Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays should brace themselves. Fall baseball is coming.
Last night was a cool one. Sleep came late and at times was fleeting, some adrenaline still flowing from late-night coffee and a big Blue Jays win. When I took the dog outside this morning, he left a trail through the grass, wet from the fog condensed on the ground overnight. There was something different in the air, the smell, the heaviness of it all. Fall is coming.
Fall has a special significance for baseball fans. Luckily, our sport gives us three seasons of the year, however short they may seem in comparison to the long, cold winter. Like the earth we limber up in spring, we grow in the summer, and paint fleeting images in bursts of colour in the fall. When winter comes, we sleep, but with an eye open towards the calendar turning over every February waiting for our New Year’s: Pitchers and Catchers Report.
But 2017 has been a struggle. Our Jays are banged up. The wrong teams have won the most games. 2017 has shown us new ways to lose, to see our favorites in new colours, and the pain of losing nearly an entire season due to something as simple as a blister, an injury more common to spectators raking the leaves in their yard than for their 25-year old staff ace. We’ve seen our veterans fade, but glimpses of the future have shone in brilliance. And 2017 has given us the impossible. Twice. The record doesn’t show the mettle of this team, but the heart remains as strong as ever.
It seems partly ridiculous, talking of meaningful games at this time of the year, with the season long from decided. It’s only August. The high for today is still in the 80’s here in the Rust Belt, and there’s plenty of baseball to be played. It’s not quite fall, but it’s coming. The shadows are lengthening. That heaviness in the air, the talks of playoff races, matchups, records and milestones. This is when the baseball season gets great.
this is the way the world ends pic.twitter.com/jkn7ma7HPU
— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) August 17, 2017
And after a brutal six-and-a-half months of getting their faces kicked in, the Toronto Blue Jays are going on a bit of a run. They’re 9-5 in August and will look to – at worst – split with the reeling rival Rays this afternoon, but could take three of four from their long-time nemesis. The Blue Jays have just a 3.9% chance of making the playoffs, from Baseball Prospectus. But try telling that to Dominic Leone, in his first game coming off the bereavement list, who pitched incredibly last night to get his team out of a desperate, late-inning jam:
This is why we watch. The pure emotion seen on the face of Dominic Leone was a turning point for me in this season. Forget the snark and “so you’re saying there’s a chance” jokes. These are our Blue Jays, and I wouldn’t stop watching them if there was a zero chance of making the playoffs. In all likelihood the Blue Jays will soon fall out of contention, but as parting veteran Jason Grilli pleaded as his time as a Blue Jay ended,
Stay in the Fight.
And even when your teams falls out, baseball remains. In it’s purest sense, this is the greatest, weirdest, most heart-breaking sport. Bring on the Fall Baseball.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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