I love opening days. I even like opening days that aren’t really opening days – days like today, which are ceremonial, days that celebrate the ‘O Say Can You See’s and the awesomeness of everything American, even if the soft opening happened almost two weeks ago in Australia and then on Sunday night.
The Toronto Blue Jays do not love opening Days. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays should not love opening days.
They don’t always go like today – a 9-2 loss to division foe Tampa – and they’re shocking but not surprising, if that makes any sense.
Although it’s heartbreaking to see star shortstop Jose Reyes go down on day one – just another very serious injury in a long history of them – and although it’s a little tragic to see knuckleballer R.A. Dickey get blitzed in his first start of 2014, it’s somehow predictable.
Last year, the Toronto Blue Jays took Vegas odds and turned them into, perhaps, the most disappointing season in SkyDome – sorry, Rogers Centre – history. When the season started, much like today, reality set in.
2012’s fantastic winter turned into a 2013 tragedy. Today, it was more of the same – those identical November deals still coming in like a wrecking ball, which is even worse when you consider that last year’s World Series winners – the Boston Red Sox – were forced to blow up their own similar, high-priced, uber-profiled experiment and then won a world championship with a plucky roster of misfit toys, David Ortiz included.
With the Jays, though, it’s not just bad for Toronto.
Unlike the NHL, where we Canadians are divided along very geographic lines by very different club colour schemes, baseball is different. The Jays are Canada’s team, not just Toronto’s team. Today’s disappointment was as talked about in White Rock, B.C. – virtually as far away as you can get Toronto while still in Canada – as it was in Etobicoke, in Mississauga, and in Brampton, Ontario.
British Columbian basketball fans can rejoice with the Raptors, who somehow smashed their own Ontarian ceiling to make the NBA playoffs. And the Leafs, as disastrous as they have been recently, are still a playoff team next year, barring another monumental setback.
But this wasn’t supposed to happen to the Jays. They were supposed to be the one light in Toronto’s tunnel. Instead, they’re disappointing for a whole new reason – unlike the Leafs or the Raps, the Jays spent a lot and they won Christmas, but they did butt all with the presents.
Then again, it’s just opening day. It was brutal, sure, but there are 161 games to go.
And somehow, today still matters, for better or worse. Or for nothing at all.