Ross Atkins preaches patience and faith as Blue Jays continue to struggle

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
27 days ago
It was possibly the worst time for Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins to hold a press conference. By the time Atkins took the mic on Saturday morning, the Blue Jays had 19 wins and 24 losses with a misly run differential of minus-48. It also didn’t help that Toronto almost handed out a perfect game record to the Tampa Bay Rays’ left-handed pitcher, Tyler Alexander, the night before the scheduled conference. The Blue Jays plotted to launch a comeback against the Rays, but unfortunately took another loss after catching up to Tampa Bay with a score of 4-3. The trouble was brewing for far too long, and the team needed answers. 
 “We believe in this talent. We believe there is a time left. But there is a massive sense of urgency and we need to get it turned around soon,” Atkins urged the fans to remain patient yet again as unrest and frustration mounted against the Blue Jays’ front office. Being in a hot seat with a severely underperforming is an uncomfortable experience for many, and Atkins couldn’t avoid that seat. Fans longed for a fiery, brand-new direction as the Blue Jays sit in the basement of the American League (AL) East with plummeting playoff odds. 
Instead, Atkins preached his continued belief in the existing talents and their ability to turn things around during the press conference. However, that sermon about faith didn’t sit well with Toronto’s fanbase, who became more agitated. Granted, the Blue Jays haven’t translated Atkins’ faith in the team to a strong performance yet from fans’ perspective. The team had already endured three years of failing to reach its true potential, and something had to give. 
Even if Toronto needed a serious overhaul and a rethink, Atkins didn’t have much choice as he formally interacted with the media on Saturday. To admit that the team needs a meaningful reformation from top to bottom is to give up on the principle he meticulously built with Blue Jays’ CEO, Mark Shapiro. The duo came to Toronto to build a sustainable winner many moons ago – they weren’t going to consider the concession to the idea of a failed approach that easily. 
Toronto’s front office already had its own great reckoning when the team announced former manager Charlie Montoyo’s dismissal on July 13, 2022. After that, John Schneider took over managerial duty promptly after this change. Atkins needed consistent leadership presence on the field more than ever despite some questions about Schneider’s tactics. As more fans called for cleaning the house completely at all Blue Jays’ organization levels, Atkins stood steadfastly and defended his team regardless of scorns and noises. 
No matter how badly the Blue Jays’ fan base wanted, this press conference wasn’t going to announce any major revamps. With the expanded playoff format, more teams are trying harder than ever and the Blue Jays weren’t the exception. As grim as Toronto’s projection seems, the deficit in the win-loss record is only five games – that isn’t the most insurmountable challenge either. All these factors were going to help Atkins and his team to advocate for hope rather than resorting to the reconstruction of the team. 
Atkins’ job from the beginning was to protect the front office’s strategies and logic. It was a team he constructed with Shapiro and throwing himself or others from the team under the bus wasn’t going to be an option. This is the nature of the front office, barring any stretches of woefully miserable disaster. That’s also the reason why Atkins overused the word “encouraging” during his press conference. 
Although the front office has focused on the bounceback of the Blue Jays’ core, the harsh truth is that the team isn’t still doing as well as it should. Blind faith only works when there’s a clear sign of optimism around the corner. In Blue Jays fans’ defence, they held on to the sanctity of patience for nearly four years without much luck.  They are rightfully at a breaking point as they watch the Blue Jays teeter toward a possible catastrophe. 
When Atkins was asked point blank about whether the talent isn’t just good enough, he responded by saying, “We’re not there. We’re not there.”
There’s still more baseball to be played and there is a chance for redemption. Nonetheless, that doesn’t change the fact that the judgment day will arrive sooner rather than later. Atkins’ call for patience can’t be graded just yet but the pressure for Toronto to live up to potential won’t certainly go away if the team continues to underperform. 
Time is ticking and the leash on the Blue Jays is getting shorter day after day. What choices the team makes on and off the field will shape Toronto’s fate slowly but surely. As of Saturday evening, the Blue Jays banked a bitter 5-4 loss against the Rays as the offence missed their opportunities and the bullpen fumbled. Toronto’s on a real race against the clock with no room for error. So, choose wisely.

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