Blue Jays: Nothing wrong with being romantic about this season
With the Blue Jays opening the second half with a series sweep, and set to return to Canada at the end of the month, there’s nothing wrong with thinking big.
Prior to Sunday’s double-header, Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae sat down to chat with Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and talked about what it means for the team to be able to return to Canada after nearly two years. You could sense the relief and the excitement from Shapiro, but he also showed his hand a little more than we’ve grown used to over the years.
And I can’t blame him one bit. In fact, I fully encourage that line of thinking.
Shapiro talked about how he’d love to be part of one of the best baseball stories ever written by seeing the Blue Jays make a run at the playoffs this season after facing so much adversity. Every team has had to make sacrifices and adjust to procedural changes throughout the pandemic, but the Jays have been displaced since the end of the 2019 season. In fact, many of their currently rostered players have never even played a game in Toronto as the home team. Just imagine the energy that a guy like Alek Manoah will find when the Blue Jays’ faithful get behind him.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Their three-game sweep of the Rangers to start the second half is a massive development as we look ahead to the July 30 trade deadline. After the conclusion of Sunday’s schedule the Jays are just 6.5 games back of the Red Sox for first in the AL East, and they’ll start a three game series with them beginning on Monday. They also go to Boston for a 4-game series before the end of the month as well, so there’s a significant opportunity to gain some ground. As for the Wild Card standings, the double-header sweep combined with an Oakland A’s loss on Sunday puts them just 2.5 back for the second WC playoff position.
With 72 games remaining in the regular season schedule, Shapiro and the rest of the front office have plenty of reasons to push for success this year. They have some important pending free agents, and they’ll want to take advantage of employing players like Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray while they have them, even if they may look to re-sign one or both. They have a legitimate MVP candidate in the breakout season from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and even if he’s just 22 years old and has plenty of stardom in front of him, you don’t want to waste a season this he’s having either. (see: Angels)
I’m sure it’ll still be a careful dance between addressing immediate needs and looking at the long-term picture, but I hope that Shapiro and Ross Atkins let their emotions get the best of them a bit this year. That’s not to say that I support a reckless trade of Austin Martin or something of that nature, but if they can find a difference maker for the rotation and the bullpen, they should absolutely pull the trigger on a deal.
As far as ownership is concerned, what could be a better kickstart to their return to Canada than bringing a World Series contender back to the Rogers Centre? Blue Jays fans are going to be excited to get their team back anyway, but the demand for tickets and merchandise is going to sky-rocket. After 17 months of dealing with a very difficult worldwide pandemic you could argue that we need this. As a reward for the fanbase, and for the team that has given us plenty of reasons to stay excited over the last year and a half, I’m all for it.
The raw emotion that Shapiro showed during Sunday’s interview seemed like a sign that the front office is ready to make a significant move, and sweeping the Rangers can’t hurt that side of the argument either. It’s a precarious time for the front office, but in my view, there’s nothing wrong with being a little romantic about it all. Who wouldn’t love to see the Blue Jays playing playoff baseball in Toronto this year? Whatever the cost, it may well be worth it.