The AL East champs are uniting a city and rallying a nation
Photo: CC, Arturo Pardavilla III
The Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first American League (AL) East division title since 1993 in Baltimore on Sept. 30. The boys in blue and white now sit comfortably in first place and are ready to enter the 2015 MLB playoffs starting Oct. 8.
Had the question whether or not the Jays would make the playoffs been asked at the beginning of this season, a fairly unanimous ‘no’ would have resonated throughout their fanbase. Toronto had gone 50-51 by the All-Star break and needed at least 90 wins in the season to secure a spot in the playoffs, which meant that they would have to win 65 per cent of their remaining 60 games.
But having the numbers stacked against them wasn’t enough to stop them. After successful trades in July, the Blue Jays welcomed star players David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, who immediately clicked with the Jays’ core of top-tier players like José Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, and later, Marcus Stroman. The addition of Price and Tulowitzki made the team unstoppable in late summer.
Fast forward to Sept. 30, the day Toronto played their decisive match against the Baltimore Orioles. The game only reiterated what Toronto fans already knew—the Jays were arguably the best in the league. With a whopping 15-2 win, clinching the AL East was nothing short of a miracle considering the state of the team a few months prior. A record of 42-14 to close the season put the Jays on the radar across the league.
Not only does the team now have a shot at winning the World Series, its players are also likely to win a few awards themselves. Josh Donaldson, starting third baseman, is currently the front-runner for the AL’s Most Valuable Player Award. Starting Pitcher David Price is also the favourite for his second career AL Cy Young Award, which is handed to the top pitcher of the year.
Although clinching the playoffs is great for the Blue Jays, the pride behind this recent win goes beyond the players and team management. People in Toronto are starting to feel more proud of their hometown. After their victory, John Gibbons, the team manager, spoke of the fans in an interview with TSN.
“If the team wins something the place would erupt and they’ve done their part,” said Gibbons, a Manager of the Year candidate. “They’ve shown up in droves the last couple of months and it’s cool to see. It’s just nice to be a part of something like that.”
Indeed, Torontonians and many Canadians are proud of their team. They wear their colours with much more reverence now that the Jays have been able to dominate within a sport ruled by massive American teams.
As Canadians, our neighbours to the south often overshadow us, and any escape out of that shade is considered a major victory.
The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t only allowed Canada to be more visible within sports culture in North America, it has also opened a door for the world to see Toronto and Canada once again on a massive stage. It shows that Canada cares about sports other than hockey, and that’s a great look for the nation.
As the MLB kicks off the playoff season on Oct. 8, the Blue Jays will look to continue their magic. Maybe the Jays team will even earn a title that all Canadians haven’t heard in a long time—World Series champions.