Toronto Blue Jays a Team to Watch in AL East

Whoa!, Canada

5/22/12 in MLB   |   Wards_Page   |   248 respect

May 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a solo home run in the 5th inning against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIREWatching this year’s NHL playoffs has been eye-opening in more ways than one. First off, the games, especially those involving East Coast teams, have been highly entertaining and have re-energized my interest in the sport. The other thing that caught my attention was the lack of Canadian participation in the postseason. Sure there are plenty of Canadian players still lacing them up in these playoffs, but what about the teams? Only two of the seven teams that call Canada home qualified for the playoffs, and both of those--Ottawa and Vancouver-- were eliminated in the first round. Meanwhile, storied organizations (pronounced: or-gain-eye-zay-shuns) such as the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves languishing at the bottom of the standings. It’s enough to make folks in the Great White North give up back bacon and beer. But just as Canada’s hockey hopes have melted away, a possible salvation has appeared on the horizon.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays! What’s that? You forgot that Canada still had a baseball team? It’s an honest mistake. After all, the Jays haven’t really been relevant since Joe Carter was last seen galloping around the bases, and Mitch Williams, way back in 1993. The season’s still early but this Blue Jays team just may be a force to be reckoned with in the AL East. Not that anyone on the team is exactly setting the world on fire. They don’t have single everyday player hitting .300 but they do have some pop in the lineup with Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Kelly Johnson, among others, going deep on a regular occasion. Unless you’re a roto geek, their starting pitching doesn’t exactly feature a host of household names.  But guys like Brandon Morrow, Henderson Alvarez, and Kyle Drabek are getting the job done. Just this past week, the Jays held the Yankees to two runs in two games sweeping the short set. They then showed the Mets they could win with offense, blasting five homers in a 14-5 rout, while beating them with pitching the very next day as Morrow went the distance on a three-hit, 2-0 shutout. It’s a work in progress (pronounced: proh-gress), but Toronto has the look of a team that could hang around and make some noise this year. And why not? Are the division-leading Orioles really scaring anyone? Does Tampa Bay have enough offense (pronounced: oh-fence) to avoid getting no-hit every 10 games or so? Can the Yankees possibly survive without Mariano Rivera? And let’s not get started on the Red Sox.
So, time will tell whether this Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, or take your pick of any formulaic personality-switch movie continues for Canada and its baseball and hockey fortunes. For the moment it seems like the only viable option for the country Homer Simpson once referred to as "America Jr."… at least until they wake the puck up.
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