By: Adam Pasternak
The Toronto Blue Jays have united a city, let alone a country, in a way that no one could ever imagine. Everyone from little kids to my grandmother has been struck with Blue Jays fever and it is truly great to be a part of. For me, this Blue Jays postseason run is extremely special. See, I’ve been a fan since the dark days of manager (yes, they were that stupid) Buck Martinez, Dan Schulman calling the games and the stadium was still called the SkyDome. I’ll never forget the first game I ever went to. The Blue Jays were playing the Seattle Mariners in an early summer July matchup. I was about 6 years old at the time and had just started to take an interest in baseball. I’ll never forget watching Ichiro and his awkward, lunging batting stance or Orlando Hudson’s turn on a double play. The Jays were not good, to say the least, but I was just so taken away from the game that it did not even matter. I was just so happy to be there watching them live and in person. As the years went on, I began to take a stronger interest in the Jays and felt the pain of the sub .500 seasons and the failure of major acquisitions such as BJ Ryan and David Eckstein. When the Jays made that mega-deal with the Marlins, I was in shock. I could not believe that the Jays had finally made a big move, a move that could change everything. We now had a win-now mentality. The pressure was on. Two seasons later, look where we are now. The Jays are currently behind in the ALCS 3-2 against an experienced and energetic Kansas City Royals team. The Boys in Blue are looking to turn the tables and do what the ’85 Royals did to my beloved Blue Jays in the ALCS twenty years ago. It’s pretty magical how sports history can come back to the forefront and be the storyline to new history in the making. Can you imagine what everyone would be saying if the Jays actually do rally back and take the series? It would be so special for the city of Toronto. Finally a Toronto sports team would win. Finally the curse would be lifted and maybe it would create an energy that would be replicated in the other Toronto sports teams. One observation I’ve made is that when a Toronto sports team is doing well, people are generally nicer. Everyone is happy and rejoicing together and it is really a special thing to witness. I can only imagine the pandemonium if the Jays pull this thing off, but first they have a lot of work to do.
BLUE JAYS VS. ROYALS – ALCS GAME 6 PREVIEW:
Probables: David Price vs. Yordano Ventura
Todays game is being considered as the most important game since that night Joe Carter hit the 1993 World Series clinching home run. What a time for our ace David Price to show that trading all those prospects was worth it and to prove to his doubters (myself included) that he can in fact pitch and win in the playoffs. The Jays aren’t going to be able to rely on the long ball in this one as they usually do. Kauffman Stadium has a very large outfield and the Royals have designed their team to fit the field. Their outfielders are fast and cover lots of ground and two have won gold gloves in their careers. The Jays need to not worry about balls and strikes, but worry about protecting themselves at the plate. I watched them strikeout too many times this series on very close calls and it is just unacceptable. If your down 0-2, 1-2, or even 3-2 you have to swing at anything near the plate. Chris Colabello did a great job of protecting himself at the plate. He fouled off many balls and waited until he got one he liked or took enough balls to be rewarded a walk. He has been the Jays most patient and effective hitters this postseason.
Apart from the hitting, the defence has to be there tonight. There are no excuses for missed dives by Bautista in right. Their life is on the line tonight and they should be giving it everything they have. Bautista should not be hesitant on those diving plays because when he is, he misses (just like he did in games 2 and 3). I understand he’s required to have shoulder surgery this offseason, but if he was able to play the field and play it well during the season, there is no excuse for him not being able to make plays in the postseason. He needs to put his opinions and his ego aside and help the team win.
Touching on Bautista’s emotion, it reminds me of when we used to go on field trips in elementary school. The teacher would always say, “Be on your best behaviour! Your representing not only yourselves, but the school!” Well, Jose, your representing not just yourself, not just a team, but a whole country in a sport where we are discriminated. His arguing of literally every pitch being called wrong in his eyes, is not gonna help the team get calls. If you’ve noticed, after games 1 and 2 of this series and after countless stares and yells towards umpires from Bautista, the Jays stopped getting calls. Outside balls on the corner become outside strikes on the corner and it really affected the team morale. It seemed that the result in these calls go to the hitters heads and everyone looked frustrated. Jose has to relax and focus on hitting something other then a foul-out because his team is feeling the wrath of the umpires, and it is all his doing.
I think the Jays will keep it close tonight but I really can’t predict if the they will win or not. I think the Jays definitely have the energy and the fight in them (as we saw in the Texas series) but the ballpark doesn’t suit our strengths and it seems as if David Price has a curse that does not let him win in the playoffs. Hopefully the Jays prove my doubts wrong and I can be fortunate enough to write another game-day preview tomorrow.
What are your thoughts? Comment below!
GO JAYS GO!