Whatever we want to call the hot magic that has propelled the Toronto Blue Jays these last two months, it may have have hit its apogee Sunday. That night’s impending #superbloodmooneclipse might have exerted its influence, but then there’s been something moony about this team since the end of July, when a scuffling collection of not-quite-clicking players suddenly caught fire, and now sits tied with Kansas City for the best record in the American League. At any rate, having already secured a playoff spot but still looking to wrap up their division, the Jays tied their game with Tampa Bay thanks to the efforts of baserunning specialist Dalton Pompey, and headed for the bottom of the ninth looking to conclude the regular season home schedule with a victory.
It’s always handy to have an emblematic moment to tidily encapsulate a sprawling and unwieldy season, and there have been a few recent candidates: David Price striking out Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded on September 21st, or Dioner Navarro’s bottom of the ninth homer to tie the game on September 22nd, or maybe Russell Martin’s three-run seventh inning shot on September 23rd. All good candidates, as they each occurred in a packed Rogers Centre, against the pursuant Yankees, in what was to that point the most important series of the year. But with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth on a perfect, sunny, late-September Sunday afternoon, during the final home game of the regular season, the score all tied up and stands packed with towel-waving fanatics, presumed American League MVP Josh Donaldson stepped up and eclipsed all that.
“I bet he hits a home run,” my five year-old son said while we watched at home, and though my impulse was to say, “He just needs to get on base,” some other part of my being stage-whispered, Why not? After all, the last two months appear to have been scripted by five-year-olds, especially imaginative ones at that, who favour magic and unlikely turns and the wholesale suspension of disbelief. We hardened adults know such staccato bursts of wonder remain theoretically possible, but we generally consider them too unlikely to seriously contemplate. But then, you know, this is baseball. In the very next moment Josh Donaldson turned on the second pitch of his at-bat and deposited it in the second deck in left field, the Rogers Centre erupted. Donaldson rounded the bases and was mobbed by his teammates at home, had his jersey torn off, was doused in several varieties of sports drink, plus popcorn, and I said aloud, “I cannot believe this team.” My boy grew earnest then, looked me in the eye, and said, “I really think they’re going to win the World Series, Dad.”