Today is a good day.
In a few minutes, the Toronto Blue Jays will be hosting a home playoff game for the first since 2016, when they welcome the Seattle Mariners to the Rogers Centre. I got goosebumps just writing that.
The stadium is going to be electric. If you’re watching on TV, you’ll get a taste of the atmosphere, but it won’t compare to being there in person.
I was fortunate enough to go to the Jays’ first playoff game since 1993, back in 2015. They lost that game, but I’ll never forget the giant Canadian flag being unfurled in the outfield before the first pitch. I’ll never forget the feeling of, “Wow, this is actually happening.”
In my early days of fandom as a child, it didn’t really compute that the Blue Jays could qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs felt like an exclusive club that only the Yankees and Red Sox could participate in. The regular season would end and I’d move on to the Leafs and Raptors.
I went to a playoff game in 2016, as well. It was Game 3 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. We went into it with the chance to sweep the series.
The Blue Jays hadn’t even come up to bat in the bottom of the first inning and I already felt like I was losing my voice. The atmosphere inside the dome that day was unlike anything I’ve ever been apart of.
The game went into extra innings and Josh Donaldson scored from second base on what should’ve been a double play, if not for the first baseman dropped the ball. There was a slight delay in the crowd realizing that Donaldson was still running hard around third because everyone was watching the play at first.
But I was sitting in the upper deck on the third base side, so I saw both things happening. All of a sudden, the first baseman dropped the ball and Donaldson is 20 feet down the third base line when the stadium filled with noise. He slid in safely and we swept the Rangers.
That is now known as, “The Donaldson Dash”.
The stadium went ballistic. I was hugging and jumping around with my friends, as well as the strangers next me. Thousands of other fans were doing the same thing.
In 2020, the Blue Jays made the playoffs during the COVID-shortened season, where they opened up the playoffs to eight teams in each league. We were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
To be honest with you, that didn’t feel like the playoffs. There was no atmosphere in the stadium. Bo Bichette recently said as much. He said he feels like he hasn’t been apart of the postseason yet.
Additionally, I’m still bitter of how we set up our starting pitchers for that three-game series. For some reason, we wanted our ace, Hyun-Jin Ryu, to pitch in Game 2 because that would either be a “stay alive” game or a “clinching” game.
I get it, but we were a young team who hadn’t been there before. Don’t play it cute. You signed him to a big contract for a reason. Throw him out there in Game 1; I don’t care if the Rays have their ace on the mound.
Last season, we were eliminated on the final day. That hurt. But sometimes you have to lose before you can win, right? So, now, we can win.
Is it a bad thing that I’m not nervous ahead of Game 1 of the Wild Card series today? Sure, the Mariners are a good team and will throw some good pitchers at us, but my confidence in the Blue Jays is greater than any fear they may impose.
We have a great team, with someone like George Springer who has seen it all before. We have young, phenomenal talent, like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. We have depth up and down the batting order.
I am not scared. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but we should win this series.
This team hasn’t experienced the Rogers Centre during this time of year. It transforms into a different place. I know they are ready to take it all in.
The players on this team are a joy to watch and root for. The support they have for one another comes through the TV screen on a daily basis. It may be cliché to refer to a team as a family, but they truly are one.
I’m ready for the rollercoaster to begin.
I’m ready for new memories to be made.
I’m ready for the Toronto Blue Jays to go to the next level.