Think back to October of 2015. It was a happy time for the Toronto Blue Jays organization and its rabid fan base that had waited 22 years between playoff appearances.
Now remember when then-manager John Gibbons and six of the team’s star players — Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Russell Martin, Jose Bautista and that year’s AL MVP Josh Donaldson — were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and some fans feared the team would be impacted by the mysterious SI cover jinx?
Sure, not all sports fans are superstitious (some are only a little stitious) but with three-plus years of hindsight some might look back at that cover and think, Whoa, weird, maybe there was something to that jinx after all, because with Friday’s news that the team had traded Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for two prospects, no one from the now-infamous cover remains on the Blue Jays.
10.1k Likes, 403 Comments – Sportsnet (@sportsnet) on Instagram: “The end of an era for the #BlueJays. We’ve updated the @sportsillustrated cover accordingly.”
That core group helped the team advance to the ALCS that year but fell short to eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
The SI cover appearance of course had nothing to do with the outcome — the Royals were simply the better team — but regardless of your opinion on jinxes, juju, voodoo, karma, curses, coincidences, serendipity et cetera, the fact is after this cover was published the Blue Jays began a downhill trend that gained momentum over the next few years and has left the team saddled with low expectations heading into the 2019 season.
To recap: Price left for the Boston Red Sox in free agency that winter and they weren’t able to capture a second consecutive AL East title. They managed a return trip to the ALCS in 2016 but that team didn’t have quite the same aura as the previous year’s group.
The team parted ways with Encarnacion after the 2016 season and did the same with Bautista the following year after his production continued to decline.
A disappointing 2018 campaign saw the team trade Donaldson to Cleveland, fire Gibbons after finishing with a 73-89 record and officially release the oft-injured Tulowitzki in December.
Martin was the final domino to fall.
If you count this as the Blue Jays falling victim to the SI jinx, it’s not the first time it has impacted the team’s fate.
Back in October of 1987, outfielder Lloyd Moseby was featured on an SI cover along with a caption that read ‘Toronto Takes Off.’ However, prior to the issue hitting newsstands (remember newsstands?!) the Blue Jays unexpectedly and inexplicably crumbled down the stretch, blew a 3.5-game lead in the AL East and missed the playoffs entirely.