"Toronto Blue Jay fans have got to be excited about the fact their team has a chance to play meaningful baseball in September for the first time in a long, long while...." - every season preview written this winter.
Truth be told, I've come to resent the term "meaningful baseball", if for no other reason than the notion seems to imply that my devotion to this team over the last 20 years has been, well, meaningless.
I can't accept that. I can't get behind the idea that none of it has mattered; that watching Jose Bautista crush baseballs and Roy Halladay make professional hitters look silly and Brett Lawrie go berserk in the dugout has all been a mere sideshow to the Braves' pennants and Yankee dominance, and, well... you get the picture.
Every spring brings some semblance of hope, something for fans to cling to, something to get behind and claim as victory. Some years it might be the emergence of a developing ace, or a franchise bat, or a farm system rocketing up the rankings. But this season, after this amazing winter, it's different. It's the real deal, it's the not-at-all misguided belief that this club is a definite World Series contender. We should all be excited, maybe moreso than any year post-1993.
And yet... it's tempered, for me anyway, by... hesitation? Nervousness? Fear? Because with this great hope comes almost crushing expectations. In the eyes of many, it's World Series or bust. It's the pennant or nothing. It's playoffs or total failure. Grabbing a wild card spot would almost be a disappointment.
But not for me. Not this guy.
Do I want this club to win - and win big? Of course. Winning is fun. Playoffs are fun (at least I remember them being fun). But along the way, I'm going to enjoy watching Jose (the original Jose - Bautista, of course) mash. I'm looking forward to Edwin's chicken wing around the paths. Jose Reyes is going to make me smile. Heads up - if we cross paths on the street and you're wearing a Jays cap, there's a pretty good chance your pal the Ack will give you the old 'lo viste' across the eyes. Dickey the best, and I'm looking forward to a healthy Brandon Morrow developing into the ace of this staff.
I hope the Yankee magic is no more, and I hope that Josh Johnson shoves it down the once and now deposed President Farrell's throat on opening weekend. (Side note - nobody is buying the "as I recall, I was traded" nonsense, John, so stop trying to sell it. You smug prick.) I hope we don't have to read about Joe Maddon's genius and gimmicky tshirts, and I hope Baltimore's bullpen is no better than league average, making the Orioles.... league average.
And if none of the above happens? Well, that will indeed suck. But those are worries for another time.
Opening day is here. It's good to be back.