The Toronto Blue Jays and the downside of hype

If you live in Toronto and follow sports to some degree, it was hard to miss news about the Toronto Blue Jays’ most insane off-season in recent memory. First there was the huge, blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins. Then the team picked up Melky Cabrera. And then the Jays got knuckleball pitcher and 2012 Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.

On paper, this looks like an absolutely incredible team, and it shows the first time in years that the Jays seem serious on trying to build up their team. These new players added to a team with a few great batters, including Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Last night was the Jays’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians. I watched the first inning and the really long opening ceremony. At the top of the ninth, Dickey struck out one batter, walked another, and two batters hit fly balls into the outfield. When the Jays got to bat, two hit fly balls, Bautista hit a single, and two other Jays walked.

Not too long after that, the Indians scored two runs, and the Jays scored one. As the game progressed, the Indians scored two more and the Jays failed to come up with any more runs. The final score was 4-1, with Cleveland taking the game.

As I predicted last night, there was pretty widespread disappointment. The Star in this morning’s paper has at least four different articles about the Jays and last night’s game. The columnist Rosie DiManno wrote an eBook about the 2013 Blue Jays, and last night there was also a pretty cool video essay using the angle that this might be a new generation of sports fans who finally see a Canadian team take home a championship title in professional sports. (As a side note, I’m guessing the Toronto Argonauts don’t count in this picture.)

In other words, there was a lot of hype. A lot. Naturally, all fans could do was go into the game with huge expectations, and as the cliché goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Apparently it didn’t take too long for the fans who packed the Rogers Centre last night to revert back to “this team sucks!” mode, which is unfortunate. Keep in mind this was the Jays’ first game. They still have 161 games left to prove themselves in.

And there’s the problem with hype. It’s all too common a story- something is buzzed about in the media sphere/blogosphere and then when said thing is finally revealed, the inevitable reaction is “Uh, yawn.” The prime example of this is Apple’s succession of iPads and iPhones. Whether this is still the case now, I don’t know, since there seems to be a bit of cooling of “Apple fever” so to speak. But whenever a new model is set to be unveiled, there is an absurd amount of coverage about what can be expected. Or to use a slightly lesser but also well-known example, remember the movie Snakes on a Plane? I don’t need to add any more to that thought.

Hype is a natural thing, and I’m not saying there should never be any hype ever. But maybe we could all just collectively lower our expectations just a tad.


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