Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jo-Jo Is Winless No More


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
Was there anything better than seeing Jo-Jo Reyes' happy face after finally getting his long sought after win? Nothing like a shaving cream pie to the face and a Gatorade shower to celebrate picking up the victory.

Reyes had been waiting over 2 years to finally shake his winless streak, and he did it very handily against the Cleveland Indians.

It was only fitting that it was a complete game victory, something that had eluded Jo-Jo Reyes his entire career until last night. Reyes picked up the first complete game victory by a Blue Jays pitcher this season, and the first since Shaun Marcum did it back on August 16th of last year against the Oakland A's.

Joe Posnanski had a great article last week on how Reyes' streak of 28 consecutive starts without a win was blown a little out of proportion. Jo-Jo didn't lose his previous 28 starts, he just didn't win them.

It has a lot more to do with the weight of the pitcher's win statistic more than anything else. If Jo-Jo Reyes was pitching as poorly as his record would have you believe, the Blue Jays would have cast him aside long ago.

Reyes actually has the second lowest ERA and has the third most quality starts of the Blue Jays starters. So take away that piddly win-loss record, and Jo-Jo Reyes isn't a spectacular starting pitcher, but he's not that bad either.

He isn't someone I'd hand the ball to in an ALDS game, however there's nothing wrong with letting him go to work every fifth day and eat up some innings and hopefully build some interest from teams looking for starting pitching help.

I believe Alex Anthopoulos was hoping Jo-Jo Reyes peripheral statistics might be more impressive out of the gate to help build trade value, but hopefully the wise General Managers out there can see the value of Reyes as a back-end starter.

As meaningless as the "W" really is for a pitcher, I'm actually very happy Jo-Jo Reyes picked up the win. Because nobody wants to go down in the record books as the guy who was winless in 29 consecutive starts.

And just for old time's sake, here are the highlights from Bruce Drennan's infamous rant from last May when the Indians coughed up a game to the Blue Jays.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Bautista Approaching Ruthian Levels


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John Danks used some choice words to describe his altercation with Jose Bautista yesterday. Although many insults were hurled towards the Blue Jays slugger, Danks may have actually inadvertently paid him a compliment.

Obviously the sound bite that everyone latched onto was the one were Danks called Bautista an "(expletive) clown", but this one peaked my interest as well:
"No doubt, he's one of the best hitters in the league. But he's out there acting like he's Babe Ruth."
Nobody wants to throw out the B-word around freely in this era, but just for the sake of comparison, I wanted to see how Jose Bautista's numbers measured up to the Great Bambino through the first 45 games of the season.

I took samples from both Ruth's record-breaking 60 home run season in 1927 as well as arguably his best season ever, his MVP-winning year in 1927. The results are frighteningly similar across the board:

PlayerYearGamesHRRBIBBAVGOBPSLGOPS
Babe Ruth192745164144.335.476.6891.165
Babe Ruth192345123654.351.524.7271.251
Jose Bautista201145203645.350.498.7881.285

It may be a little premature to make these conclusions almost one third of the way through the season, but by all indications if Jose Bautista can continue this pace, he will have a season that can be dubbed worthy of being "Ruthian".

If Jose Bautista is "acting like Babe Ruth" as John Danks indicated, he's doing a pretty damn good impression of the Great Bambino.

John Danks Gets Cranky with Jose Bautista


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Images
To be honest, I only managed to watch two thirds of an inning of Blue Jays baseball this entire weekend, and it was only the final two outs of their 13-4 romping of the Chicago White Sox.

My weekend was spent mostly sans baseball, but I can proudly say that my old school Blue Jays cap received quite a few ringing endorsements from folks in the Muskoka's. It's always great to hear the Blue Jays well received outside of southern Ontario.

My favourite comment of all was a guy who just randomly came up to me and said "what do the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Blue Jays have in common? They both don't know how to play hockey." In defense of Jose Bautista, he probably has a wicked slapshot we haven't even seen yet.

So from what I gathered related comments I saw on Twitter, I guess it was a very exciting weekend both on the field and off the field as well thanks to John Danks and Hawk Harrelson.

Danks gets cranky

The big story of course was the tiff between Jose Bautista and John Danks. The two exchanged pleasantries as Bautista trotted past the mound after a routine pop-up and 

John Danks yelling at Jose Bautista was the equivalent of stubbing your toe on something and being angry at the inanimate object when in actuality you should be mad at yourself.

When you're sporting an 0-8 record with a 5.25 ERA, tensions may boil over onto the field and I guess it was Jose Bautista's actions that sent John Danks over the edge.

Any time a hitter slams their bat in disgust (or if you're Travis Snider, breaks their bat over their leg), I've never taken that as disrespect towards the pitcher. As Jose Bautista said, he was angry at himself for missing that pitch.

You could say it was a little childish of Bautista to do what he did, but how is it any different than a pitcher slamming his fist into his glove after giving up a home run? What John Danks said afterwards was just poor sportsmanship.

What the Hawk?

When I first saw on Twitter that Hawk Harrelson had apparently accused Jose Bautista of using a corked bat, I immediately chalked it up to "Hawk being Hawk". However, if you listen to his comment in its entirely, it seems pretty innocent.

It's not appropriate to insinuate performance enhancing drugs or in this case performance enhancing equipment, but in this case Hawk was just trying to grasp at adjectives to describe how hard Bautista was hitting the ball (albeit a very poor choice of adjectives).

I know what you're thinking ...  I can't believe I just defended Hawk Harrelson, either.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flashback Friday: Roy Halladay vs. Mark Buehrle In Less Than Two Hours


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With his robotic-like efficiency and his methodical way of attacking opponents, we all knew Roy Halladay was super-human. He showed it time and time again during his tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays.

On May 31st 2007, Doc not only displayed his robotic-like efficiency, but his sheer quickness as well.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at one of the quickest games in Blue Jays history; when Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle completed a game in one hour and fifty minutes.

In less time than it takes to watch most of Adam Sandler's self-serving flicks, Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle collectively took care of business in less than two hours. The first pitch was thrown at 7:08pm, and the crowd was headed for the exits by 8:52pm.

Somebody I know was actually at the game, and they ended up spending more time in transit to and from the game than they did actually inside the Rogers Centre watching the game.

Oddly enough, Mark Buehrle's game score (76) was actually slightly higher than Roy Halladay's (72) in this start since Buehrle only gave up two hits total and pitched a complete game.

Even more impressive than how quickly both starters worked, this was Roy Halladay's first start after having an emergency appendectomy. Just 19 days removed from being cut open and having his appendix taken out, Doc cut up the Chicago White Sox lineup.

It was also a momentous occasion for Roy Halladay as he picked up his 100th career win on May 31st, 2007 in that game against the Chicago White Sox.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Throng of Links


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Image courtesy of Mr. Irrelevant. No rhyme or reason for this image, though.
Typically I reserve these link dumps for a Sunday or a Monday, but for some reason with the holiday on Monday it feels like this week has gone by especially slow.

Of course, it didn't help that the Blue Jays dropped 2 of 3 in the Bronx to the Yankees, but that's neither here nor there.  Here are a bevy of links to whats happening around the Blue Jays blogosphere are beyond:

Ballots for Bautista answers questions in the inaugural mailbag, and discusses what Bautista's biggest weakness is, superstitions, and human cloning among other things.

The Good Point talked to Eric Thames and discovered if he were a superhero, Thames superpower would be the ability to grown badass facial hair. I'm still sticking with the unofficial "Shaft" moniker for Thames.

After Tuesday's collapse against the Yankees, understandably a lot of folks flew off the handle at Frank Francisco. But after taking a deep breath, 500 Level Fan brings us down to earth and tells us not to worry about Frankie ... yet.

FanGraphs just released a new statistic this week called Ultimate Baserunning. You can check out how the Blue Jays roster stacks up on the basepaths, and once again Jose Bautista leads the club in another statistic.

Joe Posnanski takes a look at the craziness of Jo-Jo Reyes' 28-game long winless streak, but more so its about the absurdity of the pitcher's win statistic.

Tao of Stieb and Way of the Jay are chomping at the bit to see Brett Lawrie get the call to big leagues, and with the fabled June 1st Super-Two date on the horizon, that wish just may come true very soon.

With former Blue Jay Alex Rios returning to his old stomping grounds tonight, Mop Up Duty catches up with Rios and other Blue Jays to see how they are fairing in their new digs.

On the heels of 25,001 days after Fergie Jenkins come into the world, the Hardball Times assembles Canada's all-time 25 man roster. Three former Blue Jays make the cut.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let's Be Frank About Frank Francisco


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Being a closer for a major league baseball team is a thankless job: if you succeed, all you get is a pat on the posterior and a handshake from the manager. However, if you fail, you get raked over the coals.

Frank Francisco couldn't close the door with a one-run lead against the New York Yankees, but I don't think it's as much a cause for concern as some people would have you believe.

First of all, Francisco really didn't have all that much leeway in the first place; he was expected to shut down the opposition clinging to a one-run lead and the top of the Yankees lineup on the horizon. And by the time Curtis Granderson came to the plate, he already had 3 hits in the game.

Secondly, it wasn't all Frank Francisco's fault either. If Jose Bautista stays in front of that ball hit by Jorge Posada, he is only limited to a single and maybe the entire makeup of that inning is changed.

Francisco got all the flack for blowing the save, but shouldn't we also be concerned that Marc Rzepczynski not only allowed an inherited runner to score, but one of his own as well? A double to a lefty, Robinson Cano nonetheless?

Prior to that at bat against Robinson Cano, Rzep held lefties to a .162 average. The batters in the ninth that tagged Francisco for hits were lefties, which were hitting .290 off him.

So if we're going to rake Frank Francisco over the coals for that loss, I think Marc Rzepczynski should share the blame as well.

It's not like Francisco walked any batters, he just gave up three hits. I'm not sure which is worse, but if I had to choose death by a thousand paper cuts or death by a few giant paper cuts, I'd chose the latter.

A walk-off win stings, it especially stings when it's against the New York Yankees, and it stings even more when it's in their own backyard.

Going into last night, the Yankees were 1-18 when behind after 8 innings, so tradition was on the side of the Blue Jays. However, last night defied convention proved that it's especially difficult to finish off the Yankees when momentum is on their side.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

John Farrell's Lineup Woes


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So one can understand why John Farrell isn't parading the same lineup over and over and expecting the offense to explode.

He made some unconventional choices when constructing his lineup for Monday's game against the Yankees, and yet it paid off in a big way. That's not to say what John Farrell did was necessarily right, but it worked.

With all the injuries on the roster, I realize Farrell is severely limited in regards to what he can do in regards to lineup construction. For the past few games, it's been the same cast of characters more or less, just different lineup slots.

I somewhat understand the logic of hitting Yunel Escobar in the cleanup spot, but then asking him to lay down a bunt? I can see maybe the 7,8 or 9 hitter being asked to sacrifice, but the cleanup hitter?

Thanks to super sleuth Gregor Chisolm for discovering that a Blue Jays cleanup hitter has not bunted since August 30th, 1992.

Aaron Hill, Juan Rivera, I can live with those guys hitting fourth for the time being. But Yunel Escobar? It just seems strange to plug him in there only for the fact that he has the second highest batting average and on base percentage on the active roster.

With each passing day without Adam Lind in the lineup, it appears more evident that Jose Bautista is out on an island all by himself. There really hasn't been any way to bridge the gap towards getting men on base for Bautista, and also having hitters behind Jose so opponents don't just pitch around him.

I still believe it just makes too much sense to move Jose Bautista down into the cleanup spot. If his teammates can avoid giving away outs on the basepaths, that's where Jose can do the most damage and score the most runs.

Moving forward, a top five of Escobar, Patterson, Hill, Bautista, Lind would be the ideal lineup in my mind, but that of course involves all five of those players being healthy at one time.

Lineup construction is a very delicate art and I don't envy John Farrell one bit because there are know-it-all armchair managers out there like myself who are second guessing each and every move.

Finding the right lineup really is trial by error, and luckily there are 162 chances each year to find the perfect formula. I just hope it doesn't take John Farrell until game 162 to find the right mix.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bautista Apprecation Reaches a New Stratosphere


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters
A few years ago, the Bautista Appreciation Society was just a small circle of folks with an affinity for an above average defender. Just a very modest collective in honour of appreciating a player that often went unheralded,
Jose Bautista.

That collective has now grown to thousands of members, and whether they knew it or not at the time, everyone at the Rogers Centre today was an honourary BAS member.

As we watched Jose Bautista help the Blue Jays claw back to a win, I commented to Navin (or eyebleaf) how amazing it was to see so many Jose Bautista jerseys at the Rogers Centre.

Heck, even Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers was wearing a Jose Bautista jersey, so I'm going to assume he's a Bautista Appreciation Society member as well.

The change from last season alone is astonishing; when Jose Bautista used to come up to the plate in early 2010, he received little to no applause from the crowd. Now, Jose Bautista is a frigging rock star and is receiving pops equivalent to that of the late Macho Man Randy Savage.

In a somewhat strange encounter outside of the Rogers Centre, a random woman stopped and shook my hand and said "thanks for helping us win the game". It was thanks to the Bautista shirt, but it just shows how polarizing a player Jose Bautista is.

Everyone loves him, and even the folks who don't love him have to at least respect Bautista. Last week in Minnesota after Jose hit his third home run, even the loyal Twins fans were cheering for him (or maybe that was just the few Blue Jays faithful that trekked to Minnesota).

It's not very often when you can claim to have the best player in baseball in your own backyard. We were extremely lucky to have Roy Halladay play for the Blue Jays, but I'll admit that even I maybe took Doc for granted.

Navin also pointed out that Halladay only took the mound every fifth day, whereas Jose Bautista is grinding day in and day out, and fans get the privilege to see him play on nearly a daily basis.

So I vow not to take Jose Bautista for granted; he is playing like an MVP, and he should be treated as such. There were even some guys in our section who were chanting "MVP, MVP, MVP" in the seventh inning.

I thought it was a little premature seeing as we're only one quarter of a way through the season, but then Jose Bautista responded in a big way with his second home run of the game.

It was as if Bautista sent a message to us saying "this is why I'm the best" - although he's far too modest and humble of a player to ever actually say that out loud.

I will not take Jose Bautista for granted, and neither should you. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a Bautista Appreciation Society member, but you certainly have to respect Bautista's game.

BAS 4 Life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Annual Rant on Interleague Play


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I said it last year, and I'll say it again; I hate Interleague play. Every time the Blue Jays tangle with a National League team, I just can't stand it. And it turns out Jim Leyland shares my sentiments on Interleague Play, as well.

I'll just copy/paste my comment verbatim from an Interleague post from earlier this week at Getting Blanked that summarizes my thoughts on the issue:
"The other thing that pisses me off about interleague is in the NL rules games, it automatically puts the AL teams at a disadvantage. The NL team’s hitters have some experience hitting, whereas the AL teams do not.

And it makes no sense to have so many damn interleague games, either. The Blue Jays play 18 of them? That’s 10% of the entire schedule against National League teams. I can see maybe 2 or 3 series, but this is complete overkill.

Those 18 games can make or break a season, and I just can’t see why MLB would rather have that than say the Blue Jays play another series against the Tigers or the Mariners.

Balance the damn schedule, already!"
Someone was quick to point out that it appears the American League has faired pretty well in Interleague Play, as the AL has 1,808 wins to the NL's 1,652.

However, that doesn't negate the fact that whenever these contests roll around, it just feels awkward. There's no novelty to playing against the Houston Astros, the Cincinnati Reds or the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The odd time there will be a Blue Jays alumni on those teams (see Brett Wallace, Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, but other than that there are virtually no Blue Jays rivalries with the National League.

Aside from the Canada Day series against the Phillies, I really believe Blue Jays fans could care less about these games versus National League teams. There's just no drama between the Jays and the Astros, Pirates, or Reds.

I liked the initial concept of these crossover games, but 18 games over 6 series is just way too long. If anything, I'd say there should be three Interleague series maximum, up to 9 or 10 games total.

The bigger issue at hand here is the unbalanced schedule. Those Interleague games could very easily be redistributed to give the Blue Jays a couple extra series against their regional rival Detroit Tigers, and maybe even throw a bone to those Jays fans out on the west coast with an extra series in Seattle.

I understand that when it comes to balancing the schedule, the road block is the almighty dollar. If it were up to Bud Selig, he'd have the Red Sox and the Yankees play each other solely for 162 games because it would generate unprecedented revenue.

So if Selig can't have Boston and the Yankees face off more than 18 times a year, he may as well go with the next best thing and have the Mets and Yankees and the Cubs and White Sox square off in Interleague. The subway series and north side/south side series will generate a tonne of revenue.

Outside of those marquee matchups, the rest of baseball is left in the dark and is forced to play these awkward Interleague series. Maybe these games won't be so bad after all and we'll be privy to some great pitching matchups or slugfests. But on paper, these Interleague games fail to impress.

Ultimately, it feels like baseball is trying to force a square peg in a round hole here and Interleague matchups just don't quite fit anymore.

Acid Flashback Friday: the Shoppers Drug Mart Blue Jays Calendar


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As a young child, aside from Christmas, my birthday, and whenever a new Ninja Turtles movie came out, there were few days that were as exciting as the day you received the newest Blue Jays calendar.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the fabled Shoppers Drug Mart Blue Jays calendars.

To be honest, I don't really have much to go on here aside from my memory and the few snippets of information I found on the internet. As far as I could see, the calendars were released each year from 1987 to 1999.

The only two copies I have in my possession currently are the 1991 and the 1992 editions. At one point in time, I also had the 1993 and 1994 versions, but they didn't survive a cleaning purge put forth by my parents.

Below is the cover of the 1991 Shoppers Drug Mart Calendar, and it has a very odd greek mythology theme to it, but is pretty memorable nonetheless. Inside, the calendar itself is your pretty standard run of the mill Blue Jays calendar.

It wasn't until 1992 when Kert Advertising Limited started doing an artistic approach to the calendars with watercolours. These Blue Jays calendars stand out most in my mind not only because of the beautiful paintings, but because they were the World Series Champion teams as well.

Probably the funnest part of reflecting back on these calendars is looking at the Skydome seating chart to see what the Blue Jays ticket prices were back in the early nineties. As you can see, it only cost you $17.50 to get the best seats in the house.

The funny thing is the price for an upper deck ticket has stayed relatively the same, and if anything it's actually gone down in price up in the 500's.

However, if you wanted a seat in the nosebleeds angled away from the Jumbotron, then it only cost you $4 dollars to take in a Blue Jays game. Couple that with a $4 McDonald's combo meal and you had yourself an afternoon at the ballpark for less than 10 bucks!

Also, it's hard to make out in the image, but that white area in the second deck was the SkyClub. Can you believe it took up over half of the second deck? The SkyClub itself is another topic for another Acid Flashback Friday in itself.

If you have anything you want to see from Blue Jays yesteryear in an upcoming Acid Flashback Friday, email bluejayhunter@gmail.com

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thames, Litsch and Encarnacion: The Good ,The Bad and the Ugly


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If you take a look at the line score from last night's Blue Jays game (5-6-5), as @TheTomHowden said in Twitter, it resembled more of an area code than a line score. It wasn't just ugly, it was fugly line score no doubt.

In a 6-5 loss, there can be a lot of negatives to dwell on, but before I get to the bad and the ugly, let's start things off on a positive and see what good things came out of the game.

The Good: Eric Thames

J.P. Arencibia set the bar for Blue Jays debuts with a 4 for 5 game in his first big league game last year. Although Eric Thames didn't quite match Arencibia's debut, he still came through with a very solid showing. One walk, a hit, an RBI and a run scored; not too shabby at all!

Thames was completely over-matched in his first at bat, but with each subsequent trip to the plate it looked like he got more and more comfortable in the box.

It echoed something he said in an interview with Jerry Howarth yesterday about the pressures of playing in the major leagues: "the lights are a little brighter, there's a bigger scoreboard, but it's still the same game".

It's very difficult to say where things will go from here, but there was a lot of excitement surrounding Eric Thames debut and I can only imagine he will continue to win folks over if he keeps up this pace.

The Bad: Jesse Litsch

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that it took this long for Jesse Litsch to suffer his first true blowup of the season. He's been fairly consistent thus far, albeit Litsch hasn't gone very deep into a game yet, but no one really expected him either.

Remember, Jesse Litsch is still this team's fifth starter, so we shouldn't really expect him to blow away the competition. It's perfectly acceptable to call him perfectly adequate.

It wasn't all Jesse's fault thought as he was the victim of a couple of bad hops, bad throws, and bad plays. I thought he wasn't going to even escape the second inning, yet Litsch returned after back to back 3-run innings and threw two scoreless.

The Ugly: Edwin Encarnacion

If you thought Edwin Encarnacion couldn't do very much damage on the opposite side of the diamond, think again. I was hoping the temporary move to first base would keep Encarnacion from committing errors, but I was sadly mistaken.

He is costing his team a plethora or runs, something which must bug John Farrell to no end. 10 errors on the year now (7 at third base and 3 at first base) has quickly vaulted Edwin Encarnacion as the go-to whipping boy. Breathe easy Juan Rivera, you're good for now.

It's gotten to the point where Edwin Encarnacion is not only a liability on the field, but in the lineup as well. The Blue Jays originally signed him to be the designated hitter, and now that EE can't even contribute with his bat, there's very little reason to keep him around.

Even if Juan Rivera only does an adequate job at first base instead of Edwin Encarnacion, at least Rivera can warrant having his bat in the lineup. With the injuries mounting and EE progressing further and further up the lineup, meaningful at bats have turned into rally-killing plate appearances.

I'll fully admit that I chugged the Kool-Aid Alex Anthopoulos set out earlier this year, touting Edwin Encarnacion as a hitter with 40 home run potential. Now with 123 at bats and still not a single home run, this EE power outage may be here to stay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is the Legacy of Joe Carter Overrated?


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We remember him as "Touch 'em All Joe". Phillies fans remember him as man who ruined their childhood. Either way, Joe Carter certainly left his legacy not only on the city of Toronto, but baseball in Canada as well.

I've always looked back with fond memories on Joe Carter, and that was before he became a hero in the 1993 World Series. To this day, I'm adamant that my favourite player growing up as a kid was Joe Carter, and that was all before Tom Cheek bestowed him the title "Touch 'em All Joe".

My very first Blue Jays experience just so happened to be the game where the Blue Jays won the pennant on October 3rd, 1992. Joe Carter's 34th home run of the season that game would ultimately be the game winner, and that moment solidified Carter as my baseball hero.

Turns out I wasn't alone, as he was voted the Quintessential Blue Jay in a survey here on Blue Jay Hunter last year. When I look back and think of the quintessential Blue Jay, undoubtedly the image of Joe Carter comes to mind.

With the invention of sabermetrics and the popularity of advanced baseball statistics, it urged me to take a closer look at the legacy of Joe Carter. Unfortunately, it turns out he may not be as great as I remember.

The yardstick these days seems to be WAR or wins above replacement. When we stack up Joe Carter against other Blue Jay greats, he pales in comparison to the likes of  Roberto Alomar or Carlos Delgado.


Source: FanGraphs -- Roberto Alomar, Carlos Delgado, George Bell

This WAR Graph also takes into account the player's career WAR totals before and after their tenures with the Blue Jays, but you can plainly see that Joe Carter isn't even in the realm of Alomar or Delgado, but closer to the injury-shortened career of George Bell.

When it comes to offensive WAR, Carter doesn't even rank in the top 10 by a Blue Jays player, not even in top 20. Joe Carter is 22nd all-time as a Blue Jay with 8.6 offensive WAR, sandwiched in between Eric Hinske at 21 and Otto Velez at 23.

That's a very sobering thought for someone like myself who has long thought of Joe Carter as one of the greatest offensive players to don the Blue Jays uniform.

One of Joe Carter's career hallmarks was that he was an RBI machine. While 10 straight 100 RBI seasons is nothing to scoff at, I think it says more about the lineups constructed around him rather than Carter himself. He greatly benefited from some stellar Blue Jays players who had no trouble whatsoever getting on base ahead of Carter.

Baseball Reference took a look at the list of the worst OPS+ in a 100 RBI season, and sure enough there's Joe Carter at the top of the list for his piddly 76 OPS+ in 1997. He's actually on the list three times in Top 13, so congratulations Joe ... I guess?

Joe Carter spent 15 seasons in the majors, but only once did he ever hit over .300: that was when he hit .302 in 1984 with the Cleveland Indians. During his years in Toronto with the Blue Jays, his batting average hovered around the .250 mark.

1992 was arguably one of Carter's best years and he was rewarded handsomely by placing third in the American League MVP voting  that year. He amassed only 2.4 WAR that season, and yet Frank Thomas who was worth 7.6 WAR placed eighth.

Voting Results Batting Stats
Rank Tm Vote Pts 1st Place Share WAR HR RBI BA
1 Dennis Eckersley OAK 306.0 15.0 78% 3.0 0 0
2 Kirby Puckett MIN 209.0 3.0 53% 6.7 19 110 .329
3 Joe Carter TOR 201.0 4.0 51% 2.4 34 119 .264
4 Mark McGwire OAK 155.0 1.0 40% 6.8 42 104 .268
5 Dave Winfield TOR 141.0 2.0 36% 3.7 26 108 .290
6 Roberto Alomar TOR 118.0 3.0 30% 6.4 8 76 .310
7 Mike Devereaux BAL 109.0 0.0 28% 3.2 24 107 .276
8 Frank Thomas CHW 108.0 0.0 28% 7.6 24 115 .323
9 Cecil Fielder DET 83.0 0.0 21% 2.5 35 124 .244
10 Paul Molitor MIL 63.0 0.0 16% 5.8 12 89 .320

If we go by wins above replacement alone, Joe Carter placed 18th on the list of the top 20 AL MVP candidates. And yet somehow, he received 201 votes that year. Why? Because of his reputation as a home run hitter and an RBI machine.

All this information was not available back in the early nineties, and all voters had to look at were the triple crown categories: batting average, home runs, and RBI's. And when Joe Carter typically produced well in two out of those three categories, it was just assumed he was a great player.

Not only do advanced offensive statistics indicate Joe Carter's flaws, but the defensive statistics as well. Whether you go by Baseball Reference's defensive WAR or FanGraphs positional or fielding statistics, either way you slice it, Carter was not an exceptional fielder.

Don't get me wrong, I'm accusing Joe Carter of being a fraud or a shell of a baseball player. He managed to hit 20 home runs or more in all but 3 of his 15 seasons in the majors. Carter did that all on his own, and that's a very impressive feat.

However, his reputation as an RBI machine is something that he did have a great deal of assistance with. Had Carter not been the benefit of having such incredible hitters in front of him in the lineup, I don't think he would have nearly the amount of RBI's that he does.

It pains me to question how great Joe Carter truly was because in my mind, he was a legend. The iconic image of him celebrating his walk-off home run will be ingrained in my mind forever. It's only when I started to challenge his legacy that things became more clear.

Subtract the home run from the 1993 World Series and take away the game-winning catch from the 1992 World Series, and what legacy has Joe Carter left behind? Without those two career-defining plays, I honestly can't conjure up very many lasting images of Joe Carter.

A player's overall excellence should not be defined by one single play, but by the sum of great plays over their entire career. And if we use that basic formula to determine excellence, then I'm afraid Joe Carter just doesn't measure up.

Nobody can ever take away Joe Carter's home run off Mitch Williams to win the 1993 World Series. But say for a moment we did; I don't think very many people would remember Joe Carter otherwise.

Data and graphs courtesy of the ever useful Baseball Reference and FanGraphs

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome to the Show, Eric Thames


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Image courtesy of Daylife via AP
After spending the first six weeks of the season with the Las Vegas 51's, Eric Thames will make his long-awaited (and by long I mean six weeks of waiting) debut with the Toronto Blue Jays.

I think we can safely say this is the second most anticipated call-up from Las Vegas, with the first of course being Brett Lawrie.

Although folks were very excited about the Kyle Drabek September call-up last year, I can't remember a prospect in recent memory that has garnered this much attention this quickly.

Kyle Drabek's success was well documented in the minor leagues with New Hampshire last season, and ever since Brett Lawrie was acquired, people have kept a close eye on him as well. Eric Thames on the other hand, somehow managed to slip under the radar.

I'm not claiming to be the biggest expert on prospects, but I can't recall even hearing a peep about Eric Thames at all last season. Somehow, he very quietly put together a terrific season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Perhaps that's part of the reason why the front office chose to call up Eric Thames instead of Brett Lawrie. The Blue Jays are fairly certain Lawrie will do big things with the club, but Thames rapid rise to the major league level has been so quick, they want to see if he's the real deal.

As Richard Griffin said on Twitter last night, when Brett Lawrie gets the call, it won't be a temporary solution. Lawrie will be here to stay once he arrives with the Blue Jays. Eric Thames is another left-handed bat and potentially a fourth outfielder once Travis Snider returns.

Eric Thames should get plenty of at bats over the next few weeks, as David Cooper received lots of playing time in his short tenure with the club. Cooper collected 41 plate appearances in just over 2 weeks, and I imagine the same will apply to Thames as the de facto DH and occasional outfielder.

It doesn't make much sense to bring up Eric Thames and have him waste away on the bench, so let's hope John Farrell makes the most of Thames playing time. The trouble is Eric has a very short window in which to impress the coaching staff to warrant keeping him on the roster.

Travis Snider is no doubt itching to get back with the Blue Jays, and if he continues to perform at his current pace in Las Vegas, the Blue Jays will be hard-pressed to keep him in the minor leagues for very much longer.

All this paranoia aside about who will be nipping at the heels at Eric Thames, I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do with the Blue Jays. It's like gambling with house money because the Blue Jays haven't really had much in the way of stakes in Eric Thames until this year.

Just like in Las Vegas, sometimes you bust and sometimes you hit the jackpot. And heaven forbid Eric Thames goes belly up as a prospect, at least the Blue Jays didn't have a great deal invested in him.

On the flip side, if the Blue Jays hit the jackpot with Eric Thames and he becomes the stud they're hoping he will be, then it's all money in the bank.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jose Bautista Defines Progression to the Extreme


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
Regression to the mean? More like progression to the extreme.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any better for Jose Bautista, they do. And just when you thought Jose Bautista was slowing down, he kicks things into overdrive.

For those who ever though he would regress towards the mean, Jose Bautista took regression to the mean out in the back alley this past weekend and beat it to death with a baseball bat.

Looking at his .532 on base percentage and 1.312 on base plus slugging back at the end of April, no one expected him to sustain that pace. That superhuman OPS was bound to come back down to earth at some point.

However, now at a quarter of a way through the 2010 season, not only has Jose Bautista maintained that pace, if anything he might have actually amped things up a bit. His OBP is hovering around .520 and his OPS has shot up to 1.388.

It's almost gotten to the point where it's just outright unfair to the opposition to send Jose Bautista out there. Given the Minnesota Twins are hurting right now, but Bautista single-handedly made their pitching staff look like a minor league affiliate.

One reason that can be attributed to Bautista's incredible numbers is his ability to not get rattled when behind in the count. Jose does take pitches from time to time, and you also won't see him chase out of the zone.

Dustin Parkes has a great breakdown over at Getting Blanked on Bautista's epic 10 pitch at-bat from Friday in which he battled all the way back from 0-2 to kill a 3-2 pitch for a home run.

I can't find the stats on Baseball Reference to back it up, but I'm willing to bet that Bautista is one of the best hitters in the league when behind in the count. Typically, being in that situation would dictate the hitter should protect the plate, but Bautista does otherwise.

It's almost as if he goes into super sense mode when behind in the count and has an extra ability to sniff out those offspeed pitches. On the same token, his spidey sense tingles whenever an opposing pitcher releases a fastball in the zone.

Just as a quick comparison, Jose Bautista hit 16 home runs playing 117 games for the Pirates in 2006. He has now hit 16 home runs playing 32 games for the Blue Jays. A pace of a home run every two games has made it mandatory to watch every single Bautista at bat.

The greatest part of all of this is there's no signs this Jose Bautista roller coaster ride is going to stop any time soon. And that mirrors what Alex Anthopoulos said at the State of the Franchise.

In relation to the Blue Jays returning to those dynasty years from the late eighties and early nineties, he said "it's going to be a freight train that's going to keep going."

Jose Bautista is an integral part of the future of the Blue Jays, and to know that he is going to be around for the next five seasons is extremely reassuring.

At some point, Jose Bautista's numbers may come back down to earth. There are still 122 games left to play in the 2011 season after all and a lot can happen between now and the end of September.

And yet, the further and further the season progresses, it just keeps looking like Jose may as well make some space in his trophy case for an MVP award.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Target Field: Where the Blue Jays Kill Baseballs


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Image courtesy of Daylife via AP
In its short existence as a major league ballpark, Target Field has quickly garnered a reputation as a pitcher’s ballpark.

I’m not certain whether that can be attributed to the cold Minneapolis air, but something is at work in Minnesota in preventing baseballs from flying out of the park. This is, unless you’re the Toronto Blue Jays.

They wrapped up the 2010 season with a four game affair at Target Field, and the long ball was certainly on the menu that weekend. In total, the Blue Jays slugged 9 home runs in the four game series.

Target Field was the stingiest of all the ballparks in the majors in 2010 when it came to dingers, only allowing .641 home runs per game. Yet when the Blue Jays stormed into Minnesota, they hit 2.25 home runs per game.

Out of everyone on the Blue Jays roster, the two men who likely enjoyed their time the most at Target Field were Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Combining for 6 home runs total, they demolished the Twins starting pitchers and relievers.

Encarnacion hit five home runs in that series, and they were some of the most towering shots of the year at Target Field. His final home run of the season on October 3rd was the fourth furthest ball hit at Target Field, measuring 432 feet.

Jose Bautista was not too far behind, with his home run below coming in at 427 feet: the eighth furthest hit ball at Target Field in 2010. It was a mammoth shot into the third deck and gave Bautista his second grand slam of the season.

And then of course, we have Bautista’s sole opposite field shot of the season hit into the right field flower boxes at Target Field. He certainly went out with a bang, hitting his final home run of the season to the opposite field.

If there was ever a time for Edwin Encarnacion to break out, this weekend would be it. Maybe he can pick up where he left off in Minny last year, but I'm not betting on it. Heck, I've already dropped him from my fantasy team.

However, just to spite my disbelief in him, watch Encarnacion pile on the home runs this weekend. It's the Murphy's Law of fantasy baseball: the instant you give up on a player, that's when they turn on the afterburners.

Best of luck to Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and the rest of the Blue Jays hitters this weekend. May their long balls be plentiful and may their fly balls drift a few extra feet into the stands for home runs.

Home run data courtesy of Hit Tracker
Park Factors data courtesy of ESPN

Acid Flashback Friday: Dave Collins Steals 60 Bases


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When you think of some of the fastest Blue Jays to put on the fabled uniform, you probably think of Roberto Alomar, Shannon Stewart or even Damaso Garcia. But have you ever thought of the name Dave Collins?

With perhaps the most unassuming name among the bunch, one would never expect Dave Collins to have the single season record for stolen bases by a Blue Jay, and yet he does.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Dave Collins 60 stolen bases season.

As you can see by the photo above and by his oddly generic name, Collins doesn't really strike me as your prototypical base stealer. And somehow, in 1984 he swiped 60 bags and set a Blue Jays team record that has yet to be broken.

Collins was very effective as well: he was only caught 14 times and thus had a 81% stolen base success rate.

I don't know if manager Bobby Cox just perpetually gave Dave Collins the green light, but by hitting second in the Blue Jays lineup, it gave them the ability to get a runner in scoring position with the 3/4 hitters due up.

Collins speed not only aided him in swiping bases, but taking extra bases as well. His extra bases taken percentage was 53% for the 1984 season.

The 60 stolen bases benchmark has stood for 27 years, but the closest anyone ever came to eclipsing Dave Collins record was Roberto Alomar in 1993 when he stole 53.

Thanks to @GrubersMullet for this week's Acid Flashback Friday suggestion. If you have anything you want to see from Blue Jays yesteryear in an upcoming Acid Flashback Friday, email bluejayhunter@gmail.com

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Zero Days Without a Lost Time Incident


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There’s a scarcity of bench players on the Blue Jays roster because those bench players are now the everyday starters (Encarnacion, Patterson, McDonald).

It allows very little wiggle room for John Farrell to play with, and subsequently there aren’t very many variations from the original lineup card the manager submits prior to first pitch.

Injuries happen to every team, and there is no way to avoid it (aside from rolling players out there in a protective bubble … which would make for some very entertaining baseball, actually). However, the string of injuries to players on the Blue Jays roster is starting to get comical. Once one play comes back, another goes on the disabled list.

The injury woes sustained by the 2010 Boston Red Sox were widely documented, and yet they somehow managed to scrape by and win 89 games last year. With numerous starters on the DL, their bench players

I guess the point I’m trying to make is it’s very easy to write the Blue Jays misfortunes off to injuries, but I believe it was Cole at Infield Fly who said “good teams don’t make excuses, they find ways to win.”

It’s how players respond in the face of adversity that shows their true character. David Cooper for example stepped up on Tuesday after Yunel Escobar left the game.

That’s exactly what this team needs to be successful: regular contributions from not only the everyday starters, but the guys off the bench too. Those late-inning defensive replacements, the pinch-runners and back of the bullpen guys.

I’m afraid that means somebody like Edwin Encarnacion does not have a place on this roster when everybody is healthy, and neither does Corey Patterson. Their upside is far outweighed by either their defensive or offensive downfalls.

Just look back at some of the most successful Blue Jays squads, and you’ll discover an equally successful bench. After all, wasn’t it Derek Bell and Ed Sprauge of “The Trenches” who came in off the bench and help vault the Blue Jays to a win Game 3 of the 1993 World Series?

That very same mentality needs to be bestowed on the Blue Jays bench. When your time comes, make the most of it. And maybe one day, you’ll be a hero too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Random Thoughs from Last Night's Walk-Off Win


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
There were a whole bunch of random thoughts I had during and following last night’s walk-off win, and rather than attempting to string them together into some nonsensical essay format, here are the myriad of thoughts in no particular order.

David Cooper could not have picked a better time to come up with his first home run of the season. Considering he entered the game as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning, I’d say that’s a huge game for Cooper.

The ball squirted out of his glove during a pickoff attempt in the seventh, but he made up for it with a stellar defensive play later in the game. After his game-tying home run, I remarked “enjoy it Cooper, you’ll probably be back in AAA sooner than later”.

However, the gentleman in front of me reiterated that the Blue Jays don’t really have any reason to send Cooper down to the minors at the moment. So unless they feel like bringing Jayson Nix back, David Cooper could be here for the long haul.

Initially, I was very weary of John Farrell sending Rajai Davis not once, but twice in the bottom of the 10th. Davis was erased on the basepaths previously in the game, and yet those stolen bases paid dividends.

John McDonald is the consummate human highlight reel. Not only due to his phenomenal catch in foul territory, but a diving stop in the seventh to steal away extra bases from Adrian Gonzalez and possibly a run.

Speaking of A-Gonz, he has 3 home runs in 2 career games at the Rogers Centre. He’ll likely be the bane of our existence and I do not look forward to seeing him play the Blue Jays 18 times a year for the next 7 years.

For those who are curious, David Ortiz’ home run off Kyle Drabek was a mammoth 418 foot shot to dead centre field.

Edwin Encarnacion racked up yet another error, which ties him for the lead league with 8. I don’t think the TV cameras caught this, but actually the inning prior EE also missed a catch while the infielders were going around the horn in between innings. That should have been a warning sign.

Yes, I brought a Red Sox fan to the game but luckily I did not regret the decision. The funny thing is he actually is a Tigers fan first and foremost, but the Red Sox are his second favourite team.

The dichotomy of sitting with an opposing fan is actually quite interesting and I recommend you try it sometime. Especially with so many lead changes, it was fascinating to see the highs and lows from both ends of the fan spectrum.

Lastly, I noticed the box score was quite lopsided in favour of the Red Sox (16 hits compared to the Blue Jays 9), yet Toronto squeaked out the win.

I don’t know if that says more about or more about Toronto’s shutdown bullpen and defense or Boston’s lack of capitalizing on opportunities,  but I’m willing to bet it’s more the latter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Somehow, Farell Managed


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If you've seen the second to last episode of The Office, you're probably familiar with Michael Scott's self-penned management guide entitled "Somehow I Manage".

On his last day at Dunder Mifflin, Michael bestowed Darrell with the honour of caring for it. It was a touching moment in which the baton was passed from one manager to potential future manager.

I can't say for certain whether the same thing happened between Cito Gaston and John Farrell, but the way Farrell managed last night, it was as though he took a page out of Cito's book of mismanaging.

Up until this point, I haven't had many qualms with John Farrell. For the most part he's done a great job at transforming a one-dimensional lineup into a more well-rounded offensive threat, and he's helped create defined roles for the relief corps.

However, the decision to bull Brandon Morrow in the fourth inning was a little premature. Had this been Kyle Drabek on the mound, no one would have argued the move to take him out of the game. But this was Brandon Morrow.

He's arguably the best arm on the starting staff, yet Farrell treated Morrow like he was a rookie making his second career start. The Blue Jays don't need to protect Brandon Morrow, they need to let him be free to make some mistakes.

Shouldn't John Farrell have given Brandon Morrow the doubt and tried to let him work out of the jam? Yes, there were concerns about lost velocity and arm slots, but unless your pitcher is visibly hurt, what's the point of pulling him when your team is trailing by four runs?

I don't know whether Farrell's extensive pitching background had something to do with it, but I can't see much benefit to babying your starting staff when the game isn't on the line at that particular moment.

And then of course we have John Farrell's decision to bring in Octavio Dotel to face left-handers in the seventh inning. I'm not saying Dotel should never ever face a lefty, but he should never face four in one outing.

His career splits are just too lopsided to ignore, and even some effective at bats against left-handers won't change that for Dotel. Last year, lefties hit .300 off Dotel, and this year they're hitting .250 off him.

Ultimately, the Blue Jays players lost the game, but the onus is on the manager to put them in the best position to win the game. By yanking Brandon Morrow and putting in Octavio Dotel, John Farrell didn't give the Blue Jays the best possible chance to stage a comeback.

In this case, I'll give John Farrell the benefit of the doubt because after all, this is only his second month on the job. We shouldn't be calling for his head 35 games into the season.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Juan Rivera Outspoken on Justin Verlander's No-Hitter


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
A few weeks ago, like most people I had completely written off Juan Rivera as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays roster.

Back on April 17th he was hitting a paltry .103 and was at the centre of a maelstrom of scrutiny after he just flat out did not appear to be interested in playing for the Blue Jays.

It all came to a head after he refused to slide into a double play and just tiptoed into second base, making no effort to even break up the double play whatsoever. It was an inexcusable baserunning gaffe to say the least.

My how things can change in just a mere few weeks, because Juan Rivera might just be my new favourite Blue Jay.

Aside from how he's turned his season around on the field, Juan Rivera was also at the centre of some controversy surrounding Justin Verlander's no-hitter. Shi Davidi reported that Rivera said to Verlander's face that he got "lucky".

I believe think there's a little bit of truth to that statement. Whenever a pitcher tosses a no-hitter and only strikes out three batters like Verlander did or just two like Francisco Liriano, it seems more about the defense than it does the pitcher.

Pitching to contact is an excellent strategy and is a great way to keep the pitch count down. It just so happened that all those pop-ups and grounders were hit to the right people at the right time, so there was some luck involved there.

Although it may have been a controversial thing to say, at least Juan Rivera had the decency to say that to Justin Verlander's face rather than in the clubhouse during the post-game media scrum.

One can't say whether Rivera was just trying to get into Verlander's head or if he truly believed Verlander got lucky, but that may have been a situation where it's better to just keep those thoughts as internal dialogue.

Luck plays such a huge part in the game of baseball: there are lucky bounces, lucky calls, and lucky guesses. Just take a look at the statistic batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

Justin Verlander just so happened to be on the right side of the luck scale on Saturday, but it was his skill that helped tip the scale in his favour.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Restore the Blue Jays/Tigers Rivalry


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Only 400 kilometres separates Toronto and Detroit, but as far as baseball matchups concerned, they may as well be on opposite sides of the continent.

One would think that two cities so close to each other that they would have their fair share of series, but MLB's unbalanced schedule says otherwise.

The Blue Jays and Tigers will get together for the first of only six games this season; a four game set at the Rogers Centre followed by a two game series in a few weeks at Comerica Park. Considering how much history their is between these two teams, it just doesn't feel like enough.

A piddly six games against a team that's only a four hour bus ride down the 401? Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather see the Blue Jays play the Tigers a few more times instead of 18 times against the Rays or Orioles.

For those living in London Ontario, you basically have the best of both worlds smack dab in the middle of both teams. It's almost equal distance to get to the Comerica Park as it is to the Rogers Centre.

There are undoubtedly a lot of Tigers fans in London, and maybe part of that has to due with the London Tigers. Growing up in the Forest City, I remember seeing the Tigers play at Labatt Park was one of the hottest tickets in town.

I even remember their jingle - "London Tigers Baseball: tear 'em up Tigers, let's go!"

It's amazing to look back on how the Detroit Tigers had their AA affiliate in London. I think it helped cultivate an interest in not only the Detroit Tigers, but the Blue Jays as well.

After 1993, the London Tigers left town and set up shop in Trenton, New Jersey. London was essentially the link between the Tigers and the Blue Jays, and when the London Tigers left, sadly that link was severed.

The remnants of Tigers feverdom remain in London, though. If you head to Joe Kool's, when you walk in you'll see a photo of Kirk Gibson's iconic home run plastered on the wall.

Although London is technically closer to Toronto that Detroit, I get the sense that London is a Tiger town more than it is a Blue Jays town.

Whichever side of the fence you're on, it's just a shame that the Blue Jays and the Tigers only get together for 6-8 games a season because there is a vast amount of fans in the 401 corridor from London to Windsor.

Even back in 1999 and 2000, the Blue Jays and Tigers played 12 times a year. That's even after the Tigers moved to the Central division. Prior to that, it was typical for them to meet 13 times every season.

I'm not saying that adding a couple series here and there is going to bring baseball fever back to southern Ontario, but would go a long way to restoring the rivalry between the Tigers and the Blue Jays.

Plus, it's nice to have an excuse to road trip to Detroit a couple times a year.

Flashback Friday: Bill Madlock Takes Out Tony Fernandez


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Back in the day, the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers used to be heated division rivals. The proximity between the two cities made it the closest thing between crosstown competition for the Blue Jays.

Ever since the Tigers moved to the Central division 1998, that storied competition between Toronto and Detroit has died down significantly. That rivalry was at its peak in the late 80's, and Bill Madlock helped take it to a whole new level down the stretch in 1987.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the play where Bill Madlock of the Detroit Tigers took out Tony Fernandez.

The incident in question happened on September 25th, 1987. The Blue Jays were in the midst of a four game series against the Detroit Tigers and held a 2.5 game lead with nine games remaining in the season.

Bill Madlock began the third inning with a single, and on the following play was forced to second on a grounder by Kirk Gibson. As you can clearly see by the photo below, Madlock went out of his way to take out Tony Fernandez.

It's arguably one of the biggest bush league plays ever committed against the Blue Jays, and subsequently Tony Fernandez was injured on the play and had to have season-ending surgery that very night.

Here's a bit of a replay of the event from the New York Times:
Replays appeared to show that Madlock went out of the basepath. No interference call was made, and the Exhibition Stadium crowd booed Madlock loudly.

The game was delayed for six minutes while Fernandez was examined on the field. Starkman said Fernandez had hit his elbow on a wood border separating the artificial turf from the dirt sliding area.

Fernandez was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and was to undergo surgery to wire his elbow together. A bone at the tip of the elbow, the olecranon, was fractured, Starkman said.
As one can imagine, the field at Exhibition Stadium was not that forgiving and Tony Fernandez happened to land on a wooden board underneath the turf when he came down on the play.

Despite losing Fernandez, the Blue Jays actually went on to win the game 4-3. While he teammates were celebrating the victory, Fernandez was under the knife and flew back home to the Dominican Republic a few days later.

I realize these guys were playing for their lives, but was just a blatant disregard for safety and sportsmanship. Bill Madlock was not reprimanded and was never called for interference.

With the injury to Tony Fernandez, the Blue Jays lost an integral piece of their roster (who was hitting .322) as they lost the division to the Detroit Tigers on the final day of the season.

Just to add a little bit of salt in the wounds, Bill Madlock did not seem remorseful in any way whatsoever in the interview above. Here's his explanation for what he did to Tony Fernandez:
"This is the way I played all the time. It wasn't the slide that hurt him, it was the wood around second base that did it when he came down on his elbow ... and I had nothing to do with that.
Maybe it was because the game was vastly different back then, but if anybody attempted that take out now, he would be suspended in a heartbeat. Take outs at second base have led to injury before, and it just so happened the Blue Jays lost Ernie Whitt in a similar incident a few days later.

The rivalry between the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays may never be as heated as it was in 1987, but you can imagine how the Jays felt after Madlock wiped out their shortstop.

Not many plays warrant chin music, but that bush league display by Bill Madlock was definitely deserving of a fastball between the numbers.

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