And then there was one. If you recall, 2004 would be the last year with two teams from Canada. The Expos were about to be toast and now Canada’s baseball hopes hinged on this fragile Blue Jays team. A decade has gone by without a sniff of post-season. The team was very average with some all-star caliber players and the rest just filler. JP Riccardi had beaten the drums of player development and if he had stuck to his guns like some other GMs that have steered the good ship Blue Jay he might not be the hated man he is made out to be.
With Roy Halladay coming off a Cy Young season, Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista settling into the rotation and the likes of a ramped up Vernon Wells, Carlos Delgado and Eric Hinske, we had the makings of a decent team. Maybe not playoff caliber yet but good enough to see light at the end of the tunnel. Then we started to play. The beginnings of April were, in a word, horrid.
Date: April 5, 2004
Location: The SkyDome, Toronto, ON, Canada
Game: Detroit Tigers vs. YOUR Toronto Blue Jays
Weather: …only weather here were the dark clouds hanging over our impending doom…
When you first see the match up of Jason Johnson vs. Roy Halladay you would think that the game was a gimme. A shutout and blowout waiting to happen…and it was. Only it was the Tigers who would bash us all around the dome. It is here we realize the Halladay may not be at his best during the first month of the season. As long as the others pick him up it should be ok.
The only pick me ups on this day were Johnson’s 6 innings with no runs and 4 hits. Halladay got rocked to the tune of 6.2 innings 10 hits (including homeruns by Carlos Pena, Rondell White and Ivan Rodriguez) 7 runs, 6 earned, 2 walks and 9 strikeouts. Strikeouts are great except when coupled with just as many hits. You could see the writing on the wall already. 24 pitchers would be used this season, along with 23 men in the field. 47 men playing in the majors in one year. That is doom spelled…well dooooooooooom.
In looking back it truly seemed there was no vision to this team. When Russ Adams is your first draft pick ever, it speaks volumes to how Ricciardi didn’t have the right men evaluating the talent that the organization needed. He drafted on major league need as opposed to best player available. He always had an excuse and over time it would drive the fan base mental. We never knew what to expect. We tried to watch them. We tried to love our team as much as we could. Unfortunately, when you see the Red Sox and Yankees spending ridiculous money for all the best players, you were left to wonder why you should even bother watching the team. There was no post season to wish for. Just the next season, hoping it would be better…was 2005 better?