As the years passed since the triumph of 1993, we were left with things like Tim Johnson‘s whacked out fighting in Vietnam stories or watching aged players get full time gigs with Toronto…and players whom you have never heard from again. Case in point: the starting second baseman for the Blue Jays Home Opener in 1999 was?? Homer Bush? No. Tilson Brito? No. If you said “cmon Jeff it’s oooobviously Norberto Martin!” then you are freaky good at attention to detail…and may possibly live in your parent’s basement. To be honest, when I went through the box score for this game I had to look twice. I remember nothing of Norberto Martin. This would be a team in 1999 that had Jacob Brumsfield as a main cog at times. It was haard to accept that this was a championship caliber team….
Then we trade Clemens for a not so happy David Wells and Homer Bush. Craig Grebeck is added to the team. Paul Spoljaric is traded for the enigma that was Robert Person. It was change for the sake of change. With Jim Fregosi now managing the team you knew offence would play a big part…and it did. In 1999 the Blue Jays set a team record for runs scored in a season (883) and most hits in a season (1580). Unfortunately, the pitchers gave up the most runs by a Blue Jays staff since 1979. Interbrew and their lack of caring left the Jays a broken team. So was the Home Opener a highlight of the 84-78 1999 season? There was optimism. On this day we needed to take down the fairly new Tampa Bay Devil Rays…welcome back Fred McGriff and Jose Canseco! Did you miss hitting under the Dome?
Date: April 12, 1999
Location: The SkyDome, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
With Clemens history, David Wells assumed the mantle of staff ace. He may have been a bit of a loudmouth and a bit portly but when it came down to it he was one of the best lefties the Jays have ever had in their rotation. He was wickedly good when he was on his game…Like the Home Opener. The Rays countered with Tony Saunders (yawn). This seems like a cakewalk in waiting and it was.
David Wells was on fire. 5 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits and 8 Ks. Now that is a pretty decent line for the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Mr. Saunders: 7 runs, 6 earned, 9 hits, 5 Ks. He got lit up early and often. The big stick of the day belonged to 3B Tony Fernandez! Yes, third base! 4-4, 2 RBI. Carlos Delgado also contributed 2 RBI. It was a 7-1 shellacking, the lone run a solo homer by Canseco off Graeme Lloyd in the 9th.
So we could batter opponents with the bats and take a whoopin’ from their bats as well. Entertainment that kept our interest but ultimately was doomed to fail. Please Year 2000…bring us some hope!