Article Written by Craig Borden (@Craigers1221)
The Toronto Blue Jays have had many defining moments already this season and it goes to show how big of a transition they have gone through. By this point last season, the Jays were suffering with an 8-17 record and struggling to find their footing. The team was looking to find their identity and never really found that chemistry to sustain success with the revolving door of new faces.
Flashing forward to this season the Blue Jays have a bunch of new faces along with a fruitful Minor League System. The team is off to a decent start after many so-called "professional baseball analysts" did not give the Blue Jays a thought. The team might be in a mild slump at the moment but they have a 14-11 record to start the season. There are a few main differences outside of the obvious that have been helping this team win ball games and all revolve around the theme of chemistry.
The 2018 Blue Jays are clicking on all levels as a team. This is being seen all over the diamond as the core players have made this clubhouse a fun safe place. Clubhouse staples like Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar, Justin, Smoak, and Marcus Stroman have been joined by veterans that know how to put in solid work while still having fun. Curtis Granderson, Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Yangervis Solarte have become pillars of the new look Jays. This group has shown the youngsters that hard work and a solid dance party can be enough to keep a team together through thick and thin.
Those youngsters have fueled that fire that has been started by the older talent. Teoscar Hernandez may be the face of the current youth makeover for the Jays, but has been joined by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The Jays youth is coming up to the Show probably sooner rather than later and this is just the start. The great thing about this is the Minor League teams have been winning! This past season, the Vancouver Canadians and the Dunedin Blue Jays received rings for their Championship performances. This is the foundation of a winning Major League team. These guys are not just learning how to win but are learning to do it together.
The Blue Jays brass has been doing a good job of recruiting not just talent but good characters. Players known for their work ethic and the content of their person. Curtis Granderson may be the poster child for this movement but the Jays have also brought in Yangervis Solarte, Aledmys Diaz, and Randall Grichuck that also fit that mold. This depth of talent has fed the Jays early success.
The hard work and never-give-up attitude have made things very interesting thus far this season. The Jays have scored 54 runs after the 7th inning. All of those runs in late innings will always lead to more wins as a team. To put that into perspective, the Jays scored 196 runs total after the 7th inning in 2017. They are already a quarter of the way to last seasons total as they close out the first month of the 2018 season. This shows how resilient this current team is.
The last point I have to make is that this team looks like they are having fun! When the Blue Jays finally broke their playoff drought, the team was a cohesive unit. The stir the pot gesture was being used by everyone in the dugout and things were great. Today we have the team chatting it up, dancing, and showing a passion for the game that has been unseen by Blue Jays players. A perfect example of this was during yesterday's game. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has not been with the team very long and hit his first big league home run. Rather than the typical high fives, the guys decided to have some fun with the once in a lifetime moment. Gurriel came into the dugout and got the silent treatment from his teammates. He finally got to Aaron Sanchez who kicked off the celebration for the up and coming ball player. This kind of fun only occurs in a close group of friends. These shenanigans are the difference between a team powering through a drought or falling off the cliff for the season.
As this team grows together and takes on all the challenges that occur on and off the diamond, I truly believe that they are on the right track. Regardless of how things go this season, this team is going to fight to the bitter end and provide some fun all the way until the fat lady sings. All of us Blue Jays fans are ready to cheer them on and help light the fire that this team has clearly sparked already this season.
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