To be part of a team is to be a part of a group of people with one goal, one mind frame, or one task at hand. The age old (read: Aristotle-old) idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, stands true. Baseball, like most team sports, follows this thought and allows for every member of the team to contribute with their best efforts and come together. Recently, for those of you who have been following the start of the season as I have, you’ve witnessed a team that’s working to build a roster that can endure a season and compete in the Eastern Division while building for a successful future. Naturally the Jays remain a team, regardless of players sent down or called up from Triple-A, new additions to the active roster, deactivations due to injury, or poor game attendance due to the unfamiliarity fans have with such a young and new roster.
I’ve watched for the past two weeks as first baseman Lyle Overbay has struggled at the plate. People at games, on Twitter, and in person, commented and shared their opinions on how they believed it would just be easier to sit him until he could perform. Despite his streak (something he’s struggled with since the start of the regular season) the team and Cito Gaston, have supported Overbay and want to see him improve – for the team and for himself. Last week, Gaston mentioned that sitting Overbay was not an option and that he would remain in the lineup. Overbay commented the same day about feeling good in warm up and in the batting cage but simply couldn’t figure out what the issue was when it came time to perform during the game. He made no excuses for his slump and lack of performance at the plate and simply remarked that he was working daily at getting out of it, which I can imagine, is easier said than done.
Sunday, after the Jays were swept by the Angels and Overbay’s slump remained, five members of the Jays roster sat down to an autograph signing for Season Ticket holders, sporting Overbay jerseys backwards with his name and number on their chests. Shawn Marcum, Scott Downs, Ricky Romero, Vernon Wells, and Casey Janssen all proved that they believe in their teammate with the gesture. How many times have you seen teammates stick together like that? It goes to show what kind of team the Toronto Blue Jays really are and that they support their teammate – no doubt someone some players now call a friend – no matter what opinions other people (read: fans and journalists) have about his play. When I saw that, I recalled what it was like to be a part of a team myself in every sport that I’ve ever played. Win or lose, those people – your teammates – should support their one another, as every action affects every member of the team, for good or bad.
I was watching the game Monday night and simultaneously reading the comments and replies on Twitter (something that has become part of my newest game viewing routine). When Overbay stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 2nd inning, the comments on Twitter from Jays fans were almost too predictable, some using sarcastic tones and others commenting on his recent slump. Well, low and behold, Overbay stepped up to the plate for the 0-1 pitch and smacked a double to left-field. The comments, though some remained sarcastic, flooded my Twitter home page with the news and as stated on the bluejays.com game recap, “Struggling first baseman Lyle Overbay showed signs of life by finishing 2-for-2 with two walks,” which was enough to alter the minds of tough critics, at least for the evening.
Now obviously being part of a team is not only supporting the struggling members of the roster, but with the Blue Jays, it’s a good example that has created a current buzz amongst fans and media. Though the Blue Jays are a professional team and a part of this city, fans often feel as though they are directly affected as part of the team as well. The commitment and emotion that coincides with sincere fandom is often times overbearing, however, if there’s one thing it is – it’s honest and I think that is what makes a true fan. When the team loses, the city loses, the fans lose, and the people feel it; we – this city, this nation – are a team and should support one another though thick and thin. Heck, we have the only (read: ONLY!!) Professional Baseball team in this country, so unless you don’t like baseball, why wouldn’t you?
The Jays are now 9-7 to start the season and have just ended their first homestand. Something I’ve thought about a lot recently is what it was like to experience Rogers Centre nearly full during the Home Opener. To see that many people out to support the team (who for the most part, is still unfamiliar to fans during this building stage) followed by nine games that poor attendance made headlines over the team’s performance was disheartening to say the least. Attendance and criticisms aside, the Jays will keep on playing and the organization will continue to grow. Being a part of a team is often not chosen – like a family – and maintains an unshakable faith and support system for one another. Despite their unfamiliarity to this city and to fans, the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays are a true team with a lot of character and personality; it’s only April and they’ve made that quite clear.