Don't book a spot for the Blue Jays parade ... YET!


Bob Elliott

Ah, before you go down to Nathan Phillips Square to get a good spot for the start of the World Series parade ...

Yes, the Blue Jays weekend in New York was impressive: three wins in four games.

Yet it means little as far as booking a reservation for the American League Division Series, which may or may not lead to a parade.

Consider past history:

The 1985 Jays left the Bronx after winning three out of four with a 4 1/2 game lead and did not clinch until Game 161 at Exhibition Stadium.

The 1987 Jays were three outs away from being 4 1/2 games up with six games remaining, lost and never won another game.

“We were thinking ‘all we have to do is win one game,’ how hard can that be?” said Lloyd Moseby, Monday between putting the Ontario Futures team through its paces during the third annual Tournament 12 scout day at the Rogers Centre. Play begins with the best high schoolers from across Canada Tuesday morn and concludes Friday morn.

The 1990 Jays left town with a one-game, lead over the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 23. They lost six of nine games and were eliminated in Baltimore in Game 162.

The 1999 Jays owned a half-game lead in the wild-card race Aug. 12, dropped eight of nine at home and were never heard from again. That team dropped two of three to the Florida Marlins, who were 22 games out of first, prompting some to demand that manager Jim Fregosi to be fired.    

The Atlanta Braves, who the Jays open a three-game series against Tuesday night, are 26 1/2 games out.

“The intensity had better be high against Atlanta,” said former Jays closer Duane Ward. “They have to go in and win at least two. You can’t lose a series to a team with 56 wins.

“This thing is far from over: Boston is coming in here ... the Red Sox took two of three from us last week. Tampa is coming in ... they always play us tough. And the Yankees are coming in here.” 

There was a lot of baseball wisdom, experience and intelligence behind the batting cage -- 148 seasons as a player, manager or coach, with nine World Series rings -- in the person of instructors Devon White, George Bell, Cito Gaston, Sandy Alomar, Mario Diaz, T12 commissioner Robbie Alomar, Moseby and Ward.

Someone mentioned they’d heard someone say that all the Jays had to do the rest of the season “was take a knee, run out time” on the Yankees.

“Players better not be thinking that all that they have to do is take a knee, I mean from Jose Bautista to the last man in the bullpen,” said Moseby, “or they will be like we were in 1987 ... on both knees praying. 
This is far from over.”

The 1987 season was the most painful finish ever for the Jays and their fans. Toronto took the first three from the Detroit Tigers and Tom Henke had the lead in the series final. Three outs and the Jays were up by 4 1/2 games. Kirk Gibson homered to tie and the Tigers won in 13.

“My picture was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline ‘Moseby runs past Tigers,’ after the Tigers came to Toronto,” said Moseby. “We never won another game. It all started when Tony Fernandez got hurt with a freak injury. Bill Madlock broke up two and Tony’s elow hit the metal cut out.” 

And Troy Tulowitzki went down on Saturday with a freak injury and no one knows for sure when or if he will be back.

The former Jays agreed that Ryan Goins can replace Tulowitzki in the field, but most had concern what happen without Tulowitzki providing protection for Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth hole.

The 1987 Jays, with Manny Lee at short, were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers, then headed to Michigan for the Mo-Town Melt Down: three one-run losses, three unearned runs. 

“This probably won’t be over until the final weekend,” said White. “Boston and Tampa Bay always plays the Jays tough -- especially with expanded rosters.”    

It’s not over.

Contenders losing their starting shortstop

How have past contenders done after losing their starting shortstop?

1995 Anaheim Angels _ Lost Gary DiSarcina for 41 games because of a thumb injury, gave up an 11-game division lead and lost in a one-game playoff to Seattle.

1993 Blue Jays _ Lost Dick Schofield May 12, went with Alfredo Griffin for a few days and then re-acquired Tony Fernandez on the way to winning the World Series.

1991 Oakland A’s _ Lost Walt Weiss with 109 games to go and called up Mike Bordick, finishing 11 games back of the Minnesota Twins.

1968 Detroit Tigers _ Manager Mayo Smith moved centre fielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop for the final nine games of the regular season and Detroit beat the Cardinals in the Series.