Pure Sophistry’s Jeff Sehl is again addressing the never-ending woes of the Toronto sports teams!
Hey everyone! My “area of expertise” is sports. I can’t get enough of them. I’ll watch pretty much anything. Hockey, Baseball, Football…Figure Skating…Anything! But if I had to choose, I’d say hockey and lacrosse are my two favourites. I’ve played both for as long as I can remember. I started playing lacrosse at age 3, and continue to this day, most recently playing in the Ontario Lacrosse League (OLA) in the Junior B division with the Newmarket Saints and with the University of Guelph Gryphons who compete in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse League (CUFLA). Lacrosse is my life. Hockey, on the other hand, I’ve only ever played recreationally, but its hard to be a Canadian and not follow hockey religiously. I love the Toronto Maple Leafs (unfortunately) and the Detroit Red Wins (because I need someone to cheer for come playoff time). But like I said. I’ll watch everything. I’m also a big Indianapolis Colts, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Blue Jays fan. So that’s a little bit about me. I hope everyone enjoys reading what I have to say and I look forward to being a part of this fantastic group of bloggers.
Toronto’s Playoff Poverty
It’s a depressing time for sports fans in Toronto (yet again). The Leafs have fallen (oh so far) out of the playoff race to the point where I can’t even watch anymore. The Raptors are playing up to our expectations (because there were none), again sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings in the NBA. The Argos finished another horrible season. And who cares about Toronto FC. And even the Toronto Rock, Toronto’s only sports champion in recent years, are struggling at the moment. What do we have to look forward to? For me, I’m very optimistic about the Toronto Blue Jays. I always am at this time of year, but this year I think I have a legitimate reason to be. Not only are the Jays sporting their new, old logo (which I love) but they’re having a really solid spring training down in Florida. Right now, they’re sitting at 10-2, which is second in the Grapefruit League and is the second best-winning percentage in the entire MLB!
But wait. This is only Spring Training! It means nothing, right? Yeah, pretty much, but for me it’s exciting to see any Toronto team do well in any situation because it happens so rarely these days. Plus, the Jays are sporting one of the most exciting young line-ups we’ve seen in Toronto in years - probably since they last won the World Series in 1993. They’ve restocked their minor system with some really strong, young players who hopefully will be making an impact in the big leagues soon, or who could be used to bring in a big-name, perennial all-star player to really solidify Toronto’s batting line-up or pitching rotation. In fact, John Sickels of SB Nation has ranked Toronto as having the best farm-system in baseball at the moment. Plus we get to look forward to José Bautista returning to the SkyDome (yeah that’s right, fuck you Rogers, I’m not calling it the Roger’s Centre…EVER) after his second straight season leading the majors in home runs. We get to see highly regarded (Canadian) prospect Brett Lawrie compete in his first full season with the big team after a strong stint in the majors last year. Plus, all my other favourite young Jays players will be back, like Eric Thames (hands down best facial hair on the team), Yunel Escobar, and Ricky Romero.
Not to mention the MLB has restructured their playoff format, adding a second wildcard spot and thus giving one more team the chance to get into the playoffs in both the American League and the National League. In the new format, the two wildcard teams will square off in a one-game playoff series to decide who will get to move on to the real playoffs. Not exactly what I was expecting, but still exciting nonetheless to see the Jays with a 50/50 shot at getting in to the real playoffs against somebody if they can manage to get there. In fact, many think the Jays will challenge for this spot, but for this to happen I think they’ll have to make a few moves to boost their line-up.
For one, I think they’ll need to pick up another big bat. Adam Lind has been doing a decent job batting behind Bautista, but José still got walked more than anyone else in the majors last year. If the Jays could pick up a big power-hitter (like what Prince Fielder would’ve been), their opposition will pretty much have to pitch to Bautista or else risk pitching to another big bat with him on base. Another thing they’ll need is at least one legitimate Major League starting pitcher to solidify their rotation. While their bullpen is strong, anyone who has played MLB 2K12 knows their starting line-up is pretty thin, with Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, and maybe Henderson Alvarez as their only legitimate MLB pitchers. If they can pick up a high-calibre arm, maybe to pitch second or third in the rotation, I think they’ll be in good shape. Like I said, the Jays have the type of prospects that teams are willing to trade Major League talent for, so trades like these aren’t out of the question. One of these prospects might surprise everyone and lock down a spot in the line-up and fill one of these needs. That’s the beauty of having a top-notch farm system.
All this being said, I don’t know how realistic it is to pencil the Jays into a playoff spot. They’re still playing in the AL East - arguably the toughest division in all of baseball, and they’re still a really young team. It’s nice to be excited for once, but I think we need to give them a solid year or two to develop these young guys and really make a push for the playoffs and even the World Series. If we let them develop (unlike with the Leafs), we should be in really good shape….for once.