By Jessica Ng
Canadian Baseball Network
For the first time in 29 seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the World Series – and Toronto Blue Jays fans should care.
The Dodgers have multiple ties to the Jays that can be found in team personnel and the active roster.
After the Blue Jays' back-to-back American League Championship Series appearances, 2017 came as a surprise and a disappointment to those who follow the franchise.
Here are a few reasons why fans can – and should – appreciate this Dodgers team:
The Santa Rosa, Calif. native has quickly become the Dodgers’ go-to set-up man. With a career high 65 games this year between triple-A and the majors, he is proving to be well worth his $1.25 million US salary.
In the recent National League Championship Series rubber match against Chicago, he struck out the side. The reliever has made seven post-season appearances thus far with a 1.08 ERA.
Morrow came to the Blue Jays in a December 2009, trade that sent RHP Brandon League and outfielder Johermyn Chávez to the Seattle Mariners. In five seasons and 100 appearances with the Blue Jays, he threw 538 innings in 100 games, 93 of the outings were starts. He was 34-31 for a .523 win percentage.
Health has always been an issue for the 33-year-old, who discovered he had Type One diabetes prior to his Major League career. His first season in a starting rotation (Toronto, 2010) was cut short for preventative measure.
Other physical issues that plagued him during his time with the team include repeated inflammation of his right forearm and a left oblique strain.
Morrow’s legacy with the franchise lives on, as many fans still recall the Aug. 8, 2010, game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he tossed a one-hitter and fanned 17.
Likely the most recognizable name on this list is the Blue Jays' former general manager Anthopoulos. After helping the Jays to win the American League Division Series in their first postseason run since 1993, the baseball exec took his talents to Los Angeles.
The son of a Greek immigrant success story, Anthopoulos got his start in baseball as a part-time, unpaid intern for the Montréal Expos, sorting through player fan mail.
Fast forward to Toronto: using his experience as a scout with the Expos, he joined the Blue Jays as a scout coordinator in 2003. He ascended the ranks – first, as an assistant general manager, and then as GM (2009-2015).
Though currently the Dodgers’ vice president of baseball operations, he is remembered for bringing the likes of Aaron Sanchez (2010 draft), Josh Donaldson (Oakland A’s, 2015), Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins (Rockies, 2015), and David Price (Detroit Tigers, 2015) to the Jays.
Interestingly, the Montréal native brought Morrow in for 2010, declined his contract extension in 2015, and was part of the team that signed him to the Dodgers this year.
Los Angeles also has two former Blue Jays on their coaching staff: hitting coach Turner Ward and third base coach Chris Woodward.
Ward was an outfielder for the Blue Jays from 1991 to 1993. He struggled at the plate during that time, and as a result, did not play in the ’92 and ’93 postseasons.
Since 2016, he has been a coach with the Dodgers, and has been transformative with the team’s offence – notably all-star right fielder Yasiel Puig, who is often spotted showing his appreciation for Ward.
Woodward was selected by the Blue Jays in the 54th round of the 1994 MLB Draft. He was promoted to the big leagues in 1999, where he stayed until a 2004 trade sent him to the New York Mets.
The infielder had an unforgettable three-home run game on Aug. 7, 2002 against the Mariners. Woodward’s offence kept the Jays in the game until Seattle’s Dan Wilson launched a solo shot in the 10th to win 5-4.
In an abysmal season where the Blue Jays could never quite reach .500, fans can soak in some of the Dodgers’ playoff limelight thanks to these Blue Jay connections.