As the Jays head to Tampa Bay to play the Rays in a 9500-seat minor league facility, perhaps it's time to ask whether Ted Rogers should rename his club in a similar rebranding exercise?
The Toronto Jays. The Toronto Js. The Js. Js. *. All gold! And have the club play at least one regular season series in empty, disused Canadian AAA stadiums from Ottawa to Vancouver to increase the national fanbase. Can't lose!
I have made some disparaging comments about the clever fucks who made outrageous predictions about the Rays finishing third in the AL East or winning 85+ games this year, but that doesn't mean I reject the notion that the club is on the cusp of real, impressive change in the very near future.
Although this is a franchise that hasn't given its "fans"--I use the term lightly seeing as the Rays have finished last in the AL for attendance every year since 2001--anything to cheer about during its 10+ year history, this might well end up their first .500 season ever. That in itself would be an accomplishment seeing as they've only once touched 70 wins.
Gone are the days of the ill-fated "murderer's row" experiment of Jose Canseco, Greg Vaughn, Vinnie Castilla and a bunch of other steroid-using sluggers who no longer had it. Gone too is just the egg salad sandwich rotten draft luck that saw blue chip all-world talents like Josh Hamilton and Elijah Dukes piss it all away for drugs or siring illegitimate children. (Now added to that list would be Rocco Baldelli, who is suffering from a mysterious illness that may well end his career.)
The Rays core of young position players in postively mouth-watering. BJ Upton, Evan Longoria will be under club control long-term. Carl Crawford might not, but he's around for this year and next. But the real indication of progress is that the Rays have started to effectively mix in appropriate veteran talent to compliment their youngsters. Carlos Pena and Aki Iwamura were great to good pickups, and cheap, too. Dioneer Navarro has been around the block a few times more than you'd expect from a 24-year-old, but he was acquired for nothing of value.
And they've got pitching now, which separates teams with great young position players and young teams that are actually going to improve as a unit (I'm looking squarely at you, 2000 Kansas City Royals). This is a divisional rival that earns my grudging respect, unlike the two Evil Empires and the train wreck that is the Orioles.
TB also gets credit for being the final resting place for the great career of Fred McGriff, one of the most underrated players--if not the most--of his generation.
The pitching matchups for the three-game set are as follows:
If you've learned anything about the Jays this year, I would hope that you know it's impossible to predict whether they'll win based on who fields the better starting pitcher. Doc was atrocious against the Rays last year, which I note for no particular reason.
This is a team that needs to get on a bit of a role to boost everyone's confidence after the Big Hurt debacle, and a week's worth of games against TB outside the unfriendly confines of Tropicana Field then in pretty Kauffman Stadium against the Royals would be the perfect time.
In the words of the Beatles, "Don't let me down."
Awesome news about Adam Lind! He went 2 for 4 for Syracuse last night and was well enough to play the field. Come save us little buddy! And Travis Snider gets called up to AA, going 1 for 5 in his debut. The plot thickens...
Instead of plagarizing directly from Jon Hale, I refer you to The Mockingbird for a concise update on Frank Thomas/Barry Bonds that covers all the bases. Both men are in the rear view mirror.
Richard Griffin writes that "Bonds wouldn't cure what ails the Jays", citing some ridiculous clap trap about how getting on base is bad. You now have definitive, objective, scientific truth that Barry Lamar Bonds is indeed EXACTLY the fix to cure what ails the Jays. I have to go shower after saying that.
* In Yankeeland, the rotation vs. bullpen debate for Joba Chamberlain remains unresolved. Debate? I meant toe-headed owner shouting at the club's level headed GM. It should be interesting to see if scoundrel Hank Steinbrenner can force Cashman to stretch Joba out early, regardless of how detrimental it would be to his health and future. It's kind of like of watching the rich kid chomping at the bit to wreck his shiny new toy.
* A-Rod to the DL? While the Bosox play excellent baseball and pull away from the pack, the Yankees suffer poor starting pitching and aches and pains to their aging veterans (Posada, Jeter, now A-Rod).
* Is Chase Utley the most imposing bat in baseball right now? Yes, yes he is. (Full disclosure, I'm a closet Phillies fan).
-- Johnny Was