The early nineties were a time of bell-bottoms, ponchos, eight-hole Docs, and grunge music. It was also a time when Rap music had emerged because of bubble gum hits by MC Hammer, Marky Mark, and Kris Kross who made twelve year olds want to ‘jump’,of course, until House of Pain made them ‘jump around’ all over again. Either way, it was a cool little era that caught the tail end of George Bush Sr.’s 'Iraq War' term, followed by the eight years of Bill Clinton’s ‘I never inhaled’ and ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ 1990's fun. It was also an era that saw Kurt Cobain die and the Backstreet Boys emerge. The rest is history – kind of.
But while all of this was happening, there was a greater buzz crossing the cool nation of Canada, and that vibe came in the form of the Toronto Blue Jays. By 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays were starting to gain the reputation around the MLB world as ‘the best team in baseball that could not win the big game’. In 1989, the Jays won the AL East and faced the dreaded big bad A’s and got ‘Ecked’ in the ALCS losing in 5 games. The A’s went on to win the World Series that year – and it was heartbreaking, for me, as a nine-year-old boy. And let me tell you, as a child, that Dennis Eckersley was one of the scariest looking adults, but nothing touched the fear that Dave Stewart put in me as a young Jays fan, because that stare was a Stephen King type of frightening. The A’s were scary and seemingly unbeatable by the Blue Jays.
The Jays missed the playoffs in 1990 by finishing second in the AL East, and Canada had to once again wait its turn at making a run for the Golden Flags. And then 1991 happened and the Jays were as awesome as any team in the MLB. They went on to win the East again, and then faced the Twins who the Jays were heavily favoured to beat. There was just one problem, and he came with an unkept moustache, and a dirty forkball, his name: Jack Morris. The Jays went on to lose the ALCS again in 5 games.
(Side note: Jack became a Jay in 1992 - cuz' that's how the FO rolled)
This loss broke my little boy heart to the point where I still remember the dream I had of Gruber, Alomar, Carter, White, Olerud, Borders, MOOKIE, and the rest of that team crying in the dugout. I remember waking up and feeling their pain, but really it was just mine. I went to school after that loss like every other little morose Jays fan carrying the weight of defeat. The feeling of that Twins defeat as a child could most definitely be compared to the feeling I got when my mum gave me the ‘Santa isn’t real talk.’ But time went on and the seasons changed and the calendar year with it - and it was 1992. And this time around in Blue Jays Nation, things were going to change. The Jays went on to dominate and win the AL East, but there was one big bad problem standing in the way AGAIN - and that was the Oakland A’s.
The Jays were up on Oakland in the ALCS 2 games to 1 and things were looking good, but they found themselves down in game 4, 6 – 1, and it was an unpleasant feeling. I remember turning the game off frustrated at the thought of Oakland tying the series and then, of course, going on to probably beat us again - pessimistic as most Jays fans were about ACTUALLY winning in the playoffs. I went into my bedroom, turned on my Sega, and played Mortal Kombat to let lose some of my anger. After defeating Sub Zero with Raiden, I decided I would turn on the radio to check in on my Jays, and it was at that exact moment Roberto Alomar was facing the nefarious Eckersley, and the rest is history.
Alomar hit his famous 'fingers to the sky' two-run homer in the ninth that tied it and completed an unbelievable, five-run rally against the A's and perhaps the most dominant reliever of all-time. Pat Borders' sacrifice fly in the 11th inning was the official game-winning hit and gave Toronto a 3-1 edge in the AL series. That was the moment where getting over the ALCS hump seemed a real possibility. The Alomar homer off the Eck could be arguably the biggest hit in franchise history – I know ‘touch em’ all Joe’, but at that time the Jays hadn’t touched a thing.
The Jays went in to the chanting Ted Turner Braves land, against some damn good pitching, and did the remarkable thing by beating the Braves and bringing home the Golden flags to Canada. The funny thing is besides all the baseball that was played in that World Series, is that one strange occurrence that always comes to my mind - and that is the flag flipping:
The 1992 Jays beat the big bad A’s, knocked out the Eck, and went in to the chanting ‘Ohhh … Oh … Ohhhohhhh … Oh … Ohhh … Oh’ and won. Blue Jays Nation tomahawked America and shocked the baseball world.
If you forget the chant, you can watch this annoying video that a fan shot, while at a Braves game:
(Side Note: How long until RA Dickey gets sick of this, or will he?)
Heading into 1993, all of Canada felt a repeat in the air - in a Phil Collins kind of way. The Jays FO went all in at the deadline bringing over Ricky Henderson and the scary Dave Stewart – poaching the A’s roster to build ours to perfection – and it truly was. The 1993 Jays lineup looked like an All-Star team , never mind that – was an All-Star team.
They went on, of course, to win the AL East, and then faced the Chicago White Sox and the 'Big Hurt' who were not nearly as freighting as the big bad A’s of 92. The Jays won the ALCS and then came face-to-face 'Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant' style with the MLB troublemaking, ruthless, WWF Heel style Phillies. And it was a surprise to the baseball world, because no one saw this dirty pick-up truck team going anywhere. But they did, and they were a team with some ‘bad hombres’ that made the likes of the Eck seem friendly to little Jays fans across Canada. But in the end the ‘truckers’ from Philly couldn’t beat the big bad Birds. And ‘touch em’ all Joe’ will live forever:
So here we are heading into the 2017 season and still wondering when we can live a moment like that again. I guess we should be thankful that we’re not Cleveland fans or poor Cubs fans that waited over a century for the Golden Flags (Note: the Ottoman Empire was still relevant the last time the Cubs won the World Series before last year – of course).
We are blessed here in Canada to have lived and experienced what we did, but let's make it happen again Blue Jays FO. In 2015, it really felt like the chance had arrived for the Jays to make it become real again, but then the Royals just out did us *sigh*. And 2016 was just a struggle right out of the gates, and it felt like we were fighting against the ropes all season. But now it’s 2017 and the Red Sox are the clear East contenders, and the Jays are against the ropes again. But who doesn’t like a fairytale season, who doesn’t like the ‘Rocky’ kind of fight – so I say ‘Okay Blue Jays, Let’s Play Ball.’ Anything is possible when the Cubs win the World Series.
Enjoy the best Blue Jays picture ever: