What are you up to this weekend? Big plans? If not, maybe you can swing by the Rogers Centre and try out for the Toronto Blue Jays. They could use you.
You won’t need a glove. You needn’t be in great shape. You don’t really have to understand how baseball works, or the ‘rules’.
Because straight out of the gate this team is in an ‘any warm body will do’ mindset. You’re warm, right?
Once you get through Gate 9, tell the security guard you’re interested in being the Toronto Blue Jays’ new designated hitter. They don’t have one of those any more. It is difficult to field an American League baseball team without one. So that gives you an in.
Kendrys Morales was the DH (not that he was much good at it). The Jays spent most of spring training telling people that Morales’s baseball talent wasn’t nearly as important as his ability to be a spirit animal to young Latino talent. Then they fired him a few hours before he showed up for the first day of work.
That is bold and decisive leadership. Morales-esque leadership.
Through some sort of mix-up, outfield prospect Anthony Alford convinced himself he’d made the team.
“Excited to experience my first opening day in Toronto,” Alford posted to social media. “#blessings.”
Actually, #curses. Alford is out. Rowdy Tellez is in. Low-level confusion already reigns. One senses the emergence of a theme.
Is Tellez the new, full-time DH? Absolutely not.
“Everybody’s going to get a chance at the DH spot,” new manager Charlie Montoyo said ahead of Thursday’s home opener.
Everybody? Is that really how baseball is meant to work at this level? Because I’d heard different.
If the security desk isn’t interested in your designated-hitter sob story, leave, put on a fake moustache, return a half-hour later and tell them you’d like to be the set-up man out of the bullpen.
“We’ll see,” Montoyo said. “We don’t know who will pitch in the eighth yet.”
You. You could. Just tell them that. Channel Kendrys Morales while you do it.
Really, you can take a very broad approach here. The Jays could use a blood transfusion up and down the lineup. You have blood, right?
If they don’t want to hear the sense of your positional suggestions, tell them you are willing to leave if the Jays agree to pay you not to play for them.
They’re doing that a lot now. It’s the hot thing. Currently, the team’s three highest paid employees – Morales, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin – do not work for it. This season, Toronto will fork over nearly US$50-million to various baseball-player-shaped men who do not play baseball in Canada.
All you’re looking for is, like, four- or five-hundred grand. It’s a rounding error. Tell them you’ll take a cheque.
If you want to make a positive impression, remember not to use the word “rebuilding.” You’re not there to participate in a rebuilding process. You’re there to win.
“We wake up every day thinking about winning,” Jays general manager Ross Atkins said.
“Nobody in there is thinking about rebuilding,” Montoyo said. “We’re going to play to win.”
I know, I know, this is hard to credit. You’re going to have to do some Meryl Streep-with-a-Polish-accent-level acting to carry off this ‘winning’ jape.
But just look at Montoyo, the poor sap. A few hours into his first day as a big-league ship’s captain and he’s already dead behind the eyes. However, he’s sticking to the script.
“If you come to the games, it’s going to be an exciting team.”
(By exciting, Montoyo means this team will surprise you. With its awfulness.)
“Young guys. The future’s here. And the future’s coming, too.”
(And if the future doesn’t show up or if the future is unwatchable, you’ll be hearing more about the future for the forseeable future. The future really is limitless, in that it allows people to avoid talking about the present.)
“I’m excited to manage this team.”
(And maybe, in a pinch, play for it.)
Be Charlie Montoyo. And Kendrys Morales. Be both at the same time.
In retrospect, they should have traded Morales on Friday. That way they could’ve used him during Thursday afternoon’s home opener against the equally wretched Detroit Tigers. Particularly during the introductions.
Some teams turn the soil of their roster in the off-season. The Jays have scorched the earth. Very few fans in attendance – and this would be the hard-core who’d skipped work – appeared to know who anybody was.
Aaron Sanchez got a big hurrah in the early going. The second-leading, non-starting cheer-getter? Team trainer Nikki Huffman.
She is at least possible to pick out of a lineup.
See, you could do that. Be anonymous and not that great at baseball. You should lean hard on that angle – that you’re really happy to blend in and be a team player. Strike out a bunch. Throw really filthy, breaking stuff. So filthy, it ends up in the stands nearly every time.
The pregame ceremonies were nice and, in all likelihood, the highlight of the season. They had a science-fiction theme, with the faceless Jays emerging from what seemed like the bay door of a spaceship. (Makes wide, open-armed gesture toward heavens). The future.
But since no one had any choice, the baseball season eventually had to begin
There are two ways of looking at a game that went hitless for the first five innings – very high quality or very low. I have my theories. It was, at least, mercifully quick. Until extra innings turned a bad game into a marathon of incompetence. The Jays lost 2-0.
The building was almost full. Not quite, but close. By tomorrow, it will be largely empty and will stay that way all year.
“After [opening day] is over, here we go,” Montoyo said. “It’s a grind.”
You can grind. You’re probably grinding right now.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that you are the answer to all the Jays problems. Anonymous, somewhere from mediocre to bad at baseball, overpaid at any price.