It’s been a stressful few days around here. Beyond the fact that there is a lot of transition going on in our lives, Virtute, Gumption and I have been walking on pins and needles trying not to jinx the Blue Jays. We’ve given props and received blessings from Lil B, we’ve written letters asking Taylor Swift to schedule a show in Dallas/Arlington, we have been careful not to walk under ladders or spill salt or misalign our Blue Jays shrine, we’ve tried everything. But after two games it all seemed hopeless. Virtute and I spent a lot of time walking around the house with mopey expressions. Given that we are both inclined to the study of advanced baseball statistics, we were aware that the win-probability for the better team in a short series flattens as the games are played. That means that the best team doesn’t always win – the team that wins always wins.
We pored through the stats. Virtute walked around shaking his head saying, “The Blue Jays have an .OPS over .800 against left handed pitching.” I really felt his malaise. Even though I received the gift of a lifetime when Tim surprised me with tickets for Game #1 of the playoffs, something felt off. The defence did not seem as crisp and the offence seemed to be pressing. It felt a lot like my own struggles to finish my dissertation, apply for jobs, and keep in relatively decent mental and physical shape. The world seem to be collapsing around us. Virtute extolled a whole bunch of baseball theory that he’s brushed up on since joining the flock last season, he’s questioned the strike zone in Game 2 and the decision to keep Estrada on the roster even though his peripherals show he’s been the Jays’ most consistent pitcher. He’s cringed every time the Jays drop a sacrifice bunt, he’s questioned John Gibbons on his use of the bullpen and on his decision to bat Tulo leadoff back in August. He’s a bit of a know-it-all when it comes to in-game strategy. But, none of this had seemed to help.
Gumption, the ever consistent Blue Jays fan since Day #1 (at least since her first game as a kitten) sat with us quietly and patiently. Finally, I had to ask her opinion after the Jays went down 2-0 in the series. Gumption responded somewhat cryptically, “Everyday I go downstairs to eat my kibble. I have a specific approach. I like to eat 3-4 pieces, take a break, maybe wander for a while and then come back to my bowl when I’m ready. I like to do this multiple times over several minutes until I’m full. I know that this is the approach that works best for me. But it also means I contend with Virtute trying to eat my food the minute he sees an opportunity. I don’t resent him for it, that’s the game that we play and I know that he’s too big to push off the bowl. But my strategy over the long-term forces you and Jenny to adapt to my feeding patterns. In fact, the whole house adapts to my feeding patterns. And just when you think I’m over-matched you realize that you’ve actually been playing my game all along and it’s just a matter of time before I come out on top. Nobody puts Gummy in a corner!” And with that quote, we saw the Jays storm back to tie the series at 2-2 and we anxiously await the decisive game on Wednesday. Now the feeling in the house is different. It is relaxed. We all know that win or lose the Jays have played their game to the best of their abilities. They’ve drawn Texas back into our house and our pattern and our city.
Gumption pecks a couple of pieces of kibble out of my hand. We go over the scouting reports for tomorrow’s feeding schedule and she too feels confident that victory is within her grasp.