Pennant Race Fun

Jays Sox Expos

It has the makings of being a great pennant (division, actually) race involving the Maritimes’ two favorite teams.  Those are, of course, the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.  As of this writing, the Blue Jays are in first place in the AL East with the Red Sox 2.5 games behind.  If current results hold, this will be the first season since 2000 that both teams will finish within 5 games of first place.  I will list all seasons where both clubs finished within 5 games of the division lead (or the wild card).  Finishing within five games of the postseason is an (arbitrary) sign that a team was in the race.

Yankees 87-74 (first place)
Red Sox 85-77, 2.5 back (second place, wild card)
Blue Jays 83-79. 4.5 back (third place)

Yankees 114-48 (first place)
Red Sox 92-70, 22 back (second place, wild card)
Blue Jays 88-74, 26 back (third place)

Red Sox 88-74 (first place)
Blue Jays 86-76, 2 games back (second place)

Red Sox 89-73 (first place)
Blue Jays 87-75, 2 games back (tied for third place)

That’s only four times where both these teams were in a race (division or wild card) together until late in the season.  One of which was 1998, when the Yankees ran away with things as the Jays and Sox were relegated to the wild card chase.

Now, let’s throw in the Expos, who were also very popular in this region.  In fact, 12 years after the team moved to Washington, you still see a number of people wearing Expos garb in the Maritimes.

Red Sox 85-77 (3 games back of Baltimore for the AL Wild Card)
Expos 88-74 (2 games back of Los Angeles for the NL Wild Card)

Blue Jays 95-67 (1st place in AL East, World Series champions)
Expos 94-68 (2nd place in NL East – 3 games behind Philadelphia)

Blue Jays 96-66 (2nd place in AL East – 2 games behind Detroit)
Expos 91-71 (3rd place in NL East – 4 games behind St. Louis)

1981 (second half):
Red Sox 29-23 (2nd place in AL East – 1.5 games behind Milwaukee)
Expos 30-23 (1st place in NL East, beat Philadelphia in NLDS & lost to Los Angeles in NLCS)

1981 (first half):
Red Sox 30-26 (4th place in AL East – 4 games behind New York)
Expos 30-25 (3rd place in NL East – 3 games behind Philadelphia)

There you have it.  There were two seasons were both Canadian teams were strong contenders and two more were the Red Sox and Expos were both in contention.  One of which was the split season of 1981.  Judging these numbers, 1993 was the closest we came to getting an all Canadian World Series, while 1987 wasn’t too far behind.  Honorable mention to the 1983 season where both teams were in first place at the All-Star Break.  This result resulted in the famous Sports Illustrated cover.

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