A major league baseball insider recently revealed that the Blue Jays management's apparent obsession with defense is just part of the low-grade propaganda advanced to convince fans to purchase 2010 season tickets in the face of a 100-loss year.
Further, according to the content in Bleacher Report's Toronto Blue Jays section, the writers/super-fans are buying into the scam—hook, line, and sinker.
The scheme's rationale is based on an old baseball adage: Pitching and defense win pennants.
Great fielding—versus—good fielding may win teams a few more games each year, however, this differential probably has even less impact on the final standings than great base running/base stealing. Over the 162-game season, pitching and hitting win all the rest.
That's why good-field, no-hit players like Toronto Blue Jays reserve John McDonald are paid peanuts ($1.5 million) compared to good-hit, no-field players like LAD's Manny Ramirez, who gets over $20 million.
Obvious conclusion: Ramirez' bat wins a whole lot more games than his glove loses.
Let's look at it another way.
Roy Halladay recently signed a $60 million three-year contract extension with the Phillies. Do you think the Doc's new contract contains incentive clauses which pay him bonus dollars for leading NL pitchers in fielding percentage? Ridiculous.
As a matter of fact, there is almost no correlation between fielding percentage and winning percentage in MLB.
In 2009, the Toronto Blue Jays were the No.1 fielding team in the AL and finished No. 10 of 14 teams in wins.
The Texas Rangers were 13th in fielding percentage and 4th in wins.
The Baltimore Orioles were eighth in fielding and 14th in wins.
The New York Yankees were fifth in fielding, but were the only MLB team to win over 100 games.
Knowledgeable baseball fans are fully aware of the differences between great fielding, good fielding (league average), less-than-league-average fielding and “spazz” fielding.
There is, in fact, some correlation between losing and spazz fielding. Washington Nationals led MLB with 143 errors in 2009 and were the only team to lose over 100 games.
For the uninitiated, the term “spazz” has nothing to do with naturally clumsy people, such as myself, whose physical clumsiness can actually be kind of an endearing characteristic.
“Spazz” is now-politically incorrect slang derived from the medical term “spastic”. The latter refers to people who suffer from cerebral palsy, an ailment which features uncontrollable shaking, tics and spasms.
The Oxford Concise dictionary goes on to explain that a spasm can consist of either an excessive muscular contraction or a sudden convulsive movement, wrench or strain.
The same source also mentions that some spasms can be caused by occupational stress. This is perfectly understandable when it comes to the occupation of playing baseball.
The Washington Nationals players' spazz defense was undoubtedly brought on by occupational stress caused by the unrelenting fear of making an error.
But back to the Blue Jays propaganda machine. In 2010, Jays fans are supposed to get all worked up watching the development of “can't-miss” rookies—translation: over 100 losses—and an air-tight defense.
The team already has the second-best fielding average in MLB, just a few percentage points behind the leading Pittsburgh Pirates, another organization which has been going nowhere for years.
Is AA, the Blue Jays 32-year-old general manager, planning to petition the Commissioner's Office to have games decided on “artistic merit” like figure skating instead of the traditional runs scored? This may be the only option for a chance to contend over the next five to ten years.
Can't you just see a panel of distinguished baseball judges, resplendent in either tuxes or full-length black dresses holding up cards to signify the marks for artistic expression after every play? In no time the MLB TV audience would be 98 percent women like the figure skating audience.
Their excitement would reach frenzy level when the final World Series game result was announced at Toronto 5.7 and New York Mets 5.4 out of 6.0.
Speaking of women on a personal level, every significant other I've ever had—and over the past 45 years, I had a lot of 'em—has called me an “idiot” at one time or another. It must be true because I know that women are rarely wrong about anything. Or so they firmly implied.
Idiot or not, I don't buy into the Jays new party line. Putting a contending team out on the field right now is what counts to me. As the Jays stand personnel-wise, the 2010 edition is instead going to be free-falling to the deepest corner of the cellar.