What it Feels Like When Your Home Team is Winning

Baseball has its many charms whether your home team is winning or not.

For the baseball fan, the season starts in April and ends in October, and during that time, someone’s home team somewhere is winning and, what with television and the Internet being what it is today, you can actually see the great teams play, even if yours is having a “building” year. There is a no-hitter being pitched somewhere in baseball, a player will be hitting for the cycle and you might even see that rarest of birds—the triple play.

But when the big show, after lumbering through the great towns of America, decides to park itself in your home town, in your ball park, even temporarily, well … things get a bit giddy, the noise level in the ball park goes up, and your heart beats a little faster, doesn’t it?

Because we know—it’s kind of obvious from seeing them play—that what’s happening now with the Toronto Blue Jays is not an 11-game win streak in May. It’s game after game of stellar pitching (Hello David Price! Welcome to T.O.). It’s one great defensive play after another. It’s home run after home run. It’s third baseman, Josh Donaldson, leading all of baseball in RBIs and Runs. You can see one of them in this CBS video clip entitled Josh Donaldson knocks bejeezus out of oncoming baseball

I could throw in more video clips, but you really are better off just watching a game. A blue-jay force field is being built. It looks like opposing teams may be getting into a tiny bit of overthink when facing Blue Jay batters, making the force field stronger and—holy shit—on top of all that, it’s the end of August. (Remarkably for the month of August, after a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Toronto Blue Jays have gone 21-5 and scored 718 runs, the most in the major leagues.)

But then … you also have to think … even with all that talent, even with all those balls flying over the outfield, even with the big show parking in your town for five minutes, the Blue Jays, as of today, have won precisely .563% of the games they’ve played. Division rivals, the New York Yankees have won .551% of their games and are 1.5 games in back of the Jays. The St. Louis Cardinals—those beautiful Redbirds—sit on top of both leagues with a winning percentage of .641.

SUPERSTITION ALERT: For those who worry about jinxing the team, please stop reading now because we are going to talk about the future.

If the Jays keep playing the way they are playing, they will widen the gap in the AL East and win the division. Their reward (and ours) will be—assuming the American League standings stay the same as they are today—a play-off between Toronto, Kansas City and Houston.  If they come out on top of that, they will likely take on the Cardinals in a World Series for the Birds.™

Please don’t mistake my musings for a bit of the old rah-rah-rah. My purpose—like many fans who’ve been around a time or two—is to heighten the appreciation of today’s game by making sure everyone in my little universe understands just how hard it is to win at baseball.[1]

It is the cruelest of sports. It is a sport where the law of averages, which brought your team to life, and got you through the year, can go (pardon the expression) tits up late in the playoffs.

The hope of most fans, when the baseball season starts in April, is that your team will play a respectable .500 ball. In August, you need them to be playing high .500 or .600 ball, like the Cardinals are doing right now. For some perspective, I went into the history books to find out which teams, if any, in baseball had ever played .700 ball.

When I blew the dust of the records, I discovered that, since 1886, 14 teams had an over .700 season (much shorter seasons, it must be said). The most recent was the New York Yankees in 1998. (I hadn’t realized it because I went on a baseball strike for a few years.)

But guess what else I found out that will blow your mind?

Only 5 of the 14 teams that played .700 ball in the past 129 years went on to win the World Series. How about that? A .700 win-loss record and a nickel …

So you never know in baseball.

But baseball fans are a creative lot and besides the play on the field, winning gives rise to incredible little gifts like this one—a video showing all 173 of the Blue Jays home runs up to August 26th set to the music of Johnny Cash singing God is Going to Cut you Down. Click here to take a look. A “tip of the toque” 🙂 goes to B.C. sports writer and friend, Tom Hawthorn, for posting it on his Facebook, where I’ve watched it, like, five times already.

Good job Jays.

[1] Hockey fans: Please pipe down. You are currently out-of-season.

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