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. 4 of the all-Expos series.
Maybe baseball isn’t such a complicated game after all.
Postgame, after his hit drove in the winning run to give the 1994 Expos a 3-2 win over the 1981 Montrealers, slugger Cliff Floyd shrugged off the mental part of the sport. ″If you got a hundred things on your mind, how you going to hit the ball,” he asked rhetorically. “Nah, man, I was swinging for the fences tonight.”
He caught one – the one in right field, specifically. Facing 1981′s Charlie Lea in a game tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh, Floyd walloped a low-and-inside offering for an off-the-wall triple that plated Marquis Grissom for what turned out to be the game-winning run.
"He golfed it,” reliever Tim Scott said of his teammate’s liner. “It was something.”
The win gave the 1994 side a 3-1 lead in games heading into Game No. 5. The scheduled starters are 1994′s Ken Hill and 1981′s Steve Rogers. It’s a reprise for the pitchers who faced each other in the first game of the best-of-seven series. The winner of the all-Expos series will face the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, who dispensed with the 1985 Jays in four successive games.
The game at Olympic Stadium was tighter than the ’94 Expos owners’ wallets. In the top of the opening inning, Floyd singled in the first run and scored the second. Two innings later, the 1981 Expos parlayed four base hits into a pair of runs to even the score. Floyd’s screaming three-bagger in the seventh broke the tie.
Though the strapping rookie seems built for power, Floyd’s bat produced but four home runs in 334 official at-bats during the ’94 regular season. He hit the ball ruthlessly hard, but with little elevation.
“I expect to be a real good hitter, hit 20 homers or so and drive in more than 100 runs each season consistently," a confident Floyd told reporters after the game. "I expect to hit a few long homers. I want people to know I hit that ball. People have been telling me I remind them of Willie McCovey. If I can live up to what McCovey did, that would be great.”
When the 6-foot-4 Floyd compares himself to McCovey, it’s no stretch. ’“He does remind you of Willie,” said one rival general manager in spring training, referring to the Hall of Famer nicknamed Stretch. "They’re both massive, huge. They have so much presence. And they look big. Some guys are big, but when you see them in person, they don’t appear that immense. Floyd and McCovey are both immense.
“It’s a natural body. I take after my mom. She’s a big woman,” Floyd said. "When I fill out, I won’t be surprised if I weigh 250, but I’ll still look good.”
Get a load of baseball’s next big thing.
Monday, The Globe will run a game report and box score of Game 5 of the Montreal side of our computer-simulated tournament. Scheduled starting pitchers are Steve Rogers for the 1981 Expos and Ken Hill for the ‘94 Montrealers. The winner of the best-of-seven series will face the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays in the final round for the mythical Macdonald-Cartier Cup.