Chasing our tails…by John Brattain
August 09, 2008
The Jays having swept the A’s and now have a four-game winning streak. If they had won the first two of the Cleveland series this weekend, they would have had their first six-game winning streak since 2004.
How sad is that?
The Jays have the longest drought in winning streaks of at least six games in MLB. Even the saddest of the sad sacks have managed it.
2008 is the only season since baseball returned to D.C. that the Nats have failed to have a six-gamer. In 2007, they won seven in a row, in '06 they enjoyed a six-game run and in their first year back they had a 10-gamer. Heck, in their last year in Montreal they won seven straight.
The Bucs have won six in a row this year and in 2004, they won 10 consecutive.
The Reds have struggled in recent years but since the year Toronto last accomplished it have had a pair of six-gamers (this and last year) as well as runs of eight and seven straight (2006 and 2004).
Before the Rays broke out this year, they enjoyed 12 in a row in 2004 and enjoyed a six-gamer the following year. The Rangers had at least a six-game winning streak from 2004-07 and from June 21-27, the Royals put together a six-game run.
Yet the Blue Jays have yet to go on a magic run where they can get past five in a row. In 2005, their longest streak was four, which they accomplished three times. The following year, they got as many as five straight wins but only did it once; last season—same thing.
However, in 2004 they also had a six-game losing streak as well as a seven-gamer in 2006; last season they dropped nine in a row and this year they have struggled through a six- and seven-game drought. They’ve even sprinkled seven five-game losing streaks into the mix over that time.
I think this explains the degree of ennui toward the Jays. They really haven’t gotten on a major run that gets everyone excited. They get on a roll and it quickly dies. Yet, there have been no shortage of nasty skids. It’s hard to feel good about a team that has won six in a row once in the last five seasons but has suffered through 12 separate spells of five or more straight losses.
It simply exacerbates the problem when J.P. Ricciardi tells fans they wouldn’t like Adam Dunn were the Jays to acquire him (he doesn’t like baseball? J.P. is becoming the Typhoid Marty of inspiring that emotion in Canada), or gives away at-bats away to Brad Wilkerson or informs us he’s happy with the lineup as it is; at the trade deadline nobody had the courtesy of giving him a decent burial or we learn that bats like Brian Giles are passed on so the Red Sox can have a shot at him.
Yet, he insists—We’re in it! Yessiree! Our rivals are powering up but he’s working on my gluteal itch-relief technique when not engaged in sinus excavation and industrial strength naval-gazing because gosh-darn it—after three years of trying he finally got Brad Wilkerson to Toronto!
What has been most frustrating is when pitching gets desperate, we see him willing to take a flyer on a Scott Richmond or a John Parrish, but when the team is hitting into a league-leading number of double plays, the team leader in home runs is hitting .218/.335/.356 since mid-May and still gets a lot of AB as DH and hits in the middle of the order and Ricciardi is wearing an expression that looks like it belongs on the cover of MAD magazine with the caption: “What, me worry?”
Even if testicular fortitude is lacking and he’s afraid of mixing it up with the GM’s who understand that correlation does equal causation insofar as hitting and hitting with power and run scoring are concerned—why does he not see if there’s a hitting version of Richmond or Parrish in the bushes? Surely, a David Smith, a Buck Coats—heck, danged near anyone could have outdone Wilkerson’s .167/.284/.233 since Gaston arrived.
Instead we get excuses, gearing up for next year (again), and lots of talk but little to get excited about.
As we heard up here in Canada regarding J.P. Ricciardi—he took an expensive .500 team, broke it down to an inexpensive .500 team and built it back up to an even more expensive .500 team.
Next year though! You betcha! Better times are just around the corner—except it turns out there have been no corners and we’ve been running around in circles and end up where we were the year before—excuses, gearing up for next year with big talk, big promises and the same results.
He talks as if the Jays are in it, but he can’t even construct a team that can go six games without spitting the bit. The thing is, it may be random, it may be luck but as we discussed awhile back:
To me, if it’s just random variation and luck then why does it always work against the Blue Jays? Under J.P. Ricciardi, the Jays are 523-537 (.493) but our Pythagorean W-L is 545-515 (.514). Is Pythagoras a Greek word meaning “J.P. Ricciardi is the greatest Jay-killer since Rickey Henderson” or something?
Maybe the Jays woes are a fluke, maybe it’s just luck or it might be that Ricciardi is related to Pierrepoints. Regardless, when random variation and luck starting working in the Jays' favor, I may be more inclined to think that the Jays’ play isn’t the result of the gag reflex. The season isn’t quite over for the Jays yet, but…
I mean, can’t our hitting with runners in scoring position be fluky like the Twins? Can’t our run distribution give us the record of the Angels? Why do the so-called luck and random variation always tend to be the kick-in-the-crotch variety?
It has happened a lot under Ricciardi though, hasn't it? Is he unlucky or just really not that good?
I’m opting for the latter.
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.