in the league in ERA, thanks to consistency from Roy Halladay and Shawn Marcum. A.J. Burnett and Dustin McGowan have been fairly good, but always reliable for K’s and delivering quality starts. Jesse Litsch is coming into his own as a 5th starter, but has show a little shakiness of late. Overall, I think the Jays starting pitching is the best in the league - when they’re all healthy.

Starting Lineup
Grade: C-

Where the pitching has excelled this season, the hitting has disappointed. Lack of clutch hitting, no clear clean-up hitter, and a tendency to ground into double plays have killed the team this far. Former coach John Gibbons shuffled the lineup seemingly every day to find a good combination, but could never find a suitable lineup. Not one Jay has more than 10 homeruns this season, and that has hurt them when it comes to making late-inning surges in games.

Bullpen
Grade: B+

So far this season, the Jays bullpen has been very dependable. The loss of Casey Janssen early really left the team scrambling to find a setup man, but Jesse Carlson emerged as a steady arm in late innings. Also, the return of B.J. Ryan has restored a lot of confidence in the Jays bullpen, as he has saved 20 games in 22 opportunities.

Reserve Players
Grade: B

Again this season, the reserve players and callups from the minor leagues have really stepped up and performed well this season. Since there have been so many injuries this season, players like Marco Scutaro and Joe Inglett have seen a lot of playing time. They have shown that they are indispensable, and have performed well in the absence of starting players. Also, the decision to callup Adam Lind from the minors has proven well, as he looks to be a superstar in the future.

Overall
Grade: B-

All things considered, I think the Blue Jays have done okay this season. Hitting has obviously been the big hurdle in the first half, but with Cito at the helm things look to be different. So far, the Jays have been as high as 5 games above .500, to 5 games below .500. I wouldn’t say that we can throw in the white towel just yet; if the young talent can perform to expectations, thing could get interesting this fall.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And the winner is ...


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Good old Canadian boy Justin Morneau upset in the final round and won the HR Derby. He secured the title with just 5 home runs, Josh Hamilton just came up a little short and hit 3. Yes, Josh Hamilton kicked ass - but in the end, he didn't win. I guess that's what happens when you pummel the ball in the early rounds, only to come up short when it counts. I guess that must be Yankee Stadium rubbing off on him.

Home Run Derby Update


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Josh Hamilton has absolutely massacred the single round record, slamming 28 dingers in the opening round. I'm still waiting for the commentators to mention Hamilton's drug problem as many times as he has hit homeruns.

Justin Morneau hit 9 homeruns in the semi-finals, and will face off against Josh Hamilton in the finals. I have a feeling that Hamilton will slow down in the finals, which should make it interesting. Look for Hamilton to slightly edge Morneau.

I swear, if I have to hear about Hamilton's "overcoming of drug issues" one more time, I will hit my own balls into the outfield.

Chicks dig the long ball


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I’m really not quite sure what to expect from tonight’s MLB Home Run Derby. I kind of feel like a blind man walking into an antique store - I’ll be stumbling and breaking a lot of things, hoping to somehow find a diamond in the rough.

There really aren’t any household names participating in the Derby this year. After A-Rod removed himself from the participants list, that really doesn’t leave any baseball “superstars” on this list. Though, the have gathered an impressive list of players who have put up good numbers so far this season. Here is the breakdown.

American League

Josh Hamilton 21 HR
Evan Longoria 16 HR
Justin Morneau 14 HR
Grady Sizemore 23 HR

National League

Chase Utley 25 HR
Dan Uggla 23 HR
Ryan Braun 23 HR
Lance Berkman 22 HR


Here are my predictions for the HR Derby. I think it’s going to be the younger players that dominate. Most folks are probably betting on Utley or Berman to win, but I think they will drop off early. Look for Uggla, Braun, Sizemore, and Hamilton to advance to the semi-finals. I predict that we’ll see Ryan Braun and Dan Uggla in the finals, with Dan Uggla as your 2008 Home Run Derby Champion.

Friday, July 11, 2008

McGowan Tears It Up … Literally


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Bad news on the Dustin McGowan front - he’s out at least 4 weeks with a rotator cuff tear. Initially shelved on the 15-day DL, now he’s out of the rotation for a month. Now the coaching staff must rearrange the starting rotation; Brian Tallet will move up to a starting spot, and John Parrish will make his second start of the season tonight against the Orioles.

Apparently Ricciardi knew about this injury last year - tests showed that McGowan was starting to show initial signs of a rotator cuff tear, but was allowed to pitch this year. This news disturbs me a little bit, considering how J.P. tends to not reveal all the necessary information on injured players.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Come from behinds win EVERY time


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Congratulations to the Jays for winning their first walk-off game of the season, and their first come from behind victory since I can't remember. That's what she said.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rumours and Ramblings


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Can you tell that the trade deadline is coming up? It seems like every week, there is a Jays player rumoured to being shopped by management. This week, David Eckstein’s name was somehow added to the list of rumoured players being thrown out as trade bait. Strangely enough, it’s Baltimore that’s considering bringing in Little Eck. The Jays are apparently not very happy with Eckstein’s performance so far this season (who wouldn’t be), so they’re considering bringing in their 4th shortstop in 2 years. I don’t know why it is, but for some reason they cannot find a dependable SS for the life of them.

It’s no surprise that A.J. Burnett could also be flying the Jays nest come the end of the month; after his media fiasco hinting that he’d like to play for the Chicago Cubs, I’m sure his agent’s phone has been ringing off the hook. Burnett’s contract expires at the end of this season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go to a team looking to add another arm to their starting rotation. I just don’t think that A.J. is in the Jays long-term plans anyway, so they may as well dump the salary and give a young pitcher like David Purcey or John Parrish the chance to gain some big-league experience.

It looks like the only way the Jays will deal either of these guys (or any players for that matter) is to a contending team, in exchange for some prospects or draft picks. The Blue Jays can’t expect to magically cure their hitting woes with one player at the trade deadline - that’s what the offseason is for.

The Tampa Bay Rays - Explained


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Usually I reserve my baseball blogging for the Toronto Blue Jays, but this season there has been an incredible story that has captured the interest of all baseball fans - and that’s the sudden rise of the mighty Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tampa Bay Rays are the Cinderella story of the 2008 season thus far, with fans and experts scratching their heads as to why they are suddenly the best team in baseball. In order to find out how the Rays are where they are today, we need to start at the beginning.

Since their first season in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays) have never had a winning season. Their best season to date was in 2004 with a 70-91 record. Up until this year, they have pretty much been the laughing stock of baseball - consistently finishing in the bottom of the division. But beneath all those losing seasons, they were developing young talent that would emerge as superstars.

Scott Kazmir has emerged as the Rays ace, and consistently performed well since joining the league in 2004. Initially, Kazmir was a prospect of the New York Mets, but was traded to the Rays for pitchers Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. To this day, Mets management has been criticized for the move. Along with young pitchers James Shields and Matt Garza, the Rays starting rotation is among the best in baseball.

The great thing about consistently finishing among the bottom of the standings, is that you get great choices in the MLB draft. Evan Longoria is a great example - in his rookie season, he has absolutely lit it up on the field, and is arguably the runaway candidate for rookie of the year thus far. Other players brought up through the Rays system include Scott Kazmir, Andy Sonnanstine, Dan Wheeler, Carl Crawford, and B.J. Upton.

Another amazing fact about the Rays is that they have managed all this success with the second lowest payroll in baseball; a mere $43 million. At the beginning of the season, who would have ever predicted that the teams with the two lowest payrolls in baseball (the Marlins and the Rays) would be in the playoff race at the mid-way point this season. I certainly didn’t.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Whoooooa, we’re half way there


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I can’t help but make references to Bon Jovi since they’re coming to town this Sunday, but it’s true - the season is already half over. And Jays fans, I’d say that we’ve already seen a season’s worth of drama.

From Frank Thomas being dropped, to injury woes, and the departure of John Gibbons, things could not have been more dramatic than they have been in the first 81 games of the season. I am hoping that like the Detroit Tigers, the Blue Jays have put the worst behind them and will play for a winning record in 2008.

I think they will easily achieve Cito’s goal of reaching .500 by the All-Star break, but apart from that I’m not quite sure where the second half will take us.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ugly Hats


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I'm all for supporting the true north strong and free, but those were god-awful hats that the Jays were sporting last night against the Mariners. Yes, the Blue Jays are Canada's baseball team, but is it really appropriate to be wearing red and white hats in Seattle?

Thank God we don't have to see these horrible hats for another 364 days ...

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