In place of on-field baseball action postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Globe and Mail brings you a computer-simulated tournament involving four of the greatest Canadian teams, using the statistics-based software of the sports-game company Strat-O-Matic. The first-round best-of-seven-game series pitted the 1985 Blue Jays against their World Series-winning counterparts from 1993, while on the other side of the bracket, the 1981 Expos take on the 1994 Montreal squad. Today’s matchup is Game No. 5 of the all-Expos series.
Coming off a 94-win season in 1993, the Montreal Expos were considered by many to be the team to beat in 1994. Team confidence was high during spring training. Why, starting pitcher Ken Hill was already in postseason sports-cliché form. “We’ve gotta take it one day at a time,” Hill observed, way back in March in Florida. What was left unsaid was that Hill was happy to be there and hoped to help the ball club win. Presumably, he just wanted to give it his best shot and, the good Lord willing, things would work out.
The Expos in 1994 did indeed take it one day at a time, to the delight of literalists and Gregorian calendar enthusiasts everywhere. In a strike-shortened season, the team won at a .649 clip. Sadly, the players’ strike caused the cancellation of the playoffs, denying the dominant Expos any chance at postseason glory. As for Hill, all he did was win 16 of his 23 starts, earn an all-star spot and finish second in Cy Young voting.
In The Globe and Mail’s computer-simulated tournament to determine the greatest Canadian baseball team in history, Hill has been dominant: two masterful starts and two wins, including a victory in Game No. 5 to help the 1994 Expos beat the 1981 Expos in a 7-2 romp, and send the former into the championship round against the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays.
Chosen the series MVP, Hill tossed seven innings of three-hit ball, out-pitching 1981′s ace Steve Rogers decisively. Rogers (along with relievers Bill Lee and Elias Sosa) were equal-opportunity in their collective ineffectiveness, not only allowing at least one hit to every ’94 hitter in the starting lineup, but coughing up a hard-hit single to pinch-hitter Randy Milligan, too.
After a day of rest, the 1994 Expos will face off against the 1993 Blue Jays in a best-of-seven series for the computer-simulated right to be called Canada’s best baseball squad in history. The hope for Montreal fans is that the 24-hour holiday won’t throw off Hill and his strict one-day-at-a-time rhythm.
Wednesday, The Globe will run a game report and box score of Game No. 1 of the final round of our computer-simulated tournament. Scheduled starters are Juan Guzman for the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays and Ken Hill for the 1994 Montreal Expos. The winner of the best-of-seven series wins the mythical Macdonald-Cartier Cup.