A baseball fraternity… of one.

Philip Humber threw a perfect game on Saturday April 21st, 2012. He joins a baseball brotherhood that spreads across 132 years. I don’t think I have much to add to describing Humber’s effort, it has been covered as extensively as it need be, its unlikeliness covered in-depth by Jayson Stark.

After hearing about the last out of the perfecto, it stuck out in my mind that A.J. Pierzynski recorded the last out of the game by throwing to first on a dropped third strike. Since Pierzynski has been the White Sox regular catcher for a few years now, I thought about Mark Buerhle’s perfect game in 2009, and how he might have been lucky enough to catch that one too. No luck, the immortal Ramon Castro was Buerhle’s receiver that day.

That thought spurred another about teammates and perfect games. The two Davids, Wells and Cone, had achieved perfection about a year apart for the New York Yankees. Were both games caught by the same man? Again, the answer is no. Wells threw to Jorge Posada, Cone delivered his pitches to Joe Girardi.

This is all leading up to the answer to a trivia question from back when I was a teenager. When I, neophyte baseball fan, was introduced to the concept of what a perfect game was, I went digging through my copy of Total Baseball (yes, this was before the internet, I am old), to find out as much as I could about them.

When I looked it all over, I found that no pitcher had ever thrown more than one. No plate umpire had ever called more than one. However, one catcher had, indeed, been there when lightning struck for a second time.

The man on the right, despite playing for the Cleveland Indians for almost 7 years, may well be the luckiest man in baseball history. He caught Len Barker in 1981 when he shut down the Blue Jays, and was behind the dish ten years later when Dennis Martinez silenced the Dodgers bats.

So, if you brought every catcher in MLB history into the room, it would be crowded indeed. Dismiss all the men who have never caught a no-hitter, and there are a few hundred in the room. Send away those who have never caught a perfect game, and there are but twenty souls remaining. Ask those who have caught but one perfect game to be on their way. The room has one man left in it.

Ron Hassey, the “perfect” journeyman.

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Attendance worries? Don’t panic

The above timelapse video (via Torontoist) was created last Wednesday as the Jays hosted the Chicago White Sox. A near-record low crowd of 10,744 people took in Toronto’s humiliating 11-1 loss.

If you find yourself watching the video and being so consumed with the novelty that is motion that you miss how depressing it is, watch this video of Minnesota’s home opener and compare the scene in the two videos.

Not pretty, eh? You better get to used to it, because the record low number seems to getting lower all the time. Toronto’s fans set a new low again last night as 10,314 showed to watch the Jays trounce the Royals.

But if you’re worried that the team is going to go the way of the Expos, stop. It’s not happening. Jeff Blair and Rob Neyer have already outlined why they think there’s nothing to worry about. Since Blair buried his points on this topic, I’ll quote him here:

take it from somebody who chronicled the Expos demise, there are several significant differences:The Blue Jays are locally owned by deep-pocketed owners; the Expos were owned by New Yorker Jeffrey Loria, who took advantage of weak local minority owners;

Rogers owns the Rogers Centre and the revenue streams that come with it;

Rogers needs content for its sports channel;

Montreal’s business community never supported the team by buying tickets – even when it was winning;

commissioner Bud Selig has no place to put the Blue Jays, as was the case with the Expos and Washington, D.C. Getting a team back in D.C. was a legacy issue for Selig, and unless they get a new ballpark Tampa Bay is the next team to move.

Blair’s points are too strong to ignore. The Blue Jays, despite the cries of all the Chicken Little wannabes out there, are not the Expos.

I do have one point to add to Blair’s list. It may seem counter-intuitive, but working in the Jays’ favour is the fact that Toronto is not a baseball town. Let me give that its own line:

Toronto is not a baseball town.

When it comes to sports, this city is two things: 1) A Maple Leafs (not hockey) town; and 2) A town full of bandwagon jumpers.

I firmly believe the attendance is so low at the SkyDome so far this year because the team didn’t build up any false hopes in the fan base. The fair-weather fans won’t be coming out to see a losing team, mainly because Toronto is not a baseball town. But it doesn’t matter. Alex Anthopoulos has a plan in place to build the team into a winner. When the team starts winning, all the bandwagon jumpers will be looking for a seat and nobody will have any worries about the team leaving town. It won’t be leaving in the meantime either because it’s too valuable to Rogers right where it is.

Want an idea of what the future could be like? Go watch the video of the Twins’ home opener again. As you’re watching it, remember how MLB tried to make that city join Montreal on its way out of the league. The Jays aren’t the Expos, but they will end up being the Twins (minus the new park, of course).

Don’t make Doc the new Sundin

What’s the difference between Roy Halladay and Mats Sundin?

Doc wants to win.

(Sorry, eyebleaf, I know Mats wanted to win, too, but stick with me.)

At the top of their professions, both guys were stuck on mediocre Toronto-based teams. Both guys were coveted by basically every team in their leagues. Both guys had no-trade clauses. Both guys seemingly wanted to finish their careers in Toronto. Both guys were subjects of hysterical trade rumours. Neither guy wanted any part of the media circus. And now, with the latest out of Doc’s camp, neither player is willing to be a rental during the last year of their contract.

If you can believe Doc’s agent, Halladay will approve a trade during the off-season. But if he starts spring training as a Blue Jay, he’ll end the season as a Blue Jay.

That, as ESPN’s Buster Olney says in the link above, means the Jays will only get two draft picks in compensation instead of whatever haul a trade would bring in. He also says it’s now “less than 50-50″ that a trade will happen in the off-season because Doc’s contract expires after 2010. Guess he hasn’t heard that the Jays are allowing a window for potential trade partners to negotiate an extension.

Personally, I hope Anthopoulos gets a deal done ASAP. Doc will get a chance to win and the Jays will get something more than draft picks in return. I’ll miss Doc, and it would be cool to see him carve up Toronto’s opponents for one more year, but he deserves better than the idiocy Sundin had to deal with during his last year in Toronto.

Link Dump

• Griffin sets the record straight on what went down last season in regards to Doc and how Ricciardi didn’t botch the trade talks.

• No surprise here, but A.J. wants his bestest bud in the whole world to join him in New York.

• Think this Halladay situation is bad? Imagine you’re a Twins fan. Not only is Mauer arguably the most valuable player in all of baseball, he’s from the Twin Cities.

• Matt Stairs now has a street named after him in his hometown of Fredericton, N.B.  The street is right outside Royals Field, where Stairs got his start with the Fredericton Royals of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League.

• As Bud Selig gets ready to step down, Federal Baseball says good riddance. And they’re right. The way he treated the Expos was disgraceful.

Death by Popcorn

montreal exposYou know that lame saying about the optimist and the pessimist and the glass that’s neither full nor empty? Apparently there’s a third part to it. Maybe it’s well known, but I only heard it for the first time yesterday.

“A realist looks at the glass and asks who’s buying the next round.”

If said glass is your Toronto Blue Jays, the only real answer on who’s buying the next round is Rogers. And if they want the glasses to be full, they’re looking at a tab of around $130 million (PLAYOFFS!!!!1).

But that’s not what this post is about. And I’m tired of the stupid glass thing anyway. This is about the pessimists, specifically the “Blue Jays are going the way of the Expos!” crowd.

Stoeten of the Drunks hijacked a game threat the other day to explain why the Blue Jays are absolutely not going the way of the Expos, and he nailed it.

The only thing I think he doesn’t quite get is why people are so scared, especially the people who aren’t from southern Ontario.

Losing a team can seriously fuck people up. I’ve never experienced it directly myself, but I know people who have and it completely changes their outlook on sports. It doesn’t mean they’re right to think the Jays are on the fast track to Portland or wherever, but it does make it understandable.

If you don’t know what I mean, I suggest you watch this movie film. It is at once ridiculously entertaining and bizarrely depressing. It’s the story of the Winnipeg Jets as pieced together (so I’ve heard and I have no intention of learning otherwise) from tapes found in a dumpster outside a Winnipeg TV station. Behold: Death by Popcorn.