Fell asleep after dinner watching last night’s Jays game against the Yankees. Something woke me in the 8th after a two inning nap…likely the ‘tappa-tappa-tappa’ of the final nail being hammered into the coffin of the Blue Jays 2012 season. With Jose Bautista’s wrist injured, the team’s already Calista Flockheart-thin hopes of making the post season are officially done. The lineup was already beginning to scramble for runs of late and one has to think that Bautista’s presence was the major reason once-again slumping Colby Rasmus ever got to see any decent pitches to hit. Ben Francisco starts in RF tonight in place of Joey Bats for the record. The fact that the team and it’s Sportsnet Radio are playing up the call-up of minor leaguer Anthony Gose as a silver lining and something to be excited about only shows the organizational contempt for the fans and our intelligence.
Then again, even before Jose fell to the ground like a Toronto party-goer (that is to say like someone who’d been shot), one had to feel like the Jays chances were next to none given our lack of pitching depth, and also had to feel that much of the Rogers’ owned Sportsnet crew viewed their viewers and listeners with contempt anyway. I had to give my head a shake yesterday when one of the sage TV analysts said to us, in apparent seriousness, “I think they’re (the Jays) gonna have to outscore the Yankees to beat them.” You don’t get insights like that if you actually go out to the ballpark to see the game!
Watching the Jays 11-9 win over Cleveland this past weekend reminds me that , once in a blue moon, the best trade is the trade never made. This time last season, the Jays were rumoured (probably falsely) to be in the running to acquire Colorado fireballer Ubaldo Jimenez. In the end, Cleveland gave up blue chip young prospect Drew Pomeranz and got in return a moody pitcher who this season has walked 62 in barely over 100 innings and sports a 5.09 ERA. He was the one and only Indians pitcher the Jays were able to really smack around and for once, I say good for Alex Anthopolous for notselling the farm to get a pitcher that besides one good year has always been mediocre and prone to unprecedented wildness.
We’re well past the All Star game and still, the best team in Pennsylvania is the Pittsburgh Pirates! Who saw that one coming?
Two points about that : first, right now there is no better player in baseball than the Pirates Andrew McCuthchen who is inches away from a triple crown, hitting a major league best .371 and sits second in the NL in both home runs and RBI. Second, one has to look at this season’s Phillies and be reminded of our own 1994 Blue Jays.
In ’94, the Jays were coming off their second straight World Series win and brought back largely the same roster. I, and most others in these parts thought a “threepeat” was imminent. Instead, Toronto stumbled out of the block and when that annus horribus ended with the infamous strike, they sat at a dismal 55-60, way out of any playoff hope had their been any playoffs that season.
Joe Carter played well that year, Paul Molitor in his second year with the team hit a sparkling .341 and Roberto Alomar still moved towards his eventual hall of fame standing. But injuries occurred, infighting followed , reigning batting champion John Olerud saw his average drop off almost 70 points, the once dazzling Juan Guzman lost something off his control and velocity and walked 76 in 147 innings and saw his ERA balloon to 5.68; Dave Stewart’s career was over but he refused to admit it and the once unhittable bullpen lost both Duane Ward and Tom Henke and was anchored by (bonus points if you remember this!) Darren Hall. The Jays rebounded to averageness the following year and were quickly telling us in the fanbase that the team would be contending again within five years. Here we sit, 18 years later , the Jays haven’t made the playoffs and Jays exec Paul Godfrey told media earlier this year that the jays would contend- within five years.
The Phillies this year came in after winning their division for five years in a row,heavily favoured to make it to the World Series this year. But someone forgot to tell the Nationals and other teams in the NL East, ace Roy Halladay got injured and pitched like merely a jack before going down , Cliff Lee (also known as the richest pitcher in the game) is sitting one win ahead of his catcher , Ryan Howard took 9 months to come back from a leg injury and aging Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins looked like shadows of their former All Star selves. The trade deadline looms and the Phils look to be sellers, not buyers and think about rebuilding for the future. Perhaps five years…
The message in it is clear. Dynasties, in baseball like in real life, have a lifespan. In baseball, they usually seem to be no more than five years. Therefore fans should enjoy them when they find themselves in their midst and owners should pull any strings at their disposal to make the most of it when they have a chance. Are you listening Nolan Ryan? Your Rangers should still win it all this season. But with Josh Hamilton wanting albert Pujols money and probably a ticket out of Lone Star , Michael Young starting to fade and cross country, the Angels starting to see Pujols be Pujols and Mike Trout after two months in the bigs being the best player in the league already, next year will be too late. If they don’t add a Greinke or Dempster to the rotation or an Upton or maybe Willingham to hit; they’re treating the Texas fans with the same respect that a broadcaster telling fans they have to outscore the opponent to win is.