TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have clinched the American League East division title, making a post-season play for another World Series title while thrilling a city of terminally despondent sports fans and baseball enthusiasts nationwide.
The Jays have not made the playoffs since 1993, when they won the World Series for the second straight year. Joe Carter's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning - and his subsequent joyous leaps around the bases as the crowd roared - remains one of Toronto's fondest and most glorious sports moments.
The team has struggled since then, mired in a 22-year playoff drought that was the longest in any of the four major North American sports leagues.
Even this year threatened more of the same. And then came the trade deadline in late July.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos nabbed superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies and left-handed ace David Price from the Detroit Tigers.
Capping the busiest trade-deadline week in franchise history, the Jays then added two more key players a few hours before the clock ran out in reliever Mark Lowe and outfielder Ben Revere.
Within weeks, the team motored past the Minnesota Twins into a wild-card spot, and then overtook the New York Yankees in the American League East race.
If the hot streak continues, they'll have the best record in the American League, meaning Canada's only Major League Baseball franchise will have home-field advantage throughout post-season play.
Fans across the country are over the moon and hoping the Jays are on their way to a third World Series.
"The Jays are yours,'' wrote Zach Borutski in the University of Alberta's student newspaper, The Gateway.
"They're Canadian, they represent all of you, from the dustiest Saskatchewan farming town, to the coldest ice shelf in Nunavut - the Jays are playing for all of that. Every other MLB team can only go so far before they run into another hostile fanbase. Some even have to coexist in the same city, but the Jays have an entire nation to themselves; they have a fan base that's 35 million strong."
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