Blue Jays proud of season's accomplishments
KANSAS CITY -- The Blue Jays were never going to be satisfied with anything less than a World Series title, but when the dust settles and the disappointment subsides, they'll look back on this season with pride.
Toronto's run officially came to an end Friday night with a 4-3 loss to the Royals in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. But the fact that the Blue Jays appeared in the postseason at all is an accomplishment that should not be taken for granted.
This was a franchise that went 22 years between appearances in the postseason. There was an entire generation of fans that had never seen their team play meaningful baseball in September, let alone October. The Blue Jays wanted more than that, the fans wanted more than that, but there were plenty of moments along the way that should be cherished.
"I think the future is bright in Canada for baseball," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said. "We had a tremendous year. It definitely didn't have the finish that we wanted, but we're definitely going to hold our heads high. I'm proud of the group that we have. I'm proud of how we fought."
The 2015 season will be remembered as the year baseball exploded in Toronto and across Canada. Attendance started to rise in 2013, but this was the year that everything came together. Blue Jays fans have been saying for years that if the club put a competitive product on the field, they would come to the ballpark in droves. In the end, they were proven right.
Toronto finished the year by selling out all but one of its final 30 home games. The television ratings on Sportsnet set records not just for baseball but for any program in the network's history. In the ALCS, there were more people watching Games 3, 4 and 5 on television north of the border than in the United States. That's unheard of.
It's easy to see why the country embraced this Blue Jays squad. There was the AL MVP Award candidate Josh Donaldson, the longtime franchise star Jose Bautista, the personable and witty R.A. Dickey, Edwin Encarnacion's "Ed-Wing" home run trot, the hometown star Martin, the underdogs, in Chris Colabello and Marco Estrada. The list goes on and on.
More importantly, after so many years of unmet expectations, this was the group that lived up to the hype. Over the last two decades, there were countless number of rebuilds, big signings, promises made, results never delivered. All of that changed in 2015.
"It's been an amazing season," Donaldson said. "Obviously we wanted it to continue, but there are so many guys in here that stepped up and became better players and really contributed throughout the entire year. It's been a fun ride."
The way Toronto's season went, it's almost easy to forget that just three months ago, this type of run into the postseason would have seemed impossible. The Blue Jays were 50-51 on July 28, and eight games out of first place in the AL East.
What happened next changed the city and helped completely transform an organization. The Blue Jays pulled off blockbuster trades for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, they added role players Ben Revere and Mark Lowe. The end result was a 43-18 record over the final two months of the regular season.
It all happened so fast and ended just as quickly. The ultimate goal wasn't achieved, but there's an AL East banner hanging from the rafters at Rogers Centre, and there was an improbable 0-2 comeback over the Rangers in the AL Division Series to remember.
It's over now, too soon for some, but what a ride.
"This city, the fans, the organization, our team, have so much to be proud of," Dickey said. "To be one of the last three teams, the best last three teams in the world, is pretty awesome. It's so fresh right now, it's hard to be satisfied with your season, but I think in a day or two, I'll be happy we got as far as we did. But all of us in here feel like we should be moving on."