Monday, October 17, 2016

Surviving September Baseball: The Conclusion (More Lies)

Part 4:

Quest For The Holy Grail.. OR.. Jane And Ted's Not So Excellent Adventure (False Advertising)

Summing Up Our Playoff History To This Point

Welcome back to the world's longest recap (in what surely must feel like real time) of 11 years of contending Blue Jays baseball. It seems we've all survived September and now it's October but THIS is where the fun REALLY started for us....

What's not so fun is this damned cold that's going around....

Anyone Seen This Monkey?

December 1991: Hello friend...when we last talked the Twinkies had bounced the Jays out of the 1991 ALCS 4-1 and I was calmly lamenting that we needed something else added to spur this team onto further heights....Losing like that after a great season had me really kinda depressed I just couldn't listen to Motley Crue anymore...I needed to seek out a style of music that brought me solace and matched my rainy outlook....So on a whim I purchased this little ditty and it that time the team really did give me an...

Oh as I was saying before we need some real playoff tested character added pitching wise and an honest to God DH...Pat??

December 18th 1991: Toronto signs 1991 playoff hero and hated A.L. East rival for so many years...Jack Morris....Jeez...I HATE him! What? Game 7 1991 WS? Ok ok...I guess it's NOT that bad an idea...

Pat Gillick might have a different take on it though ...while Gillick was out of town the Beest and AGM Gord Ash met with and signed Black Jack to a 2 yr deal for $10.85 million making him based on the yearly average of the contract the highest paid starting pitcher in baseball.

My recollection at this time was that Gillick seemed less than impressed with the deal and in the heat of the moment said as much just after it was consummated. However I cannot find anything directly backing this up. If anyone shares this recollection please comment.

December 19th 1991: Toronto signs 40 year old Dave Winfield to a one year deal as DH..Winfield?? He's fucking 40! Plus an ex Yankee! What do I remember about Dave? That's right....the seagull...and so did Gillick as he had to drive Winfield to the airport that August night in 1983 after the police had their say.

The experience had given the two men a chance to talk and forge a loose friendship...What struck Gillick was Winfield's calm demeanor during all the hoopla....he filed that particular fact away for further use.

Jonathan Livingston Flyball

Morris and Winfield ? Morris and Winfield???
Two For The Price Of One!

So heading into the 1992 season it shapes up like this : Olerud, Alomar, Lee and Gruber manning the infield...not too shabby ... Bell, White, and Carter in the OF...hopefully Candy can contribute a bit to relieve some of the pressure on rookie Derek Bell. Catching of course would be Pat Borders.

The pitching looks good too...Key, Morris, Stottlemyre, Stieb  and Guzman..with Wells being shunted back to the bullpen in the swingman role. Henke and Ward anchor the back end as usual.

March 19th 1992:  Seeking some infield depth the Blue Jays sign Alfredo Griffin SS to a free agent deal ....Jesus what next? Bring back Fernandez??

1992...Final Record: 96-66 1st Place...Hey! Back to back A.L. East crowns! You'll excuse me if I don't get too excited...Yeah sure we won the division and all but the ALCS is against the Oakland Steroids...I mean A's...Memories of 89 flood my consciousness. Plus the place has always been a fucking snake pit for us. .but let's take a peek back at the 1992 season shall we?

April 6th 1992: The season opener versus the Tigers....time to see what this team is all about..Well you couldn't have scripted a better result. Morris goes the route (144 pitches!) and Winfield get 3 hits en route to a 4-2 win a and series sweep.

Not to be lost in all the fun was Pat Borders encounter with Lulu Devine ...
Holy Hooters...
Jeez Pat...Kiss Her Or People Are Gonna Talk

Pat ...who had started the 91 season 0 for 21... hit a solo home run a few pitches later on a 3-2 count..."I don't know, maybe she got my adrenaline flowing there." 

Some Flow
Make A Run For The Borders! Oppo Taco!

It's spring Pat, the sap is always flowing in the spring.

Speaking of flowing: The team gets off to a terrific start in April going 16-7. Despite that they enter May with only a 2 game lead on the division.

In fact during May and June they mostly tread water keeping just above .500 for both months. However from May 26th on they never trailed in the division.

July brings a little bit of a hotter team and they build up a 4.5 game lead. They also bring back a familiar face to bolster the bullpen....

 Welcome Back Ike! Ooops...Wrong Pic

Who Are These Fuckers Looking At Us From The Past Ike?

August is the downer month of the season...the starting rotation is in a bit of a shambles....Stieb's out...Key is having a so so year...Guzman's on the DL...Stottlemyre is getting his ass handed to him. Morris is chugging along pitching to the score with a stellar record and a semi horrific ERA...clearly we need some starting pitching help.
And no I don't mean Doug Linton. That said.. his 8 inning 2 run effort on August 13th against the Shitbirds does keep us two games ahead of them....but we certainly need something better. Get cracking Pat!

Age Test!!
Doctor I Smell Toast!

August 27th 1992: Toronto trades infielder Jeff Kent and minor league OF Ryan Thompson to the Mets for SP David Cone. Wellllllllll now...that'll do nicely...Sucks to lose Kent though...

Hall Of Famer..Check The Banner!
But Like Most GM's Boring As Fuck

Our Bullpen Hard At Work

Jane Curtain Was Hot Even WITH The Cone...Oh Baby Keep It On
Eggs AND Beer! The 70's :)

Wow!!! That will REALLY fire the team up! I know I was stoked! 

August 28th 1992: This is why baseball makes me drink: Less than 24hrs earlier we trade for one of the premier SP's in the game and then lose to the Brewers 22-2 ...Twenty fucking two to two. Thirty one hits! 31! ...sigh.

Boy that really fired them up! 

Bet You Can't Hit It!
It's Cool..I'll Be Your Slump Buster

August 29th 1992: Didn't do much for Cone either as we lost to MK's fondly wished for rival to be again ...The Brewers ...

In fact the Brewers from that point on would go 22-7 supplanting the Shitbirds as our main threat in the quest for the AL East title.

A curious point to the Cone trade is that it was a waiver deadline trade and at the time we had the 2nd best record next to the A's. That means either Baltimore OR Milwaukee could have blocked the trade. Neither did.

But as "en fuego" as the Brew Crew were it was not to be. Toronto finished almost as hot posting a 23-10 record the last 33 games.

October 3rd 1992:  The Jays clinch the A.L. East against Detroit cementing a rematch against the dreaded Bash Brothers....

Sweaty Steady Wardo

  • May 7th versus Seattle ...The Jays enter the 9th inning down 7-3 needing a miracle to win. Cue: The Miracle..Candy strikes out and it don't look good but then Myers doubles and Lee scores him with a single...7-4 with one out....Devo walks and now things looks interesting...So interesting in fact that the closer Mike Schooler is brought in to shut things down. 
          And he does...sorta...Alomar flies out and there's two down...Carter ekes out a 6 pitch walk.
         This brings up Winfield with a chance to win it....And finally on a 2-2 count Dave does this:
             I selected this moment because at the time it seemed to galvanize this team gave them a bit
             of swagger...Even if chemistry is bullshit it made Winfield the elder statesman of the team
             and appeared to sharpen our focus.    

  • 1992 All Star Game: Carter and Alomar both voted in as starters deliver hits in the game while Juan Guzman rounds out the contingent pitching a scoreless inning.

  •  Jeff Kent....When Gruber went down this kid filled in admirably delivering some pop and versatility...I hated to see him go in the Cone trade but hey...flags fly forever.
Yeah He Was A Jerk...But Our Jerk For A Brief Moment
  •  Juan Guzman...The pitching surprise of 1991 it would be interesting to see what he could do over a full season...well....16-5 with a 2.64 ERA and 135 hits allowed in 180 IP...I'll take it.

  • Dave Winfield...The old man of 40 delivers...26 HR's 108 RBI's with a .290 avg...By September he could have run for mayor or certainly request anything he wanted from the fans....for example:

I Made A Sign And Spelt It Wrightly

  • Candy Maldonado....Those who heard of a hamate bone before 1992 hands up...didn't think so...Derek Bell went down with a broken hamate bone early on and we fretted and wondered how in the world we were gonna replace him....We needn't have worried: Candy stepped in and never stepped out....Solid defense with 20 dongs and 66 ribeyes. Thanks Candy!
 One Day I'll Be A Philosopher
 Or....A Moderately Famous Avatar

Quick! Don The Kings Of Fun Jizz Shields!

  • August 8th...The end of an era: Dave Stieb makes his last start as a Blue Jay and shuts his season down on September the 23rd....Cya in 6 years Dave!
  •  Jack Morris....Say what you want but he delivered. Morris became the first 20 game winner in club history on the 27th of September. He finished the season at 21-6 and tied with Stottlemyre (!) for CG's at 6. Of course there were detractors.....the inflated ERA yadda yadda yadda...On a humorous note Morris's 20th win came against the Yankees and due to off and on rain there was some doubt as to whether the game would ever make it through five innings to become official...Alfredo made sure things zipped along nicely:
Swings Like Peter Griffin
But He's Got Two Rings

  • Over 4 million fans attend the Sky Dome for the second straight year.
  • #Unsweepable.....The team is NEVER swept in a series ......all YEAR.

Just For Fun
Lope Devo Lope!

October 7th 1992: Game One of the ALCS opens at the Dome with proven playoff performer Morris against Dave Stewart. We got this in the bag! Not really....Morris coughs up 3 runs in the second and it takes us until the 8th to tie it up at 3's. So Ward will be in for the 9th right? Wrong....Cito buys into the mystique and sends Jack out for the 9th.....Uh...Harold Baines promptly makes him regret that by homering to put the A's ahead. Fake tan Eck nails down the save....the smug fucker.

October 8th 1992: Game Two...As I look back to this game I remember a sense of nervous trepidation...the proven playoff ace flopped the previous night and Cone was so-so in his regular season starts for us. It would behoove us to get a win before heading to Oakland. 
Cone and Mike Moore put up zeros for four innings until Candy walks in the 5th and Gruber ferries him home with a dinger to left centre....We tack on one more in the 7th and Cone enters the 9th with a shutout....Until Sierra triples....Henke on to nail it down...and after Sierra scores on a single he does.

Further note: I was SO dedicated to baseball that I made the hot co-worker that asked me out for a date watch this game.....and she had a tab at the bar too...Anita ..wherever you are (I know where) you rocked!
Series tied 1-1 . On to Oakland!

October 10th 1992: Game Three...I don't remember a lot about this game except it wasn't exactly a tidy game...we built up a 5-2 lead by the 7th only for Oakland to score two and engage in a see saw battle battle until Henke closes them out and we take it 7-5. One thing that does stand out is Borders getting on top of the plate in the fourth and stiff arming Big Mac attempting to score on a flyball to right. Down for the count!

Sweet Dreams Popeye!

No Bitch...I'll Lead This Dance...
October 11th 1992: Game Four....I think we all know about this game...and how deliciously sweet the outcome was. 

For the sake of completeness I'll give a quick recap: Black Jack was on the bump for a chance to redeem himself for the game one loss. Time to nut up and prove yourself worthy of that post season hero tag Jacko...Yeah ...not so good. Morris was bounced after 3.1 innings, 5 earnies and 5 BB's ...ugh...meanwhile Bob Welch (and THERE is a tie in here) had the Jay's hitters....

For seven innings at least...Starting the 8th Robbie doubled off of him and Welch was yanked for Jeff Parrett...who gives up two singles including a run scoring one by Carter to bring it to 6-2. In comes fake tan Eck to promptly give up two more run scoring singles to narrow it to 6-4....Now this is where it gets karmic ...Dickweed gets the next two hitters bringing on Ed Sprague to pinch hit for Lee. Sprague strikes out and Fake Tan has an old west moment on the mound....
Pow! Pow! Pull My Finger!
Sure Eck...After We Rip Off Your Head And Shit Down Your Neck!

The pen holds the A's off for the 8th and on we go the the ninth for SuperTan to close it out...He of the impervious mystique...never blow a save Eck...funny thing about Karma....

Devo is up first and battles through 8 pitches to work a walk bringing up Alomar....

But first some thoughts from 23 yr old me: While watching this game I was somehow ill at ease seemed like we were being steamrolled even while we were a game up in the series...and this game was just a microcosm of that feeling. Eckersley had that gigantic AURA about him...the GIANT...And in the playoffs we never slayed the giant or had THAT moment. Back to the game...

Robbie settled in and worked the count to 2-2 and THEN....
The TRADE Pays Off!

Catch The Taste Eck!
Cuz No One Is Catching That Ball

This is where I argue that Robbie's homer was THE most important one in the history of the franchise. It slayed the dragon...From my point of view it established this squad as one that had the cajones and character to take what was rightfully theirs....and not be repentant about it in the very least. It defined and propelled them to greater heights.
Of course the score was only tied and extra innings were on the way. In a sense it seemed like a forgone conclusion...we won in the 11th and took a 3-1 series lead in the best possible way: A demoralizing win on their turf while roughing up their asshat closer.

Pre Internet Sweet Salty Tears

October 12th 1992: Game Five...Perhaps a little hangover from the euphoria of game 4. Dave Stewart shackles us to a 6-2 loss while going the route....Some points to consider though...With this win Stewart was 6-0 in ALCS starts and 2-0 against us. Regular season wise the guy ALWAYS gave us fits....Would be nice to have some of that Mojo on our side....take note Patrick...

 Deth Stare

All things considered I liked our position ...we took 2 of 3 and headed back to Toronto up 3-2 with two games to close it out....Would we need both games?
October 14the 1992: Game Six....The Dome is amped...I'm at my Grandfather's place watching the game and for some reason I just have this calm feeling that THIS is our moment...I can't put it into words....I just KNEW we were going to win. But first some educational material...
Learning Is Fun

And we did win ...methodically and convincingly...Guzman went 7 strong allowing two runs. Carter hit a 2 run jack and Candy triple dipped. Never in doubt!


This is where a good play by play guy shuts his yap and let's the fan enjoy the moment...and since by now we've closed off a lot of the generation gap I'd wager most of us have memories of this win.

Holy shit! We're going to the World Series!!!!

And with that I leave you with a ditty dedicated to Oompa Loompa Eck...

Or If you're more serious and metaphorical for the offense.

I didn't continue this further cuz we got a lot more time coming up...Go Jays!