12:45 AM Eastern
For the second time since the crapstorm of Halladay trade talks hit full force at the all-star game in St. Louis, Roy Halladay went out and pitched a beauty. Sunday it was a complete-game win over the Red Sox, in dominating fashion, and tonight it should have been the same thing, except against T-Bay. Nine innings pitched, one earned run, four hits, three walks, ten strikeouts. At one point Halladay retired 16 consecutive Rays’ hitters – they probably had flashbacks to yesterday afternoon in Chicago.
That should have been enough, but it wasn’t, because Matt Garza completely muzzled the Jays’ offense outside a two-out rally in the third, and Scott Downs had trouble throwing strikes and walked a pair ahead of Evan Longoria’s two-out flare double in the 10th.
Halladay deserved a win tonight and he didn’t get it. He also deserved a great send-off from the city of Toronto if this was, indeed, his final home start as a Blue Jay. He didn’t get that either. Only 24,161 people showed up to pay tribute to arguably the best long-term player this franchise has ever had.
I made the comment on The JaysTalk that it was shameful, and an indictment of the sports fans of Toronto, that the attendance was so poor tonight, and I believe that to be so. I know there has already been a lot of negative reaction in the comments section, but I’m sticking by that. I know times are tough economically, but I also know that it’s cheaper to go to a Jays game than it is to go to a movie. And are not field level seats at Rogers Centre less expensive than the cheapest seats at a Leaf game? There’s no excuse for not showing up, especially given the fact that there’s such a huge population base from which to draw.
And the fans who did show up? The overwhelming majority were great, but a couple really stood out to me as having crossed the line huge, which I also mentioned on the post-game. Standing in the camera bay for the bottom of the ninth and the 10th, I heard one guy who screamed “You idiot!” at Scott Downs every time he threw a ball. A strike was received with “Thank You”. And after Vernon Wells struck out in the 10th, some preppy-looking guy in a sweater-vest no less came running down to the Jays dugout, leaned over and screamed “You Suck” three times – basically right in Wells’ face.
Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve actually sat in the seats, but is that what going to a ballgame has become? I really hope not, but it does explain a lot of the calls I get on The JaysTalk and the comments I get here.
I have to tell you, I’m sick of going over all the same tired, old arguments again and again. I understand fans are frustrated, that the best player in franchise history may well be on his way out of town, and that the Blue Jays haven’t really even been in a pennant race in 15 years and more than likely won’t be in one again this year. I get that that’s brutal, and I know many of you need to find a scapegoat, but I’m not interested in dealing with the overwhelming negativity here anymore.
J.P. Ricciardi is not the devil. He’s a good G.M. in a bad situation who has been more unlucky than most. He’s not the best G.M. in the game, and he’s made his share of mistakes, as any first-time executive will, but the number of positive things he’s done far outweighs the number of negative things he’s done and he’s put together a good collection of players, many of whom haven’t performed to their capabilities. This isn’t up for debate, nor will I argue about it anymore. I know there are many of you who see the negative and claim there are hidden agendas in everything he says and does, and there’s no convincing you to see what’s actually happening, but know that you’ll never convince me to see things the skewed way you do – and please stop trying. I’m sick of it.
Halladay was all class in his post-game news conference – most of which can be heard during The JaysTalk below, since we played a whole lot of it – and I would have expected nothing less. He said that he’d prefer to stick it out here and wait until next winter to make a decision on whether he stays or goes, and that he doesn’t really want to go now. He said the atmosphere in the Dome was terrific tonight and it was one of those games that he was really excited to be a part of – though he’d have obviously preferred to win it. He also said that he thought the Jays were a team that was moving in the right direction, and that he had a lot of faith in Ricciardi and what he’s done and – believe it or not – he mentioned the division in which the Blue Jays play as one of the factors as to why the team has fallen short of a post-season berth.
I think that Halladay might be trying to pressure the Jays’ bean counters to step up and do what’s necessary to compete in the A.L. East, and that he hopes that instead of trading him, they’ll open the purse strings and give it a real shot in 2010 and beyond. I don’t see that happening, though, whether a trade happens or not.
I change my mind almost hourly on whether I think a Halladay trade will happen. Right now I’m thinking it’s less than a 50-50 shot, but I’m sure in the morning I’ll feel differently. The Blue Jays have painted themselves into a corner, though, and if they make a deal that doesn’t blow people (who know what they’re talking about) away, then all the rhetoric and posturing of the last couple of weeks was just that. I’m hoping to get Halladay for the pre-game show tomorrow to delve a little deeper into tonight’s comments.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, Brian Tallet returns from his shift to the bullpen, out of which he was never used, and will take on super-lefty David Price. We’re on at 12:30 PM Eastern for a 1:07 first pitch.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome, but I have to tell you – if it keeps up like this, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be answering them.