When the Blue Jays came a purler in the 2009 season, turning in a disappointing year where a strong one was expected, it basically destroyed all of my long-term hope for the Jays.
See, I was a Ricciardista from way back. The plan might take a while to kick in, but eventually it would, and then everything would be okay. And then in 2009 it became obvious that the plan was not going to kick in, and I became extremely pessimistic. While this was largely an emotional reaction, I had no trouble finding rational support for it.
The way I figured it was this. In the extremely tough AL East division, you basically have to have everything go right to win. You need 1) supportive ownership, 2) a genius GM who can assemble 3) many players of formidable talent, and 4) large numbers of supportive fans. I didn't see any of those things in front of me. I saw instead 1) Rogers Communications, 2) a guy who had been standing next to Ricciardi when the axe came down, 3) some talented players who had made a point of kicking away every high-profile game they had played for most of a decade, and 4) Leaf Nation.
I was willing to admit that Rogers would probably prove to be as supportive as their long-term bottom line would justify, that Anthopoulos seemed bright enough, and that the 2010-11 Jays didn't show the same knack for losing right when they most needed to win... but I didn't see the fans ever coming back. Not in large enough numbers. And that would limit the amount of money Rogers was willing to put into the team, and that would restrict the Jays from ever getting good enough to make the playoffs again. And that, I concluded, was that.
I honestly believed that the Jays would never play in the postseason again in my lifetime, and that a +.500 record was more than I could hope to expect in an average year.
But last night? When the Leaf fans at the ACC started calling "Let's Go Blue Jays" in response to some more of the Maple Leafs' patented futility? I never thought that could happen. Never ever ever. The Jays coming out ahead of the Leafs in Toronto consciousness? Based on a spring training record? I never thought that could ever happen.
So, maybe it is possible. Maybe the Jays do have a chance. One of these years. I'm always willing to admit it when I'm wrong, and I hope to be proven wrong in short order.