Monday, 31 March 2014

L'Heure D'Ete

Another Year of Blue Jays' Baseball Starts Today

Here in Paris, we turned our clocks forward Sunday morning, starting the "heure(s) d'été" (summer hours - AKA daylight saving).  Perfect timing, as back home in the US (and yes, Canada as well), Major League Baseball begins its 2014 season.

To be precise, it's worth noting that the season actually began over a week ago; in Sydney, Australia.  By way of a couple of games between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Red Hot Riders.  Go figure?

Anyhow, "my" team - the Toronto Blue Jays - kicks off its season tonight (it will be VERY late for us in France) in a game in Tampa Bay against the Devil Rays.

Unlike last year, when I began the season with guarded optimism about the Jays' chances, I am decidedly pessimistic about 2014.  

Recall that, in 2013, the team had added a number of high profile free agents - among them the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner and at least one All-Star quality field player.  The two big-spending franchises in the division looked vulnerable - the Yankees due to age and the Red Sox due to just poor play in the previous season and a half.

It didn't really work out.  2013 turned out to be a truly dismal season, perhaps the most depressing in the nearly 40 of the team's history.  A couple of guys got hurt, a couple of guys were just awful, Brett Lawrie was both hurt and then spectacularly mediocre.  JP Arrencibia had a historically bad season as the catcher.

So what for this summer?  It's becoming a sort of routine watching the Blue Jays, who have now not contended for 21 consecutive seasons following back to back World Series titles.  With their flameout in 2013, 74-88, essentially out of contention in mid-May, Toronto has now not finished within 10 games of the playoffs since 1993.

2014 does not look to be a big improvement.  More or less the same team is returning, sans JP Arrencibia and Josh Johnson.  Their absences will of course represent addition by subtraction.  It's hard to imagine their replacements being any worse, assuming they are able-bodied and have full vision.

Of course, the replacements are not likely to be exactly Bill Dickey and Walter Johnson.  For example, Josh Tholes, who at .175 just barely hit my weight last year, is going to be the starter behind the plate.  And Dustin McGowan, the fan favourite for Médecins sans Frontières is on the roster to open the season, though I'm guessing the operating theatre is being prepped as of this moment.

I'm guessing the team, with a few breaks, will win 78-82 games, a modest improvement over 2013.  It's really hard to imagine how they could play worse, though they could surprise.

It will be another more or less lost season in Toronto.

I'll still check their doings in the news, and cheer for them as much as I can from thousands of miles away, in one of the world's great cities with many alternatives to attract my attention.

Play Ball.

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