The Blue Jays season began and ended with both bitter disappointment, as a 1-9 start turned into a 76-86 finish and the team was all but eliminated from the postseason well before September. It was wire to wire futility. That sentence wasn’t a coincidence, of course, as this very closely resembles the overarching message of HBO’s hit series, “The Wire.” While that show is on the surface about the Baltimore drug world, in general it is about the futility of trying to change things that are clearly trending downwards. The newspapers, the docks, the city. Each has someone attempting a creative fix that ends up just leaving things just as bad as they started. The Blue Jays are similar. They tried Biagini in the rotation more than once, Russell Martin at 3B, Jose Bautista at 3B, and used a franchise record 60 players in 2017. In the end, they only found their way out of the basement on the very last day of the season by passing, fittingly, Baltimore.
We have a DNR on the pitchers‘ phones, a surveillance team watching over the hitters, and a wire tap letting us listen in on the prospects, so it’s time to bring our case to the bosses, the coaches and front office personnel. We caught a few teams doing some shady stuff (free extra quotes!), so they should be happy.
“Where’s Wallace?!” – D’Angelo “D” Barksdale
When D’Angelo shouted this at Stringer Bell, he was lamenting the loss of his fallen young friend. It’s not hard to imagine John Gibbons shouting this in the depths of his office with the lights off after yet another Blue Jays loss. “Where’s Tulo?! Where’s JD?! Where’s Happ?! Where’s Sanchez!? Where’s Travis?! Where’s Martin?!” and on, and on, and on. Seriously, this team used sixty players. Gibbons must’ve felt that there really was some plot to take out his top guys.
“Makes me sick, m*&($f(*&#, how far we done fell.” – William “Bunk” Moreland
This is a tweet I sent out after the 2015 season:
— Joshua (@JoshuaHowsam) February 27, 2016
Yes, you’re reading that right. The 2015 Blue Jays were the very best run-scoring team in major league history when viewed in the context of the league run environment at the time. And while they weren’t great last year, they were still comfortably above average.
In 2017, however, they finished dead last in the American League, 203 runs behind first place finisher Houston. As the hitting instructor, Jacoby must’ve felt an extreme level of frustration at the dip in performance of his charges, injuries be damned.
“There’s a thin line ‘tween heaven and here.” – Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins
Coming off a season where the Blue Jays starters led the league in innings pitched, Walker must’ve felt on the top of the World entering 2017. Then this year’s group dealt with a rash of injuries and underperformance, showing just how quickly a good rotation can turn into a bad one.
“I’ll do what I can do to help y’all, but it is either play or get played” – Omar Little
Yeah…it wasn’t the best year for the training staff. An entire 25-man roster worth of players hit the disabled list at some point during the season. But at the same time, it’s just as much on the players to keep themselves in game shape as the medical team. So while the trainers will do as much as they can, in the end it’s the players who will really determine whether or not they can play.
“Money ain’t got no owners. Only spenders.
I’ll take that ring too.” – Omar Little
With the Jays once again crossing the 3.2 million fan threshold, pressure will be on Rogers ownership to keep pumping money into this club. Thanks to injuries and creative trades, the Blue Jays likely spent upwards of $180-$190M in 2017 and keeping the investment at that level falls to Shapiro. It’ll then be his job as team president to figure out a way to use it. And what better thing to spend money on than trying to grab the ring that has eluded this city for the last 25 seasons?
“You send out the word, you let them know we ain’t dead yet.” – Avon Barksdale
When Avon said this to Stinger and Brianna, he had just suffered a major blow to his organization and wanted his suppliers and customers to know that it was business as usual. As they make their plans heading into the offseason, the Blue Jays are now in exactly the same spot. Despite a massive setback this year, they are clearly planning to try and be a force once again in 2018. Atkins was very clear about this in his season-ending presser. Not only do they have no plans to sell (forget your Josh Donaldson trade rumours), they want to add both an impact arm and bat in addition to fixing the depth issues that plagued this roster all year.
Teams Caught Doing the Dirt
When you have a wire up, sometimes you catch unexpected people doing things they shouldn’t. I was originally only going to talk about the Blue Jays, but this seems to call for a little something extra.
“F$*& it then. For another pit sandwich and some ‘tato salad, I’ll go a few more.” – Roland “Wee-Bey” Brice
The following teams were caught (or punished) over the last year doing some things that were very much against the rules…or the law.
“Is you takin’ notes on a criminal f*(&$## conspiracy?! What the f$*& is you thinkin’, man?!” – Russell “Stringer” Bell
“But you start to follow the money and you don’t know where the f$*! it’s gonna take you.” – Lester Freamon
While the investigation is still in its very early stages, this one seems quite big enough to warrant two quotes. Braves GM John Coppolella was forced to resign over a scandal that seems to involve CBA violations in the international free agency pool and the draft, and includes major league tampering. Things wouldn’t be this serious (special assistant Gordon Blakeley also resigned) unless there were real evidence somewhere, which suggests either someone wrote something down that they shouldn’t or somebody said something they shouldn’t. Either that, or someone is really good at following the money. Regardless, this isn’t going to end well for Atlanta.
The Red Sox
“You got that s*%$ on tape?” – D’Angelo “D” Barksdale
Stealing signs is as old as the game itself. That’s why catchers go into a sequence of signs with a runner on second base. What you’re not allowed to do, however, is use technology to relay that information to the players. That’s exactly what the Red Sox got caught doing this year, though. They were using video feeds and an Apple Watch to help steal signs and improve their offense. As a result, they were fined an undisclosed amount.
“No matter how many times you get burnt, man, you just keep on doin’ the same.” – Preston “Bodie” Broadus
Despite MLB making it clear from the Red Sox case that they’re cracking down on teams illegally using certain electronic devices during games, the Diamondbacks decided to do just that during the NL Wild Card game. They were caught, and like Boston, they were fined an undisclosed amount. It’s pretty brazen to do something like this right after another club was punished for it, but the DBacks won, so they’ll probably just keep doin’ the same.
“A man must have a code.” – William “Bunk” Moreland
The man in this case, unfortunately, was Chris Correa, the Cardinals’ former scouting director. Correa happened to have the password to Houston’s private database from his time in that front office, so he began using the illegally acquired information to his benefit in St. Louis. When he was done with it, Correa leaked the data to Deadspin in an effort to embarrass his former employers. It took a while, but MLB finally meted out punishment to St. Louis in the case back in January. The penalty was reasonably stiff, costing the Cardinals $2M and their first two picks of the 2017 draft.
As the Bunk says, “you ain’t gotta do s#&% but stand there and laugh at me.”
“It’s Baltimore, gentlemen; the Gods will not save you.” – Ervin Burrell
Oh Orioles. The Jays were behind (or even with) you for 161 games. 161! All you had to do was hold on for one more day and you couldn’t do it! You finished the year losing ten of your last twelve and your final five games. That’s…bad, Mr. Showalter. At least you pitched Zach Britton a few times this year?
Hooray! We have finally brought in a case worthy of recognition. But while the team fell from nearly the highest peak to almost the lowest valley, they still continue to push on. “All in the game, yo. All in the game.”
And so, approximately 7500 words later, that’s it from me.
“Jesus, what the f*$( did I do?” – Jimmy McNulty
Lead Photo © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports