The Toronto Blue Jays have a fairly fascinating history. This team came into existence 40 years ago and has enjoyed a rollercoaster ride as a franchise. They've had a ton of losing seasons, followed by non-playoff winning seasons, followed by winning seasons. This team doesn't quite have the consistency to win like the Yankees nor the consistency to lose like the Pirates did in the '90s and 2000s.
Though the Jays have enjoyed some historic moments -- including World Series championships in 1992 and 1993, there have been some horrendous trades, free agent signings and some playoff games that have left a bitter taste in the mouths of Toronto fans. The Blue Jays, like any other team, have had a lot of painful moments that have been tough to forget.
Which ones stand out the most, though? Here is a look at 15 moments in Jays history that their fans would love to forget.
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15 Unraveling in 2014
After consecutive losing seasons, the Blue Jays got off of to a solid start in 2014 and were in firm control of winning the American League East. The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox were among the worst teams and the pesky Tampa Bay Rays had a season to forget. Toronto appeared to be the best in a wide-open AL East for once.
By June 6th of the 2014 season, Toronto was 38-24 and comfortably leading the division. But the Jays started to lose their grip a little and sat at just 49-47 entering the second half of the season. The Jays rebounded in July and entered August with a solid 60-50 record, remaining in contention for a postseason berth.
As the Jays slipped out of the division race, they visited the Seattle Mariners for a three-game series in mid-August; with wild card game implications on the line. Toronto was swept and never recovered, finishing with an 83-79 record and missing out on the postseason by fairly wide margins.
14 Losing Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion broke out in 2012 with the Blue Jays and became one of baseball's most feared sluggers from then on. His 239 home runs trail only Jose Bautista and Carlos Delgado for the most in franchise history. Encarnacion was a linchpin in helping Toronto reach the ALCS in 2015 and 2016. His walkoff home run in the wild card game against the Baltimore Orioles will live on in infamy.
Encarnacion entered free agency in 2016, and the Blue Jays reportedly offered him an $80 million over four years. Encarnacion thought he could get more, so he waited it out while the Jays moved onto fellow slugger, Kendrys Morales on a three-year deal worth $33 million.
The Jays saw Encarnacion settle on a three-year worth $60 million with the Cleveland Indians, the team that eliminated Toronto in the ALCS. Turns out that if the Jays simply gave Encarnacion more time, the star slugger would have remained in Toronto.
13 Not Retaining Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant is only 25 years of age and through his first two seasons in the majors, has collected a pair of All-Star Game appearances, one National League MVP and a World Series Championship ring. The face of the Chicago Cubs was integral in ending the team's 108-year World Series drought. But did you know Bryant could have been on the Blue Jays right now?
The Jays drafted him in the 18th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, but Bryant did not sign with the team and went back to school. The Cubs took Bryant second-overall in the 2013 Draft and have relished the rewards ever since. Though I wasn't involved in negotiations and don't know what really went down, it's safe to say the Jays didn't value Bryant too much and therefore didn't push hard enough for him to join the team right away. It's never easy to forget this team let a future MVP out of its grasp.
12 J.P. Ricciardi Era
J.P Ricciardi was the Blue Jays' general manager from 2001 to 2009. The Blue Jays did not make the playoffs once under Ricciardi. Is it safe for fans to know at this point that the former Jays' GM didn't usually spend money the right way? Or that he didn't know how to make proper deals with other teams?
You see, the Jays haven't been big on spending in free agency, but Ricciardi went on a big offseason shopping spree in 2005 (we'll get to those signings later), instead of paying for a bonafide star. Ricciardi also came close to dealing Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum (!), but the trade never went through. Toronto was also offered NL slugger and World Series Champion Ryan Howard from Philadelphia in exchange for pitcher Ted Lilly, but Ricciardi said no. He also rejected a Jose Cruz Jr. for David Wright offer from the New York Mets.
If Ricciardi closed the deal on those three trades, then he's the Jays general manager to this day. No question about it.
11 'Man in White'
The 2011 Blue Jays season wasn't all that special. The team did go 81-81 while Boston, Tampa Bay and New York all won 90-plus games. But the most memorable part of the Jays 2011 season, six years later? Allegations from opponents suggested that the Jays were stealing signs. Via ESPN.com, opponents stated that in the centrefield section, they saw a man wearing white.
This man was apparently signaling certain pitches to the Blue Jays. He was signaling breaking balls but not fastballs. According to the accusers, they had to start changing up their signals. Jose Bautista was even warned by the opponents to cut the accused cheating. Current Blue Jay Russell Martin admitted he felt as though Toronto had been stealing signs from his New York Yankees some years ago.
And current Jays analyst and former player Gregg Zaun admitted to stealing signals when talking to a Kansas City radio station. Evidence points to the Jays of committing a dirty deed. Jays fans can only try to forget about it at this point.
10 The Early Years
Like most expansion teams in any sport, the Blue Jays and their fans were happy just to have a team at the beginning. It was thrilling enough just to have the Blue Jays in their inaugural 1977 season. But going 54 and 107 in their first season left a lot to be desired for the franchise and city of Toronto.
1978 wasn't much better, as the Blue Jays went just 59 and 102. If you thought year three would be better, well it wasn't. The Jays then posted a 53-109 record. It was pretty sad to a point that their 67-95 record in 1980 appeared to be a major sign of progress. They struggled again in 1981 and 1982, but finally broke through with an 89-73 record in 1983.
But man, those poor Jays fans that must have thought they would never see a quality baseball team during the franchise's first years of existence.
9 Performance in 2016 ALCS
The Blue Jays almost seemed like a team of destiny in 2016. They barely limped to the finish line and locked down a wild card spot, taking down the arch-rival Orioles thanks to Encarnacion's clutch home run. Toronto then faced another arch-rival in the AL's top team, the Texas Rangers. Toronto swept them as well and reached the ALCS, poised to reach the World Series after coming oh-so-close in 2015.
The Blue Jays faced the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, and their rotation could not have done much better in the series. The Indians scored just 12 runs in the five-game series, and the team's .168 batting average was the worst for a winning postseason team in MLB history. The majority of their runs were homers, but the Jays offence was entirely ice cold.
Toronto scored just eight runs against Cleveland, and five of them came in ONE game. No doubt, the Jays fans would love to forget just how terrible the bats were when it mattered most.
8 World Series Hangover
Some sports teams are able to avoid the so-called hangover. That is, when a team reaches a championship series (regardless of if they win or lose), they'll struggle the following season. Unfortunately for Jays fans, the hangover lasted 22 years after they defended their world championship in 1993.
The Jays were just 55-60 in 1994, before the conclusion of the season was lost due to the league strike. Toronto posted a losing season each year from 1995 to 1997, but bounced back with winning seasons from 1998 to 2000. Just when progress was being made, they racked up consecutive losing seasons in 2001 and 2002. The Jays then struggled to post consistent winning seasons, and would not come close to a playoff berth until 2014.
That basically means that fans went 22 years of watching Jays baseball with all games being meaningless from August to October. Yay.
7 2005 Offseason Shopping Spree
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox dominated the AL East from the late '90s to the early 2010s, because they kept spending big money to retain their own stars while adding other big names to get better. The Blue Jays have almost always tried to stay away from spending big on free agents, but former general manager J.P. Ricciardi was allowed to spend big money during the winter of 2005.
They started out by signing closer B.J. Ryan to a five-year deal worth $47 million -- a record contract at the time for relievers. Ryan was an All-Star in 2006, but struggled with injuries and Toronto never got the investment they had hoped for.
Toronto also signed pitcher A.J. Burnett to a five-year deal worth $55 million. Burnett was a solid number two/three starter, but the amount of money handed to him was ridiculous. He opted out after three years and signed a mammoth deal with the Yankees.
6 Trading Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens is one of the most dominant pitchers in MLB history, playing in 11 All-Star Games while winning seven Cy Young Awards and winning a pair of World Series championships with the New York Yankees. The Jays were looking for an ace after their World Series win and signed Clemens to a four-year deal worth $40 million in 1996.
Two of Clemens' Cy Young awards came with the Blue Jays, and he was worth every penny during his short tenure with Toronto. Then for some reason, they dealt the franchise starter to the rival Yankees in a blockbuster trade that brought David Wells to the Great White North.
Wells didn't last long in Toronto and Clemens shifted the power in the American League when he went to the Yankees, winning two World Series championships with them. Toronto traded away a star and made a divisional foe that much stronger. Not an easy moment for Jays fans to forget.
5 2013 Season
The Blue Jays were coming off a disappointing 2012 season. They were supposed to contend for the AL wild card spots, yet won just 73 games. General manager Alex Anthopoulos promised to increase the team's payroll, and he made a series of big moves to make Toronto more competitive.
He made a blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins, gutting the farm system while acquiring solid pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, plus speedsters Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio. He wasn't done there, trading for Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey while bringing back old friend John Gibbons to manage the team.
Despite those moves, very little went right for the Jays. They won just 74 games and finished last in the American League East. Definitely not what Anthopoulos had in mind when he made the deals.
4 Trading Roy Halladay
On paper, it made plenty of sense for the Blue Jays to trade Roy 'Doc' Halladay. The franchise star was in his mid-30s, only had so many great years left and wanted to win a championship. The Jays had arguably baseball's best pitcher and could have secured some great assets to build their franchise around. Nobody faulted them for trading him to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Seven years later, and we can only wonder what could have been with this trade. Toronto acquired promising prospects Kyle Drabek and Travis d'Arnaud as well as Michael Taylor. Drabek wasn't able to lockdown a full-time spot in Toronto's rotation and was off the team by 2015. d'Arnaud was traded in another mess of a deal (more on that later), while Taylor never played a game for them.
Not exactly a great return by giving up the greatest pitcher in franchise history.
3 Trading for R.A. Dickey
It may have made sense to some for the Jays to acquire the reigning NL Cy Young winner in hopes of boosting their chances at winning the AL East. But to me, it made no sense at the time for Toronto to give away its two best prospects for a 38-year-old knuckleballer who had ONE GREAT season. Over four years later, the Jays are regretting that deal to this day.
R.A. Dickey spent four seasons with the Jays and went just 49-52, with a 4.05 ERA. Those aren't horrible numbers, but they're vastly disappointing when you were supposed to be the ace of the rotation. Oh, and the return they gave up.
The Jays traded d'Arnaud, who has yet to reach his full potential. But they also gave up pitcher Noah Syndergaard -- one of the fastest pitchers in baseball. Syndergaard is only 24 years of age, and already has a 23-16 career record with a 2.89 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. The Jays could have had 'Thor' on what was the best rotation in the American League last year. They got four mediocre years from Dickey instead.
2 Robbed in Game 6 of 2015 ALCS
The Blue Jays faced the defending AL Champion, the Kansas City Royals with a trip to the world series on the line. Toronto had the league's best offence and a slick rotation, led by David Price and Marcus Stroman. The Jays trailed the series 3-1, but won Game 5 and went back to Kansas City for Game 6.
Toronto should have won that game and could have forced a Game 7. First off, Mike Moustakas' solo home run to put the Royals up 2-0 shouldn't have counted, as it was clear a fan reached over and caught the ball:
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth, Dalton Pompey was on third and closer Wade Davis committed a clear balk that should have sent the former home. It should have been 3-3, but the umpires never picked up on it.
There was also a controversial strike zone all game, and the Jays seemed to be on the wrong end of every call. The umpires made mistakes and Toronto's season ended partially because of it. They lost the game, 3-2. Kansas City was gifted a run while Toronto was robbed of one. Not a nice way for an otherwise incredible season to end.
1 1985 ALCS
Something about the Jays and Royals playing in the ALCS, it just never seems to be good news for Toronto.
The Blue Jays won 99 games in 1985, led by stars Tony Fernandez, George Bell and Dave Stieb. Toronto faced Kansas City in the 1985 World Series as the favourites to win the pennant. Toronto would jump out to a 2-0 series lead before the Royals won a crucial Game 3. But the Blue Jays stole Game 4, needing just one win to reach their first World Series.
Toronto's offence went ice cold over the next two games, scoring just three total runs in Games 5 and 6 that helped Kansas City force a Game 7. A big four-run sixth inning for the Royals essentially put the game away. They came back from 3-1 down to win the ALCS, before beating the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series.
Toronto would have to wait seven years to celebrate a World Series victory.
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