for·ti·tude [fawr-ti-tood, -tyood]
mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.
There is a certain amount of fortitude that is involved with being a fan of any Major League Baseball team. The commitments by the fans are the lifeblood of an organization, so as the players win and lose on the field, the fans at home or in the stands live and die by the knife as well.
Since 1993, the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been forced to exercise massive amount of fortitude while enduring one losing season after another. For 19 consecutive years, those fans held onto the hope that Toronto would return to its glory days, only to be disappointed when the season ended without a playoff appearance.
That fortitude was rewarded by the club this offseason, when the Blue Jays opened the coffers and committed to building a winner. The acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and Maicer Izturis helped to generate a buzz around this team that has not been felt in years. Longtime fans began to brim with excitement. New fans jumped on the bandwagon. The World Series tickets were already being printed in some minds, all before a single pitch was thrown on the season.
Yet, here we stand on April 10th, barely a week and a half into the season, and fans are already in a state of unrest. Twitter is abuzz with hashtags of #FireGibby, #FireBeaston, and #FireAA. Prized acquisition R.A. Dickey is being booed off the mound in just his second start of the season.
We all need to take a deep breath and consider the entire picture here before we start lining up at the bridge.
At 2-5, the Blue Jays are obviously not playing up to par yet. That considered, we are talking about a team that has played 7 games of a 162 game schedule. That’s 4.3% of the season, not exactly a sample size worth getting riled up about. Let’s hold until August 1st, and if the Blue Jays are sitting there 10 games out of first place like they were a year ago, then you have my permission to light the torches and grab your pitchforks.
As for Dickey, or any other member of the pitching staff that is under-performing at this stage of the season, we need to relax and look at the bigger picture there as well.
In his third start of 2012, Dickey surrendered 8 earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Atlanta Braves. Dickey would surrender 5 earned runs in a start just three more times for the remainder of the 2012 season and that campaign ended with a Cy Young award, won on the back of a 20-6 record, a 2.73 ERA, and a 8.9 K/9 ratio.
For his career, Mark Buehrle owns a 24-25 mark in the month of April with a lifetime ERA of 4.26 during the season’s first month. Yet, we are talking about a pitcher who owns a career record of 174-132 with a 3.83 ERA over a 14-year career.
I could move down the batting order, through the rest of the rotation, and the bullpen, but it would be redundant. These players understand, just like any true fan would, that you cannot afford to panic after some poor early results.
The mettle of this team will be tested from time to time throughout the season, and the Blue Jays will enjoy their ups and downs. The true nature of this team will be defined by how they rise above it and put the train back on the tracks, and trust me, this team will find a way to right this ship.
As fans, we owe it to this team and the dedication they showed this winter to give them more than 7 games before we declare them dead. After all, we’ve waited 19 long seasons, I think we can hold out longer than 8 days.