Full Count: Four Decades of Blue Jays Baseball
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From one of Canada's top baseball writers and radio hosts: a retrospective of the Toronto Blue Jays that comes more than 20 years after Joe Carter's World Series-winning home run. A must-have for all Blue Jays fans, and a great read for Toronto and Canadian sports fans in general.
In Full Count, Jeff Blair takes us back to the days when the Toronto Blue Jays were "the Cadillac of franchises," and shows us exactly what they did right to become baseball's premier club. Then he explores the disappointing aftermath, when the league's fourth-largest market became an also-ran: seemingly destined to languish behind the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox and free-wheeling Rays--until the offseason of 2012. Full Count will appeal to the casual fans wanting to re-live Blue Jays history, and to the serious fans who relish the nitty-gritty business decisions and behind-the-scenes details that made this team what it is today.
What did he see? What was I seeing? I mean, I didn’t mind what I was doing with the Expos even if we were so bare bones. But Dana kept telling me, ‘Hey, you don’t want to be an administrative guy. You have a feel for players. You just need to believe in yourself. ’ “I think everybody, deep down, likes to believe that they can evaluate players,” Anthopoulos continued. “I mean, I love to analyze things. That’s just who I am, to a fault. And before I got down to Florida and worked with Fred, I thought I could pull out The Bill James Handbook and just pull up stats and be confident in telling you whether a player was any good.
Nixon, who had been rescued from a life of booze and drugs in part because of the confidence the Montreal Expos had shown in him in the late ’80s, was a much weaker hitter from the left side of the plate, by some 80 percentage points. But he was a few steps closer to first base, which in Joe Carter’s mind raised the very real possibility of a bunt, something he relayed to Timlin (while he was simultaneously trying to erase memories of Bill Buckner’s famous error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series).
They knew I had rules; I just didn’t have many of them. And they went by the rules. Now you like to have the same rules for everybody, but sometimes you have to bend a little bit for guys. ” Morris and Winfield, Alomar said, both brought respect to the team. “Jack came here because he wanted to win World Series; he thought pitching for us was a chance to pitch in big games. When you see somebody do that for that reason, well, you start to think. ” While Morris wanted to win more championships, Winfield wanted to win his first, and if that meant holding some feet to the fire, well, so be it.
On December 2, 2011, the Red Sox named former Texas Rangers and New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine—who’d spent two years with ESPN after a highly successful six-year career managing the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League—as their new manager, giving him a two-year contract. Farrell would not talk about what happened during that off-season until a year later; Anthopoulos to this day will not confirm the Buchholz story. But everybody else will—including Farrell, who let the details out after he left the organization.
The Blue Jays went into that off-season continuing their seemingly eternal search for starting pitching. A significant part of the plan was re-signing left-hander Ted Lilly, who went 15–13 and logged 181⅔ innings with 160 strikeouts. Lilly had featured in a celebrated run-in with Gibbons after refusing to hand over the ball on the mound in a game at the Rogers Centre, while in the middle of torching an eight-run lead; the two men needed to be separated when Gibbons charged into the runway leading to the clubhouse.