After much scuttlebutt and popular sentiment that may have suggested the contrary, John Lott of the National Post tweeted out this nicely framed (sorry, Shi) shot of the Jays’ lineup card for tonight’s game against Barves, showing that Brett Lawrie is indeed in the lineup again for the Jays.
It’s mildly surprising, of course, given that Lawrie could have easily been told to sit following last night’s death stare at Adam Lind and Luis Rivera at third base, after his fly out to shallow right field.
Richard Griffin said today in the Toronto Star that “It may be the most disgraceful exhibition of me-first mentality I can recall in 40 years around the major-league game,” figuring that “it will be a long time before Jays’ young star will ever convince anyone about his desire to contribute on the field ‘for the team’.”
I dunno… maybe?
There’s obviously no defending Lawrie– he’s either being either hopelessly dumb or hopelessly selfish– but it seemed to me like it was handled pretty well (read: awesomely) in the dugout immediately afterward.
GibbyTheBest. And Bautista too.
If they lose, and there’s no spectacular Munenori Kawasaki post-game interview, maybe things are different. Maybe the media zeroes in on Lawrie, the incident, and what can be generously labelled as his “quirks,” and the Jays feel they need to do something more.
We, I think, and certainly Lawrie, are better off for not having had to endure all that. No, it may not seem ideal to fans who still cling to the iron-fisted approach as some absurd management ideal, and want to pounce on this as yet another example of Lawrie’s inability to function as a human being required to interact with other, more reasonable and rational humans, that needs to be corrected in some kind of cartoonishly over-the-top show of managerial strength, but in the sane world there’s just so much that we don’t know about Lawrie’s relationship with his teammates and coaches that any attempt to distill enough meaning from this, or some combination of previous incidents, in order to seriously suggest such things is pretty fucking feeble.
If he were still doing it at 28-years-old and not as a coddled-all-the-way bonus baby prospect who’s had marketing department smoke blown up his ass since the moment he arrived in Toronto, you’d be a little more concerned. If it were handled the way John Farrell might have handled it, you’d be a little more concerned, too. Yet, if he was doing it while hitting the cover off the ball as the Jays curbstomped their way through the AL East standings, it probably would be less of a thing. I think that means there’s some nuance to how it could be handled, and that the appropriate response to it is somewhere between the poles created by those who shat on anyone suggesting Lawrie’s petulance was an issue after he threw his helmet at an umpire last year, and those who want to run him down to the minors as though that’s the only way to “send a message.”
I don’t know. It’s over, and they need him.
And they especially need him to figure it the fuck out at the plate.
That’s because if you listened to Mike Wilner for long enough following Sunday’s ridiculous, heartening walk-off win over the Orioles, you’d know that May 4th is now the arbitrary end-point du jour. Since that day’s 8-1 R.A. Dickey blow-up against the Mariners, the Jays have now gone 11-8– a 94-win pace! Except… with 50 games now in the books, and the Jays at 21-29, simply maintaining that pace would take them to a whole 85 wins.
Contrary to what much of the narrative has been, that’s not the case because of how poorly the club played early in April, but because of their staggeringly awful period that ended on that May 4th: a 2-10 stretch in Baltimore, New York, and at home to Boston and Seattle, which began with seven games decided by two runs or less, over which the Jays went 1-6.
At a more-respectable-than-you-remember 8-13 after going to Baltimore and dropping their first two games, the tension in the fan base was palpable, yet the season was still young enough that fighting back against those jumping off the bandwagon was the perfectly sensible response. In Another Loss… I pointed out the fact that even the 1992 Jays had a 2-12 stretch at one stage, blissfully unaware that the Jays were in the midst of piling a similar run on top of an already poor start.
It changed things. The first month’s reassuring refrain in the face of the braying morons predicting certain doom–”It’s early”– turned hollow as the club dug themselves a hole that likely will prove too difficult to climb out of. Turning in their best three weeks of the season since then has only allowed to Jays to keep pace. They were 10.5 games back in the AL East when they woke up to close out their series with Seattle on May 5th, and they’re 9.5 games behind today.
During that stretch, even what seemed to be an unthinkable, season-turning extra-inning victory over the Orioles and closer Jim Johnson, who generously walked Maicer Izturis with the bases loaded to put the Jays on top in the 11th, didn’t do what we all hoped that it would and spark them.
That in mind, perhaps you’ll forgive me if I just couldn’t breathlessly rush to a computer following yesterday’s big uplift.
It was a fantastic moment, yes, and especially nice to see the team still mustering the kind of enthusiasm that I simply couldn’t, but… I don’t know. These have been the dog days of May, and personally, maybe I’m just not quite ready to be able to settle in and enjoy each game for what it is. The early season battling with negative suckholes, followed by the crushing losses of the 2-10 stretch that sunk things even lower, was simply exhausting. So, too, is the fight to maintain the hope that something exceptional can still come from this group, even as some kind of a turnaround genuinely seems to have begun.
Depressing, huh? But at least that fight, unlike the one against a world that doesn’t sufficiently punish Lawrie’s latest juvenile stupidity, or the hilariously butthurt one against the entire state of affairs, is worth continuing. There’s still time for a massive run of some kind– or at least one that puts the Jays in position to more realistically dream on another, slightly less miraculous one– it’s just going to keep on being hard to stomach until it happens, I think. Fortunately yesterday we had Kawasaki and Gibby around to keep things from being even worse. Now a win, or four, against the Braves could really make this team watchable again, because even with the baseball having been better over the last three weeks, they haven’t quite got there yet.