The city’s beloved Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, steps up to the plate for its 33rd season.
Since the end of the 2008 season, the Toronto Blue Jays have incurred a number of blows—a host of injuries and a decreased payroll among them—proving that not even the big leagues are immune to the rainy days of recession. To top it off, the boys are up against several powerhouse squads in the notoriously tough American League East division: the formidable New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, plus last season’s unlikely World Series finalists, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Such setbacks could have seriously harmed a lesser team, but despite dire predictions from the press, the Jays’ fresh-faced lineup of fledgling players alongside tried-and-true veterans remains a beacon of hope for Toronto sports fans, many of whom still blissfully recall the club’s back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and ‘93.
Baseball buffs can take comfort knowing the team is in the trusty hands of all-star pitching ace Roy “Doc” Halladay—the 32-year-old right-hander had a phenomenal 2008 season, posting a record of 20 and 11 with a 2.78 ERA—and venerable outfielder/battering ram Vernon Wells, who is more than ready to rebound from past injuries and take his rightful place in the midst of a powerful batting order. Designated hitter Adam Lind, top prospect Travis Snider and multi-talented right fielder—and female-fan favourite—Alex Rios are among the players shoring up a potent offense, and may be the triple threat that gives the Jays a running chance of making it back to the Big Show this season.
And who better to help achieve these playoff aspirations than current manager Cito Gaston, the sagacious skipper who steered the organization to its two World Series championships?
“My guys wouldn’t want to be in any other division,” says Gaston. “We’re more than excited and up for the challenge. We’ve got some young kids coming out in rotation and our bullpen’s going to be even better this year. We’re certainly putting a quality team on the field.”
If there is one thing Toronto baseball fans are known for, it’s not losing hope—and this season, the birds in blue have plenty of that.