I really didn’t think I’d be writing this only a day removed from the last game of the regular season. When a ballclub wins 91 games and has a top-five run differential, you can just about guarantee they’re gonna see playoff baseball. But that wasn’t the case with this Toronto Blue Jays squad, not only one of the best this city has ever seen but no doubt one of the most captivating, as they finished a game out of the second American League Wild Card spot.
Hats off to Hyun-jin Ryu for coming through in game 162. The bats took all the pressure away but he remained calm and gave us five solid inning.
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) October 3, 2021
Jays get a big dub in Game 162, and now the waiting game commences.
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) October 3, 2021
The season couldn’t have ended in a more crushing fashion, as players and fans alike watched the Boston Red Sox hit a go-ahead ninth-inning home run on the Rogers Centre jumbotron following Sunday’s 12-4 beatdown on the Orioles, a swing that effectively eliminated the Jays from postseason contention. Those last 45 minutes of scoreboard watching while at the game made me feel ill, and then seeing the Sox win the game had me in Spain without the S.
This is torture pic.twitter.com/CUJ0j8mMfr
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) October 3, 2021
But no matter how gutwrenching this moment was for this super talented ballclub and their devoted fanbase that spans an entire country, it only sucked so much because of how great this season was for a Jays team who has faced more adversity in 2021 than a wild turkey that made it to the other side of Thanksgiving. This ballclub was so talented, had such great camaraderie, and was so fun to watch, only for it all to get swept under the rug because they won one game less than what was needed to make it to the postseason.
When you miss the chance to play October baseball by this margin, you can’t help but think of all of the times the Jays lost games they should’ve won. Like when Marcus Semien botched a game-clinching throw to first that culminated in an extra-inning loss to the Tigers. Or all of those hair-pulling bullpen blowups. As a fan you agonize over the series split last weekend in Minnesota, or the fact that neither the Nationals or Rays could do us a favour by winning on Sunday. But in reality we should probably be blaming Rafael Dolis, Tyler Chatwood, and Brad Hand. Those chumps. It’s no surprise to anyone that playing 162 games as a member of the AL East is gonna be a battle right until the end.
Here are the run differentials and expected wins/losses for the AL East this year. That's the Blue Jays in fourth, out of the playoffs. I'm not mad. I just hate everything. pic.twitter.com/AUjm3Jsvn7
— Chris Jones (@EnswellJones) October 3, 2021
It really feels like this team should’ve made the postseason. That run differential tells no lies. The Blue Jays ended the season as one of the most complete ballclubs in the Majors, leading the league in on-base plus slugging percentage while having the 3rd-best pitching staff in the AL since the All-Star break. This lineup was chock-full of sluggers any of whom could go off on any given night, a rotation that I’d put up against any other, and a relief corps that really composed itself down the stretch. Four All-Stars in the middle of the batting order including two of the likely top three AL MVP candidates, a rotation headlined by the Cy Young favourite, and a hometown flamethrower at the back of the bullpen. These Blue Jays were no doubt one of the most feared teams in baseball.
— Dean Blundell (@ItsDeanBlundell) July 31, 2021
The top-to-bottom talent of this ballclub makes it mind-boggling that the season ended Sunday, but they gave us so many great moments. Being at the first game at the Rogers Centre in over 700 days gave me all the feels, and from then on these guys went on one hell of a run. They rattled win after win in front of their home fans, including so many that I was lucky to attend.
José Berrios’ shutout victory in his Jays debut, 44 runs in 48 hours against the Orioles in the midst of a 16-3 run, and Bo Bichette’s insane season-saving performance this past Wednesday against the Yankees are just a handful of them. The 11-10 comeback walkoff win against the Oakland A’s was the best Jays game I had been to in years, and that night felt like the beginning of something special for this ballclub and our fanbase. Turns out it was; even if it didn’t lead to a postseason berth it was one of the many highlights from an unforgettable season for this franchise, myself, and hopefully many of you.
While it ended on a tough note, I can't be too upset because this was an awesome #BlueJays season.
From their first home game in 2 years, to the insane walkoff vs the A's, to this wild week of baseball. So many incredible nights at the dome I wouldn't trade for anything.
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) October 4, 2021
What makes it easier to cope with this bitter end to the season is that this Blue Jays team is so young. Vladdy, Bo, Manoah, Berrios, Gurriel Jr., Biggio, Pearson, Jano, and Kirk are all 27 or younger, and each of those guys (minus Berrios) and so many more are under contract beyond next season. This team has gone through so much adversity, playing in three different home ballparks and suffering so many tough Ls including a brutal conclusion to their incredible year that they are as resilient and battle-tested as any young team I’ve ever seen. The Jays balled out this year, and they’re only gonna get better. VLADDY HIT 48 HOMERS AT THE AGE OF TWENTY TWO, FOR PETE’S SAKE! These guys will be back and ain’t nobody gonna wanna mess with them.
the blue jays bringing the same team back next season and winning 115 games pic.twitter.com/thSRtT1Dj5
— alex (@steven_lebron) October 4, 2021
It’s been a real tough stretch for most of us since March 2020, but these last several months have been so incredible following this ballclub and going to all of these games. I went to ten games this season, and after having to see this organization call senior central Dunedin and the beautiful city of Buffalo home for the last year and a half, I felt so lucky to get to be back at Jays games in-person once again. I didn’t take a single minute of my time spent in the dome this summer for granted.
Not only was it so amazing getting to see this ballclub play so well this season, but getting to do it while covering the Blue Jays as a part of this network made me feel so grateful. I’m so damn thankful for my parents’ support for my love of this ballclub, Dean for bringing me aboard on Opening Day, and this ballclub for being so damn electric. I’m gonna need a new larynx by the time I hit 30 from cheering on this team but that’s a problem for future me.
Last night's game proved to me that the Blue Jays are ready for October.
I spoke with @ItsDeanBlundell and @jamesdifiore about the run these guys have gone on to get here and why they are such a dynamic ballclub starting with the offense:@DBlundellNet #WeAreBlueJays pic.twitter.com/uPfG3lhVUJ
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) September 14, 2021
So what’s next? Well for the Jays, they gotta do whatever it takes this offseason to make sure they bring back Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien. Give them each a blank cheque, kiss their feet, bring them takeout to their front door whenever they snap their fingers, I don’t care. These two players did so much to elevate this young ballclub and they put up INCREDIBLE numbers. This core is so good that resigning these two and running it back would be a nightmare for the rest of the division. Rogers has the resources to afford them and whoever else the front office thinks could help this team to a World Series next season and beyond.
For myself, I have a big couple of weeks coming up as I’ll be writing the LSAT this Saturday and preparing law school applications for the end of the month. Between that and the Blue Jays, I’ve hardly had time for anything else lately. But after that’s all done I’ll be ramping it up again. With the season being over, I won’t be documenting many games anytime soon in my zoomed-in, far-too-personal front camera fashion. I won’t have any Bet on the Blue Jays plays, which means I’ll finish the 2021 season with an even record. While you’d expect my output to diminish in the offseason, I plan to keep on trucking forward and putting out content that I like and hopefully some of you will as well.
I’ll still be around covering anything that goes on during the baseball offseason, and I’ll be putting out a new Friday Five EVERY Friday. Maybe I’ll incorporate some more non-Blue Jays content. Maybe I’ll do a series of chicken sandwich reviews since Dean got such a kick outta the first one. Maybe I’m gonna spend some time in the States tailgating and watching college football and documenting the crazy stuff that goes on down in SEC country. Being apart of this network has been a blast, and I can’t wait to continue putting out content that’ll interest you all. I want to thank everyone who’s tuned in this season and everyone who’s with the Dean Blundell network for welcoming me in with open arms. The Blue Jays season may be done, but it doesn’t mean that I am.
We’ve only got 140 days or so until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Fire me right up.
There really is no place like home 🇨🇦
Thank you for your support 💙 pic.twitter.com/22g0nsElbC
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) October 3, 2021