Magic Number Memories

Over 11 years ago, I wrote about Magic Numbers. Trust me, there's nothing supernatural about this magic. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote back then.

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.

When I started this blog in 2002, I always intended to track our Magic Number. Of course, with the Jays never leading their division in September, that never made sense... until now. I'm now tracking our Magic Number prominently at the top of the home page.

It's currently at 17, having dropped six over the past three days. Go Jays, Go!


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Al The Royal Pain

I love the magic number!

Great weekend series by the Jays!

This team has been getting a lot of praise about its unselfish play and for the most part, I agree.

>>>>WARNING! I'M ABOUT TO RANT

But I just want to make sure this is online somewhere in writing (I tweeted about it on Saturday as well). I don't believe Kevin Pillar to be very selfless...in fact I think the guy likes/loves/needs to be THE hero. Circus antic catches aside, I've seen one too many times Pillar put himself and—more importantly—his teammates in perile of injury. Usually it has been Bautista, but this time it was Tulo and this time he succeeded in knocking out one of this team's stars and leaders.

Now, you could just say that the guy plays hard and I should admire that, but it's also what he does at the plate. Here is the scenario:

During that first extra-innings game on Saturday, 11th inning, score is tied 5-5, the Yankees pitcher gets into trouble and walks a bunch of Jays, then they make a pitching change and bring in a pitcher who proceeded to load the bases with Jays. I don't think the new pitcher threw one strike leading up to Pillar's at bat. So, with bases loaded and 1 out with the game tied in the 11th, you're facing a pitcher who hasn't shown he can throw anything close to a strike, what should you do? Make him prove he can throw a strike! He threw 2 more balls to go down 2-0 to Pillar.

If I'm Pillar, I rest the bat on my shoulder and make him throw a strike. Why risk hitting into an inning-ending DP? You need to score at least one run here! To me, it seemed obvious what he should do here. Instead, on the next pitch Pillar swings at what would probably have been ball 3. I actually yelled out loud at my TV causing my wife to jump. Then when Pillar struck out, I was beside myself. I sent the following tweet:

Pillar is an idiot! Why swing at anything this pitcher throws before he proves he can throw a strike. #SelfishAtBat

— Al Grego (@pftw) September 12, 2015

The only reason you swing at ANY pitch there is that YOU are trying to be the hero.

I lost a ton of respect for Pillar in that one at-bat. Yes, he made another spectacular catch yesterday, but now I'm just wondering if a better CF doesn't just make those catches look easy and if Pillar isn't really just looking out for #1 out there. It's sad, I know. I hope I'm wrong. I hope he's just being immature.

The Jays ended up scoring 4 runs in that inning on what? Walks...ALL OF THEM WALKS! It seems like everyone else put the team ahead of their own agenda.

As far as I'm concerned, regardless of what happens this season, next year, if Saunders can come back, Revere is my choice for everyday CF.

>>>>rant done

September 14, 2015 @ 10:51 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Al The Royal Pain

But the CF trumps the SS. So assuming Pillar called it, that's his ball and Tulo has to give way.

September 14, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

S.A.L.

Dont Jinx us with this type of talk Magic Mike!

September 14, 2015 @ 12:58 PM

Al The Royal Pain

That at-bat just really irritated me and called into question some of Pillar's other plays and what his motivation may be. Yes, it's his ball to call off, but Tulo was already "camped" under the ball (his own words) and if Pillar would have just taken a quick glimpse he would have seen that. I've seen some near misses between him and Bautista as well which have been followed by some prolonged discussions between them on the field. I remember then thinking that it was only a matter of time before Pillar took Bautista out in a collision or something. Right now he's making sportcenter every other night with amazing catches, so it's hard to fault the guy. I just don't like it. Remember, this is the same guy who got sent down last year because of a tantrum and stayed down the ENTIRE season. Seemed like a bit of an overreaction at the time...maybe it wasn't.

All I'm saying is that I wouldn't be surprised if one day down the road we didn't hear other players maybe complain about Pillar's play/attitude/whatever.

September 14, 2015 @ 1:30 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Al The Royal Pain

I hear ya, but as a slo-pitch shortstop for many, many years, that's the CF's ball. Always. If Pillar wants that, it's his... he trumps everybody.

September 14, 2015 @ 1:57 PM

Al The Royal Pain

Not saying he was wrong on the play...just saying, he was wrong on the play. His teammate had it covered, you don't have to be the hero every time, trust him to make the catch, he was parked. And seriously...how sharp does your chin have to be to break another man's clavicle? It's like he has a cowcatcher for a chin!

September 14, 2015 @ 2:56 PM

dale

Coming in to catch flyball or moving backwards regardless it's much easier to make the play from CF. Pillar also had momentum if he caught the throw & to keep runners from moving to next base if dropped.

BTW - Mike, this entry better not jinx the BJays moving onward.

September 14, 2015 @ 6:00 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@dale

Jinxes don't exist.

September 14, 2015 @ 6:22 PM

dale

@ Mike

Coincidences although do.

September 14, 2015 @ 7:04 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@dale

Yes, they do.

And if the Jays blow it, it will be just that... a coincidence.

September 14, 2015 @ 7:17 PM

dale

GO JAYS GO. Son is going to 1st game of Yankee series next week as he bought tiks in May.

Will he take his old man?? Probably not as many of his freinds love BBall. That's fine with me as I'd rather stay home & have a couple of bevvies sitting on the couch.

September 14, 2015 @ 8:35 PM

elvis

The evidence is over-whelming. Toronto has not won a major sporting championship since you've been blogging. This is on you man.

September 15, 2015 @ 11:28 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@elvis

Stop disrespecting the Grey Cup.

September 15, 2015 @ 11:29 AM

Gump

Ooooh, I just noticed that the "Blue Jays Magic Number" (sic!) font seems to be larger than I remember. If it is (and I hope it is), you should slowly crank up the font size (14,16,18,20,22,24,26,28,36,48,54,72,etc. font size) every once in a while (12,10,5,4,3,2,1) until it dominates the screen. That would be fun to witness.

September 16, 2015 @ 10:26 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Gump

Good eye... it's an H1 now.. it was H2 before.

And it's now the top of the screen, even in mobile!

September 16, 2015 @ 10:49 AM

Elephant

A curious thing about the magic number -- in order for the Jays to be AL East champions, the magic number is actually one lower than what appears on the MLB standings (and what appears here).

The magic number we're looking at -- 14, as of this morning -- is for the Jays to finish with a better record than the Yankees.

But the Jays can win the division title by merely tying the Yankees. Since both teams will qualify for at least the Wild Card, MLB rules say that if they finish the season tied for first in the division, there is no one-game playoff to determine the AL East champ. The tiebreaker is the season series between the two teams. Since the Jays have already clinched the season series, the magic number to be AL East champs is actually 13, not 14. (That said, I'm pretty sure we'd prefer to win it outright, rather than on a tiebreaker.)

September 18, 2015 @ 9:52 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Elephant

Interesting.. I'm ticking with the number to win the division outright. :)

September 18, 2015 @ 9:54 AM

Elephant

I'm watching BOTH numbers.

We can have two clinching parties.

September 18, 2015 @ 10:16 AM

Elephant

Turns out I'm completely wrong about the tiebreaker anyway (but in my defence, I think one of the radio guys turned me on to that). That tiebreaker rule was changed in 2012 when the second wild card spot was added ... so, if the Jays and Yankees finish the year tied, they play a 163rd came for the division title.

Sorry for getting your hopes up. And kudos for not changing your magic number to suit my four-year-old information.

September 25, 2015 @ 4:32 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Elephant

Bucky Dent. :)

September 25, 2015 @ 4:34 PM

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