The 2013 Major League Baseball season has so far been pretty damn good. There have been pleasant surprises, such as Chris Davis of the Orioles and Matt Harvey of the Mets, as well as a good amount of more of the same. (Check out who`s leading the AL East right now. Makes you weep, huh?)
However, for some fans, 2013 has been a lost season that has not really been worth following. The Astros suck of course, but in addition to them, the Brewers are in dead last in their division as of this writing, while the ever hapless Cubbies are just a few games ahead of them. The mighty Southern California teams (The Angels and Dodgers. No, not the Padres.) have both looked completely lost throughout the first two months. (Although they are slowly but surely clawing their ways back.) As for the Miami Marlins, it`s so hard to believe that they won a World Series ten years ago, before Jeffrey Loria ushered in the revolutionary new “50 years of darkness” rebuilding technique.
That`s true Jeffrey, but you know who else finished in last place? Every team ever. Including the goddamn Yankees.
However, I don`t really have any right to criticize the awfulness of the above-mentioned teams. Why, you ask? Well, myself being Canadian and a baseball fan, I chose many years ago to follow Canada`s team..a team that thus far has been one of the biggest busts in MLB history.
These guys, of course.
Yes, I am very sad to admit that I have had the misfortune to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan during the 2013 season. From November to April, I had my hopes at a realistically low level, rapidly elevate, elevate just a little bit more, and come to a fever pitch, nearly giving myself and all Canadian baseball fans heart attacks from the anticipation. As soon as April 1st rolled around though, these hopes plummeted like Manny Ramirez`s career, and are currently at a level of meagerness usually reserved for junkies and elementary school teachers.
So how did we get here exactly? How did the Bluebirds go from being Canada`s golden boys to being a laughingstock of epic proportions?
Well, I`ll get to that, but first of all, here`s a timeline of the Jays from November til now.
- October 21, 2012: The Jays let John Farrell go to the Red Sox in return for Mike Aviles. Indifferent shrugs abound.
- November 8, 2012: Maicer Izturis is signed to a three year contract.
- On the same day, the Jays acquired pothead and part-time relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the KC Royals. Afterwords, they trade away Aviles and catcher Yan Gomes to the Cleveland Racist Logos in return for Esmil Rogers, one of the few survivors of the massive Coors Field Pitching Massacres.
- On November 14, 2012, the Blue Jays shock the baseball world by staging a daring daylight robbery of the Miami Marlins. The team infiltrated Marlins Park and made away with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck, for some reason. However, the daring attack came at a cost… Pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony Desclafani as well as position players Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, and Jeff Mathis were captured and imprisoned in the abyss known as the Miami Marlins organisation.
- November 16, 2012: The Jays sign Melky Cabrera to a two year, 16 million dollar contract. Jays fans respond by whistling, pretending not to notice.
- November 20, 2012: John Gibbons is awoken from his four year slumber when Alex Anthopoulos offers him the position of manager. He only accepts when he sees that Ted Lilly is with the Dodgers, and that Frank Thomas and Shea Hillenbrand are out of baseball.
- December 17, 2012: The Blue Jays, in a trade that didn`t seem self-destructive at the time, trade top prospects Travis D`Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard as well as John Buck to the Mets in exchange for folk hero/knuckle-baller/Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and catcher Josh Thole. Some people questioned whether or no the dome in Toronto may have a negative effect on R.A`s knuckle-ball. We called these people pompous shitheads.
- March 14, 2013: Mariners burnout/official Japanese person Munenori Kawasaki is invited to Spring Training.
- The Blue Jays send the following players to the excellent 2013 World Baseball Classic: Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Moises Sierra (All playing for the champions, Dominican Republic) Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen (Both for Canada) R.A. Dickey, and J.P. Arencibia. (Poor, poor Team USA) J.P. cannot Handle R.A`s knuckle-ball throughout the tournament. This was apparently not seen as a sign of concern.
- April 2, 2013: The Jays lose to the Indians 4-1 on Opening Day. Lesson learned: Don`t let J.P. Arencibia catch a knuckle-ball.
- April 3, 2013: The first Jays home run is hit by Maicer Izturis. Jays fans scratch their head in puzzlement. Later,Jose Bautista hits a home run to negate this. The Jays still lose.
- April 12, 2013: A poor start is made worse when Jose Reyes is injured, which sucks, considering he was the only Jay doing anything well at the time.
- April 13, 2013: Time stops and the world watches in equal parts amusement and confusion as Munenori Kawasaki makes his Blue Jays debut.
- April 16, 2013: Brett Lawrie makes his season debut.
- May 7, 2013: The baseball world looks on in horror as J.A. Happ is struck in the head by a liner. While not a Brandon McCarthy situation, he is still placed on the 60-Day DL.
- May 9, 2013: Said baseball world watches in even more sickening horror as Ricky Romero takes the mound.
- May 22, 2013: Jose Bautista goes 4-for-4 with two home runs and a walk-off single against the Orioles.
- May 25, 2013: Lawrie flips his batting gloves at umpires, gets ejected.
- May 26, 2013: Lawrie yells at Adam Lind for not scoring on a not very deep pop fly to Nick Markakis. Jays fans begin to suspect that Brett is a little bit of a douche.
- Same Day: Munenori Kawasaki hits a walk-off base hit against the Orioles and reassures the world that he is, in fact, Japanese.
- May 29, 2013: Brett Lawrie is injured sliding into second base.
- June 1, 2013: After a 17th inning loss to the Padres, I write this article and contemplate suicide the whole time.
Despite most of what I said, it hasn’t been all bad for the Blue Jays. Believe it or not, some things have gone right for the BJ`s. For instance:
- No matter how bad Munenori Kawasaki sucks at hitting, he will always be my hero.
- Despite his struggles, doesn`t R.A. Dickey seem like a terrific dude?
- Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are both hitting like tanks.
- Casey Janssen is lights-out as the closer
- Our minor league system, though depleted, is not that bad.
- Our bullpen is pretty good. Aaron Loup, Esmil Rogers, Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil and Juan Perez have all impressed me to varying degrees.
- Adam Lind is back!
- Melky Cabrera actually hasn`t been that bad. Not particularly good, either, but not AWFUL.
- Chad Jenkins!…
- Alex Anthopoulos has shown the ability to pull off some pretty good deals.
On the other hand:
- It`s a well known fact that high expectations + failure= fan depression. Fan depression= alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption + Canadians = unruly, retarded fans.
- While R.A. Dickey may be a terrific dude, a 5.18 ERA isn`t exactly what we expected.
- While Joey Bats and Eddy E crush home runs, so do Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia….about once every five strikeouts.
- While we used to have Aaron Sanchez, Justin Nicolino, and Noah Syndergaard in our minor league system, we now have just Sanchez, and not much to show for the departures of Nicolino and Syndergaard.
- Chad Jenkins!…Just got demoted to AAA in favour of Ramon Ortiz! This is why we can’t have nice things!
- The good deals don`t mean shit if the players don`t deliver.
- AA also seems to have the tendency to panic and jump the gun on bringing people up. How else do you explain poor Sean Nolin?
- Can someone please get Mr. Sergio Santos a new elbow? This one keeps shorting out on him.
While all the above reasons are enough to guarantee a losing record, the Blue Jays biggest problem is the complete and utter lack of starting pitching. The following is a list of starting pitchers the Jays have used, from most to least innings pitched.
- R.A. Dickey has under performed since the WBC, going 4-8, with a 5.18 ERA in 14 games started for the Jays and Team USA. His knuckle-ball is non-existent at home, and he has been battling neck and back problems.
- Mark Buehrle has crashed hard at age 34, with a 5.51 ERA in 67 Innings pitched. He only allowed three runs in his last thirteen innings though, so this might be a turning point. Then again, I’ve said that many times before.
- Brandon Morrow is injured, once again. Just a few hours ago, he was placed on the D.L, but it`s not like he was wowing anybody with a 5.63 ERA. His strikeout rate is way down too (9.4 K/9 Career, 7.0 K/9 in 2013.)
- J.A. Happ actually had the best start of any Jays pitcher, with a comparatively low ERA of 4.91, before he got hit in the head with a line drive . He is currently on the 60-day Disabled List.
- Esmil Rogers is doing okay as a relief pitcher, and went three scoreless innings in a spot start (His first since 2011).
- Ramon Ortiz made two appearances as a long reliever before surprising everyone with two starts in which he had a 1.50 ERA in 13 innings. He then came crashing back down to earth, contracting a 5.01 ERA and being demoted, though he has been called back up at the expense of Chad Jenkins.
- Josh Johnson has been plagued by injuries and poor performances, with a 6.86 ERA in 19.2 innings and a lengthy stint on the D.L. that just ended.
- Chad Jenkins has been a really pleasant surprise, eh? with a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings, I think it`s safe to say that we may finally have a good, consistent in out rota- ah, shit, he was demoted to make room for Ortiz.
- Poor, poor Ricky Romero. Formerly a top prospect and subsequently an All-Star, Ricky`s struggles with everything about pitching have gotten him demoted to Class A Dunedin, promoted to the bigs after only one start, and subsequently demoted to AAA Buffalo after posting a 12.46 ERA in 4.1 innings. Things aren`t looking likely to get any better either, with a 9.45 ERA with the Bisons.
- Yes, Aaron Laffey had a spot start with us, allowing 2 runs in 2.2 innings. He was promptly released.
- How about poor Sean Nolin? called up from AA New Hampshire WAY to early, he was massacred in his debut, allowing six earned runs in only 1.1 innings.
So, this brings us to the big question: With all these injuries and bad performances, is there any chance that the Jays make the playoffs? Well, let me think. Assuming that Jose Reyes comes back healthy, Joey Bats, Adam Lind and Eddy E keep raking, J.P. and Colby Rasmus cut down on strikeouts, Brett Lawrie comes back healthy and wises up, Dickey, Johnson, Buehrle and Morrow remain healthy and perform better, and Casey Janssen keeps doing what he does so well, then yes, but I think that`s a very long shot. It can be done, but I`m not counting on it.
So, panic time now, right? Time to renounce the Jays for the bums they are and become a Tigers fan? No. Absolutely not. Yes, there is no light at the end of the tunnel this year, but as the cliche goes, there`s always next year. AA will learn from his mistakes, we will likely still have Reyes, Bautista, Encarnacion and Janssen next year, and Aaron Sanchez is getting closer and closer to the bigs with every start. So peace be with you, long suffering Jays fans. We’ve endured terrible years before, we can (hopefully) do it again. Then, in three years or so, when we’ve won the World Series for the third time, we can chalk up 2013 as a learning experience.
So be patient. Remember that it`s always darkest before the dawn. If these are the Jays’ darkest hours, then prosperity must be coming soon.
Until then, please enjoy Munenori Kawasaki and pray we give him another contract.