Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Quintessential Blue Jay Is ...

By
Every Toronto Blue Jay that takes the field today has a name and a number on the back of their jersey. While it's a formality to keep all the players organized, there are some players where you don't even have to look at their jersey to know they're a Toronto Blue Jay.

Last week, I asked folks to name their quintessential Toronto Blue Jay player. This is somebody who personifies what it means to play in Toronto, and the instant you think of that player you immediately associate it with the Toronto Blue Jays.

I'd like to thank everybody for taking the time to vote and especially to those folks who included some supporting evidence for their favourite player. I have to say, there were some very convincing arguments out there, but ultimately it came down to number of votes.

So without further adieu, let's count down our top five quintessential Blue Jays starting with number five.

5.) Roy Halladay (11 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 12 seasons, 339 games
Awards: Cy Young Award Winner, 6 Time All-Star
Accolades: Holds franchise record for most wins as a starter in a single season (22 in 2003)

He's only been gone for eight months, but that doesn't mean the legend of Roy Halladay won't live on forever in the city of Toronto. Through 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, Doc showed he was the consummate professional and true leader for this ball club.

Here's what one voter had to say about Roy Halladay:
"An important factor for me is that he is a homegrown talent. He exemplifies everything it means to be a Blue Jay - class, intensity, dedication and work ethic.

While their are others on this list who have had shining moments in a Blue Jays uniform (ie Joe Carter and Robbie Alomar) their time with the team successful, but short lived.

There are some names on this list that I might feel differently about had I been old enough to really appreciate their contributions to the team's early years - but for me if there is an entry in the dictionary to define Blue Jay, Halladay's picture is right there."
Doc's commitment to the franchise and to his craft is what made him so likable, and he's the perfect embodiment of what it meant to be a player that wore the Blue Jays uniform in the modern era.

4.) Tony Fernandez (12 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 12 seasons, 1450 games
Awards: 4 Time All-Star, 4 Time Gold Glove Winner, World Series Champion
Accolades: Holds franchise record for most games played (1450), most hits (1583)

How can you think of the Toronto Blue Jays without thinking of Tony Fernandez? As a player who logged time during four separate tours with the Blue Jays, Fernandez holds the franchise records in many different categories - notably games played and total hits.

Out of all the candidates, voters were perhaps most passionate about Tony Fernandez. Here are a few quotes from their supporting evidence:
"The beginning of the Tony Fernandez era was the beginning of winning baseball in Toronto. He represents what attracted so many people to the Jays in the first place. He helped this city fall in love with baseball with flair and fun in the field.

His sidearm throw across the diamond was money in the bank every time. Hailing from the Domincan Republic, Fernandez also represents Toronto as a prime example of a place for Latin baseball players to thrive and be celebrated."

"Who else provides a link between the teams of the 80's, the World Series years and the wilderness years of the late nineties The fact that Tony seemed to save his best hitting years for his three different tour of duties with the Jays cements him in my mind as the quintessential Blue Jay."

3.) Dave Stieb (15 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 15 seasons, 439 games
Awards: 7 Time All-Star, World Series Champion
Accolades: Holds franchise record for most wins (175), strikeouts (1658), complete games (103)

If Tony Fernandez is the quintessential Blue Jays positional player, then Dave Stieb is unquestionably the quintessential Blue Jays pitcher. Stieb played all but four of his 443 career games in the Blue Jays uniform.

Plagued by injuries later in his career, Stieb went into pseudo retirement following the 1993 season, but at 40 years old returned to the Blue Jays one more time in the year 2000.

Having come up through the Blue Jays system and debuting with the club just two years after the Blue Jays debuted as a Major League team in 1977, Stieb was there through thick and thin. He was there during the rock bottom years, but he was also there for those incredible highs.
"Stieb was here during the franchise's humble beginnings. He set the tone for a franchise that has always prided itself on pitching. Stieb was the Blue Jays for a long while. His no-hitter remains an immensely proud moment for the franchise. Most importantly, he was there through the good and bad times."

2.) Roberto Alomar (18 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 5 seasons, 703 games
Awards: 5 Time All-Star, 5 Time Gold Glove Winner, Silver Slugger, 1992 ALCS MVP, 2 Time World Series Champion
Accolades: Holds the franchise record for best batting average (.307)

Out of all the players who have dawned the Blue Jays logo, perhaps none of them are better than Roberto Alomar.

From the inception of his time in Toronto, Alomar immediately made his presence felt on the team by not only becoming one of the best second baseman in the league, but a threat at the plate as well.

Not even a traditional home run hitter, Alomar will arguably be best remembered for his game tying home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game Three of the 1992 ALCS.

Alomar's iconic pose standing just outside the batter's box with both fingers pointed in the air will forever remain as one of the greatest images in this franchise's history.

1.) Joe Carter (23 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 7 seasons, 1039 games
Awards: 5 Time All-Star, 2 Time Silver Slugger, 2 Time World Series Champion
Accolades: Posted 20 home runs or more in all 7 seasons with the Blue Jays 

Finally, we come to number one. And after many votes, the quintessential Blue Jay is none other than Joe Carter.

Most of us can just close our eyes and envision Carter's walk-off home run to end the 1993 World Series. It's one of those "where were you" moments that fans will talk about for decades to come.

Not only did Carter end the 1993 World Series, but he also caught the final out in the 1992 World Series playing first base. In both instances, the images of Joe Carter leaping in excitement are something that will be etched into fan's memories for a lifetime.

Oddly enough, we wouldn't even be talking about Joe Carter or Roberto Alomar if not for another Blue Jay on this list - Tony Fernandez. He was included with Fred McGriff in the infamous trade back in on December 5th 1990 to get both Carter and Alomar from the San Diego Padres.

With that trade, Pat Gillick helped shape the Blue Jays into a dynasty by passing the torch from McGriff and Fernandez to Alomar and Carter as the new faces of the franchise.

Joe Carter may not have been statistically the best hitter in Blue Jays history, but he was always at the right place at the right time. And that's why I'll always remember Joe Carter as the quintessential Blue Jay.

11 comments:

  1. Can't really argue with any of the 5, though seeing some of the pre-World Series guys like Bell or Henke would have been nice.
    Just glad that I am not alone in my love for Tony. I would have been disappointed if he did not make the top 5. He is my ultimate man crush. What a man! What a Blue Jay!

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  2. It will always be Tony Fernandez for me. Coming back to Toronto, where he played the majority of career, and winning the WS ... one of the all-time great Jays' feel-good stories.

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  3. Jeremy, that's one thing that surprised me - I thought guys like Tom Henke, George Bell, Jesse Barfield, and even Carlos Delgado would have received more votes.

    This post has definitely given me a new appreciation for Tony Fernandez. And I think Vernon Wells only needs 91 games or so to beat Tony's record for games played as a Blue Jay.

    Garrett, it would be a damn shame if guys like Tony Fernandez and Dave Stieb didn't get a World Series ring for all they contributed to this franchise. Hopefully Halladay comes back one day to get his!

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  5. My entire thesis on Fernandez was too big for this comment box. Had to make my own post out of inspiration.

    http://archimedies.blogspot.com/2010/08/dissertation-on-tony-fernandez.html

    Great stuff, Ian. It was a lot of fun to go back and remember the good times.

    Also, for what it's worth, Tony Fernandez was never my favourite Jay, he's just the most quintessential.

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  6. Archi, agreed - it was so thorough that it really deserved its own post. Hey, you made me a Tony Fernandez believer!

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  7. Great idea with this, Ian. Enjoyed it.

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  8. Thanks eyebleaf! It was great fun watching how the voting went down and doing the research for this one.

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  9. Great stuff. I'm not a Jays fan but I loved this.

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  10. TTG, thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  11. Thanks man iam a die hard jays fan, although after 94 Jays went through the who are we phase and finally now in 2012 we have a team that say we are not rebuiliding anymore but will be competing, thank you blue jays you have my heart.

    Triple P

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