TORONTO (Sep. 30) — Mother Nature has delayed the Blue Jays division–clinching party in Baltimore… but likely not for long. Though rain is expected to continue through much of Wednesday and Thursday in Maryland, the Jays need but a single victory to win the American League East for the first time since 1993.
Toronto clinched at least a tie for the division crown on Tuesday night when the Yankees continued to implode at home against Boston. A 10–4 loss to the Red Sox dropped New York 5½ games behind the idle Blue Jays and reduced Toronto’s Magic Number to 1. So, the Jays can clinch the A.L. East by splitting a scheduled doubleheader at Camden Yards (beginning Wednesday at 4:05 p.m.) or even by getting swept by the Orioles — if the Yankees lose again to Boston at night. It is obviously a foregone conclusion.
To get Toronto baseball fans (and others that may be interested) in the mood for whenever the triumph occurs, I have combed through my scrapbooks to find newspaper fronts from previous clinching moments in Blue Jays history. This is the first year that Toronto has made the playoffs in the Wild Card era. Its other post–season appearances — in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993 — came as the result of winning the American League East. There were only two divisions in each league. The regular–season champs of the East and West went directly into the League Championship Series. The National and American League survivors then met in the World Series. There were neither Wild Card games nor League Division Series.
Here are 20 examples of what Toronto newspaper buyers will see in the next few days:
A.L. EAST CLINCHED OCT. 5 at EXHIBITION STADIUM.
A.L. EAST CLINCHED SEP. 30 at SKYDOME (NOW ROGERS CENTRE).
A.L. EAST CLINCHED OCT. 2 at SKYDOME.
A.L. EAST CLINCHED OCT. 3 at SKYDOME.
A.L. EAST CLINCHED SEP. 27 at COUNTY STADIUM, MILWAUKEE.