9:35 PM Eastern
I apologize in advance for this post being more pop culture-y than most, but I just watched a month-old episode of “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” with my six year-old (guilty pleasure, I admit, though I tend to kick its a** and that Wayne Brady is really dreamy) and then read her The Lorax before she went to sleep.
I can’t believe the idiot woman went for the Million Dollar Song! I don’t know how many of you are familiar with DFTL, and if you don’t care, skip down a paragraph or six, but they give you categories, and a choice of two songs per category, and you can walk away at any time and keep the entirety of the whole big whackload of money that you’ve won, unless you’re stupid enough to try for a million dollars. In order to get there, you have to already have won half a million (and on “have a celebration all across the world in every nation” – you have GOT to be kidding me), but to go for the big prize, you have to walk in blind, with no outs, and unable to walk away, though you still get a hundred grand if you blow it. So the fine folks at FOX are relying on nothing but unabashed greed to save them $400,000, and this time it worked.
Poor woman, she had done so well to that point, but they threw Milli Vanilli at her. She didn’t have a clue. I don’t know of which I’m more ashamed, by the way, that I got it wrong or that I actually really thought I had gotten it right. I’m thinking the latter. I thought the lyric was “you let her walk away, but you just can’t ease the pain.” I was close, but still would have lost. But I wouldn’t have been dumb enough to risk $400,000 blind.
As for the Lorax, I had never read it before. I know a lot of Dr. Seuss’ stuff, and I knew about that story, but I didn’t realize it carried such an anti-big-business message. I wonder what the good doctor would have thought about all these big box stores coming in and tearing apart all the proverbial Truffula trees that once thrived in their neighbourhoods. It brings a tear. You would think, too, that since it was written near the end of the hippie, earth-lovin’ era (1971 – right after the Beatles broke up, oddly enough), more people of my generation would have grown up to be tree-huggers. I guess more did than of the generation previous, but we have a long way to go to catch up to the mud-covered Woodstockites. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! And you don’t need a Thneed!
Right – baseball! I knew there was a reason we were here. A.J. Burnett was simply brilliant today, and didn’t have a huge lead to work with like last time, so the haters can’t use that excuse. It was also his second brilliant start in a row, so you can throw that one out the window, too. Look, at some point you’re going to have to face it – the guy can pitch. He’s incredibly frustrating, because he can’t pitch this way all the time, but not even Bob Gibson could pitch this way all the time.
It’s funny, because a commenter yesterday asked if I caught Chad Billingsley’s tour de force against the Angels Saturday night, because he’s awesome. I didn’t see the game, but Billingsley pitched seven shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking three and striking out seven in a 1-0 win in which his team didn’t get a hit. Burnett pitched seven shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking four (one intentional) and striking out 11 in a 1-0 win in which his team didn’t get a hit (with a runner in scoring position). Pretty awesome. Yeah, but Billingsley does that all the time, right? Right. He’s 7-7.
Burnett even saved his best for last, striking out Greg Norton looking to end the 6th with two on after the intentional walk to Mark Teixeira, and then after throwing a wild pitch to put a runner at 3rd with one out in the 7th, striking out Brandon Jones and Brent Lillibridge. All with no margin for error, since the offense was brutal.
That’s two terrific starts in a row for Burnett – 15 innings, one run on seven hits, seven walks (one intentional) and 18 strikeouts. Can he keep this up all year? Of course not. Is he a very good pitcher? Without question. Should they trade him right now? Well, maybe if they can get Phil Hughes or Matt LaPorta straight up – but they can’t.
The Blue Jays were up to their same old tricks, offensively, though. Actually, they lowered the bar, going an incredible 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position. They stranded a pair of leadoff doubles and got out of a first and second, none out without scoring. It was the low-water mark for the season, but they got the win because of a well-timed double by Alex Rios – who is now 15/40 (.375) since Cito Gaston took over. Eight of those 15 hits have gone for extra bases (seven doubles and a homer).
John McDonald made two incredible plays on defense, which we’re used to but still took my breath away. First, Scott Rolen tried to make the one-knee-slide-spin-and-throw that he usually does so well on a grounder by Lillibridge in the 3rd, but the ball went off his glove. McDonald was right behind him, though, picked it up and fired to first for the out. The other web gem came in the 4th, when Burnett walked the first two hitters of the inning. Norton hit a comebacker, and Burnett’s throw was sailing towards right-centre. McDonald leapt, snared it, kept a toe on the bag to get one out and threw to first for the then-easy double play. Wow.
Best play of the day might have been by Rolen, though. With a runner on first and one out in the 8th, Kelly Johnson hit a slow chopper right down the third-base line. Rolen had only one play – a do-or-die backhand short-hop-and-throw as all his momentum was carrying him towards the Jays’ dugout. He pulled it off, and it was beautiful to watch.
For the second straight game, Cito Gaston showed plenty of (too much?) faith in his pitcher by not having a reliever up and warming at what may have been a crucial time. Burnett was sent back out for the 7th having thrown 99 pitches, and no one was up. He gave up a leadoff double, that runner got to third with one out, and still no one was up. I have always been of the “better safe than sorry” school of bullpen usage. I don’t want my pitcher to think I think he can’t get out of whatever situation he’s in, but I also want to be covered just in case he can’t. By not having a reliever up in that situation, Gaston is telling A.J. Burnett two things: 1 – you’re my guy; and b – you’re EXPECTED to throw seven innings. I haven’t decided whether or not I think that’s a good thing. I kind of like it, but it still scares me.
I mentioned yesterday that in Saturday’s 8th inning I would have pinch-run for Rod Barajas when he led off with a double in a game the Jays led 6-5. John McDonald would have been my choice to run, and Gregg Zaun would then have pinch-hit for David Eckstein, and the game would have finished with Mac at short and Zaun behind the plate. I asked Cito about his choice to not run for The Captain, and he said that he doesn’t like divesting his bench of the back-up catcher if he doesn’t need to. Had the Jays been down a run, he would have had a pinch-runner in there. Fair enough.
Here’s today’s edition of The JaysTalk:
The Jays are off to the west coast, so that means The Late Night JaysTalk for five nights. Those tend to be a barrel of laughs, so make sure you tune in!
Before I go, I want to let you all know that you really have to behave yourself in the comments section. I know that it’s the internet, and that anonymity emboldens people (especially a certain type of person), but stay away from personal stuff. Be as knee-jerky and reactionary as you like, though I have to say that I enjoy a well thought-out, intelligent comment far more (and we get plenty of those, both that agree and disagree with me), but don’t use this forum just to spew hate, please. And don’t threaten me. On that note, the once-unbanned Anton will never return to the comments section.