So...are we all cool now?
First off, a mea culpa, if you'll indulge. If anyone threw gas on the smouldering embers yesterday, it was yours truly, and if we seemed less than charitable or more than a little impertinent, we apologize. Having said that, we've had a good night's sleep and some time to think about some of the points drawn out in yesterday's cavalcade of comments, and we'll address them with a bit of a clearer head.
The Boston series sucked: We made a rare trip into Toronto in order to see the games this weekend, and it was demoralizing. It's part of why we couldn't bring ourself to write much of anything on Monday morning, because we just figured that emo Tao is not all that fun to read. (Well, sometimes...) We get why people would be losing their faith in the team, the plan and all that junk. We sympathize.
On "mediocrity": If there's a word that we've come to loathe hearing when talking about the Jays, it's "mediocre". In fits of pique, revisionists like to trot out how Jays fans have suffered through 18 years of mediocre baseball, which helps to rationalize their catcalls back in the direction of those faithfully glued to the bandwagon.
So let us ask: Did last year's 85 win team feel "mediocre" to you at the time? In the last five seasons, the Jays have finished under .500 just once...is that really mediocre?
Yes, the Jays have been on the outside looking in at the pennant races, mostly because one of either the Sox or Yanks or Rays has sprinted out ahead early in the season. But making the playoffs in baseball is hard, especially in the AL East. And the lack of a playoff appearance might be frustrating, but it doesn't mean that there hasn't been good baseball over that time.
The Plan is Dead. Long Live the Plan: J.P. Ricciardi had his plans. Now Alex Anthopoulos has his. Frankly, everybody's got a plan. The whole notion that there is something too clever about having a plan is lost on us: You take an approach that you think will work, and you stay true to it as best as you can. You don't panic and pull up stakes and revamp the direction because of a bad week, or month, or year.
And if there was one thing about which J.P. deserved some criticism, it was deviating wildly from his own plans based on the results of the previous season. Ricciardi's plans were always focused on short-term gains (college draft picks, big free agent signings), often at the expense of the long-term growth of the team.
So now, ten weeks into Alex Anthopoulos' second season as the GM, people are calling him out for not indulging in the very things for which they pilloried Ricciardi: Why didn't the Vernon Wells money get spent on free agents? If we don't spend to the Yanks' and Sox' level, we'll never compete! Abandon the plan! And who the hell does Anthopoulos think he is? He thinks he's so smart...
And furthermore, we thought that we've been pretty restrained around here in contrast to some of the cartoonish deification of Alex Anthopoulos that's taken place. We're willing to go along with his plan for a few more years and see how it plays out. Maybe it doesn't work out in the end, and maybe 50% of those clever moves come back to haunt the Jays. But we're not going to pull the chute now because we've got decades of frustration feeding into our more negative thoughts.
Soon, it will be winter, and people will be kvetching on every outlet about why James Reimer has suddenly turned into a pumpkin. But for now, there's a lot of baseball yet to play. And some fun stuff coming. Let's relax and enjoy it.
Our tenure as a Jays fan: Since 1983. (Our third favourite team, after a few years of loving the Pirates and the Expos, if it matters.) If you feel that the extra six seasons that you spent watching Rico Carty and Rick Cerone makes you more of an authority on the Jays, we'd invite you to start your own blog and stop reading this one. We don't care to bask in the annihilating glow of your contempt for what we do here.
Rogers is rich, but...: Rogers is a billion dollar communications company. They make their money in part because Ted Rogers was astute enough to invest his own money on building the infrastructure that brings the HD images into your homes and the chatter, texts, and everything else into your mobile device. (And if you feel like you're paying too much or there is something unfair about the way they do business, switch. You have alternatives. Even if it is a pocket full of quarters.)
When it comes to baseball: Rogers is not a billion dollar company. Sure, they're able to leverage some additional promotional exposure through the Jays, and they probably won't lose much more than they can stomach on the team. But you're not going to have a corporation's profitable divisions throw money down a hole in order to take a significant financial risk on big name free agents.
Seriously: People are self-interested, and you can't tell us that a senior executive in the cable or broadcast or (especially) the wireless side are going to sign off on creating a budget for the Jays that makes the company less profitable and eats into their personal bonus structure, just because Johnny from Markham wants to sign Prince Fielder.
The Red Sox and Yankees ARE billion dollar baseball businesses, and so they can make those decisions, and if they mess up, it's on them. If the Jays had, let's say, signed Jason Bay to a deal that would have brought our hometown kid (from the other end of the country) to town to the tune of $16 million over the next four years, only to see him turn into a pumpkin himself. Wouldn't the GM be mocked for such a waste of resources?
Have we all forgotten the Vernon Wells deal?
But the point is that there are other ways to compete with those behemoths. The Tampa Rays have already demonstrated how it can be done. And the Jays can find a way to compete with the big boys without creating a situation where they are a burden to their corporate ownership.
Do we all remember how fun it was to be in ownership limbo?
It's baseball, after all: We're not sure how much longer we've got before someone shuts out the lights and calls it a day for us. We're optimistic that we've got a few decades left. And if we spend the rest of those years and the Jays never quite make it over the hump for any number of reasons, we're not sure that we'll find ourself on our final day begrudging the time that we invested in this team. Baseball's pretty fun. Frustrating, to be sure. But if it ever stops being fun for us to be a Blue Jays fan, we'll just walk away.
The game is the game. Take it for what it is, or don't. But don't curse it because the games don't play out the way you'd like. We had our time at the top, and now we're caught in the middle. But have some faith.
One day, everything is going to sound like a rhapsody.