The Blue Jays are often bought and sold as “Canada’s Team.” That’s completely acceptable; their run of success has given them inroads to capturing the hearts and minds of a whole new generation of baseball fans across the country. Even on the rare occasion that a Blue Jays game gets picked up for an American broadcast you’ll undoubtedly hear about how the Jays have a whole country behind them- particularly in reference to some electric Rogers Center crowds.
That’s something the team should wear as a badge of honor, as their rise to prominence has been no small feat. On the other hand, it does gloss over the contingent of American Blue Jays fans like myself who either have family ties to Canada or just happened to pick the team in the early stages of their baseball fandom. Consider this a shoutout to everyone else who’s checking in from south of the border.
Considering Canadian Thanksgiving produced a fairly satisfying series of events, it seems right to capitalize on the American version of the holiday and take some time to reflect and appreciate some of the finer things, both large and small, concerning the Toronto Blue Jays.
Firstly is the tangentially related Sean Rodriguez news. When rumors surfaced that the Jays were interested in Rodriguez, reaction was mostly muted approval, if not general apathy. There’s not much to dislike about picking up a capable player who can fill in all over the field. His career-year outlier seemed to make some wary, though as a hyper-versatile support player he would’ve made some sense. That being said, it’s no heartbreaking development that he’s off the market and with the Braves. Positional versatility is nice but it’s something that the team can tackle in other ways going forward. With both roster size and payroll allegedly set to expand the Jays will have ample opportunity to plug the myriad holes currently on the roster.
Missing out on Rodriguez, like the in-season trades for tertiary-or-lower contributors like Scott Feldman and the continuous murmur of fans questioning John Gibbons’ use of the eighth reliever, is fairly innocuous when all is said and done. Given all the lean years, I’m thankful that those are things worth fretting over from time to time. That’s not to say that the Jays can’t improve even at the furthest margins of the roster, but it does speak to how fortunate we’ve been to watch a damn good team go out and play every day for the past two seasons.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day developments of team building, particularly during the slowest parts of the offseason- if nothing else it’s a sign of the deep passion that people have for the sport and this team. Their success is worth acknowledging and celebrating, even if it requires us to step back for a second and peek at the big picture. Maybe it’s the eternal optimist in me, but it’s nice to worry about the last guy on the bench instead of finishing fourth or fifth in the division again.
Secondly is the recent departure of Brett Cecil. Though it’s been said by many others, I count myself lucky to have been on his side for so many years. He often bore the brunt of fan criticism when it was far from deserved and continued to go out there and do his thing. Cecil had stretches of sheer brilliance only for some fans to turn on him at the drop of a hat. Always a seemingly good soldier, I wish Brett Cecil nothing but the best in St. Louis and beyond. He won’t generate the same buzz as some of the team’s other departures, but he’s been a part of this organization for countless ups and downs and will be fondly missed.
There’s also the looming cloud that is the departure of team pillars Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Not to harp on the subject too much further, but we should all be thankful for the time they spent in the organization as well as the tremendous moments that each has authored over the years.
We should also be thankful for the approach that Toronto’s decision makers have exhibited thus far. They don’t appear set to hamstring the team’s future by kowtowing to sentimental attachment. The Kendrys Morales move should recoup a healthy chunk of the lost production at a fraction of the cost and leaves the team with more flexibility than a megadeal would. It’ll be sad to see at least one, and probably both, of the team’s big sluggers head for richer pastures, but there’s an evident plan in place with plenty of capable personnel waiting to execute that vision. Even if the end of the era is upon us, the sky isn’t falling given that the front office just built one of baseball’s best rotations at a fantastic price and the left side of the infield is still occupied by superstars. It’ll be tough to ascend to greater heights without Bautista and Encarnacion in the lineup, but it’s just a new set of obstacles for Toronto to tackle. For fans who have sat through a lot worse, we should embrace the challenge. Better to be here than climbing up from irrelevancy.
Lastly, and I feel comfortable enough to speak for everyone at BP Toronto on this one, I’d like to extend my gratitude to anyone and everyone who shows up to read what we write or listen to what we have to say. On an individual level this site is an endeavor that we’ve chosen to pursue because we care deeply about the Jays, and the idea that we can spend time discussing something we all love is tremendously fulfilling. Without you that all collapses, so a heartfelt thank you for making us a part of your baseball routine.
The offseason can drag on for what feels like forever and while we’d all love if spring training started tomorrow, it also presents an opportunity for us to take stock of the team and the direction they’re headed. In the spirit of the holiday, there’s a lot we should be thankful for and even more to look forward to.
If spring training could start tomorrow though, that’d be pretty great.
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