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Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Fowles: Holding Onto the Little Things

“There are no hopeless situations. Only people who think hopelessly.” –Jason Grilli, but I’m pretty sure someone else said that first.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling tired. Not that you’re in any way unaware, but the Blue Jays are currently 9-19, with the very worst record in the whole of MLB. The Raptors haven’t exactly been providing us with welcome sports distraction, and on top of this alert-worthy downpour Toronto is getting, the powers that be are predicting freezing-feeling temperatures for Sunday. The sports mood in this city is as gloomy as the weather, and it can be hard to see any light in the dark at all.

What’s far worse, this week in baseball was ugly all around. It featured horrific racism directed at Adam Jones at Fenway, and a resurgence of the retaliation conversation, thanks to the Red Sox fixation on “punishing” Manny Machado. (Both issues certainly being far more pressing than how well our team is doing.) Elsewhere, Fox television announced that, after one season, they’re cancelling Pitch—their revolutionary and heartening drama about a female MLB pitcher—meaning we don’t even get a television escape from the escape we were hoping Jays baseball could provide us.

But more than being tired of feeling tired about Blue Jays baseball, I’m tired of writing about feeling tired. Every time I sit down to describe what’s going on with this team, I’m tempted to just type out “baseball hates us” repeatedly until I hit my desired word count. (I’m sure Stoeten would love that.) It just seems like Jays fans have asked the question “is this rock bottom?” countless times this season thus far, only to have this game spit the word “nope” in their faces while another player gets pulled out with an injury—a split nail, a tight arm, a painful calf—and another close loss gets added to the heaping pile.

When will this part end? When will we enjoy baseball again?

And so, I’ve been groping around for any stray scrap of good (or at least non-dire) news I can find, with the goal of keeping that little light of optimism alive in our baseball-loving hearts. It’s certainly no easy task, especially given that there are moments where it feels like the entire team is on the disabled list, that a win is impossible to muster despite tight games, and that this may not even be the worst of it. (I’ve admittedly been ignoring the conjecture around Marcus Stroman’s Wednesday “general arm tightness,” if only because I think if I worry about it before he does, I might have a total baseball-related meltdown.)

But having said—or rather whined—all of that, here is my best effort to collect up some good news for your struggling Toronto Blue Jays. This list may indeed be lean, but it’s something to get you through a literal and metaphoric rainy day:

1) There is real hope (hope!) that Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Aaron Sanchez will return from injury during the next homestand in Toronto—maybe even sooner. After three games in Florida starting this evening, the Jays are facing Cleveland (Edwin reunion alert) and Seattle next week, so at the very least we get a break from the continuing hellscape that is the AL East, and get to be in our ballpark again. I understand that last one is a small comfort, but hey—free Jose Bautista t-shirt.

2) Long cherished radio voice of the Jays, Jerry Howarth, should be returning to us this evening after battling a “nasty virus that led to both laryngitis and conjunctivitis in both my eyes requiring a lot of attention from three different doctors.” Many of you will already know that Howarth underwent surgery in the offseason to treat prostate cancer, so his recovery, wellness, and return is certainly the best and most important kind of good news, and might even offer a bit of good luck to our struggling team. Via an email relayed through a Howard Berger Facebook post; “(L)ike the Blue Jays I am sure looking forward to putting a tough month of April behind me and starting the first week of May with healthy pipes and seeing wins on the field.” 

3) Renowned gymnast and infielder Chris Coghlan did a fun interview with MLB Central (hey there, Mark DeRosa) during which, among other things, he emphasized how incredibly supportive and upbeat the team has been despite the dire start to the season. “Yeah, everything looks on the outside like it’s falling apart,” he said. “But the only thing that matters is the 25 dudes there…It’s amazing how positive the guys still are, and picking each other up.” I feel like I’ve been depending heavily on Coghlan for inspirational sentiments and general perspective lately, but whatever works.

4) Osuna looks better. That’s pretty much all there is to say on that, but what a sigh of a relief those simple three words induce after knowing he has been facing some mental struggles on the mound. With all our current starting pitching and bullpen woes, having him in good form means one less thing to worry about, and while the experts are conjecturing about spot starts from Latos and Biagini, I’m more than happy to have one less thing to worry about. I don’t know about you, but there’s a whimsical part of me that actually wants and would pay good money to see a Biagini start—if there was ever a time to experiment, now would be it.

5) It’s not technically Jays related, but (apparently bored) free agent Brett Lawrie’s Instagram content is consistently picking me up. When you’re feeling blue, keep an eye out for his live video feed alerts, especially any that feature his beloved German shepherd or enthusiastic lip-sync performances. I mean if he can be upbeat without even a team to call his own, why can’t we?

I know this list may be paltry and reaching, but if we’re going to battle through the remainder of this season, and keep our fading hopes for a sudden turn around alive, we have to compile and hold on to the little things. I love this team, and I’ve loved them when they were losing, and I can certainly do it again. This sports time may be as dark as the current skies over Toronto, but we can and should keep searching for a few good things to get us through.