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A Tale Of Two Cities
Steve Wulf
July 18, 1983
For division pacesetters Montreal and Toronto, it is the best of times
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July 18, 1983

A Tale Of Two Cities

For division pacesetters Montreal and Toronto, it is the best of times

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G'day. How boot dose Jays, eh? Like dair in first place, eh, in de Mare Can League East, and like it's already halfway through de season, eh? So, O.K., if dey take off on de other hosers and nobody ever ketches dem, dey cud be playing de Series in Tronna, and dat wud be a beauty, eh? Can I have another Labatt's?

Ah, les Expos. Ils sont au premier rang, mais ils have been là before, ne c'est pas? Dawson, il est magnifique, et Rogers est le meilleur lanceur dans la ligue Nationale. Mais on only éspère que l'histoire will not répéter itself. Passezmoi une O'Keefe.

For the benefit of those south of the border who are unfamiliar with these playful takeoffs of Canadian speech called Canajan, eh? and Franglais, hein? here are the rough translations:

Good day. How about those Blue Jays? They are in first place in the American League East at the midway point of the season. Wouldn't it be something if they could hold on, and we end up having the World Series in Toronto? Can I have another of the beers from the brewery that owns 45% of the Blue Jays?

Ah, the Expos. They are first, but they've been there before. Andre Dawson is terrific, and Steve Rogers is the best pitcher in the National League. One only hopes that history doesn't repeat itself. Pass me a beer from the brewery that owns the Expos' TV rights.

Last Friday night, for the first time in history, all four of baseball's division leaders were in Canada at the same time. The Texas Rangers were in Toronto for a three-game series, and the Jays swept to increase their divisional lead on Sunday to three games over Baltimore, Detroit and New York. The Expos lost two of three to the Atlanta Braves but still clung to a one-game lead over the Cardinals. So there they were, Montreal and Toronto, in first place, with the possibility of a World Series in the Great White North looming in the distance.

That would not please everybody. Some jingoists think the National Pastime should be played in these here United States, but don't they know that George (Twinkletoes) Selkirk, Ferguson Jenkins and The (San Diego) Chicken were all born in Canada? Some think the game is more suited to the tropical climes of Seattle and Minnesota, which are, incidentally, at a higher latitude than Toronto. The Canadian Farm & Home Almanac has encouraging news on the weather front. It predicts mild temperatures for the division playoffs. The World Series will have cool, cloudy weather to start with and then clearing skies and frost at night.

The people at ABC Sports, who are televising the Series this year, also won't be overjoyed if the Blue Jays and Expos represent their leagues. Given the teams' lack of appeal to the U.S. audience, ABC is already muttering, "Uh, oh, Canada."

But the people at the Ex and the O (Toronto's Exhibition Stadium and Montreal's Stade Olympique) would be ecstatic. Blue Jays attendance is already 250,000 higher than last year after 41 dates. The Jays tied for last place in '82, so the turnaround is dramatic. But they aren't all that big a surprise. After the All-Star break last year, they were 41-37, and the 17-game difference between them and the Brewers was the smallest between a first- and last-place team in the American League since the majors went to the division format.

Toronto is not built on stars but on sound fundamental baseball, adept platooning by Manager Bobby Cox and excellent front-line pitching. At the end of last week, the Blue Jays were first in the league in slugging percentage, second in batting, pitching and fielding and tied for second in homers. And they had one player, Pitcher Dave Stieb, on the All-Star team. The Expos had five.

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