The 2017 MLB season is at the edge of the precipice, as the World Series has finally arrived. And it has been a long time running since the Blue Jays earned the right to play for the covenant golden flags. The 2018 season will mark the 25th anniversary for our 1993 Toronto Blue Jays and, of course, the last time that the franchise won the hardball prize.
I will never forget being hopped up on Tahiti Treat - the greatest fruit punch soda of my time – and watching game 6 of the World Series on that ‘touch ‘em all Joe’ Saturday night. The big bad over achieving blue collar Phillies with their mullets and overall look, frightened me as a kid because our Blue Jays were golden boys compared to them. John Kruk was the perfect big bad nemesis that could have played a villainous role as a heel in the WWF ( now WWE). And then there was also, of course, Lenny Dykstra, Mitch Williams and company that just injected fear right into me as a kid, I dunno – I was young, and they were the bad guys. Looking back on that Phillies team today, they were pretty damn cool, and shocked the MLB world that year, but I digress from all of this memory stuff.
The thing is, any person who was old enough to remember this game most definitely can tell their story of where they were and what they were doing after the Blue Jays won their 2nd straight World Series. I was just a 13-year old squirt with braces, so I wasn’t able to get shit faced drunk and party in the streets, but goddamn it I partied in my uncle’s basement well past my bedtime that’s for sure.
So here we are today with our 2015 & 16 Blue Jays hangovers, as we watch other fans on the edge of their seats praying during every pitch, aging through every inning as they ride the stressful ups and downs that a post-season run has. And goddamn it, I already miss it, and who knows when it will come back. But one thing for sure is that I wouldn’t trade 2015 & 16 for anything. Many fans out there are hootin’ and hollerin’ about AA ‘unloading’ the farm, - or how he gave up too much in the trade for Tulo and his big money contract, and there might be a few more blah, blah, piss soaked diaper blahs that I’m missing, but whatever. It doesn’t matter. And I’m so bat flippin’ happy all those trades happened.
Because before that July 28th day in 2015 when AA worked like a ninja and shocked the baseball world by acquiring Troy are-you-kidding-me Tulowitzki, the team was .500 and probably would’ve missed the postseason again. But this was something we were all used to anyway, especially after the hype train Marlin washout from the 2013 & 14 seasons of Josh Johnson and broken dreams.
So now people howl into the wind about losing prospects like Jesus Tinoco, who is still in the minors, Miguel Castro who is now with the Orioles, and, of course, Jeff Hoffman who was the key piece who went over to Colorado besides Jose Reyes’ contract. And ya know what, howl the fuck away if you will about the backend of Tulo’s contract because 2015 was the greatest goddamn baseball thing that could’ve happened to this country. It gave millennials their own, kind of, 1993 memory that had arguably the greatest bat flip inning in modern baseball times.
And listen, so yeah, Tulo’s contract isn’t that sexy right now and fans should worry about his health moving forward, I get it. It’s the Toronto FO’s job to make sure that there will be a proper person off the bench who can effectively put up respectable numbers aside from the beloved Mr. RISP if Tulo gets hurt, am I right? And the who and how, well, that’s their job to do, not mine – or yours, but it has to be done.
And sure, you can blah all you want about Hoffman, who has the potential to be an impact arm, but he’s not quite there yet, and 2015 wouldn’t have happened if he remained a Blue Jay - that’s for sure. He was 6 -9 last season, hurled 99.1 innings, .304 BABIP, 4.80 FIP, and a 5.11 xFIP with a 1.1 WAR according to FanGraphs, so who knows what the future will be like for this young man. One thing is for sure, pitching in Colorado is a goddamn nightmare so Godspeed, Mr. Hoffman.
And the last big ‘AA’ move (and this isn't some rah-rah AA piece, just to be clear) I wouldn’t trade for a thing was, of course, the David icing-on-the-Blue-Jays-cake trade, which sent Matt Boyd, Jairo Labourt, and Daniel Norris to Detroit on that happy July 30th day right before the awesome sunny long weekend that had us all drunk with happiness. That week might have been one of the most exciting for all of us Blue Jays fans in years, as it seemed that finally it was our time. And it was. It was our time. The team fell short, but holy hell – what a goddamn fun run.
(And let me not forget, of course, the first trade that kicked off that off-season and that was the fleecing of Mr. Billy Bean when he traded the GOAT War Machine Josh Donaldson for Franklin Barreto, Kendall Graveman, Brett Lawrie, and Sean Nolin.)
Those were the good ol’ days and I'm not saying that this core won't have a chance next year, but now the team is slowly starting to move into the future, and with that some of the past has some negative side effects, and that’s okay. Sure it isn’t great to have Tulo on the books for $20M in 2018 and 19 and $14M in 2020, but that’s just how the operations work sometimes when a team goes all in for the World Series. And sure, Russell Martin, who is owed the same as Tulo for 2018 and 19 before becoming a free agent in 2020 isn’t great, but 2015 & 16 were better than great. And they were major pieces in both of those runs and none of it probably would’ve happened if you took them out of the equation – just sayin’.
And honestly who gives a shit if they’re owed this money for the next couple of years, it’s only a couple of years. And with Vlad Jr., Bichette, Jansen, Borucki, Reid-Foley, Warmoth, Pentecost, Zeuch, and co. progressing the way they are in the farm, it’s only a matter of time before the future arrives anyway, don’t you think? Listen, I’m not trying to harangue any fans here, it’s just after years and years of letdowns, it was finally nice to taste playoff baseball again and it’s delicious.
When I moved to Toronto in 2005, I was excited to be close to the Dome and go to as many cheap games as possible and I did. There was nothing better than sipping a couple tall cans at Trinity Bellwoods park, then making my way to the Dome to catch a game on a summer night. I would get a bit drunk, take in the baseball air, and enjoy the game for a handful of toonies and loonies. But I knew year-after-year the team never had a hope, but it was still a fun thing to do. And if I didn’t make my way to the game, I would listen to Jerry Howarth on the radio, sip those damn tall cans, and curse in the air at another shitty game and season. The only bright spot during those dogshit black Jay uniform days was, of course, the Doc being the GOAT every fifth day, but other than that and some Delgado - it was pretty fuckin’ awful. So, yeah, 2015 & 16 – I wouldn’t trade it in for a thing.
I wouldn't trade clinching the AL East in Baltimore in front of trash bird fans, the Texas comeback, that seventh inning in game 5, the bat flip, Jose Bautista being a GOAT in Kansas City and everywhere else, the 2016 ride, Edwin's walk off against the the shitty Trash Birds in the best Wild Card game ever, Donaldson's slide, and sweeping the Rangers for anything. It was great. It was ours. And it was delicious.