When I left Toronto for NorCal, I expected to keep my loyalty to the Blue Jays. And I’m trying. I’m trying real hard. They’re not making it easy.
It’s not the losing. I can handle that. I’ve handled that for years. It’s not even that I now live in a part of the world that hosts two winning teams, both fun for different reasons, and one of whom is on their way to the World Series. If anything, that makes it harder. It makes me feel a bit like a bandwagoneer. Losing my place amongst the Jays faithful but will I ever really be a Giants fan?
Have I endured enough losing to call myself that?
Because losing isn’t just a part of baseball, it is baseball. There is something shady about the person who is only attracted to winning ballclubs. They stink of Yankee.
Being a fan of a losing ballclub is not without its rewards. Think how good those long-time Cubs faithful will feel when they finally win a World Series. Every losing year, another chip in the joy pile.
Problem is, sometimes you just run out chips.
Moving has done damage to my bank.
And being away from my team has provided is some perspective. Distance can do that. And sometimes it’s an ugly thing. Like one of those holographic pictures.
Pulling my nose away from the Blue Jays, an image has jumped out. One I didn’t want to see. One I would just as soon unsee. But it’s there. Big words: “It’s a clown team, bro.”
I hope it’s an illusion.
Since I left, the shortstop has appeared, on field, with a homophobic slur written on his face. That’s bad enough. But what bugged me about is not the idiocy of some jock or even the ham-handed response by the organization. It’s that things got that far in the first place.
Toronto has a large gay population and prides itself as a gay-friendly city. The Blue Jays should have embraced that long before this. They should have had a float in the pride parade, should have been involved in groups like You Can Play from the beginning and should have been visible supporters of the gay community. The San Francisco Giants have no problem with it.
And they’re on their way to the World Series.
In Toronto, it took a crisis to start this conversation.
But it’s always a fucking crisis, isn’t it?
After that, the details of Snider debacle came to light. And make no mistake, it was a debacle. Many of us could see that last year, if not the year before.The team took one of the brightest young talents in the game and mismanaged him until he was worth middle of the road, relief pitching. And they went after relief pitching. In a year when it so did not matter.
Does one even go after relief pitching? Like, who gives a fuck? That shit is unpredictable See Santos. See Casey.
Now, in what I hope is the final low point of this terrible season, they’ve traded their manager, who never wanted to be there, to a hated divisional rival for a utility player who might not even be in the majors next season.
Now, I understand that, by the metrics, a player is always worth more than a manager. That case can be made and made well. But the metrics that measure a manager’s performance are flawed. The part that can be measured, the in-game stuff, is just the tip of the iceberg.
By any measurement, Mr. John was lacking. In-game, he was awful. Clubhouse wise, the team seemed completely out of control. He couldn’t even throw a decent press conference.
So the team turning him into an asset of any kind is a minor victory. But it’s really minor. I’d also say it’s pyrrhic. The team can’t endure many more victories like this.
A lot has been written about how bad the optics are. One does not, ever, trade their manager to a divisional rival. Yes, those optics are bad. But they’re just optics.
What’s worse and what’s real is that this team, after a protracted managerial search, found and hired a guy who was terrible at his job, didn’t want to be in Toronto, pissed on the city and fans on his way out the door; a fellow who is now providing great publicity for Boston, who sorely needed some. And, for that, you get Mike Aviles.
No doubt, Mike Aviles is worth a manager like Mr. John. He is not worth the organizational clusterfuck that got us here. I’m not even sure that he’s worth rescuing Boston –even temporarily– from their media and fan perception. He’s just Mike Aviles. He’s the definition of nothing to get excited about. He is, after all, the sort of player you’d trade for a shitty manager.
What all this starts to look like, from distance, is a clown team.
One starts to wonder –as uncomfortable as it is– why anyone in their right mind would even want to play in Toronto. The turf is ugly and dangerous while the stadium inspires nostalgia for The Ex and excitement about Buffalo (!), the city prefers hockey and it’s been a long time since the Jays have contended or, from the looks of it, even tried to. The team seems irrelevant.
This ugly thought colours everything.
I think of how Canada is represented in literature. It’s basically a place where you send a character you don’t want to kill but you never want to hear from again. Does that sound familiar Maybe a little like #jerkball?
It might just be 2012 speaking but damn . . . Here’s how it is for me right now.
One suddenly notices that even a draft pick chose college over the team. Would he have done that if anyone else had of drafted him? One realizes that Lawrie’s insane dive into the camera bay happened in Yankee Stadium, where he, being him, probably really wants to play. One looks at JPA posting Republican-Jesus tweets and thinks, maybe, this guy or his agent is smart enough to know how that’ll go over in Toronto and is hoping to be moved. After all, Texas might be interested. And you know what they love in Texas? Republican Jesus. One looks at the low on base percentage that has befallen this entire team and wonders if Murph is to blame or if these guys just know they can’t walk off the island. Basically the same lack of evidence for either position. One realizes that Toronto’s best players, Bautista and Edwin, were found money and acquired by accident. That the players they’ve acquired on purpose have too often been relief pitchers that no other team wanted.
It’s all crazy and paranoid. Probably.
But this team needs to break me off something. Overpay on an ace, not squander its assets, get a manager who is, at least, fun to watch . . . Something. Rebuild is over. Compete. At least make t look good. I’m running out of chips here. The team needs to spend some of theirs.
Anyway, your pellets . . .
TAO OF STIEB: ANTHOPOULOS’ MESS TO CLEAN: Uh, see above.
German Expressionism: If 2012 in Blue Jays land hasn’t been enough of a horror show for you, here’s an interesting page about the fancy-pants art movement that created the horror genre.
A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS: The New Yorker discusses corporate dystopian fiction.
Blade Runner Whisky Glass: You can own these. They’re actually really nice. Maybe not as nice as the jar you drink your whiskey from, but nice.