From the bleachers

Vladimir-Guerrero-Jr on bench

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was on the bench for the Jays recent Victoria Day game much to the dismay of Jays’ fans.

I wasn’t always a Blue jays fan. A native Winnipegger, I grew up in Boston in the 60’s, and became a huge Red Sox fanatic….which formulated my angst at a young age as my beloved Sox tempted and let me down more times than I could count. From Bill Buckner to Bucky “Freakin’ “ Dent, my soul was tormented year after year until 2004….glorious 2004…when the ghost of Babe Ruth was finally exorcised in perfect, sweet irony in beating the hated Yankees.

As the years went by, and the Sox started winning championships with alarming regularity, I found that my desire to support the team lessened each time they won. It was almost as if they had become the juggernaut that everyone loved to hate, rather than the New Yorkers.

Of course, my attention was captivated by the Jays’ World Series wins in ’92 and ’93. Toronto was alive and electric during that time. In some way, it gave an indication of how absolutely insane this town would be if the Leafs ever hoisted the Cup. But my interest was piqued with my “home” team.

Sadly, the Jays have not reached those heights since. After suffering through the lean years, from Tim “The Liar” Johnson, to Shea “The ship is sinking” Hillenbrand, things finally turned around under Alex Anthopoulos. The city was alive as the jays became relevant once again, and captured a city’s affections like almost nothing before it…at least since 1993.

There are many reasons the Blue Jays couldn’t sustain that level of success. As fans we accept a lot of what is out of our control. From budgets, to the different country argument, we can’t make players want to be here. All we can do is support the efforts, cheer the product, and hope for the best. Which sometimes never happens. Don’t forget, there are 29 other franchise fan bases with the same hopes and expectations.

Blue Jays fans have been very supportive over the years. As mentioned previous, they have suffered some dreadful teams. And yet the base was always there….even if the gate was down, TV numbers have been remarkably consistent and higher than what you would expect for a team so far out of contention for so long.

That brings us to the current situation that the team finds itself in. it’s not like we didn’t see this rebuild coming….as the pieces fell away, from Edwin to Jose to Tulo and Russell, change was coming, and it would be painful. The only question was: How long would the pain last? The group of prospects the Jays have in the system is impressive. Although, take that for what it’s worth. Potential is great, until it’s not. But we are willing to go along as fans because of hope. Hope and promise. And it has become clear to me recently that maybe we are not as convinced that the management team running things has as clear an idea of their plan as they think.

The Vladimir Guerrero “Victoria Day” story is the latest example. Talk about “not reading the room”. At a time when you desperately need your fan base to remain loyal and invested, management claimed to not have realized the importance of putting on the field the real (and some argue only) reason your fans come to the park for.

Let’s hope this is just a speed bump, because more incidents like this might lead to the one word that teams never want to hear: apathy.


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