No Way-Rod

By
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It’s a good time to be Canadian. As the loonie continues to outperform the greenback in the currency markets, we Canucks have begun to find ourselves in exciting positions that bring new, amusing economic opportunities.

After years of ridicule for our colorful and oddly-named currency, it is our turn to laugh now that a duck is worth more than America’s first president, whose paper image looks to Canadian eyes more like an alternative energy source than legal tender. And now that we’re raking in the kindling after saving thousands on our Brown tuition bills, the Canadian Dream of running a maple syrup factory while eating round pieces of bacon and wearing a toque (pronounced “touke” and Canada-speak for those stretchy winter hats that keep your ears warm) is finally within reach.

But despite our new-found financial capacities, there’s one thing you won’t see Canadians doing anytime soon – slapping our flag on the shirt of the best player in baseball, Alex Rodriguez.

It’s not that the Blue Jays are allergic to home runs, it’s not – as Herald Sports Columnist Tom Trudeau ’09 argued last week (“Building from within key in today’s MLB,” Nov. 27) – that pricey, big name players are the wrong way to go and it’s certainly not that we’re lacking the funds (remember that duck business). It’s not even that the soon-to-be former Yankee is now a former-soon-to-be former Yankee after agreeing to a “basic framework” to stay in pinstripes. It’s about a little thing we Canadians call respect.

Baseball, somewhere between curling and competitive lumberjacking on the Canadian sports radar, is not our thing. Sure, we succeed when we put our minds to it – since 2003, Canadian-born players have won a quarter of NL Cy Young, AL MVP and NL Rookie of the Year awards that Americans have won despite having 1/10th of their population – but let’s face it, we play hockey, you play baseball.

And that is why we don’t want to get in the way of one of the greatest sports rivalries around, which happens to be between the Toronto Blue Jays’ own division-mates from New York and Boston. The rivalry has produced enough historical milestones and nail-biting finishes that we think it’s worth keeping, and our Canadian manners simply forbid us from tampering with something that works so well.

But this is not to say that we haven’t learned from experience. Let’s travel back in time for a moment to the fall of 1993. The leaves are turning, the air is crisp and the Jays have just defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, successfully defending the World Championship they had earned a year before against the Atlanta Braves. The season was Patriot-esque: four Jays started the All-Star game and they sent three more as reserves. John Olerud, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar finished 1-2-3 for the AL batting crown and Joe Carter hit the only come-from-behind, World-Series-winning, walk-off home run in Major League history.

The celebration, however, did not last long. As if the fabric of space-time itself had been ripped to shreds by the brief period of Canadian baseball dominance, the foundation upon which the Jays had climbed their way to the top of MLB crumbled faster than Kim Campbell’s 133-day term as prime minister. The next season was marred by the infamous strike of 1994, sending the league into a two-year downward spiral of canceled and shortened seasons.

But all was not lost. In 1995, the Jays finished with a dismal 56-88 record, 22 games behind the Yanks and a monstrous 30 games back of the division-winning Red Sox. Order was restored, and the following season was the first to see all 162 games played since the Jays had thrown the league – and perhaps the universe – out of balance, daring to dream of the impossible.

Unfortunately, Canadian ambition reared its ugly head again in 1997. After changing their uniforms – presumably to forget all the trouble they had caused the league – the Blue Jays signed Red Sox ace Roger Clemens to a $25 million contract, threatening the establishment once again. But this time, tragedy was averted. Clemens’ rocket arm captured him the first AL Triple Crown for pitching in 50 years, but the Jays finished the season below .500.

Now, with the dollar surging to new heights and the biggest name in baseball on the market, the Jays could make a prodigious error. Bringing A-Rod north of the 49th parallel would spell the end of this most fruitful period of Yankee-Red Sox dominance, which, as we know, ends well for no one.

As happy, healthy, polite and able-to-drink-at-a-young-age as we are, we Canadians know our place – and it’s third in the AL East.

Herald Senior Staff Writer Chaz Firestone ’10 is trading above parity.

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