We can't say that we blame you if you went to bed or woke up disappointed with the news about Yu Darvish. A week full of groundless-yet-enthusiastic speculation had led all of us to the precipice of something that we thought would be great, but turned out to just another opportunity to feel your heart sink.
Still, it's worth remembering that the Darvish posting process was a far from perfect way to acquire a player, and while the Jays may have put forth a very aggressive bid, the shortfall shouldn't be held up as an exemplification of the team's unwillingness to get better. Things happen. It's a competitive marketplace, and the Jays are - as we've just found out - just one player among many trying to improve.
While you're swallowing hard and trying to keep a stiff upper lip today, keep these three things in mind:
1) The 2012 Blue Jays were already an improvement over last year's model. A full year with a focused Colby Rasmus, a bullpen that is a lot more settled than many of you give them credit for (Villaneuva-Perez-Litsch-Carreno-Janssen-Santos, with more to come), a full year with Edwin Encarnacion at DH (where he posted an .855 OPS last year), and a full season of Brett Lawrie is something that we want to see, and that we still contend can win 90 games without any further additions.
2) There are no guarantees. Maybe Darvish could have been the difference between the Jays running away with the East, or another third or fourth place finish. But it's unlikely that one player who had never so much as thrown a pitch in North America would be that difference-maker. Maybe he catches a spike in Dunedin, or maybe he'd only have been great in the Texas heat. We'll never know, and we shouldn't posture as though we do.
3) The offseason isn't over yet. There's still moves to be made, and you have to know based on recent events that Alex Anthopoulos will be working hard to bring another arm and another bat to the Jays before they congregate in Dunedin this February. Maybe there will be something marginal coming, or maybe there's a big deal to be signed or consummated before then. Either way, this is not the end of hope.
And that right there is the thing. Hope. It's as enthralling as it is infuriating. It's the thing that's kept us awake all night, blogging at 2 AM, trying to sort out what comes next. The trouble is that we can't pretend to know, as much as we want and feel like we need to.
But that's also the fun of being a baseball fan. If you need guarantee of meaningful games next year before you'll commit to coming along for the ride, you may well miss something extraordinary. We tweeted late last night that there is a certain amount of suffering that is implicit with being a fan, but that this is one of the great things about the game. As Bob Dylan sang: For those that lose now will be later win.
Transcendence - shedding what you are and becoming a greater version of yourself - is a painful process. It hurts. But the pain is there as a future reminder of what we've gone through, and what makes the greater moments all that they are.
After last night, we've all got one more scar. One day, we'll all compare them, and celebrate them, and recognize them as a signpost on the road in our rearview mirror. And this one will barely register as much of anything at all from that perspective.
This is all prologue.