2020 has thrown us a lot of curveballs. Maybe too many curveballs. But somehow, one part of our culture has remained constant. It's autumn, the leaves are turning, and baseball playoffs are starting.
Thanks to a super speedy 60 game regular season (down from 162 games), Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs are here.
And if you're a baseball fan in Canada, this odd season delivered an unexpected jolt.
The Toronto Blue Jays are back in the playoffs!
Remembering the frenzy
During 2015 and 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays sent their city (and much of the country) into a frenzy. Powered by the hitting of José Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitski, they became one of baseball's most feared teams. The pitching was excellent, too, thanks to Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, R.A. Dickey, and Aaron Sanchez.
The team reached the American League Championship Series twice in a row, creating a number of unforgettable moments. Like this one...
Can you say, bat flip?! But despite these successes, both times the team fell just short of reaching the World Series. By 2017, several key players were already gone and the Blue Jays were in what sports fans call a rebuild.
The thing about rebuilds? They usually take a long time. And there's a lot of losing along the way. Last year, the 2019 Blue Jays were a feisty team led a bunch of younger players like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio. They were fun to watch, but made lots of mistakes and lost a lot of games. One day, they'll be a great team, the experts agreed, but not yet.
So a year later, is that day here?
Right now, the MLB's best teams include the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays (who just so happen to be Toronto's first round opponent... yikes!). The Blue Jays only just squeaked into the playoffs and have a bunch of weaknesses, especially in their pitching. But there's no question that this team can hit and score runs.
And in a first round that is only a best-of-three series, who says that they can't string together two wins and get past the Rays?
Enjoy the ride
It's what all sixteen of the teams in this year's playoff will be thinking when the games begin on Tuesday. And as strange as the season has been, there's no shortage of interesting teams involved—from recent powerhouses (New York Yankess, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros) to scrappy underdogs (Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins) to teams of the future (San Diego Padres and the Blue Jays).
Will the Jays' playoffs be over before they begin? Or do they have another long run in them? Either way, who wouldn't love to see another moment like this?