It’s very simple now. Toronto must go.
Not the whole city. There’s this one bar on Yonge street with a waitress named . . . well. Anyhow. We save that place. The rest of it goes. Ka-boom. Goodby waterfront, goodby Ontario Place. Goodby, baseball. Pennant fever? We have the cure. We call it Detroit. Ka-boom.
“But the Blue Jays are going to do it,” says the Voice From Up North,
“they’re going to repeat 1985 and capture the Al East and go on to the World Series and–“
“Ahem,” says Detroit.
“Ahem?” says the voice.
Party’s over, Jay-men. You don’t get to play Baltimore anymore. You’ve got seven games against the Detroit Tigers, the hungry Detroit Tigers, the guys who have been scrapping for this moment all season long. Unlike you, they were not picked to be here back in April. Nobody gave them better than fourth place. And now? Seven games? In the last 11 days? Division title on the line? To quote a famous Tiger: “Grrrrrreat!”
After all, this has been going on long enough, this jockeying atop the AL East. For weeks now, the Tigers and Blue Jays have, like two horses, been munching on the same carrot from different ends. And now, we are out of carrot. One horse gets the last bite. Which horse? I can answer that. The horse with the Tigers stripes. Forgive me for mixing animals.
“But we have George Bell,” says the Voice From Up North, “we have Jimmy Key and Tom Henke and–“
“Ahem,” says Detroit.
“Ahem?” says the voice.
At this point, it no longer matters who you have. At this point it is fate, the kiss of destiny. At this point, you get what you deserve. So let me give you a few reasons why the division title and the American League playoffs deserve to be in Detroit, not Toronto.
Wait. Look. Out the window! It’s snowing!
The Toronto people turned around, right?
That’s reason No. 1.
Let’s be honest. Toronto, Canada, is a good place for hockey and hot chocolate and hats with furry ears. Not for baseball. Not in October. People should bring their children, not their space heaters, to the ballpark.
“But . . . ” says the Voice Up North.
“Sssh,” says Detroit.
Here is reason No. 2. Are you ready? Garth. Rance. Jimy. Are these real names? Maybe for men who spend all day in their pajamas. Not for baseball people. Garth? Rance? Jimy? Be serious. Come back with Jack’s and Kirk’s and Sparky’s. Come back with a manager who uses two m’s. Come back with something. Garth? Rance? Jimy? Too funny. Just too funny.
“But we won the division in 1985,” says the Voice From Up North. “We made it to the playoffs and–“
“Ahem,” says Detroit. “You made it to the playoffs and then bowed out to a team from Kansas City. After leading them, three games to one. Let that be a lesson to you, Toronto. Always finish what you start. The Tigers know this. They made the playoffs in 1984. They won the pennant and then the World Series. Boom-boom-boom. The Tigers finish what they start. They started breathing down your necks last month. Now they are ready to eat you.”
“Eat . . . us . . . ?” says the voice.
Something wrong with your ears?
We are talking about a Tigers team that has experienced the lows, endured a 11-19 start, endured pitchers going hot and cold, hitters humbled by injuries, a roster juggled more times than a Mafia ledger.
What would be the point of going through all that to finish second? Huh? Huh? No point. The Tigers are the embodiment of persistence, effort, guts, spit and glue, faith against all odds. They are the little train: “I think I can, I think I can . . .
And what are the Blue Jays? Beer. Yes. They are owned by Labatt’s brewery. Labatt’s makes beer. The Tigers, meanwhile, are owned by Tom Monaghan, who makes pizza. As far as I know, no one ever woke up stark naked on a pool table because he ate too much pizza.
We get the G-rated vote.
Detroit has produced Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Bob Seger. I’ll bet any of them would come back and do the national anthem, too. The one that begins,
“O say can you see . . . “
And Toronto? Well. You have that song you sing at the ballpark. A nursery school would reject it. “OK! . . . (clap, clap) . . . BLUE JAYS . . . (clap, clap) . . . LET’S . . . PLAY . . . (and here comes the surprise word) . . . BALL!”
All right. All right. In all seriousness. Hey. Toronto. C’mere. I have a name for you.
Sorry. You can come off the ceiling now. Or have you forgotten? Hockey season? The playoffs? Toronto-Detroit? Three games to one, you led? And the Red Wings came back to win it?
Finish what you start, Toronto.
We are talking Morris, Gibson, Trammell, Evans. Hungry veterans. We are talking Henneman and Nokes, the crazy fire of youth. We are talking new faces, Madlock and Alexander. And old faces, Whitaker and Lemon.
We are talking sense. And if all this logic, all this rational thought, all these well-conceived arguments do not convince you that Detroit should be the one city left standing when the next 11 days are history — then let me throw one more good reason at you. It was made popular, I believe, by a second grader fighting over a hula hoop.
Why should Detroit, and not Toronto, be the kings of the great, great sport of baseball?
We had it first.