“Red Sox-Yankees: like an insufferable book that never, ever ends,” said @EdgeofSports on Twitter last night. How painfully true. From other reactions on Twitter, I’d say that most people outside the New York and New England areas feel the same way. Each of these teams has a storied history, but enough already. Baseball gods, you need to do better.
Where is the justice in giving the dour, petulant Yankees another playoff run? Thankfully, and predictably, the Red Sox kicked them swiftly to the curb. And while the Red Sox are more energetic and entertaining than the Yankees–who isn’t, honestly–there’s a team out there that overflows with youthful exuberance, talent, and something that the world could use more of: joy.
I’m talking about the Toronto Blue Jays, of course, the team that @EdgeofSports called “the most charismatic, dynamic team” in baseball.
Yes, the Red Sox have a home run laundry cart and exciting players like Rafael Devers, but for sheer joy, no one in the American League can beat the Jays. Spontaneous dancing in the dugout, struts in their now famous home run jacket, goofy finger guns when they get on base–these guys have so much fun playing the game. But they’re also damn good, possessing some of the best offensive stats in the league and with a potential Cy Young award winner in pitcher Robbie Ray. And they accomplished all of this while facing the unique challenge of moving between three “home” ballparks in one season.
The players’ attitude aligns with that of their manager Charlie Montoyo, who chills out by playing the conga drums and bongos in his office and loves to talk about how proud he is of his players, on good days and bad. The team’s whole ethos is a life lesson for all of us; one centred on working hard but never forgetting to laugh, dance, and have fun.
Sports are an escape from the doldrums of life and we have plenty of those right now, with a seemingly endless pandemic sowing anxiety and dividing people on both personal and political levels. How uplifting would it have been to see professional athletes showing so much love for the game they play and the people they play it with? Guys with a Little Leaguer’s enthusiasm for the game and not a trace of the arrogance that diminishes some of baseball’s biggest stars? Players who prove you can be serious about your sport without taking yourself too seriously?
Baseball gods, you could have had such a team in the playoffs, but for one hit by one Yankee player in game 162. This off-season, think about your choices and strive to make better ones next year.
Editor’s Note: No shade intended toward the Seattle Mariners who, by all accounts, would have been equally exciting to watch. And, yes, the Jays could have made it to a tie-break if the Red Sox lost in game 162, but it’s more fun to blame the Yankees.
Image of baseballs by Crystal Smith.