The last day of February was a big day for the television side of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, as Rogers Sportsnet added three members to the Blue Jays Central crew.
Current Rogers employees Joe Siddall and Kevin Barker will have new gigs next season. Siddall, a fixture on the Fan 590, will be replacing Gregg Zaun in the Samsung broadcast studio. And, Barker, the co-host of Baseball Central with Jeff Blair, will now be a frequent guest on the Blue Jays pre and post-game show, a well-deserved role. An outside voice has also joined the team. Cliff Floyd, a current analyst on The MLB Network, will once again be paid to work in Canada, as 20+ years removed from his days with the Montreal Expos, he now will be a regular guest on Blue Jays Central.
In 1994, Floyd was Vladimir Guerrero Jr, except maybe even more touted than the son of his former teammate. He was ranked the #1 prospect by Baseball America, slotted ahead of a haul of future stars like Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Derek Jeter. Cornelius Clifford Floyd was going to be a franchise cornerstone, but as we know, not all prospects pan out, and that was the case here, at least during his time playing for the Expos.
His first season as a regular was the ’94 strike shortened year. He showed flashes of his potential and ended up having a quality season. His most memorable hit as an Expo, was a home run vs the Atlanta Braves, the team of the 90’s. That day was June 27th, 1994, and Floyd hit a three-run blast off Greg Maddux which clinched the game and put the “Spos” just a half game behind the Braves. If it wasn’t for the strike, and the Expos played a postseason game that season, the home run would have been remembered as one of the biggest hits in the team’s franchise history. Instead, the standings were erased, Greg Maddux ended up winning the Cy Young Award, that year and the next, and for Floyd, he hit a total of .216 with seven homers and 34 RBI’s in the ’95 and ’96 years before being traded.
It is possible that Floyd was the separator missing between the Braves and the Expos in the late 1990’s. With young players like Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero becoming stars, surrounded by a solid core of veteran players, they could’ve had sustained success. But they didn’t, they struggled and had repetitive losing seasons. Ten years after having a World Series caliber team, they played their last game at Olympic Stadium, and ten years after that, the Washington Nationals, the team that replaced them, had a young core of prospects similar to the caliber of the Expos, leading them to the postseason year after year.
As for Floyd, he was a typical case of a player needing time to mature. 20 years ago, there weren’t many 21-year-old’s taking baseball by storm like there are now. Once the Expos traded him to the Florida Marlins, he started producing. He developed into the big power hitter he was expected to become. Although he wasn’t necessary a five-tool player like once hoped to grow into, he did have a successful career. He finished with 233 HR’s and slashed .278/.358/.482, a career worthy enough to be mentioned on the Hall of Fame Ballot a few years ago.
Since he has retired from baseball, he’s been a leading supporter of bringing hardball back to the city of Montreal. Floyd has attended multiple events in Quebec honoring the ’94 team. When MLB Network had a documentary about the Expos called; “The Colorful Montreal Expos,” Floyd was apart of the roundtable with the team’s past stars. He has made frequent radio appearances on “Prime Time Sports” with Bob McCown, always willing to give his insight about the Blue Jays play.
He hasn’t forgotten about Canada, and Canada hasn’t forgotten about him. Welcome back Cliff Floyd, we are glad to have you.