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Know Your Enemy: Toronto Blue Jays

The White Sox head to the frozen north to unthaw their season

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Naw, these guys are fun.

If you had to point to one thing that the White Sox are doing poorly, had to boil down this nightmare start to one key baseball element, it would probably be: Playing baseball in America. Most stat nerds would tell you that successfully playing baseball in America is one of the “hidden elements” to a team’s success. The White Sox have not been good at that.

But what luck! We cross the border this series, heading up to lovely Toronto, home of some of the finest things in life, as well as the Blue Jays, another one of those teams with young, fun players that it is easy to like. But dislike we must, at least for a few days.

The Sox are 204-221 overall against the Jays, including the 1993 playoff loss, which scarred a generation, as we’ll see.

So How Are the Jays Doing, Anyway?

In the 2008 Academy Awards, George Clooney was asked about his chances of winning Best Actor for his brilliant performance in Michael Clayton. He kind of smirked, and said that he had a very good year, but come on. Daniel Day-Lewis was going to win for There Will Be Blood. It didn’t matter how good he was, he wasn’t that good.

That has to be how the rest of the AL East feels looking up at the Rays, who might be historically good. Toronto started a bit slow, but have series wins against those Rays and the Yankees sandwiching a tough series loss to Houston. Still, 5-4 in nine games against three really good teams is good. The Jays, at 13-9, look to be who they have been: maybe not great, but a hell of a lot of fun.

Are Their Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

Hell yeah, you should fear dingers. Matt Chapman is playing out of his mind, OPSing 1.112 right now. Vlad Guerrero is barely behind him at .965, and Bo Bichette continues to be steadily very good. The good news is that George Springer is struggling a bit, as is Brandon Belt, who sports an OBP of .240.

The bad players pale in comparison to how Cavan Biggio is sucking, though. An injury-riddled start got worse, as he then injured a wrist against the Yankees. Right now, his OPS+ is 13.

We shouldn’t visit the sins of the fathers unto the son, but Craig Biggio’s son sucking makes me happy.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

The story of the White Sox pitching has been: The pitching is bad. The story of the Jays is: eh. But then, twas ever thus.

Monday, April 24
Sox: Lance Lynn (0-2, 7.59) was put on “Is Lance OK” watch before his last start against Philly, where he went 5 1⁄3 innings and gave up five runs. He struck out seven, though. Lance is probably Not OK.

Jays: Chris Bassitt (2-2, 5.40) is basically a notch lower than he’s always been, which is fine. Not a lot of Ks, not a lot of walks, not a huge innings-eater but not a disaster. Do people call him the Bass Master? God, I hope not.

Tuesday, April 25
Sox: SP4 (2-1, 3.46) has been pitching well for the most part, but he was bad during his last game.

Jays: Jośe Berríos (1-3, 6.23) had a terrible start to the season but has strung together some quality starts in the last two weeks. He’s getting rocked everywhere but low and outside right now, so if the Sox avoid that they might be good.

Wednesday April 26
Sox: Michael Kopech (0-2, 6.97) had a weird start against Tampa, where he gave up a lot of runs, mostly on one big homer, but looked more in command than he has been, getting the velocity up and punching out nine. Maybe he’s OK?

Rays: ​​Yusei Kikuchi (3-0, 3.80) has been surprisingly consistent outside of one nightmare start. His fastball is his big pitch, but his changeup has been a go-to. Reducing walks has been the key to his ability to avoid big innings, which killed him in 2022.

Why Do We Hate Toronto?

Look, there’s a lot to love in Toronto. It is a cool city and some of my favorite people in the world live there, for now. It’s where the Kids in the Hall come from. There’s a lot to like.

But it is strange. It’s weirdly provincial and insanely expensive at the same time. To quote my friend, a resident of nearby Hamilton, a real city, “most of it is ugly and the suburbs are hellholes and transit is so limited and it’s a very self conscious city that still thinks it’s a little nothing town in lots of ways.”

It’s also the city that yoked its suburbs into its political base to transform the politics of it, which gave the world Drunk Trump and then his Somehow Worse Brother. It’s like if Chicago decided to annex Calhoun County and give them all 10 votes. When people think of Canadian charm, they never mention Toronto, which spiritually feels like it should be on Lake Erie, even if it isn’t. The Leafs are the only thing that could make me root for a Boston team.

Nice escarpment, though.

Why Do We Hate the Jays?

Because they are fun, for the most part. Because we should have been competing with them now as upstarts against the Astros, and they are both better and not quite good enough to make real noise. They look to squander this second-generation talent they’ve weirdly stockpiled, as another Guerrero sees their career disappear in Canada’s frozen maw.*

(*that’s unfair to the Expos, who were cool and good, but I’m not taking it back.)

The Jays always feel one step removed from actually being good, which is still one step closer to good than the Sox are. It’s pretty maddening.

Let’s Hear It From Sox Fans!


Frustrating Competence

Fantasies About Their Hype Video

1993 Playoffs