5
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Goins Is The Hero We Need But Don’t Deserve (Uh… Also Teen Wolf)

Ryan Goins!

Say the name to a Blue Jays fan at this point and brace yourself for the takes. Goins, through no fault of his own, continues to get regular playing time for the Blue Jays, despite being on pace to reach a full win below replacement level, as he did a year ago. His odd magic while hitting with runners in scoring position continued over the weekend, or at least on Sunday, as he doubled in a pair of runs, bringing his slash line with runners in scoring position up to a ridiculous .354/.392/.631 for the season. He’s done his part when his club have needed him the most, despite being horrifically bad at the plate the rest of the time: his 52 wRC+ over the last two seasons is dead last (tied with Adeiny Hechavarria) among 311 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances over that span. By WAR, only Ben Revere (who I told you was bad) and Alexei Ramirez have been worse.

Is it Goins fault that he’s been “exposed” this season, as the Jays have been forced to use him due to the seemingly inevitable injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis? Does he deserve being picked on the way he sometimes is by the sorts of fans who confuse loudly noticing something negative with cleverness? Not at all!

What’s dispiriting about having to watch Goins struggle isn’t Goins himself, it’s that the Jays don’t have anything better. He is, in that way, emblematic of the club’s deep rooted roster depth problem. The Blue Jays have what Mark Shapiro would call “championship calibre” depth — something Shapiro and Ross Atkins have rightly voiced concerns about from day one, and that we certainly haven’t heard the last of.

It is what it is. And it’s not just a Blue Jays problem, either. Just as with backup catchers (as I wrote earlier), there simply aren’t enough great shortstops to go around — and if a player is good enough to be a starter, unless he’s playing for your Triple-A team, it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg to get him. Free agents aren’t taking backup money if they can get starter money, and teams aren’t handing out starter money when they’re already paying $20 million a year for somebody else to have that job.

So, with Goins and Barney and their ilk, we take what we can get and hope that we don’t need to ask too much of them. Sometimes it works, as it did for the Jays in 2015 and 2016, and sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes, as has been the case this year when Goins comes to the plate with the bases loaded or runners in scoring position, it turns out to be quite a lot of fun.

All this, though, as I’m sure most of you know, isn’t why I’m calling Ryan Goins a hero in the title of this post.

I’m doing it because of this!

YAS KWEEN!

Now, of course, Goins is surely almost entirely talking about the fact that the Jays had played so poorly in the marketing department’s red abominations. The Jays lost 7-1 to the Red Sox on Canada Day, while wearing the red menaces a day early. Then on July 2nd they were beaten by a score of 15-1. On July 9th they took a 19-1 thrashing at the hands of the Astros while wearing them.

Not only that, but as Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net notes, “In each of their first two games wearing the red jerseys the starting pitcher for the Blue Jays that day had to leave with an injury; J.A. Happ in their red debut on April 16yh, and then Aaron Sanchez on April 30th.”

On July 30th, they entered the 9th inning against the Angels down 10-4, and only managed a win after a practically miraculous seven run ninth inning, capped by Steve Pearce’s walk-off grand slam.

When the bottom of that ninth inning started, I thought there was maybe a slim chance that the club would ditch the awful reds. After the comeback it felt for certain like they’d stay. But apparently the Jays players had had enough, and the marketing department can do nothing about it. The club wore their whites on Sunday, they won, and now the reds are no more… until next year’s attempt at a marketing ploy, you can best be sure.

“They’re probably going to be done for the year,” Goins told reporters following Sunday’s game. “Save your red, just start wearing blue every day.”

And thank fuck for that! Not that, it, y’know, matters much. But seriously, thank fuck.

Here’s what I wrote about the jerseys back in January, when they were first announced. I… uh… didn’t exactly mince words…

I’m sure there is plenty of data that’s telling the Blue Jays that it does good things, nationally, for their brand when they play up the Canada angle — by which I, of course, mean, “when they shove ‘the Canada angle’ down our throats as a cynical marketing ploy” — but there’s problem when it comes to draping the Blue Jays in our national colours and decorating them with the maple leaf: it always looks like shit.

Always. And the new alternate jerseys that the club revealed today, which will be worn on Canada Day and for all Sunday home games, are no exception.

Yes, yes, they’re just shirts and who really cares? But on the other hand, fuck off with this shit already!

I’m sorry that your team’s beautiful and perfect uniforms are not conducive to flag-baiting without looking unnatural as fuck, but… I dunno… maybe just live with it?

I know that there are many people from outside of Southern Ontario that get a bit weird about the idea that they might not be so often patriotically winked at by the clothes the Blue Jays are wearing, but… uh… suck it the fuck up, maybe? Or, I dunno — here’s a radical goddamned idea — how about the Jays use literally any one of Canada’s other national symbols to show marketing solidarity with the rest of this great vast land of ours?

A moose, perhaps? Some poutine? A stylized map? The northern lights? The Northern Lights? The Northern Pikes?

Or, holy shit, did you know that the high school basketball team that Michael J. Fox — CANADA’S OWN — played for in Teen Wolf was the Beavers??? A double whammy! Shit, we could even give him the dumb maple leaf earring that the Jays’ current Blue Jay gets and it wouldn’t look completely out of place! Maybe he was rolling around in some leaves before the game, or whatever wolf shit wolves do.

Yes, yes. I think this should work!

Here you go, Canada! Enjoy your wink! Now please let us get back to enjoying this terrible baseball team without freaking out our rods and cones. (The awesome drawing is via the very talented @LetMeDrawYourPicture, by the way, who I don’t know, and who I hope doesn’t mind my using it!)…

All of these ideas are, of course, terrible. And yet somehow not any less terrible than having the Blue Jays play in red jerseys. Or trotting out a version of the giant-leafed batting practice hats for “Players Weekend” — BECAUSE MAOPPLEL LEAVEFFFE!

You know, I’ll be honest with you… I sometimes get to thinking that there’s some sort of other reason that the team Rogers owns is so. bloody. dumbly. insistent. on forcing that big old red leaf and the colour red in general onto the club’s uniforms. WHATEVER COULD IT BEEEEEEEEE???????