October is coming, and as the Toronto Blue Jays are closing in on a position in the playoffs, fans and bandwagoners alike are becoming increasingly interested — not to mention a little crazy. Tickets are sold out for the rest of the season, and when the Jays are playing a home game it’s virtually impossible not to run into groups of fans on their way to the game.
It’s hardly a surprise that the city is getting so worked up, especially considering that the team is seeking to break a 22-year playoff drought.
In 1992, when the Jays won their first World Series title, tens of thousands poured down a closed Yonge Street to celebrate well into the early hours of the morning. The Jays beat the Atlanta Braves, in Atlanta, in six games.
The ‘92 team, unlike our current roster, had a history of successful seasons, all leading up to the team’s back-to-back World Series victories.
The team of ‘92 had everything going for them, and they made it count. The Jays had a dedicated and consistent fan following, and they had recently moved into a new state-of-the-art ballpark under the guidance of general manager Pat Gillick, who built the team from scratch. Gillick was with the team when the franchise first started and his knowledge of the game was instrumental in guiding the Jays to success (the fact that Gillick’s departure from the team in 1994 marked year one of the 22-year playoff drought is telling).
Going into the ‘92 season Gillick made a big name trade. As the story goes, he traded away his wife’s favorite player, after which she famously told him to “[come] home before you screw up the team any further.” The player in question, Fred McGriff, as well as Tony Fernandez were traded to the San Diego Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. With this trade Gillick was able to strengthen the batting line-up — Alomar batted second hitting over .300 while Carter, a power hitter, added some pop to the middle of the line-up.
Fast forward 22 years and today’s Blue Jays don’t have quite the same success story. The Jays went into the 2015 all-star break, the halfway point in the season, having racked up more losses than wins. But, against all odds, the team has turned their season around in a monumental way.
The Jays’ Canadian general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, recognized the momentum the team had gathered and followed in the footsteps of Gillick, making a couple landmark trades of his own.
At the time of the trade deadline the Blue Jays were seven games behind the Yankees and were set to face them 13 more times this season. So the acquisition of hotshot left-handed pitcher David Price from the Detroit Tigers meant that the Jays could field an ace pitcher against the Yankees for three of those games. The other trade sent Jose Reyes and 3 pitchers to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
These trades undoubtably aided the Jays and have set the stage for the most exciting playoff race in years.
With the Jays 3 games up on the Yankees and Toronto already at fever pitch, hopes that history could repeat itself are at an all-time high — enthusiasm that might just carry the Jays straight through to the World Series to a victory party 40,000+ strong.