Not every week can be a banner week full of rookie closers throwing touch less smoke, or new additions to the team fitting in exactly as every hot stove GM predicted in February. We all knew this when the season started, but it doesn’t make it any easier to lose three one-run games in the span of 5 days.
The Jays home campaign got off to a rocky start going 1-3 against the Tampa Bay Rays before dropping 2 of 3 to the Braves. I was at the home opener Monday night, and thought I would share some thoughts from the experience.
The dome was closed for the home opener, as there was a torrential rainstorm going on outside the Rogers Center. Typically, I love when the dome is closed on a rainy day for two reasons:
1.) I am as pale as a ghost, and burn in the sun in a matter of seconds
2.) It means no rain delays, or games missed due to weather. You know you are going to get in a baseball game regardless of the elements.
However given that it was the home opener and some odd 49,000 people were going to be attending, the rain wasn’t a welcomed sight. Although the Blue Jays and MLB have made a big deal of telling fans to expect significant delays ahead of new security measures at games this year, the lineups to get into the park were significant.
Arriving at 6:15 for a 7:10 game probably meant rushing to your seat in time to see the first pitch. I am all for having an enhanced search policy and ensuring that baseball games are a safe environment, however as we stood in line for 30 minutes to get in, I didn’t see a single person have to walk through a metal detector twice, or receive additional searches with the metal detecting wand. Is this really a measure to make the ballpark safer, or is this to optically appear safer?
Bryanne and I made our way to our seats in Section 518. We were right in line with first base, which was good because the majority of the action in the game came directly in front of us curtosy of R.A. Dickey free passes to first base, or Blue Jay players jogging up the line as they recorded another pop up or ground out. All told, the game had a total of 5 hits, with the Jays losing their 4th consecutive home opener.
Drunken Jays fan, or next Blue Jays Manager?
One of the less enjoyable recurring events of the evening was a “fan” in section 519 repeatedly screaming at the Blue Jays to open the Dome because R.A. Dickey can’t get the knuckler dancing when the roof is closed. While there are obvious reasons why the dome couldn’t be opened (it was 4 degrees and pouring rain outside being the most obvious one), I wondered if the drunken expert was on to something, or was just being the type of obnoxious fan that is all too frequent at sporting events.
My initial thought was the best game I remember R.A. having with the Blue Jays was a complete game 2 hit shut out against the very Rays the Jays were playing this evening in the Dome of Tropicana Field.
So, is it possible that the stale air in the dome is preventing Dickey from making his pitches? It certainly appears that the science behind that theory is not particularly sound.
But, why don’t we hear directly from the source? I don’t mean the drunken fan, I mean R.A. himself. Interesting enough, Dickey has asked that the Dome be closed when he pitches in Toronto as it allows for a more humid environment that he prefers when throwing the knuckler. Statistically, he also gave up significantly fewer home runs per outing when playing in a dome when compared to outdoors in 2014 (.45 a game indoors vs .91 per game outdoors). Opponents did reach base by walk slightly more when Dickey pitched in the dome, so drunk fan gets a little bit of points there, but not enough to swing the argument.
Verdict: Drunken fan is incorrect to suggest the dome should be opened to help Dickey pitch. Dickey prefers the dome closed, and the statistics suggest it plays a significant role in helping him keep the ball in the yard, and he has a lower dome vs. outdoor ERA split since coming to Toronto.
What is an acceptable Jersey to wear to a Blue Jays game?
Opening day saw many fans wearing Blue Jay jerseys in tribute to great players past and present, as well as some players I wish to forget. Seeing the range of jerseys got me thinking about what is, and what is not an acceptable jersey to wear to a Blue Jays game. Any current Blue Jay is an acceptable jersey (even you Redmond before you were designated), but what previous Blue Jay jerseys can be worn? The official rankings:
The All Timers
If you won a World Series with the Blue Jays, you can be prominently displayed on the back of a fan’s jersey twenty years later, even if that fan wasn’t alive to see you play. The Molitors, Grubers, Alomars, Carters, Hentgen, Winfields are all acceptable attire.
If you have had your number retired on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence you are also welcomed with open arms. Apart from the World Series winners this includes:
Tony Fernandez – Tony played for the Blue Jays in 1983, as well as 2001! That split alone earns him a spot.
Dave Steib – for those like myself who don’t remember seeing Steib pitch, he won the second most games of any pitcher in the 1980s, and carried no hitters into the 9th inning of a game 4 times before finally becoming the first and only Blue Jay pitcher to have a no hitter.
He also had a sweet duster, which further cements him as a lock.
Doc Halladay – The workhorse of the staff for years, Doc suffered from the general weakness of the team during the eleven years he spent with the Organization. Its just a matter of time before he finds his name etched on the facing of the 400’s.
Carlos Delgado – Carlos set team records for just about every offensive statistic imaginable. He also did this once:
Assuming this was the only game Carlos ever played, the bat toss from the 4th homerun is worthy of jersey infamy on its own.
Vernon Wells – General Managers don’t get jerseys, but I just assume that anyone who is wearing a Vernon Wells jersey is doing so to honour the masterful job Alex Anthopoulos did in trading Wells and his back loaded $126 million dollar contract in 2011. Wells made $21 million last year while not playing a single major league baseball game.
Acceptable with Conditions
Bell/Barfield/Moseby – all are all time great Blue Jays without question, but wearing their jerseys comes with a caveat. Non of the these greats won a World Series, so if you are wearing their jersey to a game you better be able to tell me:
- Why you have chosen their jersey, complete with a compelling personal story
- Be old enough to have watched them play
David Cone – Yes David Cone won the 1992 World Series with the Blue Jays as a rental player and returned for part of the 1995 season, but in total he went 14-9 all time as a member of the Jays. More importantly, the most significant moments of his career happened as member of the Yankees.
David Wells – Boomer also won a World Series, and had a solid second stint with the Jays winning 17 and 20 games in 1999 and 2000. However, like Cone he is best remember for being half drunk and pitching a perfect game in pin stripes. If you are wearing a Boomer jersey to a 2015 Blue Jays game, you better had a physical resemblance to the pitcher, or at least two beers in hand at all times.
John McDonald – There was a time when the Jays roster wasn’t full of Canadian talent. McDonald might not have actually been Canadian, but he certainly felt like it.
If there are any other players you think are acceptable to wear, please make your case so it can be shared on next week.
Additionally, next week will be examining unacceptable Blue Jay jerseys to wear to games and start a weekly segment titled “what your jersey selection says about you”.
Quick Hitters from the Week:
- I never should have written about how nice it is to spoil someone else’s home opener before The Blue Jays opened up the home schedule
- Losing one run games tends to even itself out over the long run.
- Tampa won the first two games of the series this week while going 0-13 with runners in scoring position. I find it unlikely to think that many teams will beat this lineup without taking advantage of their opportunities.
- Pompey had a rough day today misplaying a ball in the outfield and having a throwing error to lead to a run. The learning curve of playing young players can be hard, but the way he addressed the fans, coaches and teammates after the game was admirable. The leadership of this team should help him continue to develop and shake off days like today.
- Kevin Pillar has been incredible through two weeks.
- Donaldson seems to be settling in nicely.
- Meanwhile out in Oakland……
- Norris reminds me of a quarterback with scrambling capabilities who just wants to be known as a pocket passer. He needs to let the fastball go more and be who he is. Buck Martinez suggested it may be a lack of confidence in the command of the fastball, which after todays performance seemed clear.
- Between the second and third inning at the home opener, the PA played “slow ride” as Dickey threw his warm up pitches. It was fantastic.
- My 5 month old Nephew Greyson went to his first Jays game Saturday afternoon and happily slept through Bautista’s 8th inning home run. Bryanne got him his first Blue Jays hat.
This week I will be at the series opener against Baltimore Tuesday night to see Burehle battle the O’s explosive lineup and see if Adam Jones can continue his blistering pace to start the season.