Why Does Baseball Refuse to Take the Toronto Blue Jays Seriously?
What do the Toronto Blue Jays need to do before they’re considered a legitimate threat to win the AL East? As of June 14, they sit in fourth place with a 31-32 record, trailing the surging New York Yankees by six and half games.
They have been inconsistent for much of the season. At times they have looked like a team ready to take the next step, only to follow it up with disappointing stretches of play. To date, they have gone on three separate four-game winning streaks.
They began their first streak when they swept the Kansas City Royals (April 20-24), only to follow it up with four straight losses. They lost their next three games after their second streak (May 1-4) and dropped six of seven following their most recent streak (May16-19). Despite their inconsistencies, they remain contenders in baseball’s toughest division.
They haven’t made the playoffs in almost 20 years, so it should come as no surprise why the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays garner more attention. All three organizations have also had their share of success in recent seasons as they have each represented the American League in the World Series.
In 2007, the Boston Red Sox won the AL East and captured their second World Series title in four years by sweeping the Colorado Rockies. The Tampa Bay Rays won their first division title the following season but came up short against the Philadelphia Phillies, falling in five games.
The New York Yankees were the class of the division in 2009 and defeated the Phillies in six games en route to their 27th World Series championship.
By comparison, the Jays have not had much success since their 1993 World Series title, as they have failed to surpass 90 wins and managed just one second-place finish during that span (2006).
The Tampa Bay Rays came out of nowhere in 2008 and have been a threat ever since, while the Baltimore Orioles have taken the AL East by surprise this year, as they have been at or near the top of the division throughout the season.
Are they for real? It remains to be seen if they can maintain their success, but one thing that appears certain is that they’re no longer a pushover.
Perhaps more was expected from the Jays after they finished spring training with the best record (24-7).
They haven’t been a bad team by any means, but they also haven’t done enough this season or in recent years to warrant the type of attention that the Orioles and the rest of the division have received.
Lack of exposure south of the border could be their biggest detriment. They became Canada’s team when the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington in 2005.
They are well-known to Canadian fans due to their extensive coverage across the country, but are more of an afterthought in the United States, as America is home to 29 of MLB’s 30 franchises.
Like the unexpected rise of the Rays in ’08 and the Orioles this season, the Jays will need to put some wins together to justify the attention given to rest of the division. Their play against the National League remains substandard, and their record within the division (11-14) will not cut it.
So far they have yet to live up to the hype they generated coming into the season. If they can demonstrate some consistency against the division’s heavyweights and teams around the league, then baseball will have no choice but to take them seriously, but until that happens, they will continue to linger behind in the shadows of their AL East counterparts.
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