It’s that time once again — the 2016 baseball season has kicked off. But for the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s #unfinishedbusiness.
According to CTV News, the Blue Jays are the second most followed professional sports team, with the New York Yankees coming in first, on Twitter. Over the course of the 2015 baseball season, where the Blue Jays clinched the American League East title for the first time in 22 years and acquired Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, the Blue Jays gained some 394,000 Twitter followers, and the popularity is not just limited to the team as a whole.
Slugger Jose Bautista is the fourth-most followed Major League Baseball player on Twitter, with 964,000 followers. Bautista – and the Blue Jays – saw the team’s popularity swell as a result of the post-season appearance which included the incredible bat flip that Bautista pulled off in Game 5 of the ALDS after hitting a homer in the seventh inning while facing a tie game. Bautista himself acknowledged the impact of that bat flip in a post in The Players’ Tribune, and acknowledged the impact of his own heritage on how he responded when he cracked that game-winning homer.
— Alison Craig (@lawandchocolate) April 1, 2016
“To us, baseball isn’t a country club game,” Bautista said. “It’s our national pastime, and it comes packed with emotion.”
For those of us in Canada, the Blue Jays are essentially Canada’s team. We used to have the Montreal Expos, but they relocated in 2004 and Canada has not truly had a ball team beyond the Blue Jays since. We take baseball seriously, so when the Blue Jays didn’t quite make it to the World Series in 2015, small wonder that they are talking about #OurMoment and #UnfinishedBusiness.
The Blue Jays are off to a good start, with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in their season opener. Infielder Tulowitzki cracked the first homer of the game, defying expectations in doing so, and with a solid effort from pitcher Marcus Strohman, it comes as no real surprise that the Blue Jays were able to eke out a win.
However, there are pundits already questioning whether Bautista will return for the 2017 season, but that is to be expected. If the Blue Jays go as far – or farther than – as they did last season, with sluggers like Bautista and Josh Donaldson seeming to hold an anchor position with the Blue Jays, Bautista could command quite a massive number when it comes to contract negotiations. Ditto Edwin Encarnacion, and both players are huge favorites with the fans.
Perhaps the biggest name to watch as the Blue Jays look for #OurMoment is Donaldson. Last year’s MVP made some pretty incredible plays in both the regular season and the post season, and fans should expect no less. Donaldson told Sportsnet that he and the rest of the Blue Jays are focused on winning their division again because of the unfinished business of the last baseball season. He added that the Blue Jays were also feeling confident that 2016 could be their year.
“We feel like we have the capability to do that this year and it’s been a big focus and our first goal is to win the division again,” Donaldson said. “This is where it starts.”
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) April 3, 2016
With a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Blue Jays are obviously off to a positive start. Donaldson said, though, that while he believed the 2016 Blue Jays had the potential to be the team to beat this season, the players needed to focus on staying healthy.
“These are really good players in here, talented guys, health is going to be the biggest issue,” he said of the 2016 Blue Jays roster. “If we can stay healthy, we feel like we have the team to beat.”
(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)