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Will Blue Jays Feel The Love In October?

Is it World Series or bust for Jays fans this year? Will they still feel the love in October? April 2016?

As Canadians, we tend to like a winner and if you look through all the Canadian sports franchises, there isn’t much to celebrate once the post season begins. The Stanley Cup hasn’t been awarded north of the U.S since 1993; despite the game being created by a Canadian, the NBA championship has never come to Canada, not even close, the NFL and the CFL well….. and of course the Jays won back to back titles in 92/93.

When the Blue Jays last won it all, I was 10 years old and Joe Carter hit a home run that still is vivid in my mind to this day; I don’t need hilites to remind me. Since then, September has basically meant NFL is here and NHL training camps are gearing up. Baseball fans tune out their emotions and watch Boston and New York duke it out.

Toronto has made strides to get back to glory but never all at once. Roberto Alomar, Carlos Delgado, Roger Clemens, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, Frank Thomas, Troy Glaus, Scott Rolen B.J Ryan and AJ Burnett; all names that bring both good and bad memories but they played for Canada’s team.

Always typical with any sports franchise on the cusp of doing something great: have a plethora of talent in one area but not the other. Pitching goes south and the bats catch fire, bats go dead and the pitching is lights out. You’d think because there isn’t a salary cap that the Jays could buy there way out of trouble.

They did. But never more than one star at a time.

Their other problem was that as soon as they developed a star, they traded him away because they weren’t in a position to win and felt they could just keep flipping and building, flipping and building. Why not struggle like the Rays did and eventually have a plethora of talent at your disposal?

Well, it looks like Rogers Media has pulled out all the stops and wunder GM Alex Anthopoulos has put together a dream team of sorts.  Anchored by some original talent like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays have definitely put their money where their mouth is this year.

Trades bringing in Josh Donaldson for oft-injured Brett Lawrie, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki; big name signings like R.A Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Russell Martin have all put the Jays in contention to not only win the AL East for the first time since Full House was a staple of my Tuesday night viewing, but a chance to win the World Series and maybe keep some of the big stars around for a few more years.

But what if the Jays lose out to the Yankees by game 162 and slide to the one game playoff spot? Where will the Blue Jays fan base be? Can the bottom fall out that quickly? These are some pretty big questions that will be asked if it all falls apart.

The MLB post season is an enigma. Teams that run the table all year can be upset in one game or run into a hot team at the wrong time. With Toronto’s recent success, there have been struggles as well. Mark Buehrle has been less than perfect lately and Marcus Stroman is ready for return. R.A Dickey can knuckleball his way to a Cy Young but can he do it to the World Series?

Are the Blue Jays faithful going to be just that as this gets closer and closer? Hockey season is getting close and the immediate market Maple Leafs will be vying for the whole pie as will the Raptors. Winning fixes everything so maybe now IS the time for this to happen.

Sellouts and Blue Jays haven’t been said in the same sentence for many many years and now you take a look in the stands and seats are hard to come by. The nice thing about the real baseball fan and I believe there are tons in Toronto, is that they don’t appear corporate.

When Air Canada Centre opens for business in October, the suits will take over and the real fans will be stuck up top. Here’s where the Jays can really put a stranglehold on that cold month. If they are winning or assured a playoff spot the fans will be there.

Over the final month of play, the Jays have just over 24 games left. Seven of those are against the Yankees, a quick set against the Braves and the rest against the Red Sox, Orioles and Rays. I venture to say it will basically be playoff baseball here on out.

Even though the Jays have made their amazing push, the only let down for the Yankees was their series awhile back vs. Toronto. They haven’t let up. Its going to be a “who flinches first” race to the finish and if the Jays can hang on, they have the fire power both in their starting rotation, bullpen and their batting order.

Winning will make this all very sweet but even in defeat, Toronto has managed to keep even the most casual fan interested. Josh Donaldson’s season long heroics have been things of legend even on the wrong side of the score as have Edwin Encarnacion’s hit streaks and yard balls.

The addition of Tulowitzki and Jay killer David Price have put the Blue Jays over the top and only a monumental collapse could derail this train. The Jays are for real this time and every dollar has been spent to ensure they get a proper chance to succeed.

Fans are coming out in droves, new fans are being created, bandwagoners are buying merch and the thought of watching post season baseball on Sportsnet with Buck and Pat gets me excited.

Hoisting the World Series trophy is rarely done with a home grown team, ok aside from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Blue Jays won with some pretty big splashes back in the 90’s adding Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter and a few other notable players, so this isn’t the first time they’ve struck it rich.

Cash is king in baseball and winning it all by drafting, developing and making a run is practically impossible. However, just because you spend the big bucks, doesn’t mean you’ll win it all. It can be done on a shoe string budget, just ask the famous “Moneyball” GM Billy Beane.

So even though the Blue Jays spent their money a few times in the last year or two, the clubhouse they have right now is producing wins, fans and if they have it their way: a third World Series Championship. But if for some reason it all falls apart and they come up short, don’t expect this revitalized fan base to simmer down.

The fans are pulling for this team and the belief is real. No more let downs come mid September. The Blue Jays have what it takes to endure the marathon that is the MLB. AA has put together a winner and confidence has never been higher.

I wouldn’t mind seeing 1993 replay itself with a walkoff Bautista dinger.

This may be the start of something truly special. #thehuntforblueoctober

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

The Idiots That Leave Games Early

There is one pet peeve that drives me absolutely bat ish crazy: “Fans” who leave the games early. Whether it be that their team is getting pasted or they are getting mercied, it is the WORST thing you can do as a fan. Who cares what the final score is when its all over; if you paid to be there stay until the end.

OK, there’s a tiny exception that we should allow: people with kids at the game. As a father of two myself, I love to regularly bring my daughter to hockey games but being that most of the games are played at night, bedtime comes pretty quick; that or she’s being a little brat. I feel for those people and regardless of the score, I always have every intention of staying until the buzzer hits 0:00. I had no other plans to do anything else for those 2.5 hours or so, so why should I leave?

As the Canucks are seeing this season, winning has come at a premium and the fans apparently aren’t in the mood to watch 60 minutes of hockey. Give the tickets to me then or someone who cares because honestly, YOU DON’T DESERVE THEM!! What does that say to your team when you won’t even support them to the fullest degree? If your team is up enough that its out of reach, stay to cheer them at the final buzzer, they deserve it for kicking ass! If they get pounded within an inch of their life, stick around to show them you are still a fan. Actually, don’t. The loyal fans of the Miami Heat are a perfect example of what NOT to do when your team is down, facing elimination and basically left for dead.

The Heat were facing elimination in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last year against the San Antonio Spurs. They were down 5 with 30 seconds to go in the game, basically it was over. Fans started filing for the exits and going home. A defeat too much to take. What happened after that was the stuff of legends: The Heat rallied back to tie the game with 3 seconds left, eventually going ahead in OT and forcing a Game 7.

Insert – Basketball really abuses the time out system and the clock stoppages and such so really the last 30 seconds took awhile. Regardless, it was an amazing comeback and I was in absolute shock when Ray Allen hit the ice cold 3 to tie the game, it was amazing!

The security staff at the American Airlines Arena didn’t let the fans back in as they have a strict no re-entry policy, no kidding. What a way to shove it in your “fans” faces, with the clutch performance of the ages. Fans begged to get let back in, but nope, they were stuck scrambling to a bar that was showing the game. GAME 6 OF THE FINALS…..HOW DO YOU LEAVE??? You pathetic excuses for fans. Wasn’t really surprising when the victory parade was the size of a protest, maybe not even.

Its understandable if your team is getting rocked but really, what else were you going to be doing in the next hour? Probably sitting in traffic. I’d rather be at a game then sitting in traffic thats for sure. The sad thing is that this epic movement happens from Major Junior hockey all the way through the NCAA and right up to the pro leagues. I think back a few years ago when I was able to attend Canucks games semi-regularly. Not cheap. Vancity would be killing whoever they were playing and fans would be hitting the exits with a period or more to go, why? Or they were losing and they would up and leave. I would kill to be able to afford seats where I could get up and go. The difference is I would stay.

Try this on for size: When your kid’s team is getting peppered, get up and go. Tell them you’ll see them after the game. See what they do. Or if they are up big, go get a coffee at Timmys and pick them up after the game. Pretty sure you will win the award for deadbeat parent of the year. Don’t feel bad though, there are plenty of people that will join you.

The beauty of the unknown in sports is the reason you stay. If you have ever seen a comeback you know what I’m talking about. From the unheard of like what the Heat did, or what North Carolina State did in 1983. Before you click, know that its an hour long documentary, but its worth it. A true Cinderella story and overcoming all odds to win it all. My personal experience with comebacks has two sides: the bad first; watching the Canucks go up 2-0 in game 4 of the Conference Semis against the eventual Champions, the Ducks, and then watching the quackers waddle back and win in OT. The good – I was in attendance at a Kings/Stars game in LA back in 2007 and I witnessed one of the biggest comebacks in NHL history. The Kings were down 4-0 with just over 7 min left in the game. They would come back and score the fastest 5 goals in NHL history. The Stars came back and forced OT and LA sealed it in the extra frame.

Can’t make that up.

So all you so called fans that don’t like watching full games, next time you go to a game, think about if there is literally ANYONE ELSE that would rather be there. Im pretty sure there is.

Follow me on twitter @hankthetank10