Here's a thought experiment: move all current major league baseball players to Mars. Then, populate Major League Baseball with only Maicer Izturises, Darwin Barneys and Robert Andinos. Then add one David Cooper. Amazingly, in this hypothetical world full of Maicer Izturis clones, David Cooper would still be Major League Baseball's most boring player. What that does, of course, is raise the philosophical question of whether Cooper's profound boringness makes him actually less boring than he should be, based on his baseball-related activities. After all, to be so boring that one is still the most boring in a world full of Maicer Izturises, is quite an achievement. And spectacular achievements make people decidedly less boring. Despite the fact that I call myself a philosopher, I will not try to solve that paradox here. Instead, I'm just going to lament the fact that the Blue Jays have not been playing watchable baseball.
It's not all David Cooper's fault, of course. He's not even been playing for most of this tiresome, wretched season. There's Kelly Johnson, who, injury or not, has been missing baseballs a lot without the power to make up for it, and that is very boring, unless you're a fan of whatever pitcher is pitching to Kelly Johnson. Johnson has also played defense quite badly, both by my personal eye test and by advanced metrics. And, just like Cooper, Johnson stands in, swings, runs and fields in a truly uninteresting way. This wasn't an issue while he was tearing the cover off the ball in the early going, but when you're struggling like Johnson is at the moment, these things will get noticed. Jeff Mathis is very similar to Johnson; he was interesting at first, but his amazingly poor hitting ability has now become very tedious to watch. It's somewhat fun to laugh at a pitcher who gives up a homer to Jeff frigging Mathis, but when you consider how other teams' fans laugh at us for having Mathis as a starting catcher, you realize we're not the ones with the last laugh. Oh, yeah, and he got an extension, too.
Of course, it is unfair to criticize this team for having Mathis as a starting catcher, because J.P. Arencibia (glad to have you back, J.P.) and Travis d'Arnaud both got injured. It is also unfair to blame anyone or anything but luck for all the other injuries that have depleted the squad such that it is now in a deep state of tiresomeness. However, a few players we expected to be very watchable have come up empty. Kyle Drabek was as tedious as he was last season, but he also infected Ricky Romero with his curse of terrible command. Henderson Alvarez' starts have been as monotonous as you'll see, he just throws stuff into the strike zone and hopes for the best. His formerly praised changeup did a magnificent Houdini Act and is now nowhere to be found, leaving Alvarez with little variety with which to attack hitters. I think it best to write as few words on Aaron Laffey and Brett Cecil as possible, in order to preserve the reader's sanity as best I can. I'll mention that Drew Hutchison was looking interesting, if a bit boring with his pitch selection, until his arm went to hell, as has happened to seemingly every Blue Jays pitcher, ever.
And then there's Rajai Davis. No, the man's not actually that boring. He swings in an interesting, if not terribly effective, way, and he takes "interesting" routes to fly balls, sometimes with some great catches. His steals can be exciting, too. But he's in this article because of Travis Snider and Eric Thames. You see, Jays fans were expecting a magnificent battle for left field, in which Snider would narrowly top Thames and have a breakout season the way Alex Gordon had last year. Then Thames would be traded for Troy Tulowitzki, and nobody would ever talk about the 2005 draft again. Ok, perhaps not that last part. But Snider, even if he was a flawed hitter, was a profoundly interesting baseball player. When not proclaiming the value of mixing different kinds of meat, the young man would hit some very hard dingers, and he'd play the field like an armored personnel carrier. Or some other armored vehicle with deceptive speed, I'm not really an expert.
Even Snider's rival, Eric Thames, was pretty interesting. We now have Moises Sierra, who is basically a right-handed Eric Thames with a better throwing arm. But he's also less interesting. For one, he hasn't got forearms the size of tree trunks, or a big smile to soften the blow of another ill-advised swing that resulted in a strikeout. His facial hair is non-existent, and his bat speed isn't as impressive. He also hasn't taken Dan Haren deep with an absolute titanic blast:
Unfortunately, we probably won't get Snider back, and neither will we get Thames back. I feel especially sad for Thames, because it is a widely known fact that playing in Seattle will cause players to suddenly lose all interest in playing baseball or participating in baseball-related activities. Just ask Chone Figgins. But hey, Thames seems like a positive guy, so perhaps his mind will survive the attacking on his sanity by the evil, soul-eating stadium known as Safeco Field.
In the end, it's mostly the injuries that are to blame, and this J.A. Happ guy at least has looked more interesting than Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek. And, having endured this 2012 season, 2013 is unlikely to be worse. Right?