By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Apr. 6) — The Toronto Blue Jays began their 39th season Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, vying — now infamously — to end the longest playoff drought among teams in the four major professional sports in North America. It has been 20 seasons and 21 calendar years since the Blue Jays last appeared in the Major League playoffs; the final moment, to date, being Joe Carter’s home run against Philadelphia that won the 1993 World Series at SkyDome (now Rogers Centre).
Since that night (Oct. 23, 1993), all teams in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League (even the godforsaken Toronto Maple Leafs) have qualified at least once for the playoffs. All except the Toronto Blue Jays. Such an exclusive famine wouldn’t have registered in ’93, given the Blue Jays had won consecutive world championships and had been in the baseball post–season in four of five years — a remarkable accomplishment at the time considering that only the four division winners (National/American League East and West) made the playoffs. Beginning in 1995, when baseball realigned to three divisions per league, the first–place teams and the club with the next–best record in each league (a wildcard entry) began to qualify. This doubled the number of playoff participants to eight. In 2012, that number became 10 when a second wildcard team from each league was added to the post–season. And through it all, the Blue Jays have been a playoff spectator.
FIRST PITCH: BLUE JAYS 2015 SEASON BEGAN AT 1:13 EDT MONDAY AFTERNOON WHEN MASAHIRO TANAKA OF NEW YORK DELIVERED TO JOSE REYES AT YANKEE STADIUM. SPORTSNET IMAGE
While working as a reporter at The FAN–590, and before starting on hockey full–time, I covered the Blue Jays in their championship years. Sorting through a box of “stuff” on the weekend reminded me that I was rather adept at grabbing handfuls of free media items in that era — particularly during the 1991 Major League All–Star festivities here in town and the 1992 American League Championship and World Series that I covered in Toronto, Oakland and Atlanta. Nearly a quarter–century later, these items are valued souvenirs. Courtesy my trusty NIKON, I present to you evidence of baseball “hoarding” in the early–1990’s:
LARGE FISTFUL OF 1991 ALL–STAR GAME PROGRAMS (ABOVE/BELOW).
1992 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: Oakland at Toronto.
1992 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: Toronto at Oakland.??
1992 WORLD SERIES: Toronto vs. Atlanta.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: OCT. 26, 1992 (DURING WORLD SERIES).??
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: NOV. 2, 1992 (POST WORLD SERIES).??
1992 WORLD SERIES COMMEMORATIVE PROGRAM.??
SPRING TRAINING NORTH
While the Blue Jays basked in the warmth of Florida, yours truly spent time shivering on an apartment balcony with his trusty NIKON. Here are the best of my sky/weather images from March and early–April:
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