The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays seem to be missing the mojo that was such a major part of their success in 2015.
The year was 2015 and the Toronto Blue Jay were surging ahead, on their way to ending a long playoff drought, their first post-season play in 22 years. Trades were made, something clicked and off the Blue Jays went. The Blue Jays, after the trade deadline, were different. It was a team that captured the imagination of an entire country. The chemistry in the clubhouse was hard to ignore. People were talking about it, there were even songs written about it. A favourite? Adam Jesin’s Blue Jays Pennant Race parody.
In an interview with Sportsnet, then GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke about the atmosphere in the clubhouse and how it was helping to propel the team forward.
“This is probably the epitome in my mind of a team. They all pull together, they compliment each other well, you don’t see cliques like you would in the past. It’s as good an atmosphere and camaraderie as I’ve ever seen.”
It made a difference. It wasn’t talent alone that had this team rising to first place in their division, it was the way they were playing, the way they seem to get each other. It was fun to watch, exciting to follow. Attention was paid to what the team was doing off the field as much as on the field and the consensus was, that it was working.
Spring forward to this season. The team is very similar to the Blue Jays of 2015 give or take a few players. The question is, what happened to the chemistry? Can the Blue Jays get it back in time to make a difference? There is no questioning the talent on this 2016 Blue Jays team and their ability to play great baseball, is chemistry the missing link?
The talk last season centred around the time the players spent together, having dinner, going to the park, riding their scooters – courtesy of David Price– around town. They hung out on and off the field, had inside jokes and secret handshakes. It was obvious to anyone watching that they had each other’s backs, a camaraderie, and it was clear that they respected and liked each other. This in turn translated to how they played on the field. They played like a team of buddies that knew each other so well they could anticipate how plays would go, anticipate each others’ moves. It was a winning formula.
So what happened? Why does it feel so different? Is it the lack of magic that comes from an expected playoff run as opposed to a surprise playoff run? Is the slug dogfight of a season this has been taking its toll? Has the anxiety and breath holding gotten to the Blue Jays as much as the fans?
A huge team encompassing rally cap is in order. The magic has to come back. The Blue Jays have to find that chemistry again, have to find their mojo. Come on Blue Jays, grab everyone for another onesie party, have a bite to eat as a team, go back to the park. Run around the field, laugh together, create those awesome handshakes. Bring the feelings back into the game, celebrate with emotion Jsson Grilli style. It’s definitely time to light it up and make baseball look fun again. The spark is there, but it’s time to bring on the fire, and let’s face it, no team can do that better than the Blue Jays. One thing is certain, Blue Jays fans will light it up right along with you given the chance.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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