Ah, the hate.
The bean-brawls. The stares. Buck vs. Gibby. Jose Bautista vs. Darren O’Day. And Adam Jones. And Dan Duquette. Stroman vs. Everybody. Clinching the pennant in 2015. Before that? Gaston and Mussina: Cito getting booed by dough-head Baltimore fans for leaving Mike Mussina in the bullpen in the 1993 all-star game – Mussina standing up to warm up in the ninth inning even though Gaston told him and Pat Hentgen (one of his own) that they wouldn’t get in the game. Speaking of bullpens … how about Zach Britton left to twist in the wind behind the right-field fence of the Rogers Centre as the Blue Jays beat the Orioles in the 2016 wild card? Ah … those were the days.
Has an August series between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays ever seemed so bereft of substance as the three-game set that will begin Monday night at the Rogers Centre? The Blue Jays, with their loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday, are 32½ game back of the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox, are closer to last place than second and are threatening their biggest end of year deficit since the fourth season of their existence. That was the 33-game gap to the 101-win Yankees of 2004. The Blue Jays finished 36 games out in 1980, when the AL was still split into two divisions.
But what about the Orioles? They are historically awful: on pace to be just the fourth team to finish 50 games out, joining the 1979 Jays, 1998 Tampa Bay Rays and 1998 Florida Marlins. The record for most losses in a season is held by the 1962 New York Mets, with 120. The Orioles’ pace leaves them staring at the fifth-highest loss total in the modern history of the game … and they have no Vlady Jr.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said this weekend that after a series of productive meetings, John Gibbons will finish out the year as Blue Jays manager and, watching Gibbons tie into Kevin Pillar in the dugout for Sunday’s shambolic attempted steal of third base, perhaps that’s as it should be. This thing could go off the rails a couple of times before the end of the season. Give Gibby the whip—hand and be done with it. Manager Buck Showalter of the Orioles, meanwhile, is on an expiring contract. So is GM Dan Duquette, who has been linked with the New York Mets position. The Orioles will have a completely new-look masthead in 2019; rumours are out that former major leaguer and MLB Network commentator Mark De Rosa has been interviewed for the Orioles opening (he did well in interviews for the Mets and Miami Marlins jobs.) Funny, since his MLB Network colleague – Sean Casey – is widely rumoured as someone the Jays will talk to in the off-season either to be Gibbons’ replacement or as a coach on a new staff. De Rosa, of course, also has ties to the Cleveland Indians and Blue Jays and would be an intriguing candidate here.
This is the last time the Orioles will be in Toronto this season, and I’ll be wiping away a tear. Wednesday afternoon could be your last chance to get your licks in at Showalter in Orioles flannel. Unless he resurfaces as Jays manager. HA! I KID! Be gentle. Birds of a feather, and all that …
NOW TWEET THIS
Interim schminterim … A’s for the end of games … Pillar no pillager … and … BRUNO!!!!!
• Interim, eh? Since replacing Mike Matheny as manager, Mike Shildt has a 22-10 record – the best 32-game start by a Cardinals skipper since Rogers Hornsby went 22-10 in 1925 #employment
• Adrian Peterson’s trying out for the Washington Redskins, who are in the middle of a running back crisis in training camp? Seems like a perfect fit of reprehensibility to me #goodpeople
• Speaking of memories, the Jays beat the A’s 8-4 on July 27, 2017, when Steve Pearce walked it off with a grand slam. That’s significant because it’s the last time the A’s have blown an eighth-inning lead: 87 opportunities ago #clutch
• Kevin Pillar has the third-most at bats on the Blue Jays. His HR on Wednesday was his first on the road and first game-winning RBI. I don’t care where you hit in the order, that’s #telling
• Manchester United’s David de Gea is one of the top ‘keepers in the world.’ But after three goals against in a loss to Brighton Hove & Albion (I know: three against one hardly seems fair) DeGea has conceded 10 goals on 14 shots including matches for Spain in the World Cup #sieve
• I’m not old school, but part of me thinks the Jose Urena/Ronald Acuna, Jr., incident shows that there’s a blitheness about pitching inside and being pitched inside #toomuchtoosoon
• cool stuff on engineers using Statscast to come up with a roof for Tampa’s new park that will account for this generation of sluggers #nomoreorings
• Bruno Caboclo was the Raptors fans version of Munenori Kawasaki: a goofy distraction when things got dull. The Rockets signing him to an Exhibit 10 deal is a low-risk/high-reward thing for a team in salary cap hell looking for wing help #freebruno
In some ways, this most unsatisfactory MLS regular season after a memorable CONCACAF Champions League run is a further sign that Toronto FC is all grown up. Fans of European-based teams have long dealt with treble desires: domestic cup success, continental cup success … and league championship success. It’s anathema to North American thinking – as much as the idea of relegation – but I think many TFC fans will spot Greg Vanney and the club this poorish regular-season record because of memories of that run against Liga MX clubs, a run that has to have taken a lot out of them. Something bigger than a lot of us happened that night, and while this club needs an overhaul and needs to get younger, we’ll always have memories of that night at Estadio Azteca, right?
Jeff Blair hosts The Jeff Blair Show from 9 a.m.-Noon and Baseball Central from Noon-1 p.m. on Sportsnet 590/The Fan. He also co-hosts ‘The Lede,’ a podcast with Stephen Brunt