By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Sep. 9) – Ah, those lovable, loathsome Leafs of Matt Stajan, Alex Steen, Ian White, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov. Bumblers and stumblers from October to March. Dragon slayers from March to April. Remember them guys?
We now apparently have a follow-up act to the once-perennial hockey champions of Garbage Time. They can be found, starting tomorrow, under the big top on Bremner Blvd. – hosting Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees in a nine-game home-stand.
As Fergie Olver used to say: “How about those Blue Jays!”
Yes indeed, your Toronto baseball heroes… cutting a swath through the Major Leagues. A splendorous 10-3 in 13 games dating to Aug. 25, with consecutive series triumphs over New York, Kansas City, Arizona and Minnesota; fresh off a three-game duster of the Twins at Target Field.
Suddenly, wonders abound.
J.P. Arencebia, who couldn’t have thrown out Rosie O’Donnell two weeks ago, is ending games with darts to second base. R.A. Dickey has contracted amnesia – no longer serving up his game-altering bombs in the seventh inning. Double plays (gasp!) are being turned. Is that Esmil Rogers or Steve Rogers on the mound every five days?
It appears so breathtakingly simple to perform with elan once the cows have left the barn. In this case, the barn is in Idaho and the cows are in Tennessee. That’s how far the herd has rumbled since the Blue Jays were expected to achieve. Like, in the second week of April.
MENACING MINNESOTA AT TARGET FIELD: TOO LITTLE, AND WAY TOO LATE.
The good times did roll once before. You may recall that 11-game lark of June 13-23. Turns out it did nothing more than scare the feathers off the blue birds, who followed with a 7-19 pileup. Imagine: 21-3 in a pair of futile hot streaks; 46-73 at all other times. Equal, today, to a 19-game deficit in the American League East and an 11½-game hole in the wild-card chase. Thank heaven for that sweep of the Twins.
Of particular menace should be any pronouncement linking the current illusion to all things possible next year. Such drivel became a serial obsession of the Maple Leafs – post-2005 lockout – who perfected the mastery of Garbage Time extrapolation. A 6-2-1 hoax in the waning hours of March annulled five prior months of incapacity, revealing the “true” Maple Leafs, and signaling an end to all such woe. After nine wins in 25 games to start the next season, the pattern simply repeated.
Delusion, of any sort, has a shelf life.
For the Maple Leafs, the coming season will be one of affirmation; that progress during last year’s truncated schedule was legitimate. If not, a 6-2-1 blip in March will be sneered upon.
For the Blue Jays, 2014 cannot arrive soon enough. After epic miscalculation last winter, nothing less than franchise credibility is on the line.
Do not be fooled by pointless, tardy accomplishment.
FACEBOOK: HOWARD BERGER [TORONTO]