The Toronto Blue Jays need to use previous failures as motivation this season

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
1 month ago
Tears, pain, and frustration. These three words have dominated the Toronto Blue Jays’ discourse for over three years since the team came up just shy of reaching the playoffs in a wild 2021 campaign. 
At this point, the Jays are no stranger to an abruptly disappointing end to their season. Missed opportunities consistently plagued the Jays’ regular season and the playoffs, and the team could never catch a break in a tough American League (AL) East either. The odds were always against the Jays like a nagging curse.
On top of stinging playoff losses, the Jays also landed themselves in hot waters by entering the Shohei Ohtani bid this offseason despite the prevailing predictions around them. Even before the rumour mill around Ohtani’s free agency began, it was widely projected that Ohtani would most likely sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. There was a brief moment where Ohtani signing with another team outside of California seemed like a possibility, especially when credible reporters and sources got involved in generating the buzz around this idea. It got to a point where even some Jays’ players were almost getting duped by the “private jet” tracker. However, Ohtani’s destiny was always with the Dodgers and he ultimately headed to Hollywood for his new chapter. 
In a way, the Jays losing out on Ohtani was another sore reminder that the team has had far too many near misses for several years. The expectations for the Jays were always sky-high as the team successfully signed bigger free agents like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt and George Springer. But the core issue stemmed from the team’s failure to translate these signings and efforts into a successful push towards the World Series each year. That’s how unfinished businesses pile up until it becomes unbearable. 
It’s no longer an understatement to say that the Blue Jays have an axe to grind. They have been swept out of the playoff in the past two years and got buried by stronger AL East teams to the point where they couldn’t catch a break. All this sets Jays up to become the next perfect villain for the upcoming season. 
Coming off of three disappointing finishes in a row, the Jays have more reason to do better this time around because there’s no other choice left for them. As centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier told reporter Jayson Stark at The Athletic, the Jays certainly have a motivated group and that can be dangerous to opposing teams. But it’s undeniable that Toronto had a relatively lacklustre offseason. After all, the team only really added super utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa and designated hitter Justin Turner while re-signing Kevin Kiermaier to a year-long extension. That’s hardly anything compared to the Dodgers signing two superstars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Baseball insiders all unanimously praised that the Dodgers’ successful bid on mega stars was “good for baseball.” By declaring so, they effectively gave the Jays more reason to build on their motivation to prove people wrong. Granted, the Jays have a strong core to begin with. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette aren’t still in their prime just yet and players like George Springer and Daulton Varsho all have more to give than their underwhelming results from last year. 
Relying on core players’ bounce-back season can be inherently risky but the bad news is that the Jays don’t have much choice. Funny enough, that bad news could also turn into good news because there’s nothing scarier than a team that has nothing to lose. As it stands, the Jays have lived through the worst possible outcomes and faced backlash on every move they’ve made. They’ve also put up with the highs and lows of the Ohtani free agency saga and came out of the battle empty-handed. There’s not much to lose because the Jays have lost out on so much already, and that sense of loss can fuel more passion in the clubhouse to try something to turn the tide. 
As Jays’ players ease into spring training, the vibe in the compound seems immaculate so far as the team tries to rebound from another lost year. As Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley reported, starting pitcher Chris Bassitt said the Jays are in a great spot and he can’t really say that about last year. If the team is able to keep up the good vibe along with health and confidence, those could work as underrated weapons that can easily tear opponents apart.
Heck, at this point, left fielder Daulton Varsho tried to go old school to figure out his slump at the plate during this offseason and his father Gary Varsho told him to “get an axe in your hands and start swinging.” No, the Jays shouldn’t swing a literal axe as part of their game or training but the Varshos might have a good point. It’s time for the Jays to find a figurative axe and begin swinging it with all the strength they have because the worst thing they can do is wasting away another chance while staying in the comfort zone.
As of March 2, former Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman agreed to a three-year, $54 million contract with op-outs after each of the first two seasons. The Jays stand to lose nothing anymore since they’ve already let their prime free-agent target go. If this is not the origin of the Jays’ villain era, then when is?
The only way for the Jays to survive is by recreating their story as the villains longing for vengeance. So now, let the revenge begin. 


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