Toronto Blue Jays Fans, There’s Still Lots of Time to Choose Your Reactions

Some Toronto Blue Jays fans are worried, others remain confident while still others don’t really seem to care the about the team’s current struggles. How should you feel?

 

 

 

There’s no point in denying the obvious – the Toronto Blue Jays (78-64) aren’t playing great baseball these days – but does that mean fans should toss in the proverbial towel and give up on the team? There are 20 games left in the season, and the Blue Jays still hold a playoff position. Is the end really nigh?

 

From what I can gather, there are essentially three different ways that fans can react to the Blue Jays’ struggles in September, but remember: you were warned in advance that meaningful September baseball can be stressful.

 

Reaction #1: Surrender

“The season is over – this is so typical of the Jays!” “Talk about Toronto sports teams always choking, go Raptors!” “I thought these guys were good?”

 

The Blue Jays are 3-7 in their last 10 games, ceding first place in the division to the Boston Red Sox (80-62) and dipping ever closer to the also-rans in the Wild Card race. With an anemic offence and a rare spell of bad pitching from the rotation, the season is basically over. It would take a miracle and a sudden reversal of the Blue Jays’ recent performances to salvage the season, but there’s no way they catch the surging Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles (78-64) now. Only these teams can seem to win these days; the Blue Jays are dead in the water (air?).

 

It’s time to start focusing on next season. Bench Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, fire John Gibbons and Brook Jacoby, trade (!) Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki, and prepare for life without Edwin Encarnacion. Things are only going to get worse from here on out – it’ll be another 21 years in the wilderness before this team gets it right.

 

It sure sucks being a Blue Jays fan.

 

Reaction #2 Relax

Despite the optics, the Blue Jays still remain firmly in control of their own destiny. They can hold onto their current playoff position by returning to winning baseball, and they can even make up some ground as the Red Sox and Orioles begin the week with a three-game series against each other.

 

Toronto’s next 10 games are against non-playoff teams, which offers them an opportunity to figure things out before closing out the season against their primary rivals in the American League East. If you want to panic, look at Boston’s schedule over the next 10 games: they face the Orioles seven times sandwiched between a three-game visit from the surprisingly resilient New York Yankees (76-66).

 

Toronto’s next three opponents? The Tampa Bay Rays (60-82), the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (63-79), and the Seattle Mariners (75-68). The opportunity is there, so there’s no need to panic.

 

We got this, guys.

 

Reaction #3: Shrug

If the Blue Jays aren’t good enough to make the playoffs this year, then they’re not good enough to make the playoffs this year. It’s that simple. Your life won’t likely change in any significant way as a result – the sun will continue to rise, you’ll continue to punch in and out of work every day, you might even find more time to spend with family and friends – though it might be discouraging to think you invested all that time into bad baseball.

 

You can’t control how the Blue Jays perform. Whether you watch a game or avoid it, there remain two possible outcomes for the team: they will either win or lose. You can’t change that, alter it in any way, or avoid it. The Blue Jays’ performance is independent of your own existence – there’s no actual connection between the two – so why stress about it?

 

Your life won’t end, and unless you consider yourself one-dimensional, your identity won’t be thrown into crisis. Enjoy the good times, but don’t over think and overreact to the bad times. After all, this is just baseball (albeit bad baseball).

 

 

 

 

*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: C Stem- JFtC

 

 

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As a long-time Jays fan, I’ve invested more time in bad baseball than a sane person would allow. Fortunately, I was finally rewarded with some post-season action last year! This year?

William Wilson

As a long-time Jays fan, I’ve invested more time in bad baseball than a sane person would allow. Fortunately, I was finally rewarded with some post-season action last year! This year?

  • Arjonn

    Reaction #4: Pat self on back

    You’ve been a harbinger of doom since the end of last season if not longer – repeatedly citing things like AA leaving, Shapiro, Atkins, Rogers, Toronto becoming Cleveland North, no re-signing Price, not extending JB and/or EE, Gibbons, trades that were and/or weren’t made, etc. And being two games out of the division lead and only two ahead in the WC race with 20 to play proves you were right.

    • I love it!

      Personally, I think there’s only one legitimate criticism from the fan’s perspective, and it’s entirely on him or her: I kind of feel like a fool for investing so much time and emotion into this team. I can’t get any of that back now, but it’s squarely on me. The team had no part in that decision.

      The idea that the guys don’t want to win, or that you can simply trade them away or fire everyone to fix the problem, is incredibly lame. If changes are needed, they’ll be made, but this is a bit of a fictitious crisis anyway given that the Blue Jays still have a two-game hold on a playoff spot. Here’s the great thing about baseball: it’s a game of statistics, and the Blue Jays can’t be this “bad” forever.

      Are the players trying? Of course! They want to win. You can may be question Bautista’s performance in the field and at the plate, but I doubt Bautista has lost his competitive spirit. This is one of the few areas where I disagree with John Gibbons – Bautista should be strictly limited to batting duties right now, and it may make sense to drop him in the batting order while he figures things out. Right now Bautista and Josh Donaldson aren’t hitting, which hurts. The problem is magnified by grouping them together at the top of the order, but here’s the problem: who takes his place? I don’t think there’s an obvious replacement.

      I think it’s perfectly fine and even natural for fans to get frustrated with this team and certain players in particular, but they have to keep that frustration in perspective. Getting mad at Justin Smoak, for example, won’t change his performance at the plate, and it doesn’t mean he’s deliberately trying to miss all of those pitches. He’s just not a very good player, and the Blue Jays, in the end, may not be a very good team, but this has nothing to do with me.

      Throw me in the lineup and I guarantee you a cycle every night – a cycle of bloopers to run constantly on the recap shows.

      • Arjonn

        As a fan who is more invested than most people I know, one thing I don’t get is the need to assign blame when the Jays don’t meet my expectations without first examining the possibility that said expectations were optimistic (I am a fan after all) or acknowledging that sometimes, bad things simply happen.

        For instance, I’ve seen and heard lots of people pointing fingers at Gibbons, Jacoby et al for the Jays not scoring like they did last year. I haven’t seen or heard much at all in terms of asking how realistic it was to expect them to score 891 runs again. If those finger pointers had been offered an over/under 891 bet or even 850, I wonder how many would have gone for the over.

        • shaun doyle

          Agreed. I would also add to that the fact that this is not the same division it was last year. As much as the Jays have struggled with the bats, they can’t control the rest of the division.

          • RyanMueller

            I was surprised by the number of fans that just expected the Jays were post season bound before a single spring training pitch was thrown.
            I was like, “It took them 20+ yrs to make their first post season.”

          • Arjonn

            I think the key disconnect is that many fans took making the playoffs for granted, making little or no allowance for the possibility of things like significant injuries, regression, players ageing or having down years, Cola being suspended, etc.

          • shaun doyle

            It’s interesting to see new fans come to grips with what actually goes into winning in MLB. It’s not the same as any other sport. So many factors. For example, NBA teams can stack themselves and basically guarantee winning. So much goes into winning in baseball, that even a stacked team like the Jays are not guaranteed anything.

          • Arjonn

            I’m not so sure it’s just new fans. ;p

          • RyanMueller

            the other factor that hasn’t been touched on here is the Toronto Media.
            prior to last year all we heard on the Fan590 or 1050 was Maple Leafs this and Maple Leafs that with 10 mins or less an hour dedicated to the Blue Jays and Raps.
            Now it’s the other way around. The Blue Jays are the talk of the town, which is a double edge sword as we are all seeing.
            Great conversation gents.

          • RyanMueller

            the other factor that hasn’t been touched on here is the Toronto Media.
            prior to last year all we heard on the Fan590 or 1050 was Maple Leafs this and Maple Leafs that with 10 mins or less an hour dedicated to the Blue Jays and Raps.
            Now it’s the other way around. The Blue Jays are the talk of the town, which is a double edge sword as we are all seeing.
            Great conversation gents.

          • A losing skid in baseball is also magnified because you play virtually every day. Four straight loses in hockey would normally stretch over 6-8 days, which gives players time to heal their injuries, the coaches a chance to address things, fans time to recover, other teams a chance to rise and fall in the standings, etc. In baseball, you read the same narrative for four days in a row – the Jays can’t hit, the bullpen sucks, etc. – and it starts to stick much sooner.

          • Arjonn

            I’d guess it’s fairly subjective and individual. The effect of hearing and seeing slump talk can take hold faster because baseball is a nearly everyday game, but otoh, the chance to break it and to stop the talk comes almost everyday too.

            This is quite different from a sport like soccer where slump talk may not begin for a few weeks but once it does start, after each game you don’t break it, the talk continues for another week with no chance to stop it.

            I most suspect most players get at least somewhat used to whichever they face, although some more than others.

          • Arjonn

            How much they’ve struggled to score depends on what one’s expectation was. They’re on track for 786 and currently rank 7th. That certainly qualifies as struggling if we expected 891 and to rank #1 again, but maybe not so much if we consider that only three teams are on pace to reach 800 with one of them being COL.

        • RyanMueller

          this is the problem with video games. people play them and expect them to become reality.
          I love to play TheShow. You can have a player with a 90 rating and you can expect .290, 30HR out him year in and year out. When a player in TheShow comes back from injury, they have their timing right away.
          Career years are called that for a reason…..they aren’t expected to have another one like again.
          I’m thankful for sound minded individuals like you.

          • By the way, you should see William Wilson in The Show: a defensive gem with 59 home runs, 157 RBI, 146 runs, 29 stolen bases, .368 batting average, .504 OBP, and four consecutive MVP awards.

            On base, half the time. #wow

        • I agree.

          Realistically, what has Gibbons done wrong other than arguably remaining too loyal to the top of the batting order (and even here he’s made some changes)? He’s done his best with one of baseball’s weakest bullpens, he’s managed a six-man rotation monster (!), and he’s rested veteran players whenever and wherever possible. He can’t bat for the guys, and there’s little point in this team playing small ball with so many big bats in the lineup, so leave the guy alone! Even with the stalled offence, they’re seventh overall in all of baseball for offence – that just tells you how distorted things have become!

          I still think they make the playoffs, but from there, it’s a complete crapshot.

    • I love it!

      Personally, I think there’s only one legitimate criticism from the fan’s perspective, and it’s entirely on him or her: I kind of feel like a fool for investing so much time and emotion into this team. I can’t get any of that back now, but it’s squarely on me. The team had no part in that decision.

      The idea that the guys don’t want to win, or that you can simply trade them away or fire everyone to fix the problem, is incredibly lame. If changes are needed, they’ll be made, but this is a bit of a fictitious crisis anyway given that the Blue Jays still have a two-game hold on a playoff spot. Here’s the great thing about baseball: it’s a game of statistics, and the Blue Jays can’t be this “bad” forever.

      Are the players trying? Of course! They want to win. You can may be question Bautista’s performance in the field and at the plate, but I doubt Bautista has lost his competitive spirit. This is one of the few areas where I disagree with John Gibbons – Bautista should be strictly limited to batting duties right now, and it may make sense to drop him in the batting order while he figures things out. Right now Bautista and Josh Donaldson aren’t hitting, which hurts. The problem is magnified by grouping them together at the top of the order, but here’s the problem: who takes his place? I don’t think there’s an obvious replacement.

      I think it’s perfectly fine and even natural for fans to get frustrated with this team and certain players in particular, but they have to keep that frustration in perspective. Getting mad at Justin Smoak, for example, won’t change his performance at the plate, and it doesn’t mean he’s deliberately trying to miss all of those pitches. He’s just not a very good player, and the Blue Jays, in the end, may not be a very good team, but this has nothing to do with me.

      Throw me in the lineup and I guarantee you a cycle every night – a cycle of bloopers to run constantly on the recap shows.