Low Strikes and Blue Balls

You can’t fix what’s broken...but maybe you can sell it?

 

This is an age old philosophy that the Toronto Blue Jays needed to adapt to a month ago.

 

The Jays are neck deep in a dog fight that they have sent a kitten to. They simply don’t have the pieces that can compete with the heavyweight bout that the AL East has turned into.

 

The Yankee’s have Aaron Judge, who led the MLB in dingers while making less than a million bucks, and acquired Giancarlo Stanton who finished second (that one they paid for...25 Million a year...eat your heart out Jose Bautista) and the Red Sox inked JD Martinez (23.75 Million). The Jays just  don’t have the firepower they used too.

 

Edwin Encarnacion is swinging pine in Cleveland, Bautista is trying to stay relevant in the Dominican, and everyone else who used to be a threat in the Blue Jays line up is just trying to stay healthy...cough cough... Tulo, Travis, Martin…

 

The sad realization for Toronto is that it’s time to call it the good ol’ college try that it was. They slugged themselves to two consecutive ALCS matchups but that is as far as they would make it. And now with the American League looking like the power house it usually is, it’s time to rebuild.

 

Josh Donaldson is, without question, one of the best players to man the hot corner all across the Major Leagues, but it is wasted profits when this team won’t do better than third place in their division. They have an extremely solid prospect in Vlad Guerrero Jr. to take over third base in his absence and Bo Bichette is a season or two away from jumping in to playing the turn at shortstop.

 

The Jays need to start looking ahead rather than living in the past and start giving these guys max minutes. There will be losses...but don’t worry, Jays fans are used to it.

 

The only thing Toronto has working is the starting rotation and the bullpen, and they’ve already done a hot mess of handling those contracts.

 

Marcus Stroman was shorted 400K just to see Jaime Garcia get handed a Juicy 8 Million dollar contract (about 4 Mil higher than his...Stroman also had the fourth best ERA in the AL last season) Aaron Sanchez and his agent are already on bad terms with the Jays from last season and himself and his agent are already on to bigger and more winning things.

 

The only thing the Jays have left to do is work backwards from the bullpen. Roberto Osuna seems to be the only thing Mark Shapiro seems interested in, besides renovating the Rogers Centre. So get Osuna a solid set up man, a seventh inning guy, shop Donaldson, fix the contracts with the starters, and let’s try again when the Red Sox and Yankees have to fill their bank accounts in about three years (hopefully).

 

See ya in the 500’s sports fans.

 

That One Day in Buffalo

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It all started with a hat. I remember growing up in my little house on MacDonald Drive in Aurora. It was simple; I didn’t follow hockey, I could care less about basketball (because I was awful at it), and my only interest was a struggling Blue Jays team that spent its days in the basement of the AL East.  But I’ll never forget my older brother Kevin and his Oakland Raiders hat. He was a huge football fan, and I looked up to him so much that I wanted to be a huge football fan too. The problem? I needed a team. So I thought...why not start with a hat?

 

I remember being in the local sports store and I was immediately drawn to the big green and yellow “G” of the Green Bay Packers. I had never heard of Ahman Green, Donald Driver was some guy I associated with a duck, and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was just a guy with a cool name. Oh, and this Brett Favre guy was pretty good too...Next thing you know I am Green Bay’s biggest fan. Every year for Christmas and Birthdays if it wasn’t a Jersey, it was a pillow or Packers road sign I could hang in my room. I became a Packers Fanatic...and it all started with a hat.

 

I carried this trend through most of grade school and a little bit into high school, but that is when every other sport caught my attention; I’ll never forget when I first fell in love with the Leafs after they lost their first 11 games of the season...little did I know. But with baseball, hockey, and basketball taking all of my attention, football fell by the wayside. All those players I had spent years learning meticulous stats and yearning for playoffs dropped off the radar. And the Favre guy played for some team called the Jets. I’d spend high school watching the Superbowl at friends houses, picking teams to win based on nothing more than the colour of their jerseys. And then a dear friend introduced me to something that would change my life forever...Fantasy Football.

 

My first season was atrocious, I started paying attention to the draft that year and heard this guy Andrew Luck might be pretty good, and since he went in the first round in real life, why wouldn’t he in fantasy? I quickly learned the answer.  I’m pretty sure I only won one or two games so I promptly erased that season from my memory. I vowed I would never have such a dismal season again, and thus the research began. I started watching every game, tracking every player, knowing every team’s red zone tendency. I put in some serious time into this game...and it all started with a hat.

 

But naturally, when you start paying this much attention to a sport, people will eventually ask you who your team is. I didn’t have one. I was more than happy watching the game just for the sake of the game (and my fantasy team) but people kept asking. I decided I didn’t want to turn back to the Packers, all my favourite players had left and there was some guy Aaron something throwing the football now. In strolls in my good friend Conny. Conrad is one of the biggest Patriots fans I ever met in my life. Scratch that. He’s the biggest fan of anything I have ever met. His passion was contagious, and so it was decided. I’m gonna cheer for the team that everyone would label me a bandwagoner. But let them chirp, because I bet you can guess what I did next...I went out and got a hat.

 

For the next few years, I would follow this sport vehemently. And all of a sudden a new problem arose...how many football games have you been to?

 

The answer? None.

 

Until that one day in Buffalo.

 

I always promised myself that my first NFL experience wouldn’t be at New Era Field (formerly Ralph Wilson Stadium). What a mistake. A few weeks ago I made the trip to Orchard Park and it was everything. Seeing the field with my own eyes, the players with such regality. It was everything I had always been waiting for...and to think...it all started with a hat.

The Eagles could...go...all...the...waaaayyyy

 

The Philadelphia Eagles own top spot in the NFL power rankings. And they deserve it.

 

Philadelphia boasts the top offence in the NFL this season. The only thing that was missing? A bell-cow running back. The Eagles addressed that issue by sending Miami a 4th round pick to acquire Jay Ajayi. After a career year for Ajayi last year in Miami, the running back received no help from his offensive line this season. His struggles saw him shipped to the Eagles for practically nothing. He didn’t find the end zone once this season with the Dolphins but wasted no time getting a score in his first game with the Eagles.

Ajayi was thrust from a team shooting for a draft pick, to a team that is destined for the postseason. He joins an elite cast of supporting players. Carson Wentz leads the NFL with 23 touchdowns backed up by an impressive 104.1 Quarterback rating in just his second season in the league.  The Eagles gave Wentz another target in the flats when they signed Alshon Jeffery to a one year, 14 million dollar contract in the offseason. And Zach Ertz continues to be Wentz’ go to in the red zone as he leads the NFL with 6 red zone passing touchdowns.

But with all of these weapons at the Eagles disposal, it would all be for not if it wasn’t for the best-run defence in the NFL. Through nine games this season the Eagles have only had to defend against the run 166 times. Now granted, the Eagles are averaging 31.4 points a game this season, so the teams they face are typically trying to play catch up.  But even when teams do try to run against the Eagles, they don’t have much success. The Eagles are top five in the league allowing an average of just 3.6 yards per carry against their opponents.  

With the Eagles heading into their bye this week, they can start to focus on their final 7 games of the season. With their only real competition in the NFC East coming from the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott’s looming suspension should seal the deal and the Eagles can coast to the playoffs. Look forward to week 14 as the Eagles will clash with the high flying offense of the LA Rams.

It Means No Worries...Pt.2

Now before people come to my front door with pitchforks and torches, let me just start by saying, I love Josh Donaldson. The guy has been a spectacular addition to the Jays that was major upgrade on both defence and offence. The amount of pride I felt, seeing a guy who plays for my team, take home the 2015 AL MVP is one of my more memorable moments as a sports fan. I have no doubt in my mind that the bringer of rain is a massive reason the Jays were able to make it to the ALCS in back to back years. I’d even go as far to say that he’s the best guy to play on the corner the Jays have ever had...sorry Kelly Gruber.

 

But another main reason the Jays had so much success the past few years, was Donaldson’s supporting cast. The Jays made a number a big trades in years past and brought in a series of aging superstars. Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Mark Buehrle and RA Dickey to name a few. Eddie left for Cleveland, RA Dickey now plays in Atlanta, Buehrle retired, and Martin and Tulo struggle on a weekly basis to stay healthy. The value these guys once had is quickly diminishing and the return we could get in a trade is low. The exception? Josh Donaldson.

 

Josh Donaldson is the only guy on this roster who is still bringing in a consistent performance every day. The guy had an unreal second half of the season including stretch where he had 12 homers in the month of August. The return we could get right now from a team who’s in need for an all star on the hot corner is massive.  In a perfect world I’d love to ship him off to Cleveland for Andrew Miller, but we gotta be realistic here.

 

In terms of pitching, you usually have to wait a few years to find out if the guy has the stuff or not. And usually the team wants that guy to be a starter first. Fair enough. So do I think the Jays should sell Donaldson (aka the farm) for a guy in his late 20’s to fill the 8th inning spot?

 

No.

 

This is where you’re gonna hate me Jays fans. We need to accept the fact that Boston and the Yankees are gonna take the division for the next couple years. So what do we do? We sell Donaldson to the highest bidder and get as many. Humanly possible. Dirt Cheap. Down to earth prospects that we possibly can. And if a team only wants to sell a few decent arms? We take some utility guys and we flip em for more.  We ship out any decent shot we have at winning the division and we SUCK for the next three years. And then? We take all these arms we’ve acquired, and we start winning low scoring ball games. And I bet that sounds foreign.

 

It should. The last few years, these Blue Jays either win by five or we lose by one. It was the most frustrating thing. But the only thing the Jays couldn’t figure out...was good pitching. Now, it should be our turn. We get the artillery.  We fill the pen. We set up our closer, and we start winning ball games. Games in the regular season, games in October. Heck...we win the last game of the season.

It Means "No Worries..."

From a small bedroom, with a couple of jerseys hanging behind me, to a podcast, to these words you’re reading.  I am back sports fans and more knowledgeable than ever. If I thought sports consumed me before I was way off because I am living it now. School has taken over my life and I couldn’t be happier.

 

But enough about me. Let’s talk shop sports fans, it’s probably why you’re here anyway. I want to make my first blog entry about my first love in sports. Baseball. But more specifically, the Blue Jays. I’ve followed the Jays through highs and lows, with a little extra emphasis on the latter. This team has had its fair share of down seasons. We watched, as fan favourites Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells left the Six to finish their careers elsewhere. We watched as promising future talent strolled in and let us down, a la Ricky Romero. But unfortunately for us Jays fans. We’re back to wishful thinking.

 

Over the past 4 years, I’ve watched the Jays trade away every inch of future that we could, just to get an edge in pitching or long ball hitters. And you know what? It worked. The Jays just made it to the ALCS in back to back seasons which for a city like San Diego sounds nearly impossible. But like any sports-fueled city, we want more. No...we need more.  I used to watch in awe as teams would fire their head coach after they would consistently make the playoffs, and would sit and think..how greedy. Now I get it.  If you lose the last game of the season. Nobody Cares.  Now Torontonians have a taste of winning culture and we want more.

 

Sadly, we gotta go back to square one. But we’re lucky. We have a starting spot. I often wonder where the best place to start rebuilding a baseball team would be. The starting rotation? The outfield? The DH? Luckily for Toronto, the answer lies with the 22-year-old closing phenom. The young pitcher started out strong in Toronto’s bullpen, and wasn’t asked to step in the closer role...he just did.  And that’s where we begin. You look at the teams that knocked us out of the playoffs and they both had one thing in common. Outstanding bullpens. Granted they had a lot of other things going for them. But bullpens was a big one. Which most Jays fans would agree has been the Blue Jays biggest weak spot.  The Jays start by adding an 8th inning guy, Then a 7th and so on, eventually you’ve got the second half of the game locked down. Get the lead early and let the shutdown crew do the rest.

I’ll finish by answering one question which should be on everyone’s mind. How do we acquire more artillery for the bullpen? Two Words. Josh Donaldson.

 

To be continued...