Mikyla Grant-Mentis: The Next Big Name in Toronto Sports
Posted on February 8, 2022
On October 23, 1993, Joe Carter hit a walk-off home run in game six of the World Series, to clinch the Blue Jays second straight title. This is possibly the greatest moment in Toronto professional sports history, if not Canada as a whole. The clip of the home run with Tom Cheek’s iconic “touch em all Joe” line is played all the time on sports programs and for years it was “the” Blue Jays moment. But until recently, there was always this weird feeling I had watching it. As exciting it was to see how great the Jays used to be, these weren’t the Jays me and anyone born after 1993 knew.
Roy Halladay | Image Credit: Dave Sandfrod/Getty Images
The Jays I knew weren’t very good. Despite having superstars like Roy Halladay and Jose Bautista, no one outside of Toronto really cared about them, because they never won anything. They hadn’t even been back to the postseason since winning that second World Series. And things weren’t much better for Toronto’s other big teams. At the start of 2015, the Raptors were in their 20th season, yet still had failed to ever reach a conference championship. The Leafs were perpetually in the basement of the NHL and had only been to the playoffs once since 2004. It was a dark time for Toronto sports, but things were about to change.
There’s a pretty good chance that you know what happened for the Jays in 2015, but if you’re unfamiliar, here’s the gist of it. Prior to the start of the 2015 season, the Blue Jays made a number of moves, most notably acquiring third baseman Josh Donaldson in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. This trade worked out pretty well, as Donaldson would go on to win the American League MVP award. He along with players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and mid-season acquisition David Price helped lead the Jays to their first division title and playoff berth since 1993. In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Jays quickly went down 2-0 to the Texas Rangers but stormed back to tie the series 2-2 which led to a deciding game 5 in Toronto. I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that you’ve seen what happened in the bottom of the 7th inning, whether you saw the game itself or you’ve just seen pictures on shirts, but it can’t hurt to watch it again.
Unfortunately, the 2015 season didn’t end with a World Series for the Jays, as they would get knocked out by the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series. Despite this, the team still accomplished something. They brought Toronto sports out of the gutter. Everyone who followed baseball knew about the bat flip, and that combined with having the reigning MVP made the Jays a relevant team again. It wasn’t just them though. Since the 2015-16 season, the Leafs haven’t missed the postseason once, and despite their lack of success when they get there, players like Auston Matthews have resolidified the Leafs as one of, if not the biggest NHL franchise. The Raptors have remained one of the NBA’s most consistently successful teams over that time and even brought home their first NBA title in 2019.
While we may not have reached their heights, this generation of Blue Jays fans can finally somewhat understand what it felt like to watch those teams from the ‘90s. You obviously can’t just give the Jays credit for the success of the other Toronto teams, but their 2015 season felt like the turning point. They may not have won it all, but that 2015 team did more for this city than any team had in decades.