It was like a bomb went off in the Toronto sports scene.  November the nineteenth will go down as one of the most important days in the cities sporting history.  Not only did the trade that shook Major League Baseball at its core become official, but it ignited a city of sports fans that have been crying for   some sign of optimism from any of its professional teams.  Sure the Argonauts had just won the Grey Cup, that was cute but the CFL doesn’t exactly carry the same weight in Toronto as the larger major leagues.



The Jays (for those living under a rock) acquired starting pitchers Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck, and super utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Miami Marlins.  Buck has since been sent on his way to the New York Mets in the second major trade of the off-season, seeing Toronto pick up reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.  The Dickey deal, although major, isn’t in the same conversation when speaking of franchise altering moves.


Alex Anthopolous (Toronto’s General Manager, and newly crowned king) has long been a rather quite likable guy.  The company line has seemingly forever been that when the time was right that owner Rogers Communications would make whatever finances needed available.  Its been almost ear piercingly painful to listen to AA interviews since hes taken the job and hear things like payroll parameters and controllable assets.  While he built one of the premier farm systems in the game, the major league club has been treading water. That all changed on the blissful day that commissioner Bud Selig announced the finalization of the Toronto – Miami trade.


The energy felt in the city was electric.  It was mid November and the Jays were the talk of the town, maybe even the continent.  Not a single sporting moment in the city had compared in the preceding decade plus.  The NHL was in full lockout mode, The NBAs Raptors were off to one of the worst starts in franchise history, and then there was the Jays.  The oft forgotten baseball team had picked now as the time, 2013 will be the year that they matter again.


How this all got started has become something of a legend.  Mid summer talks that didn’t amount to much followed by an off season call on the availability of a single player.  How that culminated into the twelve player blockbuster that is now part of history is actually rather simple.  What if i asked you to feed my dog while i was away on vacation?  Being the good neighbour you are you’d   obviously agree, but in return request my help building a new deck in your backyard.  I’m no fool and i can see that simply feeding my dog once a day for a week is nothing compared to a weekend of hard physical labour, so i agree on the condition that you cut my grass while I am away. This back and forth continues until we both have perfectly manicured yards, a new deck for you, driveways have been resealed and no pets went hungry in the process.


Josh Johnson, pardon the analogy, is my dog.  He was the first piece to be talked about, and before anyone really knew it Anthopolous was making a call to team president Paul Beeston to get the green light on further discussions and acquiring some very high priced talent.  After a conversation with ownership Beeston gave the okay to pursue what AA was at that point calling “something big”.  After an unusual leak had sprung and word off a possible deal had got out, there was much speculation to be had.  Had the media giant owners really loosen the “purse strings” and made such a huge deal possible?  Would such a seemingly lopsided transaction be thwarted by the commissioners office?  Does this mean the Blue Jays are in the running for every high priced free agent on the market?


Yes, No, and kind of.  The trade did mean that Rogers had, as promised allowed the team to increase payroll to unseen levels.   Bud Selig after a “thorough” review saw no reason to hold up the trade.  And finally after taking only passing glances at the likes of Tori Hunter, Zach Greinke, and Josh Hamilton the Jays did acquire a top flight free agent, albeit with some baggage.  Only days after the finalization of the Miami trade the club announced the signing of recently suspended Melky Cabrera. The suspension came under the MLBs substance abuse policy for performance enhancing drugs.  Trying to move past the reputation that comes with such a suspension Cabrera signed a two year deal deal with the Jays for what could possibly be the bargain of the century, sixteen million over the length of the contract.


Almost forgotten in the flurry of activity was one glaring hole, arguably the most important hole.  A managing vacancy still existed after the debacle that was John Farrell had taken his “dream job” in Boston as the rival Red Sox Manager.  The name of every unemployed, retired, and geriatric available manager seemed to come up as possible candidates for the job.  All except an old friend of the boss.  After a dinner and some conversation about a return in some capacity it became obvious to the managing general the man he had been looking for was sitting across the table.  John Gibbons was announced as the second returning managing in club history to the surprise of many. From all accounts the decision came out of left field but every indication is Gibbons ability to deal with this revamped cast of characters and masterful bullpen management skills should mesh well .


In the weeks leading up to Christmas and all that comes with it, some how the Toronto Blue Jays managed to once again grab headlines.  Rumours were out that R.A. Dickey was on his way to town as one final present fans could stick under the tree but couldn’t play with for a few months.  After days of back and forth, it happened.  December sixteenth the self proclaimed Star Wars nerd was officially a Toronto Blue Jay.  Granted the price was steep, but the veteran pitcher was a star now, not one in the making like the package of prospects headed to the Mets.


As the new year has started, so has the countdown to spring training.  Toronto sports fans haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years (or decades), but there is a very good chance that’s all about to change.  Many LasVegas books already have the Jays as the odds on favourites to win the world series, it may be getting a bit ahead of yourself to agree but its a nice change to be expected to do more than play for draft picks.


In Sports as in life, timing is everything.  An almost perfect set of circumstances has aligned for the 2013 baseball takeover Toronto is in the midst of.  The time was right to pillage another organization that was looking to lighten payroll.  The time was right when a 38 year old pitcher coming off a career year on a rebuilding team became available.  The time was right to take a risk at a bargain price on a player who had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.  The time was right to bring back a manager who in my humble opinion should have never been let go in the first place.  The time was right in the city to make the biggest off season splash seen in the better part of two decades. Saying that Toronto is excited for the 2013 Blue Jays season may be the biggest understatement in this websites history.  But hey, this is the inaugural offering so comparisons are hard to come by.

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