We were told to love this team, and we did. Then the team underperformed and we hated this team. Then, they won eleven games in a row – the birds were chirping, the sun was shining, Kawasaki was the new Mayor of Toronto, and we, once again, loved this team. Now, the Toronto Blue Jays have lost eight of their last eleven games and we, once again, hate this team.
For a second, think of the people you love: your family, your friends, your significant other, your dentist, etc. Chances are, no matter what, you have their back. When times are tough, you are there. That is what love is, I think. Well then why is it different when it comes to sports? Why are there bandwagon fans? Why are people so quick to turn on a team?
As sports fans, I don’t know why we live and die with every win and loss. It’s not healthy, but we do it anyways. The Blue Jays roller coaster season started at the top. Everyone and their great-grandmother were on board and ready to party down Yonge Street to celebrate a World Series Championship. Looking back, we were stupid. We were naive. We were in love, so we thought.
Song lyrics often say things that people can’t think of on their own. It’s true. So because of that, here are two lines from a 30 Seconds To Mars song called, “The Race”: “Love is a dangerous game to play. Hearts are made for breaking and for pain.”
Hearts are made for pain, all right. The pain on the face of Jose Reyes during the tenth game of the season broke our hearts. As the tears streamed down his face, our party down Yonge Street seemed like nothing more than a mirage – what Leafs fans joke about at the beginning of every season. At this point, we still loved this team. We packed the Dome. We cheered. We did the wave. We were proud of OUR team. OUR players. OUR city. Damn it, we are Toronto and we are tired of watching OUR teams lose.
And then they lost. And when they lost, we lost, too.
We were a joke without a punch line, hanging in an abyss, waiting to be put to rest.
Admit it, we hated this team. Sure, some of us still supported them, but deep down we knew it was probably a lost cause.
When you are last place in your own division, there is nowhere else to go but up. Players reassured fans through social media that they sensed something good was coming. Oh yeah? I know that some animals can detect when a storm is coming, but could a baseball team really know that something good was going to happen? I don’t think so. Sports are too unpredictable to make predictions.
Then it finally happened.
Like a young child who finally learned how to use a toilet. Like a kid ditching his training wheels. Like a serving of pasta that has just the right amount of sauce. The Blue Jays reeled off eleven wins in a row. We were convinced that Munenori Kawasaki was God and didn’t bother to ask why God was Japanese. It didn’t matter. What mattered was we were winning and we were no longer a joke.
The fans were back. The excitement was back. The Facebook and Twitter statuses were back. Everything was back.
Then we got naive. We started talking about playoffs. We started talking about the World Series. We started booking off work in late October because we assumed a parade would be taking place. We had fallen for it, again. Did we learn nothing? The minute you expect something to happen in sports, it won’t happen.
We lost eight of our next eleven games. Streak? What streak? You are what your record says you are. Our record says we have lost more games than we have won. Woo-freakin-hoo.
Fans are getting frustrated with players. Players are getting frustrated with the media. The media are shoving stories down our throat…what a shock. Brett Lawrie is calling out his own teammates on the field and is acting like a kindergartener that needs to sit in time-out. J.P. Arencibia is pointing the finger at everyone, but himself. As for the pitching…what pitching? We all drank the Kool Aid (OH YEAH). Chien-Ming Wang was who we thought he was. Roy Halladay of 2003 is not walking through that door. Everything is a mess. Not even a ShamWow can clean this up. The team is getting booed off the field. What are we, the fans, supposed to do? EVERYONE PANIC.
Love this team? Most of us hate this team right now. But, why do we turn away from a team that still has half its games to play? Who says they can’t win 20 games in a row. Anything is possible, right? Right? I guess it’s hard to be optimistic at a time like this. Were we lying when we all tweeted that we #LoveThisTeam? Maybe. Maybe we never loved them at all.
The season is 162 games long and after 85 games we are drained. Dr. Phil would have advised us to break up with this girl a long time ago. Some of us will. Some of us will jump off the bandwagon, put our brand new Jays t-shirt in the back of our closet, and wait. Wait for better days. That is the easy thing to do. The easy thing to do is go on Twitter and rip this team apart in 140 characters or less. I’ve done it. I’ll probably do it again.
In sports, I firmly believe that you need to learn how to lose before you can win. Maybe that’s what is going on here. Maybe next year will be different. As sports fans, we have to think that. We have to believe things will get better. We have to. We just have to. Right? Or maybe this is the last straw.
Deep down – everyone who has attended a Jays game this year, watched at home, proudly wore merchandise, or heard about the team on Twitter – we now hate this team. Lawrie and Arencibia aren’t as cool as they once were. We want trades. We want people fired. We want to be best friends with Munenori Kawasaki. But most of all, we want answers. We want to know why we were told to love this team if it wasn’t even worth it.
The entire time I’ve been writing this entry, I’ve been trying to think of how to end it. Quite frankly, I don’t really know.
I do know that I will still follow this team. I will still watch every game. I will still live and die with every win and loss. I will still get mad when players do more talking off the field than on it. I will ride the roller coaster until I’m told to get off.
Because in a strange way, I still care. I don’t want to be a fan that goes away and comes back only when the team is winning. Also, there isn’t much else on TV during the summer at 7PM. But seriously, I don’t want to be like a Miami Heat fan and give up on my team before a game is over. I refuse to be a fake fan. I refuse to say “Let’s Go Blue Jays” and not know three players on the team. These “fans” exist. Yes, I am sick and tired of some of the players on this team who just think they can show up, win, and leave without breaking a sweat. Yes, it pisses me off that Arencibia can’t hit a beach ball. And yes, I’m mad that John Farrell gave the Blue Jays organization a big middle finger and went back to manage the first place Boston Red Sox. But, I think all this anger and vitriol towards the team is what ultimately makes me a fan. That’s what fans do. They criticize and question everything until they are satisfied. Man, fans aren’t that much different from the media. Funny how that happened, eh.
Bottom line, I’ve loved this team since I was in Grade 2. Our class had an ant farm and we each named an ant. I named mine, Jose Cruz Jr. – the center fielder of the Blue Jays at the time. Who does that?
I asked this at the start and I’ll ask it again: Think of the people you love. Sometimes we hate the people we love, but we know at the end of the day we still love them. IF, at the end of the day you still hate them, well then that isn’t love at all, you were fooling yourself.
So honestly ask yourself, do you still Love This Team…or have you been fooling yourself the entire time?