Opener: La Ball Game Sans Merci

Wednesday, September 28 2005 @ 09:15 AM EDT

Contributed by: Jordan

Our final Pinch-Hit Game Report of the season comes from Blue Jay Way's Matthew E, a Bauxite who just about finally reached his breaking point following the Blue Jays' dispirited 3-1 loss in the opener of yesterday's doubleheader (the nightcap Game Report will follow later today). Join him in this Keats-inspired lament for another Blue Jays season mere days from departing into the history books.


You'll have to excuse me. I'm having a little baseball crisis at the moment.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Jays lost their 80th game of the season. If they are to have a winning record this year, they'll have to go undefeated the rest of the way, which would require a six-game winning streak. This team hasn't had a six-game winning streak in years.

So, unless the boys go 4-1 or better in the last five days against Boston and Kansas City, that's another losing season in Hogtown. Which would make four losing seasons in the last five, and seven in the last eleven. And I'm so sick of it. I mean, I defend this team to people. I stick up for it. I talk about how great the future looks. And then they go out and lose some more, leaving me standing there with my peanuts and crackerjack in my hand. I don't know how much longer I can do it.

There will be much analysis in the next few months of what the Blue Jays need to do in order to contend, and whether they can do it, and how good a job J.P. Ricciardi is doing of accomplishing that. And I know the arguments. Intellectually, I know there's a basis for some hope.

But it doesn't feel like it. It feels like there's no hope at all. From what I've seen over the past month or two, it feels like this team will never win again, or come close. Like the Yankees and Red Sox will continue to have their way with the Jays for basically ever. And I think to myself, why would I want to keep putting myself through this?

Patience? I've been patient. We all have. And where did it get us? 3-1 Red Sox over the Jays and a 76-80 record. Easy for Ricciardi to tell me to be patient; I've cared what happens to this team for five times as long as he has.

I'd quit. I honestly would. Right now, I'd do it. I would stop being a Blue Jays fan, if it weren't for one thing:

I don't know how.

Really, how does one go about excising fandom from oneself? How do I make it so that I'm not interested in what the score was in the west coast game when I get up in the morning? I mean ... I've been writing this thing all evening. I had Game 2 of the doubleheader on the radio beside me, and the win almost pulled me out of this mood I'm writing about. How do I get to the point where I wouldn't care if it was a win or a loss? I can't imagine there's a way.

Man, it's depressing. Here's a ballclub that wasn't good, that said it was going to get good, that still isn't good, that for all anybody can tell isn't going to be much better next year, and I'm gonna be coming back for more anyway. I feel like such a chump.

So I'm still on board. For the long haul. My heart isn't really in it at the moment, though, so as I say, you'll have to excuse me.

Here's how John Keats might have put it if he'd lived long enough.

O WHAT can ail thee, fan-of-Jays,
Alone and palely loiterin'?
The dome is closed beside the lake,
And no Jays win.

"O what can ail thee, fan-of-Jays!
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The postseason slots are full,
And the season's done.

"I see a furrow on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew.
And your BB-REF sponsorship
Fast expireth, too.

"I saw a team on CTV,
In powder blues—pajama style,
Their arms were long, their bats were strong,
And their eyes were wild.

"I bought some tickets for their games,
And programs too, concession food;
They took positions on the field,
And played pretty good.

"I watched the Jays on TSN,
And nothing else saw all day long;
But every year the team would have
Something go wrong.

"They finally won the World Series,
In '93 and '92;
But even before that I had become,
A fan through and through.

"That was all the Blue Jays got,
And though we've wept and sigh'd full sore;
They haven't had a really good year
Since '94.

"And then I wandered off to sleep,
And then I dream'd—ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
For this old web site.

"I saw Leafs' fans, and Raptors' too,
Couch potatoes, death-pale were they all:
They cried, 'La ball game sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!'

"I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the old web site.

"And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loiterin',
While the dome is closed beside the lake,
And no Jays win."