Monday, April 28, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: Lawrie, an Organist and the Bullpen


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Perspective is an incredible thing. Through the first 25 games of the season, the Toronto Blue Jays own an 12-13 record. At this point last season, they owned a 9-16 record and finished April at 10-17.

At the end of May 2013, the Blue Jays win-loss record tumbled to 23-33 and they sat 10 games under .500 to begin the month of June. Last year, the Blue Jays essentially buried themselves just two months into the season.

So to be a mere game under .500 at this point is quite an improvement. The Blue Jays could have easily converted a few of those losses into wins, and nearing the end of the first month of the season, they aren't even really playing their best baseball yet.


Lawrie Launching Longballs, Not Line Drives


It's fair to say the early part of 2014 has been feast or famine for Brett Lawrie. He's currently hitting below the Mendoza line at .179 and yet has a team-leading 20 RBI's and six home runs. When Lawrie connects, he definitely makes it count.

Aside from his six home runs, I think the main concern with Brett Lawrie right now is it appears he really isn't hitting the ball that hard or squaring it up that well. Most of the singles Lawrie has collected early on have been opposite field hits.

Field Rush picked up on this last week, and noticed this is kind of out of the norm for the Blue Jays third baseman. Brett's spray chart from FanGraphs pretty much speaks for itself.


Source: FanGraphs

He continues to pull the ball on the infield, and yet for some reason has trouble pulling the ball for line drives. Aside from the double in yesterday's game versus the Red Sox (not pictured above), Brett Lawrie has not hit another line drive to left field this season.

Plenty of ground balls are indicative of a player that's swinging on top of the ball, meaning that Lawrie is likely swinging on a downward angle through the zone, rather than driving through the ball.

So long as he keeps hitting home runs at this pace, it's a not a tremendous amount of concern. However, once Lawrie cools off once again, this apparent flaw or hitch in his swing will need to be addressed.


Welcome Back, Mr. Organist


If you were in attendance for yesterday's game or happened to catch it during the broadcast, the Blue Jays brought back something that has notably been absent from the Rogers Centre for years; an organist.

Apparently, famed organist Ken Kaufman was on loan from the Buffalo Sabres for the day, and according to @OrganistAlert, he's here to stay for the remainder of the season.


It's funny how small things like that really make a difference and suddenly make the Rogers Centre feel like a good old fashioned ballpark.


The Blue Jays Redundant Bullpen


How do you define a redundant bullpen? How about having four long relievers on the same team? That's exactly what the Blue Jays accomplished by calling up Chad Jenkins on Saturday and sending Neil Wagner back down to Buffalo.

Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, J.A. Happ and Chad Jenkins make four long relievers in the Blue Jays bullpen. That's not to say they'll all be used in multiple inning situations, but wouldn't you rather have a hard-throwing Neil Wagner than say a Todd Redmond.

For a team that was praised last year for constructing an effective bullpen, the Blue Jays certainly have four guys who don't have defined roles on this team right now.

Again, a lot of this comes back to Alex Anthopoulos' bad habit of hanging onto players who have no options left. If the Blue Jays are to stay competitive, it doesn't make sense to hang into fledgling relievers in fear of losing them to another team.

The Blue Jays are one of very few teams I've ever heard make roster moves based solely on whether a player has options or not. Honestly, I'd rather the Blue Jays carry guys like Neil Wagner, John Stilson and Chad Jenkins than Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers.

In the event of another poor start by Dustin McGowan, I imagine the plan is to either move J.A. Happ back into the starting rotation or possibly even give the innings to Chad Jenkins. And with McGowan complaining of fatigue, that move is likely coming very soon.

Image courtesy of AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flashback Friday: Joe Carter's Misspelled Jersey


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Typos happen all the time. Especially with the advent of the internet, spelling mistakes are incredibly common. However, the magnitude of typos range from small errors to big gaffes ... which occasionally lead to comical moments like these.

For these week's Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Joe Carter's infamous misspelled jersey. The game was July 14th, 1994 against the Texas Rangers. Apparently it took a full six innings before anybody noticed that the "T" and "N" were mixed up.


So for more than half the game, Joe Carter was a member of the "Torotno Blue Jays". If you think about it, it's an easy mistake to make. Apparently the manufacturer, Wilson, is the one who stitched Carter's jersey incorrectly.

And how cool is this? Brendan over at Toy Submarine captured that infamous uniform misspelling in a pair of paintings he did himself, and has them hanging in his own living room. A very unique piece of Blue Jays memorabilia, indeed!


Images courtesy of SI, 44th and Goal and Toy Submarine

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Introducing Brett Lawrie's New Moustache


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Over the course of their career, many great baseball players briefly experiment with facial hair. Baseball and moustaches are a time-honoured tradition, and although they're not as prominent today as they once were, that doesn't make moustaches any less spectacular.

Ordinarily, Blue Jays player's facial hair developments might not be deemed as newsworthy. However, I admittedly have a strange affinity for baseball moustaches (example: Jose Bautista's short-lived moustache) and of course, it's Brett Lawrie.

Brett arrived to the park yesterday with a new piece of equipment in his arsenal; a brand new moustache. And since players are naturally creatures of habit, it looks like Lawrie's good luck charm isn't going anywhere any time soon.


After his go-ahead three run home run, it looked like Brett Lawrie was indicating to his teammates that he was onto something by sporting his new cookie duster.

Check out a GIF after the jump of Lawrie looking very mischievous with his new moustache.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brandon Morrow: Bringing the Heat, Not the Innings


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Strikeouts and velocity are two things that have never really been a problem for Brandon Morrow. Over the course of his career, he's averaged 9.4 strikeouts per 9 innings and posted an average fastball velocity of 94 miles per hour. Impressive to say the least.

But one thing that has been a problem for Brandon Morrow? Racking up innings.

It really should come as no surprise that these problems are plaguing Brandon Morrow once again, and yet for some reason ... it is. The Blue Jays need Brandon Morrow is eat up innings, and he has yet to pitch into the seventh inning this season.

As it currently stands, Brandon Morrow currently owns the fourth fastest average fastball velocity in the American League at 93.6 MPH. In his first four starts of the season, Morrow has averaged 95, 96, 93 and 94 miles per hour on his fastball.

So velocity is not an issue with Brandon Morrow. Control however, is an issue. On that same token, here are Brandon Morrow's pitch counts from his first four starts: 87, 86, 98 and 95. And his innings pitched? 5 innings, 6 innings, 3.2 innings and 5 innings.

Drew and Stoeten touched on this during yesterday's DJF podcast, but if it were as simple as throwing fastballs all the time, Brandon Morrow would just blow four-seamers past everyone. For whatever reason, he just hasn't been able to locate that pitch.

It's easy to became enamoured with a guy who still hits 98-99 MPH on the radar gun (see Jeremy Jeffress), but Morrow can't control his fastball or get batters to chase it outside the strike zone, what's the point?

Gregg Zaun spoke about this on Sportsnet, but he believes the reason why Brandon Morrow isn't going deep into games is because he's throwing the kitchen sink at every batter. Meaning, opposing hitters are seeing three and four different kinds of pitches per at bat.

Not only is this increasing Morrow's pitch count, but it's also allowing hitters to make adjustments on the fly and adapt in their subsequent at bats. There may be some validity in Zaun's theory, as it would explain why Morrow has no trouble the first time through the order, only to find out the opposing team has caught on by the time the lineup turns over.

For the most part, this is the way Brandon Morrow has always been.

There was a brief period there in 2012 when he sort of took a step back and evolved into a "pitch to contact guy", but since then Brandon Morrow has reverted back into his previous strikeout-focused self.

When you're a strikeout pitcher like Morrow, it's going to lead to increased pitch counts. Even if a pitcher struck out 27 batters on nothing but strikes, hit pitch count would still be 81.

The way things are trending, I don't know if we'll see Brandon Morrow pitch deep into games anymore. In 2011, Morrow peaked at 6.0 IP per start, and it's been trending downwards ever since (mind you he was hurt in 2012 and 2013).

Morrow has thrown 100 or more pitches in only 14 games the past three years combined. That's not even half of the 35 starts he's made since the beginning of the 2012 season.

For the sake of comparison, Mark Buehrle had 20 starts where he tossed 100 pitches 20 times last year alone.

At no point has Brandon Morrow really garnered a reputation as a pitcher who has the ability to pitch deep into games. Aside from that great pre All-Star break run before his abdominal injury in 2012, five and six innings a start were pretty much the norm.

I believe the whole issue with Brandon Morrow is expectations. Firstly, because the Blue Jays didn't go out and bolster the starting rotation, they were inherently forced to rely on Morrow's contributions that much more.

And secondly, Brandon Morrow's first half of 2012 has been used as the measuring stick for his potential for years. People thought that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Morrow, but perhaps it was just his peak instead.

Morrow had three complete game shutouts within the span of seven starts in May/June of 2012, arguably the best stretch of his career. But here's the thing; that was almost two years ago and he has not recaptured that magic since.

Don't get me wrong; Brandon Morrow has a great deal of promise and could very well still be an effective pitcher. At times, he is joy to watch work on the mound and has a knack for carving up opposing hitters.

But the Blue Jays have been burned one too many times when it comes to potential "aces". Until Brandon Morrow can prove he's worthy of that title, he'll remain a mid-level starting pitcher.

Image courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flashback Friday: Kelly Gruber Hits for the Cycle


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A single, a double, a triple, and a home run. Most players would be happy to collect each of these within a single week of play. But there are select few that have done it all in one game.

Hitting for the cycle is an extremely rare feat in Major League Baseball. It's happened just over 300 times since 1882, and only two players have ever done it in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.

In honour of the 25th anniversary of this momentous occasion, this week's Flashback Friday takes a look back at Kelly Gruber's cycle from April 16th, 1989; the first cycle in Blue Jays history.

Dave Stieb took to the hill for the Blue Jays and was coming off a complete game one-hitter in his previous start. His cohorts eventually put some runs on the board, but not before allowing the Royals to jump out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning.

Stieb was yanked from the game after retiring only one batter and allowing the first six batters in the Royals lineup reach base. So after being down 6-0 in the first frame, the Blue Jays had an uphill battle, but Gruber single-handedly got them back in the game.

Gruber drove in a total of six runs, and went 4 for 4 on the day. Here's the sequence of how his at bats played out.


Inn ▴ Batter Pitcher Play Description
b1 K. Gruber F. Bannister Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF Line)
b2 K. Gruber F. Bannister Double to LF (Line Drive to LF Line)
b7 K. Gruber T. Gordon Triple to RF (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF)
b8 K. Gruber J. Gleaton Single to CF (Fly Ball to Short LF-CF)


Also an interesting fact, current Blue Jays hitting coach Kevin Seitzer was playing third base for the Kansas City Royals that very game.


Of course, in some strange coincidence, Kelly Gruber just so happened to be in attendance at the Skydome some 12 years later when Jeff Frye became the second Toronto Blue Jay to hit for the cycle. As rare as it is to hit for the cycle, what are the odds of that happening?

Kelly Gruber has kind of become a good luck charm when it comes to hitting a cycle. So if Gruber ever shows up at a Blue Jays game again, chances are a player has a decent shot at making history ... just like he did.

Images courtesy of Getty Images

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sergio Santos Makes History (Not in a Good Way)


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It was a implosion of epic proportions; there is no other way to put it. It made for one horrible night for the Toronto Blue Jays. Deadspin deemed it one of the ugliest innings ever, but it was an especially ugly inning for one man in particular.

In a 9-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Sergio Santos had the dubious honour of making MLB history. He did what no other pitcher has ever done before.

Sergio Santos became the first pitcher in MLB history to throw three wild pitches in one game and not record a single out.

Sure, pitchers have thrown three or more pitchers in an inning, but at least they've retired a batter. Sergio Santos did not. Tack on the three walks surrendered by Santos and you have what was an overall horrendous outing by the on-again off-again Blue Jays closer.

Here's the sequence of events:

Score Batter Pitcher Play Description
Sergio Santos replaces Steve Delabar pitching
Trevor Plouffe pinch hits for Aaron Hicks (CF) batting 8th
3-5 T. Plouffe S. Santos Walk
Kurt Suzuki pinch hits for Eduardo Escobar (SS) batting 9th
3-5 K. Suzuki S. Santos Wild Pitch; Pinto Scores; Herrmann to 3B; Plouffe to 2B
Pedro Florimon pinch runs for Trevor Plouffe (PH) batting 8th
4-5 K. Suzuki S. Santos Walk, Wild Pitch; Herrmann Scores; Florimon to 3B
Darin Mastroianni pinch runs for Kurt Suzuki (PH) batting 9th
5-5 B. Dozier S. Santos Mastroianni Steals 2B
5-5 B. Dozier S. Santos Walk, Wild Pitch; Florimon Scores; Mastroianni to 3B

Sergio Santos threw a total of 16 pitches in that outing, four of them being strikes and 12 of them being balls. Whether it was the weather or otherwise, Santos simply could not find the strike zone, as his pitches hit the dirt time and time again.

It was an ugly, ugly inning overall, and in this particular instance, the ability to forget a game like this and look forward to the next series is the only way to move on.

Hat tip to @Noah_Sherman for the info. Image courtesy of Getty Images

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Target Field: Bautista and Encarnacion's Playground


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Ordinarily, sending a visiting team to the frigid confines of Minnesota in mid-April might be considered a punishment. But for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, they probably revel at the chance to return to Target Field.

As the Blue Jays get set to continue their nine game road swing through Minneapolis, Bautista and Encarnacion enter the series as two of the most prolific hitters ever at Target Field. Mind you the stadium's only been around for four years, but still very impressive.

Target Field is essentially Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarncaion's playground.

Take a look at how Bautista and Encarnacion's career numbers stack up against other visitors to Target Field. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better power combo in baseball when they visit this ballpark.

Rk Player G HR BA OBP SLG OPS
11 Jose Bautista 11 10 .362 .423 1.043 1.466
13 Carlos Santana 31 7 .200 .296 .461 .757
14 Adam Dunn 24 7 .259 .347 .565 .912
16 Paul Konerko 33 6 .304 .385 .488 .873
17 Miguel Cabrera 36 6 .346 .429 .559 .988
18 Edwin Encarnacion 13 6 .356 .434 .778 1.212
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/14/2014.

You would think just by the virtue of the fact that the Twins play 81 home games a year, the home players would rack up home runs over time. But that simply isn't the case.

Rk Player G HR BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Josh Willingham 130 29 .254 .375 .509 .883
2 Trevor Plouffe 193 27 .254 .318 .436 .754
3 Jim Thome 101 24 .261 .392 .577 .969
4 Justin Morneau 203 20 .279 .351 .436 .787
5 Michael Cuddyer 149 17 .282 .350 .456 .806
6 Brian Dozier 126 15 .242 .305 .397 .702
7 Danny Valencia 135 15 .291 .329 .445 .774
8 Ryan Doumit 137 14 .261 .318 .422 .740
9 Jason Kubel 117 13 .259 .328 .415 .743
10 Joe Mauer 253 11 .321 .401 .425 .827
11 Jose Bautista 11 10 .362 .423 1.043 1.466
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/14/2014.

Jose Bautista has one less home run at Target Field than Joe Mauer; except Mauer has played 242 more games than Bautista in Minnesota. Yet, Joe Mauer has 11 career home runs at Target Field while Jose Bautista has 10.

And not only is it the quantity of home runs that Bautista and Encarnacion manage to hit in Minnesota, but it's the sheer ferocity in which they hit them. This moon shot into the third deck at Target Field by Jose Bautista is probably my favourite.



Games at Target Field in April are likely much different than the dog days of summer, but both Bautista and Encarnacion have hit home runs in Minnesota in both April and May. Single-digit temperatures this week might not have much of an impact on them.

One possible explanation for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion's numbers at Target Field can be attributed to the quality of pitchers they've faced on the Twins. Go through the list of guys they've hit home runs off of, and it's a veritable who's who of replacement level pitchers.

Francisco Liriano (the old version), Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, one-time Blue Jay P.J. Walters, Brian Duensing and Johan Santana just to name a few.

And the probable pitchers for this series in Minnesota are as follows: Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson being the sole beacon of hope for the Twins. So Jose and Edwin just may rack up a bunch more home runs before they leave Minneapolis this week.

Image courtesy of City News

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flashback Friday: Alfredo Griffin's Hilariously Bad Strikeout


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There's a reason why only a small percentage of hitters make it to "The Show" - hitting a Major League pitch is not an easy feat. For the few that make it to the bigs, sometimes even they have difficulty timing a pitch.

For this week's Flashback Friday, we take a look back at a hilariously bad strikeout courtesy of Alfredo Griffin. The game in question took place on September 27th, 1992 at Yankee Stadium.

Without context, this might seem like this is the worst strikeout you've ever seen, but let me provide you with a bit of background.

The Blue Jays enjoyed a comfortable 9-0 lead heading into the top of the 5th inning against the Yankees, and that's when Griffin entered the batter's box.

By all accounts, it was a very rainy day at Yankee Stadium, and Alfredo Griffin's motivation was to get five innings in the books as quickly as possible so the game would be made official. So he subsequently swung for the fences at three straight pitches and struck out.

As if it wasn't bad enough that Griffin struck out on a pitch that was good two feet outside the strike zone, he didn't even run out the ball to first base. I mean, come on man ... if you're going to feign an at bat, at least sell it a little better than that.

It kind of resembles the type of swing you'd see a kid make in little league where they just close their eyes and swing for the fences, regardless of where the baseball is.

Griffin's plan was ultimately foiled by the umpires as they called for a rain delay, but the Blue Jays went on to win 12-2 over the Yankees.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3 Up 3 Down: Melky, Lawrie and Santos


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Whenever a team goes up against the likes of the Houston Astros, a team that's lost over 100 games the last three consecutive seasons, is anything other than a convincing win expected?

The Blue Jays didn't pummel the Astros, but a 5-2 win got the job done. It was the first time in eight games in which the Blue Jays have scored more than five runs in a game. That's a little worrisome for a team that was expected to score a plethora of runs in 2014.

Here are quick three thoughts in what could possibly become a new feature - "3 Up, 3 Down". With thoughts from last night's game on Melky Cabrera, some possible tension between Brett Lawrie and Melky, and Mr. Closer himself, Sergio Santos.


The Melk Man Delivers


What is going on with Melky Cabrera? The man has hit home runs in four consecutive games and is currently one of the hottest hitters on the Blue Jays roster. Eight games is admittedly a small sample size, but boy has Melky looked great the past week.

He's hit home runs from both sides of the plate, his mobility appears to be back at 100%, and just his swing overall has looked very solid. Melky Cabrera had a torrent spring and posted the most hits of any batter in Spring Training.

At first, it may have been an anomaly that Melky was tearing the cover off the ball in exhibition games, but now that the results are carrying over into the regular season, perhaps this is the Melk Man we were all hoping he would be last season.

Not to mention, with his fourth home run of the season last night, Melky has already surpassed his home run total from last year - 3 home runs in 88 games. Plus, he's only struck out four times in 35 at bats

While Melky Cabrera is kind of the de facto leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays at the moment, he could really do some damage in the two slot when Jose Reyes comes off the DL. In the meantime, it's probably only a matter of time before Bautista hits behind Melky.


Tension Between Lawrie and Melky?



Speaking of the Melk Man, the Sportsnet cameras caught an interesting exchange in the Blue Jays dugout between Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie.

Following Melky's home run, Lawrie attempted to get his attention by repeating something over and over until he was finally acknowledged. Watch a full GIF of the exchange over on the BJH Tumblr.

I don't claim to be a professional lip reader, but it looks like Lawrie said something to the effect of "good hit" or "you good?". It could very well have been a genuine statement, it could have been sarcastic ... but without hearing it, we'll never know for sure.

Maybe it was something, maybe it was nothing at all. Maybe Brett was in the wrong, maybe Melky was in the wrong. Without being there in the dugout and watching and listening to the exchange, it's difficult to say for certain.

However, one takeaway from that incident just further hints at the reported divide in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse from Blue Jays Plus. If that's what happens after a celebratory home run, I'd hate to see what happens in the clubhouse after a loss.

And it wouldn't be the first time Brett Lawrie had a verbal altercation with a fellow teammate in the dugout, either.


Santos Locks it Down


It may not have been a nervous ninth as his past two save situations have been, but Sergio Santos blew away the Houston Astros hitters in the top of the ninth. You really can't ask much more of your closer than striking out the side to end the game.

That was the positive side in what has often been a Jekyll/Hyde dynamic with Sergio Santos. His slider will coax a lot of swings out the zone, but at the same time it will lead to a lot of balls in the dirt and some questions about control of his "out pitch".

If Santos can keep it up, the Blue Jays will be in an advantageous position with Casey Janssen hopefully coming off the disabled list within the next few weeks. With Santos holding the fort, he Blue Jays can afford to ease Janssen back into the closer's role.

Sergio Santos is doing a lot to build his trade value right now, and could be a very attractive trade chip come the All-Star break. Perhaps those talks with the Texas Rangers could re-ignite once again, although I'm not sure what Santos would fetch in return.


Image courtesy of Getty Images

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Roy Halladay Threw a Cutter at the Home Opener


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It sure was great to see Roy Halladay in a Blue Jays uniform once again, wasn't it? While Friday's Home Opener may have been forgettable, the appearance by one Harry Leroy III made it all worthwhile.

Prior to the game, Halladay said on Twitter that he would throw his famous cut fastball as the ceremonial first pitch from Friday's game, and true to his word ... he did.


Most likely thought Doc was joking about throwing his signature pitch which carved up countless hitters over the years, but here's a screencap of his cutter grip. Perhaps he threw it that way out of habit.


And not to mention, the pitch he threw to Mark Buehrle was straight down the heart of the plate. Of course, you may remember Halladay and Buehrle combined once to pitch a game that lasted only one hour and fifty minutes.

The laser-like precision of this pitch just goes to prove that Doc's still got it.
GIFs of Halladay's first pitch after the jump.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Flashback Friday: Alex Rodriguez Yells "Mine"


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Alex Rodriguez has done some pretty deplorable things over the course of his career; some of them off the field, some of them on the field ... but this one ranks up there.

With the Yankees back in town for the Home Opener, it only seemed fitting to pull this one out of the Blue Jays archives. For 2014's inaugural BJH Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the "ha Incident" when Alex Rodriguez called "mine" behind Howie Clarke.

The day was May 30th, 2007. The Yankees were in the midst of a five-game losing streak and found themselves 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays and 14.5 games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox.

So with the Yankees clinging to a short lead in the top of the ninth, a ball was hit in between shortstop and third; third baseman Howie Clarke was camped under it, but at the last second seemingly backed off and the ball dropped on the infield.



At first, it appeared as though there had been some miscommunication between the Blue Jays infielders, but replays clearly showed that Alex Rodriguez had yelled something as he ran past Howie Clark.

I even remember the slow motion replays during the game caught A-Rod yelling "mine" or something to that effect.

If Alex Rodriguez was hoping to somehow spark a rally, it worked. The Yankees scored four that runs in the top of the ninth and ultimately helped the Yankees snap their five-game skid.

Needless to say, A-Rod's actions got the Toronto Blue Jays very angry. Both John McDonald and Howie Clark were visibly upset by the play, and manager John Gibbons even stormed out and argued with the umps about the play.

If you think about it, it must have been really bad because when have you ever seen a class act like John McDonald get that angry? Johnny Mac had to be restrained by his teammates, so that's when you know somebody's done something horribly wrong.

Here's A-Rod's defense to reporters after the game, in which he claimed he simply yelled "ha" (with clubhouse cameos by Shi Davidi and Ben Ennis!)



Later on, he was quoted as saying that the Yankees were desperate and needed a win badly. Clearly, Alex Rodriguez was willing to stoop to any means necessary to win a game; even if that meant bush league tactics like yelling "mine" behind an infielder.

Part of Rodriguez' reasoning was that a similar scenario would typically happen to him 3-4 times a week, except that opposing players would yell at him from the dugout while A-Rod tried to make a play in foul territory.

After the fact, even Yankees manager Joe Torre admitted it was "probably inappropriate to do at the time" and A-Rod's actions were "probably something he shouldn't have done".

John McDonald wasn't the only member of the Toronto Blue Jays who got extremely heated by the incident, manager John Gibbons also had some choice words for Rodriguez in this piece from the Toronto Star:
"One of the reasons (the Yankees) are so respected is they've got a lot of pride, they do things right. That's not Yankee pride right there. I thought it was bush league. But it worked."
Of course, several months later, Alex Rodriguez received retribution for his actions in the form of a fastball between the numbers courtesy of Josh Towers.

It spawned this frightening stare down courtesy of Matt Stairs, and the incident from the game itself inspired the first ever post on this blog.


Leading up to the "ha incident", Alex Rodriguez was probably one of the least favourite visiting players to the Rogers Centre, but with his deplorable actions that day, he further cemented himself as he biggest villain in Blue Jays Land.

Images courtesy of SI and Augusta Chronicle

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Top 5 Best & Worst Toronto Blue Jays Uniforms


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What's in a uniform? Simply put ... everything. Everything a team stands for can be found within every stitch and thread of its uniform. So it's not surprising why baseball uniforms are serious business. After all, a club's image rides on it.

At 37 years old, the Toronto Blue Jays may be a relatively young franchise, but they've certainly had their fair share of uniforms over the years. Many have touched on both ends of the scale; some have been timeless classics, others have been quite forgettable.

So it only made sense to include them all in one all-encompassing list - Top 5 Best and Worst Toronto Blue Jays uniforms of all time.

Top Five Best Blue Jays Uniforms
Top Five Worst Blue Jays Uniforms

Introduction


Firstly, the judging criteria; all uniform sets were considered (home/road/alternate/special event), save for Spring Training/Batting Practice uniforms. MLB puts out a slightly different version every year, so it was just too many iterations to consider.

There were some instances where I grouped very similar uniform sets together as one entry (for example the late 80’s/early to mid 90’s home white uniforms). Treating every single uniform on its own would just bog down the whole process.

I also asked for some help from the foremost expert when it comes to pro sports uniforms, Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net. He provided lots of input to help fact-check regarding many of the uniform sets.


Top 5 Best Blue Jays Uniforms

1.) 1989-1996 Home White Uniform



There’s something about this set that just feels right. It’s familiar, there’s a great deal of history behind it, and most importantly, it still looks sharp to this day. The home whites are a timeless classic that will never get old.

Although there were slight iterations (one with the white panel cap, one with the full blue cap), my vote goes to the one with the full blue cap.

After the Blue Jays wore these for the Back2Back reunion in 2009, I was convinced the team would revert back to the golden years uniforms for their uniform update in late 2011.

We all know that didn't happen, but the current uniforms are an homage to the old uniforms engrained in most fans' memories by the 1992 and 1993 World Series Champion teams.

The two hues of blue compliment each other perfectly here, and not only offset each other in the logo itself, but also in the striping in the side of the pants and the cuffs of the sleeves. Odds are you probably own one of these in your closet somewhere.


2.) 2012-Present Alternate Blue Uniform



The current alternate blue uniform ranks ahead of the late 90’s version because of the choice of blue. While the old one was more of a navy blue, the current one is a bit of a more powerful blue, something closer to a royal blue.

The font is a slight differentiation on the classic split-letter font, the current one having a slight serif to the lettering. For my money, I actually prefer the current Blue Jays lettering over the old one.

When describing garments, I don’t throw around the word “beautiful” all that often, but these Toronto Blue Jays uniforms are exactly that: beautiful.

My only issue with the current Blue Jays uniforms is the absence of some sort of a primary letter in the logo. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Blue Jays are now the only team in Major League Baseball that do not feature a letter in one of their cap logos at all.


3.) 1981-1988 Away Powder Blue Uniform



Now this is what I would call "retro". These are the true throwback Toronto Blue Jays jerseys; they're the uniforms which most will remember from the 80's and the days back at old Exhibition Stadium.

A lot of people have a love/hate relationship with the powder blues, but I have to say they’re quite eye-catching. For me, the white panel cap is what makes the whole look.

Another thing I’ll remember about this uniform is the absence of the belt, but rather it’s an elastic waistband pant. This was also the first and last time the Blue Jays donned a pullover-style jersey.


4.) 1989-1996 Away Grey Uniform



Ordinarily, road greys are quite mundane uniforms, but the somehow Blue Jays managed to make these road greys look quite respectable. There is a bit of history to this uniform as well, as the Blue Jays won their first World Series sporting their away greys in 1992.

Also of note, 1989 was the first year the Toronto Blue Jays debuted their fully blue caps on these away greys. Prior to that, the Blue Jays only sported white panel caps.


5.) 1997-2000 Home White Uniform



Number five on the list is a pretty unassuming set, but still a very respectable uniform in the Blue Jays history.

The 1997-2000 home whites were the first introduction of the player's number on the front of the uniform, and I’m kind of surprised the Blue Jays didn't attempt that earlier and that they haven’t used it since.

The block letter font was pretty apropos for the time in the late 90’s, and the red, blue and light blue piping looks pretty decent. The only knock on this set I can think of is the somewhat underwhelming cap logo ... but at least it’s not the T-Bird.


Top 5 Worst Blue Jays Uniforms

1.) 2006 Special Event Uniform (Canada Day)



Want to know how to make an unappealing uniform in the first place even worse? How about shoehorning any semblance of red onto the jersey in celebration of Canada Day?

Out of all the uniforms I’ve seen, this one is the most blatant cash grab with the least amount of effort put forth to make an original design. Plain and simple, it’s ugly and uninspired.

The only saving grace of this set is that it only ever saw the light of day for one single game, on Canada Day in 2006. The uniform had everything going against it with the mid-2000’s uniform set, and somehow managed to make it even worse.

Chris also pointed out to me that the Blue Jays actually recycled the "Canada" and numbers on the back of the uniform from the 1997-2000 blue alternate uniform (save for the blue split).

Throw a Canada flag on the sleeve and all-red lettering on the back of the uniform for good measure, and you have what is absolutely the worst uniform in Toronto Blue Jays history.


2.) 2001-2002 Home Alternate Uniform



There are so many things wrong with this set. First of all, the vest-style jersey is probably an era of the late 90’s/early 2000’s the most teams would rather forget. And there’s something about the blue sleeves with the white torso that’s visually off-putting.

Secondly, there are two completely different Blue Jays logos on the very same uniform. That’s a huge no-no in the baseball uniform business, and of course the critically panned T-Bird was one of the logos featured on the front of the uniform.

The cherry on top is the blue piping on the front panels of the uniform to tie it all together, albeit quite horribly. Not to mention, this set had not one, not two, but three Blue Jays logos combined on the jersey and cap. Complete logo overkill, if you ask me.

You may be wondering how this particular uniform was declared the second worst Blue Jays uniform while a similar iteration made the top five best uniforms. While the designs are admittedly similar, the vest-style uniform and two different logos are inexcusable.


3.) 1997 Special Event Uniform (Canada Day)



I have nothing against patriotism, but sometimes it’s better off to just wear the regular uniform rather than attempt to create some sort of special jersey for special occasions like Canada Day.

There’s a lot of different colours going on here, and it’s almost too much for the senses. You would think red and blue would be complimentary colours here, but they just clash way too much. And the "ketchup red" was just a poor overall choice to make front and centre.


4.) 2004-2007 Grey Road Uniform



Typically, road greys aren’t designed to be visually flashy anyway (which could detract from the home team, right?), but at the very least they should be legible.

This Blue Jays uniform is not; the “Toronto” on the front just reinforces the horrible font choice, and the cap itself became dated within a few years.

Also, the grey-on-grey lettering and number on the back of the uniform is a huge faux pas, and just makes the reverse of the uniform look completely washed out.

The crucial mistake the Blue Jays made (and many teams of that era as well) was that in by attempting to go ultra-modern with their primary logo, ironically it became outdated very quickly.

In retrospect, it looks more like something someone in the 80’s would craft up trying to envision what the year 2014 would look like.


5.) 2004-2005 Home White Uniform



While this entire set is lacking in the style department, the greatest injustice of all is the grey cap. It’s no coincidence that not a single team in Major League Baseball has grey as their primary cap colour.

I can see what they were trying to do here by working the grey in the shadowing on the “Jays” to the cap and the name and number on the back ... but it just doesn’t work.

Even Alex Anthopoulos himself referred to this era of Blue Jays uniforms as "ugly and embarrassing". One of my big qualms with this era of the Blue Jays uniform is nowhere does it say “Blue Jays”, or really have any sort of blue in the uniform at all.

Looking at the uniforms, you’d think the Toronto Blue Jays were trying to shorten their name to just the “Toronto Jays” ... which Chris says was a serious consideration during the second half of the 2003 Blue Jays season prior to the 2004 rebrand.

Many thanks to Chris Creamer from SportsLogos.net for some assistance with this post, and of course for the images of all the Toronto Blue Jays Uniforms. Check out SportsLogo.net to check out the extensive Blue Jays uniform database.

Feature image courtesy of Adam Finley

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