What is the one thing that you never hear anyone saying about the Toronto Blue Jays? It’s not their awesome lineup…..we hear plenty about that. It’s also not their lack of star power……they have plenty of that too with Bautista, Price, Tulowitski, and Encarnation. It’s not any of that. What you never hear anyone say about the Blue Jays is that they are a closely knit team. And you never hear about it because they simply don’t have one (not yet anyway).
You might recall that the Jays played a rather dismal first half of the season. Far into July, they were as many as seven games behind the Yankees. The wind had yet to catch their sails and it didn’t look like they were capable of creating a small draft themselves. Then ownership stepped in with an open checkbook and the willingness to give the team a makeover at the expense of their farm system. In came Tulo and Price and off they went as the Yankees couldn’t seem to run fast enough to get out of their way.
To be fair, often a team with a bunch of All Stars with $20 million + in yearly salaries finds it a challenge to blend together as a team. It’s also true that they haven’t been playing together as a unit for very long either.
Still, the Cubs, Royals, and Mets are clearly solidified as teams who work together to achieve a common goal. For the Royals, this is their second year with the same group of guys. In the crunch of the playoffs, good teams play with a bounce in their step. They scrounge for runs. They move runners over. They throw strikes. Toronto had none of this last night. It looks like it’s home run or bust.
I’m not saying that the Blue Jays can’t or won’t take it all the way. They could easily hit ten home runs over the next two games. But one thing you will not see is their team playing small ball – sometimes called Playoff Baseball. The players will always say it’s just another game we’re playing. But, it’s a different style of play that wins games at this point in the year. Good “teams” know that.