Jose Bautista’s bat-flip like a tomahawk will be marked down as one of the many high points of the Blue Jay’s 2015 season. For a city and a team that has suffered a dearth of sports victories for over a decade, it was well-needed with #cometogether being Toronto’s rallying cry. However The Jays needed those defeats, those losses to make the emotional impact of their near storyific rise.
Toronto Sports Franchises are always losing
In many narratives, a great way to show the plight and dangers the protagonist(s) face is, with the page one starting with ‘everything sucks’ or all the tougher and better allies of said protagonist(s) having their asses kicked. For example in Mulan, her and the rest of her ‘army’ were only reserves until they come across the defeat of the bigger and (more competent) Chinese army.
As a whole, Toronto has a miserable time with its sports franchises. The Leafs who haven’t won a Stanley cup in nearly half a century suffered a humiliating defeat to the Boston Bruins by blowing a 4-1 lead, the Toronto Raptors were plastered by the Washington Wizards. Toronto sports psyche is currently a miserable thing.
The Blue Jays have always losing
One of the most common ways to raise tensions is to call in a hero whose current situation or history is spotty and full of failures. It’s a great way to shake any sense of faith that they will prevail, and makes their journey all the more dangerous. In Alan Moore’s “A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” Mina Harker’s quest to find the famed Allan Quatermain to save England, leads to finding an opium-addicted Allan in the slums of Cairo.
Despite Jose Bautista being with the Blue Jays since 2008, they haven’t won yet, just like every Toronto sports team. The Jays for all their promise, are still a team whose last world series is so far back that those who weren’t even born then are now old enough to drink.
2015 Blue Jays have Lost
The Hero’s own journey may not be the most victorious either which is par for the course of any narrative requiring pacing and conflict. For example, in the Fellowship of the Ring suffered mishap after mishap in their quest to take the ring to Mordor and was quickly stripped down to only Sam and Frodo to take the ring to Mordor.
In July of 2015, the Blue Jays were trailing behind the New York Yankees by 8 games. In the run up to the ALDS, the Jays were trailing 2-0 in a best of 5 against the Texas Rangers. Now the Jays are still playing and playing hard in the ALDS.
But the Blue Jays can still win
In every example listed above, there is a (mostly) happy ending. In the narrative of the Blue Jays, it’s not just any sports team, but a team that hasn’t smelt victory for 22 years now has pretty gaming chances of winning and lifting up a city that is used to losing. All sports stories can be dramatic and Hollwoodish, but only if there is drama and a real sense that they can lose. In the Vancouver Olympics, Men’s Hockey Golde-Medal game. The Canadian victory over the United States was all the sweeter because the Canadians had lost to the U.S. in a previous match and the winning goal was an overtime shot by the Canadian team captain and star Sidney Crosby. In the same way, the Jays have a chance to win, and the nail-biting drama from their less than stellar record will only make it all the sweeter.