Why The Blue Jays’ Success Matters
It will come as no surprise to Toronto’s veteran sports fans that the Blue Jays’ newfound success is, well, a big deal. Looking back, we see the ‘constant disappointment’ that is the Maple Leafs; the ‘almost there but still improving’ Raptors; and Toronto FC, a team that has never made the MLS post-season in its nine year history. With this in the rearview, it’s wonderful to finally latch on to something special.
The Blue Jays clinched their place in the MLB post-season last Friday for the first time since winning the World Series in 1993. That year ended with Joe Carter’s walk-off homer in game 6 and Tom Cheek’s historic call, “Touch ‘em all, Joe! You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!” Toronto also won the 1992 World Series, meaning that Carter’s home run in the bottom of the ninth ensured Toronto’s place as back-to-back Champions.
And now, once again, winning is in the air. Toronto sports fans, and even those who had never heard the name Bautista prior to a few weeks ago, are justifiably excited for what’s to come. After all, it’s been twenty-two years.
But this success isn’t just good news for Toronto’s sports community: it’s good news for everyone in Canada.
Names like “Rob Ford,” have put Toronto in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons over the past couple years. It isn’t uncommon to hear reference to the city’s former mayor in Tonight Show monologues and Saturday Night Live sketches. In this sense, the Blue Jays’ success couldn’t have come quick enough.
It’s rare for a city to garner worldwide attention. It’s even rarer to find infamy in a mayor who... *ahem* y’know. So when the opportunity comes for a city to move forward, its residents should pay attention. That’s not to say that Torontonians are particularly worried about what others think, but it’s nice to know that your city’s claim to fame isn’t everyone else's punchline. It’s no surprise that the city and its suburbs have jumped on the Jays’ bandwagon, and are riding full speed ahead.
That’s not to say the past few years have been all bad news. Internationally popular, homegrown musician Drake has given the city an added boost in the form of his love affair with all things Toronto (his upcoming album is entitled Views from the 6 in reference to the 416 and 647 area codes) and his sponsorship of the Raptors has — perhaps purely coincidentally — accompanied the team’s recent improvement. That’s not to mention the success of such Ontario-based artists as Alice Munro who in 2013 won the Nobel Prize in Literature and University of Toronto alumnus Margaret Atwood who is set to have her fiction series MaddAddam turned into an HBO series in the near future.
But in the world of sports, the Blue Jays high-swinging offence has already caught the eye of the baseball world. Their trade deadline acquisitions immediately propelled them into a position among World Series favourites — most famous among them ace David Price, who is once again a top-contender for the American League Cy Young award, given to the league’s best pitcher. Price last won the award with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.
The Blue Jays promise much more excitement to come. But win or lose, the fact that Canada’s largest city is in the news for reasons unrelated to a crack pipe is a welcomed change.
The MLB Postseason begins on October 6th, and the Blue Jays are going in with a city, and a nation, behind them. The team is sure to make headlines in the coming weeks, so don’t be surprised if the name “Ford” finds its way into your newsfeed — hopefully for the last time.