The First Half

So, going into the 2009 season, it was generally assumed that the Jays were never going to be contenders. For some reason, despite not having a reason to since Joe Carter's home run ball sailed over the left field wall in the '93 World Series, I am more optimistic with the Blue Jays than I am with anything else in my life. Because of this, I had convinced myself that the Toronto squad was much better than they were getting any credit for and were victims of the laziness of sports writers who didn't want to waste any more ink talking about the AL East beyond the mainstays (Boston, New York) and the '08 Cinderellas, the Rays, and they would prove everyone wrong.

And, through May 18th, I was vindicated. My Toronto Blue Jays were the surprise of the baseball world. With a 3-2 victory over the White Sox on that day, they were 13 games over .500, 3.5 games up on the 2nd place Boston Red Sox, and only one half game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in Major League Baseball. My eternal (and usually misguided) optimism had me wondering whether or not I should buy tickets to a Division Series game or wait and spend my money on ALCS tickets. Sure, I knew that they wouldn't play THIS good all season long. The patchwork pitching staff was sure to spring a leak or two here and there and guys like Aaron Hill, Macro Scutaro, and Adam Lind were sure to cool off a bit from their torrid paces that they began the season with. But, I didn't care. I was going to enjoy the ride, with all its bumps along the way, because at least they were going to make a statement that they were going to be players in the division all season long.

Well, so much for that. With a loss on May 19 to Tim Wakefield and his annoying knuckleball, the Jays have plummeted back down to Earth. That loss started a 0-9 road trip which knocked the team out of first place and since the high-water mark of 27-14, they have gone a terrible 17-32. In the American League, that is only (barely) ahead of Kansas City and is a few games better than the lowly Washington Nationals when taking all of baseball into account. To add to all this, the tailspin the team has gone into has lead to trade talks concerning perhaps the best pitcher in baseball and probably every Jays fan's favourite player, Roy Halladay.

Yet, despite all this, for whatever reason, I remain optimistic. I've grown to realize that my money probably won't be going towards post-season baseball tickets (unless I make a trip to Dodger Stadium), I keep moving closer to the realization that Doc's Hall of Fame plaque won't have "TORONTO, A.L., 1998-2016" and nothing else before listing all his career's accomplishments, and I know that another 4th place finish seems much more likely than any meaningful late season games.

I look at the team and it's easy to convince myself that they aren't as horrible as their .347 winning percentage over the past 49 games would suggest. I get just as frustrated as anyone else watching them lose completely winnable games, obviously, but I know (well, hope, anyway) that all the luck that went their way until that trip into Fenway that has seemingly pulled a 180 on them will even itself out and that an opposing outfielder won't make a near-perfect throw to cut down the potential winning run at the plate or someone will sneeze and push what might be a home run for the other team back towards the safety of an outfielder's glove.

Anyway, I'm already way into TL;DR territory (and on my first post!), but I guess I needed to vent a bit and provide a tiny bit of optimism into the abyss of pessimism (a lot of it deserved) that seems to be enveloping all the Blue Jays coverage these days.

No comments: