2012 is an interesting year for the Toronto Blue Jays. They are a young team that has an extraordinary level of talent, and with the addition of a second wild card spot this year, many believed this could be the year the Jays finally get back to the postseason. However, with April now in the books, many are second-guessing the Blue Jays, and if this truly is a year for them to contend.
While May has certainly started off very bright, let me take a moment to go back and look at what unfolded over the first month of the season.
After an incredible spring, the Blue Jays had a historic opening night, defeating the Cleveland Indians in the longest opening day game in MLB history. Following that incredible late comeback, the Jays went on an 18-day streak of winning two games, then losing two games, and winning two games, and you get the point.
During this streak, they had two series wins and two series losses, before finally breaking that streak when they swept the Royals in a four-game series to boost their record to 10-6. All things were starting to look good and they appeared to be on track to be very successful, but there were still some issues as well.
Opening their second series of the month with Baltimore, the Jays shared first place in the AL East with not only the Orioles, but also Tampa Bay, and the Yankees, which left Boston in last place, as they again were struggling out of the gate. Having lost two of the three games Toronto had played against Baltimore earlier in the month, the Jays were looking for redemption after their sweep of Kansas, but faltered, and were swept by the Orioles in Camden Yards and lost the opening game to the Mariners to run their overall record to 10-10.
Many Jays fans, disappointed the season wasn’t starting as hot as Spring Training had ended, began to panic, and worry set-in. However, the Jays recovered, winning the next two games to take the series win from Seattle, before losing the last game in April to the red-hot Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish to end the month on a losing note, but with a 12-11 record.
Unfortunately, many of the fans that had already begun to panic, only saw they had 11 losses and sat in 4th place. For them, the season was over.
Those are the same fans that didn’t notice the Blue Jays finished the first month of the season with a winning record, despite some early injuries causing question marks to appear in their already very young rotation, and with an offense that was almost anemic at times.
Despite having Jose Bautista start the season with a month-long slump, JP Arenciba (the franchise record holder for most home runs by a catcher) had a complete power-outage after opening day, and the offense seemed to be firing in spurts at some points, and misfiring altogether at others, the Blue Jays were able to find ways to win ball games, and that is what is encouraging about this team. Not disappointing.
I heard an interesting quote today, and I think it really applies to the Blue Jays and their fans, especially after the way April went. Fans sometimes forget that all teams are going to win 54 games and all of them will lose 54 games. It’s what teams do with the remaining 54 games that really sets them apart.
It’s a simple message that carries a lot of weight. Over the course of the season, fans sometimes get blinders on and believe that each game is THE most important game, and every series is so crucial, and while that’s true, it’s important not to be blinded by that fact, or to lose sight of what’s in front of you.
We are lucky enough to have a very impressive, young, and astonishingly talented team play some very exciting baseball for us, and even though April wasn’t their best month, the Blue Jays still have a better record than the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, and they are going to keep getting better.
Many people seem to forget that in 2011, the Blue Jays April record was 13-14 and they had Jose Bautista performing at a level never before seen in the AL. A year later, they are 12-11 with Jose’s bat almost non-existent in a slump that lasted almost the whole month of April. Lost on many people as well, is the fact that the Blue Jays have yet to have a losing record. At worst, they’ve sat at an even .500 and this is with an offense that was struggling to get started. I may sound like a broken record at times, but the point I am continuing to try and drive home is a simple one.
Keep Calm and Carry On.
It’s a 162 game season, and April represented less than 15% of that total. It was only 23 games, and so many of their young players have stepped up when the Jays needed them to, and frankly, if the Jays are only playing .500 baseball, or a little bit better than that when they aren’t playing at full capacity, just wait and see what this team will do when everything finally clicks together.