You know what’s hard? Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs blow a 4-1 lead in the last 10 minutes of Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. I was distraught for weeks. You know what’s harder? Crispy bacon. Oh, and watching the Toronto Blue Jays this season.
On July 5th, I wrote about the Blue Jays and the roller coaster season they have had. I tried to talk fans off the ledge, keep them optimistic, and ultimately explain what it means to actually love this team. You can read that entry here: Love This Team…But For How Long?
At the time, they were 5.5 games out of a playoff spot. Anything was possible. Now? Now, nothing is possible. Their season is over. Write the eulogy. They are 11 games out of the playoffs and would have to jump over almost every team in the American League to make the playoffs. The Blue Jays are done like dinner. Send them to Swiss Chalet and put them on a rotisserie. I want to be wrong about this, but my optimism is running on empty right now and the nearest gas station is in Buffalo.
I think fans have all realized the awful truth at this point – and no I don’t mean the television series directed by Michael Moore.
The awful truth about the Toronto Blue Jays is, well, they are not very good. They are not a playoff team. They are incapable of being the team we all dreamed about during the winter months. They aren’t who we thought they were. They are a bunch of selfish players who look a lot better on paper than in person. Basically, they are no different than a dating website.
The truth hurts. It always does and it takes time to accept. It hurts because we were expecting something different. It’s like a kid finding out for the first time that Santa Claus and the Easter bunny aren’t real. The truth hurts…it just does.
This team has had more “player’s only meetings” than I can remember any team having in the past.
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE A MEETING BEFORE YOU SET THINGS STRAIGHT?!
If anyone from the Blue Jays organization is reading this, please invite me to the next player’s only meeting. Please.
This team is proud that it “sticks together” and that they are “taking accountability.” Knock it off. Just stop it. I don’t care if you guys are best friends off the field. Go win a baseball game. Clearly, this team is proving that chemistry can’t win you games.
From day one, DAY ONE, this team has said they have the talent to win a World Series and that it was all about the players coming together. That is why Mark DeRosa was brought in, right? Because he’s a good teammate. Because he was the leash for Brett Lawrie. Well, Lawrie proved that his head is too big for a leash. How’s that song go? He can’t be tamed? I can’t believe I just quoted that.
Don’t get me wrong, camaraderie on a team is important. However, it’s not the most important. I’ve been on enough losing intramural teams to know that strong friendships don’t equal a winning team.
I think this team needs to stop with the fancy handshakes. I think this team needs to stop smiling so much. I think this team needs to stop worrying about how their uniform looks on them and how many gloves they can fit in their back pocket. Yeah, that’s directed at you, Emilio Bonifacio. I think this team needs to stop making the “Lo Viste” sign (triangle hand gesture made around the eye) every time someone reaches base. “Lo Viste” is Spanish for “see that.” Yeah, we did see that. We also saw boneheaded baserunning errors. So here’s a tip, stop showboating, put your game face on, and focus. This isn’t a birthday party at Putting Edge with a bouncy castle waiting back at home. FOCUS ON BASEBALL.
I think this team is selfish. If the “Lo Viste” sign doesn’t prove that they want all the attention on them, then maybe watching some hitters swing for the fences every at-bat does. Stop trying to show off. Stop trying to pad your stats. Stop trying to impress your teammates, so you can go back to the dugout and go through your handshake routines. Just stop.
I don’t know what it is about owners in the Toronto market, but they all seem to be a detriment to the team in some way. You can only hide behind your social responsibility initiatives for so long. A media conglomerate owning a professional sports franchise, to me, is a disaster. Why? The media control the narrative. How many times did we see Blue Jays commercials during the off-season? How many times were we told to “love this team” and expect a World Series. Sportsnet built this team up as the best of all-time. Just as quickly, they tore this team down. If they weren’t owned by Rogers, I wouldn’t have a problem with this. But, they are owned by Rogers and Rogers also owns the Blue Jays. Sportsnet has become an inadvertent way for ownership to bash their own team and I don’t like it. If I owned a sports team, the last thing I would do is say how bad it is, even if it were true. Unbelievable.
J.P. Arencibia. I’ll preface with this: I believe that Arencibia is a good person off the field, as evidenced by his work in the community.
However, as a baseball player, he needs to do some soul searching. I am tired of his schtick. He was touted as an offensive catcher when he came up from the minors in 2010. He strikes out 1/3 of the time. His on-base percentage has gone down every year. He has never had more than 97 hits in a season. He believes that hitting home runs makes up for his inability to put a baseball anywhere but in a defender’s glove. Even I know how a pitcher is going to attack Arencibia and strike him out. You would think a professional athlete would try and work on his weaknesses after three years. I guess not. I guess the easier thing to do is whine. More on that in a minute.
Arencibia is the catcher of this team. Throughout my childhood and days of playing baseball, I always thought the catcher is the guy who should be in charge. After all, the catcher is the only person on the field that stares back at the rest of his team. All eyes are on you J.P. Isn’t that what you want? Lo Viste, right?
If you haven’t noticed how Arencibia receives a pitch, watch closely next time. The pitcher will be in his windup and there is J.P., still moving into place with no target for the pitcher to aim at. Pitchers aim for the catcher’s glove. Tell me, Mr. Arencibia, how are pitchers supposed to aim for your glove when you don’t hold it up until the ball is on the verge of leaving their hand? Then, when he catches the ball, his glove flaps up and down. Way to frame a pitch, buddy. Arencibia bothers me to no end. He’s lucky there is no better catching option right now.
Jose Molina came into Toronto last weekend with Tampa Bay and put on a clinic behind the plate. An absolute clinic. I guess Arencibia didn’t learn anything from him when they were teammates. What a shame. I don’t even trust Arencibia’s ability to call a game anymore. Maybe he’s the one responsible for ruining our pitchers. Maybe he’s the reason why Josh Johnson looks horrible. I don’t know.
Then, Arencibia has the audacity to whine and complain that the media are always pointing out his weaknesses. NO DUH. This is professional sports. This is Toronto. This is what we do. Didn’t you get the memo? Holy cannoli. Has this guy been living under a rock his entire life? Does he not know how to read a stat line? My goodness. J.P., we don’t care anymore that you can hit home runs because you have proven you can’t do much else.
THEN, he announced on Twitter that he is deleting his account. Would you like some crackers with that cheese? Wow. Here’s a tissue. And I thought the Montreal Canadiens were soft. Someone get this guy bubble wrap. You have to be kidding me. It is clear that this guy thinks he is “good” and believes that other people are picking on him. Guess what, you can’t please everyone. If I had a pay check as big as yours, I wouldn’t care if people sent me hate tweets. Deal with it.
That being said, he cannot be with this team long-term. He has turned his back on the fans and is living in denial. That’s it, you’re done. Adios.
While I’m on the Twitter topic, I need to bring up Brett Lawrie. I will say this about him: since he’s come back from injury, he seems to be under control on the field. We haven’t seen any more tantrums from him…yet. He is also working hard defensively, so the Blue Jays can yo-yo him between third base and second base. I’ll give him credit, it looks like he’s trying. If he ever calms down, he could be a valuable asset to this team.
However, to quote former professional wrestler “Ravishing” Rick Rude, “CUT THE MUSIC.” That’s right. You’re Twitter account is a grab bag of embarrassment and song lyrics. I don’t care what Avicii song you’re listening to. I don’t care for your three word tweets that are supposed to be motivational. I don’t care. You know what’s worse than an athlete with a big ego? An athlete with a big ego who has done absolutely nothing in his career.
I always thought that Twitter was a cool way to get inside the minds of professional athletes. I now realize that I don’t like what runs through their minds. Before Twitter, I thought that athletes actually cared about their profession and the results on the field. Maybe they still do. But, after lopsided losses, the last thing I want to see an athlete tweet is something funny or completely irrelevant. Don’t you care you just got embarrassed on the field? Here’s a free tip for professional athletes: don’t take your fans for granted. Just because they like you today, doesn’t mean they will like you tomorrow.
I don’t know what else needs to be said. This team has been humbled, but it’s way too late. They can’t use the “slow start” excuse now. It’s too late to turn it around. Their handshakes can’t save them now. Before the season started, we thought there would finally be meaningful games in September.
BREAKING NEWS: THERE WON’T EVEN BE MEANINGFUL GAMES IN AUGUST.
Let that sink in.
Hurts like a dozen mosquito bites on your foot, doesn’t it?
As fans, we can learn from this season. The future is unpredictable. We don’t know what will happen until it happens. Saying stuff like, “we’re making the playoffs, for sure” is just not necessary. It gets our hopes too high.
In school they always asked us to write down on a sheet of paper where we pictured ourselves in 1o years. Sure, it’s ok to dream. But eventually reality takes over. Things change. People change. Situations change.
Bottom line, the Toronto Blue Jays have been an unmitigated disaster this season. As a fan, I’ll always follow the team. As a fan, I am allowed to criticize players. If athletes cannot handle criticism from fans, then they chose the wrong profession. The fans are the ones who are paying their large salaries, we can say what we want.
It’s only a matter of time before the fans start chanting “Go Leafs Go” at the Rogers Centre. Maybe that will wake this team up…or maybe it will just lead to another player’s only meeting.