To be honest, I’m not feeling that great.
I bet none of you would have ever envisioned the unique circumstances in which I find myself in, as I am one of the few (only?) Tribe fans on the north side of the Lake. This is a hockey country, after all, and baseball hasn’t really been that big of a deal for quite a while up here. So I’m glad to help set a peculiar scene of absolute local nuttiness, and my pure wistfulness as my heart lies with another.
So, the rumors start pouring in on my timeline two days ago: “Big deal on the way between Toronto and Miami.” We all know what happens next. The scoundrel owner Jeffery Loria makes everything so very interesting for all of us.
And now I sit here in the newly-christened Baseball Capital of the World, Toronto. I wonder how I would react if I were a card-carrying member of the Jays fanbase over the past few days. I’m assuming it would be a sense of overwhelming happiness for sure, because these guys like to bomb the ball all over the yard in the Rogers Centre. I can’t fight it. These guys are tremendously fun to watch from an offensive standpoint. Now with Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio manning the top of their order, an already imposing lineup immediately shoots to one of the best in the AL, if it wasn’t already.
They have Josh Johnson, who is all kinds of talented with ace-caliber stuff, but never has been able to remain consistently healthy. Indians fans know what Mark Buehrle does; he’s an innings-eater who is essentially a southpaw Eddie Harris at this point of his career. But by some kind of voodoo, or out and out selling of his baseball soul, he’s still manages to be effective.
John Buck was brought back, too, essentially as a sweetener. Because there always seems to be a “returnee” is deals like this, it might as well be him.
Toronto? Seriously? Sigh…
You see, I’m not used to being in a market where a team is willing to take a risk that likely won’t backfire horribly. I was intrigued. I was astounded at the, uh, “Big Fish” that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was able to reel in.
An aside: You think I’m annoyed? How do you think new Boston skipper John Farrell feels right about now?
Back to me. Above all, I was jealous. I’m a born and bred, uprooted, northeast Ohioan. I know that we aren’t often privy to landscape shifts in the national sports scene unless we find ourselves on the receiving end of it. So, a lot of me sympathizes with the fourteen diehards in Dade County.
(I know, I know, far be it from a member of the Indians fanbase to ridicule another franchise with serious attendance woes. It won’t happen again. I promise. Maybe. Ehhh…probably not.)
This is the kind of play that the Indians front office pulled off once with Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore. It’s about high time for Chris Antonetti to use his mulligan in Terry Francona to remake his image and to generate some pulse of a positive buzz for the next few years. Reeling in Francona is unquestionably an amazing get. But unless he is a living and breathing baseball shaman, we all know it’ll likely be yet another long and middling process unless Antonetti gets proactive.
The fact of the matter is simply this: The Indians’ front office has whiffed badly in terms of the Sabathia and Lee trades, and the return on Ubaldo Jimenez has been an unmitigated disaster, only tentatively saved by the sole fact that former Indians prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White have yet to distinguish themselves within the Rockies’ system. It goes without saying that if the Indians do decide to jump head first into the trade market, the fans will not accept shots in the dark anymore.
The Blue Jays and Indians are a lot alike. Both teams had future Hall of Fame aces that they needed to let go. Both teams have had their glory days. And both teams have had their difficulties attracting fans at the gate. One significant difference? The Blue Jays are not afraid to make the splash that they need. This is also a credit to their development of their prospects, and it is one glaring problem that the Indians have set out to rectify.
The Canadian media from coast to coast is already anticipating new World Series banners. The national jubilation is only exacerbated by the NHL lockout, and you can sense that the Blue Jays are going to try good and hard to be the main event for as long as the ice stays melted. The Jays fans have waited a long time for this. They should be excited. At the very least, they’ve put themselves in Wild Card contention. It has turned the baseball clock back to the early ’90s when the SkyDome was to them what Jacobs Field was to us.
Now there’s a movement to have Bud Selig cancel the trade altogether. Apparently, Dan Gilbert looms over as all in every trade in any sport. If the trade gets canceled, then I guess I can go back to just fretting about the quality of baseball I’ll be subjecting myself to. And secondly, boy, what a waste of an introductory column, huh?
But that won’t happen. Canada will be giddy over the fact that they have become the Dodgers East. And I’ll just wait until the Indians give me something to get excited about, while I do my best to put my trust in Tito and Company that our time in the sun is sooner than I think.