Do you realize that your Buffalo Bisons played a role in the Blue Jays crazy come from behind victory last night against the Texas Rangers? This was not just any game too. With their win last night, the Jays clinched the American League Divisional Series and advance to the American League Championship Series, first time since they took the World Series back in 1993.
So, where’s the Buffalo connection, you’re asking? Marcus Stroman, the 24 year old right handed starting pitcher for the Jays is no stranger to Pilot Field (oops, I mean Dunn Tire Park). OK. Let’s try again… He’s no stranger to Coca Cola Field.
Drafted out of Duke University by the Blue Jays organization in 2012, Stroman was the starting pitcher for the Bisons on opening day last year after which he was called up by the Jays where he played the rest of the season. As luck would have it, Stroman tore his ACL at this year’s spring training and he was expected to be out for the rest of the year. After successful reconstructive surgery though, Stroman was eventually given a rehab assignment late in the 2015 Triple A season where he opened for the Bisons’ last game of the season on Sept 7 against Pawtucket. Though he took the loss, he was called back to the Jays the very next day and the rest is Blue Jays history. According to TSN, (The Sports Network), “Stroman has not lost since returning to action… winning four of six starts.”
And while he closed out the Bisons season with a loss, the game was pivotal for his readiness to pitch for the Jays again. Referring to his play in Pawtucket, Stroman told the Toronto Star, “I know people are going to say, ‘He didn’t have a good start,’ but stuff-wise, arm-wise, knee-wise, health-wise — I’m ready to go, 100 per cent. I feel great.”
Buffalo gave Stroman what he needed – the confidence to feel at his peak again, and to head back north again, strong, able and determined. Sure, his time with Buffalo was brief, but it was just enough to get him into the form he needed to win last night’s game and take Toronto one step closer to capturing the World Series.
And if that’s not impressive enough, Stroman actually went back to Duke while he was on the disabled list to complete his bachelor’s degree. Now how cool is that? Not only a major league athlete – but a college grad as well from one of America’s top universities.
Coincidental I say, that this Toronto-Buffalo connection comes on the heels of the piece I wrote a few days ago about the need for more cross border connection (and then VBN’s marketing blitz on top of that). With the Jays still in contention and the Bisons having played a part in the Jays’ win, I would love for this victory to be an opportunity for Bisons fans and all sports fans in Buffalo to cheer on Toronto… knowing that if it wasn’t for the Bisons, Stroman and the Jays may never have gotten to this glorious moment in baseball history.
G O J A Y S ! ! !
Photos: The Toronto Star – Stroman in a Bisons uniform. Photographer – Brendan Kennedy