The Jays aren’t getting the results lately — fifteen losses in their last 22 games, nine in their last thirteen — and though their slim lead in the AL East is holding, the torrent of insufferable whiny doomsaying that constantly threatens to overrun the conversation surrounding this team seems more than even usual to be ready to breach the floodgates and leave us all awash in sewage.
The main problem with this is that to get to the point of being one of the people who indulges in such things — whether utter negative hogwash spittle leaps from their lemon-sucking mouths or buoyant it’s-May-26th-and-they’ll-never-lose-if-they-never-change-and-trade-Rasmus-because-Gose-is-a-Juan-Francisco-like-found-God optimism — one has to shut off every rational impulse and cling to some air-thick feeling of absolute destiny magically “divined” though a process of, consciously or not, choosing what one wants to believe as the truth, and conditioning oneself to block out flickering pangs of reality like those guys who’ll hold their palms over a flame for as long as they can tolerate it. And in much the same way as with those guys, the obstacles of better judgment one must overcome to constantly piss and shit out this kind of pathological negativity would make a person who allows themselves to be capable of it pretty impressive and bad-ass… if it weren’t all so goddamned stupid.
Here is the reality of what’s going on with the Jays that shouldn’t be ignored: They have a 1.5 game lead in the AL East. They are six games over .500. Their starting pitchers continue to do reasonably well. The bullpen has a practically automatic piece in Casey Janssen, and a second tier of solid high-leverage, go-to relievers who are very dependable despite the occasional blow-up. The defence is OK, but will be quite a bit better when Brett Lawrie returns. The offence is in a rut and missing some firepower, but still strong enough and will only get stronger when Jose Bautista gets back. And the club will unquestionably be buyers on the trade market over the next month, and will almost certainly make themselves stronger in some of their weaker areas.
No, the results haven’t been there of late, but they’re not getting blown out, and their hitters — while a bit colder than you’d like of late, and a bit too reliant on replacement level guys — aren’t all mired in awful slumps. A few too many times for anybody’s taste a good pitching performance has lined up with an abysmal hitting performance. Sometimes pitching decisions the manager has made or not made haven’t worked out the way that anybody would have hoped. But this is baseball — a team can’t impose its will on a game the way we’re taught to believe is the case with other sports. Batters still have to swing with impeccable timing at pitches they recognize in a split second are hittable, and get the barrel of the bat on the small, fast-moving sphere being thrown at them, hoping from there that their well-struck ball doesn’t simply find a glove. Pitchers need to fool or overpower hitters with perfectly placed pitches to make them swing and miss or to induce weak contact. It isn’t fucking easy! And sometimes, for a while, you’re a pretty alright team who just doesn’t get the breaks you need to convert your meagre success in this game of failure into victories.
That doesn’t mean I think the Jays are a perfect team, or am completely on the other side of the suffocating pessimism coin. It’s not out of the question that they could be in a tailspin, or showing their true colours after teasing us with May’s hot luck. They’re certainly not any more assured of making the playoffs right now than they are guaranteed to already be fucked. And that’s just it: it’s as ridiculous to believe one thing as it is the other. It’s ridiculous to blather nonsense about how things need to change if they’re going to stay in the race. Of course they do, but why wouldn’t they? We know what these players are capable of. We’ve seen that they’re a good team, no matter how much people want to piss in our faces with “a good team doesn’t do [this],” or “a good team can’t rely on a guy like [that].” For the love of fuck, maybe take a look around at all the best teams in the league and realize that you till see a lot of weaknesses and a lot of losses on their record.
Yes, results need to change, yes, they could use some upgrades, yes, the 3.4 runs per game over their last 22 games is pretty abysmal (though if you want to do the arbitrary endpoint thing, add eight more games and the average jumps to a very nice 4.2), but what seems to me has been happening with the Jays of late is a thing called baseball, and not a whole lot more.
They’d be better off with better players, we all agree, but they’re still a long way from falling out of the hunt, and there’s a reason for that: they’re really not a bad team — definitely not as good as May, but not as bad as it has looked lately either. Good enough? Time will tell, but if we’re looking to be frustrated, we really ought not to bind together our actual, legitimate concerns and the fact that they’re just not getting the results at moment — because that is tooooootally just a a thing that happens sometimes. Simmer down.