I’m actually surprised I don’t write about the Jays more. I mean, they’re the only team in the city I live in that I truly care about on a day-to-day basis, and god forbid we actually get over .500 at some point this season, there’s still some excitement to be had for the summer and #LoveThisTeam tweets to be sent in October.
Of course, things look a little dire. As I’m writing this, the Jays are on a four-game winning streak, yet still sit five games below .500, last place in their division, and a playoff probability percentage in the single digits.
And still, when you care about a team, when wins and losses of those teams actually affect you, there’s always upside to things, even in the worst of times. I mean, even Astros fans can get excited about what’s to come.
That’s baseball anyways, as much as any other sport, there’s this simultaneous view of both the present and the future. Sure, the success of your big league club matters, especially in a season like this for Toronto after that wonderful, yet so distant off-season of celebration. But you’re always looking at the results of your farm club, tracking certain prospects — provided they exist — and looking at who’s next to fill out the depth chart.
I have to admit, those last few paragraphs actually have nothing to do with anything that came before it, or what will come after now. I’ve decided to do a upside/ downside column on the Jays every so often, whenever I feel like it. So here’s June’s edition. Format is pretty self explanatory, if it’s not, I’m sorry you didn’t get it.
Upside: Adam Lind’s walk-up music is “Scream & Shout”. I don’t think people understand the impact of Lind’s walk-up music has had on me. First, it helped me discover the remix with Diddy. Any remix with Diddy talking a bunch of random shit at the start of a song is a great song in my mind. Second, I get all excited whenever I’m at a Jays game and Lind comes up, because I now love this intro — second only to Melky Cabrera walking up to “The Motto” instrumental. And also because, per Mike Wilner, since May 11, Lind is hitting .402/.430/.643. It’s been several shitty years since Lind and the now departed Aaron Hill lit it up in the middle of the order. Especially on days when you see Arencibia, Izturis, Bonifacio and Kawasaki come up at the bottom of the order, it’s nice to feel good about the Cabrera-Bautista-Encarnacion-Lind at the top.
Downside: J.P. Arencibia’s terrible numbers, and his general “rebuke” of them on social media and interviews. You should probably read Andrew Stoeten’s write-up of Arencibia’s terribleness over at Drunk Jays Fans, but the thing that bothers me more is how he’s reacting to all the criticism. The other night, he hit a home run in a win over Texas, then took to Twitter after and wrote this, making fun of the fact that he struck out again in his last at-bat. Now, I’m okay with players being confident, even arrogant. But Arencibia’s reactions strike me as ignorant of the fact that all the useful baseball metrics rate him as a really shitty player. In a radio interview I heard the next day, he basically said that people who criticize him aren’t “baseball people” and he plays for the guys in the clubhouse and no one wants it more than him. Sure, you want it really bad. I’m sure all the guys do. Yet, there are serious flaws that I’m not sure you’re addressing at the plate, because you’re being so defensive about everything. Miss you, Travis D’Arnaud.
Upside: It’s like we’re acquiring Reyes, Morrow and Lawrie before the trade deadline. I had huge expectations for Morrow going into this season. It’s not too late. Like I tell myself everyday about this team, it’s not too late for everything.
Downside: The Biogenesis thing. In what is shaping up to be the biggest PED scandal ever (don’t we hear this every three years? Reminder: we’re still in the steroids era, don’t let anyone fool you), there’s still a chance that Melky Cabrera — previously suspended — will be punished again. Wouldn’t that be just great timing. The Jays get on a bit of a roll, and then, here we go again.
Upside: What a fucking bullpen.
Downside: The schedule, or, we play in the AL East. Obviously, the Jays will need to go streaking at some point. 7 out of 10. 12 out of 15. Those kind of streaks. But when you look at the schedule (and realize we only get the Astros for two series), it’s going to take some very good baseball against very good teams for an extended stretch to get back in the race. Oh, and we haven’t swept a three game series all year. So, yeah.
Upside: Brett Cecil is a machine. Again, what a fucking bullpen.
Downside: is the only word to describe it when Bonifacio tries to lay down a bunt in any situation.
Downside: It’s mid-June and Josh Johnson still doesn’t have a win in a Jays uniform. And to think some experts picked him for the Cy Young. I was so ready to believe.
Sidenote, part 1: I’m just going to slip this in here. Completely unrelated, but friend of the blog Mike Spry of The Barnstormer was on a MTV segment called “30 Seconds of Fame” where sports writers and bloggers are invited to debate topics. Spry killed it. I counted, he gave zero fucks during the whole thing, in a good way.
Upside: I found a better song to use than Stadium Love. If you’re from Toronto, this needs no explanation. If not, well, the “theme song” for the team’s promos this year has been “Stadium Love” by Metric, a band founded in Toronto. You can watch the promo video here. Anyways, this was kind of cool when the season started, and stopped being cool when Jose Reyes went down and the team slumped their way to a 10-21 start. But now, with things possibly — please let it be possible — looking up, I think it’s time for a mid-season re-brand. I found the perfect song: The Postal Service - Brand New Colony. Especially the part when Ben Gibbard just wails “everything will change, will change”. That should be the Jays slogan, no? It’s a free idea, take it, Jays.
Sidenote, part 2: I went to the 18 inning game against the Rangers a few weeks ago. My girlfriend was with me, well, for the first 9 innings. The Rangers scored two in the ninth to tie it, and she decided to walk home (we live close). And so, in extras, because I’m prone to tweeting too much especially when I’m by myself in section 242 of an extra innings game, I got caught in what can only best described as Gob’s roofie circle, in which at the top of the inning when the Rangers were batting, I’d go to the charging station at the stadium to boost my phone battery. At the bottom of the inning, I’d scramble back to my seat and tweet, and then my phone would inevitably die, sending me back to the charging station. This cycle happened for three innings.
Downside: Brett Lawrie and Ryan Lochte haven’t met yet. Or at least I haven’t gotten any emails from my “Brett Lawrie meets Ryan Lochte” Google alert. I will say this as many times as it takes to make happen: Lawrie, Lochte and Rob Gronkowski reality show in South Beach would be the best thing since, well, whatever other reality show you’re watching at the moment. And a quick thought about all the talk about Lawrie’s maturity: when I was in grade 8, I used to always make my mom drive me to a very out of the way comic book store so I could buy the new Dragon Ball Z mangas that came out in Chinese. There was one time when it was snowing really hard, but I threw a fit and insisted that we go. My mom obliged but had so much trouble driving on the road that she got so upset at me after. Which made me feel bad and realize I should really think about things from a wider view. I’m pretty sure my whole life didn’t change from that experience, but that’s what Lawrie feels like to me, a young kid still waiting to see that wider view that’s required to deal with the ups and downs for being a baseball player. The fact that he’s Canadian in the only Canadian market in baseball does make the standards a little different for him, in a good way (I do feel the organization is much more lenient towards him, although the organization seems pretty lenient as a whole) and a bad way (the microscopic view on everything he does). I think he’ll figure it out, let’s just hope he starts doing more with his bat to justify all the side stuff, because side stuff becomes an entire sideshow when you aren’t very good.
Upside: Encarnacion’s bobblehead looks kind of like him.
Downside: Reyes’ figurine looks nothing like him at all.
Sidenote, part 3: Last week, Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star wrote an article about Jose Bautista’s outburst. In the second last paragraph, this sentence happens: “Even though Bautista’s anger was directed at a perceived enemy, while Lawrie’s was at a friend and teammate, the results in taking away from the focus of winning was exactly the same. Thankfully for Lawrie, Mune Kawasaki — who is Japanese — came up big. No such luck Sunday.”
Now right away, I was a little baffled by the Kawasaki line, and the awkward mention that he’s Japanese. I asked Griffin about it on Twitter, and this brief exchange ensued, and I was told that he was referencing Kawasaki’s now (in) famous post-game interview, in which he pulled out a phrase book and pronounced: “I am Japanese”.
So fair enough that from Griffin’s point of view, it was no harm done, he was referencing a joke that was made by the player itself. But out of context, which that sentence was, it just seems odd.
And just because a player is having fun about something and jokes about it, doesn’t necessarily make it right for you to say it too.
Again, I don’t want to walk around handing people red cards for being racist every time they say something. I didn’t feel like this was racist, but it just felt inappropriate, unnecessary and was stupid.
I probably overreacted a little. But whatever, we’re six games under .500, it’s my excuse for being just a tad sensitive about everything in life.
Until next time.