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Finding Hope in a Daunting Year

In a year filled with fear, insanity and hopelessness, the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays have provided me with one glimmer of hope.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
I hope to see more of this from Vlad Jr. and the rest of the Jays in the playoffs.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a while since I last wrote an article on Bluebird Banter. I will admit: My passion for writing has waned over the years, as it has shifted towards creating electronic music. Occasionally, there are moments that bring me back to the word processor. The Jays clinching the final playoff spot, despite low expectations from virtually everyone before the season began, is one of those moments.

In fact, it’s felt like almost every single day this year has had, at least, one moment that would inspire me to reflect and write upon. However, if I were to write all my thoughts and feelings regarding the events of this past year into one article, then it would comprise of a book the size of Infinite Jest. Still, for my own sake and sanity, I do want to write about a few events this year that effected both myself and my loved ones. Otherwise, writing this article would feel empty to me. As such, before I move forward towards writing up on my thoughts and feelings on the Jays’ season, as well as their upcoming playoff series against the Tampa Bay Rays, I will write up my reflections on a long and chaotic year (so far) that we call 2020.

I’ll start off with the explosion in Beirut back in August. This horrendous event had me concerned for my family living there. Thankfully, I got in touch with them, and they are fine. The pandemic in the US, mixed with the intense wildfires, has me concerned for my family and friends who live in California and the Midwest. As of writing this, they are doing okay, but they constantly tell me their fears about what is to come in the US. They are stressed out beyond belief.

There are so many other events around the world that have made me more concerned about the future I will live in than ever before. I won’t go into much detail, as many of you would already know what is happening or has been happening throughout the world. However, finding hope during these chaotic times has been a challenging endeavor for myself. I have grown more disillusioned with everything I used to take for granted, as the events of this year has shown me the darker sides of humanity from both past and present. This past year has forcefully opened my eyes, so to speak. It is as if I have been experiencing the Ludovico technique every single day. I plead for all of it to stop, but I cannot look away. Reality is blaring right into my brain, making me see the many painful truths about our world. Being constantly bombarded with terrible news, day after day, mixed with a sense of social isolation during quarantine may have put a toll on my mental well-being. However, I don’t think this is the right place to discuss that.

While every day feels like one day closer to the apocalypse, I do think that 2020 has also changed my outlook in life in a positive manner (as crazy as that may sound). For example, the events this year has led me to appreciate the few good moments that arise. In addition, while the darker side of humanity glues more eyeballs to the screen, there are countless moments where I have seen the brighter side of humanity shine through via kindness, love and generosity. While I cannot speak for others, the events of this year have allowed me to more easily separate the genuine angels from the true demons in societies across the globe. My family and friends have been those angels for me, especially my boyfriend, and I can never thank them enough for the support they have provided me during this daunting year. Without them, I probably would have lost my sanity by July.

Having said all that, let’s get back to baseball.

The 2020 Toronto Blue Jays have done a lot in this short season to facilitate an article. Despite all the odds stacked against them, this Jays team doesn’t care and never quits. They are a very fun team to watch, especially when they are hot. They can give you a bunch of 1-run games, interspersed with a bunch of blowouts (both wins and losses). This season has been a stressful roller coaster ride for many of us Jays fans, but a very entertaining one at that.

Need a walk from your lead-off batter? Cavan Biggio can give you just that!

Down by 1 with an out left in the 10th inning? A walk-off 2-run home run from Randal Grichuk will do the trick!

Down by 7 in the first inning of a 7-inning game? Challenge accepted!

The Yankees have a tough line-up? Let’s score 10 runs in an inning against them!

How about an incredible performance from an up-and-coming catcher against the Yankees, as well? Alejandro Kirk will do just that!

A 6-game losing streak in dire need to clinch a playoff spot? No problem! Let’s win 3 out of 4 against the Yankees, all while clinching a playoff spot against the Evil Empire with Ryu on the mound!

There have probably been more memorable moments from this team in 60 games this year than in the previous 486. I didn’t even mention the incredible improvements from the bats of Teoscar Hernandez, Rowdy Tellez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., nor did I mention the surprising improvements from the team’s bullpen (despite the injuries to Giles, Merryweather and Romano). Hyun-jin Ryu has been the stable ace that this team desperately needed throughout the year. The starting rotation beyond Ryu? Well, I won’t talk as much about that, but I did like what I saw from Taijuan Walker and Nate Pearson, at least? Anyway, moving on!

This team is full of young talent that can bring more amazing moments for years to come, especially if Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s bat improves. However, this article is about the 2020 Jays, not the 2021 and beyond Jays. Let’s talk about the playoffs!

In a 3-game series, anything is possible. Despite the difference in talent between the two teams over 60 games, a hot couple of games from the batters and/or pitchers can win one (or more) games. I assume Walker starts Game 1 and Ryu starts Game 2. Personally, I would prefer this to be reversed, but it would be nice to win Game 1 and have Ryu starting Game 2. I do hope Tellez, Romano and Merryweather return from the IL, but I expect maybe one of them to play in this series (at best).

I have respect for the Tampa Bay Rays, as they have been a tough team to beat. The Rays will start Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton for Games 1-3, all of whom would likely be #1 or #2 starting pitchers on this team (and many other teams, too). It will be tough, but the Jays have played teams tough. During their 10 games against one another, most of them were very close.

Realistically, if this were a 5- or 7-game series, I would say that the Rays will likely win it easily. In 3 games, however? I get a sense of hope from this team. I believe there is a decent chance that this team can beat the Rays and move on to the ALDS in San Diego, even if all 3 games are in that abomination of a baseball stadium (I will hold off from consuming any Tropicana products during this series). I believe in this team trying its hardest to succeed, even when the odds are stacked against them. I believe in the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays.

Win or lose, I am glad to finally find some glimmer of hope during these seemingly hopeless times. I’m very proud of this team, and I hope to watch them move forward into building a World Series contender for years to come (or maybe even this year). Despite the insanity of 2020, both in baseball and beyond, I look forward to watching the Jays play playoff baseball again.