Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Things to STFU About: Bautista, McGowan, and Bautista (Among Others)Again

Just a frank exchange of opinions between two guys who make a living calling balls and strikes.

So I could have sworn it was just a good old fashioned rainy day out there in Toronto, with nothing but harmless rain water falling from the skies. Imagine my shock when it turned out to be a full blown stupidity storm, with pure, unadulterated idiocy cascading down upon us and infiltrating the discourse surrounding our beloved Toronto Blue Jays. Now that I've dried off a little, I feel up to being your umbrella, protecting you from getting drenched by dimwittedness, soaked by stupidity, or inundated by ill-formed ideas. Let's get started!


I mean seriously, has a dumber hash tag ever existed anywhere outside of Brett Lawrie's Twitter feed? Seriously, think about that. "Let's punish our best player for taking himself out of a game by taking him out of a game!". Ugh.  No matter how small but vocal the #BenchBautista movement has been, it needs to stop now. It's not going to happen, nor should it.
Sure, Bautista's outburst was unnecessary and less than classy. The pitch was a strike. Here it is on PitchF/X if you don't believe me. 

Image courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net

It's not even a borderline call.  It was a strike.  Full stop.  It was also a pretty nasty slider at the knees for a strike, and based on where it was caught I can see how Bautista might have had doubts about it.  But why on earth are baseball umpires treated like these delicate little snow flakes whose judgement must never be questioned lest the baseball universe collapse in on itself? 

Calling balls and strikes is hard.  Very hard.  It's probably the hardest part of an umpire's job description, and for the most part they do a very good job of deciding what is and isn't a strike.  Know who else is pretty good at discerning balls from strikes?  Jose Bautista.  This season he is getting on base at a .365 clip.  His 13.9% BB% is good for 9th among qualified hitters.  Umpires do not have a monopoly on that particular talent, but they do have the final say.  They are no less adamant when they're wrong than when they're right, and I can see how a competitive athlete can become frustrated when they perceive that they and their team have been adversely affected by someone making a mistake at something that they themselves are very good at.  

That doesn't excuse the reaction, but for the love of all that is baseball stop trying to read into it some mystical "leadership" or "selfishness" narrative.

I think you can spin the narrative either way if the game had ended up going to extras, the only scenario in which Bautista's ejection really matters.  That is, unless you buy that the first strike shattered his fragile mentality for the remainder of the at bat, leading to the strikeout (but you don't because you're not a mind reader).  If they lose, Bautista's ejection cost them their best player in an important moment.  Perhaps his spot comes up in the lineup with men on, two out, and Rajai strikes out.  Then we could really pile on.  If they win, then he's passionate and the team rallied around that passion to make the comeback.  See how that works?

I don't believe either scenario, or maybe both could be true. The whole point is that we can't possibly have any clue by watching on our TVs, and to waste a single ounce of outrage on it is so dumb that I already can't believe I've spilled this many words on it. 


Lying Liars and The Lies They Tell

There is a certain segment of the Blue Jays fan base that is determined to see conspiracy and lies around every corner.  Every misdiagnosed injury and inaccurate prognosis has them marching in the streets in their tinfoil hats, scouring the skies for the black helicopters they are positive are just over the horizon.  

Could it be that the human body is an incredibly complex machine (especially when it's broken) and that playing Major League Baseball requires such a series of extremely violent yet precise and perfectly timed body movements that it is entirely unreasonable to expect clairvoyance when it comes to predicting injury recovery times?  No!  Of course not!  The Blue Jays lie!  And to us, the fans, no less!  We, who have an inalienable right to every morsel of information regarding the team no matter how insignificant or IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW it may be!

The latest is Dustin McGowan's return to the bullpen and the team's declaration that he would not pitch on back to back days.  This was all announced in the pre-game to Saturday's 18 inning, five and a half hour marathon of a ball game in which the entire bullpen pitched, including McGowan.  Hell, we were probably an inning away from seeing (undefeated) Andy LaRoche vs. (knuckleballer) David Murphy or something.

 The bullpen was so taxed that after that game Brad Lincoln, who had gone multiple innings where he bent but never broke to give his team the chance to win, was optioned back down to Buffalo for a fresh arm in Thad Weber. 

Given the nature of that game, we should not have been surprised by the entirely rational and level headed reactions when McGowan began warming up again on Sunday.  Oh wait.  Did I say rational and level headed?

Now our good friend Zaun did acknowledge (after being chirped at on Twitter) that McGowan had gone back to back with Buffalo and should be able to do so with the Jays if he's going to be up with the club, but he still maintained that his pwecious widdle feelings were hurt by being lied to. 

Too bad Gibby didn't think to preface his statement about McGowan going back to back with something like "Unless we play 18 innings and our entire bullpen pitches, some of them multiple innings and McGowan only threw 17 pitches the day before" because that's like... totally something he should have seen coming.

Plans change!  Get over it.  You'll live longer.

Today in Wishful Thinking

Boston Globe "reporter" Nick Cafardo is at it again ladies and gentlemen!  I'm not going to get too far into this one because it's just way too dumb to bother.  Basically it's Cafardo's take on the four most disappointing teams so far this season, the Nats, Dogers, Angels and our beloved Blue Jays.  Ok, fair enough.  I think we can all probably agree that the Jays belong on that list.  Where he goes totally off the rails is when he once again starts spouting off about the possibilty of a fire sale in Toronto.  Nobody will be untouchable!  Everyone must go!  Just make them an offer!

It won't happen.  Almost the entire team is still under contract for multiple years going foward, and the highly touted prospects in the Jays system are only getting closer to contributing.  I think that is pretty self-evident so I won't waste too much effort convincing you.  Where Cafardo really makes my brain hurt is when he says things like:
What’s happening in Toronto is a nightmare. People in the organization have no idea if Anthopoulos is going to cut bait or stay the course.
Well no kidding!  That's a bad thing?  They shouldn't know!  Know what would be a nightmare?  Having a GM so stupid and reactionary that he'd be prepared to cut bait on a bunch of underperforming superstars that are still under contract for multiple years, some of whom he just sold the farm for a few months ago, just 10 weeks into a THREE YEAR competitive window.
Just par for the course for what we've come to expect from the bastion of journalistic excellence and integrity that is the Boston sports media.  Keep up the good work!

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