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Blue Jays fever in Toronto comes with a side of selective memory

Blue Jays fever in Toronto comes with a side of selective memory

Posted by PanamericanWorld on October 08, 2015

Toronto is going gaga over the Blue Jays, but the city’s love affair with the baseball team wasn’t always so rosy.

With the Jays getting ready to play their first playoff game in 22 years — a home game to boot — everyone in the city is getting misty-eyed about the halcyon days of the Jays’ epic 1992 and ‘93 World Series-winning seasons.

This nostalgia, coupled with more than two decades of anticipation, has led Mayor John Tory to all-but declare Thursday a municipal holiday.

Tory raised the Jays flag high over City Hall and suggested setting up a big screen in Nathan Phillips Square so that the public could rally behind the team.

“I think any right-thinking Torontonian or Canadian are going to be either at the game, or watching,” he said. “I just hope some work gets done because you can’t have the city or the country grind to a halt.”

But in 1992, the year the Blue Jays won the World Series for the first time, the city was singing a different tune. The Jays had been in the playoffs in 1985, 1989 and 1991 and fans were getting sick of the team being unable to seal the deal.

There was no talk of jumping on bandwagons, raising flags or playing hooky — there was only talk of winning.

“In some cities, merely getting the chance would be enough. In cities like Cleveland, Seattle and San Diego, winning a division title would mean outright success.

In Toronto, it means: ‘Let's see what you can do now’,” the Star wrote on Oct. 6, 1992, before the first game of the playoffs.

Another reason why Toronto may be more team-Jays this time around is that the Toronto Maple Leafs actually stood a chance in 1992. The Leafs had begun an upswing under the guidance of GM Cliff Fletcher that would lead to some of the team’s strongest seasons in recent memory.

The two sports had to fight over viewers, something the Leafs gracefully acknowledged when they moved their season opener at Maple Leaf Gardens up a day to let the Jays shine in the playoffs.

“Arguments can, and do, go either way. What's left at the end is the realization that Toronto is both a great hockey town and a great baseball town,” the Star wrote.

But after Toronto won the World Series for the first time, the city’s tune swiftly changed from cautiously optimistic about the Jays to recklessly ecstatic. By the time the Jays were in the playoffs again in 1993, fans were lining up to see what they could do.

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