Full disclosure: This post was going to be the beginning of a Daily Duce, but it feels better to do it separately. Hold tight, we’ll be through this nonsense quick and then it’s back to reality. I promise. At least until the next time.
Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that with three-quarters of the season in the books, the Jays are on an 84-win pace, and need to go 26-15 to reach the 89-win mark that would most likely assure them of a playoff spot. A win or two less might be good enough for the second Wild Card, but that’s pretty much the rub. It’s a daunting task. It was always going to be one. But the Jays, despite their inconsistencies and their inability to find an impact player to improve the roster dating all the way back to the off-season, aren’t incapable of pulling it off. Especially with Lind and Encarnacion finally back to health.
No, really. There was lots of talk of “garbage clowns” in the comments section of last night’s post-game post, and… well… in a long, unwieldy comment I tried to add some perspective to the invective, shitting (probably dumbly) on the tao of playoff probabilities and insisting (rightly) that the Jays are no more the team that’s gone 3-8 over their last eleven than they were the team that went 11-3 over their previous fourteen. But it was commenter “Roy Hobbes” who truly got to the nut of what’s been so infuriating about this season’s conversation, beyond the obvious battles with the truly insufferable doomsaying unserious shitstains, explaining that “manic Jays Fans that feel the need to completely reassess every faction of this team after every single loss are exhausting.” Hear, hear.
That said, I get that people hate to be told not to be emotional, especially when it comes to sports. So much of what we get into it for is precisely emotional. I know I’m fighting a losing battle here, maybe even an utterly pointless one. But I like to think that this blog is about more than just the goings-on of a baseball team, but the whole conversation surrounding that team, and when I see it going off the rails, I think it warrants comment. And, evidently, it’s been off the rails a lot this season.
That’s understandable, I suppose, in what has been such a dramatically up-and-down year. But what I don’t get is when people who want so badly to vent insist that us folks trying to keep a level-enough head while following this sport that demands level-headedness simply for the sake of preserving sanity are insisting that everything is fine. That’s the antithesis of what I’m saying. Nothing is fine — not for the Blue Jays, not for the Yankees, not for the Mariners, or the Tigers, the Royals, or even the Orioles. It’s almost never going to be “fine” in the mid-August portion of the MLB schedule. The idea that the only possibilities for the team are either “fine” or “fucked” completely misses the reality that is the murky middle.
Do we want to see the team play better? Do we want them to be gaining games on the teams they’re chasing rather than losing them? Of course. But that can change quickly, as should be blindingly obvious to anyone who has even just watched this season, let alone lifelong fans of the game. It is not the nature of baseball, no matter how often lazy reporters and fans want to circle jerk over narratives about “statement games” and “winners” with the ability to impose their will on the sport, for everything to play out smoothly in one direction. It’s maybe not natural for a team to be quite as volatile as the Jays have been here in 2014 either, but wins and losses come in clusters. And just because one team is at a high ebb and another playing poorly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one is tumbling into irrelevance and the other is staking its claim to greatness. It’s just not that simple.
That doesn’t mean that we need to kid ourselves about the difficulty of the situation that the team playing poorer is in, or that we can’t be upset about the way things might currently be going. It certainly doesn’t mean we can’t be upset at missed opportunities to make the team better, or at being stuck at the situation we’re in with respect to ownership and payroll. But all that frustration shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to having an understanding of what a good situation the club is in, how many great possibilities still exist along with the usual deflating ones, and how a loss or two or three doesn’t alter much at all — or, especially, how it doesn’t reveal the true nature of a club. Not in a sport where all of one team this year has won more than six games for every ten, or with a team that’s about to get two of the best hitters in baseball back for the final six week push.
The season is going to go how it’s going to go. The front office is capable of what it’s capable of. You don’t have to be optimistic — realistically? I’m not terribly so either at this point — but how about you stop groping around for reasons to get off the ride at Every. Single. Possible. Fucking. Opportunity?
I mean… do what you want, I guess, just be aware you might end up being called a garbage clown for it.