I Don't Like Mondays (On Thursday) — October 15, 2015
It’s not every baseball game where the mayor of a city disses the officials online during said contest. But this is Toronto, where mayors are in the habit of playing the fool for an American audiences, and John Tory was not going to let down the visitors at such a public moment. “Just because an ump disrespects the game,” he sulked, “doesn't mean our city will disrespect itself.”
Oh, too late for that, Mr. Mayor. This decisive Game 5 of the American League Division Series was no ordinary game for Toronto on so many levels. It was, in part, a civic validation in a town where validation comes with mother’s milk. It was also primal scream, Hogtown style. And also one more attempt to equate Toronto’s travails with those of this far-flung nation.
While Canadians are unlikely to love Toronto better, they did get a remarkable four-hours plus orgy of bad manners, great plays and drama so intense it could… well make a mayor lose his shit. It was purgative, punitive and just plain fun for the city (till TIFF rolls around once more).
Could any of TIFF’s cinematiistes have dreamt up such a spellbinder in the dank air of Toronto’s concrete Cadillac? Unlikely. A review of Wednesday’s triumph of will is not unlike crackingthat history book you got on the first day of the school year. The one that started with the Treaty of Utrecht winding through the October Manifesto ending at the Suez Crisis? Pages so stuffed with detail it made your head throb?
For those whose heads weren’t throbbing from excess alcohol, the plentiful events of the day were migraine-worthy. Perhaps the best way to review this most remarkable game is via Headlines written and discarded between the Treaty of Utrecht (first inning), the October Manifesto (the 50-minute seventh inning) and the Suez Crisis (bottom of the ninth).
Jays Take It On The Chin: A homer from Shin Soo Chin off young Marcus Stroman stakes Rangers to a 2-0 lead through four innings.
He’s A Cole Customer: With the lead, Texas lefty starter Cole Hamels keeps Jays to one run through five innings, painting the black and mixing speeds like the transmission of a Jaguar.
Have You Ever Been To Sea, Edwin?: Edwin Encarnacion ties the game at 2 with a monumental home run blast off the facing of the third deck, then does his Long John Silver sans parrot impersonation.
I Pity The Rule: A byzantine play gives Texas the 3-2 lead as Russell Martin’s innocent throw back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez deflects off Choo’s hand, allowing the vexatious Rougned Odor to score. Home plate ump Dale Scott gets the rule right despite calling off the play before Odor scores. Fans throw garbage on the field as the umpires take almost a half hour to resume play. There is a real threat of riot, not helped by Tory’s popping off online.
Texas Died With Their Boots: As Toronto contemplates a long, cold winter, the Rangers immediately hand back their karma shoes, booting the baseball three times on consecutive plays. The second lets the tying run score. The third allows Jose Bautista, he of the years in the Jays wilderness, to hit a prodigious three-run home run to give Toronto a 6-3 lead. In years to come, 176,894 will say they were at the Dome to witness the two-out miracle.
Osuna Or Later: 20-year-old Toronto closer Roberto Osuna inherits two men on with one out in the eighth, getting the final five outs of the game with no scoring. Pandemonium results.
But that chronology doesn’t take into account not one, not two, but three bench-clearing events when Bautista’s cheeky bat flip after the homer pissed off the red-assed Royals. Nor brilliant defensive plays from Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins. And lest we forget, the appeals to the drunks of the 500 level from the gendarmes of Toronto: “The actions you take will not affect the outcome of the game, only effect the perception of #Toronto. Keep classy Toronto.”
Indeed the boorish behaviour of the fans drew unhappy comparisons to the riots in other Canadian cities when their fans were denied victory. For all the Canadian sanctimony about our restraint, Americans do not tear their cities apart over sporting losses the way Canadians have. Discuss. Leave the papers on my desk and I’ll mark them this weekend.
Finally, as testament to the anxieties of the endless afternoon, I cancelled my stress test scheduled for next Monday. If I could survive the sturm und drang of this Gothic thriller, a stress test is clearly redundant.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy @npbroadcaster