Elliott on Baseball

BOB ELLIOTT, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

In 1985, the Blue Jays were 13th among Major League Baseball payrolls and first in the American League East.

No one complained about the New York Yankees payroll, which was $14.2 million US, compared to the Jays' $10.8 million.

Two years, later the Jays were sixth in baseball and first in the East.

In 1991, they were eighth overall and, again, first in the East.

The next year, they were third highest overall en route to winning the World Series and in 1993 they were baseball's top spenders, repeating as Series champs.

First, the Jays did not have enough money to compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox. Then, they had some money. Now the $78 million for 2006 is not enough.

Impossible to make the playoffs with $70 million? Well, the Minnesota Twins ($63.8 million) and Oakland A's ($62.2) are in good shape, aren't they?.

So, go ahead. Buy your Jays tickets for next year if you want. Just don't expect to see a winner.

Some mistakes the Jays have made over the years:

- Eric Hinske will be paid $2.8 million to play for the Red Sox in 2007.

- Corey Koskie will be paid $7.7 million to play for the Milwaukee Brewers this year and next.

- Kerry Ligtenberg was paid $2 million not to pitch in 2005.

- Billy Koch was paid $950,000 not to pitch.

- Shannon Stewart was paid $3.1 million to play for the Twins after the 2003 deal for Bobby Kielty, whose salary Minnesota paid.

That's $16.5 million -- more than the Jays' team payroll in 1989 -- to five players either to play elsewhere or to just go away. Cost certainty certainly is costly when dollars are not spent wisely.

BACK TO OAKLAND?

Ted Lilly can pitch for his former manager, Ken Macha of the Oakland A's, any day.

In 2003, the A's played the Seattle Mariners while holding a five-game lead in the AL West. The A's lost Friday and lost Saturday on the next-to-last weekend of the season.

"I'm in my office after the game on Saturday and our trainer comes in and tells me that Rich Harden won't be able to start," Macha said this week. "So, I go home Saturday without a starter for Sunday. Nice."

Macha was all set to start knuckleball reliever Steve Sparks on Sunday. He did not even consider Lilly, who had thrown a bullpen session on Saturday. With the prodding of Tim Hudson, Lilly talked to Macha.

"I can start and go as long as you want," Lilly told Macha. Lilly worked six scoreless innings, allowing three hits for his 12th win of the season.

"Our lead could have been down to two. He got it back to four games," Macha said. "We finished in Seattle on the final weekend. But thanks to Ted, we were able to clinch in Texas before we even got back to Seattle. You don't forget that."

Lilly remembered the outing saying: "I was healthy. Any of our starters would have done the same."

Canuck No. 23

The latest Canadian to be promoted to the majors, Kansas City Royals reliever Ryan Braun, did not have an easy road.

A sixth-round pick in 2003, Braun had four surgeries on his right side, once to his elbow ligament and three times on his shoulder. The last surgery, cost the Kitchener native most of the 2005 season.

Braun, 26, was 1-8 with 13 saves and a 2.19 ERA in 43 games at double-A Wichita and triple-A Omaha this season. He had 80 strikeouts and only 29 walks in 65 1/3 innings.

His dad, Ted, played hockey for the Wichita Blackhawks in the 1970s and was a Mennonite Brethren Church pastor until 1988. He spent most of his life in Fresno, Calif.

LONGEST HOMER I'VE SEEN

"At the 1995 Americas Olympic qualifying tournament at Edmonton's Telus Field, Canada was playing Cuba. After Omar Linares completed a 12-pitch at-bat, Jeff Zimmerman faced Orestes Kindelan. We were leading 3-2 in the sixth when Kindelan hit a 2-1 changeup so high and far that it went into the lights in left and was not seen again prior to landing an indescribable distance from home plate." -- Greg Hamilton, coach and director of national teams, Baseball Canada.

NORTHERN LIGHT

Our Canadian minor-leaguer of the week is Mississauga outfielder Chris Emanuele who hit .565 (13-for-23) for rookie-class Pulaski (Blue Jays) with a homer and seven RBIs.

Our runnersup: London's Geoff McCallum of class-A Jupiter (Marlins) as he hit .400 (4-for-10) with an RBI and Guelph's Matt Stocco who hit .333 (5-for-15) with three homers and nine RBIs for class-A Eugene (Padres).

TOPS IN CANADA

Ontario dominated play at the five national championships, winning three golds and four bronze, thanks to the success of two host teams.

Not one other province had more than two medals. Quebec won gold and silver, B.C. won two silvers and Saskatchewan brought home a silver and bronze.

MIDGET CHAMPS

The Mississauga Southwest Twins scored in the top of the seventh to edge British Columbia 4-3 at Summerside, P.E.I.

Reliever Eric Ventura pitched six scoreless for the win, striking out seven, for Southwest's first national title.

Ian Campbell's fly ball scored catcher Anthony Fantauzzi with the game-winner. Ontario edged New Brunswick 1-0 in the semi-final as Matthew Piccini pitched a one-hitter and struck out four for coach David Huctwith.

BANTAM CHAMPS

The Hamilton Cobras gave the city its first national title, beating Alberta 7-0 in Windsor. Coach Dean DiCenzo had Zack Ranta start and got five scoreless innings out of him.

Josh Hayes doubled in a run and Ranta had an RBI single. John Solazzo finished up striking Alberta's Steven Inch to end the game. Darnell Duckett hit a two-run double and Mike Gottschalk a two-run homer in of the semi-final as Cobras won 6-2 over the host Windsor-Riverside.

JUNIOR CHAMPS

Steve Budai hit a two-run single in the seventh to force extras and when Mark Allen singled in the eighth, the host Guelph Silvercreeks had edged Quebec 8-7 to win the title at the Pearson Complex in Guelph.

Adam Reynolds pitched four scoreless innings of relief to get the win. Guelph trailed 5-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth before manager Scott Van de Valk's team rallied.

St. Thomas, the Ontario champs, won bronze, beating Manitoba 6-1.

BRONZE WINNERS

The Mississauga North Tigers whipped Alberta 11-0 at the peewees in Victoria, B.C. Michael Spezza pitched a complete-game one-hitter and had offence supplied by Michael Landsdowne, who had three hits and an RBI, and David Broll, who had two hits and knocked in three runs.

The East York Bulldogs edged Ontario, represented by Windsor, 2-0 to win bronze in Brandon, Man. Victor Simon scattered six hits and fanned six.

Besides St. Thomas, the host Windsor team finished third in bantam play.


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