(art by Hanne Lore Koehler)
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume? – T.S. Eliot
And you may be asking yourself what this famous quote from Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” has to do with baseball and our Blue Jays, but there is a mild connection that I am going to make since 2017 has officially been locked away in yesterday’s vault.
Now, I’m not sure how I would measure my life, but I do know that if it were with coffee spoons, it would probably stretch from Toronto to Halifax. If I measured it with pizza slices, it would probably cover most of the Arctic terrain. And if I did so with Tall Cans, I could probably fill up the SkyDome with those barley, hop, and adult apple juice containers of bliss.
Every year we fill ourselves with food, drink, music, baseball, Netflix, and hopefully books too, and we do this year-after-year on this ol’ spinning rock, don’t we? It is a constant fill, isn’t it? And time has its own dance, too.
I remember on New Year’s Eve in 1993 riding in the back seat of my parent’s shitty car from St. Catharines to Toronto to go to some party that my ol’ man’s best friend was throwing. I listened to the new Pearl Jam tape that I got for Christmas on my yellow Sony Walkman on the drive up. The album was called Vs., and it filled my earholes with some of the greatest sounds that any thirteen-year-old boy could want to hear.
And times sure have changed since then, as, of course, they should, right? Back in ‘93, I would hang out at the arcade with my friends and play Mortal Kombat almost every Saturday afternoon, CD’s were the future, NHL 93 for Sega Genesis was the greatest thing in the world, and the Toronto Blue Jays had just gone back-to-back winning their second World Series. And here we are now in the future, and time continues raining.
It’s been 25 years since that time when I was jumping around in my uncle’s basement after Joe Carter’s touch ‘em all swing, and I now realize how lucky I am to have been able to experience that drive and everything that was ’92 and ’93. And so here we are now, Blue Jays Nation, another year gone, and we all still hope that there will be one season where it all ends well.
And sure, 2015 and ’16 were a good ride down the stretch of playoff baseball road, but in the end, it didn’t lead to the one true desire that we all have, and that is a World Series. And one day in that untouchable future, the Blue Jays will be back in the golden dance, swinging bats with blazing leaves that burn bright in the Fall, but no one really knows when that time will come.
So after those back-to-back playoff runs that gave us the bat flip that legends are made of, the Edwin walk-off, and the JD slide, Canada’s hope was high for the 2017 ‘Let’s Rise’ team.
However, baseball reigned, as always, in its humbling way and many Blue Jays fans soon began to feel the humility in what became the 2017 hangover, as April, May, and June brought us all back down to reality.
Last year was surreal and morose for many fans, yet still had moments of sublime baseball too. It didn’t exactly begin the way we had all hoped for, as we had to learn to accept that our favourite uncle Eddie wasn’t going to be a Blue Jay. And after Edwin signed in Cleveland, it just seemed like that was the beginning of what was becoming our slow goodbye to the back-to-back core of ballplayers who helped breathe baseball life into Canada.
And during those long days of summer, many of us realized that we were witnessing the final tour for one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time, José Bautista. We sent off a proper legend and in his final game at the Dome, the great fans gave him one last roar, one last standing ovation, and one last cheer. The six-time all-star and two-time silver slugger, will always live on in our baseball hearts. He was quick-witted, sharp, and had a swagger that had many MLB pitchers shaking in their boots. He may have been loathed around the league, but he was loved in the Great North.
It was a year of good-byes, and one particular goodbye came far too soon. The tragic death of Roy Halladay brought us all to tears, as he was one of those true individuals whose altruistic ways off the field defined the essence of his spirit. Indeed, last year was a year of loss and coming together, as there is no certainty in this life. So as a nation, we mourned the loss of the greatest Blue Jay of all-time, who was more importantly, a loving husband and father, too.
When the New Year began last year, there was no way to predict the things the universe would hurl at us, as that is just the way of life. But as I sit here reflecting on the baseball year now gone, I realize that baseball, much like life, has no absolute course.
The 2017 season taught us that it’s unacceptable to aggressively yell any kind of homophobic slur – or any hateful slur for that matter. It showed us that at any given time if you take a leap of faith, you might actually touch home safely – in unicorn fashion, of course. And if you think there is no fire when there is ‘Smoak’ you’re dead wrong, as Justin proved to all of us that it’s sometimes impossible to predict the upside of a player. It was a season of are-you-kidding-me grand slams, and woeful injuries. It was a season of complete unpredictability.
And we all have our own thoughts about how 2018 will unfold, as the story is only a quick beat away from beginning. But the truth is that none of us really know, but baseball will be back and colour our minds in our daily hurry that we hope causes no harm.
But the fact is that baseball will resume, Blue Jays fans will continue to banter, the team will win and lose, and the 25-year World Series dream will continue. It may not be captured in 2018, but it will one day. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later, but later always seems to figure out how to get here sooner anyway, as 1993 seems just like yesterday to me.