March 22, 2012; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitterEdwin Encarnacion
(left) and right fielderJose Bautista
(19) talk against the Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Surprise, dear readers. I am back from exile. There has been much to digest this off-season if you are a Blue Jays fan(atic). I could list the myriad of truths and done deals and cowardly self-serving moves (see: Farrell, John). An off-season of change and rebirth and renewed hope in Hogtown. We won the “holy crap I wish my team had done that” award from the masses and the writers. We truly made as big a splash as any team can make during an off-season. So I rested.
I rested and relaxed. Worked in my new cap. Spoke little about our team of destiny. Then a friend posted an interesting meme on Facebook (I do know what that is). It said simply “30 Days Until Pitchers and Catcher Report”. It’s closer to the beginning of a new season than the end of the last one. To think of those crisp white and blue spring training unis causing cameramen everywhere to white balance every five seconds in the Florida sun makes me smile that much more.
The thought of new fans brought on board by Alex Anthopoulos’ master plan rings sweet in me noggin. Why? To get back to the days of 50,000 a night in the Skydome. I want those in their teens and twenties to know what it is like for this city to have a team worth investing their heart and soul into. The fans waiting to welcome Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey and on and on. To show them the passion this city can have for it’s team.
I went to Spring Training during Cito Gaston‘s final foray into managing and I want to bring that small town root root root feeling from Dunedin and multiply it by thousands. The true belief and love for our team that just hasn’t been there. Sure we had seasons of maybe as it progressed but 2013 is the first time in two decades that we are looked at as more than fodder for the Rays, Yanks and Red Sox. The first time since I was in university, with a full head of hair and cheesy fake ID, that we can believe truly in what is there.
It is a different animal to follow a team that should be winning than a team that could be winning. It is a mindset that many young adults know little about in this truculent marketplace. The anticipation of the speed, the power, the character that this team seems to possess has me aching to go back down to Dunedin to see it from the beginning. Before it was love for the team that is deep rooted. It won’t take that much to root for these guys. You just watch…learn…and revel in the optimism.