It has been a tough week here at The Barnstormer. Besides the external chaos of the fragile world we live in, internally our locked-out NHLer Cheap Throat made his last diary entry for us, after 90 days of globetrotting and truth-dropping. And still no hockey. Oh well, there’s whiskey and late nights, still. Gary Bettman and the NHLPA can’t take those from us. Or can they?…
Our guest this week is Jake Goldsbie. Jake was born and raised in Toronto. After spending four years in Montreal learning how to drink better (and being in school or something), Jake returned to Toronto to find work in a province that would hire him. He has written and worked for the now-defunct AV Club Toronto and has worked for theScore.com since March. Jake wrote the weekly piece “Getting Quoted” for the baseball blog Getting Blanked and is a regular contributor to Backhand Shelf and can be heard every week on the Backhand Shelf podcast. Jake lives in the West Queen West area of Toronto and can generally be found eating pizza. You can follow him on Twitter.
Now, let’s get on the Bus…
The Jays acquire R.A. Dickey for two of their top ten prospects and John Buck in a seven-player deal.
Goldsbie — I can’t really look at this whole thing through any sort of rational lens. The idea that the Jays could not only be good but actually be the best team in all of baseball is so foreign to me, I have trouble wrapping my head around it. This is something that I’ve imagined and wanted for about as long as I can remember (keep in mind, the last time the Jays were competitive, I was five) and the notion that the Jays are actually the odds-on favourites to win the AL East is totally blowing my mind. This all feels like a trick or some kind. Like a month before the season starts, Brian Cashman and Alex Anthopoulos are going to call a joint press conference and be all, “Psych! Just kidding. All those players the Jays got are actually going to the Yankees in exchange for that Babe Ruth plaque the Yankees keep in the outfield.” It’s an odd disposition, really. It definitely stems from the mindset of being a fan of Toronto sports teams all my life. In Toronto, it’s generally assumed that anything that’s looking like it could potentially be a good thing will eventually go horribly, horribly wrong. It’s at a point here where it’s not even an assumption anymore, it’s an expectation. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen to our teams. Almost literally ever. The last time a Toronto team put together a roster like this was the last time the Jays were good (I’m not counting those pseudo-teams the Leafs had in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. R.A. Dickey and Owen Nolan are two very different “last pieces of the puzzle”). That being said, when news of what was included in the trade broke, I was a little hesitant at first. Travis D’Arnaud has been hyped up as being the crown jewel of the Jays’ farm system for so long that the idea of trading him seemed almost blasphemous. We’ve heard for so many years about the Jays rebuilding plan; starting with JP Ricciardi’s “five-year plan” that never even started and then the Anthopoulos rebuild, the farm system has been such a key component of this and through all the losing and the rough years Jays’ fans have always been able to hang their hopes on the future with the knowledge that guys like D’Arnaud and Syndergaard were waiting in the wings. In a month, Anthopoulos has traded most of the key pieces of that hope (D’Arnaud, Syndergaard, Hechavarria, and Nicolino) and has transformed the team into one that looked to the future to one that looks to April. It was, initially, hard to adjust to this new reality. The more I think about it though, the more I couldn’t be happier as a Jays’ fan right now (though the prospect of having JP Arencibia behind the plate for the entire season scares me). Alex Anthopoulos has positioned the Jays to not only win this year but to also be competitive and consistent for years to come. And he did it in three years. We’re going to have a vacancy for mayor soon, run this guy, he’d get my vote. Trading the future of a team is always a hard thing to do but if it leads to the Jays winning a World Series in the next few years, I give zero fucks.
Forbes — I’m completely on board with this. They just locked up the reigning NL Cy Young winner for three years at $31M. The Dodgers just gave Zack Greinke the sun, the moon, and the stars. Are you kidding me? This is great. Cash in all the prospects you want, the door is suddenly wide open. I cannot wait for the season to start. I just wrapped all my moldy cynicism in an old Vernon Wells jersey and buried it deep ‘neath the pear tree. I have no use for it. Let’s play ball!
Spry — The more time passes, the more I love this trade. But more importantly, and in combination with the Marlins trade, the Jays had no choice. Last season they were the cool pick for a contender, but the team went sideways, their pitching staff fell apart, and their manager was smitten with the Red Sox. If the jays didn’t make a big move, the fan base wasn’t going to show up. And with the absence of the Leafs, the suck of the Raptors, and the irrelevance of the Argos, the Jays are poised to be the city’s team.
As for the trade proper, I think d’Arnaud and Syndergaard were huge pieces to give up, but getting Dickey at a very reasonable extension made up for it. If d’Arnaud and Syndergaard go on to stardom, in my mind the Jays still won the trade because for the first time since signing Roger Clemens as a free agent, the team is relevant.
Also, there’s a small, devious, writerly part of me that wishes/hopes/imagines in daytime reverie, that AA made both these trades, and the rehired John Gibbons, just to mess with John Farrell. As in, purely out of spite, malice, and vengeance. Next time a girl breaks my heart, I’m going to AA for advice.
Goldsbie — This is my new favourite idea.
Ibeas — I’m with Goldsbie on this one. It’s weird as fuck. The last time the Jays won anything, they had already been perennial contenders of sorts in the AL East, and it took just a few key moves to put us over the top. This situation is completely different. We’ve gone from a team that has, not to put too fine a point on it, been using the magical (and conveniently unquantifiable) “promise” of our farm system to drag fans through a sea of mediocrity, to a team that is actually considered a World Series contender. I cannot trust this. It’s all on paper. I have seen nothing in the past few seasons, Jose Bautista’s violent hatred of baseballs notwithstanding, to convince me that the Jays could even sniff the playoffs, let alone win it all. It’s like leaving your shitty apartment one morning to go to work, and receiving a phone call from someone telling you that your living quarters have been upgraded to a fucking three level condo. And that your new roommate is Alison Brie. I’ll see this shit when I believe it.
Spry — Ibeas loves him some Alison Brie. Also,are Ibeas and Goldsbie even old enough to remember ‘92 and ‘93? Does “Touch ’em all, Joe” mean something different to you?
Ibeas — Dude, it’s one of my fondest childhood memories. I have the recall of a punchdrunk goldfish and I can still tell you exactly where I was when Carter hit the big one.
Goldsbie — I don’t really remember it happening at the exact moment (I do remember the next morning, though) but I watched the 92/93 World Series VHS tapes so much as a kid that I literally wore them out.
Spry — Well, I’ll shut up then.
Orti — So the thing about proper sauna etiquette is this: you should be quiet. You should not say a word. Like a single word. Okay you can whisper but it should be at a volume where only the person you are whispering to can hear. So basically whispering at the sound of sweat. I used to steam at this YMCA where all these guys with pitchers and outfielders names would fucking yammer like there was no tomorrow until I suggested to the staff that they install a cappuccino machine the steam room and start serving chorizos there. In Germany the saunas are mixed and it’s gauche not to be nude so there’s naturally more etiquette required. I guess all I’m saying is whether you’re in Berlin or Montreal, if you’re in a sauna, you should shut the fuck up. Also, when I’m sad, I just cue up that Carter dinger. The next year it was going to be Montreal, and baseball had no choice but to strike. The Jays died after that. Anyways I hope they come back, but seriously, shut the fuck up if you’re in a sauna.
Forbes — I only skimmed that, Orti, but here’s my takeaway: next time I’m in a sauna (have I ever been in a sauna?) I’m going to speak loudly and at length about my memory of Carter’s tater. All the details: precisely where I was, who I was with, etc. Yes?