Utilizing the Short Stop

Back in around 1990 or so, my buddy called me to let me know that he convinced his parents to get a new game for him for his Nintendo Entertainment System. He said he was watching the home shopping network, and found a steal of a deal, it was a game called Ice Hockey.

Now, with me being a fan of Blades of Steele, I was skeptical whether this game would hold water. But after the game was delivered, I was pumped to check it out. As noted, expectations were low, as this was before EA Sports came along, before 16 bit systems came along, and revolutionized hockey video games.

My buddy put the cartridge in, and we started playing. I was impressed. The developers didn't have any licensing permissions, so there were only national teams you could be. No players had names. But the intruiging thing about the 4 on 4 Ice Hockey game was how you could set up your roster. You had the ability to chose from three body types that your players would have. You could have a fat player, and with him came toughness and a great slapshot. His weakness was speed. He was a slow fuck. Conversely, you could select a skinny guy. He was a sterotypical European-type of player -- blazing fast speed, but a complete wuss. The other guy was this weird middle of the road/average body type, who was moderately fast, had moderate toughness, but not really great at anything.

So you basically decided whether you wanted a team that would be great defensively, and prod along with your guys (by picking the fat fucks), or whiz all around the ice with your pussies, or play a mid level game.

The major problem was once you set your lineup, you couldn't sub players in during the game. So if you built up a lead with your skinny guys, you couldn't protect that lead by bringing in the fatties.

Where am I going with this? And what does this have to do with the Jays?

I find that Toronto is in a similar position with their situation this year at shortstop. Fortunately, though, the game of baseball doesn't leave John Gibbons with the same limitations I had when playing NES' Ice Hockey.

In this analogy, I am equating David Eckstein with the skinny European, Marco Scutaro is the average guy, and John McDonald is the fatty player. And I think Gibby really will give the Jays a nice little advantage by playing these guys the way I would have played the body type players if I was allowed to on Ice Hockey.

Let's forget Halladay starts, because it appears that J-Mac will start in all those games. Let's break this down with the other 4 starter games. It stands to reason that Eckstein will be starting all of these games. Like the skinny Ice Hockey guys, Eckstein provides much more offensive upside than The Fatty/McDonald or Average/Scutaro. His offense is really needed to get this team the needed runs to win.

But where the Jays have a great advantage, comes late in the innings. With the Jays up by a run or two, it's then, in the 8th, that Gibby really shouldn't hesitate, and start using the bench. Throw the defense out there to get the outs. Get McDonald in the field. If he ever comes up to hit, sub his no bat with the moderately better Scutaro.

There is great opportunity right here with three legitimite guys available to play short. Each has their own individual strengths and weaknesses. A true test for Gibby this year is to maximize the strengths, and manoevre around the deficiencies. With Eck and McDonald, as well, we'll know that Egos shouldn't be bruised here -- they're gamers who understand what is at play here.


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