April 08, 2008

I'm So Excited And I Just Can't Hide It

I'm beginning to get super excited about the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays. Sure, the uber-long baseball season is only six games old, but it seems there's something different about this Jays team.

It's true, folks - I'm thinking playoffs. Yes, Already. I've got visions of a pennant dancing in my head.

After playing well in the season-opening series against the New York Yankees but winning only one of three in the Bronx, the Jays came home and swept the road-weary Boston Red Sox right out of town. It was a statement sweep. A "we aren't going to finish third in the AL East" sweep. And I'm pumped up about it.

I was at the home opener on Friday night. It was a doozy. The Rogers Centre was full and the alcohol was certainly flowing. There were half-assed streakers, a few Massholes, and a ton of fights. Up in the 500 level where I was seated, Jays fans were even fighting each other. It was pretty ridiculous. The Jays fans-on-Jays fans violence has to stop.

Anyway, I'm tickled with excitement about the pitching staff. It has come as advertised: one of the best in the American League. Through six games, the Blue Jays sport a team ERA of 2.94. Only the Oakland A's and Kansas City Royals have been better on the mound and, well, we all know that ain't going to last.

To a man, the rotation has been solid. AJ Burnett was downright filthy in his start against New York, as was Dustin McGowan. Shaun Marcum, except for one bad pitch to JD Drew in the opener on Friday night, cut through the Red Sox lineup with disregard, striking out eight while only allowing three hits in seven innings. Even Jesse Litsch contributed. He battled against the Red Sox, gave up two runs in five innings of work and ended up getting the win on Saturday. What more do you want from your fifth starter?

If I'd have told you that Roy Halladay would have given up 15 hits in 15 innings of work in his first two starts, including four home runs, and the Jays would be 4-and-2 after six games against the two Evil Empire's, I think you'd be pretty pleased. I am, especially knowing that even when Doc isn't at the top of his game, the Jays can still pull out a victory.

The Jays have gotten quality starts almost across the board and when the bullpen has had to come in, they've been lights out. Brian Wolfe is the only reliever who's surrendered a run, and that came against New York. In 13 innings of relief the bullpen has allowed only that single run, while striking out 10. And we haven't even seen Brandon League yet.

Are you beginning to see why I'm excited?

The boys are hitting as well. After a sluggish start in New York, Toronto scored 23 runs in three games against Boston. Frank Thomas was the catalyst. He had an absolute monster series and finished with eight RBI.

I'm stoked about big Frank. He hit the game winning double in Friday's home opener, a two-run bomb to dead centre on Saturday afternoon, and added a grand slam in Sunday's series finale. And he looked about excited doing it as I am right now. His eight RBI now lead the American League.

Thomas already looks more comfortable in a Toronto uniform than he did last year, and is taking on more of a leadership role with the team. There was some serious fist-pumpage after his huge double on Friday night and upon entering the dugout after his grand slam on Sunday, Thomas was clearly emotional. He even got a curtain call, and I'm starting to see why those damn Yankee fans love it so much. It was pretty sweet.

Alex Rios and Aaron Hill have picked up where they left off last season, and it's hard not to be excited about their recent contract signings. They're both locked up for years to come and while the future in Toronto is certainly bright, I'm starting to believe that the future is now.

Vernon Wells isn't off to one of his no-no-no-notoriously bad starts, Marco Scutaro has been a pleasant addition and David Eckstein is one hard working dude. Who else sprints to first base on a walk?

And in a tell-tale sign that injuries may not wreak havoc on this team any more than they already have (knock on wood; I'm serious, do it), both John McDonald and Wells were able to stay in the game after a scary collision in centre field on Sunday.

Toronto, at 4-and-2, finds itself one game behind the American League leading Baltimore Orioles. Go ahead, take a second and have a good laugh over that one. It's not often you'll read "Baltimore Orioles" and "American League leading" in the same sentence. If there's ever been a sure bet in life, it's that the Orioles will not win the AL East.

But I digress. What makes Toronto's impressive start all the more encouraging is that the Jays have managed to do all of this without BJ Ryan and Scott Rolen, two very important pieces of the puzzle. I get giddy thinking what this team is going to be like when the two return.

Don't believe me when I tell you I'm excited? While the Jays were completing their sweep of the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, I, along with my brother and two friends, purchased a 20-game Blue Jays tickets flex pack. But that's not all. Taking a page out of JP Ricciardi's book, we back-ended the flex pack, and bought seats to all the games versus the Red Sox and Yankees at home in September. Why? Because we smell a pennant race. This, my friends, is the year the Toronto Blue Jays return to the MLB playoffs.

In honour of the title of this post, and the Blue Jays' boner-inducing play early on this season, I leave you with a video from my youth. The video first of all proves that everything is available on YouTube. Secondly, it has a lot to do with my relationship with the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Toronto Maple Leafs as well, and the belief that they will make the playoffs every single year. It starts with a whole lot of excitement, leads to substance abuse, and culminates in one major breakdown. Enjoy!


showcase29 said...

"look what u did, u little jerk"