In Late July, when news outlets across the country heralded the arrival of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, I felt no hope left in me.
I grew up in the Toronto of the nineties, when family restaurants were invariable splattered with signed Joe Carter memorabilia and “Back-to-back” themed World Series flags. It was an age where our starting rotations were as prolific as they were enviably moustached.
But over the years, Canada watched their team piddle around the .500 mark for the better part of two decades, a period that carried many fans like myself through our teens and into adulthood. It was a good season if we finished third in the division. Not that most were keeping track anymore. Jays games became something you attended on a Tuesday when you had a spare toonie and an empty schedule. By 2005 the SkyDome had been renamed, a new logo was botched, and all the grandeur and triumph faded distantly into the realm of the memory.
It wouldn’t be fair to blame my disillusionment solely on the Jays’ performance. The fact is that as a Torontonian sports fan, heartache is never far around the corner and no hope goes unpunished. It’s why I can no longer cheer Masai Ujiri’s delightfully profane taunts to the Raptors’ first-round playoff opponents. And why May 13th, 2013 remains to date my most liberal use of profanity in front of my mother.
And so love makes you cold. You learn that the heart’s best shield against a new season’s fresh batch of grandiose promises is incredulous cynicism. For this reason, the celebration surrounding the arrival of Tulowitzki in late July seemed unsettlingly akin to the last “Blockbuster Trade” the organisation boasted two years earlier.
It too involved a star shortstop, Jose Reyes, who was brought on board to solidify the Jays as playoff contenders. But athletics in Toronto conform to a cruel poetry. It was Reyes who the Jays would move for Tulowitzky. In spite of numerous impassioned assurances from the wide-eyed faithful, it felt to me like the same old song and dance. It was all just too Toronto.
But as it turns out, Tulo is no Reyes, and Price is no Hutchison. The Jays would go 21-5 in the month of August. Night after night the most dominant batting order in the league began chasing pitchers from the mound, finally complimented with a defence that worked. Now blue caps pepper the city, and in the building once known as the SkyDome, empty seats are as scarce as losses.
In a haze of nostalgia and hope, I hopped on the Jays bandwagon. The faithful may take exception. After all, at the beginning of the season I wasn’t calling José Bautista “Joey Bats”, and probably couldn’t have told you the name of the glorious bastard playing Third Base.
Now, if given the chance, I can pontificate as to why Josh Donaldson’s numbers make him the logical choice for MVP, or why Price is the right choice to start against the Texans. Regurgitation? Most definitely. But I have catching up to do. It’s been too many years in the dark.