Great Expectations is a first pass at the history of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays, written by two of the team’s best beat reporters, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and the National Post’s John Lott. Positioned as a debrief for disappointed supporters, the book is an inside look at the prodigal Jays and their middling results. General manager Alex Anthopolous and the rest of the lead characters begin the season with great hubris and optimism, and their slow descent to failure is reported with neutrality.
Davidi and Lott have leveraged their close knowledge of the team into a handful of well-drawn character profiles placed alongside an ongoing narrative that begins with the 2012 off-season, and tracks the trades and acquisitions that were supposed to position the team as pennant contenders. They’ve done especially fine work drawing out the introverts, some of whom (like veterans Mark Buehrle and Mark DeRosa) shine through their jock boilerplate to become the most relatable players in the cast.
Still, Great Expectations never overcomes its two-headed narrative problem. The 2013 season is both well-remembered recent history and devoid of a climax, as the team’s dream season just faded away without the benefit of a decisive or tragic reckoning. Because of this, whenever the authors stray from locker room gossip to cover the team’s on-field play, the book struggles to be interesting. And much of the gossip has already been doled out via blog posts and panel shows, leaving the book with little left to do.
Frustrated fans might grow restless with the authors’ refusal to assign even the outline of blame for the team’s dismal showing, but Davidi and Lott don’t have much choice. Their book is appearing so soon after the games have been played that the final word on the 2013 experiment remains unavailable pending the results of future seasons.
Low on story and unwilling to engage in analysis, Great Expectations struggles to be anything more than a memento. It’ll make a decent gift for Blue Jays fans, perhaps handed over with a joke at their expense. Whether they read it or not doesn’t matter.