10:35 PM Eastern

I know I said that I would post something late last week, after I got home from the Bahamas cruise, but that damn 2,5 got in the way.  See, I got a bit of a toothache as the cruise wound down, and figured I’d see my dentist when I got home.  But we arrived Thursday afternoon and my guy takes Fridays off, so I had to wait until Monday.

Only Sunday night it felt as though the left side of my face exploded.

One trip to the late-night dental emergency clinic later, I was on antibiotics and a quite lovely painkiller named Teradol (which I wholly endorse, though only under a physician’s care, of course), and I’m booked for a root canal on Thursday afternoon, which could lead to quite an interesting time later that evening at the Blue Jays’ annual State of the Franchise event.

Anyway, I’ve kind of been out of it for the last few days, and I’m still not feeling great, so please forgive the “radio silence”, as it were.

The Blue Jays made a little bit of noise while I was away, and I have already commented on the Jeremy Reed signing from the ship.  Shawn Hill is an interesting get, though.  The Mississaugian had a terrific right arm, but had a repeat Tommy John last year, so the Jays are really looking at him for 2011 and beyond.  They control him through the end of the 2013 season, when he’ll only be 32, assuming he doesn’t get any big-league time this year (and he shouldn’t pitch competitively until after the all-star break, anyway), so he adds to the list of post-hype former top prospects that Alex Anthopoulos has brought in, hoping to unearth a hidden gem.  Merkin Valdez falls into that category, too – he’s probably five years removed from that top prospect designation.  But they’re all zero-risk moves.  Hey, if you sign enough of them, you might get one to break through.

But enough about that, let’s talk about the cruise.  It was a fun-filled four days, for sure.  My lovely bride and I took part in a lot of the contests on the ship, winning the Sports Trivia (it’s not cheating, there were only three or four baseball questions) and finishing a strong second in the Famous Faces quiz (they give you a sheet with 20 small head-shots and you have to name them).  We got 19 out of the 20 in that one, and I’m pretty sure the woman who claimed to have won cheated.  Problem is, they let you give your own score based on the honour system, and I know that when Derek Jeter was revealed as one of the answers, I heard her whisper “I put Derek Cheevers, but that’s close enough.”  More on Jeter later.

As I alluded to in the previous post, I was pretty disappointed by the 80s-music tribute show, though I should have known I would be since it was called “Far From Over”.  Seriously – who names a show after the theme song from a Sly Stallone arm-wrestling flick?  And then opens the show with said tune?  Though I have to say those scrappy kids probably did a better job with it than Frank Stallone himself did.  Still, the songs were good, but there seemed to be a lot of dancing-by-numbers going on – you could almost see them going “1 and 2 and 3 and 4″ in their heads.

One thing that has always bothered me about these shows, and I know they’re supposed to be lounge-y and Vegas-y type things, but really – you have the sheet music, it probably has the lyrics on it.  Why are they getting the words wrong?  There were four songs on which I recognized that they screwed up the words:  Relax (“when you wanna go” instead of come, which may have been cleaning it up for the kiddies, but they didn’t clean up the rest of it), Endless Love (“you’re every move I make” instead of every step), Don’t Lose My Number (“Billy, Billy don’t you…..” instead of will he, Billy don’t you…..) and another one that I can’t remember one week hence.  I will never understand this.  Sorry for taking up so much of this space on it, but it really bothers me.  By the way, after an online search, I’m starting to doubt myself on the Don’t Lose That Number line – but I’ll just say that everyone else has it wrong, so never mind that one.

The highlight of the trip was most definitely Atlantis.  The resort/hotel and casino complex/beach/waterpark on Paradise Island in The Bahamas is easily the best resort I’ve ever seen.  The lazy river was like riding White Water Canyon in an inner tube, and one circuit took 25 minutes.  There are nine waterslides (the biggest one a 120-foot vertical drop), the best of which finishes up in a clear tube in the middle of a shark tank.  The aquarium is spectacular.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a winter vacation, though I imagine it’s ridiculously expensive.  We spent a day there, on an excursion put together by the ship, and it cost us $150 US each.

The only problem with Atlantis was that we were there on the wrong day.  Our day there was Tuesday, which in a vacuum, is just lovely. But that week, Michael Jordan was arriving Wednesday o kick off his golf tournament.  Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were showing up on Thursday to captain opposing teams in a celebrity softball game.  And Jerry Seinfeld was to cap the week by doing a stand-up show Saturday night.  Damn timing.

We spent the day before hanging out at the beach in Freeport, which was really nice and relaxing.  I spent a good amount of time in the shallower waters stalking what I believed to be a blue eel, but now that I’ve looked at pictures of actual eels, that’s likely not what it was.  It was something, though, skinny, blue, almost transparent.  Weird.  Off the beach, there was a guy with a synthesizer that was trying to sound like steel drums, and it seemed like every reggae/calypso type tune he was playing was one that I knew only because it had once been parodied by Allen Sherman.  Very strange experience, indeed.

There were also plenty of good times at the onboard casino.  I played in two poker tournaments, finishing second once and tying for second another time, and I made it to the final table in the blackjack tourney as well, though I fell short there.

The lowlight of the trip?  Easy.  Some drunken pseudo-Romeo pounding on our door at 3:15 one morning, looking for Jennifer, the newly-found love of his life.  I don’t know who I hate more – the guy for demanding entry to the room after being told there was no such woman there (I mean seriously – even if you met a girl and think you got her room number, if a guy answers the door at 3 AM, isn’t that enough of a hint to get the hell out of there?) or the girl for giving him my room number to get him to go away.  After our initial exchange, he said he would just wait outside the room.  He knocked again about five minutes later, and after I once again explained that she wasn’t there, and that he might have the wrong floor, or room number, he looked as though he was lost in thought for a bit, completely perplexed, then totally dejected as he slunk away.  Poor guy.  Idiot.

Overall, a solid trip, though again I would heartily recommend Princess over Carnival (those being the only two cruise lines on which I’ve been).  Princess has better food, more variety, a far nicer presentation, just better in general.

So now I have two weeks at home before heading off to Whistler to take part in our coverage of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games – that should be a blast.  After that, home for less than a week before heading down to Spring Training to help fill you in on all the goings-on down there.

The next you hear from me will be after the annual State of the French Fries, featuring Paul Beeston, Cito Gaston and Alex Anthopoulos.  I will likely be heavily drugged, though – just letting you know in advance.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

26 Responses to “Rooty Toot Tooth”
  1. 1.

    Hey Mike,
    1) What sports are you going to be covering at the Olympics?

    2) Since this the season to drool over prospects, who are your top 3 (or 5) over-hyped or failed Jays prospects?
    Alex Sanchez on the list?

    3) And speaking of prospects, how good Derek Bell could have been?

    MW: 1 – All the stuff in Whistler. Cross-country, Downhill, Luge, Bobsled and like that. 2 – Wow. Brian Milner, Sil Campusano and Marty Janzen spring immediately to mind. 3 – Derek Bell wound up being pretty good.

    - Nevin
  2. 2.

    I kind of understand the drunken pseudo-Romeo’s confusion. I came here looking for a baseball blog. Wrong door, I guess.

    MW: Hey, you get what you pay for.

    - Evan White
  3. 3.

    Thanks for the fix Mike. I’m sad to miss the French Fries this year due to family stuff. I predict a general love-in as I would hope the majority of fans in attendance will realize what an impressive job AA has done so far. The Cito send-off will officially kickoff as well. Looking forward to your post.

    I’m really pumped that it’s almost Feb which never fails to be followed by March. I’m trying not to get my Fricke’n hopes up too high. Maybe the gaffe on the Alomar voting will be balanced out by a solid Tom Cheek decision.

    Given your interest in “the Dan”, do you know to which Rikki Donald Fagan was giving his number ?

    MW: I don’t, but I know that she don’t wanna call nobody else.

    - TouchemallJoe
  4. 4.

    Mike, sounds like it was an awesome trip. Funny, a friend of mine just got back from the Bahamas, and claimed that Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan were there, and I didn’t totally believe her. Since I trust your reporting (due to an accurate track record), I’ll have to trust that she was telling the truth.

    MW: Yup. Damnit.

    - Dave
  5. 5.

    Hey Mike,

    That was you who didn’t open the door? I was looking for Jennifer . . .

    Baseball-wise, there are a bunch of free agents signing one-year deals these past few days (Jon Garland, Ben Sheets, Xavier Nady, Miguel Tejada etc.)

    I just don’t see why the Jays can’t make a major-league addition somewhere. I think a top prospect like Snider having some competition for the job is a good thing.

    There have also been some proven closers move around for cheap. Who is closing games for the Jays this year?

    MW: Probably Jason Frasor, maybe Downs, Accardo or even McGowan. The thing about all those guys signing one-year deals is that they’re signing with a starting spot guaranteed, not to provide competition for a spot with a great young hitting prospect. And I should have known that it was you.

    - Ken Pagan
  6. 6.

    I have cruised Princess, Carnaval, Royal Carribean and Norwegian.For my money, it is Princess all the way. Especially for the food. While food isn’t everything, it becomes important when you eat on board 15-20 times in a week.
    The worst was Norwegian (Hawaii cruise). Prime rib, ordered medium, came red, fatty and thin – I couldn’t eat it. The next night, I ordered roast pork and it was very dry and overcooked (my son said over-cooked by 45 minutes-he is a chef). We started paying the upgrade fee to go to the Italian restaurant. The food was much improved but there were further $20 upgrades for certain items on the menu. Total disappointment, although everything else on Norwegian was outstanding. They all have their strengths and weaknesses!

    - Allan
  7. 7.

    michael,
    btw, thanks for the advice. jen was on the floor below.
    we’re gettimg married in june…..

    MW: Pagan beat you to it.

    - darrell bishop
  8. 8.

    Don’t worry about the tooth pain you WILL push through. I know this because you are passionate about baseball, and I am passionate about food. After I had all four of my wisomd teeth out on December 23, 2008, I proceded to have three straight days of delicious Christmas dinners. You will be fine.

    My question to you is what are your initial thoughts on the job that AA is doing? I myself am impressed that he has done exactly what he said he would do, when he said he would do it. No five year plan, no sunglasses.

    MW: I’m very impressed so far, I hope that’s come through.

    - T.J.
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike…firstly, hope you’re on your way to feeling better. Secondly, thanks for all the pleasure I get out of reading the blog, especially thru the cold winter months. Anyway, I wanted to know what effect you feel the departure of pitching coach Brad Arnsberg will have, specifically with the younger arms. How do you feel about his replacement? Secondly, I know there have been just vague hints at some organizational unhappiness with Jeremy Accardo, and I wondered if you felt that that dynamic might change with the new GM, AA, stepping in. The few times I’ve heard Accardo interviewed he seems like he enjoys playing the game and if he has a problem with T.O., he’s enough of a professional not to air it. Anyway, thanks again and appreciate the pain medication, sir…

    MW: I’m trying to appreciate as little of the pain meds as possible, just in case. Arnsberg was in a very uncomfortable situation and I don’t blame him one bit for finding a better one. His replacement, Bruce Walton, has been with the team a long time, and I have faith that he’ll wind up doing just as good a job as Arnie did – with more communication with the manager. I really don’t know what the deal is with the organization and Accardo, but Alex hasn’t been any more glowing with his praise for Jeremy than J.P. was.

    - HamiltonGuy
  10. 10.

    Hi Mike,
    Good to have you back. Don’t worry about the root canal. It seems worse than it really is. The worst part was the needles to freeze the tooth and having to keep your jaws wide open for 2 hours. Otherwise you’ll be okay. I look forward to reading your reports from Spring Training. Thanks so much.

    MW: I love the fact that they now give you a topical before the injections!

    - Joe
  11. 11.

    Mike,

    Maybe you have addressed this already, but I want to propose the following scenario to you and get your feedback. It is completely hypothetical and could no longer happen since the Jays already traded Halliday.

    The Blue Jays keep Roy Halliday, sign John Lackey, and sign Chone Figgins. Then, they apply the same effort and resources to organizational improvement (scouting, front-office, etc), rebuilding the farm system while increasing competitiveness at the major league level. Would those acquisitions plus the retention of Halliday not been enough to give Boston and New York a run for their money?

    MW: First of all, it’s Halladay. Second of all, no, that wouldn’t have been enough. You’re a few months late with this, but if you want to go back even further, check out my post near the end of the season about how the Jays could have made the team competitive over the winter. None of that can happen anymore, either.

    - David
  12. 12.

    Will you be covering mostly ski events since you’re at Whistler, or will you have the opportunity to observe other sports in Vancouver?

    Baseball: Any inside info. on D. McGowan and his ability to play in 2010 and beyond? Last I read, he was still recovering from left knee surgery and obviously, working back from the right shoulder injury. I was at his last game, against the O’s in July/08. It seems a lot longer.

    Cruise: if you’re ever looking for further adventures, I recommend the Silja Line. They do the Scandinavian circuit. I was on one of their boats between Sweden and Finland 13 years ago with my parents. It was a surreal experience on that boat, one week before starting college, mingling with 6’5″ Nordic women.

    MW: 1 – I doubt I’ll get into Vancouver at all over the course of the Games. I probably won’t see anything there but the airport. 2 – McGowan threw off a mound today (Jan. 29) and reported no problems at all. 3 – I’ll look into it. Sounds pricey.

    - Adrian
  13. 13.

    Hey Mike. Any interest in seing The Rocks new film “The Tooth Fairy”?

    MW: No

    - Matt in BC
  14. 14.

    Mike, what are you covering at the Olympics? If you want to go for a beer with a local, let me know!

    MW: Are you in Vancouver or Whistler?

    - Darren
  15. 15.

    Have you been watching the Australian Open at all? One of regular men’s commentators sounds very much like you. It’s uncanny.

    MW: The first part of your comment was funny, but better suited for other blogs. I haven’t watched any of the Aussie Open, I wonder who the guy is.

    - Clay
  16. 16.

    Greetings Mr. Wilner.

    Sounds like you had a pretty good vacation. Hope the mouth is feeling better, no worse pain in my opinion than a toothache. Just a quick qeuestion, I just read a few names mentioned on Fox Sports that could be possibilities for the Jays and wanted your thoughts on the names and if you think any of them would be a fit on the Jays. Johnny Gomez, Marcus Thames and Hank Blalock. I personally think Gomes or Thames would be pretty good fit since they can both play the outfield but dont see a fit here with Blalock since he would be a DH or 1B and we already have Lind at DH and Overbay or Wallace at first. Of the 3 I would like to see Marcus Thames here because I think we could use another right handed bat with some pop to go with the 2 lefties in Lind and Snyder (if Snyder makes the opening day lineup of course). Not saying those are the only 2 players with pop on the team, I expect 25+ from Hill and 20-25 from Vernon.

    Looking forward to the up-coming season and if my adding is correct its only 25 more days until the Jays pitchers and catchers officially report to spring training. Thanks as always for taking the time to read and answer any questions and continuing to update the best baseball blog going.

    MW: Thank you. I don’t really see a need for any of the guys you mention. They’re all one-year fixes who really aren’t that good. How much better is Gomes or Thames than Jose Bautista? They’re both far inferior outfield defenders and all three of them hit lefties about equally.

    - Chris
  17. 17.

    Did you know that the Drunk Jays fans gave you an A?

    MW: I did, and I’m very proud!

    - Mark
  18. 18.

    What do you think the jays need to do with RF but snider out there or some sort of platoon with Batista and get a everyday RF threw FA or from a trade later?

    MW: You need a spellcheck. Actually, a spellcheck wouldn’t help you because all the words you used are real and spelled correctly, they’re just the wrong words. So you need to proofread. I would hand right field to Snider, every day, and tell him to work on his defense and just hit.

    - Mark
  19. 19.

    Hi Mike,

    Hope your root canal goes fine. It is great to hear that Paul Quantrill has been inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s. He was a fine Canadian Major Leaguer, and I loved his and your work at last year’s World Baseball Classic. Have you ever had an opportunity to call play by play with any other MLB team? Is that something you’d pursue? When I’ve heard you do the odd spring training game, I’ve enjoyed your commentary.

    Nice to hear Roberto Alomar will be inducted into the hall in St. Mary’s too…they got it right the first time!

    Chew lightly, and enjoy the Teradol.

    MW: Thanks! Quantrill was a coach with Team Canada at the WBC, I don’t know if you’re referring to that or if you’ve confused him with Paul Spoljaric, who was my partner on the broadcasts. I have never worked with any MLB team other than the Blue Jays, and I really look forward to those Spring Training opportunities, too!

    - Jim from Woodstock
  20. 20.

    Mike,

    Would you bring in Jermaine Dye on a one year deal for the right price?

    MW: Nope.

    - Denny
  21. 21.

    michael,
    i noticed earlier today it was announced that the statistically gifted allan roth is being inducted into the cdn. baseball hall of fame.
    well, if he’s going in it’s just a matter of time before your’e in i’m sure my friend.
    congratulations……

    MW: If I get in, it won’t be for a LONG, LONG time, and it won’t be unless I wind up doing a lot more than I do now.

    - darrell bishop
  22. 22.

    A couple of incomplete thoughts:

    I would have liked to see the Jays ink Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal under the “what can it hurt, take a flyer` banner.

    Is there a MLB team with more pitchers having or coming off arm trouble. Can you win with six number three pitchers..

    If I were Andre Dawson, I`d think it was pretty cool to be the only player in history, and quite likely the only player ever to enter the hall under the Expo banner. Too bad he couldn`t be a touch more gracious.

    The alternative of letting the player decide unfortunately allows idiots like Roger Clemons to pick the Yankees over the Red Sox in a nod to spite and or cash over where you had the most success or impact.

    btw, Frank Stallone was Sylvester`s brother, correct…or like the lady on the ship, is that just close enough….I told you these were incomplete thoughts :-) and I`m not even on pain killers.

    Cheers

    MW: Edmonds would have been a decent fit with Reed and Gathright to fight for a spot to platoon with Bautista, but Cito wants Bautista to play every day. It’s tough to win without an ace – that is, it’s tough to win in the playoffs without an ace, see Cleveland, late 1990s. I agree with you on Dawson, and yes, Frank and Sly are brothers.

    - Gary
  23. 23.

    According to Bastian, Cito has been pushing for a Delgado return? Ugh thats sickening. Since we know Lind is Cito’s DH, Delgado would be 1B. Considering Overbay cant even be moved to make room for Wallace – we need another logjam? Really, Cito? Fire him already. Another year is too much.

    MW: If bringing in Delgado pushed Lind to left and Snider to right this year I’d be all for it. Unfortunately, I think it would push Snider to AAA.

    - Renegade
  24. 24.

    hey Mike,

    Enjoy your work. Keep it up.

    This is most likely an unfair assessment (I’ll let you tell me why), but when I hear this new philosophy of the Jays to sign these most-or-less failed top prospects (and I use ‘failed’ lightly…I know some of them have had the misfortune to be injured)…well, it just reminds me of JP talking about how signing Tomo Okha, Thompson, and that other stiff (last year?)were low-risks that might pay off. They didn’t pay off. It was a lot of hot air about nothing.

    Isn’t this the same? Dangling a little bit of hope for naive Jays fans? Really, what are the chances we ever see Shawn Hill take the mound for the Jays?

    Tell me I’m wrong. And why!

    Go Jays.

    MW: You’re misguided. You were right when you said that these guys are low risks and they might pay off. But in saying something “might” pay off, it means that there’s a greater chance that it won’t pay off, so you can’t be surprised when it doesn’t. When something doesn’t really cost you anything and there’s a chance it could turn into something good, then you take it. No one was sold a bill of goods on Ohka, Thomson, Zambrano or Clement, nor is that happening with Hill, Reed, Gathright, Valdez, etc.

    - Dave!
  25. 25.

    re Post#3: Fagan & Becker liked to leave their songs open for interpretation and there is no shortage of speculation on “Rikki’. Some believe Rikki was a young woman they knew in college. I go with one I heard on a rock trivia show (I believe it was on Q107) about how they met and tried to help Eric Clapton through his drug addiction in 1973. Pretzel Logic was released around the same time Clapton finally kicked heroin. So I think the story was that “the number” was for a doctor or clinic who could help him. Anyway the “slow hand” reference makes it believable as well.

    I hope you don’t mind the non-baseball digression. Let’s hope Tom Cheek gets the vote then it’s on to spring training.

    - TouchenallJoe
  26. 26.
    - Bizomy.com
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