What a month September was! Contrary to what I wrote at the end of August… shorter, more concise posts did not materialize at all. This was the result of an exam taking over most of my life for most of September. I choose to watch the games as opposed to write about them, so for that I apologize. But oh how much fun!
Mood in Song Form
You might think that I would save this song for winning a playoff series, or even hopefully the World Series. You would be incorrect. It’s been a long time, and we need to enjoy this one! I strongly encourage you to try and enjoy it as much as Muni has been:
Too many great things have happened in the past month to comment on, so I’ve picked a couple of topics to cover before writing a playoff preview, or a game one and two divisional round recap (both of which may not happen given my track record over the past two months).
Lets cut right to the chase. We are Division Champions for the first time since 1993! Amazing. This team has been struck by lightning ever since the All-Star break and being along for the ride has been unlike any other sporting experience I have had. The day in and day out nature of baseball combined with the fact that I moved to Toronto and have been able to attend some of the biggest moments of the season has been exhilarating. This team is full of likeable team first players that you really want to cheer for. Casual fans can’t help but get sucked in, and serious fans find themselves justifying purchases of David Price jerseys by telling themselves that maybe he will see the sales numbers and it could contribute to him staying with the team next year (In case you were wanting to join in).
Everything has come up Blue Jays for the past two and half months and I love it! I hate to say this, but this is all going to be over one way or another at some point in the next 5 weeks so we should all be enjoying this experience this week and relishing in our division title.
So with our first division title in ages under our belts, its time to touch on the celebrating that the team has done. I have long been a proponent of celebrating the little victories in life, and don’t have a problem for one second with the level of youthful exuberance the team has shown when first securing the playoff spot, and when winning the division. While it has been a fun ride from the outside, this team has gone from underachiever to the class of the MLB over two and a half months all while adding a considerable amount of new players to the clubhouse. The pressure and expectations on the players hasn’t been this high likely since 1993. I think as a fan we would all be lying if we didn’t think that this team was due for a lull at some point after the excitement of adding Price and Tulo to the team, and while it never really came, the team certainly had been grinding full time to get across the finish line. I think a two game breather the likes of which Gibby provided the starters after securing the division was a fantastic idea. Allowing the team to celebrate and have some fun, become even closer (if that is possible) and still have 5 games to play out at a high level before the post season begins makes sense from a mental perspective.
Media types (people who get paid far less than I do to write this blog… espn, tsn, etc etc) have been critical of the Blue Jays. So, I’ve decided to rebut some of these arguments. Here we go:
Celebrating will lead to a lack of focus -almost all teams celebrate division titles in this manner, and I have a feeling that what we saw on tv wasn’t too much different from standard post game activities for guys like Delabar and Gibby… Two teams celebrate winning their respective leagues each year, and like clock work one team wins the world series and one loses, so I guess math/science tells us that this helps the Jays 50%, while hurting them 50% in terms of impacting future results. Further to this point, you may have noticed the Budweiser and Oakley sponsorships blanketing the player’s celebratory environment. These celebrations are essentially corporate initiatives to have their products intertwined with a live sporting event. All teams do it because the MLB wants to sell the rights to the celebration, so lay off the Jays.
The Jays should act like they have been there before – These Jays haven’t been there before. In fact, the club hasn’t really been that close either. The organization just broke a streak of futility that has been repeatedly thrown in its face every August or September for 22 years. I don’t buy this argument in almost any experience in life. Keep living Blue Jays.
Athletes should be better role models and shouldn’t drink or smoke on tv –This one is cut and dry. Athletes clearly shouldn’t do this because it is illegal. Pardon? Oh, its not… Hmmm…. Well drinking and smoking must be the most offensive thing on tv then? Not even close…. well. I just don’t like it.
There you have it. The most logical conclusion for all three of these complaints is that the complainer simply doesn’t like it. To those people, I hope there is a heck of a lot more complaining coming from you over the next month as that will mean great things for the Blue Jays and myself.
I’m getting a little worked up on unsweetened Ice Tea as I write this (incase an opportunity for a trip to see the Jays on the road somewhere south materializes) and think its time to get into another conversation that has been bothering me. Let me paraphrase a comment I received from a bitter Yankee fan this week:
“Since when is it acceptable for a player to run around the bases with one of his arms out in the air and not get hit in the head the next time he is up to bat? Edwin is out of control and needs to get plunked. This goes against baseball code.”
To all readers of thefivehundreds, if you find yourself echoing this sentiment I suggest you immediately head to your local doctor to have your hearing checked, your vital organs monitored, insure your will and estate are in order and tell your remaining loved ones how you feel about them because you likely are over the age of 100 and don’t have much time left. This must be the same "code" that tells you to drink prune juice and watch the price is right.
In this case, the person is in his 40s, and I can only assume that his hatred of the Blue Jays is blinding his ability to recognize that baseball is supposed to be entertaining and enjoyable watching. When Edwin goes yard entire sections of the Rogers Center throw up the wing. I fully expect to see live parrots in the stadium next Thursday night for the first divisional round game. Baseball purists need to cool it with the holier-than-thou attitude to things like this. Bat flips, Edwings and closers over exaggerated strike out celebrations all bring more emotion and in turn importance and energy to the sport. Further, to those who want to plunk Edwin, just wait until he has Tulo protecting him in the line up moving forward.
Winning in Baltimore was fantastic. Bautista getting a hit off of O’Day in game one for the come back win was a fitting full circle from the antics at the beginning of the year. Baltimore was a team that I have taken particular enjoyment from beating this season and to beat their best pitcher late felt like a nice piece of closure on the rivalry (of course only for this year as I fully expect O’Day to plunk Joey early next year). Yes O’Day put together some nice games in the summer and got the best of Bautista from time to time, but Joey has consistently stepped up and owned O’Day in the biggest moments.
Watching Buck Showalter, Adam Jones and the rest of the Orioles have to sit there and take it as the Jays laid it on heavily before closing out the divison was also a highlight. There is nothing quiet like getting drummed at home in an empty park by a division rival so they can secure the divison to make you question your decisions through the year. I hope Jones, O’Day and Showalter get together and watch the Blue Jays post season games together while longingly sharing a bucket of Haagen-Dazs ice cream and questioning their actions over the course of the season.
Tillman actually threw a good game against the Jays this week! The Jays still won, but it must have felt like a massive moral victory for him. Which brings me to the point of this… Bad teams take moral victories, while good teams take wins. As Jays fans, we have all had enough moral victories to know this is true.
Pillar’s diving catch in Tampa Friday night was one of his best of the season and that is saying a lot. His bat and defensive combination right now is performing well above what I thought his ceiling was this time last year.
People who are “baseball fans” who don’t like home run celebrations probably don’t like things like this:
Get ready for the postseason. This should help you get in the mood
Next week I will be in the Rogers center for hopefully part of game one and game two on Friday night. I hope to have a full recap of the experience over Thanksgiving weekend.