We are da Champeeeens again! Watching Carter rocket that ninth inning homer and bounce around the bases in 1993 may be one of the single greatest moments in my life. I remember friends falling down and hugging the tv…balling. Running out into downtown Toronto and losing myself in a sea of a million people. It was the greatest party Toronto had seen since the Leafs in 1967. We came back to the 1994 season with pretty much everyone back at all key positions (save for Alex Gonzalez at short in place of Manuel Lee and Tony Fernandez). Now we would reign supreme in 1994 as the defending champions going into 1995…thanks to the players strike. This event was very jarring to baseball, particularly in Canada. The team was already middling around .500 for most of the season. It was this point in history that surely began to decimate the Blue Jays internally and send them into their current streak of 19 years without a post season appearance! I hope the Home Opener was something to look back fondly on…
Date: April 4, 1994
Location: The SkyDome, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Chicago White Sox vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: ……….(insert cock-eye here)
It was one of the truly rare occasions that the Home Opener was also the season opener for the Jays. I love this day. It always means My number 1 against your number 1. Who was our number 1 in 1994? Juan Guzman. Stud pitcher and fireballer (and geri-curler). He popped up against “Black” Jack McDowell. There was definitely some bad blood between these teams going back to a ’93 incident where Mark Whiten was hit by McDowell and McDowell took a right over hand to the head (one of the best bench clearers you will see). The White Sox with Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and Tim Raines and Ozzie Guillen (before he went mad) were a tough team. But we were definitely up to the task.
Both pitchers went 7 innings, McDowell giving up 4 runs (Roberto Alomar hit a 3 run shot in the 7th to knock McDowell out), Guzman 2 runs. Joe Carter then hit a 2 run mash in the eighth and Ed Sprague hit a solo shot in the eighth as well. Ron Karkovice hit a solo shot off of Greg Cadaret (I forgot about that guy) but that was as far as things went. &-3 Jays. It was a start to the season that had been expected but as the months wore on it seemed as if we got really old, really fast. When August 12, 1994 came our season was mercifully over and we finished 3rd in the Ease with a 55-60 record. Not the type of season expected from the two time defending World Series Champeens. It was the start of big change. The start of the careers of Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green and the continued emergence of Roberto Alomar. It seemed we had the young ‘uns needed to sustain our 10 year run of challenging for division titles…were they the players we needed? The strike would hold those thoughts until 1995…