I can’t possibly imagine actually writing a post about John Gibbons calling in to Monday night’s edition of JaysTalk as though it’s news. “HEY, DID YOU HEAR THAT JOHN GIBBONS CALLED IN TO JAYSTALK LAST NIGHT?” “Yeah, everybody did.” “OH, OK THEN, PLEASE GIVE ME SOME GIBBY CLICKS ANYWAY!”
I mean. Right?
So I guess I’ll do ya one better and do a full-on John in the Bronx edition of Anatomy of a JaysTalk, featuring all of last night’s callers. Which is an extra-good idea, I think, because with Latos on the bump and the Jays about to get Tanak’d tonight, we might as well bask a bit in these good vibes, amiright?
But before we begin, I should note that you can check out this, and every other edition of JaysTalk (oddly labelled “Blue Jays Talk” for official purposes), at Sportsnet. And you can listen to Monday’s show via mp3 here.
Caller 1. Lawrence in Toronto
Lawrence wonders if Aaron Sanchez can wear an acrylic nail to help him get back on the mound quickly, and if that’s considered a foreign substance.
Why this is a pretty good question, if oddly placed immediately after the Jays’ first comfortable win of the season and their first three game winning streak:
Because he can, and I suspect that he will be. Wilner notes that A.J. Burnett used to do that, and had his own manicurist, and I noted yesterday that this is something Noah Syndergaard had done in the minors, and earlier this season as well.
Shi Davidi reported on Monday that Sanchez may get a minor league rehab start as soon as this weekend in Florida (he’ll travel with the Jays as they head to the dreaded Trop), which suggests that they’re going to do something to make the nail less likely to cause a bloody mess. So… there’s that.
Caller 2: John in Toronto/The Bronx
John says: “I tell you what, tell me a little bit about Estrada. You know, we got him a couple years ago, and I tell you what, he might be one of the best pitchers in the league. What do you think?”
A chuckling Wilner responds that the broadcast didn’t even pick Marco Estrada as their player of the game. “We picked Ryan Goins as our player of the game, what do you think about that?”
“Well, I don’t know, but I think it was great on Gibbons’ part there to catch Maile. I thought Maile did a great job. You know, I heard you before the game, what an expert you are man, and I’m glad you were wrong once again.”
Why this is… why, this is John Gibbons calling!!! HEY, DID YOU HEAR THAT JOHN GIBBONS CALLED IN TO JAYSTALK LAST NIGHT????
“One more question for ya,” John in the Bronx asked. “What kind of ratings do you get on this show here?”
“I’m confident, on this show, we get at least seven or eight people pretty much every night,” came Wilner’s reply.
“Is it the same bozos every night that really don’t — they have trouble talkin’?”
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Caller 3: Jamie in Cape Breton
Jamie wonders if Wilner believes good pitching will always beat good hitting.
Why this is a fine baseball philosophy question, but one I’m not going to bother addressing:
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Caller 4: Max in Scarborough
Max, who may or may not have been shitfaced, enjoyed seeing the Jays’ offence actually score some damn runs for once — in particular their star player on the day.
Why I’m firmly on Team Max Was Drunk:
In addition to his pronunciation of “recomognizable,” Max laid this on us:
Ryan Goins “was almost like a one man gang,” he said. “This Goins is starting to come into his own as a player, and the way that he’s playing right now, I think he’s going to be one of the most recognizable Jays, along with Tulowitzki and Donaldson and Bautista.”
Holy shit, people. It’s great when Ryan Goins is great. Don’t get me wrong about that. Backups coming in and providing a little production at the plate and stellar defence is a wonderful thing when your team needs desperately to tread water. I don’t begrudge Ryan Goins’ success in the slightest, and I don’t want to run him down. But — again — holy shit, people. There is a not-insignificant number of fans of this team who seem like they’re constantly right on the edge of fuckin’ deifying this guy.
Go ahead, like the guy. I like the guy plenty, for what he is. Just quit making him something that he’s not — an everyday player.
Do I even need to rant about this? Probably not, eh? The numbers speak for themselves. For his career he’s been worth 0.5 WAR and posted a 61 wRC+ in 991 plate appearances. And those numbers aren’t dragged down by struggles early in his career — his worst season by WAR was last year. He is what he is until he proves he’s something else. And it’s going to take more than a week or two, or a month even, to do so. More like a season. Which, by the way, is why you can spare yourself from making an apology to Justin Smoak for overlooking his greatness just yet as well. (Keep it up, though, Smoaky, and we’ll think about it!)
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Caller 5: Sam in North York
After some Gibbons talk and some World Series ring talk, Sam gets to the nut: he talks about the potential tear-down and asks about what happens if the team isn’t in a playoff spot come summer-ish, and notes that “people are speaking of trading some of the big contracts.”
Why Wilner’s response to this was more interesting than the question itself:
OK, more interesting is maybe a stretch, but the tear-down question is already tiresome, and one that nobody should have been in the mood for last night. Wilner’s response, on the other hand, was hot fire, and mostly not the good kind like you want.
I think that people are looking for clicks, and looking for hits, and the best way to do that is to talk about doom and gloom. And to talk about blowing everything up. And to talk about how horrible everything is. Because for some reason that gets a lot of people going. So, if you want a bunch of clicks on your column, you will write how the Blue Jays need to trade everybody, even though it’s May 1st and we’re nowhere near anyone having any kind of conversations to that regard who actually matters.
I think, if at the All-Star Break they’re eight games out and not playing well and spinning their wheels, then those conversations are going to be had. And Josh Donaldson, who’s an expiring contract after next year, will be discussed, to see what the Blue Jays might be able to get in trade. But that’s two-and-a-half months away — before those decisions are even going to start to be discussed, or those conversations are even going to begin. And I don’t think they’re going to be eight games out and dead in the water around the All-Star Break. So, I don’t think it’s going to happen at all. But let’s leave a couple of months, and try to leave those clickbait articles alone, and those troll-y Twitter comments alone, and wait and see what this team does over the course of the next couple of months.
Some of this is pretty reasonable. For one thing, I don’t doubt that there is an element of getting clicks in the rush to write things about the Jays’ potentially blowing their roster up after a bunch of early losses. Right here at Blue Jays Nation we had a piece from Cam Lewis on it two weeks ago, which I’ll admit, I initially pushed back on precisely because I thought it seemed a bit too much like picking at some not-quite-ripe and rather low-hanging fruit. But Cam convinced me that it was worth doing, we talked about how a good way to frame it would be to be open about the fact that it was maybe a bit too early and a bit corpse-clicky, and he turned it into an outstanding, reasonable, rational, informative piece that did really well. And part of why I think it did so well, in addition to being well researched and well written, was because because it was honest and it was in tune with the conversation surrounding the team.
Maybe Wilner had some specific and terrible column in mind that I’m unaware of, but I don’t get this idea that a writer who covers a team is doing something shameful by acknowledging the mood of the fan base and commenting on it beyond merely tsk-tsking their audience for daring to let their minds wander down such dark paths. Or that a national baseball writer — Dave Cameron, who did an early break up the Blue Jays piece at FanGraphs, for example — is perhaps being a cynical click-baiting stooge by exploring precisely what a whole lot of early losses mean for a club that has a roster built the way the Jays’ is. And I say that as a huge fan of tsk-tsking! I loathe the negativity certain types of fans are so desperate to wallow in. But the start was the start. The future is the future. The conversation is the conversation.
It’s OK to not deny that.
And the thing is, I’d posit that people are maybe clicking on those stories so much because those are the same questions and thoughts that they’re having, and they appreciate people tackling them in what are hopefully honest and serious ways. (They’re honest and serious around here, but if you’re reading about that stuff from certain folks in, say, the Toronto Sun, maybe not so much). And I absolutely get how the host of a Blue Jays call-in show maybe doesn’t want to open the door to being inundated with three months of “what can we get for Donaldson?” calls, or if he wonders how many damn times it needs to be acknowledged that “YES, IF THEY’RE STILL BAD IN JULY THEY’LL BE SELLERS!” But I think we can be grown-ups about it. And, rather than being in the wrong, I think that a writer willing to engage seriously with this aspect of the conversation is doing his or her audience a greater service than the one imploring them to plug their ears and not think about it yet.
Then again, I wrote about a potential mid-2017 rebuild back in December, so who am I to talk?
* * *
Caller 6: Moti in Jerusalem
Moti wanted to talk about Ryan Goins but the subject had already been covered, so instead he asked about an Estrada trade-and-sign, and about various podcast-y JaysTalk stuff.
Why I even bothered logging this call:
Hey, I think I spelled his name right this time!
* * *
Caller 7: Eddie in Fort Erie
After some Sinatra talk, Eddie got real positive about the Jays — how they look, how the lineup finally feels like it’s going in the right direction, etc.
Why I’m going to say that, “Yeah, wins will do that, but it doesn’t really mean much, so you might as well savour it while you can”:
Once again, tonight’s Blue Jays starter will be Mat Latos. ENJOY THE GAME, EVERYBODY!!!