To capture the excitement of Toronto fans heading into the American League Championship Series against the Royals this weekend, you must start with the Blue Jays' AL Division Series victory over the Rangers and the Shot Heard 'Round Canada.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista's game-winning home run in the seventh inning of the winner-take-all Game 5 victory was perhaps the most momentous home run in the franchise's past 20 years, now up there with legendary postseason home runs hit by Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and Ed Sprague.
Blue Jays fans tuned in via television for the entire series -- according to Sportsnet's Jeff Blair, 11.5 million Canadians watched some part of Game 5, and audience levels peaked at 8.1 million viewers at 7:44 p.m. ET. For context, that equates to nearly one-third of Canada's population of roughly 35 million people.
Damn: overall, 11.5 million Canadians watched some part of ALDS Game 5. Audience levels peaked at 8.1 million viewers at 7:44 p.m. ET.
If Wednesday's social media activity was any indication, plenty more will be tuned in online this weekend. According to Stephen Brooks, the Blue Jays' senior vice president for business operation, #ComeTogether was the top trending topic in the world Wednesday.
#ComeTogether was apparently the number one trending topic in the world yesterday on Twitter.
During the teams' meeting in August, Volquez hit Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson with a pitch. When Volquez continued to pitch inside, Donaldson got angry and the benches emptied before a war of words ensued. It all sets up a primetime showdown Friday. Can Volquez silence the high-flying Jays? Or will Donaldson bring the rain?
Of the 49,742 at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday, we now know that one young fan was especially locked in for Bautista's big at-bat. Video of 9-year-old Oscar Wood, with his marker-drawn Bautista beard and Blue Jays T-shirt jersey, has now gone viral as Wood seemingly "wills" Bautista to hit the home run, mimicking the veteran's batting stance in tune with the delivery from Rangers reliever Sam Dyson.
In the end, it was Wood's delightful moment pre-swing and Bautista's reaction post-swing that drew the attention of the sports world. Because once Bautista connected, the only thing that traveled farther than Bautista's flipped bat was the home run ball.