The Blue Jays managed to split the two-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers in a week that was otherwise unimpressive. Toronto is 4-6 in their last ten games, and is currently tied for second place with the Yankees – a disastrous nine games behind the leading Baltimore Orioles. Time is not on their side, as the Jays only have 35 games left in the regular season to prove they have the goods.
It’s difficult to lay responsibility on any one area of the team. In truth, the Jays have not been playing well as a whole – the starting pitching has been hit or miss, the offense slumps at will, and the bullpen has been unsure. While the pundits discuss whether manager John Gibbons’ job is on the line, we suggest there would be few who would even want his job given the way this team is under-performing.
Let’s just say, if this were an 80s movie, now is the moment for some dramatic synth music, the ‘rising to the challenge’ exercise montage, the PG-13 teenage romance make-out scene…and perhaps a ‘crane-kick’ – just for good measure. In other words, Goonies never say die – nor should we.
Tuesday saw the return of Kyle Drabek who threw a scoreless two innings while striking out three batters against Milwaukee. This was Drabek’s first appearance since September last season, as he continues to work his way back following his second Tommy John surgery. And while we’re happy to see Drabek back in the big leagues, if this is really the silver lining – you know times are tough.
We continue to await the return of Brandon Morrow who is now throwing side-sessions without a finger brace. Morrow has been out since suffering an injury on May 2nd in Pittsburgh. Before the season began, many predicted Morrow would be the ‘key’ to the team’s success – they may still be proven correct, in a sense. We may never know what a solid season from Morrow might have meant for the team. Management has hinted towards a September return with Morrow joining the bullpen.
The Jays host the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre this weekend with Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle, and Drew Hutchison scheduled for the starts. And though the Rays have appeared out of the race for sometime now, they’ve managed a hot streak of late and should give the Jays an interesting series. Early offense will be key against Tampa Bay’s young pitching staff.
The first 20,000 fans entering Sunday’s 1:07pm game will receive a Mark Buehrle bobblehead. We suggest you arrive early to claim a ‘mini-Mark’…and would welcome anyone who cares to claim one for us as well. No, seriously – grab an extra. Our league championship tournament is that same day. Be a pal. We can meet up for pints and talk baseball. Send a tweet. No joke. We want a bobblehead, damn it.
In a week where Jays fans would prefer to be talking about a playoff run, there was instead much press coverage of a lawsuit filed by the Rogers Blue Jays Partnership against a small college in Omaha. Established in 1878, Creighton University fields 14 teams across 8 sports, all nicknamed the “Bluejays”. With the recent move of their men’s basketball team from the ‘Missouri Valley’ division to the more competitive ‘Big East’ division, they decided a new logo and team rebranding was appropriate.
However, the Toronto Blue Jays disagree.
Court papers filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Aug 11th detail the numerous reasons why Toronto feels this new logo infringes on, and ultimately damages, their brand. Read the full contention here.
As several sports writers have already suggested: “Can we take the money earmarked for the lawsuit and buy some better pitching?”
Buzzword of the Week: “September Call-Up”
Beginning September 1st, MLB allows teams to expand from their 25-man roster to their full 40-man roster. What this means is the team is now allowed to carry an extra 15 players. This date coincides with the end of the various minor league seasons, and explains why we often see so many of “tomorrow’s future stars” making appearances in September.
The Jays’ bench is about to get much deeper, as the young prospects and veteran replacements move up from being stashed at AAA-Buffalo. Watch for names, both new and familiar, to make September appearances – giving the ‘core’ team a couple well-deserved days off.
For teams in a playoff race, the extra manpower is welcomed reinforcement. For teams that have fallen out of the race, the call-ups are a chance to give young players their first taste of the big leagues. Time will tell which of these categories describes the Jays come mid-September.
So what have you learned?
For the Jays, time is not a friend. The whole team needs to kick it up a notch. Hopefully the September Call-ups, as well as a few returning from injury, will help facilitate a late-season go at it. It’d be nice if the college logo lawsuit weren’t the only thing making headlines a month from now.
We’ll have our lawyers look over the paperwork and be back next Friday with the lowdown and legalese on the best damn (and only) ball club north of the border.
You can find Matt Antaya @selfcynic