We are back! Its been a long run without the Fivehundreds, and I know you must have missed it. At first, my absence was strictly about helping the team win games. We were in the middle of what amounted to another 11 game win streak, and as I noted previously, I didn’t want to be responsible for ending two double digit win steaks in one season. After the win streak ended, I was simply busy celebrating our lineup, and planning the victory par-(editor retracted).
Current mood expressed in a song:
Lets take a quick peek at the standings:
I know that it still says "August" at the top of the standings, but it still feels pretty darn good.
Before we get to the upcoming series with the Tigers, lets take a moment and reflect on a couple of things.
Haters and Bandwagon Hoppers
People who hate on your sports team and seem to take no joy in anything are easily the worst people to have in your life. Going on social media to see a litany of fans of terrible sports franchises mocking the Blue Jays addition of Tulo as well as the team’s performance through 100 games was expected. What I have taken great joy in is the addition of Price, which has quickly quieted all of those people down for the last month. This post is for all of those teams that toil in irrelevance that are once again forced to take a backseat as another team makes a move to try and win. These fans are left with their publically funded empty ballparks that they will be pouring tax payer dollars into for the next 30 years so they can watch a subpar product with no chance of ever achieving actual greatness. That felt nice to write out.
The jays are 27-9 since the All-Star break, and over that period of time they have:
Wasted the Minnesota Twins, sweeping a series in early August to overtake the Twins in the wildcard a team we are currently 6 games up on just over 3 weeks later
Showed excellent pitching in sweeping the Yankees in the Bronx, winning in the exact fashion that all season the fivehundreds has bemoaned the inability to do. When you sweep a division rival to overtake them for the lead by winning a series and giving up 1 run over 3 games, there has been a considerable change in the team. Dare I say the Meatball Baseball loving Blue Jays died that weekend in the Bronx, and a new team emerged.
Beat the teams we were supposed to beat. The Jays are 7-3 against the Athletics and Phillies over the last two months. While this isn’t anything to go wild about, you can’t make the post season if you don’t clean up against bottom of the league opponents. Winning a big series against a division rival only to turn around and lose a series to a 5th place club is the best way to crush momentum and spirits. I know this from watching the Jays for the better part of the last twenty years. This team has avoided an emotional letdown from bringing in new players, passing the Yankees, and even playing in sold out parks every night.
Had a Californian vacation – rarely is going out to Anaheim as relaxing for a ball club as this past weekend was for the Jays. By sweeping Anaheim who started the series 3 games behind the Jays and in control of the 2nd wild card, the Jays once again beat up the team closest to them in the standings at the start of the series. I can’t imagine what being a fan of the Angels must have felt like during the series. The Jays put up 36 runs in three games against a team that has legitimate post-season aspirations. As a fan, if a team came into the Rogers Center in late August and beat the breaks off the Jays for 36 runs over a weekend it would be very hard to believe that your team has any sort of realistic chance of winning in the post season. Now, I will be the first to acknowledge that fandom can lead to believing things that aren’t really there… but this was the rudest of awakenings for Angels fans, who are likely tucking their Angels gear in the back of the closet for the remainder of the season and putting on their Dodgers gear as I write this.
One final Angel’s series thought. Coming in to the weekend everyone was talking about how great Donaldson was playing, but how Trout was still the MVP of the American League. Fast-forward a week, and that race is very much Donaldson’s for the taking. After going 8 of 13 with 9 RBI and a Home Run in the head to head match up, Donaldson’s performance and the attention south of the border the Blue Jays are attracting make him a viable threat.
It also gave me a reason to include this season compilation video of some of his more memorable plays:
So, to the Blue Jay's Bandwagon Fans..... First things first:
Well I can’t say that you have been missed, I welcome you back with open arms! There is always room for more people who genuinely want to see the team succeed, and get sucked up in the positive energy being created. The more people wearing Jays hats and supporting the team across Canada the better. A couple of quick caveats:
You aren’t welcome if you were one of those people who we discussed before who seems to take no joy from the world and has previously been a Jays hater. Those people are relegated to watching Cleveland Indians games and dreaming of farm team pitchers that likely will never materialize.
You aren’t welcome if you are going to come to home games and not pay attention to the game or just stare at your phone. There are lots of fans that want to get in the building because they love baseball and the Jays. I get that you have paid your money, but please stay home if your instagram feed is more important to you than the game.
Those situations aside, it has been such a fun month to connect with family and friends across the country. I will be spending tonight and tomorrow at the Rogers center with a collection of family and friends and I can’t wait. To those of you still on the fence, come and join us!
Lets keep the good vibes going with a Canadian rock and roll song to unite us all!
What I wasn’t aware of is that I equally enjoy watching fans turn the tables on a player. When Bautista went yard against the Yankees in the Bronx, a Yanks fan decided to throw the ball back on the field, hitting left fielder Brett Gardner squarely in the head.
The Yankees, currently in need of some starting pitching help are rumored to be in entry-level negotiations with the individual.
No one likes to focus on defense, but the current version of the Blue Jays are saving runs all over the park with stellar defensive plays. The edition of Ben Revere has largely been slept on because of the magnitude of attracting Price and Tulo to the team, but Revere has addressed a huge need in terms of bottom of the line up hitting as well as defensive plays.
In the Texas series alone, Revere’s Spiderman catch and running snag yesterdaywere worthy rivals to some of the plays Pillar has made during the season. Together, Pillar and Revere give the Jays incredible coverage in the field, and while Bautista isn’t on the level he was a year or two ago in terms of field, collectively the team is miles ahead of a Melky, Rasmus, Bautista unit that lined up together last season.
While Tulo continues to struggle at the plate, his defensive improvement over Reyes is enormous. While the Jays have added and strengthened both the bullpen and the starting pitchers, part of the improved runs against can be attributed to the improved defense, and the confidence that must give the pitching staff to go out and deliver.
There has been some speculation that Playing Tulo in the lead off spot is a waste of his skills and ability to bring in runs. While having him lead off clearly isn’t leading to his best success, the bottom third of the Jays order has been on fire, and Tulo has repeatedly been up to bat in big moments. Given the way Revere is playing, I wouldn’t mind to see him lead off the line up and move Tulo down to the 5th position, but I understand Gibbons hesitation to make any changes to the club right now.
I had a chance to see Price pitch against the Yankees last weekend. Although the Jays blew the game late, it was easily the most electric game I have ever attended at the Rogers Center. The sellout crowd was loud and engaged in the play. It was clear that Price didn’t have his best stuff, but he still battled the entire game into the 8th inning, ultimately being responsible for giving up 3 runs. It is always nice to see an ace dominate a game, but in some ways I was more appreciative of this performance because it was clear that he wasn’t locating as precisely as he wanted or is used to. Price gave up hits and missed some big pitches, but never once did he stop competing or wearing down the Yankee batters. It was truly a veteran performance from one of the games best pitchers.
I’ve purposely not written about the series with the Royals, and the atrocious ejection of Aaron Sanchez, and the even more ridiculous called third strike on Donaldson in the bottom of the inning. That was an absolute joke of an umpiring job. I very much enjoyed Edinson Volquez trash talking Donaldson from the dugout. The last time we saw a team come in to Toronto and trash talk Donaldson it was the Anaheim Angels, who might be thinking twice about that decision this week. Here is to hoping that we have the opportunity to return the favor to Edinson in October.
This weekend I will be at the Friday night and Saturday afternoon games against the Tigers. This is another one of those series that the Jays need to take care of business after a very successful run on the road. I’m looking forward to the sold out atmosphere of watching a first place team close in on September.
Going forward, the Fivehundreds is going to have shorter more frequent posts to capture the mood/sentiment of the day to day race for the division as well as having a comments section on every post so you can share your thoughts as well.