Waiting for 'next year' with the Blue Jays

Blue Jays Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus. (Reuters)

Blue Jays Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus. (Reuters)

PETER WORTHINGTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

TORONTO - What’s irritating about the Toronto Blue Jays right now, is that although this season is another train wreck, they are probably having the best August they’ve had since winning the World Series in 1993.

Those of us who (faithfully or otherwise) follow the Jays’ games as avidly as an addict seeking their next fix, know that in recent years the Jays have tended to come apart after the all-star break.

What’s irritating about this year’s late-season surge, is that it’s the time to try out young hopefuls to get a reading on what next year will look like. Yet on any given day, the team is as good as any in majors.

Fair enough. We all understand that. But it’s frustrating when, if you had reliable pitching — or were in the Central Division — you’d be challenging for a post-season slot.

Some of us fans are fed up with waiting for “next year.”

In that regard, the Jays remind me a bit of Alice in Wonderland (or is the Through the Looking Glass?) where it’s “jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today.”

Position by position, the Jays fielders are as good as any and better than most. It’s what I say of our soldiers, but it also applies to ball players.

The acquisition of Colby Rasmus has no downside, only a future. The same with Brett Lawrie who was cursed with great expectations before arriving here, and then had to live up (gloriously) to our hopes and dreams. Imagine — your first game before a hometown crowd and hitting a grand slam. And there has been no let-up.

The greatest asset for the Jays has been their new, young (34) general manager, Alex Anthopoulos. Whether he has been lucky or brilliant, he’s arguably (for those who admire his daring, his nerve, his steadiness) the best general manager in all of baseball. If not today, certainly tomorrow the way things are going.

Even Sports Illustrated has discovered Anthopoulos and the Jays. “The new beast of the AL East...” is the way they put it. “Not this year but in the not too distant future.”

I was never a believer in J.P. Riccardi’s school of baseball, where a walk is as good as a single, batters taking a lot of pitches (to tire the pitcher), reluctance to steal bases, hoping for the home run.

At first I, and a lot of others, were uneasy about Anthopoulos. What timid souls we were! Paul Beeston, president and CEO of the club, seems ideal — a sense of humour, perspective, cool, generous, trustworthy.

I gather it was Anthopoulos who got the Jays’ Yunel Escobar, who is not only an awesome shortstop, but actually looks like a ball player and radiates intelligence.

Adam Lind made something of a jerk of me, who feared he wouldn’t fit in at a first base. He has been exceptional, and his hitting has exceeded my expectations. And he seems like a nice guy.

Jose Bautista is, of course, Jose Bautista and if there’s any justice, the best player in baseball will be this year’s Most Valuable Player. No matter, he’s ours and we’ll keep him.

I’ve long thought that J.P. Arencibia is the catcher of the future, and likely he is. But I also relax when Jose Molina is catching. He seems wise, knows the opposing hitters, works well with young pitchers, is hitting well and seems like fun.

As far as I’m concerned, the most valuable Blue Jay is John McDonald who can play any position flawlessly and has a knack for getting key hits when they are needed.

Unlike some, I still have faith in Aaron Hill at second base. That’s loyalty talking.

When this season started, I idly mused that 90 wins might be possible if the stars were aligned correctly, and if age caught up with the Yankees, and the Red Sox succumbed to their own arrogance.

A 90-win season is still possible, but is now irrelevant. This is the team of the future. Right now. Wait and see — Sports Illustrated and I have rarely been wrong at the same time.

Wait ’til next year guys.


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