It’s official … the nightmare is over. The season has finally come to a close. There will be no more suffering for Blue Jays fans this year.
And I hate to say it, but I’m kind of relieved it’s all over.
As one of 44,551 in attendance yesterday to witness the final game of the season at the Rogers Centre, it was a bittersweet goodbye. But ultimately, it was a season bookended by excitement and disappointment.
When everyone booked their tickets for the final homestand of the season, I think most fans envisioned a much different scenario … not one in which the Tampa Bay Rays would clinch a Wild Card tiebreaker berth, and the Blue Jays were finishing in last place.
In the Blue Jays season post-mortem presser, Alex Anthopoulos was asked what his overriding emotion was following this season. He gave the classic Anthopoulos ambiguous answer, but I think the answer we’re all looking for is “disappointment”.
Disappointing, tragic, comedic; these are all words I would use to describe what transpired. But was the 2013 Blue Jays season a tragedy, a comedy, or something else altogether?
At times, the Blue Jays were so bad this season, that it was just plain funny. Just look at the many adventures in the outfield and on the basepaths with Moises Sierra. Or how about Colby Rasmus getting beaned in the face with a ball thrown by his teammate?
It’s almost as if the Blue Jays assembled the best team on paper, just like Mr. Burns did in during that iconic Simpsons episode. He coerced All-Stars onto the nuclear power plant’s roster, and yet one by one, they all fell off the map. The very same happened to the Toronto Blue Jays.
You might say that’s also say the 2013 season was tragic in many ways; Ricky Romero’s fall from grace continued. Brandon Morrow couldn’t stay healthy. Josh Johnson made two trips to the disabled list. Ramon Oritz essentially saw his career come to an end after a freak injury.
The list goes on and on and on.
You want the definition of tragic? How about the fact that the Blue Jays had 22 players go on the disabled list a total of 27 times in 2013. How about that they lost 1363 games worth of injuries this season?
Last year, the Blue Jays “only” had 17 players on the DL a total of 18 times and lost a mere 1258 games worth of injuries in 2012.
However, the 2013 Blue Jays season might not be best summarized as a comedy or tragedy. Ryan Oakley (AKA @thegrumpyowl) nailed it by saying 2013 was an unmitigated horror.
Comedy is showing a man in tophat falling down a manhole. Horror is showing him after he did. This season is horror.
— Ryan Oakley (@thegrumpyowl) September 20, 2013
He cited the examples with J.A. Happ’s horrific injury back in May, and also the discovery of a tumour in Melky Cabrera’s spinal cord. One more than one occasion this season, player’s lives were likely in jeopardy. That definitely qualifies as a horror in my books.
Like most, I look back to last year as a comparison. But if you line up 2012 and 2013, last year looks like sunshine and lollipops compared to what transpired last year with the Toronto Blue Jays.
I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse than a manager essentially abandoning his team and forcing a trade to a division rival. It actually turns out there’s another few levels below “rock bottom”.
When all is said and done, the 2013 Blue Jays did in fact finish better than the 2012 Blue Jays, but at what cost? The Blue Jays won one more game than last year, but they did it this time with a payroll of $127.7 million compared to $83.7 million last year.
That’s $44 million dollars for one more win … $44 million for a measly win.
It’s true that 2013 was a complete disaster, but I just keep telling myself that things possibly can’t be any worse next year. Even with this exact same roster in some alternate universe, there’s no way the Blue Jays could have lost 88 games this year.
This year reiterated how truly difficult it is to assemble a winning team. That regardless of how many All-Stars and how much elite talent is brought in, whether it be via trades or free agency, making the postseason is incredibly hard.
This year also reinforced that baseball is also a lot of luck. The Blue Jays were undeniably unlucky this season, and that was reflected in their 74-88 record. Bad hops and bad breaks happened for them anywhere and everywhere.
But Alex Anthopoulos would be a foolish to think this same cast of characters has the makings of a playoff-worthy team. There are obviously improvements that need to be made in several different areas of the club.
2013 was no doubt a nightmare for the Blue Jays, but it is finally over. And I suppose that’s the one good thing about nightmares; as bad as they seem at the time, they do eventually come to an end.
For those looking for a ray of hope, fans can seek solace in that things should be better next year. Or at the very least, there will be change; which should ultimately be a precursor for things getting better for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Image courtesy of Yahoo/Reuters/Fred Thornhill