COMMENTARY | The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays season is underway and with it comes huge expectations. Baseball hopes in the city have not been this high since the glory days of 1992 and 1993 when major league supremacy resided north of the 49th parallel.
Joe Carter was the man who touched the ball last in both of Toronto's World Series victories, which of course included his 1993 championship winning home run against the Philadelphia Phillies inside the then named Sky Dome.
Associated again with the club, who better to compare this season's crew with the legendary figures of 20-years ago?
I chatted with Mr. Carter on April 1 and he broke it all down.
Their has been plenty of excitement around Toronto's offseason pitching acquisitions. On paper how do you feel they compare with the stars on those 1992/93 World Series teams?
Let's combine Jack Morris, David Cone, Dave Stewart and Pat Hentgen compared to the 2013 opening day top four pitchers of R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.
The two staffs are comparable. Buehrle may have pitched back in '93 (laughs), he's been around forever and has been very successful. All the pitchers from both eras are gamers. They can eat up a lot of innings and know how to pitch. I don't mean just throwing the ball, but really know how to pitch effectively.
We had a 20 game winner in Jack Morris as the ace and for this year, Dickey is the man coming off of a Cy Young. He is very good and is more than just a knuckleball guy.
The difference too is that our staff got to build on the 1992 championship going into 1993. We knew how to win. This season the starting pitchers have to try not to do too much too early in the year. There's a tendancy to want to make a quick impact, but they just need to keep relaxed.
Let's talk about a few of the key positional players on this 2013 squad and how they match up to the World Series clubs.
Short-Stop: Jose Reyes vs. Tony Fernandez
Reyes is electric. He has speed over Tony and Fernandez was fast. Tony was a switch hitter, could hit for power and average. Reyes can do that too and is a bit more exciting on the base paths. I give it to Jose.
Left Fielder: Melky Cabrera vs. Candy Maldonado
People forget that Candy was a prime time ball player wherever he went throughout his career.
Melky has just come into his own the past couple of years and there are still questions about him. How can he bounce back from the suspension? How can he adjust and is he able to handle the questions he will be asked about it?
It's a tough one, but right now I'll stick with Maldonado.
Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion/Adam Lind vs. Dave Winfield/Paul Molitor
No question on this one. Two hall of famers compared to Edwin and Adam. Winfield and Molitor had 3000 hits so no comparison.
I was a DH briefly at the end of my career and didn't like it. You have to have a certain attitude to be a DH. All the emphasis is on the bat and you can't make up for getting out at the plate with a great play in the field. You really have to have the right mindset to do it well.
The toughest question of all Joe. If Joe Carter is in his prime today who starts in right field: Jose Bautista or Joe Carter?
(Laughs) Man that is a tough one! But can't argue with Joey Bats. The guy hit 50 home runs! He starts over Joe. But I'd have a place somewhere, they'd have to move someone for me (laughs). Left field, DH, wherever.
Joey has a lot of talent and is really the heart and soul of this team. The Jays go as Bautista goes.
On the manager front. Cito Gaston had been at the helm for some time and had the chance to mold those championship teams from a solid base. John Gibbons returns for his second stint with the team in 2013. How different will it be for Gibbons coming in and expected to win immediately where Cito had time to build?
John has the right attitude. Some advice for John is to forget the hype and he knows that.
The game is not won on paper or potential, but on execution. As a manager you can't put too high expectations on yourself or the team. Gibbons is doing a good job. As long as they can stay away from injuries and have everyone contribute what they are supposed to then the rest will take care of itself.
In your opinion, based on the current state of the American League East, on paper does this Jays club have what it takes to win the pennant and if so why?
100% without a doubt. 100% yes. However, remember that paper can be balled up, crumpled up and thrown away (laughs). You want something in iron and steel. The players can't believe the hype. Believe in yourself and stay focused. They have the talent on this team to have a lot of success.
Joe, your 4th annual "Joe Carter Classic Golf Tournament" is coming up on June 18. Explain a bit about it and why it is so special.
I'm very excited for this year's tournament and each year it gets bigger and more fun.
I bring out celebrities and athletes each time and try to invite ones out who aren't just famous, but that are very outgoing and love spending time talking to people. We've had a great mix over the past 3 years. Great sponsors too. Everyone talks about it and a lot of people are talking about it in the USA too and want to be invited.
In the past we've had the likes of Charles Barkely, Doctor J and Charlie Sheen. This year Charlie Sheen's back and coming out will be Moses Malone, Mashall Faulk, Ozzie Smith, Devon White, Dave Stewart and Alan Thick. Still more names to come.
Best part of the tournament is that we raise a lot of money for the Children's Aid Foundation, which is such a great cause.
(Visit www.joecarterclassic.com for more details.)
Despite Toronto's disappointing 4-1 home opener loss to the Cleveland Indians there are still 161 games left for this Jays clan to grow together. Plenty of time remains to live up to their collective potential and capture the imaginations of baseball enthusiasts across Canada.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81
Andy McNamara is a sports journalist and broadcaster with over 8-years experience covering professional, collegiate and minor league sports.
- Sports & Recreation
- Joe Carter
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- John Gibbons