There is no question that the Toronto Blue Jays won the off-season this year in Major League Baseball.
In the span between the World Series and the opening day of Spring Training, general manager Alex Anthopoulos transformed the line-up, adding a bushel of talent from the Miami Marlins, and acquiring last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets.
On paper, the roster looked like the type of line-up you put together when you’ve figured out how to trick the artificial intelligence on MLB ’13 The Show for PlayStation 3. From top to bottom, this team was stacked to the point that last year’s Opening Day starter Ricky Romero was the fifth man in the rotation.
But as the old sports cliché goes, “the games aren’t played on paper,” and expectations for this squad have to be tempered – not because they’ve struggled out of the gate, but because it has been a really, really long time since playoff baseball was played at the Rogers Centre.
How long has it been? We’re glad you asked.
The last time the Toronto Blue Jays made the playoffs…
• The Rogers Centre was still called SkyDome.
• Justin Bieber hadn’t been born; same goes for Dakota Fanning and Saoirse Ronan.
• Seminal debuts from Nas (Illmatic), Outkast (Southernplayalisticadilacmuzik), and The Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die) had yet to usher in a tremendous era in hip hip.
• The Montreal Alouettes had not returned to the Canadian Football League.
• Jim Carey was just about to have his massive breakout year in Hollywood with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber.
• No one knew that “life is like a box of chocolates” or that “hakuna matata means no worries (for the rest of your days)” yet. Forrest Gump and The Lion King had yet to land in theatres.
• Other movies that came out after the Blue Jays World Series win in 1993: Pulp Fiction, Speed, The Shawshank Redemption, Clerks, and Natural Born Killers. Seriously – that was a long friggin’ time ago.
• Kurt Cobain was still alive.
• OJ Simpson was still just a tremendous former NFL running back and “Nordberg” from The Naked Gun.
• Tiger Woods won the U.S. Men’s Amateur title… as an 18-year-old.
• Prince was still using that symbol as his official name, prompting everyone to refer to him as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
• Beverley Hills 90210 (the original one) was still going strong on FOX. So was The X-Files. Of course, they also introduced Models, Inc. which was one of the worst shows of the ‘90s.
• Shows that debuted in 1994, a couple months after the Blue Jays went back-to-back: Friends, ER, My So Called Life, and Ellen. Yes – that Ellen. And she was still three years away from coming out to Oprah, Time Magazine, and as her character on her sitcom.
• By the way, ER and Friends had 15- and 10-year runs of success and have been gone for a number of years now already, and the Blue Jays still haven’t made the playoffs.
• Barney hadn’t started entertaining small children on television. Remember Barney?
• UFC 1 had not yet taken place. UFC 159 takes place next weekend.
• Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was three-years-old.