Pssst - the Jays are 24-17.
You know, the team predicted by most to finish in the basement of the AL East? Behind the Orioles? The Baltimore Orioles? It's still early to predict - yet having passed the quarter-pole, not unreasonably early - but I think it's safe to say this team will exceed expectations. Let's face it - it's a fun team to watch. Exciting young arms. An offense that relies on the long ball. A manager we all love to hate (OK....not as much fun). It seems to be a good group, and you can sense a camaraderie within the dugout.
And yet, an all too familiar phenomenon is occurring once again down at the 'dome. The fans have turned on one of their own, and it's not sitting well with The Player (h/t Ricciardi) or his teammates.
And why should it? Lyle Overbay has been on the receiving end of vitriol not seen since the '09 version of Vernon Wells. You all remember '09 Wells, don't you? The cat on the $20M contract (the nerve!)? The dude who fished for sliders down and away and seemingly enjoyed popping up a good fastball? "GODDAMNIT!" That Vernon Wells? Remember him?
If you're confused, it 's the same Vernon Wells who was among the team leaders in most offensive categories for the better part of a decade before '09, and has re-emerged as such this season. The same Vernon Wells who will hold most of the Jays major all-time offensive records given another season or two in uniform. And yet, the combination of awful season and untradeable contract left the fans calling for blood. It was hard to watch, man. And while I understood the sentiment - I did watch about 150 games last season, y'know - I could never understand the hostility. While I can't track down the exact quote (but I swear I'm not making this up), I recall a line from Wells that left me uneasy: "I can forgive, but I won't forget". Or something along those lines. Stone cold.
And here we are again. This time, Lyle Overbay feels the wrath. Perhaps on a smaller scale (have you seen the crowds? Heyo!), but on the receiving end nonetheless. And Lyle is none too happy about it:
Overbay, jeered after making two errors on the same play in Monday's 8-3 loss, silenced his critics by driving in three runs, including an RBI double in the first. The game drew 27,981, Toronto's biggest crowd since opening day.
Overbay refused to answer questions when approached after the game.
"I'll make it easy on you guys," he told a media crowd waiting at his locker. "No comment."
Evidently, neither are his teammates:
"I've been there and done that," Well said of being booed. "For me to go through it is completely different than watching someone else go through it. I can deal with it. It's tough for me to watch someone else go through it, but he's handled it well and he's going to come out of it a better person. I know I did. You learn a lot from your struggles. But like I said, it would be nice to come in here and have it feel like a home park and be supportive, no matter what," Wells said.
Lest you think I'm just a total shill for the players - I'll repeat: I understand the sentiment. I really do. Overbay has had an awful 2 months to start the season, just as Wells was awful for most of 2009. Fans are clamoring for change, and they see Brett Wallace slugging in Vegas. Buying a ticket to the game gives you the right to express your feelings however you see fit.
But that doesn't necessarily make it right.
Likewise, Overbay could probably have handled today's post-game better. It can't be an easy thing to throw your hands in the air and say "you know what? I've been lousy. The fans want more. I get it. All I can say is that I'm trying." Instead, Overbay's comments only serve to create an even bigger "story", and perhaps drive a deeper wedge between the fans and the players - because you know that lockerroom is tight.
It shouldn't be this complicated. The Jays are playing good baseball. They're exceeding expectations. They're fun to watch. Alex Anthopoulos has the club headed in the right direction. Wallace will be here soon enough, and in no more than 120 or so games, Lyle Overbay will be on his merry way.
In the meantime, can't we just get behind them?