I have been a long-time baseball fan, and particularly a fan of the Blue Jays. It isnt my first passion in terms of sports, that belongs to the NHL and the Oilers in particular, but the Jays are my team in the MLB. Today, it turns out, is a great day to be a Blue Jays fan because of the MASSIVE 12 player deal that many believe will make the Jays a post-season contender again. The questions are being asked, are the Jays finally relevant again. To me, they will always be relevant.
Now I played baseball from my youth to the time I was a teenager. Naturally, this familiarity with the sport plays a part in me being a fan of MLB, but lets be clear on one thing; I wasnt very good at baseball. I was relatively fast and for a while that meant I got to play centerfield. That was a thrill. Everybody, even seven year olds, knew that being centerfield was a good thing. I could steal bases and run like the wind. But as I got older and my eye glasses prescription grew in conjunction with my gangly legs and ultimately my strike zone, my effectiveness as a ball player fell dramatically. Think Eric Belanger type dropoffs in performance. Baseball stopped being fun to play after a while and I quit playing. So while playing may have started me on my path to being a Jays fan it wouldnt have been enough to sustain me.
There was once upon a time when the Blue Jays were a very good ball club. To say they werent relevant back in the early 90’s would have been a lie. The Jays won back to back World Series on the heroics of players like Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar. The Blue Jays own a few of those “Do you know where you were when?” moments in Canadian Sports culture. Those were amazing days for Canadian baseball fans. And here in Edmonton we had a AAA club, the Trappers, who were also quite good for a long time. Things were great! That level of success cant be overlooked when assessing how the Blue Jays took a large portion of the mind share for the Canadian sports fan.
On the flipside though, the past 19 (straight) years has been trying. No playoffs, not even a sniff. Good players have come and gone. Hopes have been dashed, built up again, then dashed once more. Being a Jays fan has been a fruitless grind. Last year the entire starting staff took a pre-season trip to Open the Mummy’s Tomb and all of them ended up on the IR at some point. Injuries and disappointment has been the name of the game. Obviously the result on fandom across Canada has been negative enough that today we have to ask if the Jays are even relevant. What a sad state of affairs.
As I mentioned though, the Jays will always be relevant to me. Always. The connection I have to the Jays wont ever be undone because it’s a connection I share with my Grandmother who passed away a couple years ago now. Spending summers at Grandma’s house can be pretty boring give or take the occasional Jello dessert. But we could be sure to watch the Blue Jays in those summer afternoons. We always had an excuse, not that one was needed, to sit down together and share our frustrations with whatever player was catching our ire. And you could be damned sure that Grandma would never be short on opinions. She loved baseball and the Blue Jays so I loved baseball and the Blue Jays. Whenever I see the Jays get mentioned on TV or read about them in the paper I get a smile on my face wondering what Grandma would have thought about this.
The Blue Jays will always be relevant to me. Always.
Love you Grandma.