I appreciate that not everyone has the freedom that I do to be a sensible goddamned broken record on the state of the Jays, refusing to treat every low ebb of the season — and holy shit, we sure are in a hell of one right now — as a crisis point, and every current problem as intractable.
CHUDs like to shit on folks like me, or like Mike Wilner, for being too optimistic about this team. He’s a shill, they’ll say, and I’m just angling for a job by trying to stay in the club’s good books. But the reality is that I have the freedom to say precisely what I really think about this team, and it irks certain types of people when my words don’t validate whatever is in the brown sludge spewing from their hearts and dribbling out their mouths.
I don’t honestly know whether or not other media folks have that same kind of freedom, but I know the process isn’t always quite as simple as mine. When I’ve done work for bigger organizations, I’ve always squared it with an editor, and while I don’t believe there’s ever been a time that somebody told me, “Hey, don’t do that,” there is at least some room for give and take.
I say all this, one, to turn the notion of where an agenda might be at play on its head, and two, because I want to give Steve Simmons a little benefit of the doubt here. I don’t know if he righteously believes in the picture of the world that he painted at the beginning of his latest piece on the Blue Jays for the Toronto Sun, if he was assigned to perform a gloomy autopsy on a club still very much alive, or if he has taken it upon himself to play the role of shit-flinging sports media Demogorgon.
It may be that it’s simply understood that it’s not the role of the Sun to calm the masses, and not good business to plead for patience at every wrong turn, but to prey on fans’ emotions and worst impulses to get them fired up. And I definitely believe that, for just about any media organization, approaching this big series with the level of nonchalance it probably deserves isn’t a good look.
It’s certainly also fair game to point out that the Jays’ defence was a fucking embarrassment last night, that Marco Estrada has had one good start in his last five, that Josh Donaldson is slashing .050/.296/.050 over the last seven days, or that Jose Bautista’s season has been poor and even his impressive .393 on-base over his last week has been based exclusively on walks and singles, with no power in sight.
I also must admit that Simmons did come around to a few hopeful tones by the end of the piece.
It’s just that the framing of the whole thing drives me fucking nuts, particularly because I end up seeing so much of the damn fallout.
“There just doesn’t seem to be enough left,” he writes. “The Jays aren’t getting it from Bautista, from MVP candidate Donaldson, from the cooled-off Encarnacion, from the battered Russell Martin, when they need it.”
It’s undeniable that those guys aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment, but the implication seems to be that this is due to continue forever — why else on earth would there “not seem to be enough left”? And why is this singular moment framed as the time “when they need it,” as opposed to being recognized for what it is: an important section of an important month in which just about every single pitch is going to be important? The implication there is a validation of the worst, dumbest, most panicky nonsense you’ll encounter about this team — that if one more thing goes wrong then surely they’re finished.
Nobody wants to be swept by these fuck-facing Red Sox, and I’m obviously not going to argue that it would be a good thing, or OK, or “not a problem,” or not damaging to the cause. But if it happens the Jays would find themselves four games back with twenty left to go, including three against the team they’re chasing in the AL East, and well in the thick of the Wild Card race.
For twenty goddamned years straight us Jays fans would have given our left arms to be in a position like that — just for that chance. And to think it’s not a really a chance anyway, because we’ve already seen the fatal flaws in this team — or that after 133 games of being one thing, the Jays finally stopped teasing and reverted into their true, garbage form over the last week — relies on an assumption just as abominally fucking stupid as ones noted above.
“Last September, there was the sense that nothing could stop the Jays. The club seemed all but invisible making its way to the post-season,” Simmons writes. “Now we’re seeing this team fall apart at the baseball seams.”
OK, but… uh… ARE WE?
If your answer to that is “yes,” then I can only tell you that you’re being asininely certain about something that absolutely no one can be certain of.
That right there is my biggest problem with these pissbaby so-called fans you’ll hear me whine too often about here and on Twitter. Their certainty that everything is fucked, their righteous indignation at the suggestion that maybe they’re fucking morons and of course we don’t know that, and their ability to slink off quietly if and when things get better and cheer along with everybody else, hiding the fact that the second things look like they’re going south again they’re going to make as much noise at everyone in range of their spittle that tries to drag people down and make them hate life and baseball as much as they do.
“This is the Blue Jays, now, breaking down in September, piece by little piece: A baseball team losing its way and its edge all at the same time,” writes Simmons, playing loose with the reality of what we’re seeing, and exactly into the worst impulses of the fan base.
I get why a piece like this probably almost has to exist, but the thing, to me, is: fuck that shit.