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by Brandon Busuttil

Toronto Blue Jays Playoff Hype Video

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.

Redefining the “Time” in Our Nation’s Pastime

By Savannah Malnar

Baseball has a reputation as a relatively relaxing sport, the kind of sport that one enjoys on a summer day with a cold drink. Unfortunately, many people now feel that relaxed pace is boring. Games stretch to three hours long, compared to the classic days when games were roughly two and a half hours long. To counter this growing trend of long games, the owners of MLB teams have one bright idea: make the pitches come faster.

Pitch clocks were first introduced in the Arizona Fall League (an offseason league owned by the MLB where high level prospects play) in 2014 and the average game time dropped almost a full half an hour. These clocks gave the pitcher 20 seconds to get set to get the pitch off after they receive the ball from the catcher, and if they don’t, a ball is added to the batter’s count. With fast-paced culture we live in now, even that reduced game length is a good amount of time for escapism. In fact, a poll of 1,500 people conducted by a blogger for SB Nation showed that more than half of them thought the perfect length of a baseball game would be between 2:30 and 2:45 which aligns perfectly to the average produced by these pitch clocks.

So, perfect, right? Not quite. Unfortunately, MLB pitchers are not used to being rushed at the mound. While this is the case, many sport media outlets highlighted the fact that the MLB actually already has a rule in place for how quickly a pitch should be thrown. Rule 8.04 gives the umpire the right to add a ball to the batter’s count if the pitcher doesn’t pitch within 12 seconds. That’s not even accomplished by even the fastest pitcher (according to Baseball Prospectus), Mark Buehrle of Toronto, who on average gets his pitches flying within 15-16 seconds. Even farther from this official rule are many closers (which makes the end of games drag even longer) and pitchers like Cy Young winner David Price who’s pace is an average 24 seconds, longer than the proposed pitch clock allows.

A concern among the media is that this pitch clock will throw off pitchers like Price. Baseball is an extremely mental game, and these highly trained athletes all have their own routines; some just take longer than others. But it may be time to phase out the waiting game some pitchers play.

The pitch clock will be implemented in Double-A and Single-A minor league games this coming season as a trial run. If the MLB observes a reduce in game time without much sacrifice in game quality, I think we can expect to see the 20 second rule implemented in the Major leagues as soon as 2016.