White Cover Magazine
Toronto, I’m sorry to tell you this. You’ve got a lot on your plate, pun intended, sports-wise. I’d hate to load more atop your lanky, condo-high shoulders.
But you’ve got a responsibility. You’ve got a job to do. For us all.
No, I’m not talking about winning. Because we’re all Jays fans. At least, if we’re baseball fans then by average, we’re all Jays fans. Even way out here in the other corner of the country, way over here near Vancouver, we remember 1993 and we remember the O-KAY BLUE JAYS song and we raced to buy those hats when you wisely decided to bring the vintage bird back. We wear the gear, just like you do. We love your team – actually, you know what? We love our team.
But listen, the World Series would be terrific, and at this point it would be tremendously disappointing if you didn’t win one – sorry, again, if WE didn’t win one. I know that’s a lot of pressure, but it’s mid-October and the Jays are still playing. We’re past the point of managing expectations.
No, I’m not talking about winning. I don’t think you have a responsibility to never lose again, or to capitalize on your window, or to run over the Royals.
All I’m going to say is, you have a responsibility to the rest of us, to everyone in Canada… to enjoy it.
Most of us, we’ve gone on Cup runs. In Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa, we’ve all reached the final since 2004. Montreal has threatened more consistently than any of those teams, and has like a broken record fallen short in multiple Eastern Conference finals. And none of them have won. Every time, it’s ended in a cloud of tears and smoke – either from flipped cars or another team’s fireworks.
And I know you’re just getting this. I know you’ve been waiting and you’ve always been aborted before the next trimester, whether it was your Raptors losing as soon as your GM said the F-word, whether it was your Leafs blowing a three-goal third-period lead to those bastardly Bruins, or whether it’s been your soccer team practically facing the wrong way through eight playoff-less seasons. (Do you any of you care about FC? I don’t know…)
But we were all watching Wednesday night and we were all overjoyed. And we were insanely jealous.
Because it’s like watching someone head off to college when you’re 25, and all you can think of is how much you’d love to do it over again. Because we’ve been there – we nearly brought the Cup back to Canada all those times, and we failed. All of us. Repeatedly. And we never enjoyed the ride as much as we should have, because it’s impossible to do that right. I remember those few months in 2011, with the Canucks, as much as I don’t remember them: You’re so concerned with winning, you’re so scared of losing, and you’re so drunk – either on booze or on your own beating heart – the whole time, and then it’s over in a flash.
One day, you’ve clinched the playoffs. And you’re relieved. The next day, you’ve won a series or two. And then all of sudden, poof. Win or lose, it’s over the second it starts. You had your head down, you’re worked your ass of, and then you looked up at it was 5 o’clock.
What you saw tonight, from Toronto, wasn’t just an eruption after 22 years of depression. It wasn’t just that streak that was beaten down and left to die in the dirt, like Pesci in that Casino scene. No: It was exponential. It was the Blue Jays, multiplied by the Leafs, multiplied by the shame of it all, multiplied by your own historically earned cynicism, then divided by the zero that was Bautista’s blast. There’s no math anymore. The arithmetic exploded. The only law of physics you know right now is, We won. You lost.
And what you saw, what you might have heard, was the roar from the rest of the country, which has been desperate to have something in common with you. We’re a nation of baseball fans, of sports fans, and we finally have the excuse to clap for Toronto without feeling guilty about it.
So we’re in this together. We’re all rooting for you, and we’re all rooting for us. It’s fantastic, really, to be able to ‘come together‘ for real, right now, over you.
Just promise us you’ll have fun. Promise us you’ll smell the roses. Promise us like Damon promised Hanks in Private Ryan.
Enjoy this, Toronto. Enjoy this.
And be dicks about it. Because it’s fun to be a dick and it gets old fast. And you may not get the chance again. And even if you do get the chance again, the in-between will feel like forever.
Trust us, we know.
VIDEO: Blue Jays, Bautista’s blast beat Rangers in Game 5