A new meaning for the words 'Blue Jays' and 'playoffs'
Toronto has played more than 3,300 games since team's last post-season appearance
For Blue Jays fans, it's almost time to say those not-so-magic words: There's always next year.
With six games left in baseball's regular season, the team's post-season hopes are essentially dead. They have lost the American League East division and are nearly formally eliminated from playoff contention.
Toronto does not have enough games left to catch up with the Oakland Athletics, who have already won 86 games and are sitting in the top wild-card spot ahead of Tuesday night's games. That means the Jays, at 79-77, are left clinging to the hope that all of the teams vying for the second wild-card spot either tank completely, or play substantially worse than they do.
The Kansas City Royals (85-71 ahead of Tuesday night's game) would have to drop the final six games of the season and the Jays go 6-0, otherwise Toronto is done.
The Jays are also toast if the Seattle Mariners win any three of their final six games, or if the Cleveland Indians take four of their five remaining games. The Yankees could also knock the Jays out if they can win five of their last six games.
When it comes to the bigger picture, the Royals are the Jays' biggest problem for the second year in a row.
The drama of 1985
The Royals have not made the playoffs since 1985, back when then-prime minister Brian Mulroney was barely a year into his first mandate and the Blue Jays got their first crack at the playoffs themselves. And it was Kansas City that knocked Toronto out of the playoffs that year in the seventh game of the ALCS, as the Royals went on to win their one and only World Series title.
If they make it this time around, the Royals will end their status as the team with the longest playoff drought. Ahead of Tuesday night's games, a chart on MLB.com, based on data from Baseball Prospectus, suggested Kansas City had an 87.6 per cent chance of making the post-season.
And if they do, the Blue Jays will then have the longest active non-playoff run in Major League Baseball.
The Jays haven't been to the playoffs since they won the 1993 World Series. Since then, Toronto has played more than 3,300 games.
Toronto and all the other teams could not make the playoffs in 1994, when a strike cancelled the World Series. But if you add up all the games Toronto has played from 1995 onward, you find that the Jays have played the equivalent of more than three dozen 82-game hockey seasons without getting a crack at the post-season.