Before I write about the Blue Jays battle with the Mariners for a playoff spot, at the very beginning of my column I want to pass on my condolences to the Myatovic family in Prince George.
Marco Myatovic passed away on Tuesday of this week. He was just 58.
The cause of his sudden death has not yet been determined with autopsy results still to come.
He was a huge hockey fan and very well-known and respected in the community.
Marco was very proud of his two sons; Nico, who plays with the WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds and Markus, also a very good hockey player.
Marco was in attendance at the NHL Draft in Nashville in late June when Nico was the first pick of the 2nd round by the Anaheim Ducks.
Three quarters down, one quarter remaining.
If the Toronto Blue Jays were in the American League Central, they would be in first place and a pretty good bet to make the playoffs.
The Jays though are in the toughest division in Major League Baseball as four of the five teams in the A.L. East have a winning record, and the other team, the (60-61) New York Yankees are just a game below the .500 mark.
At this point it does not appear Toronto will be able to catch either (74-47) Baltimore (they are 7 1/2 games behind the Orioles) or (73-50) Tampa Bay (they are 5 1/2 games back of the Rays) in their division.
This brings us to the wildcard race.
With roughly 25% of the season remaining, the Jays are holding down the third and final spot, three games back of (70-52) Houston but only half a game in front of Seattle.
The (63-58) Boston Red Sox still have a chance but they are 3 1/2 games behind Toronto.
For the moment let’s focus on the race between the Jays and the Mariners to see who may have the upper hand.
The last three times the #Bluejays have made playoffs (excluding Covid year), this has been their record on August 17th:
At 67-55 Toronto is still in a very good spot considering what we have seen in the past 👏 pic.twitter.com/ZsgCh4B9dA
— Blue Jays Today (@TodayJays) August 17, 2023
Toronto and Seattle have similar records where they play at home or away.
The Jays are 35-28 on the road and 32-27 at Rogers Centre.
The Mariners are 32-27 on the road and 34-28 at T-Mobile Park.
Toronto has 22 home games remaining and 18 on the road while Seattle has 19 home games left compared to 22 on the road.
There really isn’t much difference then in terms of home and away the rest of the way for those two teams but now let’s take a look at the key opponents remaining.
Toronto has a favourable schedule in its next 21, with three at Cincinnati, three at Baltimore, three at home vs. Cleveland, three at home vs. Washington, three at Colorado, three at Oakland and three at home vs. Kansas City.
The (63-59) Reds are barely above .500, and the Orioles are very good, but the Indians, Nationals, Rockies, A’s and Royals have losing records with Washington, Colorado, Oakland and K.C. all last and going nowhere fast.
The last 19 for the Jays are mostly against winning teams with four at home vs. Texas, three at home vs. Boston, three at Yankee Stadium, three at Tampa Bay, three at home against the Yankees and three at home against Tampa.
For comparison, let’s check out Seattle.
The Mariners play three at Houston, three at Chicago White Sox, three at home vs. Kansas City, three at home vs. Oakland, three at New York Mets, three at Cincinnati, four at Tampa Bay, three at home vs. LA Angels, three at home vs. LA Dodgers, three at Oakland, three at Texas, three at home vs. Houston, and four at home vs. Texas.
Overall, Toronto has 19 games left against teams with a winning record compared to 21 remaining against teams with a losing record.
Seattle has 23 games left against teams with a winning record as opposed to 18 left against teams with a losing record.
12 of Seattle’s next 15 games are against teams below .500.
In other words, both the Blue Jays and Mariners have softer opponents on paper over the next three weeks compared to the final three weeks.
Last year, both Toronto and Seattle were wild-card teams.
This year, odds are suggesting that only one of the two at most will make it and should both falter, the Red Sox are lurking.
Standings though can change quickly.
Seattle made a move recently going 16-5 in its last 21 while Toronto is just 8-9 in its previous 17.
It was just last year that MLB added a third wildcard team in both the NL and AL.
The Philadelphia Phillies just snuck into the 2022 NL post-season as the third wildcard team and they went all the way to the World Series.
There is hope for the Jays or Mariners if they get in.
For now, the glass is half full.
Want to be WHL’s commissioner? Here’s the job description . . . Silvertips, Cougars make deal . . . So do Chiefs and Hurricanes https://t.co/sHyRB1fiyj
— Gregg Drinnan (@gdrinnan) August 17, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
The New York Yankees could finish below .500 for the first time in 30 years. Figuring wins per dollar, their motto has to be “Thank God for the New York Mets.”
After a decent start and lofty expectations, the New York Mets are sinking in the NL East. Scientists are concerned that if their sinking continues at the current pace, it could affect the Earth’s orbit around the sun.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
The New York Mets are really REALLY bad at baseball.
— Your Best Bet (@YBBSportsData) August 12, 2023
According to Reuters, a New Zealand animal welfare group taught three dogs to drive a car. Up next — parallel barking.
Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. After growing up in Winnipeg, he has lived in Prince George for the last 44 years and completed his 10th season as the radio colour commentator on the Prince George Cougars home games. Hartley is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).