All Literary Like

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Jeff Blair talking at the book launch for Full Count

Sometimes having a girlfriend who makes zero money interning at a publishing house where she’s forced to do a 1.5 hour commute there and back leaving you alone, eating supper at 8 and doing pretty much all the housework can have its perks.

Such as it was tonight when I got the chance to go to the book launch for Jeff Blair’s Full Count. The event was at Opera Bob’s and was packed with mostly literary types but a few ball fans like myself.

Nothing earth shattering at the event. Jack Morris was there and seemed friendlier than maybe I imagined he’d be. He has that big booming personality and seemed to feed off being a big shot former ball player.

Managed to talk to Blair a bit, but mostly just about what it takes to get into the kind of baseball writing where, you know, you make money and stuff. Wanted to ask him his thoughts on the Jays and what not, but I saw too many people try to become instant best buds with the local celebrities and didn’t want to be that douchebag.

And queue…

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Some guy being way too interested in what Dirk Hayhurst is saying.

Dirk’s kind of a rock solid guy. When we got there he was sitting at a table shooting the shit with a couple of guys. We couldn’t tell for sure if it was him. Then he walked around a bit and didn’t have that same presence Morris had. Dirk seemed, not shy, but just like he didn’t like being in a crowd and sort of one of the centres of attention.

And though I wanted to talk to him, that vibe kept me from it. I’m sure he would have been friendly, but I almost wanted to help him orchestrate an escape. I think he did check out my girlfriend…which….awesome!

Anyway, got the book signed and am looking forward to giving it a read.

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On underperforming

Why do I think the Jays will get better, like a lot better?

Pretty much everybody is due to improve. The following is a list of player who have got on base at or above their career averages so far:

Jose Reyes (injured)

Adam Lind (at the cost of anything resembling power)

Munenori Kawasaki (his career includes this year, and 65 games last year)

That’s it. And it includes everyone who has had a plate appearance for the Jays, not just starters.

Oh, and every starting pitcher has an xFIP at or better than their career average. I don’t know, that seems unsustainable to me.

The fact that essentially everyone is on a cold streak at the same time is bad enough luck. You can usually string things along is one or two guys are struggling. If a pitcher or two are off you still pull out a few wins with good offensive games.

But when everyone is struggling you simply can’t. And that’s when everything gets magnified. Every little play ­­– an error, key strikeout, an RA Dickey to Lyle-fucking-Overbay – suddenly has that much more weight.

Now sure, some of the players are older and shouldn’t be expected to play at their career averages. But really, the only players in that situation are Henry Blanco, Mark Derosa and Mark Buerhle. I could live with that.

Not everyone struggling.

I think what the worry is, is that with everyone being cold right now you’re going to see everyone get hot at the same time, have a month where they go 22-5 and win by 10 each game, and then everything stables out and you end up with an 85 win team.

Yeah, they need to start winning soon. I would almost guarantee they’re going to go on a run (I’m a cautious man so that’s pretty big for me). What I don’t know is when that will be, and if it will be good enough to offset what has happened so far.

Been a while…

Anything happening with the Jays these days?

To offset the risk of yet another blog of mine disappearing into the ether, I should probably make sure to post something this weekend. Truth is, it’s been pretty disheartening to follow the Jays lately.

I told a guy at work last week that I thought they were poised to go on a run. Apparently it was a run of shitty play and shittier luck. This was right after the 8-4 win over the Yankees. They’ve gone 1-5 since.

And I say shittier luck in all seriousness. Yes, they haven’t been very good this year. A sputtering offence, a pitching staff that hasn’t done enough, and an alarmingly poor defence have all combined to this poor start.

But come-fucking-on now. Hard luck losses have been the thing for the Jays this year. Nine games have been lost by one or two runs, many of the late-inning variety.  A couple of those games go the other way and things are looking a lot better.

And that’s the thing. When the team is still a good week away from being in decent shape we can’t go out and lose our minds. Finish the Yankees series with a win, get an off day on Monday and then go, say, 5-1 again the BoSox and Mariners and ohmigod they’re close to .500. Not ideal but definitely looks a lot better.

May’s going to be a big month for the team. Nineteen games against AL East opponents. That seems to have a lot of people freaking out. I think it’s a great opportunity. Toronto manages to turn it around and has a good month and it not only brings them up, it brings the rest of the division down.

And sweet Jesus, what’s going on with the AL East? Pretty much the exact opposite of what most people were expecting. Do we really think all five teams are going to continue like this? The Jays and Rays are going to go on a run, and there’s no way Boston continues this run.

Maybe it starts today. Maybe the Jays start winning and everything goes up from here on in.

Maybe.

I hope.

Right?

Thoughts on my first live game of the year

ImageThe best $11 beer I’ve had in a while.

So that was a bit of a letdown eh?

The boo birds were out in full force for the return of Lower Jaw-n Farrell and his crew of Massholes. I was there, too, taking in my first live game of the season. Sitting in section 113 there were a few interesting things I noticed. Among them:

  • I think the Jays win that game under different circumstances. First, the bench is just too damn short. I’m sure Bautista could have pinch hit late in the game, but with only three guys (one being Joey Bats) on the bench there weren’t many ways to get him in to bat and keep him from playing the field. Also, bullpen management was suspect. I like what I saw from those guys, for the most part – not entirely, Cecil was suspect even though he was throwing harder and Jeffress was iffy – but I would have thrown Santos in in the ninth. I think the difference between one and two runs is huge in the ninth. Tying run is always up to bat for the closer.
  • Bonifacio looked brutal. Not giving up on him by any means, and he’s the kind of player I think could be really fun to watch and could be quite useful. But holy shit he did not have a good game.
  • Jose Reyes is just great. Like, really great. Like I think I have a serious man-crush on him. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a position player as exciting to watch live as he is. Power, speed, and just enough crazy on the basepaths to be fun. Trying to stretch that double into a triple was kind of annoying but whatever. As long as he can walk that fine line and not turn an idiot on the bases he’s going to be fun to watch. And hey, Farrell’s in the other dugout now, so we should be fine there.
  • I heard some things about the fans being dicks, kind of like an opening day crowd. Sure, there was a lot of anger for Farrel. And the paper airplanes got fucking annoying quickly. But, at least for the section I was in, the crowd seemed pretty solid. Had a bunch of guys around me who know how to drink enough to be fun, but not so much where they become douchebags. One idiot a few rows in front kept trying to start the wave, but that’s to be expected. There was one Sox fan in my row, and there was some good-natured ribbing with the guy, but nothing over the top. And that’s the other thing. I’ve sat in that area, along the first base line, a few times when the Jays played the Yanks or Red Sox. And a lot of those times I’d be surrounded by fans of those teams. It was nice to see just about everyone around me wearing Blue Jays gear and/or cheering for the home squad.

All and all it was a fun night. Don’t like the Jays onlly having one win so far, but there’s a lot I see that I like and think it’s only a matter of time before they go on a bit of a run.