Jay Bird Watching Podcast recap: Pitch clock issues & other early spring training observations

Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One
Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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This is a recap of the Jay Bird Watching podcast featuring hosts Craig Borden, Jason Lyons, and Ken Alfred. This week Ari Shapiro joined the show. 

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No Jacket Required

The show started off with a mention of a recently penned article by Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun which details the decision by the Toronto Blue Jays to “retire” the home run jacket which has become so popular over the past couple of years. 

Ari led off by pointing out that this is a philosophical shift and a sign that this team is ready to be serious about winning. Craig is thoughtful to note Don Mattingly’s presence in the dugout this season could be a factor in the “Gente de Barrio” jacket being no more. 

 More veteran leadership coming?

Next up to bat was a pair of former Blue Jays, Edwin Encarnación, and Pat Hentgen, being present at camp and looking to be part of the coaching staff. That’s in addition to the recent hiring of Victor Martinez, and Mattingly being in tow. 

How the presence of veterans like that was tossed around. Jason noted the respect and level of engagement Martinez has already garnered early on in camp as a positive sign. Ari praised the front office for bringing back two somewhat underrated players that could impact the current club.

The new MLB rules

Major League Baseball has introduced a series of new rules. The bigger bases, for one, have seen Toronto attempt more stolen bases in a limited sample size of a half dozen Grapefruit league games. 

Ari sees the seemingly “adapt or die” effect the rules could have as a negative for baseball purists. The Jays' willingness to run more could have them ahead of the curve, but baserunning wasn’t exactly a strength for them last season.  

Jason wonders how the new rules will affect a team like the Rays, who have been forced to try unconventional ways to win over the years. Ari can’t help but think Gabriel Moreno being traded to Arizona could have had something to do with the limited number of pick-offs now allowed too. 

The pitch clock section of the rulebook and the difficulty in policing it was next around the horn. A huge game that ends in a pitch clock violation would be a disaster and could spell the end of this new initiative. Ken wonders if we’ve gone too far with the analytics overload. 

Early spring training observations

Ricky Tiedemann lit Blue Jays Twitter on fire with his electrifying spring debut. Craig’s assertation that the 20-year-old could steal a job this spring suddenly doesn’t seem that crazy, although having him start in Buffalo seems more likely. 

Ari is observant in pointing out how having a young flamethrower like Tiedemann could rub off well on the rest of the staff. José Berríos, on the comeback path, is another storyline that was discussed. 

The topic of the high expectations surrounding the team this year and what could happen if those expectations aren’t met was batted around. 

Craig showed off some of AI-generated Jays' artwork and the crew had some fun trying to guess the players they were supposed to represent. 

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