As we approach the start of the 2012 season, a sobering thought enters the mind of Blue Jays fans everywhere. This is the 20th anniversary of our first World Series season. In 1992, the Jays had the highest payroll in baseball, a lineup full of All-Stars (and even some Hall of Famers), and went on to a 96 win season and a World Series Championship. They also drew more than 4 million fans for the 2nd straight year and held the highest attendance in the league for 7 of 8 consecutive years.
My, how times have changed.
20 years later, the Jays are coming off several average seasons. They usually finish around .500, with a middle-of-the-pack payroll and attendance.
Jays fans though, think 2012 could be a turning point. For the first time in a long time, the Blue Jays seem to have a complete team. Solid drafts and trades have positioned them with a strong, young core of starters, but also with one of the best sets of prospects ready to emerge from the minors. Behind the leadership of MVP Threat Jose Bautista and constantly improving ace Ricky Romero, the Jays look like they're loose yet motivated, relaxed yet confident.
Of course, this is the American League East. Where you can win 90+ games and still not make the playoffs; isn't that right, Boston? In a division with the crazy-spending Yankees and Red Sox, and the solid rotation of starters featured in Tampa Bay, the Jays will certainly have their work cut out for them. But they haven't been bad over the last few years, and all indications are that this team should be better. Throw in a potential extra wild card spot, and the Blue Jays could be legitimately fighting for their first playoff spot in 19 years.