April is upon us and that means the return of Major League Baseball. To preview the new season, Billboard.com spoke to a panel of baseball fans from around the music world for a team-by-team preview of their favorite squads.
The musician: Dallas Green, the singer-songwriter behind the indie folk outfit City and Colour (and formerly the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire) was named after a former big league manager (Dallas Green, who managed the Phillies to a World Series title in 1980) so it’s obvious he comes from a big baseball family. He grew up in the Toronto area and has been following the Blue Jays since the days of their early-90s World Series wins. The Jays haven’t been back to the playoffs since, but he’s kept the faith.
The team: The Blue Jays were a trendy pick to win it all last year after trading for high-payroll stars like Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Everything went wrong. The team was plagued by injuries and inconsistency and finished last in the A.L. East. They’re an old team — so their window is quickly closing — but if all goes right the Blue Jays are a formidable opponent, at least on paper.
Previously in this series:
Dropkick Murphys Talk Boston Red Sox
Hold Steady & Baseball Project Talk Minnesota Twins
Jimmy Eat World Talk Arizona Diamondbacks
Yo La Tengo & So So Glos Talk New York Mets
New Found Glory Talks Miami Marlins
Asher Roth Talks Philadelphia Phillies
Asher Roth and the Baseball Project Talk San Francisco Giants
Joan Jett Talks Baltimore Orioles
Pete Wentz & The Mountain Goats Talk Chicago Cubs
R.E.M.’s Mike Mills Talks Atlanta Braves
David Nail Talks St. Louis Cardinals
What was it like watching the Blue Jays win the World Series in 1992 and 1993 when you were still a young fan?
Dallas Green: It was a wonderful ignorance. Ignorance in a sense that all I really felt was the emotion of the game. I was still learning about the politics, the ins and outs of the professional side of things. I didn’t yet understand that there was a business at the forefront. To sit with my father and have him explain things to me while the team was also winning was exceptional! But it was also a curse, because I just expected to be a fan of a winning team that would always win. Little did I know….
What was the vibe like in Toronto after all the big stars the team brought in last year?
DG: The Jays really went all-in last year. Not only with the big trade and free agent acquisitions, but also with a barrage of media hype. The city was in dire need of a sports team to rally around after years in the dirt with the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Jays and we dove head first into a sea of blue and white! Which I think made the season much harder to swallow.
They were a huge disappointment, but they have almost all the same players coming back this year. Do you think they can sneak up on some people?
DG: I think having last season in the rearview mirror will really help the team ease into the season. No one is expecting them to do well and I don’t think they can do any worse so we may surprise some teams! Hopefully we will have more luck fighting off the injury bug as well.
What will it take for them to make a playoff run this year?
DG: Pitching! We had more people throw a baseball last year than any other team. It was a constant, ever-changing line up of a rotation. And they never really found their groove. I think we’ve got enough power in the line up to hit with anybody in the league. So we just need our pitchers to keep us in it.
It was really a cruel twist of fate for Jose Reyes to injure himself during his first at bat this year.
DG: Jose Reyes is key. Not only is he a great defensive player, but he’s our leadoff man. And he’s a great one at that when he’s healthy. He seems to just know how to get on base. If we can keep him in there than we have a fighting chance. I think he missed 60 or 70 games last year? Fuck!
How do you think the Blue Jays will finish last year?
DG: Well, I’m a pretty glass half empty kind of guy when it comes to everything in my life, like when it comes to my songwriting and all of that. But sports is where I’m always feeling like my team is going to snap out of it, so I’m going to say that they are finish third in the division. They’re going to do better than they did last year.
What do you think about the other teams in your division this year?
DG: I’m terrified of Tampa because — I don’t know if you know — but we haven’t won a series in Tampa since 2007. And we just split the opening series with them too, but we haven’t won a series there. So whenever I watch them I think of them as the best team in the league because they always beat the shit out of out of us.
Check back on Billboard.com tomorrow when Jim Suptic of the Get Up Kids previews the Kansas City Royals