The glass case in the lobby of the Toronto Blue Jays’ executive office holds World Series trophies from 1992 and 1993. Between them is a small stand, just a few inches high, with a $1 coin. Cito Gaston, the manager of those teams, gave the coin to the receptionist for good luck when he retired two years ago. She displays it as a placeholder for the next trophy, because the coin is dated 1993.
Oh, for those days at the SkyDome, when every night was a party. The Blue Jays averaged more than 50,000 fans a game in 1993, the third consecutive season with four million customers. Today’s team can hardly imagine.
The Baltimore Orioles had the next-best record in the American League East during Toronto’s seasons of glory. They had their own chances at the World Series later in the decade, losing the American League Championship Series in 1996 and ’97. Every year since, the Orioles have had a losing record.
The teams met for three games last weekend at the complex now known as Rogers Centre. There used to be a Hard Rock Cafe above right field, but it did not renew its lease. Billboards now cover 66 windows of another empty restaurant above center field. Aaron Hill and John McDonald, infielders who were traded last month, still have giant banners in their honor on the side of the stadium.
For the fourth season in a row, the Blue Jays will almost certainly finish fourth while the Orioles finish last. Yet, in some ways, this was baseball in its purest form, the game for the sake of the game, with nothing to prove in the standings. The teams fought for three compelling days, one game ending with a go-ahead hit and the two others with the tying run at the plate.