JABS is one year old today. As Brent Musburger would say, "you are looking live at post No. 475". Which means, well, nothing. Just look how much has changed:
|Brow-mopping times for the Tigers.|
The Jays are still out of the playoff race.
The Leafs are still Stanley Cup longshots.
So it's oh-for-three right there. But this much is different: Whatever happened to the pennant races? Go back a year on this date in the American League, and it was a virtual nightly swap shop. My PVR was shiny-new, and I was getting up at 5:30 a.m. to skip through the previous late-night takings. Here's how the divisions looked in 2005, with a parenthetical nod to where they are this morning:
AL East on JABS inauguration day: Boston were up on the Yankees by a half-game (this morning: Yankees up by 11, can clinch division tonight here in Toronto).
AL Central '05: Chicago were up by 2 1/2 over folding-chair Cleveland (this morning: Folding-chair Detroit up by a half-game on Minnesota, Ozzie Guillen 5 back).
AL West '05: Angels were up by 1 1/2 on Oakland (this morning: Oakland by 6 on Angels).
AL wild-card '05: Cleveland up by 1 1/2 on New York (this morning: Minnesota by 4 1/2 over Chicago).
On Monday night (of this year), we had the game of the year. But it was in the NL's only race of note, three time zones away. Last year, we had the game of the year every night.
These things happen in cycles and it's unwise to draw any conclusions other than it's been a humdrum September in the AL. Except for those Tigers, of course, there has been little going on to stir the pulse. And it's hard to get too enthused about watching a collapse, especially when it's the Tigers.
|COLIN MCCONNELL/TORONTO STAR|
|Tiger Stadium, Oct. 4, 1987.|
They still register here, though not as much as once was the case. One of the casualties of the move to a three-division format has been the Tigers-Jays rivalry. Southwestern Ontario remains very much Tigers territory, and replacing Detroit with Tampa Bay in the Jays' divisional schedule rotation was like Bill Murray out and Jackie Mason in.
A little story, at least the Coles Notes version, on anniversary day: in 1987, with the Jays and Tigers closing in on what promised to be an epic season-ending series at Tiger Stadium, I was working in Bermuda and set up the use of a friend's "love nest", equipped with a satellite dish, so I could shut myself off for the weekend -- and the front end, a four-game series at Exhibition Stadium the weekend before -- in isolation, total concentration and Cheesies. But on the Friday morning as it was all getting underway, the first hurricane to hit the island in 24 years showed up, rain pouring into my bedroom and the shutters banging away at 6 in the morning. The first thing I did that afternoon after it passed, trees down and houses busted up all over, was phone my friend with the hideaway house, then phone every pub I could think of that had a dish to make sure the game would be on that night. Hey, I had priorities.
All the satellite dishes were gone, blown away, and stayed down. I ended up listening on the porch to the whole story -- noodle around at Retrosheet for the grisly evidence -- on Armed Forces Radio, Frank Tanana fading in and out, then the '87 Jays doing the last fadeout of all. The most heart-breaking finish to a heart-pounding pennant race to ever hit these parts, and I never saw any of it -- maybe saddest of all, we'll never see its like again.
Related: The '87 Tigers had former Jay turned Jay killer Doyle Alexander on the mound, courtesy of what's become known as the worst trade in Detroit history.