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Two games into the season and we’ve already seen two different versions of the Blue Jays

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Photo credit:© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
17 days ago
The very first game of the year was something else – the game full of towering home runs along with masterful hitting and smooth baserunning. It was the effortless perfection that led the Toronto Blue Jays to take the Opening Day with a score of 8-2. Little did they know, the Tampa Bay Rays had an air-tight revenge plan to catch the Blue Jays off guard on Saturday. By the time Tampa roared with a vengeance, it was too late for Toronto to retaliate. 
You see, the dangerous part about facing the Tampa Bay Rays is that they are not an overpowering team, but they are a team that’s always ready to take advantage of opponents’ errors without fail. Baseball may be a game of failure for many, but the Rays essentially turn that narrative around and let the pressure get to their rivals while they take advantage of the situation. This is how they have effectively tortured their opponents and have recorded surprisingly decent records for the past few years, even recording 100 wins in 2021 and 99 wins in 2023. 
Tampa is never to be underestimated no matter how weak its roster looks — it’s all an immaculate trap that leads to destruction. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays fell for this trick for the second game of the year and indulged the Rays in their strategy as they thrived under pressure. 
Toronto’s’ starting pitcher, Chris Bassitt, toiled away to keep the runners off the board in the beginning. However, when he inevitably allowed a baserunner, the pressure started to get to the infield as shortstop Bo Bichette bobbled what could have been a double play ball. That costly mistake eventually led to a Brandon Lowe grand slam. Things didn’t get much better from there as Bichette made an errant throw across the diamond and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also miscalculated his throw to Bassitt. All these poor throws resulted in more runs for Tampa as they forced Bassitt to throw more in the middle of the zone. 
To be perfectly candid, the game was over when the Blue Jays started pressing. While it’s undeniable that Toronto failed to get a hit and bring runners home during this second game, players rushing their plays proved detrimental in the end. This is the Blue Jays at their worst. Maybe saying “the worst” is an overstatement since there is still a possibility of uglier losses but Toronto showed us what we should fear if they do slump at any point – Inability to string together hits, giving into opposing pitchers’ game plan and rushing defensive plays. It’s an eerily familiar picture from the past seasons. 
The Blue Jays were never going to be perfect, and that’s okay because no team is. But the concerning part is that we are seeing the same mistakes happen over and over again across different seasons with a similar cast of players. Blunders are a part of the game, but when there is a pattern or repetition, there has to be a collective effort to phase them out. Otherwise, it’s no different than giving up a whole playbook to a roomful of rivals. 
The good news is that Toronto still has time to turn their fortune around since this was only their second game of the season. The Blue Jays can have more better moments than worse ones and let’s not forget that they are still a good team even if the roster features one too many infielders. That said, it’s also on Toronto to not waste away their talents either since time is running out much faster than we think. 
This is the team that always had so much promise but little to give as they crashed out of the playoffs each time. This is the team that had talents but never found their strides in blending each other’s expertise well. Toronto bottomed out in the industry insiders and baseball fans’ optimism or so-called “hopium” after disappointing years. There’s no rock bottom like this one for a team that contended for the playoffs. A literal rock bottom would be losing more than 90 or 100 games consistently but living in people’s disillusionment is a punishment enough for a team that was considered to be a strong playoff contender for three years now. 
 The Blue Jays teased us what the bad version of the team could look like for this year and warned us that they still have things from the past seasons to work on. Failures are inevitable in baseball when there are 162 games in a season. The important part is whether Toronto is going to get up each time they fall. No matter what the obstacles and expectations are, the most important thing is flushing down the distasteful memories and showing up each time as a better version of yourself. That’s what was missing for the past couple of years. Simply getting up isn’t enough anymore because what really matters is getting up and showing a new and improved version of yourself after each fall. 
Fall down seven times, get up eight. If Toronto wants to succeed, that’s the kind of resilience it needs to show. This is not your elegant resilience. It’s the kind full of bruises, sweat, blood and tears. It’s the type of resilience that everyone’s scared to look at because there are too many scars etched into the soul and the burning desire to overcome challenges. 
With two more games ahead in this series at Tropicana Field, the Blue Jays will have to let go of their idea of perfection and show up to do their part just like the team said before Opening Day. Take it one game at a time and show the spine-chilling tenacity that no team has ever seen — that’s more than enough to prove people wrong.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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