Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Top Hot Tub Time Machine Moments in Blue Jays History

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For some reason or another, I have a fascination with movies involving time travel. Whether it's Back to the Future or The Terminator series, there's something very intriguing about the prospect of going back in time and changing the course of history.

So in honour of the soon to be cult classic  Hot Tub Time Machine
(in theatres this Friday !), I'd like to present my Top Hot Tub Time Machine Moments in Blue Jays History. And by that, I mean the moments in time I would go back to and change if given the opportunity.

Dave Stieb's near perfect game (August 4th, 1987)


Video courtesy of Mop Up Duty
On his fourth attempt, Dave Stieb achieved one of the most coveted accomplishments in major league baseball ... the no-hitter. However, Stieb was undoubtedly nervous in the 9th inning as he had come one out away from recording a no-hitter in his two previous attempts.

If I could go back in time, I would travel back to the top of the ninth inning on August 4th 1987, and call strike one to Roberto Kelly rather than ball one - thus leaving Dave Stieb only two strikes away from picking up the perfect game.

The ALCS against the Kansas City Royals (October 8th to 16th, 1985)

What's worse - losing the division lead the last weekend of the season, or being one win away from the World Series?

25 years later, the Blue Jays are still wondering what could have been if they closed out the Kansas City Royals in Game Five, Six, or heck, even Game Seven of the 1985 ALCS.

If I could go back in time, I would delay the decision to open up the League Series to seven games, and leave it at a best of five. That way, the Blue Jays would've made it to their first World Series in 1985 instead of 1992. 

Roy Halladay's line drive to the shin (July 8th, 2005)

Everything was going great for Roy Halladay in 2005. With a gleaming 12-4 record, he was cruising to his second Cy Young award. Then a line drive to the shin courtesy of Kevin Mench brought Halladay's Cinderella season to a crashing halt.

If I could go back in time through a magical hot tub, I would not only prevent Kevin Mench from playing in that particular game, I would prevent him from ever playing baseball altogether.

That way, it would eliminate Mench from becoming one half of the future Blue Jays hybrid abomination, "Mencherson".

The last series of the 1987 season (October 2nd to 4th, 1987)

Somewhere deep down, I felt bad for the Detroit Tigers for losing a tie-breaker game to the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title last season.

That's because the 1987 Toronto Blue Jays suffered a similar fate by handing over the division lead to the Tigers during the final series of the regular season.

If I could go back, I would find a way to spike the Tigers' Gatorade cooler with Newfoundland Screech and thus render their entire team legally drunk, which would make them unable to play. Repeat for the final two games of the 1987 season, and the pennant belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Scott Downs slips at Fenway Park (September 13th, 2008)

Surprisingly, it wasn't all that long ago when the Toronto Blue Jays were playing meaningful games in September. Trailing the Boston Red sox by a mere 7.5 games for the Wild Card lead, the Jays were clinging to a 5-4 lead late in the game on September 13th, 2008 at Fenway Park.

It turns out that in addition to not being able to run out of the batter's box safely, Scott Downs also has trouble fielding routine ground balls on occasion. He couldn't record the out on a slow roller from Jacoby Ellsbury, slipping and falling while trying to field the ball.

The Blue Jays would eventually lose the game 7-5, but if I could go back I would ensure that Scott Downs fielded the ball cleanly and thus help keep the Blue Jays playoff hopes alive.

Dustin McGowan's near no-no (June 24th, 2007)

It's not every day you get to witness possible franchise history in the making. Yet that's precisely was was unfolding in front of my eyes at the Rogers Centre on June 24th, 2007.

Cruising along after eight no-hit innings, Dustin McGowan was looking to record only the second no-hitter in Blue Jays history. Unfortunately, a leadoff single in the top of the ninth by the Rockies Jeff Baker broke up McGowan's no-hit bid.

If I could travel back to that day, I would make Jeff Baker a healthy scratch from the lineup and substitute in John Mabry, who had a .118 batting average that year.

Who would've ever guessed that it would be the National League's designated hitter who would end up getting the only hit for the Rockies that game.

What are your Top Hot Tub Time Machine Moments in Blue Jays History? If you could go back in time and change something about the Toronto Blue Jays, what would you do?

14 comments:

  1. My god, you are a genius, Ian. I have no idea how you managed to tie the Jays and next year's best picture winner together but you did it. My Hot Tub Time Machine moments are:

    -Doc's near no-hitter: I would have found a way to give Bobby Higginson ebola thus rendering him unavailable for the game
    -Vernon Wells' contract season (sorry eyebleaf): I would have Tanya Harding'd his knee so we wouldn't have to endure this wretched contract of his
    -Both the 92 and 93 World Series: I wouldn't do anything but sit back and relive the glory...actually, I might drop some money down at a bookie.

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  2. Solid list. Mad props for wanting to prevent the existence of Mencherson.

    I'd throw in Jack Morris v. Lonnie Smith, '92 World Series game 5. Would've been nice for the Jays to have won it at home, and to not have my dad yell and send me to bed after Jack coughed up the grand slam.

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  3. HLF, if Hot Tub Time Machine isn't nominated for Best Picture next year, I am swearing off movies forever.

    Doc's almost no-hitter was a good one, and now that you mention it, I think there was an instance a few years back when John Gibbons yanked Shaun Marcum after 7 hitless innings. I would've left him in, of course.

    Matty, the world would've been a better place if Mencherson never came to be. Personally, I would've scratched Morris off the 1992 Playoff roster altogether. That would've saved us tons of grief.

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  4. The 1985 season was what made me the devoted Jays fan (I was 10) I am today, yes they lost, but I wouldn't change a thing because it made the journey to 92-93 all that more special.

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  5. Peter, I was too young to remember the 85' ALCS or the meltdown of '87, but I'm sure they helped the fans develop a thick skin. Like you said, being that close to the playoffs and World Series made it even sweeter when the Jays finally made it in 1992.

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  6. Great list - I remember pulling out an old TV from the basement and setting up rabbit ears to get CBC and catch the heartbreaking end to that McGowan game.

    The 1985 series was my start to watching baseball games when I was a kid, and 1987 left me in an emotional mess. The 1987 Twins and 1990 Reds are the two teams that I cheered hardest for in the post-season after paying no attention to them in the regular season.

    However, I prefer to think of the Dennis Eckersleys and Mitch Williamses of the world -- those whose time machines will never arrive.

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  7. I'm going to pick Paul Beeston being hired as interim president after the 2008 season. Such a wasted opportunity because JP couldn't do anything until Beeston took a year to give himself the full time job.

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  8. Beginning of December in 2006. I would tell JP not to sign V-Dub.

    Otherwise, the 92 or 93 WS. I was just a young inkling then, so it would be awesome to see.

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  9. QJays, the McGowan near no-hitter was magical to watch. I remember being so incredibly nervous in the 8th and 9th, but a one-hitter was nothing to scoff at.

    Torgen, from a front office standpoint I'd like to forget that year ever happened. And Ricciardi ended up getting the eventual boot anyway.

    Nick, that's a big one too. Maybe we could have convinced the Yankees to come in and offer Wells more money than the $126 million the Jays are forking out.

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  10. I would go back and not hire Cito in 2008. Or possibly fire him this past off season.

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  11. Paul, the Jays were in a tough spot after firing Gibbons ... but there were so few available managers back then, that they really didn't have a choice other than to bring in Cito.
    However, I agree with you - they should have let him go at the end of last season. They canned the GM, so what is the point in bringing Cito back when he's gone at the end of this year anyway?

    Oh well ... only 162 more games of Clarence and it will all be over.

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  12. Great entry! I've also always been fascinated by time machine movies. And of course, as a Red Sox fan, there are two moments I'd use the hot tub time machine for - Bill Buckner and Babe Ruth.

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  13. If we are confining this to "on the field" then I'd have to add that I'd do something to muck with Bobby Higginson before he broke up Doc's no-no.

    Off the field, there are several good choices - the aforementioned sabotaging of Vernon's big deal is obvious...and certainly the return of Clarance is something I'd love to have avoided...

    But I think I'd go with not letting Alomar leave as a free agent - at least not so soon.

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  14. Steve, one wonders if Buckner didn't let that ball go through his legs, would he be revered as a franchise hero? It's fascinating how moments like that solidify players in either a good or a bad light.

    Southpaw, during Halladay's start, maybe I would go back and take Dave Stieb out of the bullpen ... maybe it was a bad luck charm or something. Didn't the Higginson home run land in the bullpen and Stieb caught it? I can't remember where I read that ... maybe it was just a legend.

    I'd also re-sign Delgado instead of letting him walk as well.

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