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Throwback Thursday: Jo-Jo Reyes’ Streak, BJ Birdy’s Ejection, And Parallels Between the 2015, 2016, And 2017 Teams

Bored?! Here’s a bunch of cool and random stuff that happened between May 19th and 25th in Blue Jays history!

May 19, 2012: Brandon Morrow tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout against the New York Mets. It was Morrow’s second three-hit shutout of the season, and he would go on to pick up a two-hit shutout just a few weeks later. 2012 was easily the best season of Morrow’s career. He pitched 124 2/3 innings, putting up a 2.96 ERA while averaging 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings. His next two seasons, and ultimately his career, were derailed by various injuries, but when Morrow was healthy, he was damn good. Another funny thing from this game was a ninth inning ghost tag by Yunel Escobar. Jose Bautista guns out a runner trying to advance to second on a single, and Escobar clearly doesn’t tag him, but makes enough of a show with the swipe that the umpire calls him out. If not for that play, the Mets would have had runners on second and third with one out in the ninth.

May 21, 1993: In the first inning of a game against the Twins, Blue Jays mascot BJ Birdy got ejected. Apparently Roberto Alomar hit a ball that was trapped by the Twins outfielder, didn’t notice that the umpire called no catch, and Birdy tried to get the crowd riled up to show up the umpire. The ump wouldn’t have it, and booted Birdy. According to The Blue Jay Hunter, the Jays let go of Shanahan in 1999 over a pay raise dispute, though the official story is that the team switched to ‘Ace’ as part of an overall shift in aesthetic.

May 25, 2011: Jo-Jo Reyes, who was STILL in the majors last year (!!??), tied one of the most forgettable records in baseball history. With a 7-3 loss to the Yankees, in which he went three innings allowing five earned runs, Reyes put up his 28th consecutive decision without a win, a streak that spanned from June 13, 2008 all the way to 2011. He would go on to win his next start, a complete game win over Cleveland, thus avoiding his chance to stand alone atop winless mountain. Reyes looks and sounds totally dejected after that loss to tie the record, so the fact he goes out and twirls a complete game just a few days later is damn impressive. That second video is great, seeing how amped up Reyes’ teammates are for him after ending that terrible streak and that look in his eyes knowing that he won’t be the sole owner of a record of futility.

It wasn’t exactly the most exciting week of Blue Jays history, but this is something interesting. As I pointed out on the Blue Jays Nation Twitter yesterday, the Jays are in almost the exact same spot at this point in the season as they had been in both 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, the Jays were still totally in flux and were very far from hitting their stride. At this point in the season, Jeff Francis had just been sent to Triple-A, Marco Estrada had just found his way into the starting rotation, and the bullpen was blowing every lead imaginable. The Jays would go on an 11-game winning streak in June, but gave a lot of it back up, ultimately going into the All-Star break with a 45-46 record.

In 2016, Devon Travis was just activated from the 15-day disabled list in order to fill in for Troy Tulowitzki, who was put on the shelf with a quad injury. Unlike 2015, this was the beginning of the team’s strong stretch. They won eight of their next ten games, and carried strong play through June, July, and August before cooling down in the final stretch of the season.

What does that mean for this Blue Jays team? Not much, because each season and team are vastly different, but there are some things to draw from here.

It’s an interesting anecdote that the 2015, 2016, and 2017 teams were all in similar positions in late May. The Jays have done an admirable job navigating their way through an absurd amount of injuries, and as history tells us, certainly can get hot and make their poor April a distant memory, as they’ve done in the past. Also, the Jays are notoriously slow starters, and, unsurprisingly, it took them a damn long time this year to finally get the ball rolling.

But one thing in the way is a very difficult schedule on the horizon. In June and July, the Jays will have a stretch where they play Texas, Kansas City, Baltimore, Boston, the Yankees, and Houston, then go into the All-Star break before coming out to play Detroit, Boston, and Cleveland. That’s an absolute gauntlet. Still, though, these wins with a decimated lineup are huge. The Jays have a big hole to climb out of, but this ragtag group has made it possible for the team at full strength — if that ever happens — to go on a season-saving run down the stretch when the time comes.

  • DAKINS

    That lineup for the ghost tag game.

    1B Edwin (single tear)
    3B Yan Gomes (LOL)
    LF Eric Thames!!

    I heard the same story about BJ. It’s a shame, he was far and away better than the shitty mascot we have now. I can’t say I blame ownership for wanting to own the rights to the team’s mascot though.

    Related note, why haven’t they updated Ace’s look after we stopped using those hideous black jerseys? He clearly is modelled after that horrible logo.

  • Rob Ray

    I’ve been in therapy for years over the Jo-Jo Reyes era. I was working my way through it to the point where I could go back out in public for short periods of time (three to five minutes), but now thanks to this article, I’ve regressed back to where I was around September of 2012. I’m in my room, the door is locked and I’m hiding under the blankets. Please don’t try to contact me , I won’t respond. I’m not taking any chances that it’s really Jo-Jo and not you.