As April comes to an end, my university friends depart for higher-paying warm-weather jobs, my fantasy team has taken its customary place in 7th, and the Blue Jays are talented underachievers a couple games over .500 in fourth place in the AL East. In other words, summer's here.
Yesterday, in the true summer spirit, a guy I used to play pool with on the regular came through the drive-thru at my restaurant and placed an order while doing his damnedest to pretend he'd never met me before. At first, it rankled a bit - was he ashamed to know me? Couldn't he at least acknowledge me, even if he had no intent of returning the bar where we'd once wasted so many Tuesday nights?
After he drove away, I gave it another second or two of thought. How many times have I avoided someone on public transit? Walked right past someone else on the street while pretending to be avidly window-shopping? Felt that a casual acquaintance's customer-service friendliness was over-the-line? Sometimes it's personal, but sometimes you just have absolutely no interest in pointless small-talk. (And it's funny - now that I'm on the other side of the counter, where incessant small-talk becomes a necessity of the job description - how quickly you forget these things.)
Well, tonight some lucky fans (i.e. not me) will get to take in Yu Darvish in person. And I'm thinking it might be much the same sort of relationship, that maybe Jays fans should treat Darvish much as this nameless dude treated me. Let's just say that if he had been on the radio, he wouldn't exactly be denying he'd ever played eight-ball against my roommate and I. He's just wouldn't be addressing it. After all, it's not like we really knew him that well. And when Darvish pitches on a Monday night at Rogers Centre, will there really be any kind of special turnout? It's not quite like AJ Burnett or Alex Rios, guys who flamed out spectacularly before our eyes, and willingly or unwillingly punched their own tickets out of town. I have a deep sense of Alex Rios' talents and shortcomings as baseball player. Yu Darvish's Blue Jays career, on the other hand, never left the theoretical chasm of the internet, no more real - less real, even - than the three-point lead my fantasy team blew on Sunday afternoon. To extend the metaphor further: we sorta, kinda chilled at the bar a few times, maybe invited him to a party or two, but since we've each moved on and gotten real lives it's a non-thing.
Better to boo one of the Mikes, guys who gave the Jays pretty much zero return-on-investment for what they were worth at the time. Okay, so there was no $100 million dollar free agent investment this offseason, but as of right now Grienke and Hamels are still available next winter, and even without Votto there will be plenty of future opportunities for the Jays to sink their theoretical bank. There's something to be said for Humbering him - anytime a terrific pitcher comes into town and gets dropped a notch it's an endorsement for the local offense - but it'll be a one-time vindication. Twelve months from now, when Darvish has inevitably lost Game Seven of the World Series in a Rangers uniform (because everyone knows that's what the Rangers do) how many non-diehard-Jays fans will actually remember what Jim Bowden said?