The Mockingbird

Posts Tagged ‘Sports

Five O’clock Power

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Everyone knows the home run derby is silly. It takes the art of hitting and reduces it to the most meaningless of spectacles. Hitting floaters down the middle with consistency is so irrelevant to what makes a great slugger that it’s almost funny watching the big boppers struggle with it. Ryan Howard provided some legitimacy last year, but before that:

  • Bobby Abreu – Smashed the record with 41 in the derby and has hit 26 in the two years since then.
  • Miguel Tejada – Great power for a SS, but a HR king? He’s never hit 35 in his life.
  • Garret Anderson – Has only hit 30 HR once in his career

And then we had a bunch of juicers (Giambi, Gonzalez, Sosa) before Griffey Jr. again injected (pardon the phrase) some legitimacy into the event. In an indictment of the appreciation of modern fans for the nuances of the game it is far and away the most watched event of the summer, but I watch the derby with the same mix of excitement and revulsion as a shootout in Soccer or Hockey. C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le Jeux.

That being said, I really wish Alex Rios had not gotten tired and won the thing yesterday, because you could almost hear the commentators waving their arms frantically at interns to try to get something intelligent to say about him. They even cut to an interview with Holliday while Rios was eliminating him and getting a standing ovation with the biggest streak of the event.

Seriously, this is the internet age- “he plays in Canada” is no longer an excuse. There are only 8 players out there and you’re telling me you haven’t done enough research to say something more informed than “I can’t see him keeping this up- he’s already hit more home runs this season that he did all of last year”?? If Alex played for New York the commentators wouldn’t be standing around chuckling that he slipped into the finals, they’d be raving about him being one of the most exciting young players in the game who can also steal bases and has the best arm in the League.

But while he may have impressed everyone who watched the event, second place isn’t enough for big media to admit their ignorance and start splashing his name around like they were old friends. Just ask Jason Stark, who managed to write an entire piece on the event while only mentioning Rios’ name once, in passing. At least the hometown paper saw fit to give him a pat on the back (sorry, I just had to slip this picture in somehow).

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The other big reason I wish he’d won is then everyone could agree that he should never bat leadoff again.

Written by halejon

July 10, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Alex Rios, Baseball, Blue Jays, Home Run Derby

Tagged with ,

Leading off….SOMEBODY!

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In a move sure to shock both the SABRmetric world and conventional thinkers, the Mockingbird has ascertained that the Blue Jays have decided to employ the long-lost concept of the “leadoff man” for the upcoming critical series against Cleveland.

“Well, we still like the home run,” explained JP Ricciardi. “But we’ve run some new computer models and it seems having runners on base when we hit home runs affects our total runs scored. We lead the league in solo shots, but we’re going to see if that can translate into other types of home runs as well. You never know.”

In Johnson’s absence the Blue Jays have tried Rios, Lind, Hill, Clark, Clayton and Wells leading off, bravely breaking the mold of quick, light-hitting on-base machines to set the table. With Reed set to return the the lineup tonight, it seems that the team will return to ancient wisdom just a few players short of completing the set. A dejected John Gibbons sat staring at the lineup card today in the clubhouse.

“I sure do like shuffling the lineup. But this here dang thing just writes itself. When O-bay comes back I could just pull the heart of the order out a gum-danged hat! I’m going to have to break the news to Zaunnie, Troy and Frank because they’ve been practicing bunt singles for weeks now just in case I gave the call.”

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Written by halejon

July 6, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Stand-Clearing Brawl

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Remember when Phillips got elbowed on a play at the plate against the Indians and the benches cleared? Well here’s what you didn’t see:

And from another angle:

Although I know he’s just some drunk moron, I think this is a totally appropriate dadaist reaction whenever a bunch of millionaires start acting like children in public. And the backflip attempt is pure gold…

(Oh and here’s what you did see…)

phillipsbarfield.jpg

Written by halejon

July 3, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Baseball, Blue Jays, Dustin McGowan

Tagged with , ,

Scraps

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Reed Johnson played his first real game yesterday. How about some multiple choice:

a) C’mon, it was his first game back from laying on the couch for months. He pinch hit in the 7th and looked a little lost at the plate but that’s entirely to be expected.

b) He slept overnight at the park and lead calisthenics at 4:30 AM to a group of bewildered seagulls. Leading off for the team, he scored the first run of the game in the third inning by mashing a ball over the left field fence. He followed that up with a double and finished 2-4. When they attempted to pinch hit for him with the lead in the last inning, he lept over the dugout rail and had to be physically restrained from entering the batters box before the manager could make the move official.

Ok, I’m not too sure about that some of that. But if you picked a) – BACK OF THE CLASS. Reed’s a gamer.

    Written by halejon

    June 29, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Play it out

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    There were a number of changes to the MLB rulebook this offseason. Some of them were no brainers:

    • Explicitly confirming that Kenny Rogers cannot lather his hand in pine tar;
    • Stopping “human rain delays” by dropping the time allowed between pitches to 12 seconds;
    • Mentioning in teensy type at the front of the rulebook that “he” really means the ladies, too.

    But one of the ones I really liked was resuming tie games that were suspended from where they left off. Why in the world would you play the whole game over? Well, here’s why:

    Last night’s game ended in the top of the inning seconds after the Yankees had rallied from behind and taken a 2-run lead. It was never really a tie, but counts for the purpose of the new rule. So the Yankees are really very probably going to win, but instead we have to mentally adjust the standings for the next month.

    On top of that, the O’s have a rather legitimate gripe that the top of the last inning that saved the Yankees was played in ridiculous conditions, while the bottom will be on a freshly-manicured field in the beauty that is the end of July. Am I just griping because it’s the Yankees? Very possibly. But I like suspending a game for a month with one team with a commanding lead as much as I like the idea of instant replay in baseball. It may be more accurate, but it’s wrong.

    Oh, and interim manager Dave Trembley gets the award for most diplomatic comment ever concerning his team’s reaction to the end of the game. What is this, Cricket??

    “You got some guys that felt like we had the game, and the way it ended isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, so to speak.”

    Written by halejon

    June 29, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Attach Tendon A to Socket B

    with one comment

    Hide the Bowflex machine! Brandon League is back. That was not the most overpowering of rehab stints, and he might not be hitting 100 any time soon, but at least his career isn’t totally over (I’m looking at you, Wilner). I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the locks have been changed on Jordan De Jong’s locker…

    Reliever Brandon League, in Syracuse on rehabilitation assignment, was recalled to Toronto on Tuesday. League, the Blue Jays’ potential setup man, appeared in six games for the Chiefs. He was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA. In his last outing, Monday at Scranton-Wilkes Barre, he pitched one inning and did not allow a hit or a run.

    My momma taught me never to get a drunk mad, but if DJF doesn’t provide an exclusive interview on the glorious return of this giant doofus after his attempt at career hari-kiri, I’m getting out my dictaphone and scooping it.

    l4dcmwff.jpg

    Written by halejon

    June 27, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Conspiracy Theory

    with 3 comments

    I’m on to you Shawn. You and your little buddy Casey. I know you want everyone to be carried away by your unexpected success, your absolute trouncing of anyone’s predictions for your ability and ceiling as a starter and not think back to what got you your chance, not even question how you went from one of our best pitchers to season scapegoat and back again in a matter of a month. But it’s all making sense now.

    There you were, sitting in the bullpen as they gave Towers another chance, Ohka a few too many. Heck, they even tossed Zambrano out there who had been gathering dust so long in the bullpen you thought he was the backup catcher. Did anyone remember that you had shown potential at the end of last season and were promised a shot at fighting for the 5th spot? No- they were blinded by spring training numbers and some pitchers who had last put up good numbers when you were in college.

    It burned you out there. You were leading the team in K’s out of the bullpen, for chrissakes! And the great solution to the team’s pitching woes? Leave the guy who hasn’t given up a run all season and has a strange birthmark on his head that reads “future closer” as the long man and give you and Casey a shot at closing, where you can’t establish your 4 pitches or really throw your changeup at all.

    So you devised a devious plan. Blow up in such amazing, disastrous, back-to-back blown games fashion that they would have no choice but to send you down to Syracuse where you would no doubt start over as a starter. You conspired to take management of the team into your own hands, to rip off the band-aid of crappy veterans in one quick pull and expose the youth movement. You arranged for Casey to pitch his face off so they wouldn’t think they needed to hold you around to eat up innings, and threw a couple of meatballs to Ramirez and Tejada. Almost instantly you went from the best option out there to the target of immediate demands for DFA from ignorant fans across the country. And you just sat back and smiled, didn’t you?

    captb96c7f94cdf84b178959794f0d81b8b0nationals_blue_jays_baseball_ajw104.jpg

    (Is this the face of a man you can trust?)

    As it turned out, things worked out even better and quicker than you could have imagined and for some reason (the plot thickens…do you have incriminating pictures of someone??) they decided to throw your shellshocked corpse into the rotation right away. You sped up the schedule on your little plot and instantly (suspiciously!) threw 6 no-hit innings…

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    (Artist’s Conception)

    …to cement your spot in the rotation. The rest is history. You are back to being amazing and really have been more of a surprise and a better contributor so far than headline-grabbing McGowan. Our rotation is the best it has been in a decade since we took the plunge and had some faith in youth. But I’m on to you, and will tell the world what you’ve done if you even THINK of returning to the 5th starter you’ve been projected to be your entire career…

    Written by halejon

    June 27, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Posted in Baseball, Blue Jays

    Tagged with , , ,

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