— Matt English (@matttomic) July 22, 2014
Yeah… so that wasn’t much fun, was it? And hooooooo fucking boy, did it ever bring out the stupid. All sorts of fun stuff about the Jays’ “dumpster diving” and Brad Mills and their need for a pitcher and Drew Hutchison’s home splits and the struggling hitters and their inability to beat the AL East and and and and and and and…
It sure does get a little bit suffocating to feel that to be a part of the conversation you need to push back against deluge of recency bias, especially when the only arguments you have to push with don’t offer a lot of comfort, doesn’t it?
But that’s really where we’re at right now.
The Jays’ bats should get better as the team returns to health from their recent bad run of key injuries. The starting pitching hasn’t been great, but it’s been decent enough and may yet see a reinforcement. The bullpen they should figure out, and shouldn’t have trouble finding cheap pieces with which to do so.
All of this is absolutely true, yet none of it means the Monsters Of May are going to suddenly return and rocket the club to the top of the AL East standings with no need to look back. Health may not be enough. More key players may get hurt and further test the already thin veneer of depth the club has built (which, to be fair, isn’t any different from the depth other clubs have). Shit, they may stay healthy and still not have the horses. And of course if they keep playing the way they’ve been playing since about the second week of June they aren’t going to have a hope in hell of being within sniffing distance when all is said and done.
But that’s just it — that’s why I say “recency bias”. Why would they? Why would anyone else?
The Rays and the Red Sox and the Orioles and the Yankees have been playing well of late, chipping away at what was once the Blue Jays’ lead, and fans have a tendency to believe that at whichever point they’re looking, that’s where reality is. The true talent, they seem to think, of the Blue Jays is what we’ve recently seen, just as the true talent of those other teams is what we’ve recently seen.
Ignore the fact that the Rays and Red Sox were so bad until just recently that the Jays had jumped massively out in front of them, and pretend they’re not capable of ever going that poorly again. Ignore how well we know this Jays team is capable of playing, and why there’s no honest reason to believe they can’t get close to that level again when healthy, and just start sulking because you think you’ve seen this movie before.
Then vent all these angsty feelings online and piss all over anyone who dares to push back against the reality that’s been constructed on this warped foundation.
And it’s especially easy because nobody can say that the team hasn’t been playing poorly. Nobody can assure anyone that it’s all going to be OK. As in-fucking-sufferable as it is when folks roll their eyes at the suggestion that it’s early — even when it is unequivocally, inarguably still early (and you’d better believe it fucking well is) — you can almost understand why they do it, because it’s been early so many times before and hasn’t worked worked out in our favour in eons. As dumbfounding as it is to see people nitpicking on the club’s waiver wire acquisitions (seriously, find something significant to piss and moan about maybe), it’s not like we all don’t want to see them get better players than Brad Mills, it’s just these are mole hills being made into mountains (and, frankly, like many of the Jays’ other scrap heap finds the Mills thing made sense enough — Jenkins has options and wasn’t being used for more than four or five outs at most, so wasn’t really a long man replacement for Redmond, who it was reasonably decided should get a chance to work in short relief given how well he’s pitched and how poorly so many others have).
Add in the fact that they’ve been going so badly and yes, it’s frustrating. But it’s frustrating for everyone, and especially, I think, for that great many of us who clearly see a season hanging in the balance — fully capable of going either way as it plays out over an exciting, if often frustrating, next ten weeks — and are constantly being asked to view some tinfoil science project made by a hopelessly negative yahoo who either thinks he’s had some kind of “aha” moment or just wants to be the first jumping off the bandwagon screaming that the team is fucked.
Or maybe everyone like that is cool, and it’s all just me.
Whatever the case, I’m certainly having all kinds difficulty not getting sidetracked, and while I know I should be better at ignoring this stuff, when it’s your business to be immersed in the conversation it’s hard not to feel it all rumbling in your direction like a stupid fucking wave coming at you from three sections over as you’re trying to focus your gaze on a key pitch in a key at-bat in the top of the eighth inning with runners on, two outs, and the Jays clinging to a one-run lead. And like those who just can’t help themselves but join in the wave in a crucial moment, I know that everyone just wants to be part of the experience and have the right to cheer in whatever way they please, it’s just… watch the game! You’re ruining it for everybody else!! Watch what a season actually goes like! Watch how teams have ebbs and flows over the course of a year! Watch how a single game itself is never over in the third inning — watch how it’s never a time to start venting like a spoiled child where it may not end in utter embarrassment.
Just watch the damn game. Maybe even try to enjoy it.