Deadline Musings on a Cocktail Napkin
*I am stealing the title of this blog posting from the late great Nick Auf der Mar, Montreal politician, journalist and bon vivant who wrote a page three city column for the Montreal Gazette for a while and obtained some of his best info while seated at the bar at Winnie's on Crescent Street. People knew where to find him. Even though I am not at Winnie's I am seated in the press box at Safeco Field with Larry Stone of the Seattle Times and two other local guys at the far end. The only thing missing is the cocktails. There's nothing like the calm of a major-league stadium with nobody in the stands, guys mowing the grass with silent mowers, others cleaning the stands from the night before. Hey is that Scott Downs on top of the dugout with a mop? Just the peacefulness and tranquility. Sweet! Of course this is coming from a guy that when on an airplane that is landing is looking out the window for ball fields instead of landmarks and every day at 7:14 a.m. and p.m., if he sees a digital clock, immediately thinks of Babe Ruth. How many dingers did Barry Bonds end up with again?
*Well, what a sap I am. I honestly believed that the Jays were thinking about the well-being of Roy Halladay when GM J.P. Ricciardi announced his soft deadline of July 28, which of course was yesterday. I believed that it was the classy thing to do, letting Halladay go out to the mound this afternoon unencumbered by trade rumours, able to compete with a tough M's lineup with no nagging thought that this may indeed be his last hurrah in a Jays uniform. It turns out the "soft" in the Jays deadline was describing the heads, the brains of those that believed this Jays management would ever put a player's feelings ahead of the final goal -- of which the Jays are never certain anyway.
*It seems like some GMs love to play the media like a four-string banjo. Of course the great thing about the banjo, as comedian Steve Martin so ably describes it, is that it's the happiest instrument in the world. Nobody has ever had their funeral song played on the banjo. While Ricciardi amps up the pressure on other GMs to make a deal by floating Halladay's name and saying he wants to be a free agent after the 2010 season, the Red Sox' Theo Epstein has mastered the art of making ordinary players look good and good players look untouchable. See Clay Buchholz. He's a good pitcher and would look good as part of a package for Doc, but at first Theo said he was untouchable. Nobody can have him. Don't even think about it. Then when all the offers were in on the day of the Jays' soft deadline, the Sox change their mind and include Buchholz front and centre in the package making it look like they're caving. Some GMs are even rumoured to exchange inside information for mowing their lawns in suburban Boston.
*This just in. The M's have acquired shortstop Jack Wilson and righthander Ian Snell from the Pirates for shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Jeff Clement and three minor league pitchers, none of whom are rated by Baseball America in the M's organization's Top 25. I guess those two Asian cricketers they signed last winter weren't working out for the Buccos.
*In any case, the Jays' clubhouse is about to open and I'm going down to see if Doc is still there. If this is his last start in a Jays' uniform, he has already established himself as the top player-slash-human being I have covered with the Jays.
Note to Mailbag readers:
Because of the Halladay situation, the Mailbag will be published on Thursday this week.