Thursday, November 24, 2016

Hello from PitchTalks Toronto. November 17, 2016 Edition


So I'm sitting on the couch, pondering my navel, (I'm considering umbilicoplasty, I want to look younger and you gotta start somewhere ),when a friend calls and says we should go to PitchTalks, drink beer and shmoose with the celebrities. The navel thing is stressing me out and I need a break Tickets are purchased.

I'm told we're going to make a day of it, so he picks me up at 1pm. On our way to a late lunch then to the show. This guy is a huge craft beer connoisseur and lunch will be at Bellwoods brewery on Ossington Ave. Unbeknownst to my chauffeur, Bellwood's cafĂ© doesn't open till 5pm, I guess it's going to be plan B. But not before he decides to pick up some of the product (for research purposes) and we're off to Tallboys craft beer house instead. Except Tallboys doesn't open until 4pm. This isn't going as planned methinks. So to kill time we suck back an extra large latte at Saving Gigi  then off to Snakes and Lattes to drink more coffee and play one of their thousand board games.
Finally it's 4pm, off to Tallboys for a delicious burger. The bar person asks for the beverage order and after perusing the chalkboard, my friend settles on Blood Brothers Shumei IPA. I ask for a Labatt's 50. The silence was deafening. That wasn't what got to me, it was the snickering that led to a crescendo of laughter. Just bring me a beer. Buddy finishes off the meal with a Sawdust City Winding Road Saison. For fuck's sakes, when did ordering a beer get so complicated?


Carly Agro was MC for the evening. Did a great job. More polished and professional than some other PitchTalk hosts I've seen. Other than her story about mistaking RA Dickey for Shane Corson, she did well.

The first two segments weren't Jays related so I'll keep it short, but they were very interesting.

First up was Arturo Marcano and Morgan Campbell who discussed the plight of the baseball system in Latin America. I asked Arturo about Jose Bautista's article in The Player's Tribune and if it was an accurate representation of what he was describing. He said absolutely.

Second was Blair and Bob Kendrick from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. I can't give Bob the credit he deserves by typing. He stole the show with his stories and insights. One audience member asked if he could speak for another 3 hours. If you have the time listen here.

The Jays portion of the show was a panel of Wilner, Blair,  Davidi and Griffin.
Instead of relating full conversations I'm going to the highlights.
  • Davidi has analyzed the data and is of the firm opinion that EE and JB won't be back
  • Davidi said it was "Qualifying Offer or Bust" concerning Bautista.
  • Griffin comes out of nowhere to announce that he expects newly signed Cuban Lourdes Gurriel will be the Jays Left Fielder by June of 2017
  • Griffin states that Shapiro is the one making decisions not Atkins, to which the rest of the panel nods their heads.
  • Blair says that Anthopoulos should have signed Encarnacion to a 5 year deal, 2 years ago. He made a mistake in not doing so. ( later a question from the audience asked how was he supposed to do that when they had to pass the hat for a starter {Santanna})
  • Davidi stated that Shapiro will have too many mid 30's players making 20 million if they took on the EE and JB contract asks. ( Interesting to say that after it was announced that the Jays made a 4/80 offer to EE)
  • Griffin dropped a few bombshells- Shapiro didn't expect to field a winner in 2016 when he took over.( I guess he was surprised?)
  • According Griffin he was standing outside the Dunedin offices in Spring training when EE's agent, Paul Kinzer exited saying " they don't know what they're doing" and it's a state of confusion. Don't shoot the messenger here guys, I'm just passing it along.
  • Davidi thinks EE will end up in Texas maybe Boston.
  • Blair thinks EE will sign with Texas because they recently got rid of State Income Tax
  • Griffin says Jose can't play the field so he'll only be attractive to American League teams. He's not well liked in Texas, Kansas City, Baltimore and Boston which leaves 11 possible teams to sign with.
  • AL CY young award- Davidi voted Verlander, Blair voted Britton
  • The whole panel agreed that player agents lie a lot of the time to get their players a better deal.
  • Blair claims that both JPR and AA told him they had to pay a premium for players to sign with the Jays.
  • Blair said he understood the Smoak contract more than the Morales contract.
I would guess the crowd at about 100. Had a great time. It was fun speaking to Wilner, Davidi, Griffin and Blair, both pre and post show. I even made some points that they agreed with.
Comment away everyone.