Friday, April 27, 2012

Intrigue At Chavez Ravine

No, that's not the title of the latest Jackie Collins novel (sidebar: is Jackie Collins even still alive?)

On Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals will take on Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Oh, and some 19-year-old kid named Bryce Harper will be making his sort-of-anticipated major league debut.

All set to the dulcet tones of Vin Scully. I can think of worse things to watch on Saturday night.

If Harper sticks with the big club through mid-June, he'll be making a trip to the Dome from June 11-13; a Harper/Brett Lawrie encounter should send the bro-meter through the roof, which will hopefully be open due to nice weather, and to let the bro-ness dissipate harmlessly into the bro-mosphere.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This Week In Terrible Human Beings

I won't write too much on this since it's been done already (and in far better fashion), but I will say a few things:

1) That couple is the WORST.
2) Shout out to Michael Kay for hammering the couple on air for a good inning or so.
3) If that was me at the ballpark with Hannah, I'd be giving that dude the business. No one's punking my kid like that for some attention-hungry cougar.
4) This will be all over Plays of the Week tonight (especially since I'm producing it).
5) Seriously, THE WORST.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Philip Humber Wins At Life, Deserves A Week Off

So how do you follow up a miracle pitching performance? With the miracle of life, of course.

Philip Humber - owner of baseball's 21st perfect game -  is now heading home to be with his wife as they prepare for the birth of their first child.

Humber's still expected to make his scheduled start on Thursday, but, if I may: FUCK. THAT.

His baseball career will never be at a higher trajectory; it's only downhill from perfection. And four days after reaching that high, he's about to reach another: welcoming the next generation of his family.

So if I were Humber, I'd be telling Robin Ventura he can go find some other jabroni on Charlotte or Birmingham to make a spot start, because I'm taking a week off to, you know, be with my wife and new baby, and ALSO I RETIRED 27 STRAIGHT BATTERS MY LAST TIME OUT SO GO FUCK YOURSELF.

Ahem. Congrats to the Humbers on the new addition to the fam.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Edwin Encarnacion: Heart & Soul of the Offence

The name "Encarnacion" literally translates from Spanish to "incarnation". So, if my Babelfish is correctly lodged in my ear, Edwin Encarnacion is "the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form". 

OK, a bit of a stretch, I know, but still, it drives my point home: through the first 15 games of the season (small sample size alert!), EE has been the Jays' best hitter.

He leads the team in nearly every major statistical category, even stolen bases (3). His 13 RBI puts him among the AL leaders, He hits cleanup against lefties, and probably should be against righties too; he's hitting .341 against them so far.

Unlike the usual "I felt great in spring" bullhonky , a few things have changed for Edwin. His swing is shorter and two-handed, as opposed to the long one of past years where his left hand would fly off on the followthrough. He also eliminated the high leg kick and lost some weight.

And his much-maligned defence has been a non-factor; other than three games at first, E5 has been on DH duty.

What's most surprising - and a sign that this might be for real - is that EE doesn't usually get going until after the All-Star Break. Encarnacion was hitting a paltry .209 / .333 / .374 when he was traded to Toronto in July of 2009, and EE's 1st half splits as a Jay the following two years were...not the best:

2011 - .255 / .283 / .405
2010 - .221 / .304 / .463

His current .323 / .368 / .613 line is likely unsustainable for a whole season, but it's nice to have a presence in the middle of the lineup that isn't a complete muppet (see Lind, Adam).

It wasn't long ago that EE was dubbed one of the worst players in baseball, so as Dean Pritchard might say, it's been quite a journey.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If You're A New Parent, Or Just a Human Being, Read This

Drew Magary is one of my favourite writers. He writes for Deadspin and GQ amongst others, and his first novel The Postmortal is awesome.

His latest Deadspin piece talks about the last seven weeks or so of his life; his wife had their third child that many weeks premature. It is funny and sad and scary and genuine and all of the things that good writing should be. It is 100% worth your time, whether you're a new parent or not.

My cousin Julia just took home her baby girl after a premature birth, and I consider myself super lucky that Sarah and I didn't have to go through that. I'm sure it made everyone involved that much stronger, though.

Thanks for sharing this, Drew.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three Kids > Two Blown Saves

Toronto sports fans - aka, the worst - have been quick to jump on new Jays closer Sergio Santos for costing his team 1.2% of the season, because, again, they're the worst.

Santos, to his credit, has admitted he's been overthrowing and thus letting the pressure of April baseball in Canada get to him (ahem), but perhaps this tweet from Shi Davidi sheds more light on Santos' possible "distractions":

On side note, Santos will be leaving team after Wed game for birth of third child Thurs. Set to rejoin team Saturday.

Having another child is a "side note"? This pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Without going all Ozzie Guillen on this, the reasonable human beings trolls ripping Santos should really reassess their own priorities.

As a new dad I've learned that everything is secondary to the health and well-being of my family, as it should be. Has that attitude affected my performance at work? Probably, yeah. Do I let it keep me up at night? Absolutely not; I need my rest for when Hannah keeps me up at night.

Perhaps we need to remember that athletes are people with families, too, and perhaps their performance at their jobs gets affected by major life events, too, just like us.

So how's about we cut the man some slack? Or we can just watch how Coco Cordero does as the interim closer this week. That might also work.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Howard University No Longer Has Sports

We've heard of colleges losing a program here and there for various rape and non-rape related charges, but this is the first I've heard of an entire athletic program getting suspended.

Washington City Paper reports that Howard University is temporarily suspending all sports teams and all upcoming games while they conduct a review.

Details are scarce at the moment, but it appears to have at least something to do with textbook vouchers given to student-athletes:

...the university allowed athletes to spend money that they didn't use on books on whatever they wanted, a possible violation of NCAA rules.

Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is. I had my own personal program like this at Ryerson; my parents gave me money for textbooks, and I spent it on not textbooks.

I'm pretty sure we just call that OSAP up here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Jays Demote Brett Cecil To Double A, Dirk Hayhurst Is Not 'Avin It

It seems I've read the same two stories about the 2012 Blue Jays all off-season: they're so underrated they're getting overrated, and that the starting rotation is the team's only and glaring weakness.

How these two trains of thought haven't derailed each other is a story for another day - that day being after a few turns through the back of the Jays rotation. But it appears we finally have an answer to the question, "Just who the heck is gonna start behind Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez?"

That answer: mercifully not Brett Cecil or Aaron Laffey.

Cecil's awful spring was rewarded with a demotion to Double-A New Hampshire and Laffey will presumably be left on the side of road where the Jays found him.

Joel Carreno and his wicked sinker will take Cecil's spot in the rotation for a turn or so, followed by Alvarez and Kyle Drabek. The Jays will likely shift Carreno back to the pen and roll four starters for the rest of the month.

This rotation shuffle seems to sit well with everyone except former Jays pitcher and author extraordinaire Dirk Hayhurst, who's filling up his Twitter feed with how much he disagrees with the move.

While I'm very much looking forward to reading Hayhurst's new book Out Of My League, I must say that said title aptly describes his reasoning.

All Tweets are [sic]'d:
OK, first off, the argument Vegas is where pitchers go to die is dumb.

No, it isn't. A cursory look at the 51s pitching stats from 2011 reveals that the likelihood of Cecil "figuring it out" in Vegas isn't great. Drabek was awful there last year as well.
2nd, busting a guy whose pitched in the Bigs or AAA for the last 3 years to AA is not better for their confidence, it's like saying "not only do we think there is something wrong with you, we KNOW there is. You cant handle AAA in your present state"

It's not LIKE saying that, it IS saying that. Cecil wasn't getting anyone out in spring training, and has no business being part of a rotation that's considered the weak link in a contender.

Young, lefties always have the potential to be something.

True, lefties often hang around forever as relievers, but a guy topping out at 89 as a 25-year-old isn't worth taking a chance on (see Mills, Brad).
I could go on - Hayhurst sure did - but Shi Davidi dropped the hammer on everyone:
Cecil says demotion was expected, that he chose to go to double-A because it gives a truer read of results

Boom, Garfoosed.