Volume 92, Issue 16

Wednesday, September 30, 1998

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Halladay's fit to be a Jay

The long baseball season is over. Finally.

This year certainly has had its moments – Mark McGwire's 70 homers, the wild card race in the National League and all the other great things that have almost brought baseball back to its pre-strike glory.

However, if you're a Jays fan, this year has been particularly painful and trying. The emotional roller-coaster ended this Sunday in typical Blue Jay fashion. Getting people interested and then coming up short.

This past Sunday, highly-touted rookie pitcher Roy Halladay took to the mound for his second start ever in the major leagues and lived up to all the hype surrounding his call up, as he went eight and two-thirds innings of no-hit ball. Sounds great, only that with two outs in the top of the ninth Halladay gave up a solo home run, ending his no hit bid and a chance to end the season for himself and the rest of the Jays with something special.

Don't get me wrong, what Halladay did out there was great and bodes well for the Blue Jays' future. However, it's just this kind of performance which has basically epitomized the Blue Jays in 1998.

After the 1997 season, Jose Cruz, Jr. was going to be the saviour of the organization with a smooth swing and even smoother fielding. Problem is, it's tough to save an organization when you're in the minors. Cruz did come back to get his head screwed on straight, resulting in some decent ball in late August and early September, but it was too little, too late.

The big off-season acquisition was closer Randy Meyers, apparently to solidify the bullpen and bring the Jays within contention. However, it wasn't until Meyers was traded that the Jays became contenders. The big bust did save some games early on but he couldn't produce the big game when it was needed most out of him.

The other off-season move was bit more of a gamble, signing bash brother Jose Canseco to an incentive-based contract. While Canseco lived up to and even surpassed many of the expectations the Jays had for him, he is not the type of leader the Jays should have with youngsters Alex Gonzalez, Shannon Stewart and Cruz in the clubhouse.

Canseco couldn't hit the broadside of the barn on most nights, batting a disgusting .237 and his "swing-away" attitude rubbed off on the youngsters. It seemed as though it was cool to strike out, proven by Gonzalez, Cruz and Canseco who all ranked among the leaders in the league for striking out.

The pitching staff also had its ups and downs, except for Roger Clemens, who should get the nod for his second straight Cy Young Award. Halladay, Cris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar looked good late in the season, making the future seem bright. Even Woody Williams had a decent season which could have been better with some middle relief.

Ten times this season Williams left the game with the lead only to get a no decision. There were a despicable number of blown saves, despite the fact on many of those occasions Woody was coming out in the 6th or 7th inning.

Add all this up and it's a very interesting, but at the same time, a very painful season. Beginning the year with absolutely horrible play, playing championship-calibre ball during the second half and making playoffs seem like a real possibility – the Jays blew it in the end with shaky hitting and even shakier pitching.

So Halladay didn't get the no hitter. Could anything else be expected from a Jay?

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998