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The AL MVP Race
Sep 29th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I wrote this in the comments of Joe Posanki’s blog, but what the heck. Joe was talking about how the most valuable player race would go in the American League this season.

The MVP, in my opinion, is Jose Bautista, but let’s get in the minds of the voters. None of these guys are on steroids, but voting is going to come down to who is doing the most fake steroids. Therefore, to baseball writers:

4. Jacoby Ellsbury. There is not a shred of proof that he is on PEDs. But during their championship run, everyone else on the Sox were injecting themselves with any fluid they could find. So that means it’s the culture there, and Jacoby should pay for writers not seeing it earlier.
Odds Of Steroid Use: 1,000,000%, 4th place.

3. Jose Bautista: You just gotta at least ask the question! It was also proven by ESPN.com that a mysterious “man in white” was able to fire darts filled to bursting with steroids into Jose’s neck during play last year after certain pitches were released from the pitcher’s hands. Clearly on steroids, but most writers aren’t sure if they are legal in Canada or not, so he may get some slight benefit.
Odds of Steroid Use: 4,000%, 3rd place.

2. Curtis Granderson. They can’t punish A-Rod for his steroid use here, but what we saw with Bagwell being denied is that a different guy on the same team is good enough. (Bagwell the one being punished for Ken Caminiti.) Sorry, Curtis.
Odds of Steroid Use: 1,000%, 2nd Place

1. Justin Verlander. Nobody cares about steroid use on a team that lost 170 games in a season like the Tigers did a few years back. Could be punished for Miguel Cabrera’s behavior, but 1) Cabrera will be punished in this vote for Cabrera, and 2) Scotch? NOT A STEROID. 25 wins is a big middle finger to last year’s AL CY vote and, don’t ask the voters how, Moneyball as written by Billy Beane.
Odds of Steroids Use: 0%, 1st Place

Today In Shitty Sportswriting
Aug 10th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

From this awful piece of nonsense.

Several Jays had extreme splits in 2010. Bautista, for example, had a 1.118 OPS (on-base plus slugging) with 33 homers at home but an .879 OPS and 21 dingers on the road. First baseman Adam Lind had a .759 OPS with 15 homers in Toronto but a .660 OPS with eight bombs on the road. Second baseman Aaron Hill? His home-road OPS split was .730-.605.

Lookout, guys! Amy K. Nelson just discovered home/road splits and is ON THE CASE! Ha ha ha!

I took a look at Derek Jeter’s home/road splits in 2010. His OPS at home was .790. His OPS on the road was .633. Since this is a greater split than Lind or Hill, I can only conclude that in the few tenths of a second Jeter has to make a decision on whether or not to hit a ball, he is able to identify hand signals of a man sitting 260 feet away at New Yankee Stadium. Possessing the gritty heart of a champion, this is even more impressive when done in New York, because 90% of all Yankee fans are “clogging the signal” by giving each other the middle finger.

Astonishingly, Jacoby Ellsbury’s home/road splits in 2010 were .304/.556 in favor of playing on the road. Now, I should mention that Ellsbury only played 18 games last year, but making wildly retarded conclusions based on complete fucking nonsense that is obvious noise to anyone with a fourth-grader’s knowledge of baseball would seem to be “in bounds” for what Ms. Nelson came up with here.

I fucking love how a profession — baseball writer / sports reporter — that literally could not have cared less when steroids were making a mockery of the game is now suddenly sounding the alarm, throwing elbows and putting the gumdrop on the police cruiser because Black Dad looked at the miserable lineup he was left with last year and told everyone to swing for the fences. You don’t get a Sports Pulitzer for figuring out why Jose Bautista became the best player in baseball “suddenly,” assholes.

They’ve been playing baseball for over a hundred years. This clenched-lip determination to ensure that Jose Bautista doesn’t make a fool of everyone covering the sport is adorable. But it is almost inevitable that a guy who was unheralded was going to hit like Babe Ruth Lite suddenly. I’m willing to explain what happened, however, and it goes to the first rule of reporting: nobody covering an event or story is going to know what happened better than a fan of the team.

Jose Bautista could always crush left-handed pitching. He’s not really doing anything new there.

Jose Bautista entered a few organizations that have no idea what they were doing (Pittsburgh, Baltimore) and who had no idea what they were doing in 2004 (Kansas City, Tampa Bay).

Jose Bautista was acquired by a team (Toronto) that found itself finally admitting, after 18 years, to start a youth movement and see what they had in a few vets. A lot of people gave Cito Gaston shit for the way he managed when he came back to the Blue Jays, but the guy is one of the few managers in the history of the game to win back-to-back championships. If you ignore things like lineup construction and logic when giving guys “days off” he’s pretty good at what he does, and it was a travesty that he never ended up getting a managerial job with another team. Because of the laughable salary commitments the current state of the game afford a couple franchises in the American League East, Toronto was absolutely primed to unearth nuggets of talent passed over by other teams. Randy Ruiz, in a small sample size, had similar numbers to Bautista in 2009, but elected to play in Japan when he was getting jerked around by the Jays. The same people that saw that Bautista’s play was sustainable did not think Ruiz’s was, and that was proven to be correct.

No I’m just kidding, there’s a man wearing white who can freeze time and give all the Jays batters hand signals regarding what pitch is coming. This is why Aaron Hill went from belting 35 home runs in a season to belting 35 pop-ups in a week last year.

Odd, My Worthless Offer of Complete Garbage Didn’t Net My Team Roy Halladay!!!?
Jul 31st, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Well, well, FUCKING well.

Trade deadline’s over.

And these are difficult economic times.

Am I doing this right? For the most part, you shitlicking, know-nothing sports writers love the sentence per paragraph structure in your written swill, and I wanted the beginning of this article to be Easy Readin’, in case any of you gash-brained mongrels trackback here.

I’m going to go on record and say that the ownership of the Toronto Blue Jays is made up of a bunch of grotesquely unqualified men that I would love nothing more than to fistfight. You’ve got chief executive Nadir Mohamed patting the air to his shareholders, stating that Rogers Communications is obviously committed to the Blue Jays. (You’re not obviously commited NOW, which is why our minimum-salaried designated hitters have an OPS+ of like 70 on the season, you lying sack of shit.)  All they had to do to prevent the best baseball player in Blue Jays history – Roy Halladay – from entering free agency is do two things:

1) Pay the man what he’s worth

2) Fill the holes this team has with a couple veterans that can hit

That’s it. It seems a little more difficult than it is, because the 2009 version of the Jays simply needed a guy who could play DH. That’s it. If Adam Dunn were the DH for the Jays, we’d all still be talking playoffs. Or – at the very least – Roy would have to admit that the players fucked it up if they weren’t contending. But ownership couldn’t do that.

So, this leads us to the last month of trade talks.

It all began due to  speculation from Ken Rosenthal. Get a load of this video – it’s got nothing to do with Roy, but writer (“blogger,” hisses ESPN) Jerod Morris – who attempted to discern why another hitter was having a career year at 37 – is condescendingly skewered by Ken Rosenthal, because – in Rosenthal’s idiotic and uninformed opinion, Morris was speculating.

Which is what Rosenthal did to start all this shit. He speculated that the Jays would have to move Halladay. So this hypocritical goblin kicked things off on July 7th.

And Jesus Christ – I’ve long maintained that virtually any educated sports fan could instantly become the greatest sportswriter of all time, but look at some of this nonsense to come out when Halladay didn’t end up moving:

Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports. He can’t beee-LIEEEEEEEEVE that general manager J.P. Ricciardi didn’t exchange shit for Roy. One of the terrible offers today was from the Anaheim Angels. The offer was Joe Saunders, Brandon Wood and Erick Aybar for Roy. Saunders is a terrible pitcher who would get killed in the AL East, literally killed, Aybar is a little interesting, I guess, and Brandon Wood was the topic of a piece Passan wrote two FUCKING DAYS AGO of a “faded trading chip.” Two fuckin’ days ago! Now the Jays are supposed to pull the trigger on the kind of deal that includes a third baseman who can’t hit big league pitching, a shortstop that is intriguing but nothing particularly special, and a shitty left-handed pitcher, whose resume is easily eclipsed by several younger pitchers the Jays already have.

As for Bill Simmons, he wrote the following through Twitter:  “Toronto overplayed its Halladay hand like the obstinate 8th place a-hole in anyone’s fantasy league that we all hate.” I mean, you either love him or despise him, but if Simmons sickens you, it’s because of that shit right there. He can’t believe Halladay isn’t pitching for the Sox, his (obvious) rightful team.  I guess in Simmons’s fantasy leagues, two douchebag fucks get to bid 200% more on players and then cry like babies, like actual newborn, placenta-stenched babies, at how the other guys aren’t giving away their good players.

(In 2002 I was in a fantasy league with a bunch of guys who know more about baseball than I ever will. Some of them write for Baseball Prospectus, some of them are heavily involved in Diamond Mind dynasties, needless to say it got UGLY early for both myself and my good friend, and fellow JC BBS poster, Roody Yogurt. Roody had Curt Schilling and nobody else. He had the worst team and it wasn’t even close. And he didn’t deal Schilling. What was some other team going to do, give him players to get him into that all-elusive 11th place? I’ve never told Roody this, but I respect him as a man that year. Simmons is the kind of guy who won’t stop making annoying fucking phone calls while the last-place guy is at work to try to pry the one decent player he’s got, resulting in the commish of the league having to get involved and veto shit. 140 characters to reveal yourself as a petulant slimebag.)

Oh yeah, the Phillies were also offering some amazing players. Kyle Drabek had better win a couple Cy Young awards before he’s finished. Roy’s getting his second this season, and Drabek was apparently not somebody the Phils were gonna move unless it was straight-up, or something.

Ditto the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz. I know how terrible talk radio is in this country, so it doesn’t surprise me to see a bunch of stupid shit like, “I wouldn’t trade Clay Buchholz for Albert Pujols,” but this is what the landscape was like in 2009.

Anyway. A wise man once said, “fuck all y’all.” The best pitcher in baseball is still in a Jays uniform, and the Jays are instantly the best team in baseball once every five starts when he’s out there. Ohhhh it evens out a bit when he’s not on the hill, but c’mon – the Jays play in the most competitive division in sports, they don’t go over slot for draft picks, their money is actually, not-exaggerating here, worth less than the other other 29 teams and because they’re in a foreign country with less exposure, when they DO get a great, HoF-caliber player, he’s worth less in trade due to the lack of anyone in the US seeing the guy play. The odds of this team ever making the playoffs again are about zero, and I’d rather it be zero with Halladay pitching for as long as possible.

The Excruciating Ways to Catch Baseball
Apr 11th, 2009 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Somebody might tell you that MLB has their act together when it comes to understanding the opportunities that the Internet offers the average fan to catch their favorite team. THIS IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT. You might even hear them say that Bud Selig should be congratulated for these advancements, as if fucking Selig has ever been on the Internet in his entire life. There isn’t a single commissioner in sports doing a good job right now, but that’s another story.

Here’s a breakdown on the sheer incompetence of getting your game. (Please note that I am writing this with the perspective of a guy living in a different market than his team – I live in Colorado and only care about the Blue Jays. If you are within like 200 fucking miles of a stadium, you get to enter the world of PROXIES and various other stupid horseshit.)

DIRECTV MLB EXTRA INNINGS

So, it’s Saturday and there’s nothing I’d rather do than climb out of bed, shake about ten pounds of cat hair off me, and catch Roy Halladay vs Cliff Lee, in what should be demonstrative proof that Lee winning the Cy Young Award last year was fucking horseshit.

Directv is offering a “preview” of MLB Extra Innings. It’s $160 for the entire year, and honestly, with how much the equivalent is for the NFL, that sounds like a great deal. (I will go ahead and assume that Directv’s NFL Ticket will break $240 in September.)

The problem is that they don’t broadcast all the games! Are you fucking kidding me? And more – how is this game not on? This is fucking inexcusable. I know that Lee is turning back into a shitbag, but for fuck’s sake.

More, it already takes effort to keep track of the regular game times for the Jays. I work until 7 or 8 PM, and their home games start at 5:07PM MDT. I’m not physically around to use the Directv solution, but let’s say I get out early (or the Jays are on the west coast) – I have to seriously consult Directv’s schedule as well? Fuck that. Seriously, fuck that. Again, I understand if they can’t broadcast Rockies games, but otherwise they need to seriously fuck off.

MLB.TV

This is $14.95 a month. And maybe it’s okay this year, but I’ve had it for the 2008 and 2007 seasons, and it’s just shit. Something about it isn’t compatible with our anti-virus software at work, which is fucking amazing, in so much that all anti-virus software has bloated themselves into some kind of security suite, and that whoever put MLB.tv together can’t just give you a link to a a video or audio stream. And Christ, the thing is always locking up. This is a miserable ripoff – again, maybe it gets better in like mid-July, when interest has cooled off and there are less people catching the games, but I had games locking up on me at that point as well last year. (If your experiences with it are better this year, that is awesome, and do feel free to describe what it’s like in the comments. I’m honestly curious.)

iPHONE GAMEDAY APP

This is okay, I guess – it’s $10 for the entire year. Audio only, except – except! They will put small videos of clutch hits and such for you to watch, if you really want to. I’m fine with audio-only, as long as I can choose my own announcers, which I can with this.

The app lets you click on the box score, and see who is fielding where – it’s got lots of easy-to-implement stuff that reminds me of how the Diamond Mind baseball game is set up.

I did buy this, and I think it’s good, overall. The really maddening part is how they deal with commercials. The audio feed goes silent, but not immediately! I honestly think some asshole is sitting there with his finger on the “mute” button at the source, and he simply forgets to hit the button right away. (The most annoying commercial in the world right now is the one for Super-8 on Toronto’s the FAN station.) I’m fairly certain that the same guy forgets to consistently put the sound back on right away .

ACTUALLY GOING TO THE GAMES

Well, yes, this would be best.

So, I don’t know. There really is no perfect solution for catching the games live. Directv is too demanding, MLB.tv is an enormous pain in the ass, and the iPhone app can’t get me consistent audio. The whole thing is fucked.

Bring Back J. P. Ricciardi
Sep 17th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

J. P. Ricciardi has been the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays since November 14th, 2001. The Blue Jays have not made the playoffs since he was hired. It is my understanding that 2009 will be the last year of his current deal with the team. And I don’t know, but to me it seems like he’s currently doing a fine job?

If you take the stretch of time as a whole, sure – he’s failed to put together a team that has made the playoffs. But honestly, just looking at 2008:

  • Adam Lind looks great. Ricciardi drafted him. In fact, let’s look at a list of guys that were drafted under Ricciardi:
  • Travis Snider looks absolutely amazing.
  • Shaun Marcum looks great. He’s got a chance to lead the AL in ERA.
  • Jesse Litsch looks great. He was sent to Syracuse to work some stuff out, and has been nails since returning.
  • Honestly, lately, David Purcey looks pretty good, too.
  • Brett Cecil — okay, I just went to Baseball Reference and I don’t know what the fuck happened recently in Syracuse, but whatever, he was a great pick and will be contributing in the next year or two.

… I believe that his drafting record was skewered by taking Russ Adams (who has not contributed at the major league level), coupled with drafting Rickey Romero (a  pitcher) over Troy Tulowitzki. But he’s otherwise got some nice players coming through the system. The young pitching has been fantastic.

Taking a look at some other moves:

  • The contract that A.J. Burnett signed is/was so strongly in the club’s favor that he’ll be opting out. (The concept of “tampering” is kind of weak, and I’m not saying that anything should come of it, but it was some pretty fucking serious tampering by noted eyesore Hank Steinbrenner to A.J. recently. Whatever, they have every other advantage in the game, might as well let them openly campaign for our players, too.)
  • Joe Inglett and Jesse Carlson were AMAZING pick ups.
  • I guess we can’t give him credit for hiring Cito Gaston? There is a lot of speculation that Ricciardi never would have hired a manager with as much power and influence and so forth. On the other hand, he didn’t stop it from happening. In 30 years, people are going to be amazed that no other team gave Cito Gaston a shot. I honestly don’t even think that racism has anything to do with it. I just think all the other general managers in the game are fucking morons.
  • David Cooper seems like a fine first round selection.

Where did J.P. fuck up? Keeping Shannon Stewart over Reed Johnson was a complete and total mistake – forget about Reed’s production, Stewart simply couldn’t stay healthy. Plus, he made it difficult for me to discuss baseball with some of my friends, as that name meant “Playboy Model” to them. Sure, nobody could have predicted that Johnson would be healthy for an entire season, but he did and he was under contract. Not the biggest failing, and I hope Reed gets a ring with the Cubs, but still.

J.P. paid the A’s to play Frank Thomas this year, which is a little awkward. (Then again, he did get Frank Thomas’s salary off the books for 2009, which absolutely had to happen.)

Whoever decided to bat Marco Scutaro second for the entire year fucked up, but that seems to be something that former manager John Gibbons, J.P. and Cito Gaston were all delighted to do. I’m sure they all get the fucking shakes if Scutaro gets stuck in traffic before the game and there is even the slightest chance they can’t trot him out there as often as possible.

… Honestly, someone tell me why Ricciardi shouldn’t at least finish his contract. He’s doing better at his job than I am. This team isn’t going to the playoffs because it couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position for over a month. But THIS IS THE TEAM THE INTERNET, as a whole WANTED. RBIs are meaningless! (I’m speaking as The Internet right now.) Work as deep into those counts as possible! Walks are king! Don’t bunt, steal, sacrifice! I had to laugh (OK, I’m back), watching this team before John Gibbons was fired, because it really was the team that sabermetrics had argued for. Er, if sabermetrics were sentient. It takes a special, unique, shittily-hitting team of legendary design to not make the playoffs with arguably the best defense and pitching in the league.

I’m not going to fault Ricciardi for getting passed by the Tampa Bay Rays, either. Quite simply, there was no plan in Tampa. There remains no plan in Tampa. Maybe that’s a huge burn on having a development “plan,” and if so, so be it. Tampa was going to draft first overall until things turned around. They weren’t focusing on a philosophy, or any kind of strategy, or any sort of “five year plan.” There was no accountability to a fan base, as they did not have a fan base. I am reminded of a discussion on the Interactive Fiction mud a few years back – someone said that Alex Rodriguez was making more than the entire roster of the Devil Rays, and Neil deMause said, “Alex Rodriguez is more valuable than the entire roster of the Devil Rays.” And he was right! It wasn’t even close, haha.

(The Rays were simply going to be as laughable as possible until they randomly managed to draft well. And in 2008, it all came together. Joe Maddon is a fine manager, but hey, so is Lou Pinella – he was just involved too early. The trade that was made, years ago, to get Scott Kazmir on the team is a once-per-generation sort of ass-raping, but the Rays would have been perfectly content to keep being the worst franchise in sports, indefinitely. So I really can’t fault other GMs (or Toronto’s GM) for not following the same model.)

So yeah, all things considered, I’m happy to at least let Ricciardi give it another shot, and we’ll see where it goes from there. Someone on the Batter’s Box had mentioned, months ago, that all that is really separating him from being an elite GM is that he has not “ripped off” other general managers, and that can probably be chalked up to luck. I mean, J.P. Ricciardi: must improve: luck? That’s idiotic. If I were told that at my job, I would instantly start defecating in the parking lot, as it was clear that I now work in an accountability-free asylum. But that’s how close J.P. is to having this team ready for the playoffs. He honestly just needs a little more luck.

Diamond Mind Baseball Fun
Jul 10th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I play in a Diamond Mind baseball league with seven other fellas. Around the house, it has gained no small amount of notoriety as “text baseball.” The links on how I have faired (second worst for two straight years) are over to the left.

There were three young pitchers for the Blue Jays that I wanted to have on my team, because I am a HOMER. When we draft, you always know how they did in the next two seasons. So last year, I drafted Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen.

They all had terrible 2006 seasons! They were truly terrible. I don’t remember the exact number runs they gave up (in order to keep them, season after season, we have to play them at least 33% of batters they faced in real life) but it was on the order of a million. That gave my team a Pythagorean record of 4-442.

Kidding! The three of them let up 62 runs in 69 innings. But through it all, I knew how the trio fared in 2007 (which we’re going to play after the World Series). Janssen was dominant as a setup guy, and likely moving to the rotation, where he would get a monster amount of innings. Marcum and McGowan were both above average. Couple these guys with Kazmir, Felix Hernandez, Josh Beckett and Gil Meche and I thought I had an outstanding staff.

Meche came back to earth to start the season, but that was fine. Casey Janssen tore his rotator cuff, so he was out for 2008. Marcum was pitching amazingly well, with like a 2.85 ERA when he went on the DL. And Dustin McGowan just tore his rotator cuff as well.

Good thing I gave them all those innings I GUESS.

Did I learn a lesson? Sure – develop one pitcher if you like, over the course of a season, but otherwise it’s just not worth it. We play six games a week for about 14 weeks and it takes about 50 minutes to play a game. That’s a lot of time to invest in “next year.” Well, not so much the time, as the time of the games plus the time picking the keys off the floor and putting them back into a punched-up keyboard.

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