We are in full blown panic mode now. Star power does not a winner make. Watching the 1997 was akin to watching a video on how not to build a contender. Unless you can pay for ALL positions (like the Yankees) don’t fill with superstars (Roger Clemens) and re-treads (Randy Myers). Balance your payroll between homegrown and star power and you have the best chance to win (and fill needs later without killing the bank).
More than anything the new economic landscape was territory that was learned on the fly. There was never the dichotomy between haves and have nots as it was in 1997 leading into 1998. Pay disparity was becoming an issue: especially with the frugal sensibilities of Interbrew. How would Gord Ash deal with the have not realities of a city turning their backs on a struggling team? For a cyclical game this was still the beginning of a long and drawn out cycle. Hello to 1998…The Era of Tim Johnson…eek.
Date: April 1, 1998
Location: The SkyDome, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Minnesota Twins vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: (insert clever joke here)
At least we got to watch another mind blowing Cy Young season form Roger Clemens (and the dawn of the HGH era…umm…yeah). The natural choice to open the season against the Twins and former St. Louis Cardinal Bob Tewksbury, a wily veteran and three former Jays: Paul Molitor, Orlando Merced and Otis Nixon. First glance says pitchers duel with the edge going to the Jays with Jose Canseco (in his last gasp of respectability) Shannon Stewart, Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green leading the charge. At least there was that, along with the beginning of a wonderfully productive tenure from catcher Darrin Fletcher. The Blue Jays got out of the gates against a truly inferior team. Roger Clemens gave up a mere run in 7 innings, though the strikeout total of 3 was a bit of an aberration.
Tewksbury held his own giving up only 3 runs through 6, including a 2 run round tripper from the enigmatic Jose Cruz Jr. Kelvim Escobar gave up a run in the eighth to make matters a bit more interesting but big free agent signing Randy Myers shut it down in the ninth for a 3-2 win in front of 41, 387…again not even a sellout. And the big free agent signing was hardly that as we eventually would dump him on the San Diego Padres to get out from the other two years. I knew San Diego was always run oddly for a long time but that coup is almost as grand as the more recent Vernon Wells dump off to the Anaheim Angels.
Another lost season, though we did finish with an 88-74 record but only good enough for third. People were truly beginning to wonder if baseball would have any relevance after the strike. Toronto had not looked this gloomy since Tim Johnson was fighting for our freedoms….oh wait no! Cmoooooon 1999…