For the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of discussion on Toronto Blue Jays message boards and fan groups about how awful it is to see the Tampa Bay Rays finally succeed and actually reach the World Series. As if it some how magnifies the current despair in Jays nation...
This has been quite confusing to me, as I tend to view their success quite differently than these vocal fans and actually tend to believe this should be a source of hope rather than despair as it pertains to the Jays going forward.
Obviously, it is disheartening to see this franchise that has tasted ZERO, and I mean NO, success since their inception doing so well and leap-frogging us on their path to the promised land. I have also heard the arguments about how, "Oh, anybody could EVENTUALLY be good with that many top picks in a row," or, "It is nearly impossible to at least not be good eventually by accident after that many top picks."
Yet I am sure there are literally thousands of Pirates fans out there right now saying, "Hey, shouldn't that be us? We have had just as many top picks as the Rays, plus we have a shiny new ballpark, a rich history and tradition, and yet we are again stuck on the outside looking in."
This should prove without a shadow of a doubt that quite obviously, it is not just having top picks that eventually and accidentally catapults you into contention, but rather it is what you do with those picks and years of ineptitude that eventually breeds a change in fortune. I would contend that it was actually a change in ownership and management as well as a commitment to a plan that has the Rays where they are today.
Well, what does all this mean to Jays fan you may ask? Or why on earth should this give us hope? Would any of us honestly wish that we could be cellar dwellers (or near cellar dwellers) for 10+ years if it meant that eventually you could have a roster similar to the 2008 Rays?
Of course not. I wouldn't want to be that inexplicably bad for that length of time; it would be devastating both financially for the club (who knows if a Canadian baseball team in today's day and age could even survive being that terrible that long without relocating), and to the fanbase. But what it is does do is kill that J.P. bull shit that he has been feeding us for that last who knows how long about, "You just can't compete with Boston and NY with our payroll and that's the way it is."
Well Mr. Ricciardi, how wrong are you now? Not only did a team compete with a lower payroll than NY and Boston, but they did it with a payroll that is lower than even ours! It also doesn't look like they are "flash in the pan" good either, they are a great young team with more help on the way, barring a complete catastrophe (read: Longoria dying), they should be good for a very very long time.
So basically, it doesn't matter that we may never be able to spend what the Red Sox and Yankees do, but with a plan, smart decision-making and execution competing with these guys is evidentally possible. J.P. has had about long enough, (I personally am willing to wait one more year), but it is time to see some results.
If he can't deliver them, then we need to find someone who can. We need the baseball equivalent to Brian Colangelo if you will. So keep the faith Jays fans; we are a good GM away from once again competing with the big boys.