With spring training well underway, I was thinking about baseball the other day. Throughout the 1980s, I was as big a Blue Jays fan as I was a Maple Leafs fan. In fact, because we had such a competitive baseball team starting in 1983 while our hockey team was always a threat to finish dead last, I followed baseball and particularly Blue Jays statistics closer than any other sport or team.
My fondest memories are of the Magic Number. The Magic Number is simply the number of games that the team leading a division needs to win to ensure winning the division. If you're leading the division with ten games remaining and your Magic Number is three, you only need to win three of those ten games to ensure winning the division. Each time you win, your Magic Number goes down by one. Each time your nearest divisional competitor loses, your Magic Number also goes down by one. When your Magic Number hits zero, you've clinched the division.
During the home stretch of late August and September, I would anxiously attack our delivery of the Toronto Star and head straight for the Sports section. If the Blue Jays were leading the American League East division, and we usually were during the 1980s, there would always be a Magic Number feature. Counting that number down to zero and another Blue Jays pennant is something I fondly recall, especially that first one in 1985.
It's been a very long time since I've been aware of our Magic Number. We haven't been in the playoffs since 1993, and with the Yankees and Red Sox in the way, it doesn't look like that streak is going to end any time soon.
Oh yeah, our Magic Number right now is 163. Go Jays Go!