Yasiel Puig flips his bat after having his head transplanted with that of my cat.
Sometimes it's a Blue Jays blog, a baseball blog, a food blog or a blog about Toronto. Always a blog by Brendan McKnight.
Yasiel Puig flips his bat after having his head transplanted with that of my cat.
Ubaldo Jimenez agreed to a 4 year 50mm contract with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, leaving Ervin Santana as the last big free-agent starting pitcher on the market, all by his lonesome. The Blue Jays have been linked to both pitchers since <k>the dawn of time</k> last November, since Josh "If He Can Stay Healthy" Johnson left for the pet food store that opened up in the abandoned metal factory in San Diego.
Fangraphs did a great piece to show that either pitcher would bring an additional 1.5 wins to the Blue Jays (and 1.1 to the Orioles) while projecting to have a season of ~3 WAR. Not a huge improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.
The scenario that has been expected to play out with these two SPs reads like so: "When Player A signs with Team X, Player B will go to the Blue Jays". Of course, that scenario has been crafted mostly by my Twitter feed, and someone in Houston is probably writing a similar blog post with Santana landing on the Astros.
Toronto could stand to benefit from Santana's services, considering they would not have to give up a first-round draft pick to sign him, and their other options to fill out the rotation are usable, but not optimal. A contract comparable to Jimenez's does not seem out of the question, and even though I am wildly unqualified to analyze baseball contracts, I would be more comfortable giving him 3/39.
Truth be told, if I was forced to choose I would have pushed for Jimenez or nothing rather than take on Ervin Santana, and it's got nothing to do with his abilities or projections. He's reached the 200 IP plateau multiple times, and he's had some very good seasons, but anytime I hear his name I think of the no-hitter he threw in 2011.
Normally, that would be a good thing, but it happened on the same afternoon I had a job interview that I did not prepare for. I remember coming out of the interview feeling overly optimistic about things, and reading about Santana's no-hitter and the Blue Jays trading for everybody's favourite boy 'round here, Colby Rasmus.
I didn't get the job, and I took it pretty badly. Watching Rasmus play center field for the Jays every day, I soon disassociated his name with that disappointing afternoon, but not Santana. With him playing all the way on the west coast before I invested in either MLB.TV or the Extra Innings package (and KC in 2013), I can't say that I ever watched him pitch again, save for the odd start against the Blue Jays. That makes my lasting memory of him his no-hitter, forever linked with my feeling of personal failure.
Then again, maybe watching him pitch once every five days will finally help me forget that awful feeling. You know, living vicariously through sport and all that.
That, or the Yankees will sign him for some ungodly amount and he'll throw another no-hitter, this time against the Jays, and I'll just give up and start watching golf.
[click to enlarge]
Topps 2014 Series One came out this past week, and if it wasn't for me googling the release date a few days beforehand, I probably wouldn't have found out for some time. Sure, I collect baseball cards, but I don't follow a lot of other collectors online or even know if there are ever any card shows in Toronto. Nevertheless, they're out, so I bought two 10-card packs and one jumbo 50-card pack to see what's what.
The first thing I noticed was that the cards look a lot better in person than what I had seen online had led me to believe.
The second thing I noticed was what that disappointed me in last years' series, a lot of doubles. Two Brandon Crawfords in one pack? I prefer my handsome doubles on the field, not in my hobby.
Some notable cards I pulled were:
As usual, there are a lot of non-baseball-action shots like Brett Gardner trying to out-smile Derek Jeter in the dugout, and the back of an out-of-focus Kendrys Morales being met at home plate by a cheering group of Mariners (the only one of which I can safely name being Felix Hernandez), but the Mark De Rosa card takes the cake.
Yup, that's Mark DeRosa looking to the 500 level, catching a football, probably thrown by Anthony Gose. No wait, it couldn't have been Gose, it would have hit him in the eye.
I guess since he's not playing baseball anymore, they felt the need to show him doing something else? The only thing I could think of when I saw this card was "I wonder, what else could he be catching besides a football?" - thanks to the Juxtaposer app, wonder no more! There's a burrito, a hedgehog, some Bon Jovi CDs, Lance Berkman's disembodied head, and even "embattled" Toronto "Mayor" Rob Ford!
Even if the rest of the series shapes up to be a ba-jillion Boston Red Sox pitchers and Marlins I've never heard of, I'll always have this card to come back to.
Today's announcement of Lance Berkman's retirement reminded me of two things. Number one, I seriously thought he would end up playing for the Blue Jays at some point because it seems as though most players of a certain age manage to find their way north of the border before retiring.
Numero dos: I jumped on the unimpressed Lance Berkman bandwagon a while ago and left this Topps 2013 'improvement' open in photoshop, but never got around to finishing it. Here's to you, Lance. May you be forever unimpressed in retirement.
This morning while making coffee, I thought to myself 'Wouldn't it be great if someone made a shirt that poked fun at Alex Rodriguez (who recently sued his own union), but also had fine stitching?'
I guess a Photoshop job is almost as good as a t-shirt, no? We're halfway there!
Also, please consider this my application for a position at the New York Post.
In The Simpsons episode "Hungry Hungry Homer" (aired March 4 2001), noted eater of food Homer Simpson learns of a secret plan to move the local minor league baseball team, the Springfield Isotopes, to Albuquerque. Outraged, he wants to bring this ghastly news to the town's attention, but doesn't quite know what to do. Lisa suggests a hunger strike, à la Cesar Chavez, which Homer eagerly agrees to. He then proceeds to sob and chew on his own fist. But that's not the point.
Wasting away and reaching for a discarded pretzel on day 9 of the hunger strike, Homer is visited by the spirit of Cesar Chavez to inspire him to keep up the fight. He has taken on the appearance of Cesar Romero, because of course, Homer doesn't know what Cesar Chavez looks like. Laughs ensue?
Long story short, Homer succeeds, the Isotopes' owner admits to the plot, and the Mayor of Albuquerque decides that Springfield has too much spirit to deprive them of their minor league team, so he decides to hijack the Dallas Cowboys instead. (They play football, not baseball. That's the joke.)
A year and a half later, the city of Albuquerque is in the process of getting a new minor league baseball team (the relocated Calgary Cannons), and the Albuquerque Tribune holds a survey to choose the team's name. On the strength of the Simpsons episode (and local nuclear concerns) 67% of the voters choose *trumpet sounds* The Isotopes. The following year, the team begins play at Isotopes Park, located at 1601 Avenida Cesar Chavez SE.
SO. Let me get this straight. ಠ_ರೃ
- In a cartoon, a minor league baseball team called the Isotopes threatens to move to Albuquerque, and the spirit of Cesar Chavez is invoked to inspire a hunger strike in protest.
- In real life, a minor league baseball team moves to Albuquerque, names themselves the Isotopes after the cartoon team, and plays in a stadium on Cesar Chavez Avenue.
Hrm. Turns. Out.
I'm starting to think I have to stop Google Mapping things while watching thirteen-year-old episodes of a show that stopped being funny almost twenty years ago.
When I was sorting the cards from the holiday break post, I noticed something I don't think I've ever seen before on a baseball card - five years marked DID NOT PLAY on the back of Mariners' pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen's card.
Truth be told, I only ever pay attention to the Mariners when King Felix is on the mound, so all I really knew about Wilhelmsen was that he finished out the combined no-hitter against LA. I had no idea he was out of baseball for five years, or the reason why.
Denoting five years away from professional baseball, preceded by just seventeen games worth of minor league stats on a baseball card seems odd, almost intentional, even Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus' stats don't reference anything before 2010. What their stats do show is that he led the team in saves in 2013 with 24, and somehow managed to do so while walking 33 batters in 59 innings. This guy's interesting.
I wanted to know more, especially regarding his absence, so I did what any boney-fidey-investamagative-journamalist would do -- I went to Wikipedia -- and there it was. He was suspended in 2004 for testing positive for marijuana, and after his suspension ended in 2005, he walked away from professional baseball. He backpacked for a while, worked as a bartender in his hometown (earning him the nickname 'The Bartender' - real original) and then came back. Jim Caple at ESPN wrote a pretty great piece detailing his journey in 2011 - it makes you want to root for him to succeed.
Now, if I had taken the time to read the Annual Player Comments on BP, I would have noticed references to his situation in both 2011 and 2012, but if I had done that, I wouldn't have noticed the glorious picture on his Wikipedia entry.
Yup. He's my new favorite closer. I just wish Topps had done a better picture of choosing the picture for his card - it's too serious for a guy like Tom. They've got shots of Coco Crisp doing the Bernie Lean and Hanley Ramirez flipping bats, so why not something a little more light-hearted, Topps? You go out of your way to point out Wilhelmsen's absence, leading one to discover his affable demeanour, and that's the picture you choose?
There. Much better.
Everyone loves a bobblehead, the half-mile long lines that snake from the Skydome gates three times a year are testament to that, but I want something more unique. I heard mention that the Blue Jays recently announced that 'Mystery Bobblehead #1' is going to be R.A. Dickey, and it got me thinking: do you think they can do something with this?
Maybe you push down on his head and his arms and left leg come up? Y'know, something interactive. It can't be that difficult.
Another thing I noticed on the Blue Jays website: Did Jack Morris really react that badly to not getting into the Hall of Fame that he asked Frank Thomas to knock him out?
Every Christmas, my mom makes a lot of cookies. Not just a lot of one kind, but a lot of a lot - I think she got up to 37 different kinds of cookies one year. I haven't been doing this baking thing as long as she has, maybe one day I'll get into double digits. This past year I made two classics; Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies, both courtesy of the irreplaceable Joy of Cooking.
This recipe directly follows the peanut butter cookies in the Joy of Cooking, so it was pretty convenient when Kate asked me to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies - I didn't have to look very far.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
- 1/2 tsp salt
Beat in a large bowl until well blended:
Stir in the flour mixture. Stir in:
Shape the dough into generous 1 1/2-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten the balls into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Bake, 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are lightly browned all over, 12 to 14 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.
Do you remember your grandmother? Did she bake? Mine did, and these cookies are identical to the kind of peanut butter cookies I remember her making when I was a kid. She probably got the recipe from the same book!
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
Beat in a large bowl until well blended:
Stir in the flour mixture until blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Press flat with a fork, in a criss-cross fashion. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.
What do you mean, you don't have the Joy of Cooking? Do yourself a favour and pick it up.