Just before the start of the series against the Red Sox that started this losing streak someone from USA Today Sports Weekly sent me a few questions for their 'Blog Spotlight'. Since the Jays were going great they figured they ought to pay some attention to us. So I dutifully gave them answers. And the Jays went into a slump (you might have heard about it) and Sports Weekly decided they weren't so interested in spotlighting them or us anymore. Such is life.
So since they aren't using these and since I hate wasting anything, I figured I'd post them here (recycling is good). Here are their questions and my answers, remember that they were done just before the first game of the series in Boston that went so well:
1) With Toronto seemingly finishing consistently around .500 each year without a playoff appearance since 1993, what is the secret to staying sane as a Jays fan in Toronto?
We have good beer up here. Nah, that's not it, though we do have really good beer. Baseball is different than hockey or basketball. In those sports only the lousy teams miss the playoffs, in baseball a team can be great fun to watch and miss out. In other words....it could be worse, we could be Leaf fans.
2) In a diverse city with several other teams engendering strong support (the Maple Leafs, TFC), where do the Blue Jays fit into that mix. Will the city come alive to support a potential playoff run?
Oh yeah it will. I think team management screwed up this winter, telling the fans that this year they wouldn't compete. They should have been selling us on the young players, but they basically said ‘we won't be good', so you can't blame people for being slow to notice that management was wrong. Toronto sports fans would love to see a winner.
3) Four out of the five Jays playoff appearances have come under Cito Gaston, including both world titles. What does he have that brings out the best in Toronto?
A quiet calm would be the best way I could put it. He is at his best when he just lets the players play. He is not the greatest in-game tactical mind but then that's likely overrated. He is a terrific batting coach and just has a quiet confidence about him that seems to rub off on the players. He believes in his players and the players just want to prove him right.
4) The Jays have only finished above third place once in the last 16 years. They're at the top of the division now. How long do you think they can stay atop the A.L. East?
I'd guess what's really important is who is on top at the end of the season. We have a young team and we'll have some down times this season but with some luck we could be in the race to the finish. For example the Rays got swept twice by the Red Sox last year. At worst we should be a fun team to watch.
5) Prior to this current series against Boston, the Blue Jays had only played six games within their own division. With 42 more to come against perhaps the toughest division in baseball, do you think they will be able to hold up?
I think we'll have bad moments, the Red Sox and Yankees have good teams so we won't win every game against them but we'll battle and win some.
6) Roy Halladay is having another excellent year. Is he the most underrated player in the game? Is he the best pitcher in baseball?
He isn't underrated around here. He's the man. I think the battle for who the best pitcher in baseball revolves around him, CC Sabathia and Johan Santana. I might be biased but Doc's work ethic, consistency and his ability to get deep into the game every time out makes him the one I want. He is a great example to our young pitchers, you couldn't ask for a better person to lead a pitching staff.
7) With a core of young hitters and a bullpen exceeding pre-season expectations, Toronto is drawing early comparisons to Tampa Bay a season ago. An apt comparison?
Hmmmmm well I hope we don't have to spend 10 years at the bottom of the division before we have a good season. There are some similarities but we have more veteran players, but we are both in a spot where we have to build from within, neither team will be able to spend with the Yankees and Red Sox so they will have to develop their own stars.
8) Aaron Hill and Adam Lind both seem to be emerging as top young sluggers. When paired with Alex Rios, is that a core around which Toronto can compete in the A.L. East?
Add in Travis Snider (Moonraker to his friends, well actually just to us, but we'd like to be friends) and the handful of good young arms we have coming up and yeah we have a core that can help us complete with anyone for the next several seasons.
9) B.J. Ryan has been oft-injured, but solid when healthy. How does his return affect the Blue Jays chances? How long do you think he can stay healthy?
Ryan was DLed with Crappy Pitching Disease (CPD effects 1 in 5 pitchers sometime in their lifetime). Fortunately Scott Downs did a great job as closer while he was gone and will keep the job now that BJ is back. Ryan will pitch in blowouts until he proves himself or his contract runs out, one or the other. Being fair, he likely came back too quickly from Tommy John surgery when he pitched for us last season. His problem now is that when manager Cito Gaston loses faith in a pitcher it takes a lot for him to gain it back.
10) Kevin Millar might be a bench player, but seems to pop up on good teams, making them more cohesive. With Toronto's team chemistry struggles of the past years, is he a part of reversing that?
Would ‘I don't know' work as an answer? No? Honestly I can't see the team having chemistry trouble with Cito as manager. I understand Millar is a heck of a nice guy and I'm sure he is. I'm more interested that he has started the season hitting very well. Lots of guys are nice people, only a few of them can hit a curveball. Playing good helps build team chemistry.
11) Prediction time: How does the A.L. East finish this year? How far do the Blue Jays go? Does Halladay win the Cy Young?
If the voters do their job right, Doc will win the Cy Young. So it's about a 1 in 3 chance. And there is this guy in Kansas City that is doing great too. Before the season I guessed the Jays would win 86 and if thought that if things went well they could into the low 90's in wins. So far things are going very well. I think the Jays should be in the race and at worst it should be great fun.