|Photo courtesy the outstanding @james_in_to's Flickr stream.|
It would be redundant to re-hash all the super duper great things that have been happening during the Toronto Blue Jays' current 11-game (!) winning streak. They've hit the ball well, they've fielded it well, and they've pitched well. They haven't necessarily done all of those things at the same time in eleven straight games, mind you, but in instances where one of the legs of that precarious three-legged stool has wobbled a bit, the other two legs have been more than sturdy enough to keep things upright.
Good lord, it's been a blast, hasn't it? I like to think I'm generally a pleasant person regardless, and I've learned over the years that loyal support of a baseball team that usually loses more than it wins is not a good reason to allow a sunny disposition to be disturbed. Still, over the last couple of weeks, even knowing a streak like this won't last, I've gone from cheerful to being about two steps removed from skipping down the street like a giddy schoolgirl.
If you wear your fandom on your sleeve, on your head, on your desk, on the bumper of your car and everywhere else, you've probably suffered through much of the same mix of mockery and sympathy that I have since the beginning of April. "What's wrong with your boys?" they asked. "Worried yet?" they asked. You try to keep a brave face, you try to convince yourself it's early and they'd at least make things interesting at some point. But when you were honest with yourself, you accepted what seemed to be staring you in the face -- the disappointment of a likely third or fourth place finish in the monstrous American League East, by virtue of a brutal start to the season from which the team was unable to recover.
And now it's all changed. On June 21, as the season turned officially to summer, the Jays won the first game of an eventual sweep of the division-rival Baltimore Orioles, their third consecutive such sweep to open what was anticipated to be an angst-ridden ten straight within the division. They've crept to within five games of the division lead (not just the Wild Card, mind you).
There are nearly three full months ahead of us before the calendar tells us it will be fall, and the nip in the evening air reminds us playoff baseball is on its way. Three full months of streaks to begin and end, for the ebbs and flows of a long Major League Baseball season to separate the real talent from the pretenders of April and May. Injuries, substitutions, stars emerging, veterans fading away, brilliant plays and boneheaded mistakes -- all of the things that make every baseball season intriguingly unique.
It's been a helluva long time since the Jays have well and truly been in the mix to emerge at the end of a long, hot summer with a chance to experience what the fall has to offer. Yet here we are, fans riding the euphoria of the the longest winning streak in franchise history (tied, yes, I know... come talk to me tomorrow night). The caps and jerseys are worn a little more proudly; the water-cooler chatter is a little more confident. It's true that the Jays haven't won anything yet, but it sure feels better to know they haven't lost it all yet either.