For the life of me, I don't know how that trip to Toronto came about.
In the still middle of the summer of 1985, I, a newly minted high school graduate, was about to depart for a few years to the greater Michiana area. In all respects, these were in-between days. As for the Phillies, the franchise was then in its third year of careering wildly off its peak at the start of the decade, and my friend Brian was just getting me hep to why all these Bill Giles-influenced moves weren't working out.
So there was increasingly little to see here, and so I experimented by adopting an AL team. For me, it was the Toronto Blue Jays, on the basis mostly of my affinity for their old logo and a vague sense that they were doing things really right, going from expansion laughingstock to AL East power in a mere seven years. Brian saw my interest and turned me on, sabremetrically speaking, with the fascinating story of George Bell, who by 1985 was mashing in a quasi-Bautista-like way, a fearsome hitter and, given his Canadian location, an angry poor man's Andre Dawson.
Did you realize, he asked, that Bell was part of the Phillies organization? And indeed, while most commentary about that era points to the Phillies' abandonment of guys like Ryne Sandberg and Julio Franco, Bell may be an even better example of the Phillies' woeful misunderstanding of the dynasty they might have been throughout the 1980s. Bell was rule 5 draftee a mere six weeks after the Phillies won the World Series in 1980, after, at the age of 20, throwing up a .309/.345/.473 line in Reading. By way of comparison for you young folk, Jonathan Singleton is on pace to do this. And, my blog handle homage aside, it wasn't really as if the Phillies had anything special in left field, although, and perhaps to be fair, no one could have possibly foreseen Lonnie Smith's cocaine addiction. Some years later, the Phillies reminded us of this piece of organizational boneheadedness by employing George's less-talented brother, an organizational specialty.
But I digress. This was supposed to be about Toronto.
Yes, yes, a lovely city, wondrous to behold. Really nice in the summertime, and not quite as bad as you'd imagine in the winter. It boasts an extensive and eerily clean public transit system that figured out a way to keep their streetcars without ripping up the lines or enduring the same level of stupidity when sharing the streetscape with cars (I'm looking at you, Septa). Indeed, they've even expanded them. It has a low crime rate with a wildly diverse population, some provocative architecture, landmark comedians, and fine universities. For cinemaphiles, there is no better location that all too often, and regrettably, disguises itself as someplace else. (h/t David S. Cohen; please be sure to read the comments)
My Jays love melted from there. By the time I was through college I had seen Old Comiskey and been convinced by my roommate to adopt the contrarian ways of Chicago White Sox fans. And in the eight years from 1985 to 1993, too many changes took place for me to feel even more than a pang as I watched the Jays win successive championships. The move to the SkyDome/Rogers