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article imageOp-Ed: Losing Patience With the Mediocre Toronto Blue Jays

By Nawest Vazquez     Jun 12, 2008 in Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays continue to dance with mediocrity, and in the process are testing my patience. After dropping two of three to the lowly Seattle Mariners, I'm almost at my breaking point.
It's been an incredibly frustrating two and a half months of the season so far, and I must confess that I've got a good reason as to why I haven't been writing about the trials and tribulations of our beloved feathered flock as often as I should. My excuse? I've been reading so many of the fine Blue Jays blogs that exist on the interweb. I'm too lazy to link to them in the post but you know which ones I'm talking about. The usual suspects: The Southpaw, The Tao of Stieb, The Mockingbird, Miked Up, Jeff Blair's Globe on Baseball, and the thullards at Drunk Jays Fans.
Anyway, that doesn't mean I haven't been watching the birds closely. Trust me, I have, and they're really pushing my buttons.
After a tough west coast road trip followed by a stop in the Bronx the Jays returned home last Friday for what was to be a soft spot in their schedule, three dates each with the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners. The worst team in the league Seattle Mariners.
I went to the ball game last Friday night with a colleague from work who happens to be an Orioles fan. Yes, they do exist. Shaun Marcum pitched a gem and handed the bullpen a 4-0 lead which they proceeded to mess up royally. Let's just say I left the Rogers Centre an unhappy man. Inebriated, but unhappy nonetheless. It was a solemn ride home on the TTC.
On top of Friday's debacle, I was still reeling from what happened last Thursday in the series finale with the Yankees. The Jays squandered leads of 7-2 (7-freaking-2!) and 8-6, culminating in a monster walk-off home run by the titan of douchebags Jason "Dirty Stache" Giambi. Hopefully the Giambi nightmares will stop soon.
The Jays finished their road trip 4-5, dropped two of three to the Orioles and only managed to beat the pathetic Mariners once in three tries after suffering a 2-1 defeat in yesterday afternoon's finale.
The Mariners? Seriously? What the?
Seattle came into the series with a 22-41 record, the third-worst ERA in the American League (4.67), and only eight wins on the road. Yet the Jays made them look like pennant winners. The Jays "offense" - and I use the term lightly - managed a putrid six runs in the three game set. On Tuesday night, down a single run in the 10th inning, the Jays loaded the bases twice but couldn't plate a run. Yesterday the Jays wasted another gem of an outing from Shaun Marcum and again, of course, failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position. The frustrating matinee affair was a microcosm of the 2008 season: great pitching, opportunities to cash runners in, and an incredible lack of execution.
And what the hell is wrong with BJ Ryan? He walked another two batters yesterday, his fourth free pass in his last inning and two thirds, and took the loss for the third time in five appearances. Ryan was lights out in May and deserves mad respect for how he's come off the Tommy John surgery, but it looks like he's hit a wall. He is seriously scuffling out there. I wasn't concerned last week when he blew back-to-back saves - shit happens - but I'm officially worried now.
If he's not healthy, or is feeling the slightest effects from the Tommy John surgery, he shouldn't be out there. Who does he think he is, Darcy Tucker?
Much has been made of the Jays struggles. They're hitting for average, they're getting on base, but they just can't score runs. It's laughable.
Vernon Wells fractured his wrist May 9 in Cleveland and returned to the lineup on June 7th. He's driven in three runs since his return and still leads Toronto with 27 RsBI. Alex Rios and Lyle Overbay are tied for second on the team with 25, and they've played 25 more games than Vernon. I'm not sure whether that makes me want to cry or laugh. Such ineptitude is only matched by perennial doormats the Washington Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman leads the Nats with 27 RsBI and he last played on May 25.
On the flipside, the pitching staff has been phenomenal. Both the rotation and the bullpen. Both have been at or near the top of the league all season. Halladay's already thrown over 100 innings, Jesse Litsch has seven wins (!), Dustin McGowan is unhittable at home, and Shaun Marcum should be going to the all-star game next month. For the record, I am in love with Shaun Marcum. Scott Downs, Jesse Carlson, Brian Tallet, and BJ Ryan, up until last week, have been pretty much lights out in the pen. One cannot ask for more from the mound.
On an aside, Scott Rolen is the greatest defensive third basemen the Toronto Blue Jays have ever employed. Greatest. Ever. Wow.
And the gentlemen over at The Southpaw have long been calling for Adam Lind to take over left field. At first I was all for a combination of Shannon Stewart, Kevin Mench, and Brad Wilkerson to play left field, but enough is enough. What's the point? The Jays are a .500 team and I'd rather be a .500 team with Adam Lind than any of those three in the lineup. It's that simple. Get Lind up here, JP. Please.
I think everyone would agree that the Jays are better than their .500 record. And, no, it's not manager John Gibbons' fault. It's not his fault his players can't execute. No, it's not. Stop it.
The Jays are off today and welcome the first-place Chicago Cubs to town on Friday. We're seven games behind the Red Sox, and five behind the wild-card leading Tampa Bay Rays. Yep, the Rays. I know, I don't believe it either. It's time to pull up the socks before we get left behind.
Baseball's a funny game. You can't coach or teach execution. Toronto's 10-16 record in one-run ball games, worst in the league, is most to blame for their current predicament. Jeff Blair is right, with all the excuses these guys are beginning to sound a lot like the Maple Leafs. Something has got to give...
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