Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :22
Sunday, October 09 2022 @ 07:36 AM EDT
Contributed by: Eephus
I just couldn't let this horrible finale settle without writing something quick... call it a funeral wake-take, if you will.
(shoutout to poster mathesond for inspiring the title and likewise reminding me how damn damn good that album is.)
The upcoming days after a franchise shaking catastrophic loss will not be ripe with takes for the timid. Plenty of headlines will surely flash organizational questions, roster construction guessing, trade deadline "what-ifs", or devolve into rudimentary conjecture how this 2022 Blue Jays team lacked the necessary grit, determination or intangible "whatevers" to succeed in the postseason. "They have too much fun!" "They don't take things seriously!" "Where's the heart?" "Why is your strawman asking questions constantly?" The only thing correct in any of those sentiments is how they got clowned in two straight games, at home, by a team that hadn't made the postseason since they employed John freaking Olerud fergawdsake. I'll get somewhat into that type of stuff later. For now... in the midst of my horrible, crushingly deep heartbreak I will attempt a brief objective overview of the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays.
Speaking of crushing! 2021! Yep, positive vibes here are not off to a good start.
A lot of this misfire is explained there, though. Missing the playoffs by a single game (never ever root for the Washington Nationals is the ultimate lesson) did seem to give the team an offseason attitude resembling "we've got something to prove now, watch the hell out", both from the players and the front office. Not to mention the huge boost playing in Toronto at long last late in that season, after multiple years of COVID restrictions, appeared to ignite those lads. It was a great source for optimism after such a last second defeat, with Vlad's now infamous quote surely fueling those sentiments. It wasn't a matter of desire, these dudes truly wanted to show us something special... and the high ambition of said untamed desire may have arguably been their very downfall. Feeling better already, eh. Eh? Yeah me neither.
I'll keep sorta trying.
Many pointy darts will be haphazardly thrown at Ross Atkins in the upcoming months and some of them are richly deserved (his obtuseness towards glaring roster issues for one), but the big moves of the winter pre-lockout and post are not that bullseye. His 2021 team lost the Cy Young winner and a Top 3 MVP position player, and yet found a way to replace them with a better/more consistent pitcher and an absurdly elite defender at another glaring key infield position. Kikuchi clearly didn't work out as a fifth starter (no kidding) although I continue to like Drew Fairservice's idea of him becoming our modern version of Andrew Miller eventually. That would work for me. Regardless, overall the team did a good job to at least attempt replacing what they had lost... and mostly succeeded.
There was also that lockout thing that kinda happened for a while there. Remember that? No lie, considering the way it was looking, I was ready to walk away from MLB baseball as a fan and (very occasional) writer of the sport. I love the game dearly but the constant tinkering of MLB in their stubborn attempts to make it more commercially appealing, irritates me endlessly. Get off my lawn! Old man yells at cloud! And I'm not even old... but anyhow, I was very turned away by all of the winter *expletive* nonsense happening and was very ready just to not care at all about MLB in 2022... instead just focusing entirely on playing for my own local teams.
Then, they got a deal done! And... bingo. They reeled me back in. Almost instantly, too. It was surely helped by how these Blue Jays looked so exciting... chomping at the bit to take the league by storm, aided by their new replacements and additions. The night the season started, I was extremely sick and had to call in for my shift. I was okay enough to sorta watch from my couch and quickly witnessed a 7-0 deficit unfold, which wasn't encouraging. Then... these April Blue Jays rallied back to win the freaking game, and convincingly so. The Vlad Jr. promise seemed to be true... this team was real.
Obviously, we now know that it wasn't. Charlie Montoyo had to walk the plank after an especially dour team performance on the west coast, and while John Schneider clearly was able to awaken "something"... this team fell well, well short of the goal it had so clearly and loudly boasted for itself early in the Spring. There was some fun along the way as they fought and clinched their playoff spot, but alas those moments rarely linger. We all know the various frustrations that come from so intently watching even the very best over a hundred games... where even an android like Matt Chapman will make a tiny bundle of errors a season... but this 2022 Jays team sure made more than plenty of memorably fundamental mistakes to gloom upon their historical reputation. Perhaps those bungles didn't really matter in the overall picture of the conclusion, but it sure will shade the perception of a squad that disappointed in spectacularly tragic fashion.
In true realism, the 2022 Blue Jays lost because... they lost. That's it. That's all. It's baseball.
Baseball is nasty, unforgiving and cruel. It f***ing happens. My hardball team blew a comfy 8-1 lead in our elimination playoff and got walked off 10-9, on my birthday no less. Yep.... which is why I'm drunk while writing this godsmnasssdfljit Ihatesssbasebsmall FIVE DOLLARS GET OUTTSHERE
Was the season a success? Some may argue 'yes'. They made the playoffs! It's better than the Riccardi years! (sorry for the sarcasm, Mags). Honestly, in my opinion... hell no was this a success. You fell well short of your publicly boasted goals and got totally embarrassed in the postseason, like Grandpa Simpson when his pants keep falling down. To be honest, I would've said it was a success (slight) if they got swept in Seattle but both games were competitive... instead of whatever the **** that was. Now you're the team that let that happen to you. It might not be fair, but it's on the resume now. It can't be waved off like a dollar store Jedi mind trick.
Better baseball writers than I (and there are surely countless) will perhaps ponder if this Jays team was lacking "it"... although what is "it" exactly? The will to win? A knack in key moments? That gritty leadership to keep everything together? I've played on enough teams to know talent isn't everything... often times true championship chemistry leans on that high end talent but also involves a certain and precise mix of people at the right time to achieve the ultimate goal (and I do suspect the Jays will soon shake up that mix). But also... who the hell knows. I definitely don't. Neither do the Blue Jays, or If particular batted balls hit a different fraction off a bat... neither do the Mariners. Which is what makes this sad loss hardest for me.... JP Crawford's batted ball hangs a half second more in the air... or if there was only one out on that play... different game, different conversation perhaps.
This game is cruel, man. It picks few favourites, and delights in the hearts it rips from chests. Yet, we continue to return to it. Patrons blindly desiring a convoy towards fire. I hope to see you all there in the flames again soon, once my burnt heart rebuilds itself yet again...