First off, a huge thank you to Melissa and Jim who thought of me when they needed someone to take their second ticket to tonight’s State of the Franchise address. I am deeply honoured and pleased that I could come through for you when times were dire. Melissa, you would have had a great time if you had the opportunity to go. This post is for you.
Jim and I arrived not really knowing what to expect, but it got off to a great start when a waiter walked by and dished out some beverages for our enjoyment. A lot of catering stalls had cute apperatifs based on ballpark food. Pizza Nova was out in force. The fish tacos were particularly good.
The field was naked. It was weird to see like that. Looking at it without the turf I could pick out many engineering details that would prevent installation of grass for a playing surface… I filed that away for later…
We picked our seats a mere 15 minutes in advance and could pretty much reach out and touch Buck Martinez. He said hello to me as he took the stage! It was pretty awesome.
The talk itself wasn’t particularly informative in terms of what to expect from this year:
Jim and I made our way out of the masses leaving their seats, helped ourselves to some more fish tacos, and debriefed for a bit. Then John Gibbons walked by. He seemed a bit busy getting somewhere to pause to take photos for EVERYONE, so Jim and I let that opportunity go. Don’t want to be “that guy”.
Upon exiting, we found Paul Beeston taking all comers! Beverage in hand, he was very plainly discussing contracts, pitcher’s performances, management strategies, Roger’s commitment levels, signed a baseball for an adorable child, and…. He shook my hand. What do you ask a guy like Paul Beeston? All the questions kind of disappeared in that instant. I rallied quickly though, and reverted to what I know — Engineering.
“So… Paul… Is this grass on the field thing in 2018 strictly for keeping the Argos and motocross people happy, or are there still technical issues to be resolved here…? If the argos found a new home tomorrow, could the process be sped up…?”
He launched into a fairly elaborate technical discussion of what would be required to install the regular playing field. Presently the implications are being reviewed by the University of Guelph, but one of the biggest issues right now, has to do with the air currents within the building. I had no idea! So the design work for this is still in progress.
Jim very graciously allowed me to pose for a picture with Mr. Beeston, and before I was able to reciprocate, Paul had already moved on. Which is understandable, he’s a busy guy (SORRY JIM).
We also saw an epic line-up to meet with Alex Anthopoulos, going out the door however the sum total of what I would have to say to him would be: “I’m a huge fan, don’t succumb to the pressure, you’re doing a great job.”
Looks like the sluggish start to the offseason has ended at the non-tender deadline, with several teams making relatively major moves… I doubt I’m going to go into too much detail:
So, pretty much business as usual.
The Blue Jays made a deal of their own, opting to sign Dioner Navarro at a reasonable price and non-tendering previous glorious harbinger of the master farm system J.P. Arencibia. We’ve had plenty of experience waiting for a player to ‘arrive’ to his full potential, but our noble GM decided it wasn’t worth the wait. I’m inclined to agree.
Arencibia was a black hole in the line-up, slashing a miserable .194/.227/.365 in 138 games as Toronto’s primary backstop. He also led the majors in passed balls and errors commited as a Catcher.
Navarro appears to be a fairly significant upgrade on 2013 Arencibia, slashing .300/.365/.492 in 89 games for the Cubs last year. This is well above his career slash line of .251/.313/.371, but even that is a significant improvement.
Navarro won’t exactly turn heads with his hitting or even his defensive ability, but he’s a relatively consistent veteran, so at least you know what you’re going to get, with the possible exception of the number of games played, which should be interesting to watch. Expect more playing time for Josh Thole, or whoever will be back-up behind Navarro this year.
I’m not exactly teary eyed about Arencibia’s departure, not in the same way I was with Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells, and other players who had massive potential and were not performing up to the standard billed for them. There are many reasons, and I happen to love lists:
Regardless of what happens, I wish the guy well. I hope he does prove all of the critics wrong, and proceeds to have a long and successful career in baseball, but sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can bounce back up…
I can start writing again… Exhale sharply through the mouth, and proceed.
I was having issues writing about this past season, because frankly, there was a lot to disseminate. The Jays managed to put together a very disappointing season (to say the least), and generally speaking it was very, VERY hard to watch. I even had trouble listening to the radio, because I always knew we were an error or homerun away from losing the ballgame.
I liken it to the end of the Leafs 2012/13 season. In the same way you could just TELL in the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period that the Leafs would find a way to expedite the start of their golf season, you could tell that the Jays would find a way to lose the ballgame.
I got a whole lot more enjoyment out of watching the ALCS and the NLCS than the World Series:
The Wacha / Kershaw duels were second to none. Scherzer and Verlander did a hell of a job to keep the Tigers in it, but in the end Prince Fielder disappeared. As I understood it, he was supposed to be the insurance for Victor Martinez being missing for a season who in turn provided protection for Cabrera. But when Cabrera got hurt and Fielder disappeared, just about every offensive weapon pretty well keeled over for Detroit. Which was most unfortunate, because it spoiled some of the best pitching I have ever seen in the post season.
Which brings me to the Sox… What on earth happened here? From last in the AL East to first place? How…? what? I… uhh… jeeze. I can’t say I like this team, AT ALL. There are maybe 2-3 motivations that could have spurred this kind of turn-around (in my mind):
In the end, I’m leaning towards #3, which makes me sad. Farrell commented that their players have a “Civic responsibility”, that I believe should be true of ANY player in a uniform… I’ll probably write more about this at another time…
The Cardinals hadn’t exactly won my heart over either, because frankly every time I heard about “The Cardinal Way”, I wanted to throw up. I was tired of hearing about how their team was built “the right way”. You could make the case for MANY teams having “the right way”, which leads me to believe there is no “right way”. Heck, the Yankees have effectively bought 27 some odd titles, is that “THE RIGHT WAY” too? Results should speak for themselves, so why all the piousness?
Ultimately, the Cardinals were a very resilient team that seemed to run out of gas in the final stretch; most of their grittiness had worn off objecting to Puig’s antics, apparently.
Anyways, congrats to Boston. Let the off season begin!
How often do you get to see brothers showing down in a context like this? Atlanta has brothers batting 3/4 in their line-up, and the White Sox have a pitcher / utility man combo on their squad, but it’s rare that brothers play against each other.
Colby Rasmus, the older brother at 26, faced off against his younger brother Cory (25 years old), and laced a ball into the left field corner for a double.
I thought this was a pretty amazing accomplishment in itself (having a brotherly showdown, that is), when I realized that this was Colby’s 4th hit all year to left field, and this was no bloop-single either. Typically he’s a pretty pull-happy hitter. He must have really, REALLY wanted to show up his little bro.
I wonder if they went out for beers after…?
From what I gather, I’m not the only one who feels this way. He battles for every at bat, he doesn’t gripe with the umpires, he has an athletic ability at shortstop that probably gives the injured Reyes a run for his money, and he’s leaving quite the impact on the team in general.
A AAA Buffalo call-up bat lead-off for us last night. How often does that happen?
And woe betide opposing teams once Brett Lawrie’s training in the ways of the samurai is completed…
Cut J.P. some slack. He had 3 passed balls, and 1 wild pitch, which probably led directly to 2 of the 4 runs that R.A. Dickey coughed up on opening night.
I think this .GIF shows demonstrates how difficult this pitch is to catch. Furthermore, look how TERRIFIED Mike Nickeas is.
J.P. stood his ground in there, and I think that’s a win.