Ahhh the magical season of 2003. Carlos Delgado getting 2nd in the MVP voting…Roy Halladay showing the world he was as good as they thought he would be in capturing the Cy Young. With players like that leading the charge, you knew in your gut this team had an outside shot, a chance to be the proverbial dark horse candidate. Well they did have speed, power and decent defense. Aside from Halladay and the erratic but enticing Kelvim Escobar, the pitching did leave a bit to be desired.
The Home Opener was supposed to be a pitching battle between Roger Clemens of the haaaaaated New York Yankees up against our soon-to-be Cy Young winner Halladay. Right in the middle of the Yankee juggernaut that has been flying since 1996, it seemed like we had a great chance to pull one out. That being said, this opener was not indicative of what kind of season Delgado or Halladay wanted and were expected to have. Just not in this game.
Date: March 31, 2003
Location: The SkyDome, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: New York Yankees vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Funnily enough if you were to gauge Halladay’s season by this start you would think he was in for a long season. 5.2 innings, 8 RUNS (3 earned), 4 walks and a couple of Ks. Definitely not a Cy Young line so it just shows how good he was even with a pretty brutal game. Clemens was, of course, Clemens: 6 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, a walk and 5 Ks…for him a solid but unspectacular game. Until the 8th inning it stayed at 8-0 Yankees thanks mostly to Alfonso Soriano‘s Grand Slam and Robin Ventura‘s two run shot.
Eric Hinske went 2-4 with a couple ribbies but it was all for naught. Final score of 8-4 was generous to the home side. Delgado, Shannon Stewart, Frank Catalanotto and Hinske were our best hitters this season. I think that tells you something there. Management tried different pieces being added as the season wore on (Mark Hendrickson, Kelvim Escobar, Dave Berg, Mike Bordick). It looks like a pretty weak team but they somehow played decent hard nosed ball and wound up 86-76…a stunning 86-76.
It shows that hard work can pay off in the end. That all the sweat and blood and time and stress will be worth it in the end. A sweet surprise for the fans who had received a small sample of success. 3rd place would have sucked back in the early ’90s but in 2003 and the way the game has changed left the Jays with little to work with. This is where it all seemed to go wrong…perception-wise. JP Ricciardi thought that he had beat the system of development…that he was just a couple players away. He was going to bring a new look and new attitude and change the culture of what the Blue Jays were. Bad move dad dad daddy-o. False hope is worse than none at all. 2004 will help illustrate that.