To say the Toronto Blue Jays had high expectations heading into the 2013 Major League Baseball season, is like saying the CN Tower is really tall. Many experts pegged the Jays to win the American League Eastern division for the first time since 1993.
However, the Jays have started slowly this season, as they sit in last place in the AL East, going 4-6 in their first 10 games. This despite the many moves the Jays made in the offseason. In a blockbuster deal that shook the baseball world, general manager Alex Anthopoulos acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck, second baseman Emilo Bonifacio, and pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson from the Miami Marlins for minor leaguers and prospects. The Jays then traded Buck, and prospects to the New York Mets for Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. The Jays had loaded up and were looking to challenge the mighty New York Yankees in the division.
So far it hasn’t worked out. Dickey has lost his first two starts of the season, compiling an 8.44 ERA. The knuckleballer only last 4 2/3 innings in his most recent start against Boston, giving up 7 earned runs while surrendering 2 home runs. Buehrle has yet to register a decision but has a fattening 10.24 ERA in his two starts. Johnson is 0-1 with an 11.05 ERA. The Jays are giving up more runs than Germany in the last Little League World Series.
The one bright spot has been Reyes. The Dominican Republic native was enjoying a solid start for the Jays, hitting .395 with a home run and 5 RBIs. Reyes also brought some much-needed speed to the Jays lineup as he has stolen 5 bases this season. However, Reyes suffered an ankle injury on Friday night in Kansas City while attempting to steal second base. Reyes was undecided on whether he should have slid head-first or feet-first. When Reyes eventually decided to lead with his feet, his ankle twisted with squeamish results. Reyes was carted off the field with his ankle immobilized. Anthopoulos has said Reyes will miss anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months.
Which brings us back to 1993. Jays fans remember that year very well. One of the most famous home runs in baseball history was hit in Game 6 of the 93 World Series. Joe Carter’s three run blast off Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth, gave the Jays their second consecutive World Series. Since then, the Jays have been mired in mediocrity. Every team in the AL East has won the division since the Jays last AL East crown. So one must ask, did Joe Carter sell his soul so he could be the hero and now the forces of nature are paying the Jays back? How else can one explain the Jays horrific luck.
The Jays have always had to look up to the two richest teams in baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox for so long, their necks are stiff. When it would look like the Jays were ready to make their move, injuries and poor roster moves sunk them while a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, who are on a shoestring budget, are annual contenders in the division. Just look at the misfortunes the Jays have had over the years.
Trading Raul Mondesi to the New York Yankees for Scott Wiggins. Who in the world is Scott Wiggins?
Hiring Buck Martinez as manager prior to the 2001 season. Let’s just say as a manager, Buck is a decent TV announcer.
Trading Cy Young winner Roy Halladay to Philadelphia for Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis d’Arnaud. Drabek has battled arm issues during his tenure in Toronto. Taylor and d’Arnaud are drifting aimlessly in the minors.
Using Aquilino Lopez as the closer in 2003. Lopez was the second coming of Bill Caudill, which isn’t a compliment.
The brawl between Ted Lilly and manager John Gibbons in 2006, during a game after Lilly was pulled. Don Cherry would have been proud.
The one-year wonder that was Josh Towers, who compiled 13 wins in 2005, only to see him falter in 2006, never regaining his confidence.
The criticism heaped upon the organization by Shea Hillenbrand in 2006. The former third baseman confronted Gibbons during this stretch and afterwards wrote on the billboard, “This is a sinking ship.” “Play for yourself.”
The constant arm problems of pitcher Dustin McGowan following a 12 win season in 2007.
The signing of B.J. Ryan, who turned out to be one of the biggest free agent busts in baseball history. Ryan underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, and never fully recovered.
The acquisition of third baseman Scott Rolen in 2008. A former Gold Glove winner, Rolen spent more time on the disabled list, than on the field during his tenure with the Blue Jays.
Just last year, shortstop Yunel Escobar had anti-gay statements in Spanish, scrawled on his eye black. Escobar was suspended for three games, then subsequently released by the Jays.
What else can go wrong for the Blue Jays. If it isn’t injuries or bad roster moves, its players behaving stupidly. You have to wonder if Joe Carter cursed this organization 20 years ago, for one of the most defining moments in Canadian sports history.
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