Baseball Season Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

For the third consecutive season, we are proud to introduce the Deadspin Baseball Season Previews. Yes, baseball is awfully close now; it's spring training, after all.

Every weekday until the start of the season, a different writer will preview his/her team. We asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, Where Their Team Stands. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever.

Today: The Toronto Blue Jays. Your author is Neate Sager.

Neate Sager is Canadian and a big fan of beer barons at Out Of Left Field. His words are after the jump.His words are after the jump.

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How novel — the duty of writing the Jays preview has been offered to an actual Jays fan.

Will, are you absolutely sure there isn't a Red Sox fan who can better tell Deadspinners all about my team? How about a Tigers fan? Please don't take that as typical Canadian false modesty. It's just seems best to check and make sure that Boston and Detroit fans did get first crack at it, since that's what the Jays owners would want. Sorry about that, eh.

Long story short, news got out recently that Rogers Communications - the rat bastards who own the only team I ever grace with the editorial "we" - offered tickets for some early-season games to fans in Boston and Detroit before they went on sale in Canada. This slap in the face amounted to club president Paul Godfrey taking time out from his busy schedule of presumably getting his suckhole beard trimmed and popping a Viagra before he watches Fox News to say, "I'm Paul Godfrey. Go fuck yourself, Toronto."

It's a little hard to accept that the Jays would cozy up to a bunch of louts who lack the couth to handle our beer or treat the talent at the Canadian ballet with proper dignity. Bear in mind, a man who didn't have all of his unresolved childhood issues mixed up with the Jays' fortunes would be better able to laugh this off.

Sorry, but getting angry about this gets in the way of how the Blue Jays are best enjoyed. For the most part, following the Jays is the closest this Ontario country boy will ever get to a state of Zen. Staking so much in a team which finishes third in the AL East behind the Red Sox and Yankees every year goes a long way toward that whole mindful acceptance of the present thing.

It's like this: Every February, the Jays open spring training down in Dunedin, Fla. The Canadian sports networks and newspapers start putting together their little preseason analysis pieces. Inevitably, they declare the playoffs are a long shot for the Jays - and I have to laugh like hell.

Come October, after the Jays are done after winning their 83 games, the playoffs start. A couple National League teams that the Jays would use to roll the infield with get a chance at playing in the World Series. Some place like Denver ends up looking like Lame City for having a packed ballpark full of October-only fans after having 20,000 empty seats all summer - and I have to laugh like hell.

Why? It's because any true Jays fan has moved on from that shit. The MLB Playoffs on Fox doesn't need a Canadian team to get ratings and our Canadian team's followers don't need the MLB Playoffs on Fox. Look at it this way. The whole history of baseball is a history of money. The Jays play in the same damn division as the Red Sox and Yankees, enough said. Their revenues are what they are. Aside from the NFL, Canadians only watch sports that rest of the world barely plays, since we're sure to kick ass in those (that goes for hockey, curling and about a third of the Winter Olympics). Rogers, which in fairness, would have to do a lot worse to be as bad as Toronto's other corporate sports owner, will only increase payroll enough to make it look like they care about winning. Do you see what we're dealing with up here?

That means having to compromise. Let the other dumb bastards miss the point by acting like the playoffs is the be-all, end-all. If it happens, it happens. Right now, knowing there's another slightly above average Blue Jays team taking shape down in the Florida sun is just enough to get through the last weeks of the Canadian winter.

Who knows, maybe the Jays can squeak into the playoffs with pitching and defence, supported by hitting that can't be as bad as it was in 2007. Roy Halladay, Dustin McGowan and A.J. Burnett will pitch some dominant games. Alex Rios, the 27-year-old rightfielder whom female fans and fantasy baseball geeks adore equally, finally has some man-muscles and seems set for a breakout year. Backup shortstop John McDonald, aka McGlovin, will continue to inspire man-crushes across Southern Ontario among fans who are able to overlook his .279 on-base percentage.

We'll be in the seats downing beers and cheering on Matt Stairs as he pushes his stubby 40-year-old legs around first base on his way to another double. You get the drift? Following the Jays is all about living for the moments you get while rocking a powder-blue throwback jersey until they're mathematically eliminated sometime in September - and that's why the team's owners are garbage for not believing that's enough.

They'll probably finish third again, but I won't lose any hair over it I wasn't set to lose already. A semi-halfway honest effort for 162 games and not capitulating meekly to the Massholes is all it takes. When it's over, there will always be our stronger beer, the Canadian ballet and deux-deux-deuxs over the counter. It's great to be not that young and a Jays fan.