It took great courage to come out and declare my loyalty to the Toronto Blue Jays. I have been a closet fan of the Canadian baseball team since 1993.
I kept my feelings under wraps because the Blue Jays have been a losing team and I know no one likes mediocrity.
No offense, but how many people do you know are fans of a certain football club in Tuen Mun but don’t actually live there?
I’m not sure how many Canadians are proud to be a Blue Jays fan either. Oddly enough, the Toronto Blue Jays are the only non-American team in America’s favorite pastime.
And not surprisingly, the Blue Jays’ average home game attendance is about 50 per cent, the fourth lowest in the Major League.
Things began to look up this season. Had it not been for a St. Louis Cardinal shutout over the weekend that snapped Toronto’s five-game winning streak, the Blue Jays would have tied Oakland Athletics for the lead in the American League, ahead of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
The season is still young being still a month from the All-Star break.
But it’s hard for a baseball watcher like me not to be over-excited, half a world away in Hong Kong, at the prospect of a 20-year trophy drought ending. I know the team’s reputation as “Blow Jays” for breaking hearts during clutch season-ending games.
The 2014 team resembles its winning 1993 version because of its meaty line-up. Even the ninth batter could deliver. I still remember a commentator saying the best strategy for handling WAMCO (White, Alomar, Molitor, Carter and Orleud) is to walk the first five hitters because three of them are American top hitters.
In that season, the Blue Jays also bought the league’s best lead-off batter, an insurance to defend the championship, and it paid off in a record-scoring post-season game in which it came back to win 15-14 over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Blue Jays offense this year may not be that overwhelming but they have half the team listed and voted in the All-Star game.
Fans favor outfielder Jose Bautista, who last year broke a team home run mark of 54 that had stood since 2010, a record not seen since Major League Baseball became serious about banning steroids that easily doubled a player’s home run production.
The Blue Jays also have winning pitcher Mark Buehrie and a strong pitching and defense team that one commentator described as having “no hole”. That was a crucial factor for the Blue Jays’ rebound from a last-place finish in 2013 to the second best team in the American League.
More importantly, the team has a Montreal-born young general manager, Alex Anthopolous. The 37-year-old succeeded J.P. Ricciardi, an apostle of Moneyball master Billy Beane, in 2010 and made some blockbuster player deals, most notably the 2012 trade of two All-Stars for seven players.
How I wish I could hear again the midnight horn that woke me up in October 1993 when Canada won its first World Series.
Since then, I have been pretending to be a fan of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. They seem to be the only ones with enough interesting stories to share with other people.
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