Tim Leiweke may very well have blanched had he sauntered into the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse Wednesday night before the American League team’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Rogers Centre.
There, in plain sight was a Joe Carter jersey, a beacon to the good old days for the Blue Jays if there ever was one.
Watch: Dodgers beat Blue Jays in extra innings
It was stretched out on a table, No. 29, waiting to be autographed by the current group of underachievers, presumably to get auctioned off at some charity function.
Leiweke, the new president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., recently made headlines over pronouncements about stripping the Air Canada Centre of all the overt memorabilia hearkening back to the hockey team’s glory days.
Guess that cease-and-desist memo has not yet crossed the desk of Paul Beeston, Leiweke’s counterpart with the Blue Jays.
Beeston was hoping that this would have been the season for the Blue Jays to add to some of that old-time baseball playoff lore in Toronto, highlighted by Joltin’ Joe’s memorable walkoff home run in the 1993 World Series that sunk the Philadelphia Phillies.
Fat chance of that happening now, with the Blue Jays riding a soul-sapping season-high six-game losing skid into the interleague finale against the Dodgers, further cementing their position at the bottom of the AL East standing.
As the Blue Jays stumble into the second half of the season, the reality is finally beginning to set in with the fans that the team, built to win it all with an eye-popping array of off-season trades and free-agent signings, is a lost cause.
Talk-radio airwaves are filled with the disgruntled – demanding trades, insisting that heads roll as the Blue Jay roll toward a 20th consecutive season without a sniff of the playoffs.
The players themselves, if not ready to admit the end is near, are certainly showing signs that their minds are elsewhere. There have been team meetings to try to clear the air.
Catcher J.P. Arencibia keeps grousing about certain broadcasters who he says have not treated him fairly. This from a guy batting in the neighbourhood of .225 with more than 100 strikeouts.
Earlier this week Arencibia abruptly shut down his Twitter account after complaining that words were being twisted.
Before Wednesday’s game, Blue Jays such as Aaron Loup, Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil and Todd Redmond – all pitchers – were spotted in the clubhouse wearing T-shirts that proclaimed: Nothing Is Given, Everything Is Earned.
On the field, the Blue Jays continue to fail to live up to that credo.
The frustrations for the Blue Jays (45-55) would only mount as they blew a late lead and then wound up dropping an 8-3 decision in 10 innings to the Dodgers (53-47), pushing Toronto’s losing streak to seven in a row.
Rookie reliever Juan Perez had not allowed an earned run in 22 innings this season for the Blue Jays but that came to a sudden halt when Mark Ellis smacked a two-run home run shot to left field to move the Dodgers in front 5-3.
Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig added a solo shot two batters later and the Dodgers wound up battering Perez for five runs.
The Blue Jays failed to hold a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth where the Dodgers came back to score after Toronto centre fielder Colby Rasmus unwisely charged in on a bloop two-out, two-strike single by Andre Ethier. The ball bounced in front of Rasmus and then went over his head, allowing the speedy Puig to score all the way from first base to tie the game at 3-3.
You even get the sense that Alex Anthopoulos, Toronto’s eternally optimistic general manager, is already looking ahead to next season.
Speaking with reporters before the game, Anthopoulos hinted that Brandon Morrow, Toronto’s No. 2 starter, who was being leaned on heavily to help carry the rotation this season, might not be back this year.
“It’s tough because it’s been so long,” Anthopoulos said about the right-hander, who has been out since late May with mysterious right forearm inflammation. “It’s hard to be [optimistic] at this point to be honest. He just hasn’t been able to get it going.”
With the trade deadline looming at the end of this month, Anthopoulos said he isn’t even sure if he will try to make a move that will strengthen his outfit.
“There are some things that are definitely alive,” he said. “They’re a coin flip right now if they’re going to happen but I think they’re conversations that if they don’t get done now they’ll carry into the off-season.”
Chin up, Blue Jay fans. Things can only get better, right?
After all, the Houston Astros, the team with the worst record in the majors, head into town to begin a four-game set against the Jays.
That has got to be worth at least a win or two, right?