108: The 'Streak'
19 June 2015
By Tyler King
If scientists say that hamsters have the worst short-term memory in the animal kingdom, then they clearly haven’t done enough experiments on sports fans.
Somehow it feels like ages ago when the Blue Jays were going for their 12th straight win, an effort that seemed foreordained after Jose Bautista’s ninth-inning home run, but eventually fell short in extra innings.
A day later Kevin Pillar made one little (ok... big) base-running mistake and the fans were right back to “fire everyone.”
Quick reminder: THEY JUST WON 11 GAMES IN A ROW!
As a Jays fan, it wasn’t easy to write about the team’s incredible play during that winning streak. What if a careless word or phrase proved to be the jinx that ended their run?
I can’t handle that kind of pressure. I may have even wore the same Blue Jays shirt 13 days in a row...
(Come to think of it, I was getting some funny looks down in Section 108 - and I’ve been lighting scented candles ever since).
Now that the dust has settled and I no longer, for the time being anyway, have to worry about upsetting the balance of the universe or the baseball gods, it feels like a good time reflect on at what that streak really meant.
And the most important thing? Where did it leave the team in the standings...
After losing the first game of a double-header against the Washington Nationals on June 2nd, the Jays were seven games below .500. They were also 4.5 games back of the division leading New York Yankees and 5.5 games back of the Wild Card.
The comments section on any Blue Jays related article looked more like a 15th century witch hunt (but with worse language), than a baseball debate. John Gibbons and Alex Anthopoulos were always the most-wanted suspects.
Twelve days later, on June 14th, the Jays won their 11th game in a row, having swept the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, and Boston Red Sox. The wins put them four games above .500, and only one game back of both the division and the Wild Card.
Remember when the AL East was just a big joke?
It’s hard to imagine that the day before the Jays’ streak began the Yankees were the only AL East team with a winning record. At that point one would have thought taking 11 games in a row meant running away with the division.
But, of course, as the Jays woke up so did everybody else.
The AL East is now statistically one of the BETTER divisions in the league (if not the tightest), and every team but Boston has a winning record.
Even though the streak didn’t catapult the Jays to the top of the standings, it has, at least, encouraged the fan base.
Prior to their win streak, the Jays last two home games were midweek affairs against the Chicago White Sox on May 26th and 27th. Over those games the Jays drew a combined attendance of only 32,739.
During this week's Wednesday and Thursday mini-series against the New York Mets, the first midweek home games since the streak ended, the Jays drew a combined attendance of 56,494.
That’s a spike of 23,755.
I actually wanted to buy a 200-level ticket on Wednesday - but was told that the entire section was sold out. Standing at centre field, looking out at the crowd from the West Jet Flight Deck (the old Windows restaurant), you’d think you were at a Saturday game against the Yankees.
(Who said winning wasn’t everything? Actually, I’m pretty sure I did a few articles ago... oops).
Despite the bump in both record and attendance, and the improved pitching (they had a team ERA of 3.12 during that stretch), the number that everyone is talking about is the 88 runs the Jays scored over their 11 wins.
Unfortunately, nobody has really given that number much context.
So, just how impressive is that total?
Eighty-eight runs is more than 28 teams have recorded so far in June.
Eighty-eight runs is six more than the Red Sox scored in the month of May. (Eight teams failed to reach that total in April).
Eighty-eight runs is 43% of the Philadelphia Phillies’ runs-scored total... for the entire season (68 games).
During the win streak, the Jays also mashed 18 home runs (four more than the Atlanta Braves and the Phillies hit last month) and had a combined team average of .312.
Apparently this offence is pretty good.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have washed that shirt after-all...
Follow Tyler and #section108 on twitter: @tylerjoseph108