The Major League Baseball season got into full swing Thursday.
Yes, officially there were a couple of games played earlier in Tokyo, but action really started March 28, especially for a fan in Canada since that was the day the Toronto Blue Jays hit the field.
While this will be basically a look at our Jays, I want to digress just a bit.
The last two preseason games for Toronto were in Montreal, and that of course fuelled renewed discussion on the broadcast of the games, and among fans on social media, about the prospect of major league baseball returning to the Quebec city.
It was one of the darkest days in Canadian sports when the league let the Expos be moved south to settle in Washington – may the Nationals never win a World Series. That was in 2004, and the error has yet to be corrected.
Rob Manfred, Commissioner of MLB has certainly publicly been supportive of Montreal getting a team, which is a positive.
There is also a group in Montreal working toward a team and new stadium led by Stephen Bronfman, which is certainly a positive as well.
Much of the talk has Tampa Bay, a team that even when they win, can’t attract fans, moving north.
There is also the possibility of baseball expanding, which has to be preferred by many in the league just based on the influx of big money expansion fees.
Of course Montreal is not the only city rumoured to be wanting a team, Austin, TX, Indianapolis, and Las Vegas are among others who might be considered. If you crystal ball a bit more boldly, you have those pointing to Mexico City, Havana Cuba, and even Tokyo as future homes for MLB franchises.
Still, Montreal is deserving, and I suspect would support a return well.
But, what of the Jays, Canada’s lone MLB team at present?
The Jays battled Detroit hard in the opening series of the season, but we best not put too much into that performance as the Tiger line-up is thin, and the team is not expected to do much in the American League Central.
The Jays are not going to do a lot in the AL East either. Boston and New York are the cream, leaving the Jays and Rays batting for what will be third and well back of the frontrunners.
This is a season that is about two things for the Jays. On one hand they want Justin Smoak, Clay Buchholz and a couple of others to perform well enough through to June to have value to trade for assets come the MLB trade deadline.
The rest of the season will focus on evaluating the first wave of young talent to see how it will fit into the major rebuild the Jays are undertaking. The players getting looks early this season include Lourdes Gurriel Jr., at second, Rowdy Tellez at first, and Danny Jansen at catcher, a group who will soon be joined by starter Ryan Borucki and highly touted third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The team overall will struggle to find 85 wins, so as a fan it is about hoping the young guys make the adjustment to the pros to offer homes for 2020 and beyond.