Tomorrow is opening day: for the Dodgers and Blue Jays.
One of the most heinous crimes as a Canadian is to admit you’re not a Blue Jays fan: something I have never been but a fact which is made only more acute with my absence from the country.
My sister gets mad at me because I root for the Dodgers — like I’m a traitor. But the truth is, I’ve never liked the Jays. When I moved to L.A. I was happy to realize I finally had a choice in teams. And I know I made the right choice as far as that is concerned (Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim? Are you for real?).
I’ve never liked the Blue Jays because they’re from Toronto. Toronto, if you have not heard, is the center of the universe. Very important city Toronto is. Torontonians have been trying to convince the rest of Canada this for my entire life. So instinctively I decided not to like the Jays.
That and the Jays pretty much never make the playoffs. They have the fine distinction of having the longest running playoff drought in North American professional sports.
I remember my great uncle trying to convince me to cheer for them when I was a teenager. They were one of the great joys in his life. He’d dutifully save the scrap of newspaper that listed their games and sit glued to his T.V. for each one of them. After school I’d go to his house — a time capsule from the 1970s in every way, including enthusiasm for the Jays which I can only guess was mildly high around the time of their formation in 1977 — and I’d watch him watch the Jays. Before smart phones.
The Jays ranked so low on my interest list that it I deemed it more valuable to watch a senior fumble with his remote to turn up the volume than to watch their games themselves.
And then the Jays did make the playoffs. They broke their streak in 2015 and it was nothing short of magical. It was the kind of season that makes you fall in love with sports, and baseball. Which it did for me.
It was the kind of season that made me say, “Gee, I wish Uncle Leonard was still alive to see this.” It was the moment he had been waiting for since 1993.
In baseball — nothing happens for a long time and then suddenly everything happens. But the everything only has meaning if you’ve sat through all of the nothing. I mean this in the context of a game, but also in the context of the Jays’ entire lifespan which has been a whole lot of nothing (okay, one World Series) and then — all at once — everything.
The 2015 season for the Jays was incredible to watch. First — there was that creeping feeling that they might actually make the playoffs. Kind of like what Edmonton just experienced with (let’s not jinx it now) the Oilers. You didn’t want to get too excited, but things were looking up.
They became a team of home runs, with heavy weights like Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar (California boy) and, my favorite— Jose Bautista (Joey Bats) up at bat.
They also became a team of drama. To make my point: there was that epic seventh inning against Texas in the post-season.
It was the most insane inning of baseball I’ll ever watch in my life.
What you have to understand is that the Texas Rangers had this villain of a player named Rougned Odor. Even his name is villainous, correct me if I’m wrong.
Odor was on third and was trying to come home. The next batter was at the plate— Shin-Soo Choo. The Jays catcher had the ball and was tossing it back to the mound — an occasion that happens probably hundreds of times a game. The catcher gets the ball, tosses it back to the pitcher.
No big deal.
Except this time that didn’t happen. Because when the Jays pitcher — Russell Martin — tossed the ball back to the mound, it accidentally struck Choo’s hand and never got there.
The ball struck the upcoming batter’s hand. Somehow Martin screwed that one up.
So Odor, probably not believing his eyes, made a run for home — and scored.
That event, as insane as it is, kicked off even more insanity in that inning. Quite possibly one of the greatest baseball innings ever witnessed and the reason I love watching the game today.
The Jays ultimately prevailed and my dad flew my sister and I to Toronto after that to watch a game in the next round.
But I don’t like the Jays.
I’m telling you, I’m a Dodger’s fan.