I remember as a baseball fan back in the 80's looking forward to this time of year, not just for spring training news, but also for the release of Street and Smith's Baseball Annual and Bill Mazeroski Baseball, that were for me at that time, the best and most thorough information for previewing and ranking teams for the upcoming season. It was also in these magazines where I would learn a little bit about the minor league talent that was knocking at the door for the major league clubs. It made me feel like I was an insider! I am sure there was more information out there, but compared to today it wasn't readily available for your average consumer.
The wealth of information at our fingertips now is ridiculous thanks to the internet. You can visit one website alone and find out more about any team in an hour than you could ever know back in the 80's and 90's. It is an amazing thing. My personal favourite source of information these days is Twitter. By following your teams players on Twitter you really start to get a sense for the clubhouse dynamic and learn a lot more about the players real personalities. It really takes you beyond the stats and let's you see a little more about the type of person and teammate they are.
As I follow the 2012 Blue Jays I am starting to feel like great things are happening. It's not the media feeds or Paul Beeston's bold predictions that are swaying my enthusiasm. It is the Twitter window into the clubhouse dynamic that is fueling my optimism. There seems to be a real sense of team growing with this group and I believe that is in large part to the personalities that are being pieced together by AA. Does this type of team chemistry equate to wins or does it make it easier to lose (not that losing is ever easy) knowing that you are surrounded by good guys who play their heart out?
I think both are distinctly possible outcomes.
There of course have been championships won by dysfunctional clubhouses, but if you take the right chemistry and combine it with the right talent then I do believe that will translate into the Wins column.
I am hoping that this is last time anyone writes about Prince Fielder playing in Toronto (I am sure you are too! Sorry.), but what I am going to write is not about Prince so much as it is about the intangible needs that he would have addressed for this team. I waffled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to see him in a Blue Jays uniform, and ultimately I thought yes. The obvious reason was that it would have been a serious upgrade in production and consistency at 1B, but there were two other factors that really swayed my opinion.
1. Clubhouse presence. I just can't imagine how upbeat the 2012 Jays would have been with Prince in the mix. Lawrie's boost to the teams attitude, confidence and energy was immediate and I think together they would have fed off each other providing the type of spark needed to get through 162 games. It would have been something to see.
2. Confidence and Knowing how to win. These are intangibles that you can't just find and can take a long time to build. Prince would have brought these in spades from Milwaukee.
Knowing how to win is something that the 2012 Jays need more than anything. If you watched any of the series against Tampa Bay or Boston last year then you saw that knowing how to win was the 2011 Blue Jays Achilles heel. Without bringing in veteran proven winners to support the club, the onus will be on the players and the coaches to turn the corner by translating last years experience into a lesson in winning.
There is no denying that not every piece of the puzzle is in place, but the clubhouse seems poised to take that next step and the fans have every right to be optimistic as the wealth of information about this team indicates great things on the horizon. Follow them on Twitter if you want see some of this first hand.
@RickyRo24 @JoeyBats19 @blawrie13 @jparencibia9 @CaseyJanssen @EThames14 @Lunchboxhero45 @2Morrow23