We needed this. For this team's fan base, which before the season seemed to begrudge their own allegiance, this outstanding, season-long ride with an unexpected hero has been enough to shine a little light into the darkness, and create a bit of optimism for the coming year.
And don't discount optimism: Sports franchises are multi-million dollar enterprises that somehow need to create, harness and catalyze those sanguine feelings into something more palpable. And if this team is to be a continued an long-term success in Toronto, they need to get the turnstiles turning again.
We seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time trying to remind ourselves what a big deal José Bautista's season has been. Maybe we've all become willfully more numb to giant power numbers, and maybe we're just inundated with constant questioning around any impressive offensive stat. But it seems as though you really have to try to block out the noise and think about this differently.
It's not easy to block out the noise of the McGwire-Sosa-Bonds years (nor the high moral dudgeon that continues to be aired over those days). This makes it especially difficult to focus back to what we think is probably "normal" power outputs, and where JoBau belongs in that continuum. (And believe us when we tell you that we could argue in our own head for days on end about "normal" and what it means, if anything).
To try to fake our way to some sort of comprehension, we've been using Cecil Fielder's 1990 season as a touchstone as of late. We remember that year clearly, as Big Daddy returned from Japan and put up power numbers sick enough that they would make your stomach churn when he stepped into the batters box against you. And when he did slam homer after homer through the late part of that season, there was a certain level of elation of seeing someone put on such a display.
We'd like to think that we'll look back on JoBau's 2010 campaign in a similar fashion.
We've been thinking a lot about comps, as we consider where the Jays go from here in terms of signing Bautista. (And also because if we here Brady Anderson's name invoked one more time, we're going to drown a bag of koala cubs.)
There are two names that seem to stand out in terms of players who had this sort of season at this age and point in their career: Greg Vaughn and George Foster. (And please understand that we're not calling those performances completely analogous, so please don't pick this comparison apart through the marginalia before we even get started.)
We'll go into more detail on Vaughn and Foster soon, but here's the basic message that we get from looking at the years that succeeded their 50 homer seasons: That they didn't fall off the face of the earth, but that they had about three more productive seasons (even if they were less so) in them.
So if you want to start the discussions with JoBau at three years and figure out the price from there, we'd be happy to buy into that strategy.
Friday (Bleep Bloop) Rock Out: The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
This seems appropriate, even if we have to get over the idea of Ben Gibbard stealing away with our Zooey. Nevertheless...we're all grown ups here, right?
Enjoy your Friday, and the last weekend homestand of the season.