Blue Jays Floundering Season Taking Its Toll on Fans
What now? The Toronto Blue Jays have gone 3-8 since the 11-gamer ended on June 24th nearly putting them back to where they started when the streak began. It’s amazing the roller coaster fans have gone through this season. At first, fans were gawking at what the heck hit them in April. Then during the winning streak, they’re celebrating and chanting at Rogers Centre like its October, which was outrageously fun and exciting. Now this current disappointment fans have to put up with again. And that’s not even mentioning the conflict between catcher J.P. Arencibia and the media that got fans all in a frenzy.
Sure enough, winning and losing streaks are going to happen to every team during the course of a season. I was cautioning myself after the 11-gamer that it’s quite likely the Jays will suffer through another one or two poor periods that they’ll have to overcome. Sure enough it’s happened. Texas Rangers All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus recently said though when his team was going through a bad stretch, [quote]“That’s the way baseball is. You’ve got to keep battling, keep playing hard and stick together.”[/quote]
Indeed, one could choose to look at things in either a positive or negative way, and while I’m not pleased in the least – in fact, myself and a lot of people are downright mad – at the unbelievably bad baseball the Jays have played over the last 11 games, they are still 3.5 games closer to the wild-card than they were before the streak started.
That’s the positive. It’s so easy to be negative though.
Jerry Howarth, Blue Jays radio broadcaster, stated recently that the Jays have to be able to put together a couple more streaks winning 7 out of 10, 8 out of 10 games to really force the issue of staying in contention. In order to do that, the starting pitching has got to be there first and foremost.
Eric Smith on Sportsnet590 this morning said the Jays can effectively forget about winning the division right now and instead focus on the wild card, which I can absolutely agree with. Over the past week and a half facing division leaders Boston and Detroit, they’ve played like they were playing at the start of the season – bad starting pitching, bad defense, and untimely hitting. The last three games against Detroit, they’ve acted as if they’ve been on life-support and it’s due to the fact that they’re always in a hole early. Even if they’re ahead early, the starters (i.e. Chien-Ming Wang) cough it up the very next inning. If this continues, they won’t even be finishing above the .500 mark come September 29th.
The Blue Jays still have Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio out on the field at the SAME time due to the injury to Brett Lawrie. Second base has been a hole all year, center field has been very inconsistent showing hot flashes and cold stretches, and catcher has been pretty bad save for April when the team was losing.
FoxSports’ Jon Paul Morosi came out with a very honest assessment this morning about the Jays chances and what they should be doing. He mentions things that I whole-heartedly agree with regarding Josh Johnson as being the team’s greatest disappointment, and that the group of rehabbing starters (Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison) aren’t “likely to contribute until August.” Morosi pegs Toronto as a team that should start looking onward to next year. However, he formed this opinion after viewing the Toronto/Detroit series where without a doubt, the Jays played terribly. During Monday’s version of Baseball Central before the Jays and Tigers faced off on Game 1 of their series, he predicted that the Jays could finish in third place in the A.L. East, which isn’t exactly writing them off as he is now.
The thing is though, when this team is right, they look superbly good, and that I believe is why fans are so increasingly angry. The Jays are failing to live up to expectations and performing consistently enough like they can.
While Morosi’s article may be right, I’d like to caution fans though that we really can’t count a team out until the magic number is down to zero. Baseball is a crazy sport where the impossible can happen. One only needs to look at recent seasons past to get examples of that. But make no mistake, the Blue Jays have to start wining series now in order to get back into the picture, or else GM Alex Anthopoulos will be working towards 2014 as soon as the All-Star break.