WILD finish for Blue Jays

on October 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

At the end of it all, after the 162-game marathon that was the Toronto Blue Jays’ season, it didn’t matter how they got into the playoffs, just that they did. With the final putout, there most likely was no shout of jubilation or even a small fist pump. Instead of a high five amongst your friends, it was probably more of a collective sigh of relief. That’s how I felt this weekend. I was more worried about the Jays losing than I was excited about them winning. It took some time for me to realize however, how wrong my way of thinking was. This is something special and it should be celebrated. Making the playoffs in baseball is one of the hardest accomplishments in sports. Our very own Jays suffered two decades of not doing it and to be successful in back-to-back years, well… let’s enjoy it while we can.

I think people are so focused on having lost the AL East title to the Boston Red Sox that they forgot how good of a season the Blue Jays had, despite being a flawed team. The Jays were there all along until the Red Sox got hot and went on that long 11 game winning streak, something the Jays failed to do this year. Yes, our bull pen had issues throughout the year. Yes, the Blue Jays offence was so bad at times the only place you could consistently find it was on a milk carton. We questioned and second guessed every single decision made by the management team off the field and everything Gibbons decided on the field. From the preseason contract negotiations (or lack thereof) with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, to the everyday batting lineup and to whatever the heck that was with Aaron Sanchez and protecting his arm.

But through it all, we can’t forget the positives that happened this year too. The management team of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins were ridiculed for some of their moves and yet throughout the season those moves did pay off in the long run. They signed J.A. Happ who won 20 games. They brought in Jason Grilli, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Biagini to help stabilize the bull pen and for the most part they were successful. They even brought in lefty Francisco Liriano who could be a huge help if also moved to the bull pen for the playoffs. Another positive is that they are one of only two teams this year to have a winning record in six different categories. The Jays have a winning record at home, on the road, and also against the American League East, Central and West divisions and also in interleague play. The only other team to do that this year was the Chicago Cubs who won an impressive 103 games this year.

So be happy. The Blue Jays are in a position that 10 other teams in the AL wish they were in. Be happy as we have had the last 10 days of nail biting, exciting baseball, with at the very least, one more to come. There is no guarantee that the Blue Jays will beat the Orioles on Tuesday, but you can discuss the pros and cons of having just one game decide the Wild Card winner another time. In fact, I wish MLB would take a page out of the soccer leagues around the world where it is more prestigious to win the season than it is their version of “playoffs” which equates to the FA Cup in England or the Coppa Italia in Italy. I’ll never understand how winning a best-of-seven series is more valued than winning a 162 game series, but this is the North American mentality.

So I understand how much luck is involved in a one game, do-or-die scenario. But let’s not think about that today. Today, let’s appreciate how our team endured a gruelling, up and down season. How they did manage to take 2/3 from Boston who were trying to win to get home advantage in their match up with Cleveland. I know it feels that the Jays played poorly but some of that is because we are comparing them to the expectations created by how they finished last season. Not only is that an unfair criticism, but all it accomplishes is to take away the little time you have to enjoy this year’s winning feeling. Remember, the Jays may have had a terrible September, but they are perfect in October! If that doesn’t get you cranked up for this Tuesday night’s showdown then maybe this will. Should the Jays prevail in their one game series versus the Orioles, then there will be a 5 game series against the much hated Texas Rangers where bat flips, punches and fireworks are sure to boil over. I can’t wait.

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