Are the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays the most unlucky team in sports this year?
Stuck in a division with two teams sporting triple-digit payrolls and merchandising revenues larger than the GDP of a small country, the Jays just might be.
Let me explain, Cubs fans.
You are certainly the most unlucky sports franchise of all-time, but in 2012, the Jays have an argument.
Not only do they have to compete with the evil empires in New York and Boston, but also the "we-sucked-for-a-decade-and-now-we're-incredible" Tampa Bay Rays. It only took four first-overall draft picks to turn that franchise around.
And while the Rays were floundering in the depths of the AL East for the majority of the 2000s, the Jays were fielding competitive teams. But the Jays were never really in contention to qualify for the playoffs and here's why.
In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. They posted a regular season record of 83-78, winning the NL Central by 1.5 games.
In contrast, the 2006 Toronto Blue Jays posted a record of 87-75.
That's just not fair.
After 162 games, the Jays had clearly proven themselves to be significantly better than the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals. The Jays, had they been placed in the NL Central, would have easily won the division.
But the Jays didn't even get a chance to play important baseball in September because of the ridiculously competitive American League. Toronto finished fourth in the wild-card standings with 87 wins.
In 2008, a very similar thing happened to the team: they won 86 games and finished fourth in the AL East. And now, in 2012, it looks as though the Jays will have a winning record, but finish at the bottom of their division.
Dear readers, tell me in what universe—or even what other division in sports— does that happen?
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles were copying Tampa Bay this entire time. Every year it was simply implied that the Orioles would finish in fifth and that it was just a matter of time before the Jays' deep, talented pool of prospects panned out.
2012 brought further promise, with execs around the MLB talking about the inevitability of the Jays success. Jays fans were excited, but for whatever reason, the baseball gods chose the Orioles in 2012.
This is all wrong, right Jays fans?
The Orioles weren't supposed to be threatening the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays; it was supposed to be our team.
At least we can fall back on the fact that the majority of our team's pitchers are injured. Here's a brief list of the Jays injury report: Brandon Morrow (staff ace), Kyle Drabek (fourth starter, out for the season), Sergio Santos (closer, has not pitching since April).
The fact that the team has two healthy starters who have been on the roster since spring training shows that this franchise might need to start praying to Pedro Cerrano's voodoo god for a little bit of luck.
But it's not all doom-and-gloom, Jays fans. It's still only July.
The team has a chance to make a run. Jose Bautista is looking like himself again and Ricky Romero has the ability to lead the rag-tag pitching staff. They'll need some help from the Orioles and the Angels —and a few other teams at that—but with another playoff spot available, it could happen.
The Jays just need a little luck for once.