Flashback Friday: A Blue Jays Cameo in Big Daddy

Friday, October 29, 2010  |  by 

Who knew that Jon Stewart was such a huge Blue Jays fan? Well, maybe Jon Stewart himself wasn't an admirer of the back to back '92-'93 World Series Champions, but at least his character was.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a trip back to 1999 and a couple of references to the  Toronto Blue Jays on the silver screen in the movie "Big Daddy".

Most of you are probably aware of Jon Stewart's character Kevin Gerrity's moment of clarity at the end of the movie where he suddenly recalls his evening of sexual escapades that lead to conceiving a child:
"6 years ago ... Joe Carter. Toronto and the Phillies, you know ... World Series! Mitch Williams ... we flew up for the night! There was a girl. I'm an idiot. I was so hammered - chicken wings and Molson 3.0. You know Canadian beer's like moonshine."
Video with scene featured below:

However, that only scratched surface of the Blue Jays mentions and appearances in the movie. If you look very carefully, Joe Carter actually made a cameo in Big Daddy ... sort of.

This is a screencap of the scene where Julian wets the bed, and don't ask me how or why ... but somehow I noticed there was some Blue Jays paraphernalia on the wall in the room.

Of course there's this identical picture of Joe Carter from the 1993 World Series, as well as a classic foam Blue Jays head. But then after brightening up the photo, I noticed the fabled foam letter "J" on the wall to the left as well.

When you think about it, the continuity featuring the Blue Jays in this movie is pretty incredible. These Blue Jays souvenirs were in the room of Sonny's roommate Kevin Gerrity, who we discover at the end of the film was the biological father of Julian, and in attendance for the 1993 World Series.

Do you think it's possible they were portraying Jon Stewart's character as a Blue Jays fan? It certainly seems like it.

The Toronto Blue Jays don't get mentioned all that often on the silver screen, but when they do ... you can rest assured that borderline obsessive baseball nerds like myself will notice.

Happy Halloween: The Jose Bautista Jay-O-Lantern

Thursday, October 28, 2010  |  by 

Aside from Antoine Dodson's "Bed Intruder", one of the hottest Halloween costume ideas out there will be in honour of the Blue Jays 54 home run man: Jose Bautista.

It feels like a costume cop-out since I have all the Blue Jays paraphernalia anyway, but dressing up as Jose Bautista will be one of my costumes this year.

In addition to dressing up like bearded one, I've also immortalized Jose Bautista in pumpkin form above. This was the second year I attempted to do a Jay-O-Lantern, and let me tell you it is definitely a lot more difficult than it looks.

If it wasn't for the beard, you might think the jack-o-lantern was one of those composite sketches you see on the news ... except with far less detail.

Anyway, here's the sketch that I worked from below. Take a look and let me know what you think. Happy Halloween!

**Update:** Check out this great Jay-O-Lantern of the Blue Jays logo courtesy of @KawiGurl27.

Mannywood North of the Border?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010  |  by 

From the inception major league baseball players begin their careers, they dream of living out their childhood dream of playing for their favourite team.

Some players are fortunate enough to eventually make it there, while others never see the bright lights of their dream destination.

I get the sense that Manny Ramirez grew up dreaming of playing for the Toronto Blue Jays. His favourite player is George Bell, and Manny has had an affliction with the city of Toronto for a long time. Heck, he was even apparently spotted shopping at the Eaton Centre last week.

Now while Manny Ramirez has dreamed of playing for the Blue Jays, the question is are the Blue Jays dreaming of having Manny play for them?

Shortly after the front office made it official and introduced John Farrell as the new manager, Manny being Manny chimed in and said he’d love to play for Farrell and the Blue Jays.

This is nothing new, as over the past several seasons there have been hints that ManRam wants to reside in Toronto. Before he signed his 2-year deal with Los Angeles, many of us drooled at the possibility of having Manny Ramirez in a Blue Jays uniform.

The problem is, that was 2 years ago. Now at 38 years old and in the latter stages of his career, Manny’s skills have diminished to the point where he would have to be relegated to the designated hitter position. Not only that, but with Scott Boras as his agent, you can be certain he’s going to attempt to pry as much money out of the Blue Jays pockets as possible.

Another thing is I don’t think Manny Ramirez is the kind of player that would put the Blue Jays over the top. Manny is not the final piece in the puzzle that would send Toronto to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Yes, he would be a great addition to this team and could provide a boost to the on base percentage that the Blue Jays desperately need. However, ManRam is just a temporary solution.

If the price is right and the contract is reasonable, then yes … I’m in favour of bringing Manny Ramirez to Toronto. If Alex Anthopoulos feels ManRam is part of "the plan", then go for it. In the past, the Blue Jays have spent their money in much worse ways.

But this shouldn’t be a vanity signing or anything. Let's not kid ourselves and say Manny Ramirez is going put more fans in the stands in Toronto. So let’s hold off on building the Mannywood North sign for the time being.

Farrell is the Man

Monday, October 25, 2010  |  by 

We're still awaiting for the official confirmation from Alex Anthopoulos, but for all intents and purposes it appears John Farrell will be the next manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

From what it sounds like, Farrell is coming from a fairly strong coaching background, albeit he hasn't managed a single game at the major league level. Then again, neither have any of the other three final four candidates, either.

I think it will be good to get some new blood into the organization, and the advantage to bringing in someone from outside the organization is Farrell doesn't have to be afraid of stepping on anybody's toes from day one.

John Farrell doesn't have to worry about coddling his players or trying to be best friends with them. He isn't trying to help them get contracts with other teams, or increasing their value on the free agent market.

Farrell has been brought in to win a championship.

There was a money quote from Casey Janssen in The Globe in Mail yesterday which spoke volumes about the outgoing manager and the heir apparent:
"For me it is going to be kind of exciting to have a manager who's going to be able to run the bullpen well and run the rotation."
Not that Casey Janssen is speaking for the entire pitching staff, but I'm sure they're elated to have a new manager with a pitching background rather than as a position player. Somewhere, Jeremy Accardo is smiling.

And how satisfying is it that he Blue Jays poached the heir apparent to Terry Francona in Boston?

Now if only they could pluck a member of the coaching staff from New York and Tampa, and the Blue Jays could really do some damage against the opposition with some intel from behind enemy lines.

Acid Flashback Friday: Roy Hartsfield as First Blue Jays Manager

Friday, October 22, 2010  |  by 

Before the Toronto Blue Jays began their exhaustive search to find their 11th manager, there was one man who took on the daunting task of being the first man to take the helm of a fledgling franchise.

For this week’s Acid Flashback Friday, we look back at the first ever manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, Roy Hartsfield.

With only three years of major league playing experience under his belt, in 1953 Hartsfield began the next chapter of his career as a Dodger. He spent the next 19 years in the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a minor league player and subsequently a minor league coach.

Once Peter Bavasi was awarded the General Manager position with the new franchise in Toronto, Bavasi decided to bring in one of his cohorts from the Dodgers system, Roy Harstfield as manager.

The Toronto Blue Jays expectedly struggled in their first three seasons in the majors. Roy Hartsfield was at the helm of three consecutive 100 seasons, and compiled a total record of 166-318.

The following is a brief description of Roy Hartsfield, courtesy of Stephen Brunt from The Globe & Mail:
“Peter Bavasi, the Jays' first president, brought in Roy Hartsfield to manage the team out of the gate because he was an amiable guy who could spin a good story, because he had a southern accent that sounded suitably baseballish (a help in selling of the game in a foreign locale), because he was a minor-league lifer who would be forever grateful for the opportunity, and who could be easily discarded when the time came.”
According to reports, Roy Hartsfield clashed with certain players on the Blue Jays roster but was he heavily supported at the time by Assistant General Manager Pat Gillick.

However, even a strong case made by the Assistant GM couldn’t save Roy Hartsfield after finishing dead last in the American League three straight years. He was let go by the organization following the 1979 season, and was succeeded by Bobby Mattick.

Roy Hartsfield didn’t blaze any trails as the inaugural manager of the Blue Jays, but somebody had to be the first skipper in Toronto and he laid the foundation for what was to come.

The Final Four Manager Candidates

Thursday, October 21, 2010  |  by 

It all began with a seemingly infinite number of candidates. Over the past week, the droves have been whittled down to 24, the Sweet 16, the Elite 8, and now the Final 4.

The next manager of the Toronto Blue Jays will either be Brian Butterfield, Sandy Alomar Jr., DeMarlo Hale, or John Farrell.

I'll be honest, I was a little perturbed when we didn't see Brian Butterfield listed as one of the finalists yesterday to take over as the Blue Jays skipper. Butterfield was arguably the top candidate from the start, so it was somewhat shocking when he wasn't mentioned on the short list.

Luckily, that has been rectified and the Blue Jays front office now only has to work from a list of four serious contenders.

All we can really do is speculate at this point as to who will win the job, but my Spidey Sense tells me it will be one of the three coaches from outside the organization.

What's the reasoning, you ask? While Brian Butterfield seems like the logical choice and knows both the players and organization inside and out, maybe it's a wise choice to bring some new blood into the situation.

I think Bob McCown alluded to this a few weeks ago on PrimeTime Sports, but the issue with promoting internal candidates is even though that coach has been promoted to manager, in the eyes of the players they may still be viewed as just a coach.

I'm not saying the players wouldn't respect Brian Butterfield, as I'm sure they think the world of him. But I relate this situation to one in the everyday workplace.

If you work with a guy or girl for 10 years as an equal, and then suddenly they're promoted and become your boss ... are you going to take them 100 percent seriously? Obviously, seeing that person in a different light is going to take some getting used to.

On that same token, these are professional baseball players who should be willing to cooperate with their superior, no matter if they have been in the clubhouse for the last 10 years or whether they've only been around for the last 10 minutes.

Judging by Alex Anthopoulos' style, I'm wouldn't be surprised to see him go outside the Blue Jays organization to name a manager. Maybe somebody with a fresh set of eyes on this group of players will be able to harness something that previous managers haven't been able to before.

After all, if this team is going to compete with the beasts of the American League East, who better to select than one of the minds who helped fuel the machine of one of those beasts.

The Official Blue Jays Managerial Candidate Bracket

Tuesday, October 19, 2010  |  by 

Click image to enlarge
After seeing the ongoing parade of candidates to take over as the new manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, I commented on Twitter yesterday how things are starting to look like a March Madness bracket.

Well, low and behold here is a visual aid to help keep track of all the candidates: your official Blue Jays Managerial Candidate Bracket.

Notice how three names have already been crossed off the list: Rick Renteria, Eric Wedge and Tim Bogar. They have either kept their respective jobs (Tim Bogar), taken new positions within their organization (Rick Renteria) or are now coaching the Seattle Mariners (Eric Wedge).

Things will likely be fast and furious over the next few weeks as the Blue Jays finally begin to whittle down the 24 candidates to a select few. Stay tuned here for updates to the Blue Jays Managerial Candidate Bracket as we will eventually crown a winner!

**Update** According to MLB Trade Rumors, the candidates have been whittled down to 3: DeMarlo Hale, John Farrell, and Sandy Alomar Jr.

While Brian Butterfield was not mentioned in the post, I'm going to assume he's still in the running.

So we're down to the final four!

Who's On First?

Monday, October 18, 2010  |  by 

If you've ever heard Abbott & Costello's classic "Who's On First" skit, you know how utterly confusing it is to answer that conundrum. Perhaps even more perplexing though, is that very same question posed to the Toronto Blue Jays.

There are plenty of options within the organization, on the free agent market, as well as others that can be made available via trade. So which one will Alex Anthopoulos choose?

Only time will tell, but in the meantime here are a collection of the top candidates to play first base for the Blue Jays next year.

Adam Lind

Career OPS: .796
Career HR's: 80

Career Games at 1B: 11

Adam Lind at first base seems like the simplest and the most natural decision for the Blue Jays. The only problem is Lind started just 8 games at first base, and that hand full of experience still doesn't instill a ton of confidence.

If Lind is going to be the starting first baseman for the Blue Jays, the club needs to make that commitment right now and have him go through the ringer in Spring Training and see what he can do in 150+ games at first base.

The other advantage to having Lind at first base is there wouldn't be a relatively young 27 year old relegated to the designated hitter spot, which could be taken up by any of the candidates below.

Prince Fielder

Career OPS: .919
Career HR's: 192
Career Games at 1B: 789

This is obviously the kind of big splash that Alex Anthopoulos could make to really put the Blue Jays on the map. The downside to getting Prince Fielder is they would undoubtedly have to clear the cupboard of top level prospects and maybe even a couple of major leaguers just to pry him from the Brewers.

Even if they do trade to get Prince Fielder, he only has one year left on his contract. So locking him up long term would be paramount to increasing the Blue Jays chances of competing in the American League East.

Lyle Overbay has been a defensive mastermind these past five years, but trading to get Prince Fielder would bring back the kind of power the club has been lacking since the days of Carlos Delgado.

Carlos Pena

Career OPS: .841
Career HR's: 230
Career Games at 1B: 1011

With the Tampa Bay Rays cutting payroll for next season, that means their veteran first baseman is all but guaranteed to be in a different uniform come Opening Day 2011.

Now would be an opportune time for the Blue Jays to buy low on Carlos Pena and get him for a reasonable price over the next 2-3 years.

Pena is a Gold Glove winner and a fairly solid first baseman defensively, but can also contribute quite a bit of power to the position. The upside of having Carlos Pena is he can provide much more pop than Lyle Overbay did while still providing a similar skill set on the field. 

Adam Dunn

Career OPS: .902
Career HR's: 352
Career Games at 1B: 347

For someone that doesn't even like baseball, he sure knows how to crush them. Adam Dunn has posted 38 home runs or more in his last 7 seasons in the National League.

For the life of me, I can't understand why Adam Dunn would want to stay in Washington, so why not tempt him with a chance to play with the big boys in the American League East?

Dunn is your prototypical slugger and he will always be a perennial strikeout victim, but that also comes with the territory of signing a player like him.

Lance Berkman

Career OPS: .954
Career HR's: 327
Career Games at 1B: 717

Lance Berkman has a $15 million dollar club option with the Yankees for the 2011 season, but if they choose to not pick up the option they will be forced to pay the $2 million dollar buyout.

That could be the opening the Blue Jays are looking for. Coming off a down season marred by injuries, it would be crazy to give Berkman anything more than $5 million in 2010. Don't rule it completely out though, as AA could come up with some creative way to get Lance Berkman to come to Toronto.

Russell Branyan

Career OPS: .820
Career HR's: 189
Career Games at 1B: 217

This is exactly the kind of move I can see Alex Anthopoulos making: sign Russell Branyan to a one year deal with a couple of options, only to see him flourish and then flip him at the trade deadline for some prospects.

Branyan definitely still has some pop left in his bat, and although the Blue Jays might be leaning more towards using him as a designated hitter, Branyan can still hold down the fort at first base if need be.

The Mariners got Branyan at a bargain, as they only had to pick up a fraction of the $1.5 million dollar contract. What might scare them off is Branyan's $5 million dollar option for 2011, something that the Blue Jays might want to consider taking on if they are desperate for a veteran bat.

Mike Jacobs

Career OPS: .787
Career HR's: 100
Career Games at 1B: 401

Listen, I'm not crazy about Mike Jacobs either, but he would be another player within the Blue Jays organization that could make the transition back to first base and he could do it very cheaply.

Jacobs has played 401 career games at first base with a fairly decent .990 fielding percentage. He's slated to be the starting first baseman for the Las Vegas 51's next year, but if he has a decent Spring  Training maybe the bluebirds can look at bringing him on the 25 man roster next spring.

**Update: It turns out Mike Jacobs has declared free agency, and is therefore off the Blue Jays 40 man roster.**

Acid Flashback Friday: Chacin Cologne

Friday, October 15, 2010  |  by 

Have you ever wondered what a Venezuelan waterfall smelled like? Have you ever wanted to get a whiff of what it was like to reek of a 13-game winner?

Then you're likely aware of the world's first fragrance made by a Blue Jay player. For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Chacin cologne.

It all stemmed from an inside joke on the Landry and Stellick show on the Fan 590 sometime in late 2005. The hosts commented how Gustavo Chacin's last name sounded more like a name of a designer fragrance than a starting pitcher.

From there, it snowballed and eventually lead to some mock Chacin radio ads which can be heard here. At some point, the Blue Jays received wind of this meme and decided to actually manufacture the Chacin cologne.

In April of 2006, Gustavo Chacin along with Don Landry headed to Leslie Cosmetics and concocted the signature fragrance. So what exactly did it smell like? Here's the best description:
"It's warm and fresh with some sweet notes. It's an easy grab-and-go fragrance. You can keep it in your gym bag and wear it to the coffee shop or away for the weekend." - Diego Gallego, Men's Channel fragrance expert
Then on June 27th 2006, the Toronto Blue Jays gave out vials of Chacin cologne to the first 10,000 fans. Since the game was against the Washington Nationals, half of those who attended received a sample since only 20,288 people attended the game.

I have to credit the Fan 590 and the Blue Jays for thinking outside of the box on this one with an interesting and unconventional idea for a Giveaway Day.

While it may not have created an overwhelming demand for Chacin cologne, it definitely paved the way for Roberto Alomar to come out with his own fragrance called "Second 2 None".

Even though Gustavo Chacin's time with the Blue Jays may have come and gone, the scent of Chacin will forever linger in Toronto.

How Many Benjamins Will Bautista Get?

Thursday, October 14, 2010  |  by 

It's the question that's on everyone's mind as we enter the off-season: exactly how much coin is Jose Bautista going to fetch at salary arbitration?

MLB Trade Rumors had a fantastic piece yesterday breaking down what could happen if things do in fact go that far. I've been curious to see how much Jose Bautista might fetch in arbitration, and here is the best estimation of what might happen:
"Bautista’s ‘true value’ in arbitration (not to be confused with what he’d earn as a free agent) is below $10MM and likely sits around $8-9MM, Michael Vlessides said."
As this post from MLBTR indicates, it's very difficult trying to find a previous salary arbitration to use as a yardstick for Jose Bautista's unique situation, coming off a record-setting season yet struggling to find playing time his previous four seasons of service time.

This is just my meager estimation, but I believe that $8-9 million valuation to be a little high and thought it might be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5-6 million.

Bautista's 2010 campaign was unprecedented, and that's primarily why I think he'll have a tough time commanding almost four times the salary he earned this year.

However, the Blue Jays have a great track record with not letting cases go to arbitration in the first place, so maybe this is all a moot point. If that's the case though, then what kind of deal should the Jays offer Jose Bautista?

Previous regimes would undoubtedly attempt to lock up Bautista long term to a fat contract, but I think Alex Anthopoulos is wise to the ways of the career year and understands what kind of value Jose Bautista brings to this team moving forward.

Before AA decides what kind of contract to offer up to Jose Bautista, he first must decide whether Jose is part of "the plan" or not. If so, then a three-plus year deal worth tens of millions of dollars is almost certainly on the horizon.

And if not, then maybe we'll see a two-year incentive laden contract with a couple of club options. My instincts tell me that's the path the Blue Jays will go down with Jose Bautista.

Regardless of how much money Bautista will be awarded in salary arbitration if things progress in that direction, Jose Bautista is almost certainly guaranteed to be a Blue Jay in 2011. The million dollar question is ... for how much?

The BBA Ballot: Awarding the Year's Best in Baseball

Tuesday, October 12, 2010  |  by 

For those players who aren't fortunate to be playing October baseball, they're either out on the golf course or holding out to win some hardware.

While MLB's actual awards are yet to be handed out, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance there are several votes to cast for the 2010 Awards. So without further adieu, I present to you by ballot for this year's BBA awards.

Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)

3.) Ron Washington
2.) Ron Gardenhire
1.) Joe Maddon

Simply put, you have to respect a manager who’s willing to do anything at anytime to win a ball game: whether it’s the first game of the season or the final game of the season. Joe Maddon puts it all on the line each and every game and strategically managed the Tampa Bay Rays to an AL East Division Title.

I also tip my cap to Ron Gardenhire, who minus his perennial MVP candidate Justin Morneau and lights-out closer Joe Nathan, guided the Minnesota Twins to their sixth post-season berth in the past nine seasons.

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)

3.) Brennan Boesch
2.) Austin Jackson
1.) Neftali Feliz

The Detroit Tigers really lucked out with rookies this year, having arguably two of the best rookies in the American League. However, they can’t quite top the season put forth by Neftali Feliz.

For the second straight season, another phenom rookie was thrust into the closer’s position and thrived under the pressure. Last year it was Andrew Bailey, and this year it’s Neftali Feliz.

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)

3.) Matt Thornton
2.) Joaquin Benoit
1.) Rafael Soriano

Considering the very tight style of baseball the Tampa Bay Rays play, the margin for error is very slim. Joe Maddon had no problem handing the ball to Rafael Soriano in close games, as Soriano was successful in 45 of 48 save opportunities and made 64 appearances.

Lucky for the Rays, they also picked up a relative unknown in Joaquin Benoit and he turned out to be a stud setup man.

Matt Thornton put on one heck of an audition as possible closer of the future for the Chicago White Sox, fanning more hitters per nine innings than another other reliever in the league.

Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young)

5.) Jon Lester
4.) Clay Buchholz
3.) C.C. Sabathia
2.) David Price
1.) Felix Hernandez

If we toss win-loss record aside, Felix Hernandez wins this award hands down. Even though those coveted wins are for the most part out of the pitcher’s hands, I don’t think we can completely discount them.

I was ready to hand this award to David Price initially, but after having some time to think about it, I think it would be a crime for Felix Hernandez to not be recognized as the best pitcher in the league.
The Seattle Mariners scored the least amount of runs in the league and on average only contributed 2.53 runs in support per Felix Hernandez start, so it's easy to see why his 13-12 record is so deceiving.

When a pitcher like Felix Hernandez leads so many pitching categories aside from wins, it's very difficult to overlook that. King Felix lead the American League in ERA and innings pitched, and was second in strikeouts and WHIP.

Stan Musial Award (MVP)

10.) Felix Hernandez
9.) Joe Mauer
8.) Paul Konerko
7.) Evan Longoria
6.) Carl Crawford
5.) Adrian Belte
4.) Miguel Cabrera
3.) Robinson Cano
2.) Jose Bautista
1.) Josh Hamilton

As biased as I may be towards by beloved Toronto Blue Jays, my vote for for the Stan Musical Award is Josh Hamilton.

The fact that Hamilton only played 133 games this year doesn’t hold any merit in my mind because last year’s MVP Joe Mauer also missed significant time in 2009 and only played 137 games.

Plus, by the time Josh Hamilton went on the disabled list back on September 4th, the Texas Rangers basically had the AL West locked up with a 9 game lead anyway.

Whether or not you’re a Blue Jays fan, I think it’s a shame if Jose Bautista doesn’t place within at least the top 3 in MVP voting. Yes, he hit 54 home runs for what ultimately was a fourth place team, but at the end of the day he hit 54 home runs. You can’t overlook that kind of power in MVP voting.

Third and fourth place was a toss-up between Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera, those names could just have easily been flipped around. Cano gets the bronze medal because of his defensive contributions at a physically demanding position such as second base.

Finally, the fifth place ribbon goes to Adrian Beltre who stepped up under the big lights in Beantown. If the Red Sox made the playoffs, Beltre would have been a huge factor why they were playing October baseball.

Thanksgiving Leftover Links

Monday, October 11, 2010  |  by 

As most Canadians are still in a semi-comatose state thanks to inordinate amounts of turkey and boxed wine, here are some links to check out as the tryptophan continues work its magic.

Jose Bautista is one of the nominees for the 2010 Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the top offensive player in each league. I couldn't think of a more deserving man than Jose Bautista, so go drop a ballot on his behalf.

The fellas at Jays Dome did a Year in Review podcast with guests to summarize each month of the season (including yours truly for September/October).

As the search for the Blue Jays new manager intensifies, Mop Up Duty throws their hat into the ring for former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge.

The Southpaw has a great look at who could capture all the starting spots on next year's Jays roster (sans pitchers) in Rosterbation Part One.

And finally, one of the new kids on the blog The 5th Starter, makes a case for pumping up the Blue Jays payroll in 2011.

Flashback Friday: Jr. Jays Magazine First Issue

Friday, October 8, 2010  |  by 

Earlier this year we took a trip down memory lane and reflected back on the best Blue Jays centric comic book ever created. Back then, I only scratched the surface, but now that I actually have a copy in my hands, we'll delve much further into this beloved publication.

For this week's edition of Flashback Friday, we're taking a trip back and digging into the very first issue of the Jr. Jays Magazine.

In this first copy of Jr. Jays Magazine, we discovered the origin of the fabled Dr. Jay and his time machine called the Pop Fly. (Click images to enlarge).

Shocking, we learned right off the bat that Dr. Jay is not a doctor, but in fact an android from the year 3052! Here's his bio sheet below:

For the most part, the Jr. Jays Magazine is basically a 1993 version of Hulk Hogan telling kids to say their prayers and take their vitamins. The first edition is broken up into three different stories, each with it's own life lesson at the very end.

They're your standard after school special fodder, but the comic below kind of made me laugh at its attempt to teach young boys about the prospect of going after young girls.

Not only that, but it also paints a very interesting picture of the year 2010 in Winnipeg. Personally, I can't say for myself what Winnipeg looks like this year, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't resemble the surface of the Death Star as it does in the Jr. Jays comic strip.

And finally, here's one last scan from the Jr. Jays Magazine which features "personalized" post-it notes from players like Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, John Olerud, and Derek Bell.

Did anyone else notice that Dave Stewart and Pat Border's handwriting look very similar? Looks like the intern who forged these notes forgot to use their opposite hand in an attempt to make it look like someone else wrote it.

Overall, there's some great stuff in this comic book/magazine and I can't help but get that nostalgia feeling all over again whenever somebody mentions the Jr. Jays Magazine. I thought they did a great job by marketing this to young Blue Jays fans, and really helped raise the profile of the Jr. Jays.

Maybe one day down the road, another generation will get to experience the crazy antics of Dr. Jay, Crunchie the Dog, and the entire Jr. Jays gang in another incarnation of the Jr. Jays Magazine. Until then, I'll just keep flipping through my copy and reminiscing.

Photoshop Fun: Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz at Senior Prom

Thursday, October 7, 2010  |  by 

Folks in Philadelphia have become accustomed to seeing Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz embrace in celebration. First there was Doc's no-hitter, then the NL East clincher, and lastly Halladay's no-hitter from last night.

Yet I couldn't help but notice that Chooch held Roy Halladay especially tightly last night, and it even looked like he was whispering sweet nothings into his ear.

Thus, inspiring the above Photoshop of Carlos Ruiz clutching onto Roy Halladay tighter than high school sweethearts at Senior Prom.

Thanks to the fellas at Big League Stew for sharing the love on Twitter.
Images courtesy of Daylife and REW Entertainment.

Doctober is Funner

Now the folks south of the border can truly understand what we knew for 12 seasons: Roy Halladay is a machine.

I can't even begin to describe that game, all I can say is ... wow. From start to finish, Doc's no-hitter was one of the most masterful pitching performances I've ever witnessed.

Personally, I picked up the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and never looked back. Following my own guide for watching a no-hitter, I didn't utter the phrase "no-hitter", I definitely didn't change the channel, and I didn't move from my spot on the couch once.

Much like the Tao of Stieb, I find myself torn when it comes to seeing Roy Halladay pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies in October. In one sense I'm happy to see Halladay finally get a shot to pitch in the playoffs. Yet on the other hand, as Ricky Romero said earlier this season, he's the enemy now.

Some might say that Roy Halladay abandoned the Blue Jays or he turned his back on this franchise. To me, that couldn't be further from the truth: he made his intentions known that he wanted to play for a contender.

After it was revealed that Doc was on the block, Roy Halladay never toyed with the idea of resigning in Toronto. He didn't string fans along filling them with a false sense of hope like he was going to come back... unlike Chris Bosh.

I'm just as happy to see Roy Halladay succeed in the playoffs as I would be for Scott Rolen, or even a fellow countryman like Joey Votto. However, once any of those guys face off against the Blue Jays, all bets are off. My allegiances lie 100 percent with the Toronto Blue Jays.

But really, how can you not be happy for Roy Halladay after that no-hitter? He put forth yet another Cy Young season, won his very first playoff game, and has his sights set on a World Series ring.

Most Toronto Blue Jays fans knew all along that Doc was this good, and now hopefully the folks in Philadelphia can truly appreciate just how great Roy Halladay really is.

Let Doctober begin.

Battle of the Beards: Jose Bautista vs. Brian Wilson

Wednesday, October 6, 2010  |  by 

In 2010, opposing pitchers learned of the brute force that belonged to Jose Bautista. They may not have realized it at the beginning of the year, but throughout the season they eventually grew to fear the beard.

So you can imagine my shock when I saw some signs in the stands at AT&T Park over the weekend that said "Fear The Beard".

However, watching a few innings of the San Francisco Giant's chase for the National League West title, I observed another beard that was certainly worthy of mention: Brian Wilson's.

How could this be? As far as I'm concerned, the only beard worthy of being feared belonged to Jose Antonio Bautista. Okay, maybe Jayson Werth's too.

These two beards were arguably the best in the business in 2010, but which one is the best beard?

Well, if we're going by duration of beard, Jose Bautista wins hands down. He has been growing that thing on and off for years, and even had it in Spring Training. On the other hand, in my estimation Brian Wilson grew his beard out of necessity to distract the fans away from his horrible mohawk.

Moving onto pure size and girth of beard, the edge goes to Brian Wilson. The length and overall size rivals that of Will Ferrell's character Roger Clarvin from the Hot Tub Lovers sketch on Saturday Night Live.

I know some folks accused Jose Bautista of using PED's this season, but I say we need to test Brian Wilson for BED's: Beard Enhancing Drugs.

Also, you can definitely tell Brian Wilson used about 4 or 5 boxes of Just For Men on that beard. It's blatantly obvious that the shag carpet on his face doesn't match the drapes on his head.

Jose Bautista's beard however, is real ... and it's spectacular.

Overall, it's a very tough call, but Jose Bautista wins the Battle of the Beards ... by a hair.

One Final Curtain Call the 2010 Season

Tuesday, October 5, 2010  |  by 

Beginning tomorrow, eight teams will play in October baseball and 22 others including the Toronto Blue Jays will be watching from the sidelines.

The overall tone following this season is much more positive than last. Coming out of 2009 the Blue Jays had just fired their General Manager, the clubhouse was in disarray, and their best player was on the trading block.

My how things can change in just over a year. Here's a look at some of the highlights:

Bautista Appreciation

At this point, what is there left to say about Jose Bautista's season that hasn't already been said?

The fact that Bautista was on absolutely nobody's radar made this campaign especially a joy to watch because nobody in their wildest dreams could have expected this from a 29 year old career journeyman.

He captured Blue Jays fans in a way that hasn't been achieved since the days of Carlos Delgado, and Jose Bautista put up an MVP calibre season even though he played for a fourth place team.

Fans Dig the Long Ball

Part of what made the Blue Jays so exciting to watch was the pure power that was divvied up and down the lineup. Even if they were down and out, the Jays were never truly out of a game until the 27th out was recorded because the long ball could strike at any time.

On that same tone though, the power was impressive but the consistency at the plate was there. While it was great to watch all those home runs, I'd easily trade maybe 50-60 of them for a much better team batting average or on base percentage.

There is no question that the 2010 Blue Jays lived and died by the long ball. If they weren't hitting home runs, odds are they had a tough time winning the game. Of their 85 wins, the Blue Jays hit a home run in all but 11 of those games.

The Core Four Starting Rotation

As fun as it was to watch the Blue Jays home runs, those who are fans of great pitching also were privy to some fine performances. As Mike Wilner pointed out, Blue Jays starters held no hitters going into the seventh inning on five separate occasions.

None as more heart-breaking than Brandon Morrow's near no-hitter. As great as it would've been to see him toss the second no-hitter in franchise history, how great was it to see Morrow makes leaps and strides since his days between the bullpen and the starting rotation in Seattle? Brandon Morrow hasn't even hit his ceiling yet and the sky is truly the limit for him.

Earlier this season, the New York Yankees boasted a "core four" starting rotation was comprised of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Javier Vazquez. Very quickly into the season, Burnett and Vazquez dropped off considerably and no longer did the Yankees hold a solid starting rotation.

I would argue that the Toronto Blue Jays have one of the best if not the best core four starting pitchers for the 2011 season. Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero did not disappoint, Brett Cecil started to fill in very well as a young lefty, and Brandon Morrow continues to grow.

Drabek is Delivered Early

We were teased at the prospect of having Kyle Drabek start in the majors this year. Alex Anthopoulos was adamant on keeping him in the minors all season long, but then he suddenly made a complete 180 and Drabek was pitching the next week.

For the most part, Drabek came as advertised. It wasn't as epic as a first start as Stephen Strasburg, but it was adequate enough for a trade chip who is just under a year removed being shipped off from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Lind and Hill

With the players that exceeded expectations, there were others who failed to live up to the lofty predictions set for them. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind were the poster boys for regression in 2010. I think most people expected them to drop off a little bit, but not nearly to the extent of what they did.

I think between 2009 and 2010, we can get a pretty good sense of what to expect from two of the Blue Jays young guns ... somewhere in between awesome and gruesome.

I Love Yu(nel)

Even though the Blue Jays were poised to deal many of their relievers at the trade deadline, Alex Anthopoulos stood his ground and the only real trade of note was trading Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar.

It was as our friend Navin from Sports and the City would call a "fleecing" on the part of the Blue Jays: they turned Alex Gonzalez who was merely a temporary solution at shortstop, into Yunel Escobar.

He will now bridge the gap between himself and hopefully the next coming of shortstop greats, Adeiny Hechavarria. There's no question Yunel Escobar plays with a kind of flair we haven't seen in Toronto in many years.

Moving Forward

This team has a renewed sense of accomplishment, and moving forward they are a much better team going into 2011 than they were going into 2010.

Position wise, there are still some big questions to answer to first base, third base and behind the plate, and the search for a new manager will likely dominate any offseason headlines.

As others have alluded to before, this was one entertaining team to watch from Opening Day until the final day of the season, and even though the Blue Jays were for the most part out of the running for a playoff spot, at times it truly felt like a pennant race.

Thanks again to everyone who reads and comments on the site, and to those who reply and retweet on Twitter. It's been great interacting with you all and I am very grateful and thankful for all the interesting conversations, ideas and feedback you have provided.

Rest assured there will be lots of activity here as the gears will start turning on some obscure blog posts, and I look forward to the day when Spring Training will relieve us from the cold, desolate winter.

Reflecting on the 2010 Blue Jays

Monday, October 4, 2010  |  by 

Just as Jose Bautista regretted shaving off his beard, I'm having a little bit of separation anxiety and a tough time admitting that another Toronto Blue Jays season is in the books.

Finishing with an 85-77 record, a team pegged by many experts to finish dead last in the American League East somehow managed to win ten more games than last season.

Taking into account they traded away Roy Halladay and had off years from Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, I'd say that's a pretty incredible feat.

I'll have a much more thorough post-mortem on the 2010 season, but in the meantime here are links to some of the posts that basically sum up my thoughts on the 2010 Blue Jays.

The Home Opener HangoverMy View of the 25-Run 4-Hour Marathon
For Buck's Sake
Rick Diculous
Ruiz has been freed, liberated, and released
Did Kevin Gregg get squeezed against the Rays?
Do It For Dad
Lind and Hill: Conjoined Slumping Twins
Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler as Shirt TwinsBreaking Down Jose Bautista's 30 Bombs
Bye Bye Brett Wallace
Rays Barely Borrow A Hit From Morrow
Meats Don't Clash
Beard Today, Moustache Tomorrow for Jose Bautista
All 40 Of Your Home Runs Are Belong To Bautista
Drunk on Drabek
CitoCity Claims Several Casualties
An Audio and Visual Tribute to Jose Bautista's 48 ...
50 Jacks, 50 Facts: Breaking Down Bautista's Home ...
Thank You, Cito

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