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1:35 AM Eastern

It was a roller-coaster day for Jays fans, with Travis Snider’s coming-out party in the opener and the old offense rearing its ugly head in the nightcap, and the upshot is that the Blue Jays really can’t afford more than one more loss the rest of the season, and it can’t be to Boston.

What the Jays have to hope for now is to begin a seven-game win streak with Roy Halladay in the finale in Boston, and for that to also begin a seven-game losing streak for the Red Sox.  Of course, the Jays and Sox will play four times in those seven games, and the other three have the Jays home to the pitiful Orioles and the Red Sox playing in Tampa Bay (well, not actually in the bay, though that would be really cool), where they’re 0-6 so far this season.

The opener was everything the Jays could have hoped for.  A.J. Burnett continued to be perfect both against the Red Sox (now 5-0 lifetime) and on three days’ rest (now 4-0 lifetime).  He was fantastic, taking a three-hit shutout into the 7th, when he struck out Scarborough’s George Kottaras (in his first big-league AB) but the ball got away from Rod Barajas, allowing the rookie to reach.  Burnett then got a double play grounder from Jacoby Ellsbury, but Joe Inglett couldn’t handle the throw.  Jesse Carlson came on to finish the inning and the unearned run scored, but that was it.

Offensively, aside from another edition of the baserunning follies in the 4th inning, the Jays were very good, especially Snider.  The 20 year-old went deep with two on in the 5th, then hit a ground-rule double to right-centre in the 6th to cash two more.  He tied the club record for rookies with five RBIs in the game (nine others have done so) and is the youngest Blue Jay ever to accomplish that feat.

Scott Rolen contributed a pair of hits and scored twice.  He’s really turned it on on this road trip.  Since starting that doubleheader in Chicago 0-for-5, he’s 7-for-19 with two doubles and a homer, hitting .368/.429/.632.  Maybe he’s not so done after all.

The nightcap was a whole ‘nother story.  Jesse Litsch had a shaky first inning, with one wild pitch scoring a pair of runs as Litsch and Gregg Zaun played Alphonse and Gaston trying to get the ball back and forth to each other, but after that Litsch settled down and the offense came to life with five runs in the second.  A Jed Lowrie error that loaded the bases with one out helped a lot, but it was followed by Travis Snider drawing a walk, then a two-run double by Joe Inglett, a Marco Scutaro sac fly and a bloop RBI single by Alex Rios.  Then it stopped.

After the second inning, the Blue Jays had three baserunners, on two ground-ball singles and an error, and all were erased by double-play grounders.  They hit THREE balls out of the infield over the last seven innings.  This offensive strategy didn’t really leave the pitching staff much room for error – and where have we heard that before?

The bullpen management was curious, to say the least.  Litsch was allowed to come out to start the 6th, which was fine, but the leash should have been as short as humanly possible, given that his pitch count was up and he was going on short rest for the first time in his career.  Instead, he was allowed to give up a double off the wall, then a four-pitch walk, then a soft line single which loaded the bases with nobody out.  All that before even a visit to the mound.  Jed Lowrie then took him to deep right for a sac fly, and that was it.

In came Jesse Carlson, who had thrown 12 pitches in the opener after not having pitched since Tuesday.  He was brought in to face the lefty Alex Cora, but got pinch-hitter Mike Lowell to line out softly to second and was yanked with Kevin Cash (!) coming up.  I didn’t get that at all.

I also didn’t get Brandon League only being allowed to face three hitters – he got Crisp on a second-pitch grounder to second to end the 6th, and was taken out for Downs with a runner on second and one out in the 7th, David Ortiz coming to the plate.  Now, I understand wanting to go with a lefty against Ortiz, especially when he’s the tying run, but I don’t get asking Downs to get five important outs when he’s been so shaky lately and Cito has said that he thinks his ankle might be bothering him and he might be tiring a bit.  And it had to be Downs until Ryan came out in the 9th, because Carlson and League were done.

So Downs came on and was shaky again, walking Ortiz, giving up the grounder to score one, and then after getting out of the 7th, allowing three hits in the 8th including the swinging bunt by Ellsbury on which Downs tripped and fell flat on his face on his way to try to get the ball.  That allowed the go-ahead run to score with two out, and sealed the Jays’ fate.

In his last six appearances, Downs has allowed five runs on nine hits and six walks, striking out only two, in  just six innings.  That’s a 7.50 ERA and 2.50 WHIP.  He’s also allowed ALL SIX of his inherited runners to score over that span.

For the first five months of the season, Downs was unquestionably the best thing going in the best bullpen in baseball.  Now he’s the worst they’ve got.  Something is wrong, and until he gets things straightened out he shouldn’t be used in high-leverage situations anymore, especially with the Jays in the position they’re in, unable to afford another loss.

The fact that he re-injured the right ankle he hurt in Detroit exactly a month ago may make it all academic, anyway.

Before I finish, I just have to mention the spit-eating grin that Bartolo Colon had on his face in the 5th inning, when an Alex Rios comebacker bounced directly into Colon’s glove while he had his back turned.  When Colon realized he had the ball, he was facing shortstop Alex Cora, and paused to give him a smile that said “dig the hell out of me” before turning to throw Rios out.  It was hilarious, and it was cool to see that Colon could appreciate the sheer absurdity of the play he made despite the fact that he was down three runs in the middle of the big game.

Since it was a doubleheader, we double your JaysTalkic pleasure!

Here’s the first:

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And here’s the second:

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Remember, today and every day in the month of September, please vote for Tom Cheek and ONLY for Tom Cheek to be on the ballot for the Ford C. Frick Award to gain entry into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  It’ll make more of an impact on the voters if Tom alone gets the overwhelming majority of the votes.  Just click on this link:http://web.baseballhalloffame.org/awards/frick_2008/vote.jsp

It’s a bit of a pain to fill out all the info, but it only takes two minutes at the most, and Tom Cheek was certainly worth your time.  Thank you.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

71 Responses to “Ups and Downs”
  1. 1.

    hey mike what do you feel about ortiz’s aggresively dirty slide in the bottom of the 7th that cost us a sure double play and scored the 4th run for the sox. That seemed to be a tell of things to come. He slid cletes up and purposely moved his foot into the throwing lane of scutaro and stepped on his ankle literally with cletes up. I understand if that foot is close to the bag, but its obvious his slide was offline and he stuck his leg out to tackle him for lack of a better word. Do you think the league might take a look a suspension for this dirty incident.

    MW: Nope. It might have looked dirty to you – and it was a little, since he actually did kick Scutaro, but he still touched the bag going by, so it was a clean slide. There won’t be any suspension coming.

    - paolo
  2. 2.

    quirky fun fact for you mike all barajas’s children have a first name that links to letters in his last name: for example the R is Rod Barajas Junior, however he only has 6 kids and hasnt had the seventh to name it starting with an S. Funny how i learned this while working for the Rogers Centre staff. Just goes to show you how cool Roddy is…

    MW: He is, indeed. I’m a big fan of him as a person, which is something I didn’t expect after last year’s free agent tease.

    - paolo
  3. 3.

    Mike,

    The second game certainly was a heart-breaker.

    Why are you citing AJ’s win-loss record to claim that he’s pitched well on 3 days of rest and against the Red Sox? I thought win-loss records are meaningless? There are other stats you can cite to improve the argument.

    Also,

    “Since it was a doubleheader, we double your JaysTalkic pleasure!” – you mean, “JaysTalking”

    MW: No, I meant JaysTalkic. You’re right, won-loss records are meaningless, but it was a long day and I wanted to make a point quickly. Four starts, 29 baserunners in 27 innings, there you go.

    - Jaybird
  4. 4.

    As Downs fell down, he took the blue jays playoff chances right with him. How’s that for symbolism…

    MW: Just about.

    - Terry
  5. 5.

    Anyways mike, keep up the good work.

    MW: I took out the other stuff, because I don’t think this is the appropriate forum for that, but thanks.

    - paolo
  6. 6.

    Cito certainly “nuked the fridge” tonight. Younger fans are just now getting a sneak preview of Cito’s, “stick with the veterans.. come hell or high water”, managing style.
    Why would any sane manager pull a well-rested, Brandon League, in favour of an over-used, ineffective, Scott Downs? And then leave Downs in until it was too late.
    I don’t blame the offense at all. It was ineffective after the second inning but it did give the “best pitching staff in baseball”, a three run lead going into the sixth inning. It should have been enough.
    But Cito had to…. well… we all saw what he did… or should I say, didn’t do.
    Cito will probably have John Mcdonald as the Jays’ lead-off batter Sunday afternoon.
    Not that it matters… anymore!
    Oh yea, Mike, you seem to always throw out stats when it’s convenient to winning your arguments.
    Yesterday, you corrected me by stating that, Tim Wakefield, is having a “very, very, good year”.
    Prior to Friday’s start against the Jays’, he had a 8-10 record, with a 4.11 ERA.
    That is bad! Not very, very good. Yes, he has a low opponent batting average and good WHIP numbers. But, Mike, if you are going to use stats, use all the stats, not just the ones that you find beneficial to your argument.
    Another point, WHIP uses walks and hits to innings pitched. But it doesn’t take in account of what kind of hits. So a broken bat single has the same value as a home run. That doesn’t seem like a totally accurate way to measure a pitchers effectiveness. Maybe your, High Priest of Stats, Bill James, should look into that one.
    And Wakefield, in most seasons, does give up quite a few neck-turners. Led the League at least once.
    Here’s hoping Roy wins 19 tomorrow. Complete game. Even Cito can’t screw that up.

    MW: You immediately lose your argument by saying that you think Cito Gaston is insane. That’s just stupid, and indefensible. Wakefield is, indeed having a very, very good year. I bring up WHIP and opp. BA because they are truer indicators of a pitcher’s performance than W-L and ERA, both of which things are dependent on teammates. Yes, Wakefield does give up a lot of home runs, but because his WHIP is so low, they tend to be solo shots, which do far less damage. In fact he has only given up three homers that have resulted in more than two runs all season.

    - Kelly Pfeiffer
  7. 7.

    I was surprised to see you point to Rolen’s recent success (7-19) as a defense against those who claim him to be old and used up. Aren’t you the king of “small sample size?” And have we not seen him sidelined by the same injury that has plagued him the last few years?

    I find it interesting to see how… Shall I say “willing”… You are to criticize Scott Downs while he has performed well above expectations (albeit with a few shaky appearances) and how defensive you remain of BJ Ryan, while I think it is more or less agreed upon he has performed below expectations. Does this have anything to do with the discrepancies between their contracts and/or reputations? If BJ is as shaky next year will you still have the same confidence in him?

    Thanks Mike, love the show.
    JRD

    MW: I don’t believe B.J. will be as shaky next year, but if he is and he continues to get the job done in spite of it, then yes, I will defend him against people who say he sucks. I don’t see where the discrepancies are. If Ryan was allowing 2 1/2 baserunners an inning and giving up five runs in six innings, I’d suggest that he get things figured out, as well. As for Rolen, yes it’s a small sample size, but I’m not suggesting that I believe he’ll perform anywhere near that level for any sort of significant period of time. All I’m saying is that it means he’s not incapable of being a productive offensive player, which many people seem to believe he is.

    - JRD
  8. 8.

    I noticed that as well. The Sox only had to face the minimum from the third on.

    In fact the entire game I was thinking to myself, If this were football and they flashed a “time of possession” stat up there, it would have been 90 to 10 percent sox in terms of time the sox offense was up vs the jays…

    I dont know what was going on today but Jessie and Zauny had a hell of a time getting on the same page. Jessie generally works very, very quickly, yet tonight he was constantly backing off the rubber and having mound meetings with zaun to coordinate pitch selection…it just seemed that either he or zaun or both were a bit off..overall though i think he had a very live cutter and fastball which one could really appreciate on the NESN HD dead centerfield feed (most cf cameras are off to the side a bit)

    i think you summed up the misuse of the penn quite well and this worries me for next year going forward. As taboo as it is to “talk” like this, i have serious concerns as to how cito constructs the lineup and how he uses his penn. I have never questioned his coaching skills and his sheer knowledge base and of course class, but he’s never had to prove he can truly Manage a team with so many moving parts. thus far this year he hasnt proved it to me at least. the team has been winning but i believe this has little do with the management. Too many righties and lefties stacked up on a regular basis. Johnny Mac batting too high in the order, the near complete abandoning of the stolen base or hit and run. Just look at what francona did today. Noone would argue that Kotsay is a better hitter than Bay, yet there was Kotsay batting ahead of bay and behind Youk in order to make the opposing manager “burn” relievers. its a simple thing yet Cito clearly doesn’t subscribe to Lefty/righty matchups even if they are supported by stats…or in other words..facts.

    - sammy jalalzai
  9. 9.

    DOWNS MUST GO!!!
    HE’S OVERPAID, AND HE’S OLD!!

    MW: And he’s been the best reliever in baseball’s best bullpen this season.

    - Bernard Singh
  10. 10.

    Ah well.

    Maybe they can go on the seven game winning streak–probably not but who knows?

    It was good fun while it lasted and (again) who knows? Maybe it isn’t over yet.

    I had a feeling something like that was going to happen to Downs (you can only get away with allowing base runners for so long until it comes back to bite you) and sadly, it might be for the best that he’s unavailable for awhile–regardless, the Jays wouldn’t have gotten this far without him and is deserving of our gratitude.

    So, kudos on a great year Mr. Downs (and thanks) and hopefully he’ll be able to get a little rest while his ankle mends. Here’s hoping he gets a chance to finish 2008 on a high note.

    Let’s cheer on Halladay’s (and Burnett’s) run at 20-win seasons, Rios’ pursuit of 50 doubles, Vernon’s chase of 20 HR, Snider’s progress, League’s evolution as an ace reliever etc. and let’s not forget–90 wins. If the Jays go nuts in the coming week (including a sweep of the Red Sox in Toronto) then we’ll cross that bridge then.

    Alex Rios owes the Green Monster a few dents this afternoon–I thought he’d have a monster series. At any rate, hopefully the Rogers Centre crowd will give them a hero’s welcome when they return home–if Halladay wins, the Jays will have gone 5-3 on a road trip with two doubleheaders against a couple of the AL’s best teams–not too shabby.

    Go Jays!

    Best Regards

    John

    MW: I don’t think we’ll see that hero’s welcome, unfortunately. They didn’t sweep the Red Sox, so the casual fan is now back in “Jays suck” mode.

    - John B.
  11. 11.

    Hey Mike…I was angry to see Ortiz lift up his cleats when sliding into Marco. I know Scutaro didn’t get injured but it was a moment where if his foot is planted and not in the air he might of been a man on crutches after the game. I wouldn’t be angry if Ortiz just slid at him like every other player does but to intentionally lift your foot that was just terrible. I understand that he is trying to win and not injure Marco but if Baseball made a rule against it then Ortiz and everybody else don’t have a chance to commit something like that. Don’t know if you agree Mike but it got me angry and not just because it cost the Blue Jays a run.

    Another thing Mike Delgado didn’t come out for a curtain call the other day and probably has the booing from Mets fans stuck in the back of his head. Would you give Delgado 20 million for two years if he would take it…and do you think players would leave teams and even lose a little money because they are turned off by fans. Not a small group but a stadium full of fans booing you. What’s your take Mike. Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.

    MW: I didn’t like that Ortiz stuck his foot out, but he hasn’t tended to be a dirty player so I don’t want to vilify him for it. Delgado isn’t going anywhere.

    - Stewy
  12. 12.

    My question about Gaston’s bullpen usage starts with the afternoon game. Why on earth would he waste Carlson and Tallet, whom he might need in the evening game, with an 8-0 lead? Why not Wolfe? Or Parrish? Or Richmond? Why not save his bullets for when he might need them?

    That was not impressive usage of a very good bullpen.

    - Chuck V
  13. 13.

    mike,

    I’m not trying to say scott downs is done, because he has been one of the top set-up men in baseball all year, but don’t you think that with his recent comand issues they should try and work him in, during a less pressure situation

    MW: It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but I certainly wouldn’t have looked to him to get me five outs.

    - John Terry
  14. 14.

    Mike:

    Nothing regarding the weekend games but I was wondering if you know whether or not the Jays still host a luncheon for fans during the season. My grandmother would take my brothers and I to a couple of them when we were kids. The team would usually honour their players of the month (a pitcher and a position player) with Tom and Jerry hosting the event usually held at a downtown hotel and it gave people a chance to talk to the players and get autographs etc. This was probably 25 years ago though.

    My grandmother passed away a few years back and I’ve just started going through her stuff and found tons of Blue Jays paraphenalia (programs, pictures, posters, newspaper clippings etc.) from back in the 70′s and 80′s since she was the world’s biggest Blue Jays fan. I came across some pictures of me and my brothers with Ernie Whitt and Mark Eichorn from a couple of those luncheons and just wondered if they still have them.

    The funniest thing was also finding a piece of paper with Jerry Howarth’s 2 children’s autographs on them (they were 8 and 9 at the time). I guess my grandmother asked them for their autograph after getting Jerry’s to make them feel important.

    Anyway, just brought back some childhood memories and thought I’d ask if you knew.

    Thanks

    MW: They don’t do the monthly luncheons anymore, but I believe they still do the Welcome Back at the beginning of the season.

    - Peter B.
  15. 15.

    It’s still possible.

    Jays:80-69… 13 to go.
    Boston:87-61.. 14 to go.

    Let’s say Jays win the next four games v Boston. Then

    Tor:84-69 and Bos:87-65

    Then Jays go on to win 2 out of 3 v N.Y and 5 out of 6 v Baltimore and finish the season with 91 wins. Boston will choke and win 4 of the 10 games against other teams and end up with 91 wins as well. Jays will win the tiebreaker and make the playoffs. Who says it’s over?

    MW: It’s not over, but it’s pretty over. Boston is the best team in baseball, why would you assume they’ll “choke”?

    - Beburg
  16. 16.

    Hi Mike,

    Will the Jays throw at Ortiz today for spiking Soot’s leg at second? I’m surprised the attack was ignored after the game. It cost the Jays a run and the third out of the inning.

    MW: No, they won’t.

    - Dan
  17. 17.

    Hi Mike,
    The Ortiz slide into 2nd in the 7th (I believe) where he was waaaaaay wide of the bag to take out Scutaro and prevent the DP, I assume that was legal as there was no call on the play and no argument either. That to me smacked of interference. Scoot made the play at 2 and move himself out of the way of Ortiz to throw to 1, but got taken out by a cheap play – not fair, but not against the rules? It was a bit of a game changer there.
    I’m doing my job and voting daily – cheers!

    MW: He wasn’t waaaaaaaaaay wide of the bag, he touched second. Keep on voting!

    - bob
  18. 18.

    Today is Doc’s test# 2 under pressure. He failed the 1st one. For the first time in his career there’s a ray of hope for the postseason ball. He choked v the white sox so let’s see what he does today. If he fails again, it’d mean he is not a big game player. That’s atleast how I am gonna see it.

    MW: Then you’re an idiot.

    - Beburg
  19. 19.

    Why do teams insist on trotting out injured players. A few years ago it was reported Speir had a sore arm but John Gibbons kept bringing him in to get hammered, now we’re doing the same with Scott Downs. Why won’t they sit him til he’s fully healthly.

    MW: It’s a very good question. One would think that if they know the player is hurting AND he’s struggling, they wouldn’t use him in high-leverage situations.

    - Mike U
  20. 20.

    Hello Mike, couple of points that I disagree with you that night as I’ll explain. The Jays got 8 runs in the first game & 5 runs in the second game. Maybe some runs were unearned but great teams somehow get the runs. Having said that, I think you are over reacting when you say “the old offense rearing it’s ugly head”. Lets try to leave the old in the past. Yes, they hit 3 fly balls in 7 innings & the double plays as you mentioned. But, they got 8 & 5 runs & the offense has been great in the past month or so. No team is going to be offensively good & do the fundamental’s in every single game & every single situation. So, I think you are overacting because of 7 not-so-good offensive innings.

    The other point I would like to make after listening to the first Jays talk is that I think you like to play both sides on topics at times. If the Jays are not hitting, you say that you knew that the coaching staff has no influence on the hitting/team. And if they are hitting, you say that the offense is bound to be better. I totally disagree with you in that the offense is good now because of your saying the offense is bound to be better. A season & a half they have not hit well under Gibbons & Denbo. When Cito/Tenace took over, it has got better. It shouldn’t take a whole year & a half for the offense to come around. What took them so long??…Hitting does not take a whole year & a half to come around & finally bound to hit. To me & many fans including many commentators on TSN. Sportsnet. & The Score agree it’s pretty obvious their hitting has improved now mainly because of Cito/Tenace & they would have at least 10 more wins now if he was here at the start of the season. These commentators includes ex-player who played at the major league level, such as Rance Muliniks, Allan Ashby, Jesse Barfield, & ect. So, because they have ‘been there, done that’, they are mostly right on their baseball on what they believe. I just think you are just a bit stubborn about this topic.

    Lastly, I don’t think you give Cito enough credit. Actually, it sounds like you don’t like to much. Maybe that is just how it sounds on air. Yes, Cito made some questionable calls in this game tonight, but no manager in the history of MLB is anywhere perfect & he has still a great record since he took over. Wins is the bottom line in this profession. You brought up that if Gibbon’s was let go 20 games before, they would be missing a 20-8 stretch(or something like that). You are saying that, assuming Cito can’t top that in that stretch. And, with Cito’s record so far, I don’t think that is out of the question he could of done better in that stretch than Gibbons. I notice you also say “Cito has done some good things”…I don’t think “some” is a strong enough word for what Cito has done & his past accomplishments. Even the worst manager in the league has done ‘some good things’. With Cito’s record since he took over & what he has done with this team, ‘a lot of good things’ is more of a deserved statement. Anyhow, I do agree with you Mike when you say these are meaningful games & you are still doing a great job with Jays talk & appreciate being able to listen to Jays talk after on this blog. So, thanx for that post.

    MW: You’re welcome?

    - Dominic
  21. 21.

    Regarding Brandon League – I think people get a little too excited about his 98-100MPH fastball. Truth is he doesn’t miss enough bats to be a great reliever yet. He clearly needs another pitch. His major league K rate is just 5.13/9IP and his minor league rate is only 7.10.

    Maybe he can learn another pitch but at present he’s likely not effective over the long run.

    - jim maron
  22. 22.

    Yes, I’ve been an enthusiast of the Cito return, but, in that second game I was having scary memories of the great puppet master back from the old days. Especially in Litsch’s final inning. I wasn’t even entirely convinced he should be coming out for the 6th considering he’s struggled all game and just escaped the 5th without damage thanks to a sensational double play, and had already thrown over 90 pitches in what was supposed to be a hard 100 pitch limit. But, man, if you are going to bring him out, you’ve got to have guys ready to go, immediately, in the bull pen. Don’t you? Utterly perplexing to me, but, hey, that’s Cito!

    Incidentally, Mike, do you know why it’s called a “bull” pen?

    MW: Puppet master? There doesn’t seem to be a firm story as to why it’s called the bullpen, probably an old rodeo term or something.

    - mikie
  23. 23.

    Thanks for your reply about Manny and arbitration on the other blog Mike.

    That brings up an interesting issue. Who do you think asked for Manny to not be offered arbitration?

    Was it Boston/Pittsburgh because they felt the deal would’ve been too lopsided if the Dodgers received Manny AND picks?

    Or was it Manny himself? Because he was planning on signing with teams that tend to keep their picks?

    Wink Wink*. Haha.

    Ibanez seems like the most logical and realistic player to fill our DH role next season, but as I outlined in my previous comment about the Jays and their picks, I have a gut feeling that they take a serious run at Manny, and that he’s their #1 target.

    Boy would he look good launching bombs outta the RC…

    MW: It was Manny, or really Scott Boras through Manny, in order to make sure that teams wouldn’t be wary of losing picks.

    - Alex
  24. 24.

    Mike, here’s a message to all the callers/fans who insist that these wins in september are meaningless and tell us nothing about the future of the team…

    IF YOU THINK THE GAMES ARE MEANINGLESS, DONT WATCH THEM. DONT TALK ABOUT THEM, AND CERTAINLY DONT TAKE THE TIME TO CALL UP A RADIO SHOW AND “EDUCATE” THE REST OF US AS TO HOW MEANINGLESS THEY ARE!

    It makes no sense. On the one hand they claim these games are meaningless yet on the other they are obviously watching them very closely and intently, dissecting the managerial moves and the players’ successes and failures. Truly, I am embarrassed for them.

    - sammy jalalzai
  25. 25.

    Mike, here’s how I see the “Cito Gaston” way of managing. Cito is an offence guy so even though were scoring 6 runs a game, there are probobly going to be some poor decisions on the pitching.

    MW: And that’s OK?

    - greg
  26. 26.

    I did not see most of the second game but what a pathetic display of offense. How can they go in to next year thinking they have a shot at the playoffs with this offense.And the pitching probably wont be as good with Burnett leaving.I really think Cito is a terrible bullpen manager. I also did not understand using Carlson in an 8-0 game and then using Downs again in a very high leverage situation. Lastly, I really don’t agree with you saying the Jays are where they should be right now. We are still seeing a lot of the traits of the mediocre team they were before the 10 game win streak. They do have a great run differential but that has to do more with the pitching than anything. Even during the 10 game win streak they had some lucky wins and low scoring wins.

    MW: But they’ve still had more unlucky losses and low-scoring losses. I don’t see how you can slough off the role of the pitching staff in creating the Jays’ run differential. It matters a whole lot as to why the team is good.

    - Avi
  27. 27.

    Hi Mike
    I really enjoy your blog and Jay’s Talk on the FAN590.
    I have been a Bluejay’s fan since they came into being. I enjoy watching the games for what they are, great entertainment at a relatively cheap price. I just don’t get all of this crap some of your callers espouse. Sure I get upset when someone doesn’t hit or makes what I think is a dumb move or play but I don’t for a minute think that I could do better! If you cannot stand to watch them play, imagine how a fan in Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco or Texas must feel. We are really lucky to have a very competitive team with the best pitching in all of baseball. I’ve seen the best and the worst of the Jays but win or lose I am still a Jays fan, just ask my wife!

    - Dan from Wellington
  28. 28.

    If you were the manager, would you have brought in Ryan instead of Camp to face Ortiz?

    MW: No.

    - Jay Money
  29. 29.

    Mike with the replay usage now, why all the hassle going in the hallays and stuff. why don’t they just call up to the commentatr’s room or video booth or whatever since we see it right away on a replay?

    MW: Good question. I think the 5th member of the umpiring crew should be upstairs to do just that.

    - Mike
  30. 30.

    What do you think that the Blue Jays should do with Scott Rolen in the offseason? Does he have any trade value? If so, where would you look and what do you get back?

    MW: Rolen’s not going anywhere. The best the Jays can do is hope that he can stay healthy next season and know that they have Inglett and Bautista to step in if he can’t.

    - Jake
  31. 31.

    Mike, I’m just wondering why you don’t believe that the Blue Jays start winning games in September when the pressure is off or the Blue Jays don’t win games when they matter?

    MW: Because I don’t believe that you can decide when to win and when not to, and they’ve been playing really, really well since the second week of July.

    - andrew
  32. 32.

    Tom Cheek was the greatest baseball announcer that I had the pleasure to listen to.

    MW: Yes!

    - Mike Healey
  33. 33.

    Tom Cheek should be oin the baseball hall of fame.

    MW: Go vote for him!

    - Mike Healey
  34. 34.

    Thanks for not only doing JaysTalk, but also for doing this blog. I voted for Tom Cheek and hope others will as well.

    Disrelarted, I’ll be discouraged if they let AJ go. Not only will we lose a guy who’s starting to settle in here as a player and team member, but with our luck he’ll end up on the yanks or bosox. I say save any money earmarked for a DH, let Snider and Lind share the role and take another chance with AJ.

    MW: I’m glad you voted for Tom, keep it up! It’s not that they’re going to let A.J. go, he’s going to leave. There’s a difference.

    - sonny
  35. 35.

    Wasn’t it curious that Carlson was brought in during the first game with a huge lead? I didn’t mind Downs being brought in during the 2nd game but I thought Carlson or League should have been kept in reserve to take over if he struggled.

    MW: And yet, they’d both been used up. Yes, I was surprised that Carlson was brought in with the huge lead, but Cito doesn’t like to take any chances at Fenway Park – he’s seen bigger leads blown late.

    - Peter
  36. 36.

    I wanna see Cito scold the umps this game. That was hillarious.

    - Andrew (Guelph)
  37. 37.

    (sigh)

    I can appreciate trying to run as many righties as possible against Lester but I would be much more comfortable with Lind (.266/.314/.405 vs. LHP) or Inglett (.296/.367/.370 ditto) over Mench (.254/.337/.380).

    Halladay’s choking again too!! He’s self-defecating out there!!

    Seriously though–he really looks weary out there … very deliberate; he almost looks like he’s pitching in slow motion (although he‘s perking up in the fourth–the man is a warrior).

    The whole team looks flat–a combination of fatigue and disappointment?

    Best Regards

    John

    MW: Not hitting at all makes a team look flat. As for Halladay, he’s on three days’ rest and feeling the weight of the entire season on his shoulders.

    - John B.
  38. 38.

    Then what is their record since the second week of July?

    MW: Going into Sunday, they’re 38-22 since July 7th.

    - andrew
  39. 39.

    The Great Home Run Race of 2008

    Ron Fairly (1977) 19
    John Mayberry (1981) 17
    Vernon Wells (2008) 17

    If the Jays had some true meat in the heart of the order, they might just be contenders, especially with the best E.R.A. in baseball.

    The Jays have a National League West batting order, but they’re playing in the AL East.

    MW: I don’t understand what that means – a National League West batting order. The Jays’ OPS this season is one point lower than the team with the best record in baseball.

    - Ken Pagan
  40. 40.

    Obviously Cito doesn’t pinch hit for j-mac there.

    2 on, 1 out… 7th inning down by 1…. clearly we need defense more… way to go cito.

    - Chris
  41. 41.

    As much as I love him, if John McDonald is starting consistently, this Jays team will never make the playoffs. His bat is just a total liability. They really need to upgrade on some positions because Inglett, Scutaro and Batista should not be leading off and hitting 2nd either. Those guys should be the #8 and #9 hitters, with McDOanld on the bench. Hill’s return will help obviously.

    - Francis
  42. 42.

    #18. I thought it was one of the best observation anyone has come up with. As I write this, it’s bottom of the 7th, 1 on 0 out. If Doc implodes here, we’ve to put the ‘choker’ tag on him. Or you tell me how would you explain this…a dominant pitcher who has had a great year and when suddenly when there’s a slim playoff chance he loses two games in a row? There has to be some choking involved in this. But Doc has done well so far today so I’ll keep that tag with me. 2 out 2 on, let’s see what he does…there you go, Coco drives one in. Doc choked, Jays lost, season over.

    MW: Not even worthy of comment.

    - Beburg
  43. 43.

    Why don’t the Jays go after Abreu? I mean he won’t give you 30 HR power, but he will get some serious RBI’s on this team. But maybe power is needed on this team…just thought that if we got Abreu then Snider could DH and Lind could…platoon??? I don’t know…just a thought.

    MW: Like you said, they need power.

    - Jake
  44. 44.

    Now that the season is over, Doc will have a pressure of winning 20 games. 3 starts to go and 2 wins needed. I am ready to bet any money that Doc won’t win 20 games this year. He can’t deliver under pressure.

    MW: I don’t know why I keep posting these – I guess it’s to let you keep exposing yourself.

    - Beburg
  45. 45.

    Overbay should be benched for that play. I don’t know what he was thinking there! You could tell Halladay was not amused at all either. It was bad enough that the double play king didn’t make that double play ball.

    - Francis
  46. 46.

    Mike… WHIP And opponent batting average is also dependent on teammates, unless the pitcher strikes out every batter. Think before you type.
    And when I said that Cito is insane… it is not a statement of his legal mental state. Do you not have a sense of humour?
    You need a long vacation.

    MW: You need to step back and see when you lose an argument. Wins and losses are dependent on the offense, ERA is partly dependent on the bullpen. You know, these kinds of comments are what make me think that I’m not going to be able to continue doing this.

    - Kelly Pfeiffer
  47. 47.

    re: Post #9

    And he`s also been their worst reliever over the past couple of weeks!!! Jesse Carlson is far better and way cheaper!!

    MW: Six outings on a bad ankle do not a season make.

    - Bernard Singh
  48. 48.

    Hi Mike,

    Was it just me or was Overbay sae by about a mile??? Thats the second bad call of the day! I hope the umps are happy that they ruined all hopes of us making the playoffs.

    MW: It was a terrible call, but it didn’t cost the Blue Jays a chance at the playoffs.

    - Warren
  49. 49.

    Mike,

    On a day like today, you have no choice but to blame Jean Tennis. I don’t think Tennis prepared the team will in this series. It’s different than any other ballpark and I don’t think Jays hitter did a good job of exploiting the Green Monster. Jean Tennis let the team down.

    MW: I’ll never understand this.

    - Jojo
  50. 50.

    WE NEED ROBOT UMPS…that Overbay call changed the whole game…like seriously I AM P****D!!!

    MW: Robot umps would be cool.

    - Jake
  51. 51.

    Mike, last night someone asked if you would go to Cooperstown if Tom gets inducted. You said, you would probably have to work, but your sure Jerry and the Cheek family would likely be there. Wouldn’t Jerry have to work also? When was the last time he missed a game?

    MW: Jerry hasn’t missed a game in years, but I’m sure he’d miss one to help induct Tom into Cooperstown. Chances are only one of us will be able to go, and if there’s a choice between Jerry going and me going, wouldn’t you think that Jerry would be the one to go?

    - Shmuel Yitzchoj
  52. 52.

    Hi Mike

    A real weird week-end in terms of managers decicions with players. On Saturday, I could not understand why francona gave up so easily in the afternoon game. On the night cap, why did Cito use Downs again to close when he has been struggling lately.

    What happened in the sunday game with the two blown calls by the ump begs to reason why baseball should instill the same ump/ref challenge as the NFL. Allow each team to have three challenge in a game they can use any time. In Sunday’s game, Jays could have used it in the ninth inning and let the Zaun call go since it was early in the game….

    MW: I don’t like the three-challenge rule. What happens if the umpires make four mistakes in a game?

    - francis
  53. 53.

    “MW: Not hitting at all makes a team look flat. As for Halladay, he’s on three days’ rest and feeling the weight of the entire season on his shoulders.”

    He came through admirably.

    Best Regards

    John

    MW: That he did.

    - John B.
  54. 54.

    Mike, as a radio show host, you should encourage more 1) stupid calls, and 2) calls where one guy will disagree and yell at you. I know I would if I was in your shoes. It might not be good quality baseball/Jays talk, but those calls actually make the show more entertaining!

    MW: I think those calls are entertaining, too. Of course, I think they’re entertaining because the longer I let those people go, the more they get exposed.

    - Francis
  55. 55.

    Hey Mike,

    I’m typing this up just as a guy (Andy I think his name is) is basically calling you a condescending a-hole.

    Basically I just wanted to say, WTF! I think I’m in the vast majority of your listeners/comment-makers who actually appreciates the job you do on the radio and the blog. I agree with you on most things and disagree with you on a few (though I’m a dyed in the wool Jays fan who thinks JP has done for the most part a good job, I’ll take the frustration at releasing Reed Johnson to my grave!).

    Anyway, my main point is that I’m glad you come down on all the ugly negativity from callers and posters whenever it rears its ugly head. Bitching and complaining and hurling insults doesn’t get anybody anywhere and doesn’t help anybody appreciate a great game like baseball or anything else for that matter.

    The season may be dead now but as always I’ll watch and enjoy every game til the end of the year as well as every playoff game no matter who’s playing. I wonder how many of these people who get so angry or consistently want to throw in the towel are actually real baseball fans and not just bandwagon wannabes.

    On a pleasant note, I was 6 years old and living in NYC when the Mets beat the Red Sox to win their last world series, so at least I get to cheer for a personal nostalgic favourite anyway… not to mention hope that Delgado wins N.L. MVP.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

    MW: Thanks, I appreciate it. And the season’s not dead, just the post-season (pretty much).

    - Siguy
  56. 56.

    Mike Wilner condescending? I guess they’ve never heard Bob McCown host JaysTalk. I sometimes wish that you would go Bobcat on some of these callers and rip into them for being stupid.

    On another point, same time Riccardi was lying about Ryan’s injury, Pat Gillick and the Phillies front office was caught lying about his closer Tom Gordon being fine when a couple of reporters saw him flying back to Philly during spring training.

    MW: Not true. J.P. Ricciardi is the only human being who has ever lied.

    - Peter
  57. 57.

    Mike,

    Say what you will about whether or not you’re condescending, but I really have to say that correcting people’s grammar and vocabulary on air is just flat out rude (and this is coming from an educator and someone who is a veritable freak about grammar and spelling). You just don’t do it. Period. I’m a fan of your show, but it’s this sort of behaviour (often in conjunction with the tone of voice) that makes people interpret you as condescending. I’m all for intelligent discourse, but let’s not forget that intelligent discourse always requires mutual respect.

    Peace

    MW: I give respect in kind. I don’t think correcting people is rude at all – if you’re trying to make a point and using the wrong word, which people often do, then it’s better to be told the correct term than to sound like an idiot.

    - Kate
  58. 58.

    I disagree with post 57 wholeheartedly. The great thing about the internet is how it’s made communication more democratic. The bad thing is that in doing so it has legitimized bad spelling and poor grammar. Anything that helps combat the dumbing down of the English language is a good thing. Please keep it coming, Mike.

    (I guess for the purposes of full disclosure I should admit that I accidentally pluralized the word “appreciate” in my last post… C’mon Mike! Where were you?! Why didn’t you tear me a new one?!)

    MW: The majority appreciates, there’s nothing wrong with that grammatically, is there?

    - Siguy
  59. 59.

    Oops. You’re right. I quickly glanced at the previous post just before I wrote the last one. Guess you gotta just trust your instinct!

    On a non-copy editing related note: What are your predictions for how the playoffs will turn out?

    or…

    If you don’t want to play prognosticator for fear of the obvious “Hey Wilner, you said the Angels were gonna go all the way and they didn’t which proves that you don’t know sh*t about baseball (and you’re condescending)”, what match-ups do you think would be most exciting?

    Personally, for nostalgic reasons, I want to see the Mets win the series. I also think it would be cool to see a rematch of ’86 (provided NY wins, thus giving me some sweet revenge against the Sox for beating my beloved Blue Jays, made even sweeter by getting Carlos a championship ring).

    If that doesn’t happen I think a Cubs/Rays series would be pretty cool in that it would pit a team that hasn’t won the series in 100 years against the youngest team in baseball who’s making it for the first time. In that case I’m rooting for the Cubbies all the way.

    I just went on a baseball road trip to Yankee Stadium (Jays win last Saturday where I caught an Alex Rios home run in batting practice – that is CAUGHT, not picked up from the ground), Comerica Park and Wrigley (which I found to be just about the best park I’ve ever been to for its beauty, fan excitement/knowledge and overall experience… it was also nice to see Reed Johnson again even though he pinch-hit once and failed). Anyway I was really impressed with all things baseball on the north side of Chi-town and wish the Cubs well… very well if the Mets are out of it.

    MW: I’ll get into all that playoff stuff at the end of the regular season. Personally, though, I love a lovable loser – so I want the Cubs to stay that way!

    - Siguy
  60. 60.

    Mike, what’s up with the Jays’ defense, lately?

    Since setting their franchise record for errorless games, they have committed at least one error in all but two of the 11 games (total of 15 errors), and in the process coughed up 7 unearned runs, several of them “critical”.

    Rolen, J-Mac, Inglett, now Overbay — yikes!

    Is this a matter of defensive “regression to the mean”, or did someone sneak into the clubhouse and pour concrete into their gloves? Is it a matter of “trying too hard”, or simply an anomaly that happens from time to time to the best of teams?

    What do you think?

    MW: I would go with the anomaly thing more than anything else. This is a terrific defensive team, but every team has its hiccups. Thing is, when the errors happen when they did, a lot of people think “choke” and that’s just unfair.

    - Norm
  61. 61.

    Will Snider be eligible for Rookie of the Year honours next season? How many ab’s would disqualify him?

    MW: He’ll be eligible unless he gets 93 at-bats in the final 12 games of the season. So long as you get 130 or fewer, you’re still a rookie the next year.

    - Neil
  62. 62.

    MW: bring up WHIP and opp. BA because they are truer indicators of a pitcher’s performance than W-L and ERA, both of which things are dependent on teammates

    Mike WHIP and opp. BA are also dependent on teammates.

    MW: Didn’t I answer this already? Not NEARLY to the same extent.

    - Dan M
  63. 63.

    Ironically, there was a grammatical error in your post 57.

    “if you’re trying to make a point and using the wrong word, which people often do, then it’s better to be told the correct term that to sound like an idiot.”

    “that to sound like an idiot”?

    you mean, “than to sound like an idiot”

    MW: That’s not a grammatical error, that’s a typo. But I’ll go fix it!

    - Jaybird
  64. 64.

    I just wanted to leave a comment to say thanks for helping me to understand baseball this season far more than I ever have before. I’m a Jays fan but I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about baseball or the other teams and you’ve helped me to undertand a lot. Even reading the comments here clarifies to me a lot that happens during a game. Just bought tickets to 3 more home games, post season or no, I still love watching these Boys play (althoughs sometimes I cringe a lot). Thanks again,
    Mike!

    MW: My pleasure, and thank you!

    - Pat
  65. 65.

    “The majority (singular) appreciates”
    “The majority of listeners (plural) appreciate”.

    The trick when correcting people’s grammar, is to make sure you don’t make any mistakes yourself. Pedantry, meanwhile, can lead to awkward phrases like “is nothing about which to be ashamed” (see more recent post), when there is really nothing wrong with saying “nothing to be ashamed of” ;-)

    Winston Churchill (probably) agreed: see http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html

    Baseball has taught us that there is often eloquence in bad grammar: “I hit them where they ain’t”.

    MW: And “the hitter flied out to centre.” But it’s OK sometimes, with language, around to play.

    - Ben
  66. 66.

    “It was a roller-coaster day for Jays fans”

    We have come to expect days like this….or seasons like this.

    - KD
  67. 67.

    “Was it just me or was Overbay sae by about a mile??? Thats the second bad call of the day! I hope the umps are happy that they ruined all hopes of us making the playoffs.”

    The jays ruined those hopes long before that bad call by the umps.

    - KD
  68. 68.

    Today is Doc’s test# 2 under pressure. He failed the 1st one. For the first time in his career there’s a ray of hope for the postseason ball. He choked v the white sox so let’s see what he does today. If he fails again, it’d mean he is not a big game player. That’s atleast how I am gonna see it.

    MW: Then you’re an idiot.

    Very intelligent response Mike.

    MW: Thanks! I thought it was pretty on-the-nose, myself. By the way, if you’re going to be replying to the comments, should I stop?

    - KD
  69. 69.

    Hi Mike,

    “as for Halladay, he’s on 3 days rest and feeling the weight of the season on his shoulders”
    YES and then going out and throwing a gem of a game is what seperates the great pitchers from the good ones……. that being said
    I believe The Doc can and will redeem himself next season…
    There’s no doubt with Cito at the helm for an enire season we’ll be there come September
    next year.
    Have a good offseason when you get there Mike…..Oh and I and many others will proudly
    stand in for you WHEN Tom Cheek is inducted into the HOF(Tom wouldn’t want you to miss a Game I’m sure).

    Ciao

    Greg Q

    MW: Halladay DID throw a gem of a game, he has nothing from which to redeem himself – or were you watching something else?

    - Greg
  70. 70.

    it should be the ‘majority appreciate’

    MW: I still think it’s “appreciates”. In England, it would be “appreciate”.

    - Paul O
  71. 71.

    Today is Doc’s test# 2 under pressure. He failed the 1st one. For the first time in his career there’s a ray of hope for the postseason ball. He choked v the white sox so let’s see what he does today. If he fails again, it’d mean he is not a big game player. That’s atleast how I am gonna see it.

    MW: Then you’re an idiot.

    Very intelligent response Mike.

    MW: Thanks! I thought it was pretty on-the-nose, myself. By the way, if you’re going to be replying to the comments, should I stop?

    YES!….Ok NO, why is it bad for others to reply to comments? There are a lot of different opinions right?

    MW: There are, but you were on a run of, like, three in a row there. I thought it was a coup.

    - KD
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