Blue Jays fever quickly turns into Blue Jays uncertainty

Sports Sports | Lifestyle
Photo by Josh Kozelj
Even in the midst of midterms, students made their allegiances known this baseball season. Photo by Josh Kozelj

For just over two weeks this October, Blue Jays fever took over a country and a campus. The Toronto Blue Jays, “Canada’s Team,” had a playoff run that fell just short of the World Series. With their cleats now hung up, the upcoming offseason raises a lot of questions for the Jays.

Fans at UVic used the playoffs as an outlet for a much-needed break from studying for midterms. Every game was broadcast at Felicitas, and dorm residents gathered together to watch  in their communal lounges.

The Blue Jays began their playoff run back on Oct. 4 in a dramatic American League Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles. This game was a one-game playoff, where the winner moves on and the loser goes home. The Jays won 5-2, thanks to a crucial home run by Edwin Encarnacion.

In the next round at the American League Division Series, the Jays faced their dreaded rivals, the Texas Rangers, on Oct. 6. If that team sounds familiar, it is because they are the same team that the Jays played last postseason, when Jose Bautista hit an epic home run, resulting in the famous “bat flip.” A regular season game on May 15 added extra tension to the Jays-Rangers rivalry, when the Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor violently punched Bautista in the face after Bautista made a controversial hard slide into second base. This time, however, there was little tension, and the Jays won the series three games to zero on Oct. 9, sweeping them to the next round: the American League Championship Series.

Their impressive run ended here, only one series away from baseball’s ultimate end goal: the World Series on Oct. 19. In the end, the Cleveland Indians’ pitching, led by all-stars Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller, proved to be too much for the Jays’ bats. The Jays have not made it to the World Series since 1992 and 1993, when they won two consecutive championships.

When the team takes the field in 2017, they could look a lot different, as all-stars Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are entering free-agency. This means that any Major League team could offer Bautista or Encarnacion a contract to play for them. So if the Jays do not give those stars a desirable contract, there is a strong possibility that both sluggers could be wearing different jerseys next spring. Free agents can sign contracts with new teams starting in early November.

If Encarnacion and Bautista decide to go elsewhere, that could leave a gaping hole in the Blue Jays’ offence. In the meantime, fans have a long and uncertain six months to wait before the next opportunity to watch their team at play: The Jays are scheduled to open the 2017 season against the Baltimore Orioles on April 3.