So what can be made of the Toronto Blue Jays getting off to a 10-2 start this spring (and currently beating Houston as of this typing)? Well, it’s easy to say that it’s just spring training and the game results don’t matter all that much and that logic would be largely correct. However, it IS spring, so let’s be optimistic, shall we?
One big thing I’m hoping translates to the regular season from the spring results and the current nine-game winning streak is a culture and expectation of winning. Alright, before you call me an idiot for posting ridiculousness about “intangibles,” hear me out.
Now, feel free to disagree, but the Jays haven’t really been known as a team that commonly rattles off long winning streaks. Don’t believe me? Check out the team’s longest winning streak for each of the past 20 seasons. And just for comparison sake, let’s put those numbers next to the Yankees longest winning streaks for each of those seasons (the Yankees chosen as a consistent, year-after-year playoff contender)
2011: Blue Jays, 6 games/Yankees, 8 games
2010: Blue Jays, 6 games/Yankees, 8 games
2009: Blue Jays, 6 games/ Yankees 9 games
2008: Blue Jays, 10 games/Yankees, 8 games
2007: Blue Jays, 5 games/Yankees, 9 games
2006: Blue Jays, 5 games/Yankees, 6 games
2005: Blue Jays, 4 games/Yankees, 10 games
2004: Blue Jays, 6 games/Yankees, 8 games
2003: Blue Jays, 6 games/Yankees, 8 games
2002: Blue Jays, 7 games /Yankees, 7 games
2001: Blue Jays, 4 games /Yankees, 9 games
2000: Blue Jays, 5 games /Yankees, 8 games
1999: Blue Jays, 8 games/Yankees, 7 games
1998: Blue Jays, 11 games/Yankees 10 games
1997: Blue Jays, 5 games/Yankees 5 games
1996: Blue Jays, 7 games/Yankees, 5 games
1995: Blue Jays, 4 games/Yankees, 7 games
1994: Blue Jays, 8 games/Yankees, 10 games
1993: Blue Jays, 9 games/Yankees, 6 games
1992: Blue Jays, 8 games/Yankees, 6 games
Now, there’s obvious differences there, as with a few exceptions, the Yankees have consistently rattled off larger winning streaks throughout the season than the Jays. That might seem obvious since they’ve consistently had better, winning teams than Toronto, but I also don’t think it’s a stretch to say there’s a larger expectation of winning and culture of winning in that clubhouse.
And truth be told, with some of the rosters fielded in recent memory by the Blue Jays, I don’t think there’s that expectation in the clubhouse that at some point or another the franchise is going to rattle off 8 wins in a row, or win 10 out of 12, or only lose 5 or 6 games in a month. It might seem foolish, but there’s a big difference between wanting to win, trying to win and EXPECTING to win. I’m certain the Jays each and every day want to win and try to win, but have teams from the past gone up against the big dogs of the AL East and expected to win? Of that, I’m not quite as sure, as much as Hustle and Heart commercials might have us believe. Here’s to hoping the 2012 version of the Jays expect to win and if spring success helps catapult that, I’m all for it.
Now I know that a longest winning streak does not make a World Series champion, but it certainly doesn’t help to offset an inevitable losing streak. I think most teams that win the pennant will either be super consistent in winning series, or will have won a large number of games in a row at some point.
So, if beating up on teams in spring training is going to help the young Jays perhaps think that THEY are the top dogs in the East and that the Jays are the team to beat, then so be it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a more confident ballplayer and ball club.
Of course, with spring games largely being contested between minor leaguers, the spring results are also a very good sign that Toronto’s farm system is well stocked for the future, as Richard Griffin and Gregor Chisholm have pointed out, for their respective media outlets.
Whatever positives you want to take away let’s just hope it continues when the games start counting for real in April.
In other news related to Toronto-New York, comes this article from Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Allegedly the Jays are now “quietly becoming a threat” to the Yankees. Whereas before I guess Toronto was just a little league squad that no one ever had to worry about? Funny how even a complimentary article from a writer in New York can come off a touch condescendingly.