to get off to a better start and cure their turnov
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Each week, TSN Baseball Analyst Steve Phillips breaks down all the big stories and issues around Major League Baseball on TSN.ca. This week, he looks at the Toronto Blue Jays roller coaster first half, the teams decision to demote (and promote) Munenori Kawasaki, A-Rods social media spat with the Yankees and how some of the games top teams are getting by without a solid closer. 1) Weve seen the Jays struggle, and weve seen them win 11 straight. Are the Blue Jays tragically flawed or is this just a team that got off to a bad start? "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Charles Dickens wrote this in his first chapter of his novel A Tale of Two Cities about the time leading up to the French Revolution. He may well have been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays first three months of the baseball season. Its been a roller coaster ride for sure. So were left trying to figure out whether this will be a season of light or darkness? A season of wisdom or foolishness? Do we have everything before us or nothing before us? Who are the Blue Jays? Theres a saying in sports: "Youre never as good as look when youre playing your best and never as bad as you look when you are playing your worst." This Jays team has looked really bad at times. They were 10-21 on May 4 and the surprise wasnt how they had lost 21 games - it was how they won 10 considering how badly they had played. By early June, things hadnt improved much as they were 12 games out of first and in the cellar of the AL East. Boy, they looked bad. But then it happened. The Jays started to look good. Really good. Not only did they start to hit; they hit in the clutch. Not only did their starters pitch better; they became the best in baseball for two weeks. Their bullpen - which had been surprisingly strong all season - became perfect as they had a 28-inning scoreless streak. Their defense, which had been extremely generous to the opposition (allowing the leagues second most unearned runs), started to make plays. Big plays. Game-saving plays. They looked like baseballs best team. So which is it? Will the real Toronto Blue Jays please stand up? I believe in them. Ive believed from the offseason, through spring training and during their awful first two months. And now when they look great. Whenever a team has a significant roster turnover in the offseason, it takes time for them to come together. The World Baseball Classic made finding a rhythm and cohesiveness very difficult as the Jays had numerous players representing their respective countries. The early injuries to Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson were particularly damaging. Reyes is the catalyst to get things going and Johnson is the stopper to shut down losing streaks. The Jays never got it going and never were able to stop during the first two months. But now theyre back - Reyes, Johnson and the Blue Jays are all back. I picked the Jays to win the division. They may not do that, but I still believe theyll make the playoffs. I like their starting pitching and that will be difference maker in the second half of the season. So this will be the best of times - a season of light and a season of wisdom. I sure hope they dont make me look foolish! 2) In his time with the team, Munenori Kawasaki became a fan favorite and his energy and personality appeared to be a very important part of the team. Was he the wrong player to send down earlier this week when Jose Reyes came back? Munenori Kawasaki is back - What time is the parade? Melky Cabrera was placed on the DL Thursday with left knee tendinitis and Kawasaki was recalled from Triple-A. I know you all love him. Heck, I love him and why wouldnt you? Hes a hard worker - tough, energetic and he loves the game. Hes fun and funny. Grateful and humble. Hes everything you want in a great player. Except hes not a great player. Every good team needs a Munenori Kawasaki, but if you have 25 of them youll finish in last place. Everyone was so upset at the notion that sending Kawasaki could mess up the teams mojo. Now team chemistry and spirit is important and Kawasaki is beloved by his teammates as much as he is by the fans. But chemistry doesnt develop through mutual adoration; it comes from winning. When Reyes returned from the DL, Kawasaki became the 26th best player on a 25-man roster. Its as simple as that. He needed to be demoted. Now with Cabrera on the DL, Kawasaki is back in the picture. Theres no doubt that Kawasaki will be back in Buffalo soon. And yes - fans will be upset again. But dont panic; hell return to Toronto again in September if not sooner. 3) Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees are at odds over his rehab status and how it should be handled (A-Rod went public on Twitter with his thoughts, which GM Brian Cashman refuted). Whos right and whos wrong in the dispute? Cashman said Alex Rodriguez needed to "Shut the ---- up!" And Cashman is my hero. Do you know how many times I wanted to say that to a player or manager? Rodriguez had tweeted out his excitement that he had been cleared to start playing in rehab games by the doctor who performed surgery on him. Unfortunately, that doctor didnt have exclusive right to approve Rodriguezs return to the field. Also, Rodriguezs tweet contradicted a statement made earlier in the week by Cashman. Now Cashman was wrong to lash out at Alex Rodriguez as he did. His aggressive response toward Rodriguez represents the anger and frustration that the Yankees front office and the fans hold for A-Rod. Theyre mad about the $114 million that Rodriguez is due through 2017. Theyre mad that he may have misrepresented himself when they gave him a new contract. Theyre mad that he was injured and that the injury may have stemmed from his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Theyre angry that he performed at his his worst when the games meant the most last season. Theyre disgusted that he sent a note to a woman in the stands during a playoff game. Cashman is personally upset because he isnt the one who gave Rodriguez the ridiculous contract, yet hes the one suffering now because he is unable to make the necessary moves to improve the team because of the contract. So yes - the Yankees are upset. Very upset. There is some good news for the Yankees. The longer they drag out A-Rods return, the more insurance they can recover (80 cents on the dollar) from his disability policy. And if they stall long enough, maybe hell get a 100-game suspension for his alleged role in the Biogenesis drug scandal and save close to $15 million in salary. This relationship is only going to get worse. And just think, they have just over four more seasons together. 4) Foul Ball Every time I think I know a little bit about baseball, things happen and I really start to wonder. I believe championship teams need solid, stable closers. All outs are not equal. There is a reason why some guys can handle pitching the ninth inning and some guys cant. The last out of the game is the toughest out. I have always preferred veteran experienced closers. I want a guy who has failed before. Its easy to handle earning the save and winning games. Not everyone can handle the mental anguish of blowing a game in the ninth inning. Even the best closers will blow a save every now and then but they have the ability to flush out the negative thoughts and get back on track. If they dont get it right one time, they get it right the next time. This all makes sense, doesnt it? So can someone explain to me how three of the six teams leading their divisions have had serious closer problems this year? How is it that one team has a nearly perfect closer who in the past couldnt pitch in the seventh or eighth innings, let alone the ninth? The Boston Red Sox are now on their third closer of the season - Koji Uehara. The first two lost their jobs due to injuries and poor performance. The Detroit Tigers let Jose Valverde out to pasture last winter and then re-signed him in May because rookie Bruce Rondon imploded in the role. Valverde then reminded the Tigers why they let him go in the first place and they have released him again. The Arizona Diamondbacks were counting on J.J. Putz to close, but when he got hurt they gave the job to Heath Bell who had an ERA over 5.00 last year and is headed that way again this season. The Pittsburgh Pirates have had an unbelievable season so far. Their closer Jason Grilli has saved 26 of 27 games and has a 1.82 ERA. Grilli was once a four-run pitcher - meaning that he was okay to pitch when his team was four runs up or four runs down. If the game was close, he tightened up and made bad pitches. So who is the guy on the mound now? So far this year, everything I believe about the importance of a closer has been crushed. Yet I hold steadfast in my opinion. The instability of the closers on these teams will cost them. It may or may not keep them out of the playoffs, but at some point it will cost them. Unfortunately, it will likely happen when the games mean the most. Here is my vow: If for some reason I dont get it right this time and closers arent that important, I am going to bounce back and get it right the next time. Maybe I should have been a closer. Cheap World Cup Jerseys 2018 . Dukurs winning time was 1 minute, 45.76 seconds, a quarter-second better than Russias Alexander Tretiakov. Lativas Tomass Dukurs was third, 1.41 seconds off the pace. Jon Montgomery of Eckville, Alta. Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping . Jeff Green scored 13 points and Kris Humphries 12 for the Celtics, who nearly blew an 18-point, second-half lead. Sullingers 20-20 was the first by a Celtics player since Kevin Garnetts first game in Boston in 2007. Garnett was dealt -- along with Paul Pierce -- to Brooklyn during the off-season. http://www.cheapchinasoccerjerseys.com/ . The mixed zone is not a place to make friends. Cheap Soccer Jerseys Authentic . -- Charline Labonte couldnt have asked for a better homecoming. Wholesale Football World Cup Jerseys . For the Wild it was their first win of the season and they now have a record of 1-1-2 while the Jets fall to 2-2. Jets start a six game home stand Friday with another divisional game, home to the Dallas Stars. COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No. 8 Texas A&M outlasted ninth-ranked Tennessee 45-38 in double overtime Saturday to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 1994 after starting the previous two seasons with five wins before losing.Its great, defensive end Myles Garrett said. We finally got over the hump, the little 5-0 hill that weve been facing every year.Trevor Knight bulled in for a 1-yard touchdown in the second overtime, and Armani Watts intercepted Joshua Dobbs pass on the next play for Tennessees seventh turnover to end the game.The big takeaway from this was we were able to withstand some things, not play great but make enough plays to win the game without some of our better players being 100 percent, coach Kevin Sumlin said.The teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime.Knight threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 110 yards and three more scores.The Volunteers (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) had rallied from double-digit deficits to win four of their last five games, including last weeks last-play victory over Georgia. They trailed by 21 points in the third quarter Saturday thanks to six turnovers before tying it on Alvin Kamaras 18-yard touchdown reception with 41 seconds left.Proud of the resolve, but the turnovers didnt give us an opportunity, Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.The seven turnovers were the most A&M had forced since 2005 and their five fumble recoveries were the most since 1997.Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0) had a chance to win it in regulation, but Daniel LaCameras 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.The Aggies could have put this one away with less than 2 minutes remaining, but freshman Trayveon Williams had the ball knocked from his hands and out of the back of the end zone just before he crossed the goal line on a 71-yard run. Williams finished with 217 yards rushing, a school record for a true freshman.Texas A&M was facing third-and-2 when Knight dashed 62 yards for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 35-21 with about three minutes left. Kamaras 4-yard run about a minute later made it a one-score game.The Aggies built a 21-7 lead in the first quarter after three fumbles by Tennessee. Knight threw touchdown passes of 13 and 2 yards and had a 7-yard TD run in the opening frame.Saturday continued a trend of bad starts for the Volunteers, who have been outscored 62-17 in the first quarter this season.Dobbs finished with 398 yards passing and a touchdown and Kamara stepped up with leading-rusher Jalen Hurd out, finishing wwith 161 yards receiving and a touchdown and 127 yards rushing and two more scores.dddddddddddd.THE TAKEAWAYTENNESSEE: The Volunteers finally learned that they cant give good teams such a big cushion and expect to come back again and again. Theyll have to find a way to get off to a better start and cure their turnover woes if they expect to compete with No. 1 Alabama next week.TEXAS A&M: Texas A&Ms defense again showed it is the strength of this team by forcing the flurry of turnovers and pressuring Dobbs all day long. The offense needs to be more consistent for the Aggies to have a chance to topple Alabama in two weeks.We need to finish, Sumlin said. Were a work in progress there.POLL IMPLICATIONSTENNESSEE: The Volunteers will certainly drop a few spots after the loss, but they might not fall too far after their late comeback and considering A&M is also a top-10 team.TEXAS A&M: The Aggies will likely move up a place or two as one of the few remaining undefeated teams. They will certainly jump at least one spot after No. 6 Houston lost to Navy on Saturday.INJURY UPDATETennessee center Dylan Wiesman appeared to suffer a head injury making a block in the first quarter and did not return. Defensive tackle Danny OBrien was put on a stretcher and carted off the field in the fourth quarter. Tennessee officials told CBS that he was moving all his extremities, but Jones refused to comment on injuries after the game.PLAYING HURTGarrett returned after missing last week with a leg injury despite saying he was only about 65-70 percent healthy. He was scheduled to play on third downs only on Saturday, but insisted on playing every play of both overtimes.That tells you a lot about him, Sumlin said. He was really hurting.Garrett was asked just how much pain he was in during overtime.Not enough to quit on my team, he said.He finished with three tackles, including a sack that forced a fumble in the first quarter.BALL SECURITYJones was left searching for answers on how to solve his teams turnover problem.We have to get it corrected and Im dumbfounded because we spend so much time on ball security, he said. We may take 25 minutes a day and work on ball security because we have to get it corrected.UP NEXTTENNESSEE: The Volunteers host Alabama next Saturday.TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M has a week off before traveling to face the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Oct. 22. Cheap Authentic Jerseys Discount NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL Camo Jerseys Cheap NFL Autographed Jerseys China Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Store China Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Throwback Jerseys Cheap Stitched Jerseys China NFL Hoodies Cheap Authentic Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys China Camo China NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China ' ' '