Everyone is asking me about the Blue Jays. Friends, colleagues, family members. I’m in Ottawa and everybody wants to talk to me about the Blue Jays. What is this, 1993? I’ve gone from getting sideways looks after uttering “28 days until pitchers and catcher report” to “Dude did you see Halladay last night? Freaking awesome!”. It’s all a little surreal.
Surreal, but I’ll take it. I, like so many others, spent time in baseball purgatory after the strike in ’94. Ten years I tried to ignore the game. Stopped playing, stopped watching, stopped caring. Then in 2004 for some reason, the spark was lit anew. I can’t point to an event that did it, but the passion within me was as strong as it had been while I was a teenager. I haven’t wavered since, not even when my boyhood team were moved to that baseball hotbed that is Washington D.C. Not even the steroid stuff can make me turn away. I’m where I belong and that’s riding the wave of a 162 game season. And right now we’re riding high and the “casuals” want in. No resentment from this quarter: there’s plenty of room on this bandwagon, hop right on.
Darrin Fletcher hit the nail on the head last night when he remarked that the game was being played in what felt like a playoff atmosphere. 43,000 packed into the dome, 12,500 of them walk-ups according to the Jays. That’s a lot of spur-of-the-moment interest in a regular season baseball tilt, wouldn’t you say? Not only did they show up, but they brought their Toronto FC attitudes with them: booing A.J. Burnett at every turn, “A.J. Sucks” chants, cheering every Burnett ball, booing the strikes. Can’t say I remember such an atmosphere in the old dome.
The true content of the game was superb as well with some great pitching from Halladay, and we established that A.J. Burnett is going to be Toronto’s bitch for as long as he’s in the American League. He had his moments, but the Jays pounded him for five runs in just over seven innings of work. Doc only allowed one run on five hits while going the distance for the first time this season. Boo ya. Oh and how good is Aaron Hill? Is this the ceiling or can he get better?
Tonight, Scott Richmond takes the mound and his opposite number will be Andy “Misremembering” Pettite. It will be the second game in a stretch of sixteen games in sixteen days for the bluebirds. As I did during their last long stretch of games when I asked for 14 wins in 20 days (they got 12), I will put up a number for wins I hope they reach. During this stretch they play three against the Yankees, four against the White Sox, three at Fenway, three in Atlanta and three against the Orioles at Camden Yards. For those keeping count that’s seven at home and nine on the road, and during this stretch we should see Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero return to the lineup (and B.J., but no one will notice). Looking into my crystal ball I predict:
10 WINS IN 16 DAYS
They’ve got nine to go after their win last night. Ten wins would put their record at 32-18 with May essentially in the rearview mirror.Obviously the most important games in that stretch are the ones against the Yankees and Red Sox, but when you’re chasing a pennant, they’re all important.
In other Jays news it looks like they are finally getting some attention from south of the border (not that I give a shit what Americans think of the Jays, I hope the Jays go to the World Series and wreck the advertising streams for MLB), as they are ranked No. 1 on the Sportsline Power Rankings.Huzzah. Also, B.J. Ryan has been informed he won’t be the Jays closer whenever he returns to the big club after his “injury”. My blood pressure thanks you, Cito.