The Mockingbird

It’s Just a Ride

with 29 comments

It wasn’t actually meant for this particular string of heartbreaking one-run losses, but this post by the Southpaw struck me the same way as when you hear a song/read a book/watch a movie and suddenly realize that maybe those thoughts and sentiments you keep locked away aren’t really so unique and bizarre as you think just because you don’t encounter them in the MTV/Oprah book club/Hollywood mainstream.

Ok, that’s a little much. But look. The Jays lost one-run games really badly for a month (luck), then won them at an incredible pace for a month (luck) until everything evened out and they were right back in the mix. Now they’ve been losing them all for June (luck) and apparently it’s time to give up on the season.

Not to deny the mind-boggling, insanity-inducing sensation of losing a series to the worst team in baseball, (largely due to Miguel Cairo, the worst @#$@#$ player in baseball) but I’m with the Lefties in attempting to tune out the inevitable emotional hysterics, irrational hatred for the player who has been a letdown this week, theories that the Jays can’t handle success, questioning of the Jays moral fiber and cojones, sweeping statements that they are a .500 team for all eternity, and urgent demands for a fire sale/new batting coach/manager/attitude/mascot blahblahblahblahblahblahhhhh….

I think part of it is because I used to play poker full-time. And when you do, eventually you realize that no matter how good you are (even though in the long run it is unquestionably a game of skill) there’s enough luck involved that crazy, seemingly impossible runs happen. You sit down at a table full of monkeys one night and lose 2 grand. You lose every coin flip for a week. Sick, twisted, gut wrenching things that tear your heart out happen again and again until it seems the universe must be conspiring against you and only you.

And then you hit a good run full of river cards and suckouts and end up right back where you should be, and in that blissful, universe-comprehending state suddenly realize that despite all the noise this entire time you’ve actually been on a straight line directly related to how good you are, and have a good chuckle at what a crazy game it is and the deep existential torture it inflicts on those who are unable to handle the reality of the game. About a week later you’re back to throwing cards at the dealer and cursing, but repeat the cycle about 10,000 times and eventually you get used to it and just smile and say “nice hand” (or “good game”) when the frat boy next to you makes some moronic play and takes your lunch money because you know it’s coming back eventually.

I’m sure that makes me a pretty damn uninteresting commentator because most fans just want to go bezerk or watch someone go bezerk on their behalf to let out their frustrations every time baseball does what it does, but that’s where I’m at now, shrugging off a seemingly endless streak of 1-run losses like a string of bad beats.

Is the Jays’ pitching good enough to carry a weak offense even if it starts breaking even? Who knows! But it’s amazing- the best in years, and fun as hell to watch Shaun Marcum tie batters in knots on a nice summer day. Will the inevitable batting average with RISP/1-run game record/return of players to career averages turnaround come in time? Who knows! But that’s baseball and there’s plenty of it left to play.

The Jays are in the pack and the Rays are about ready to start their collapse, leaving New York as the only real team to fight for the wildcard. As it should be! So please, relaxxxx and try not to tear too much hair out until the next euphoria-inducing, they-should-not-be-winning-all-these-games month comes along…because it’s alllll just a ride.

Edit: This rant wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with Tothlinergate (which I just read) but I guess just goes to prove that all Bloogers are Wilner sycophants who love to watch .500 ball and are apologists for mediocrity. Guilty, guilty, guilty!

Written by halejon

June 12, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Seriousness

29 Responses

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  1. i’m not saying i’m ready to jump off the ledge, i’m just very frustrated by how things have gone. but you’re right, it’s a ride, and all i want is for the car to make it to september and go down wildcard avenue or AL East champions road…instead of dying (like my old piece of shit Ford) on the side of the road in July and/or August…i just want the ride to culminate in meaningful baseball games…i’m tired of watching the Jays play out the stretch…

    and luck certainly does play a factor, and it’s just been incredible to watch what this team has gone through. we could be a lot worse than .500, i know that, but we could also be a lot better, and that’s what makes it all so frustrating…

    and toth, well, i’ve just never liked that dude. tries way too hard.

    Navin Vaswani

    June 12, 2008 at 3:41 pm

  2. I played poker online for a while, and over the course of a month I lost every cent of profit I made from playing, plus every cent I made from deposit bonuses. That was roughly when I discovered that watching baseball was everything I liked about playing poker, except that when I lose $600 watching baseball, at least I get a weekend in Anaheim out of it.

    Torgen

    June 12, 2008 at 3:44 pm

  3. Navin: Yeah, I hear that. Even a few meaningful, packed stadium games in September would be enough for me this year. Seeing a bunch of guys try to care about the last 25 games as you try to care about watching them do it is so freaking painful.

    I know, it’s been brutal. The Jays have been unquestionably the 2nd most frustrating team to be a fan of this year (Atlanta Braves). But the huge mass of bipolar fans just make it more so…

    halejon

    June 12, 2008 at 3:56 pm

  4. Torgen: If you were watching baseball while playing poker, I think I might know where that $600 went…

    halejon

    June 12, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  5. You are hitting me right where I live with the poker analogy. There are only 52 cards in the deck, nothing that happens in a poker game is THAT much of a long shot. The margin for error between playing .450 and .600 baseball teams is so slight, it doesn’t take many bad bounces to turn the 2008 Rays into the 2007 Brewers.

    For my money, I’ll suffer the frat boy suck-outs over the wealthy middle aged Asian guy who might as well play with his cards face up. “Flush you say? Nice hand…..”

    lloyd the ghostrunner

    June 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  6. Lloyd: Haha, I love those guys. You’re not sure if he cracked your set on the turn with the flush so you bet the pot. He calls and then on a total brick on the river goes all-in, out of position, instantly. Hmmmm, that could be a super daring bluff or it could be the SAME DAMN THING YOU DO EVERY TIME YOU HAVE THE NUTS. Nice hand…

    I see the 2008 Rays kinda like that guy who shows up and it’s his first time playing and he cleans house for 2 hours and the entire table starts to salivate and fold whenever he isn’t playing. Wow, I can’t believe you smacked the Hinske 1-outer on the river. And picked up the Percival 2-7 two pair! But stick around, take a seat, lemme get you a beer…

    P.S. I’m not just being a jealous jerk about this. The Rays are towards the top of the league in well-hit balls against and close to the bottom in Slugging percentage for some reason. The dam is going to burst on that 2 ERA improvement, and nothing wrong with a little preemptive shadenfreude…

    halejon

    June 12, 2008 at 4:46 pm

  7. No, I quit poker and then got back into the baseball. I was part of the crowd they lost after the ’94 strike.

    Torgen

    June 12, 2008 at 5:23 pm

  8. Nice one! This is a great “#$&% off” to all those bandwagoners. Just because we — the ones who don’t call for heads, or freak out at umpires — have immense amounts of patience doesn’t make us any less passionate fans. We just realize that sometimes, the stars just don’t align. Call it Karmic Baseball.

    Unless ya wanna live hard and die fast, there’s always next season.

    And I know not too many teams have back-to-back championships in their past; I think people are far too prone to forget the glory that the Jays have had (and still have if you want to feel it) as an organization. It’s not like we’re perennial bottom-dwellers with ownership that doesn’t spend any money or improve the ballpark, or an organization that won’t develop its own talent for years at a time.

    We’ll get a bunch of luck sooner or later.

    Jesse

    June 12, 2008 at 8:26 pm

  9. Torgen, I’m a bit intrigued. What brought you back to the game?

    navin vaswani

    June 13, 2008 at 1:03 am

  10. Basically I realized that pitching, like betting in poker, is all about game theory. I don’t think any other sport has that. (And then when I later read Moneyball, the deal was sealed.)

    Torgen

    June 13, 2008 at 1:52 am

  11. i think we are justifying the jays losses by saying we are evening out for a good month we had in may, or we did a good enough job by going .500 on a tough road trip or that we should be impressed that jays made close games out of the ones they lost, or that these losses are extra disappointing just b/c they happen to occur in bunches… and so on

    but, what if these are the games we are endowed with to win? what if these 1-run games turn into 3/4-run games, what are we going to say then? what if we start going into the 9th inning of games looking for a rally, instead of a save? shouldn’t we be taking advantage of these games that are within our grasp?

    i think we as fans are expecting worst times to come, and just want the jays to rack up an impeccable record, so they will be able to absorb some losses and still be in contention. i think the fact that we don’t have a track record such as the yankees for having good 2nd halfs, contributes to that. until the jays prove otherwise, we have no choice but to be pessimistic.

    pa

    June 13, 2008 at 2:59 am

  12. If these 1-run games turned into 3/4 run games, then I would say that the Jays are getting legitimately killed by the opposition and are not a particularly good team. But teams just don’t play .400 ball in 1-run games and .560 otherwise. I’m not trying to justify anything, it just doesn’t happen over anything but the extremely short run for a team now and again. Sure, it’d be great if the Jays had taken advantage of all these close games- but despite the emotional trauma, it worries me a lot less when they’re falling just short in one situation after another rather than being being legitimately outclassed. Unless you think that things that Overbay ripping a ball right at Miguel Cairo, etc. is somehow related to some sort of weakness that it going to make it happen forever.

    I think (obviously) there’s plenty of choices other than to be pessimistic. A team can hit over their heads for a while- like the Jays did in 2006, which is why they had such a great first half. But pitching keeps you consistent down the stretch. Ok, that might be one of those stupid sayings that a stathead can disprove, but compare the current situation to 2006, when optimism was pretty high because the offense was @!#$@#$ awesome at the all star break. But back then, every single hitter was having a career year, and the they had only a marginally better record. Kind of a no-brainer that they were do for a correction. This year, it’s the exact opposite. For a difference of 4 losses, I have a lot more optimism for the rest of the season with the team that is obviously underperforming than the one that is playing over their heads.

    halejon

    June 13, 2008 at 3:33 am

  13. Like we talked about last night. It is all just a ride, and not just one season – from one year to the next, and right now we do have all the reasons to look up. Eventually, the team that’s won the most games in the last decade without making a single post-season appearance will eventally make it’s run….or two, or more.

    Core players and building blocks locked up for years. Two of the best hitting prospects in the game ready, or very close. Stop-gap players with expiring contracts. An entire, best-in-the-league pitching staff with a sub-4 era (aside from one particular meathead), and a triple-A staff that’s playing so well they’re impossible ignore.

    You can look at every position and things are good, either now, or in the next two, two+ years. Say what you want about the inevitable swing of sick prospects that’ll go for the Rays, or the bottomless pockets of the Yanks or Red Sox, but you can’t say the Jays aren’t headed in the right direction.

    mulliniks

    June 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

  14. What do you fellas think of Aaron Hill? He went to my alma mater and played some really good baseball at LSU.

    IAN

    June 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

  15. I’m curious who the two best hitting prospects are?

    I know Snider, definitely, is probably the best hitter prospect in all of baseball. I might be having a mental block but the only other guy I can think of in the system who is a good hitting prospect (that is close and ready) is Lind, and while he IS a good prospect, I think at his advanced age, calling him one of the best hitting prospects is a stretch.

    Think of the return you could get for Snider compared to Lind and it makes it more clear cut.

    zeppelinkm

    June 13, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  16. I didn’t say this so I hope I didn’t imply otherwise, Adam Lind absole-fucking-lutely should be starting in LF for the Jays right now.

    The fact that he isn’t continues to boggle my mind.

    zeppelinkm

    June 13, 2008 at 1:15 pm

  17. Ian: I think Hill will win a gold glove some day. He should for sure as long as his bat comes around a bit. Last year’s power was probably a fluke, but hitting just under .300 should be a snap for him, such quick hands. It’s whether he’s going to end up in the .330’s or .350-60’s in OBP. Anyway, love him, solid 2B for sure, could be a star but who the hell knows with middle infielders.

    halejon

    June 13, 2008 at 1:20 pm

  18. Zep: Yeah, he means Lind. Among the best prospects in baseball is probably a stretch, but how about “closest and best” minor leaguers?

    I don’t know if 24 is really such an advanced age, either…I mean guys like Ordonez (or Rios) at this age weren’t considered behind schedule because they were getting their chance to iron out the kinks and be mediocre in the bigs. Lind is so under the radar right now- he has a pretty good chance to win ANOTHER AAA MVP now that his main competition is up killing the major leagues right now, and when was the last time you heard about him in the paper?

    halejon

    June 13, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  19. I suspect the talk about Lind and his toilage in the minors will go up this weekend as Reed Johnson makes his return to the confines of the Rogers Centre…

    We need to all go on a hunger strike or something (I confess, I’m reading Gandhi’s autobiography right now) and get J.P. to call him up. It’s absurd that we’re letting him destroy AAA pitching while we can’t score runs up here.

    I don’t get it.

    Navin Vaswani

    June 13, 2008 at 3:47 pm

  20. My bad, I thought for some reason Lind was 25. Should have checked.

    It’s ridiculous this treatment of Lind. ABSOLUTELY. We keep talking about trading for an impact bat (or some people keep talking about it), but why not give him a shot? I know I know, I’m beating a dead horse around these here educated parts. I don’t expect him to be a saviour, but I think at the least a .270/.330/.430 line wouldn’t be asking for too much (and that’s a line with UPSIDE POTENTIAL), and considering that would be like a 100 ops improvement over the current “group” of LF’ers… sigh, why am I still typing. I hate JP right now.

    zeppelinkm

    June 13, 2008 at 5:00 pm

  21. I’ll rant a little more with yah later if you want, but on the way to the game…

    The only possibility is that there’s something personal about Lind that we don’t know, some huge hole in his swing that they’re not working out- or what seems more likely to me, that if they play him for a month they lose a year of FA.

    That seems pretty petty to me if you’re really trying to compete this season. I mean c’mon…there’s no freaking chance Lind is not an improvement in LF. Nobody hits 900+ OPS for a reasonable period of time and then can’t be above average in the bigs. But maybe J.P. is really looking about 2 years ahead? The way he’s band-aiding right now it really doesn’t seem like he thinks his job is at all in jeopardy and is biding his time as the young staff continues to mature, pretty much the entire team is still around, and then there’s a Lind/Snider/Arencibia/Cecil/League/Janssen/Purcey/FA injection.

    Jon

    June 13, 2008 at 5:09 pm

  22. that’s a whole lot of injections…barry bonds type shit right there

    Navin Vaswani

    June 13, 2008 at 5:31 pm

  23. Y’all should be picketing the Rogers Centre with “Free Adam Lind” signs. Maybe make up little pamphlets about him being unfairly imprisoned in Syracuse without trial on charges of going .053/.100/.053 over 20 plate appearances. I’m about 2500mi away from joining you.

    Torgen

    June 13, 2008 at 5:38 pm

  24. i like the way you think…it’s all about non-violence, my friend. i’m still thinking about that hunger strike.

    Navin Vaswani

    June 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm

  25. Interesting conversation guys. For the record, I played in the 2006 World Series of Poker for pokerroom.com (and cashed).

    Ari

    June 14, 2008 at 3:08 am

  26. Whaaaaa? Really? I was in that tourney, too. What place? If you took me out with AA vs KK, you’re not welcome around these parts…

    halejon

    June 14, 2008 at 3:48 am

  27. Ari: I think battersbox is wayyyy ahead of you/us, although seemed to have toned it down a notch with the seemingly eternal inevitability of his incarceration. Pamphlets are an amazing idea though, it must be done…

    halejon

    June 14, 2008 at 3:53 am

  28. I’m not quite sure what you mean John with your last comment, was it meant for me? I finished around 700th (they paid pockets of 50 the same so I don’t remember the exact placing), you are welcome to google Ari Levy and find out!

    Ari

    June 14, 2008 at 12:33 pm

  29. Errr….wrong way around. The whining about Lind was for Torgen. The whining about my last pokerroom experience was all yours…nice cash!

    halejon

    June 17, 2008 at 2:49 am


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