The Yu Darvish saga is finally over, and there’s so much that needs to be said that it’s hard to know where to begin. It was a bitter loss for many Jays fans, especially in the immediate aftermath, and there’s no great way to spin it for the few fans who’ll insist that it matters not that the Jays’ bid was serious, or that Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports that “sources in baseball insist that the Jays’ bid for the 25-year-old Japanese star was over $50 million, barely edged out by the winning bid of $51.7 million reported to be posted by Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels.”
It only matters, some will say, that Rogers, once again, didn’t do enough– and if they don’t take the money earmarked for Darvish and immediately throw it straight into the pockets of whichever free agents are still available, we’ll know all we need to know about Rogers’ intentions for the stewardship of this club.
Last night it seemed as though Richard Griffin was ready to lead the charge into full-blown idiocy, tweeting that the Jays have proved they’re “not scared to spend money now they MUST spend.”
For those of us with critical thinking skills, of course, it’s a thoroughly fucking ridiculous notion that the club should follow the Angels’ 2010 lead and spend money on anything exorbitantly expensive with a pulse (or Vernon Wells) just because it’s there to be spent, and fortunately Griffin tempered his view [read: remembered everything he wrote during the last four years of the JP Ricciardi era] in the article linked above.
Speaking of critical thinking skills, as you’re probably aware by now, Kevin Gray of the Manchester Union Leader certainly suffered a lapse in his last night. Reporting on his personal blog, Gray Matter, because he “didn’t go with the story in my newspaper because none of my sources went on the record,” Gray insisted to us around 9:00 PM that a press conference was set by the Jays for 9:30, which sure was news to the local media members who would have been expected to be there. He stood by his story all the way until it was revealed as false, then apologized profusely and decided to donate any ad money generated on his blog this week to JaysCare.
I have some sympathy– he’s a professional, not some clown just pretending he’s got contacts in the organization– but not a whole hell of a lot, as he could have easily toned down the assured tones of what he was writing. And especially not after, in his apology, he stated that “this is the danger of the blogosphere.”
John Lott of the National Post also spoke about the impact of social media on the Darvish frenzy, saying that it “fuelled” Jays fans’ “fantasy.”
What Lott says is undeniably true, of course, I just bristle, as a blogger and Twitterer who did a lot of fuelling over the course of the last week, about the connotation. What itself fuelled that fantasy-fuelling social media frenzy was a mountain of speculation being passed along by mainstream journalists– and last night, a smaller paper journo in the form of Kevin Gray.
But the media stuff is a conversation better left for another day (or for Parkes over at Getting Blanked). What’s important in the wake of the Jays’ loss is to figure out what it means and where they go from here.
For myself, like a lot of fans, the possibility of acquiring Darvish was nearly as much about the message it sent as it was the player himself. It’s easier to fully acknoweldge now that we know he won’t be coming, but Darvish is a risky property, as is anyone who requires a commitment of more than $100-million, I suppose. Surely he would have been extremely fun to watch, he would have perfectly filled an area of need for the club, and he would have allowed the club not to expend a good portion of their prospect capital to do so, but if there were other big ticket options out there we thought the Jays might be as realistically in on– if it didn’t seem like our big free agent choice was between him and nothing– I don’t think that people would have been worked into such a froth, myself included.
No, it’s not the most rational reason to be in favour of a deal, but Rogers’ willingness to spend have been hugely meaningful to a fan base rattled by “payroll parameters,” by Geoff Baker conspiracy theories and years of questionably-low spending and skepticism of Rogers’ internal accounting. Would it have jump-started a new era of revenue generation for the club? Not on its own, not without winning. At least not beyond a few weeks of excitement at the start of the deal. As Drew mentioned in this week’s podcast, if the Jays found themselves 10 games back by mid-August, the Rogers Centre wouldn’t be full when it was Darvish’s turn to pitch.
Of course, adding Darvish would have gone a nice distance towards making the Jays a better club in 2012 and beyond, but winning his posting was hardly make-or-break for the club. They can still improve themselves, on top of the many improvements they’ve already made since Opening Day of 2011. And if they need to sell off prospects now in order to make the improvements, it’s comforting to know that there should be money available next winter to improve the roster that way.
“Should” of course is the operative word, and the word that made last night’s outcome feel like such a punch in the gut for so many. We’ve always felt that the Jays should have money available to them, but fans desperately want to see it– especially in the form of spending on the big league payroll. It’s an understandable sentiment, to a point. It’s just, you’ve lost touch with reality once you start failing to grasp the very simple concept of how a silent auction works and insisting that it doesn’t matter what the club’s bid was or whether they bid it all, as long as they lost.
No, it matters. It can hardly be chalked up as a victory that the club missed out in their pursuit of a player they wanted badly enough to post such a high bid on– and there is absolutely no reason to believe they didn’t bid– but the fact that they did lends much credence to Rogers’ insistence that money will be there for the right opportunity, and to the suggestion that the club’s low payrolls and refusal to put the cart before the horse are part of an intelligent plan to get better and not just a smokescreen for cheap fuck Rogers.
That doesn’t at all mean those notions are now proven to be inarguably true– and believe me, I’m fully aware that absolutely nothing is going to stop fucking mouth-breathing morons from arguing that they’re not anyway. But maybe let’s not jump to the conclusion that the severe emotional reaction of so many last night makes them those kinds of fans, and let’s remember that it’s still a good day to be a Blue Jays fan. Even if, clearly, it could have been better.