Friday, October 14, 2016

Blue Jays - Cleveland Preview


The Blue Jays worked out Thursday and all news about their walking wounded seemed to be positive. Travis's wonky wheel responded well to practice and Franky Liriano said he feels 100 percent. When the Jays made it to the League Championship last year they rode a cresting wave of bat flipping emotion. Russel Martin was interviewed after practice and paraphrasing here but he said that this years team is much calmer, more focused, and more mature. In 2015 most of the Jays players were seeing their first post season action. Naturally they faced new emotions and new challenges. 

The 2016 team struggled in September so they started the post season as underdogs. They faced a win or go home situation and blasted Baltimore the fuck off the playoff landscape. Then they faced the best record in the American League, and swept away the sucker punching, prickish, punks from Texas.

So Cleveland is all that stands between your Toronto Blue Jays and their first World Series appearance since 1993. The boys are rested and battle tested.

Some quotes from the Lads: Troy Tulowitzki, on what the team gained from last year’s playoff run:

"hunger and experience."

"I'd say we're looser," Tulowitzki said. "Just because we know the group that we have and we're at our best when we're loose. Our backs have been up against the wall really for a good portion of the season if you look at it. We didn't win our division. We never went on a huge huge run the whole season. We grinded the whole way through."

 On winning the WC: “I think we feel like we’re playing with house money a little bit.”
"this team is looser than last year at this point".

Estrada: “We’re starting to get hot at the right time.”

I'm a firm believer in the benefits that playoff experience can give a team. Toronto has now been there, they have savored victory and languished in defeat. They had a long winter to stew over the loss and hunger for the Series. Steven Tyler may have said it best "You got to lose to know how to win."

Baltimore and Texas were arguably the two teams who are Toronto's biggest current rivals. So I find myself with little angst left for these Cleveland folk. There is of course their archaic and inappropriate name & logo. I used the Cleveland Spiders logo here instead. 

So we're in for a tough, entertaining series. I'd love to say that I believe we are dramatically better than Cleveland but they are skilled top to bottom and very deep in the pen. Their closer is lights out and he's not the best reliever on their team. So again the pundits say the Jays best strategy is to try to get to the starters early. This was also what they said about the Rangers/O's and their deep pens. So with all due respect I think Jose summed it up best, “If we execute, we’re going to win, and if they execute, they’re going to win.”

Lets take a look at the lineups.

Catcher: Russ Martin - Roberto Perez/Yan Gomes

Russ crushes both of these guys in every facet of the position. He's a superior game caller, pitch framer and has the best arm of the bunch. Martin and Perez have both had mixed results at the plate in the SSS that is the playoffs so far but I think it's fair to say that Russ is much better with the stick as well.

Conclusion : Russ by an arm. (and a leg not pictured here)

1B: Eddie - Napoli

Napoli has had some big hits and big playoff moments but Eddie is the Domincan God of Clutch and he came close to nabbing two thirds of a triple crown this year. (3rd in HR's, 2nd in RBI's)

Conclusion: Beat it Naps, when Eddie sees a fastball he's gonna spread some avian flu.

2B: Travis - Kipnis

Devon Travis has had a remarkable season. (.300/.332/.454) He was the team catalyst near the end of September that helped keep the wolves at bay. But he is also recovering from an injury and has missed games in the post season. Jason Kipnis (.275/.343/.469) can flat out hammer the ball.
He deserves the nod here but because he's a furry I can't in good conscience side in his favor.
Gross Kipper...

Conclusion: Travis by a whisker.

SS: Tulo - Lindor

Troy Tulowitzki is great at everything. He's a web gem waiting to happen, hits for power, average and with runners on base. Troy, it's rumoured, also has a magnificently manicured treasure trail.
Lindor is 15 years old.

Conclusion : Lindor may win this in a few years when he hits puberty but right now it's Troy by whiskers.

3B: Donny MVP - Jose Ramirez

Uhhh, this one was over in the caption.
Josh can impregnate a woman with a single wink, doubles as a viking on TV and is the reigning MVP.
Ramirez, you can hack but you ain't no Manny.

Conclusion: Joshua Adam Donaldson. He loves things in two's.

Boom! Pregnant

LF: Zeke/Saunders/Upton - Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp got the big hit that brought the Clevelands to the championship series. He has experience and is solid on both sides of the ball. Zeke has stepped up huge down the stretch for the Jays. And when Travis came up lame and left a void at the top of the order Zeke stepped in and battled.
He saw a lot of pitches, had some big hits and played a good left field. This was close but Coco lost it by a hair.

CF: Pillar - Naquin/Rajai

Naquin can hit, Rajai can run. If they jumped into Jeff Goldblums transmitter pod then Cleveland would have a super centre fielder. Since they didn't, the Jays have the only CF'er worthy of a cape.

Conclusion: KP

RF : Joey Bats - Chissenhall

Jose is the straw that stirs the proverbial drink. He's a lightning rod, a leader, a gamer,
a (insert awesome cliche here).
Jose hits bombs and scares the living shit out of anyone brave enough to climb the bump against him.

This is Chissenhall -

He's scarier then finding out your blind date is Glen Close. I'm not saying he's ugly but he's covered in bruises from 10 foot poles. He did climb into the transmitter pod but he should have taken his cleats off.

"Ahh shit I stepped in some Cleveland".

Conclusion : Ahhh yeah, Joey.

DH : Smoak - Santana

Smoak occasionally hits the ball a long way.
Santana follows the Pablo Sandoval fitness regimen.
His favorite food is seconds.
One hot summers day during a double header Santana killed a man for a hotdog.

Conclusion : I can't condone murder no matter how tasty the frank.
Smoak by a lip and an asshole.

Starting Pitcher : Marco Estrada - Cory Kluber

Marco has ice in his veins. He'll throw his video game changeup in any count and will challenge even the most dangerous hitters to hack at his 89 on the black.

Cory Kluber is a helluva pitcher but he's also that guy that pisses on the toilet seat on purpose.
He's that guy that'll dial ya up drunk at 3 am and ask "Are you up?".
He's the type of guy to say "Cold enough for ya?" when it's minus 30 and you're scraping the frost off your soul.

What a prick.

Conclusion : Marco, because he's a nice boy.

Well there you have it.

My comparison is statistically substantiated, unbiasedly asserted, and fortified in fact.
The Blue Jays are the superior team.
This will be a hard, tough series. You'll have to imbibe spirits heavily, I don't suspect all of you to survive.

When asked how he was dealing with the playoff pressure John Gibbons replied "I just have a few sips of my favorite drink, it's called a lot".

He's a wise man that Gibby.

And finally a prayer from "Teapsters" on Reddit. Thanks Man in the suit for finding it.

Our Bangers, who art in Skydome
hallowed be thy names,
thy big dongs come,
thy will be gone
in decks even higher than heaven.
Give us this series and our daily mash;
and forgive us our shitposts,
as we forgive those who shitpost against us;
and lead us not into elimination,
but deliver us to the World Series.
For JoDo is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever.