Is John Schneider on the hot seat?

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The past few weeks have not been kind to Toronto Blue Jays fans, less roller coaster ride and more drop tower, or perhaps bungee jumping without a rope.

With the team in apparent freefall – 2-9 in their last 11 games, 8-16 in their last 24 – many have taken to calling for the manager’s head, their cries buoyed by the existence of a ready-made replacement in Don Mattingly already on the bench.

At the risk of descending in full-blown Wilnerism, I’m going to have to advocate for a deep breath. Has the manager made mistakes this season? Sure. But John Schneider’s seat should not be getting hot just yet …

A deep breath

First, the big picture: the Toronto Blue Jays are currently three games out of a playoff spot with 111 games left to play.  

I can hear older Blue Jays fans hollering already – you call that a collapse!?

Indeed, long-running Jays fans will be well versed in underachievement and unexpected disaster. As recently as 2017, a team that had made back-to-back ALCS appearances started the year 6-17, burying themselves before they got out of the gate. Or remember 2013, when the team famously went all-in and traded for the reigning Cy Young winner, R. A. Dickey, as well as four-time All Stars José Reyes and Mark Buehrle, only to start 10-21.

I could go on – 2009, 2006, 2003, 1998; each was a team fans were certain would finally get over the hump, only for them to unravel in painstaking fashion. The point is, while it has perhaps felt like a unique calamity in 2023, it really hasn’t been.

Here is another way to look at it. Below are Major League Baseball’s Opening Day Power Rankings, alongside each team’s current record.

1. Houston Astros (28-21)

2. Atlanta Braves (31-19)

3. San Diego Padres (23-27)

4. LA Dodgers (31-20)

5. New York Mets (26-25)

6. New York Yankees (30-22)

7. Toronto Blue Jays (26-25)

8. Philadelphia Phillies (23-27)

9. Seattle Mariners (26-24)

10. St. Louis Cardinals (23-29)

Note that six of the 10 are right there with the Blue Jays, wallowing in mediocrity, or worse.

Imagine being a fan of the Padres, who were told they had the best lineup in the history of the sport, or a fan of the Mets, who were under the impression their uber-billionaire owner was in the process of buying a championship, let alone a fan of the Cardinals or Phillies. Simply, the Blue Jays are not (yet) in the midst of some sort of unprecedented collapse.

Now, does that mean you should be happy with where they’re at? Of course not. That the team has underachieved so far is not really up for debate. But what does this say about the manager?