A Half Week Hiatus and an Irate Fan

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True story #1: I love the Blue Jays.  Baseball has been my favourite sport, and the Blue Jays my favourite sports team, since I was a little kid.

True story #2: 2013 was supposed to be a season to remember.  To this point, 2013 has been the most disappointing season of my life.

It’s early.  Even though the calendar switches to May in a few days there are a lot of games left to be played.  It’s not as early as it was after the first few weeks, but it’s still early.

But despite the fact that it’s early, I’m frustrated.  So to counteract my frustration I decided to do the unthinkable – take a half week hiatus from the team I love.  I watched virtually none of the Yankees series, far too frustrated to be able to watch it calmly.  Watching the Jays lose game after game was brutal.

Well, this didn’t sit well with one of my fans.  (Yes, believe it or not, 500 Level Fan has some loyal readers!).

What follows is a conversation between myself and @TheCraiger – fan of the Jays, of 500 Level Fan, of beer in Vancouver, and of beautiful women.

@TheCraiger: As a loyal reader of the blog, the fact that you have decided to not watch for a while concerns me. Knowing how much you love baseball, I’m sure you’re likely buried deep in the bowels of the 2013 baseball stats crunching numbers for future posts. However, I have a small rant.  No back-up, no proof.  Only my opinion.  Will you hear me out?

500 Level Fan: Absolutely.  But first – don’t be concerned about the hiatus.  I’m not giving up on the team.  It’s just tough to watch right now.  It’s like when you’re online dating and the girl you actually meet up with looks nothing like the beautiful photo she posted on her profile.  Or when you order a pint of delicious, micro-brewed beer and accidentally get a Bud Light.  It’s awful.  It’s disappointing.  The reality has not matched the potential, and I just needed a few days away from watching it.

@TheCraiger:  Here are the issues I have with this team so far.  First is home runs.  Everyone is trying to hit them.  Shorten the swing and let the HR’s come organically.  More importantly, play some small ball and get more runners on base.  From there they will get into scoring position.  The Jays will probably strike out less as a result of some focus. Be smart at the plate and think about the team, idiots.

500 Level Fan:  Fully agree.  The averages, the on base percentages, they’re all garbage.  I think a big part of the problem is the “be a hero” approach of hitting home runs.  You can tell during each at bat – players are swinging for the fences.  Here’s a stat for you: the Blue Jays are tied with the Yankees with 33 HR – most in the AL.  Yet the Jays have scored 16 fewer runs than New York.  They’ve scored 36 fewer runs than Oakland, yet the A’s have slugged only 24 home runs.  Too many of Toronto’s HR’s are solo shots because EVERYBODY wants to hit one.

@TheCraiger:  Here’s my second issue: arrogance.  The team has a harmful aura of arrogance fuelled by all the pre-season media hype.  The Jays had their chance to swagger their faces off and strut around like ego maniacs. All they needed to do is have a good start and play good baseball.  Well, they crapped the bed and that ship has sailed.  Be humble and play smart baseball, idiots.

500 Level Fan: Arrogance!  I like it!  It certainly seems like they thought things were going to be easy, at least easier than they have been.  It’s almost like this team needed adversity to come together.  Then they got it with the Reyes injury, but the losses have kept coming.  What they really need is to hit rock bottom.  Maybe being swept by the Yankees and seeing guys like Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells beat them will give them the kick in the pants they need.  There better not be any more arrogance…

@TheCraiger:  Brett Lawrie – someone neuter him.  The human body can only run at 100%.  Brett forces his body to run at 180%, and this will cost him.  At this rate, he will be on the DL in 2 weeks.  Prediction: Brett will start the second half of the year on the DL.  Treat your body with respect and you will have a decent season, idiot.

500 Level Fan: I might let him save his nuts, but see where you’re coming from.  I like his style play, but he needs to stop arguing balls and strikes.  You’re not going to get any close calls if you do that.

@TheCraiger:  Ricky: it’s official, this man is a head case.  Bye Ricky, you idiot.

500 Level Fan: Like it or not, I think they have too much invested in him to simply let him go.  Plus, if it means anything, his first start for Dunedin went well!

@TheCraiger:  My biggest issue with the team, though, is Gibbons.  AA has given Gibbons a second chance.  After seeing three of his various post-game press conferences, it’s clear he is not a baseball man.  That or he just doesn’t care.  I’m not saying fire him…yet…but the turnaround starts with him.  Get control of your team, idiot.

500 Level Fan:  I think Gibbons is a very respected baseball man, who spent many years as a bench coach after his managerial stint with the Jays.  And like it or not, he’s not going anywhere either.  This is very much AA’s team now.  He inherited a mess left by Ricciardi, spent years building the farm system up to turn the Jays into a contender, and has now cashed in on that.  For better or worse, AA has pegged Gibbons to be the man to guide his team.  Firing him now would be admitting that he picked the wrong man for the job, a move that would look terrible on him.  It would also make it harder to attract other top managers and free agents, because who wants to go a team that gets rid of you only 16% into the season?  Gibbons might not carry himself well in post-game press conferences, but let’s be honest here – the man can’t hit.  That’s the biggest problem of all with this team – not the lineups, not the bullpen management, and not the base running.  It’s the hitting and fielding, and Gibbons can’t control either of those.  Sadly, Gibbons’ main problem was that he was a surprise choice to lead the team, so anything less than amazing results will lead to tons of armchair fans to say “I told you so.”

@TheCraiger.  This year is by no means over, but they need to figure it out.  Idiots.

500 Level Fan:  Fully agree.  If they are still eight games under .500 come June, then I think we’re in trouble.  Now?  We’ll be OK.

And even better – the half week hiatus is over.

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