The Barnstormer is happy to introduce our Toronto Blue Jays beat writer-columnist-scribe-worrier-apologist, Jake Goldsbie, who will be dropping in throughout the season to lend his insights, wit, and confused and drunken wisdom to the 2013 MLB season. Follow Jake on Twitter @JGoldsbie.
Good things don’t happen to us. That’s the mantra of every Toronto sports fan. We suck. Our teams suck. Our teams look good for a couple months and then start to suck. Our teams are actually good but still find a way to suck. Heartbreak is what we do. The Maple Leafs get off to a great start last season? James Reimer concussion. They find a way to keep it together until January? Biggest collapse in recent memory. The Blue Jays put together a roster that could actually compete in the majors? Everyone gets hurt at the same time. The less said about the Raptors, the better (change your fucking team name!). Because of all of this, I find myself in a weird place. The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays aren’t just potentially good. They’re good. On paper, this is the best team Toronto has seen…ever? Since ’86? Obviously and definitely since ’93. I don’t really know how to handle these thoughts. I’ve felt a pervading sense of dread for weeks now that something is going to go horribly wrong. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be big and it’s going to be terrible. R.A. Dickey gets hurt in the World Baseball Classic, Melky Cabrera gets suspended for 100 games, Brett Lawrie explodes his knee trying to steal all three bases at once, any of these are possibilities in my head. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On November 19th, 2012, a trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins was made official. The Blue Jays were turned, immediately, from a dark horse to a favourite. Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Emilio Bonifacio were Blue Jays. Read that again. Jose fucking Reyes is a Blue Jay. On December 16th, the Blue Jays traded for R.A. Dickey. We lost Travis D’Arnaud, long seen as one of the saviours of the franchise. It was worth it. Have you seen the man throw a knuckleball? It’s the stuff of legend. I’m not exaggerating (maybe I’m exaggerating). The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays were complete. Things were happening. Oh God, oh God, this is going to go horribly.
I don’t know how I would handle the Blue Jays making the playoffs, let alone winning the World Series. The last time the Jays were in the playoffs, I was five years old. It’s not a very clear memory. I remember being woken up the morning after Joe Carter’s now mythical home run and being told, rather simply, by my mother, “they won.” That was it. That was all I needed to hear. I still wish they had let me stay up to watch the game, though, I can understand how my parents maybe didn’t want to have to deal with an already hyperactive child seeing his favourite team in the world win the World Series in the bottom of the 9th inning. The only other memory I have of the Blue Jays being a good team is being at the 1992 ALCS against the Oakland Athletics. I don’t remember which game. I do remember being frightened by the fireworks and having to leave. I never forgave myself. This Jays team brings a chance for personal redemption or at least a chance for me to stay up through an entire playoff game. That’s the crazy thing, though. The fact I just considered the Blue Jays being in the playoffs without any hint of irony or sarcasm. It’s a real possibility. Except that it’s not.
This is not going to be an optimistic feature. I don’t really know what it’s going to be yet. All I know is that it will be incredibly biased and likely emotional. I don’t know if I’m mentally equipped to follow this team this year. Is it worse to cheer for a team that you know is going to be bad or a team that you know is supposed to be amazing but has the wheels fall off? I don’t know the answer. I’m terrified I’m going to find out.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I’m not just leading my psyche to the gallows. There’s still the fact that, as of now, the Jays roster is pretty much fantastic (save for the giant question mark that is Adam Lind) and whenever I get scared about what’s to come I can always watch that GIF of R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball and realize that it now belongs to the Blue Jays. I can relish the fact that tickets to the Jays home opener sold out in about 20 seconds. That’s Maple Leafs speed. I can enjoy the fact that the Jays might actually draw real crowds this year (as well as more irritating douchefucks but I guess that’s just Law of Big Numbers) and I can enjoy this team. My favourite Blue Jays are still Blue Jays despite the turnover (Brandon Morrow and Colby Rasmus, if you’re wondering. You’ll be hearing a lot about them) and, above all, despite all things telling me different, despite the pervading sense of dread, this team is good. This team is set up to challenge for the World Series. I can’t even believe that’s actually a thing. We’re the odds-on favourites. Fuck it, screw the sense of dread. Let’s do this, Blue Jays. I’m all-in with you. Let’s just skip the minutiae of Spring Training and get this season started already. I’m excited. Let’s go Blue Jays.
Oh God, this is going to go horribly.