Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Bottom of the Order's 2008 Regular Season Wrap-Up
You have to admire my commitment to a motif, don't you? All season long, I've been late with the news and reactions, if I've been there at all. And now I'm late with my season wrap-up, originally intended for posting on Sunday night. I understand now why most of the blogs in the Jays universe who manage to post daily or near-daily content marry the work of more than one contributor. A little like the Jays, I more or less limped to the finish of the '08 season, and now it's time to regroup, assess damages, and determine priorities for next season. Whatever form this blog takes in going into '09 isn't yet clear, but I do intend to be back. In the meantime, I'll be around for the postseason and for what comes after -- deals, near-deals, recriminations, winter meetings and those inescapable longings for baseball that strike in the dead of January.
Take These Broken Wings
It's all over but the crying. Look, there's plenty of blame to go around. We all had high hopes, reasons for optimism. The pieces were there, and they might not be next year.
It seems to me that, at different times, everything was in place, but never at the same time. The pitching was the only constant, give or take a few games, and beyond that you had flashes of brilliance amid disappointing stretches for the guys the Jays were counting on. Once Hill went down, there was a hell of a lot of shifting going on around the infield, and that had its ripple effects. Scutaro proved a nifty pick-up as a result, going where he was told and acquitting himself capably.
The injuries didn't help, and neither did the time it took to sort out the mess in left field. Below-expected offensive performance is the big culprit, of course, a huge letdown from what we thought we'd see going into the year. But I'll side with Lloyd the Barber and say that it was still a pretty damn good season to watch the Jays. Maybe that's just my quick-setting historical revisionism at work, but what the hell. Cito's aim of finishing ten games over .500 was, in fact, a bang on prediction, and that'd give them the NL West, so that's something. I mean, you know, if they switched leagues and if the Big One would just hurry up and swallow up everything west of the Ontario-Manitoba border, or whatever. And, and, we all got swept up there, for a few brief, shining moments in September -- September, mind -- and it was exciting and awesome and we dared to think that a Wild Card might be ours. How amazing was that?
Requiem for a Dream Forestalled
There's an ineffable sadness linked to the final Sunday of the season, it seems to me, at least when your team is missing the playoffs for the umpteenth consecutive season. They play nine, like they've done 161 times previous, only once the 27th out is recorded, everybody's going home, just like that. It happens so quickly. Just ask Mets fans.
But there's always next year, so they say, and it's not to early to crow about our chances in 2009. There are buckets of positives. We have the best pitcher in baseball, for one. We'll have a full season to see what Lind can do. Maybe we'll have that elusive big hitter to anchor the middle of the order -- there are a few candidates available this winter. And who knows, we might even have AJ back.
You Lift Me Up
Just one last awkward, slobbery kiss for those non-official outlets of Jays news, conjecture and hilarity that brightened my world on a daily basis. The Tao, the Drunkards, the Lefties, and the rest -- they're all up there on the links list. But I want to reserve a special word for the Ghostrunners' Wednesdays with JP schtick: that shit was funny. Also, Hum & Chuck's Ballad of Doc and AJ was as touching as anything on Oprah's list, and more true.
Thanks, y'all. Though I wouldn't have thought it possible, you make baseball even more enjoyable.