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 pits 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. 3 of the all-Expos series.
Before Game No. 3, during batting practice, the effervescent Warren Cromartie from the ’81 Expos was talking to reporters about nicknames. “Woodie Fryman, we call him Old Goat, for obvious reasons," Cromartie said of the 41-year-old relief pitcher, whose given name is Woodrow. “Gary Carter, he’s Teeth,” Cromartie continued.
But wait a minute, isn’t the curly-haired catcher’s nickname The Kid? “Nah, man, I call him Teeth, because he’s always cheesing for the cameras.”
How about Ray Burris, today’s starting pitcher? “Beast,” Cromartie said. “Just Beast.”
Beast is as beast does, and the 1994 Expos (along with an announced crowd 34,237 people at Olympic Stadium) found out why Burris is called what he is. The 6-foot-5 veteran right-hander tossed a complete-game five-hitter to lead the ’81 Expos to their first win in their series against the ’94 squad. In the 5-1 victory, Burris only struck out three batters, but walked just two. A two-out home run in the top of the ninth was the only blemish to a performance that saw him use an efficient 106 pitches in going the distance.
“There’s no defence for a walk,” Burris said after the game. “I know what I am. Nobody told me I should be striking out hitters. Letting them put the ball in play is my job. That’s how I was taught to play the game. If I’m going to lose, I’m going to make the other team beat me with a hit, not a walk.”
Burris’s 1981 team now trails the ’94 Expos 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Scheduled starters for Game No. 4 are Scott Sanderson (9-7, with a 2.95 earned-run average in 1981) and Butch Henry (8-3, with a 2.43 ERA in 1994)
The start of the afternoon game was delayed by 20 minutes. The Ottawa-born crooner Paul Anka was supposed to sing O Canada, but pulled out a few hours before his scheduled “home and native land” performance. Pop star Gordon Lightfoot, who was in Kingston for a concert at Jock Hardy Arena, was flown in as an emergency anthem singer.
Jeff Fassero took the loss for the 1994 side. In an untidy seven innings of work he was tagged for five runs, all earned. Rodney (Cool Breeze) Scott, Andre (The Hawk) Dawson and Jerry White each had two hits apiece for the ’81ers.
The game marked the return, after a one-game absence, of the furry, orange Expo mascot, Youppie!
Speaking of Le Grand Orange return, former Expo Daniel Joseph Staub was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The ginger-haired fan favourite goes by the name “Rusty.”
As for Cromartie, he stroked one hit, scored one run and drove in a base runner. His teammates call him “Cro.” He deserves better.
On Thursday, The Globe and Mail will run a game report and boxscore of Game No. 4 of the Toronto side of our computer-simulated tournament. Scheduled starting pitchers are Jim Clancy for the 1985 Jays and Todd Stottlemyre for the Jays of ’93, currently up three games to none. The winner of the best-of-seven series will face the victors of the matchup between the Montreal teams from 1981 and 1994. The last team standing wins the Macdonald-Cartier Cup.