This week things are getting a little bit heavy, so consider yourself warned. This type of sadness calls for only one thing:
I’ve been doing a fair amount of reflecting on things that people usually reflect upon during periods of significant loss or sadness. While I am fortunate to not find myself currently in one of those situations, the questions I have been mulling over in my mind have persisted nonetheless. What is the meaning of life? How do you ensure that you are spending your time appropriately? What is happiness and how is it obtainable? Can it be bottled and distributed?
While asking these questions often doesn’t result in a definitive answers, there are a couple of things that have helped me see things a little clearer, and think of things in a way that might reduced the amount of time I spend searching going forward.
At some point we will all die, and leave behind a tickertape timeline of significance and insignificance, moments of great joy, and moments of desperate sadness. There will be a minute of your life that will be the worst minute you ever experience. You will experience the worst day of your life, the worst month of your life, and a worst year of your life. If you are lucky, you will live long enough to experience a “worst decade of your life” too. Such is the nature of living, and there will also be a “best” category for all of those things as well. The key to life may lie in trying to create the greatest variance possible between your high and low experience, or maybe happiness isn’t found in the marginal extremes, and instead resides somewhere in the balance and normalcy of every day life.
For the Toronto Blue Jays, I hope the worst moment of the 2015 season has already come and gone. As far as I can tell, having Colby Rasmus hit a moon shot off of Mark Buehrle to break a deadlock on route to a 4-0 series demolition of the Jays on Sunday is as low as I’ve felt from a team perspective. I considered putting a link to the home run in this paragraph, before deciding that I hopefully won’t have to ever come across it again.
I feel the despair of the team right now. The starting pitching has been horrendous. The bullpen pitchers have brought me back to memories of being in middle school and not having completed my homework. I remember sitting in class being extremely nervous hoping the teacher wouldn’t select me to discuss whatever work was supposed to be completed the night before. At this point, how do you think Francis or Loup feel when they get the call to enter the game?
I have been harsh on some of Gibby’s decisions with the bullpen and other moves in the past few weeks, and I certainly haven’t changed my stance on any of those things. However one area where I do think he needs a little bit of a break is with his handling of the pitchers. At this point he has lost his ace to a season ending injury, his $12 million dollar a year Cy Young winner is getting lit up like a piñata every single game, and even when he makes the statistically correct move with the bullpen, more often than not the move hasn’t been working out well. Gibby isn’t going to win any manager of the year awards any time soon, but given the pitching staff that he has to work with, I am not sure what moves he could have made that would have resulted in a different alignment in the AL East standings. Getting rid of Gibby at this point in the season would be saying, “we wanted to change something because we are hopefully that change itself can be a catalyst” more so than it would be a criticism of his managing.
While despair might currently be ruling the day, it is often said that from moments of great sadness or hardship true courage, leadership and character are displayed. If that is the case, the Blue Jays clearly have a new leader in Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson has done two things this week that have singled himself out from his struggling team. The first was his comments regarding the pitching staff’s woes:
“This isn’t the try league, this is the get it done league. Eventually they’re going to find people who are going to get it done”
There are a few ways a statement like this can be interpreted, and I obviously don’t know how it is taken in the clubhouse, but from my perspective it was incredibly refreshing to hear. Much in the way a good coach or GM takes the pressure off their club by making comments to the media, Donaldson has turned the story of the slumping team into a referendum on his comments, and what should or should not be said. He is shouldering the heat for the entire team, as every at bat he takes carries the extra weight of his words. Thankfully his bat and play in the field has been up to the task.
While he is currently taking heat for his use of language and the gesture he made, it shouldn’t be lost that the Blue Jays rallied directly after the Donaldson out, and went on to win the game. Today the media will focus on the gesture and on Donaldson himself, which is a much needed distraction from the fact that the Blue Jays again needed to hit double digit run production before this game ever felt like it was winnable.
Hopefully this will be the turning point where we can look back and reflect on how Josh Donaldson assumed responsibility for this team when most needed, and helped the bats continue to pick up the pitching staff while the search for more arms is under way.
No quick hitters this week, just one more topic that needs touched upon. R.A. Dickey. Dickey has now been touched up in the dome, outside, at home and on the road to start the season. He is walking batters, giving up home runs, and generally getting picked on. While all of that is concerning, the other element of his performance that I don’t know how to quantify is the removal of Russell Martin from the lineup in favor of Josh Thole every time Dickey pitches. This heightened need for a defensive specialist to catch the knuckleball compounds Dickey’s woes as it removes one of the most potent bats from the lineup. I don’t know what the statistical performance Dickey would need to consistently post to make up for the loss of Martin’s bat in the lineup would be, but I know with certainty that he is miles away from it right now. Bad pitching combined with a less dangerous lineup does not sound like a good idea.
The Jays have returned home after their brutal road trip and hopefully the starting rotation finds some form. I am planning to go see King Felix throw against the Jays on Friday night. Hopefully we can rally around Donaldson and string together some wins before then.