Now that all the excitement associated with the Olympics has evaporated like the warm summer air, it’s onto the next big thing in Canada in terms of the focus of the sporting mind.
You have the seasonal sports like basketball and hockey that you could get into. This year, you could even get into the World Cup of Hockey, which the NHL decided to resurrect from the grave. But, more importantly, you could turn on your TV and join in the Blue Jays fever that has swept the nation over the past two years as one of baseball’s top teams looks to reclaim their first world title since 1993.
In case you forgot, or altogether didn’t know, this championship run of 2016 has been a long time in the making. After making significant additions at last year’s trade deadline — overhauling nearly all of their starting roster — the Jays were one of the hottest teams in baseball through the months of August and September before earning their first post-season berth in more than two decades.
While there, Blue Jays fans witnessed potentially the most fan-altering moment of their lifetime when Jose Bautista single handledly flipped the Blue Jays into the second round with a game-winning home run over the Texas Rangers. Sure, the Jays inevitably lost the next series against the eventual World Series-winning Kansas City Royals, but for a team starved of success, 2015 was an undeniable step forward.
Flash forward four freezing Canadian months and the Jays were in Dunedin for spring training, pushing to take another step forward to become World Champions. Since then, they’ve been a team that’s had their ups and downs — in a 162-game season, that’s a given — but they’ve battled their way to first place in the American League East with a 96 per cent chance at claiming a playoff spot.
With a month left in the season, now is the time to hop aboard the Blue Jays bandwagon, but know that the remaining spots aboard are running out quickly. As it currently stands, the Blue Jays lead the entire American League in attendance at their home ballpark which, if continued to season’s end, would be the first time a team other than the New York Yankees led the league in attendance since 2002.
Add onto this the fact that over 1.5 million Canadians are tuning in nightly to watch the Blue Jays play on television — and you can see this is a movement that you may not want to miss out on. Comparatively, last year at this time, the Jays were averaging around a million viewers per game at a time when the Jays had a nearly identical record.
With less than a month remaining in the season, it’s not too late to catch a bit of Blue Jays fever and join in something bigger than yourself. At a time when Canadian hockey is in the basement of the NHL, basketball has yet to begin and the summer temperatures fade to irrelevance, who knows, you just might enjoy yourself.
Eric Elliott is a reporter with the Invermere Valley Echo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to climb aboard the Blue Jays bandwagon.