Going, going, gone
I think enough time has passed since the end of the Blue Jays’ baseball season that I can write something about the team without grinding my teeth right into the gums. They scraped into the wild-card round, scored one run in two games, and were gone.
In similar circumstances, someone among the higher-ups in such a moribund organization would be fired. Not so with the Jays. Club president Mark Shapiro, general manager Ross Atkins, and manager John Schneider all remain firmly ensconced despite making the most bone-headed decision I’ve ever seen in baseball. That brains trust decided prior to the critical second game that they would pull starting left-handed pitcher Jose Berrios in the fourth inning and bring in a right-hander. Their plan was to confound the Minnesota Twins who would have to shuffle their batting order in response.
Berrios then proceeded to pitch the best game of his life. Rather than dump the plan and stay with a winner, the switch went ahead anyway. The replacement pitcher, Yusei Kikuchi, immediately gave up two runs and the game and the series was over.
Even as the desultory affair dragged on, manager John Schneider did what he does best: nothing. He made no thoughtful substitutions in an attempt to get a hit, just stood in the dugout, spitting out sunflower seed husks, as if he were a spectator in the stands.
Players were equally bereft. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s bat was silent as it has been too often this season. I blame the home run derby that he won during the July All-Star break. Seventy-two dingers in three rounds, with all pitches lobbed softly toward him, seemed to disrupt his timing at the plate. But getting picked off at second base had to be the low point of his career.
To me, the most amazing aspect is that the Rogers Centre was full during the last weeks of the season. Toronto fans cough up a lot of money to watch losers. Well, not this guy. I’m a member of a group that has for years shared a pair of seats behind the Blue Jays dugout. Next year, we were offered renovated seating and cup-holders, and it would only cost 30 percent more. Our group’s commissioner of baseball decided not to renew and I supported that decision. The Blue Jays won’t have me to kick around anymore.