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World Series Starts After Fans in Toronto Watch Dream Vanish

October 20, 1985|HERBERT H. DENTON | The Washington Post

TORONTO — The dejected headlines bannered in Toronto's newspapers last Thursday morning were in the big bold print customarily reserved for announcement of the outbreak of war or other comparable disaster.

"BLUE DAYS," the popular Toronto Star whimpered in fat blue-colored type across six columns at the top of the front page.

"END OF THE DREAM," the tabloid Sun softly screamed in large blood red lettering.

"THEY BLEW IT," the establishment Globe and Mail, in a rare burst of emotion, accused.

It wasn't supposed to have been that way. The headlines were supposed to have bannered a World Series opening game on Saturday with their beloved Blue Jays right in the thick of it. The only problem is that somebody forgot to persuade Kansas City to cooperate.

A pall was cast over this city as Toronto woke up to a throbbing hangover and the stunned recognition that their Blue Jays, defeated 6-2 in the final game of the American League playoffs, would not carry them to their great dream of hosting what they had come to refer to as a "Canadian World Series."

For a country always chafing at being in the shadows of its giant neighbor to the south and at its status as branch plant and farm club, the devout wish to be in the big time had been swiftly and stunningly dashed.

Torontans had paid scant attention to world events or even their own ongoing mayoral election campaign (the top contenders arranged a tennis match between themselves in desperate effort to drum up interest in that race).

Canadians complain endlessly about being ignored, misunderstood and unappreciated.

"It's true that Dan Rather has difficulty putting us on the news," normally unprotesting Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said recently in an interview.

"I suppose if I walked down the streets of Salt Lake City not too many people would know me whereas they'd all know Fidel," Mulroney went on. "So what else is new? Eh? There's a small market in the United States, there's just a small market for friendship, you know."

Over the weekend in bars and restaurants and on street corners, the citizenry of this shiny and clean metropolis talked feverishly about how a World Series here might bring their city to American recognition.

By Wednesday night, when the Royals had completed their comeback, wiping out a 3-1 Toronto advantage, there was nothing but a lot of "what ifs." Left fielder and power hitter George Bell said it best for many here when he gave voice to the unspoken suspicion that the American umpires were robbing Canada of victory.

Throughout the weekend and during the games this week, mothers and teen-agers argued over whether it was proper for Bell to have made the charge, regardless of how he and they may have felt.

They were plenty touchy about the Blue Jays and their treatment at the hands of the Americans. Newspapers ran frequent stories on the play being given to the team in U.S. newspapers, most often concluding they were not getting the attention they deserved.

But now the dream is over, their worst fears realized that they, as had the Montreal Expos in the National League pennant race in 1981 would see the prize slip away from them in the final innings of the last game.

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