If you’re able to pull yourself out of bed and face a world where the Blue Jays are not playing baseball anymore, you’ll see that there is much to turn your frown upside down. Looking back over the last few weeks, we have to be quite amazed at what we witnessed form the boys in blue. Think of the drama and clutch performances that rocked the Rogers Centre. Think of the great plays. Think of Jose Bautista’s coming out party. Indeed, it was magical.
And, what’s better is that the Blue Jays may very well have been privy to a lesson; a lesson in creating your own magic.
The 2015 postseason was so exciting. It gave us so much to cheer for. That’s because the Blue Jays were playing several games with their backs against the wall, which happened because of the frustration of falling behind. Indeed, it was that cliche emotional roller coaster ride that sports provide. And, in that cliche, we were witness to miracles and magic that made this team so exciting.
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In the ALDS, the Blue Jays got off to a quick deficit in the series and could not lose. Being down 0-2 to the Texas Rangers and heading into Arlington, the Blue Jays knew their work was cut out for them. The margin of error was so slim. Low and behold, the managed to fight their way back and take the series thanks to one of the most exciting innings ever played.
Take a second and think back to Jose Bautista’s franchise altering home run. Think about the sheer oddity that led to it. The game itself seemed lost after the botched throw back to the mound. Rogers Centre appeared ready for an all our revolution. Bautista changed it all with THE home run, THE bat flip, THE comeback. Every time I think about it, I still get chills. Watching that unfold never gets old.
Then, in the ALCS, the Blue Jays found themselves behind in several situations. Being down in the series right from the start (again) created the need for more magic. Troy Tulowitzki provided some with a huge bases clearing hit. And, Bautista provided some in Game 6 with his 2 HR showing. Indeed it seemed that the Blue Jays were the team that would ride a magical wave the whole way. Miracles and magic seemed this team’s calling card. After all, they needed it to even get to the postseason. The last two months of the season saw them erase an 8 game hole in the division. Magic, magic, magic.
But, like every wave, it comes to a crest and then falls. The Blue Jays mystical run came to and end in the wee hours of Saturday morning. But, despite the disappointment and emotional hangover we’re feeling on Saturday, there is potential for optimism.
So much can happen between now and when the 2016 season starts. But, one thing is for sure: the Blue Jays just got a lesson in creating their own magic. Rather than waiting back for something big and heroic to happen, the Royals managed to take things into their own hands. Now, you can attribute that to the ability to manufacture runs, to string together hits, to nickel and dime opponents, or what have you. Whatever you call it, it worked. The Royals demonstrated what happens when you don’t play for that big hit.
The Royals were able to pour on runs with a consistent, balanced attack. They get runners on and before you know what’s happened, they’ve scored 5 runs. And, they did so without relying on the power. They got some, but it wasn’t the determining factor to them scoring. And, that is the difference. So much of the Blue Jays scoring depends on big hits. That puts pressure on the hitter. The Royals batters didn’t feel that pressure.
So, perhaps, the Blue Jays can learn to create their own magic. This does not require swapping out players. Fans should not be calling for drastic trades or anything like that. Instead, what should be called for is an offensive approach that puts constant pressure on the pitcher in a way that doesn’t make the pitcher scared of that one pitch. Instead, a solid contact approach might be in order. The Blue Jays have made a habit out of being patient, waiting for pitches to come to them and the murdering them.
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Perhaps, a more proactive approach that relies on putting the ball in play more would go a long way to improving this lineup. Over the course of a 162 game season, the offense can put up some scary numbers. We know this. But, in the postseason, you don’t really have time to wait for those big blasts to come. Perhaps, the Blue Jays just got a first hand look at what happens with a different approach. They don’t need to eliminate power from their game. The HR will come.
But, if this team is interested in learning from its experiences, perhaps it has just been taught a lesson. Magic can be created. The Royals did it and they’re headed to the World Series.