Friday Ramblings – June 19, 2015: Jays On a Tear and Other Stuff

Apparently I should take a break from writing more often.  Since my last “world changing” blog, my Toronto Blue Jays have lit the baseball world on fire.  They won 11 in a row and are 13-2 in the past 15 games.  They are two games out of first and one game out of second in the AL East.  They have also added the likes of Green Arrow to their fan base calling for Josh Donaldson to be voted in to start the All-Star game.  That’s right, the Toronto-born Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen on CW’s Arrow and currently filming TMNT 2 as Casey Jones, is a HUGE Blue Jays fan.  He has released multiple Facebook videos to get all the other fans voting so Josh gets his rightful place as the starting third basemen in Cincinnati next month.  Well done Mr. Queen!

But let’s talk about the Jays.  They came into the season under a lot of pressure and without a solid starting rotation or bullpen.  They also had six rookies (currently down to three although Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis are on the DL) and lost their starting left-fielder to an injury the day before spring training (and Marcus Stroman the next day).  That was enough to make most of the fans (including me) throw in the towel.  Bad luck has followed this team like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck.  In each of the past two seasons, they have gone on magical runs only to be followed by abysmal play and another fall “watching” playoffs from home.  This season started out exactly as expected.  Rookie mistakes, injuries, inconsistent starting pitching and bad bullpen relief.  But somehow, after the first two months, things started to turn.  Starters were pitching great, the revolving door of a bullpen began to stabilize and the offense, well, nice to meet you Mr. Donaldson.  With Michael Saunders hurt they needed a solid bat so they called up Chris Colabello, a lumbering 1b/DH type who they plucked off waivers during spring training.  I would say that is working out well as he is batting .342, 5 HR, 24 RBI in 40 games.  Add him to the likes of Jose Reyes, Donaldson, Jose Bautista, EE and Russell Martin and that is potent lineup.  The Jays are leading the league in run differential at +83! The next closest is St. Louis at +67.  That’s 16 more runs over the best team in baseball at 43-23.  If we can keep this up and stay healthy (both Sanchez and Travis should be back in a week), we can actually take the division which has become one of the more “regular” divisions in baseball after it being the toughest for so many years.  While I have learned to approach success with cautious optimism, I can’t help but feel excited this year.  If for no other reason, we started slow and built the momentum rather than the other way around.

It is the calm before the storm in the other sports.  The NHL and NBA drafts are coming in the next week followed by free agency frenzy on July 1st.  Still no word on what the Raptors plan to do with all their free agents but I fully expect Lou Williams, Landry Fields, and Chuck Hayes to walk away and expect Terrence Ross and possibly James Johnson to be traded.  I am confident that Tyler Hansbrough and Amir Johnson will be re-signed on short term contracts.  Big year for basketball in Toronto as not only do they have to make everyone forget about their terrible playoff performance but they are also hosting the All-Star game in February 2016.  The city will be a hoops haven for a weekend as everyone from Shaq to Kobe to Lebron and probably even Vince Carter will be here.  We better make sure the beer is cold and the girls are hot because that weekend will serve as the first phase of our pitch to bring Kevin Durant in as a free agent.  The timing couldn’t be better with the team playing great, All-Star festivities and  A LOT of cap space.  Very sneaky Mr. Ujiri, very sneaky indeed.

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