I’m mad. I’m upset. I’m disappointed. But I won’t lose faith.
The Blue Jays have just finished another incredibly disappointing game against the Yankees, losing 6-4, but are you surprised? Is anyone surprised? With so much good will built up over the offseason and over the past few seasons, this was to be the Blue Jays fans’ time to rejoice and revel in the glow of the Blue Jays success. It’s not gone how anyone really expected. But why?
Everyone has a theory, and at this point, anything that would end up helping the team is something I’ll welcome with open arms, but I haven’t heard any of those yet. I hear a lot of “well they were losers in Miami, why wouldn’t they be losers here?!” Well, the team is more than those four remaining Marlins. Hell, none of them really play everyday anymore with Reyes’s injury and Bonifacio’s disappointing performance. We even just skipped Josh Johnson’s most recent start in favor of Aaron Laffey. It didn’t go well. So what do I think?
Well, there are two parts. It starts with the big trade with Miami. We received some phenomenal players, but we haven’t had a chance to have the original team to support them. Lacking Brett Lawrie since day 1, the team was missing a significant aspect of it’s infield defense which the pitchers rely on, and then later lost Jose Reyes in a freak injury. Emilio Bonifacio may be versatile, but he isn’t as talented across all of those many positions as we all may have believed. But that’s a sidenote, as the Yankees are currently displaying, good teams succeed despite injury. But that’s not the big problem.
The big problem is the that imaginary part of baseball that no one can quantify, the one that the old-timers love and SABRmetricians hate. Confidence. Will-to-win. Want to. Attitude. Desire. Whatever you want to call it, the Blue Jays are lacking the drive that made them successful for the first part of 2012. That same attribute that made the Blue Jays confident they could build upon and take this team back to contention. Whatever you want to call that magical, imaginary, mysterious component… it’s gone.
It’s evident in their play every day. Even watching as a fan I feel no confidence in their play currently. Any lead we have (unless it’s in the 8th or 9th inning) is probably going to be too small, and any deficit we face is currently insurmountable. Not making things easier for the team or for us fans at home is the on-going problems Umpires seem to have with the Blue Jays. It’s been a travesty. In my life, I’ve never experienced such rage as a fan as this first month has wrought. Can you blame me? Forget about the umpires killing any potential momentum the Blue Jays gain, the Blue Jays themselves have, on the whole, performed miserably. Currently, in just the AL, the Blue Jays rank 15th in batting average (.224), 14th in On-base percentage (.291), 14th in OPS+ (87)…. things are just going badly. Even the good parts of the Jays season just show more holes. For example, the Blue Jays currently rank 2nd in Home Runs (28), but only 10th in RBIs (82) and 10th in runs (85). Even with all this power, not one member of the 2013 Blue Jays has been intentionally walked yet. Probably because they strikeout more than any team in the AL save Houston, Boston, and Seattle.
I don’t think there are many bandwagon fans left. So if you are reading this, I have a message for you. There is still hope. Baseball is glorious game of attrition than spans 162 games and can never be predicted, and if we are frank, it’ll be tough for things to get any worse. Lately the team has shown signs of getting things back on track. Edwin Encarnacion has now hit 5 home runs in the past four game, Brett Lawrie’s defense has been mostly brilliant, and JP Arencibia, of all people, has been the most consistent and most potent part of the Jays lineup this year and is leading the American League in Home Runs.
So as bad as things are today, signs of hope are simmering behind the surface waiting for the team to get everything in line. It may not happen this week, or next month, but if the Blue Jays are around .500 at the All-Star break and get Jose Reyes back around the same time… this team still has the potential to make some noise in the AL East and finally… twenty years later… bring back postseason baseball to Canada.