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my annual sports report…

October 24, 2015

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but the glaring holes in the Blue Jays team were brutally exposed by the far superior team play of the Kansas City Royals last night.

Sure, the Blue Jays may be one of the great all-time power-hitting teams, but in the playoffs, superior pitching and smart hitting will always beat power in the playoffs.

And as many Canadian baseball fans have now painfully discovered, it is one thing to win during the regular season, it is quite another to win in the play-offs.

Power hitting will win you many games in the regular season, but smart hitting always wins over power hitting in the post-season. Power hitting can cover the deficiencies of a weak bullpen in the regular season, but a weak bullpen will be gutted like a trout by an elite team like the Royals in the playoffs.

Power hitting can even hide the questionable coaching abilities of a manager like John Gibbons in the regular season. But this year’s playoff drive and post season glaringly showed me that “Gibby” has a lot to learn if he wants to be a World Series-winning coach. He seems to know bubcous about “the hit and run”, “moving base-runners”, when to platoon his players, how to use the pinch hitter, situational hitting – but he seems to know a great deal on how to fuck with a pitcher’s head.

Gibbons may have got the Jays this far – but “this far” was only Game 6 of the Pennant; Blue Jays upper management will have to have a serious discussion about whether they think he is able enough to try again next season.

From what I saw in August and September and in the Jays play-off run, I don’t think he is the man – he made so many small cumulative mistakes that he would make Sparky Anderson rollover in his grave.

I won’t be surprised if Gibbons is let go at the end of the season – but I don’t follow baseball enough anymore to know if there will be better coaches available; I don’t know what Gibbons own learning curve is like (is he good at learning from his mistakes), or if the Jays upper management has the money for someone better.

The Jays players will also need to learn a lot from this experience if they want to go to the October Show. They saw that they can compete on the big stage and win, but they also need to realize that it wasn’t so much that Kansas City beat them, but that they beat themselves.

And last night’s final defeat was a classic example of that: Bautista’s power hitting may have kept them in the game right till the end, but given that the Jays as a team only hit .111 with men on base, (1-for-9) tells them that they had their chances to blow KC out of the water, but couldn’t get it done because everyone went to bat always swinging for the fences.

KC put on a perfect clinic of how its power + death-by-a-thousand singles + smart base running that is the most consistent way to beat a power team like the Jays. KC hit almost .300 in the series with men on base – while the Jays could only counter with a measly .160.

And this fatal statistic was made all the more apparent last night when the Jays had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no one out in the 9th, and they could not score even the tying run.

But hey, after 23 years in the baseball wilderness it was a great jays run to watch. And if they were going to lose, they should tip their hat to the brilliantly executed base-running of the Royals in the 8th inning last night. It was a true stroke of baseball genius.

The Jays definitely have the offensive and defensive blocks in place to take it all the way to the World Series. All they need is another quality starting pitcher and some bullpen holes filled – plus the experience learned this year by watching the Royals put on a clinic – and we could all be here again next year – only next year it will be the Jays who would be going to the big show…

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P.S. Before y’all jump on next year’s bandwagon might I suggest you watch (if you haven’t already) the best baseball movie ever made…Bull Durham…and read anything by Sparky Anderson – one of the all-time great baseball coaches…

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