By Bob Elliott
The Minnesota Twins lost to the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Therefore wisdom said, the Blue Jays magic number for clinching a wild card berth was down to one win or one loss by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Just after midnight our wise desker Donald Duench discovered that:
The worst the Blue Jays can do is finish with 74 losses.
The Astros (74 losses) and Angels (74 losses) would need to win all their remaining games to finish tied with Toronto. However, the Astros have two games left against Texas, and the Angels have four games left against Texas.
The Rangers are at 69 losses ... six more losses takes them to 75.
Therefore, at least one of those three AL West teams has to finish with at least 75 losses.
That means the Blue Jays mathematically can do no worse than a wild card.
“I was here at 2 AM celebrating ... spraying champagne, I couldn’t get in the place,” said catcher Josh Thole. Later Thole admitted he was joking ... “I have my kids in town.”
And thus ended the longest active, post-season drought in pro sports history.
Not with crazy hang-from-the-flat screen TVs while wearing the plush David Price purchased terry cloth bath robes or someone running over Josh Donaldson’s foot on one of those crazy scooters or tossing bottles of champagne at Dave Stieb’s locker after he departed celebrations early to make a Rush concert.
Or our fave: a buck-naked back-up infielder spitzing one of the owners.
C’on down Edward Rogers and get soaked.
“It’s surprising nobody knew,” manager John Gibbons told reporters. “It’s been so long. The guys really turned it on the last two months. So it’s a good feeling, but we’re trying for much more than that.”
The Jays are still trying to win the American League East.
“I’m elated for the city,” said R.A. Dickey. “It’s the fans we care about. We’re not after the wild-card.”
Everyone knows who hit the last Blue Jays post-season homer.
Joe Carter looked awful on a pitch from Mitch Williams to level the count at 2-2 and then hit the next pitch to left field for a three-run homer. The ball was headed for the auxiliary press box in left, just short of Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and Bill Chastain of the Tampa Tribune, who were both in the main box Saturday afternoon.
It fell into the Jays bullpen as the city went into a state of suspended, excited delirium. Coach John Sullivan scooped up the ball and gave it to Carter in the wee hours as he became only the second man to end a Series with a homer ... Bill Mazeroski was the first in 1960.
But who hit the first post-season homer for the Jays?
Rance Mulliniks in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series off Bret Saberhagen in the fifth inning at Royals Stadium.
Who hit the first and last single: Jesse Barfield, Game 1, 1985 ALCS, off Charlie Leibrandt; Paul Molitor, single, Game 6, 1993 World Series, off Williams.
First and last double: George Bell, Game 1, 1985 ALCS off Leibrandt; Robbie Alomar, Game 6, 1993 World Series, off Terry Mulholland.
First and last triple: Manny Lee, Game 2, 1992 ALCS off Kelly Downs, Oakland A’s; Molitor, Game 6, 1993 World Series, off Mulholland.
First and last win: Dave Stieb, Game 1, 1985 ALCS; Ward, Game 6, 1993, World Series.
First and last save: Duane Ward, Game 2, 1991 ALCS, Minnesota Twins; Ward, Game 4, 1993 World Series.
First and last loss: Jim Clancy, Game 3, 1985 ALCS; Juan Guzman, Game 5, 1993 World Series.
First and last putout: Bell on a fly ball from Lonnie Smith, Game 1, 1985 ALCS: Devon White caught Jim Eisenreich’s fly ball, Game 6, 1993 World Series.
First and last assist: Stieb to Willie Upshaw, first inning, Game 1, 1985 ALCS; Alomar fielded Darren Daulton’s ground ball and threw to first baseman John Olerud, Game 6, 1993, World Series.
Bautista report: “I guess,” said one major league advance scout at the Rogers Centre this week, “we can throw out those reports from earlier in the season how Jose Bautista had a bad shoulder, how he was flipping the ball back into the infield like it was batting practice ... with zero urgency.”
The Jays threw 113 strikes of 175 (64.6 %)’on Tuesday in the 6-4 loss to the Yankees. While starter Marco Estrada, plus relievers Aaron Loup, Liam Hendriks, Drew Hutchison, Ryan Tepera, Mark Lowe and Steve Delebar saw action on the mound, the man with the best strike ratio was Bautista.
From right field he made like Ellis Valentine or Jesse Barfield throwing out Dustin Ackley at third in the seventh and Chris Young at the plate in the ninth.
First pitch: Bill Singer, if memory serves, the man who threw the first pitch to Ralph Garr April 7, 1977 at Exhibition Stadium, threw out the first pitch before the Blue Jays played the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series at the Ex in 1985.
And Montreal Expos owner Charles Bronfman was given the honor before the first World Series game in 1992.
Who should throw out the first pitch next month?
Well, we have some candidates:
Robbie Alomar, whose No. 12 is the only Blue Jays number retired and is the only Toronto player elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown with a Jays logo.
Cito Gaston, who managed the Jays to back-to-back World Series championships.
Joe Carter who sent the city into a tizzy with his three-run homer off Mitch Williams.
Or outgoing president Paul Beeston, who is known for throwing his Welland slider.
Banner days: The Blue Jays will have a banner to hoist at the home opener, April 8, 2016, against the Boston Red Sox.
What the banner will read remains to be seen.
Will it be an American League East banner like 1985, 1989 or 1991?
Or will it a World Series championship one like 1992-93.
Whatever, it will be a lot nicer than anything they have hung up around here in the past 22 years.
And it will have a more lasting affect for generations than the “Natitude” banner the Washington Nationals were set to hang. Or say the one the San Diego Padres won when they “won the winter” at the winter meetings due to all their activity.
Best/worst of Jays Talk: Mike Wilner gets questions and has the toughest job in show biz after a Jays loss when he hosts JaysTalk on The Fan 590. Some recent dandies from callers.
“Dioner Navarro should be the starting catcher because he’s grittier than Russell Martin.”
“Will Kevin Pillar be on the playoff roster?”
“Isn’t Ezequiel Carrera a better defensive option in centre than Pillar?”
“Should Russ Martin should be the back-up shortstop to Ryan Goins with Troy Tulowitzki out?”
“Don’t you think that they should hit more singles and bunt more and hit fewer home runs?”
Down goes Frazier: Colorado Rockies broadcaster George Frazier is retiring after 19 years. Frazier, the only honest man to lose three World Series games. He lost Games 3, 4 and 6 with the 1981 New York Yankees to the Los Angeles Dodgers allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. But he was more than a relief pitcher.
After pitching 10 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, the Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, winning the 1987 World Series Frazier moved upstairs to the TV booth.
Years ago the when the Jays visited Colorado the games were not scheduled to be broadcast on Toronto TV due to the Memorial Cup or some hockey event. At the last minute the Rockies feed was picked up in Southern Ontario and Frazier was an instant hit.
Frazier impressed as a story teller without nary an interruption -- “ball two, low 2-1,” -- if you are watching on TV you can tell from the little box in the corner of the screen what the count is.
Lefty Williams lost three games in the 1919 World Series, a best-of-nine affair, losing Game 2, 5 and 8 as part of the Black Sox Scandal.
One from the room: Last month a Yankee walked through the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium and asked what time the Blue Jays game started? Before anyone could answer, he asked “is it 5-0 yet?” It was 5-0 at 1:24 on Saturday afternoon for the Jays over the Tampa Bay Rays ... 17 minutes after David Price threw the first pitch.”
Post-season plans: The Blue Jays are sparing no expense as they make plan to bring in scouts, families, minor league coaches and co-ordinators for post-season. Just like 1985, 1989, 1991-93.
And the Winners are: Team Stringer won the Rogers Centre third annual second row Rogers Centre attendance pool administered by hard-working, well-organized commissioner John Mathew IV (Ormond, Ont.).
Team Stringer -- which consisted of Dale Stevens (Dundas, Ont.), Natasha Guz (Brantford, Ont.) and Mark Polishuk (London, Ont.) -- had the winning guess 18 of 81 home dates to take top spot. It was the second win in three seasons for Team Stringer.
Jamie Ross (Fredericton, N.B.) also of MLB.com was second with 15 wins.
Defending champion Gregor Chisholm (Saint John, N.B.) of MLB.com finished second last in the field of six with 10 1/2 wins.