Pissing Off the Baseball Gods Vol. III: The Fantasy Team that Won the World Series (Twice)

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December 8, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas

Baseball is an incredibly superstitious sport; from players such as Wade Boggs and Justin Verlander, and instances like a black cat walking across Ron Santo in the one deck circle, it’s a sport that is steeped in superstition as much as it is rooted in tradition.  The reason for such is that much the same way that the course of the NBA is dictated by David Stern, the MLB is governed by the baseball gods.  They are the committee that controls the flow of the game and the outcome of events.  Like the gods of ancient mythology however, they are not infallible and from time to time have been stymied by the actions of a certain player or team.  As such, there comes a price for crossing the gods and their plans for baseball.

Pissing Off the Baseball Gods: is a 30 part anthology wherein I will go through each of the 30 franchises in the MLB and give an example of how they crossed the baseball gods, and give the ensuing penalty that arose from their transgression.  Essentially, a gigantic dose of karma, each team has had to pay for a victory they shouldn’t have had, or having unfavorable players on their team.  Most of the examples provided may seem disassociated and incongruent, but given the superstitious nature of baseball, chances are it’s just the price to pay for pissing off the baseball gods.

For twenty years now, the Toronto Blue Jays have been inconsequential to the outcome of the AL East.  Since 1995, not only are they the only team in the division without a division title, but they are also the only team in the division without a playoff berth.  Despite the best efforts of Alex Anthopolous, the baseball gods still haven’t forgiven the Blue Jays for their unnatural roster which yielded two championships.[1]

The baseball gods respect a team that builds towards winning, over a succession of seasons; they want to see a franchise put effort and plan meticulously to win a championship, winning shouldn’t be easy now.  The 1992-1993 Blue Jays completely ignored and bypassed this prerequisite en route to winning back to back championships.  The fact that the Blue Jays were able to put what was essentially an all star team out on the field for two entire seasons completely defied the will of the gods, so much so that the gods would make damn sure that the Blue Jays would never again succeed with a similar formula.

The 2013 season was supposed to be a reversal of fortune for the Blue Jays; it was the year that they were to emerge from the basement of the American League East, as many pundits had projected them to win the division for the first time since 1993.  The reason why people were sold on the Blue Jays was because of their monstrous offseason wherein they traded for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, on top of the gargantuan for half of the Miami Marlins.[2]  As if that was enough, they also signed the tainted, but dependable Melky Cabrera to compliment the outfield.[3]  While not as stunning as the Jays 1992 or 1993 rosters, the 2013 lineup was still racked with Cy Young Winners, All-Stars, and batting champs, all of whom were brought together from various teams through trades or free agent signings.

Although the early 90s Blue Jays featured some homegrown stars like Jimmy Key, John Olerud, and Dave Stieb, the team featured a star-studded overload of imported talent that only played together for a very brief time.  It was brief enough to win a championship, and once that goal was realized, the team disbanded.  During those two years the following players were members of one or both championships: Joe Carter, Dave Winfield, Roberto Alomar, Jack Morris, David Cone, David Wells, Jimmy Key, Paul Molitor, Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Pat Hentgen, and Al Leiter.  The aforementioned list is made up of hall of famers, all-stars, MVPs, Cy Young winners, and some of the best players of that era.  By 1996 these players, with the exception of Hentgen and Carter, were all gone.  Not only was it a team of all-stars, but it was one that was constructed to win right now, and by having some of the best players in baseball at the time, that’s exactly what the Blue Jays did.

From top to bottom, the 1992-93 Jays had the best looking team; they had all-stars at every position.  But it’s the means of how all this talent came together that ruffled the feathers of the baseball gods.  There was no core four, or homegrown pitching 1-2 punch like Koufax and Drysdale, it was an amalgamation of either proven (Morris, Winfield, Molitor) stars or discarded prospects from other teams who would eventually have success (Carter, Leiter).  Obviously a team with that much talent is expected to win, but there’s always the fear of chemistry issues.  That didn’t happen, part of which is due to the perfect timing of assembling this Frankenstein’s monster of a team.

It came at a time when most of those stars were either beginning to become stars (Cone, Carter, Alomar) or were starting to decline, but still performed at above average levels (Winfield, Morris, Molitor).  It was an incredibly unsustainable plan, but somehow it yielded two championships.  The lesson that those Jays teams imparts on baseball history is that it’s possible to just grab the best players and put them on the field together and win.  It takes the sport away from the game.  What fun is it to watch the best do what’s expected of them?  It defeats the purpose of careful and meticulous planning, and building the clubhouse chemistry that allows players to grow with each and develop their game.  The Blue Jays created this bastardized monster, seemingly overnight, and then proceeded to give the rest of the league the finger by winning consecutively.

That’s why, by all that is holy, the baseball gods would not let that happen again.  A team shouldn’t be made overnight and then instantly compete at an aggressive level.  The gods love to see effort and progress, not imminent and spontaneous victory would disappear as quickly as it arrived.  All that the Blue Jays cared about was winning then and there, they didn’t plan for the future, nor did it seem like they really cared to.  For their shortsightedness and impetuousness the gods did everything they possibly could to ensure that the same strategy would not work twice for the Blue Jays.  Sure enough, even though the goal was the same, the results of the 1993 and 2013 seasons couldn’t be any different.

Next Week: The Boston Red Sox


[1] Back to back championships at that.

[2] The players traded to Toronto were Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Josh Johnson.

[3] Cabrera, who in 2012, was leading the NL in batting average and won the All-Star game MVP award tested positive for steroids that year and was eliminated from the batting title race.

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