by Brandon Busuttil
The hottest team in Major League Baseball is no doubt, the one Canadian team there is: the Toronto Blue Jays. This team has shown it all season long that they can hit. Game after game, home run after home run. These guys can get it done in the hit and run column.
It is amazing the transformation that this team has gone through this MLB season and it seems to be a hot topic for all baseball analysts and fans. At one point right around the beginning of the summer the Blue Jays were sitting at 4th place in the AL East, a few games below .500 and it looked like this was going to be a similar season to the one they had the past season. Talk on the street was that this team, with some good hitters, was going to struggle to even try and make the wildcard spot with pitching being a weakness. The team got their act together midway through the summer getting to around a .500 average. Media and fans were wondering if that was going to be enough to get a team with a 22-year playoff drought into the postseason.
At the end of July everything for the Blue Jays changed. Acquiring ace pitcher David Price would be a game changer, but he wasn’t the only one. They also acquired Ben Revere, all-star short stop Troy Tulowitzki and other supporting players that would take large roles in relief pitching. Something for the Blue Jays changed after these moves and made them the team to beat. A 10 game winning streak that took place in August pushed the Blue Jays into battling the Yankees for 1st place in the AL East, which they successfully won.
For the first time in 22 years the Toronto Blue Jays are in the playoffs and not only is Toronto loving it, but all of Canada is loving it. Players and coaches of not only the Blue Jays, but any team that had to play the Blue Jays in the final 21 home games of the season have spoke on how insane it is to play at the Rogers Centre. For the final 21 home games of the season, 20 of them were sold out crowds of around 50,000 people.
It is going to be interesting to see how a team, city and country with a lack of playoff experience will perform in this situation. The Toronto Raptors used to be the talk of the town with their ability to make the playoffs two years in a row, but still could not get over the hump of getting through to the second round. Now, not only has the Toronto Blue Jays made the playoffs, but they are also picked as a favorite to win the World Series. If we take a step back in history, the last time the Blue Jays were favored to win the World Series was in 1993 (22 years ago) when they won their last World Series (part of the back-to-back World Series championships) and the last time they made playoffs.
Canadians are expecting a lot of their team this postseason. Even with the expectations, there is no worry with the Blue Jays’ ability to play in front of a post-season crowd. In reference to the past 21 games of sold out crowds (minus one game) John Gibbons (Blue Jays Manager) had this to say about the crowd in the late part of the season: “From pitch one, everybody’s been on their feet, really into it. I don’t know how it can be much different, to be honest with you, as loud as it’s been, as enthusiastic as they’ve been.” From hearing this it sure sounds like a dare to every Blue Jays fan in the stadium and beyond.