It became clear a week or two back that the Jays' ever-so-slim hopes at the Wild Card were done. Still, we're surprised at how the team (and the on-field management staff) seem to folded up the tent.
The Jays are clearly scuffling, going 3-7 in their last ten games. John Gibbons must feel like he's secure for next year, because he managed today's 8-6 loss against the Orioles like a spring training game. We half-expected to see people getting their running in on the warning track.
The Jays are perilously close to finishing the season below .500. That's a fate that would simply be unacceptable, even for apologists like us. If they do fall below .500 for the season, no amount of injury excuses are going to salve the fanbase's pain.
Moreover, the team's clientèle (which is to say, the vast number of people who push the attendance numbers up, but who aren't really the hardcore fans) has a tenuous relationship with team. The Jays' biggest battle in getting people out to the park is to battle fan apathy, and Toronto is notoriously a city where people are scrambling to be the first off the bandwagon. A crappy finish like the one the Jays seem to be fashioning could send the team back a few years.
None of J.P.'s assurances on how much they like this team or how well everyone is going to play next year once they're healthy will keep at bay those who can't wait to begin casting aspersions, and portraying the team as failures (as evidenced by Bob McCown and the Roundtable's rants on Friday, picked up by the Drunk Jays Fans.)
Perception is everything in the Big Smoke, and there will be a monumental gulf between how an 82-80 season is perceived versus how a 80-82 season goes down.
Young Folks, the Good
Seeing Adam Lind and Russ Adams hit back-to-back homers imbued us with more hope than we really deserve to have at this point in the year...an we don't even particularly see them as part of the team's future.
Young Folks, the Bad
We're not sure what the team had in mind for Curtis Thigpen, but the way they have handled him (keeping him on the bench for weeks on end while overworking Old Man Zaun) hasn't done much for his hitting. Thigpen looks awful, and doesn't have a knock since August 13. We've become increasingly concerned that he's about to become yet another "Jays Catcher of the Future" who drifts off slowly into oblivion.