Last night, while most of us in the US were sleeping, the 2012 Major League Baseball season got underway...in Tokyo, Japan.
For whatever reason (I suspect money is among them), the Oakland Athletics played a "home" game versus the Nintendo Mariners, er, Seattle Mariners in the Tokyo Dome. Whatever. I'm just happy that baseball is back.
Today, my Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore, 9-3. Now, beating Baltimore during the season is not really news-worthy, so doing so in March is even less remarkable. But with the win, Toronto is now 21-4 in Grapefruit League games. They started 2-2, won 10 in a row (something they've not done in many years during the regular season), lost twice on the same day in two split-squad games, and proceeded to run another nine game streak.
The most wins the Blue Jays ever had in any Spring season was 21, back in 1989. The team went 21-10. It's virtually assured that Toronto will win one of the remaining games, and top the 21-win record.
That 1989 season was in the middle of a very solid run of success for Toronto. Between 1983 and 1993, the team never won fewer than 86 games, posted five AL East pennants (should have been six - a historic collapse in 1987 put Detroit into the playoffs) and two World Series championships.
The 1989 Jays went on to win the AL East, and then lost to the Oakland Athletics, who were in the midst of their own powerful run, featuring the "Bash Brothers" of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, as well as future HoF outfielder Rickey Henderson. Oakland went on to sweep the Giants that fall in the Bay Area Series.
It's only Spring, the standings do not really matter, and the team could come apart faster than you can say "Kyle Drabek just didn't have it (again) today," but looking over the past 25 years, only one other team has posted a better performance than the 2012 Jays, and that was the 1997 Florida Marlins, who finished with a 26-5 record.
If you're curious, Florida beat the Cleveland Indians in the '97 Series.
It's been a long, dry spell for Blue Jays' fans, but this Spring, I feel a certain optimism that I haven't felt since Roberto Alomar left in 1994.
Let's play ball!