After the euphoria of taking the Toronto Blue Jays to Montreal and fulfilling the Canadian duty of bringing awareness to the baseball world that Expos baseball can become a league mainstay in the future, the reality of Opening Day now starts to set in.
It’s a brand new season, and a clean slate for most. That said, all eyes will be on starting pitcher R.A. Dickey and the mounting pressure to perform as this club’s ace. Blue Jays fans are more than willing to give the knuckleballer a second chance to prove that Alex Anthopoulos‘ franchise-altering trade will end up on a positive note.
However, therein lies the problems of the past. The Jays’ brass, along with its fans, allowed emotion play the lead role last season.
I will give any organization credit for going all-in, as MLB‘s playoff structure sets any team up for failure from the very beginning. After 2013, many would agree that Dickey might have been the wrong hand to go all-in on. That said, he does deserve another look, as his second half was remarkably better than his pre-All-Star showing.
Still, anything less than a consistently strong Dickey throughout 2014 will be treated like a lamb to the slaughter. Toronto sports fans may be forgiving apologists when it comes to the city’s hockey team, but for the baseball fanatics, the claws will come out if failure rears its ugly head again.
The long haul of 162 games does not make for a life and death situation Monday afternoon in Tampa, but the opener will result in one of two things: reaffirmed optimism, or continued head-shaking. Keep one eye on Dickey, and the other on the Mets’ boxscores.