The Blue Jays lost tonight, ending their season. I hated it. But really, they weren’t even supposed to be here.
Late in July, the Blue Jays were sitting at .500, well out of any playoff conversation. They had the hitting, a good team that was underachieving. They needed pitching. The first move was a trade for Troy Tulowitzki. An upgrade on Jose Reyes, sure. But not the one they needed, several games back of the division. He was a hitter, not a pitcher.
Soon after, they trade for David Price. There’s the guy, the pitcher they needed. A bunch of young prospects out the door, for a long shot at a division they’re eight games behind in.
I got caught up in the excitement. Even as the sober part of me agreed with the assessments: They probably wouldn’t make a difference. They might get into the wild card game, make the Yankees sweat, but they wouldn’t win the division. Not with only two months left, and eight games to make up.
It only took them two weeks to catch the Yankees and be ahead in the division. By the end of September it was “how much will they win by”, a conversation not even conceivable in late July, skidding along at .500.
The Flames in ’04 is the comparison here, and I kept coming back to it because it was apt, and it meant something for me. A moribund team, going nowhere, energized by an unexpected and sudden playoff run, galvanizing fans put off by years of irrelevance.
The Blue Jays were different for some, not as important or exciting out in the mountain city I live in. But it meant something. My friends and family were assaulted by my excitement, coming off me in waves.
And it’s gone now. They had their run in the playoffs, but the season is over, and they didn’t win it all. The sun rises tomorrow, as it always has, and will for longer than any of us will likely live.
Sports don’t mean anything ultimately, and maybe that’s part of why it means so much to us. To be a part of something communal, but irrelevant in the final estimation, maybe that makes it meaningful. Because we can invest that, without having any real stakes. It’s easier. It’s fun, and indulgent, and doesn’t change a whole lot, really.
I watched the game with my brother and another friend, and we were silent after it ended. There were no words, no comfort that made this ultimately meaningless pursuit worthwhile, with the ultimate goal of the team not made.
But we’ll be back in March next year, waiting for them to try it again.
Go Blue Jays.