That is what John Gibbons told the Blue Jays season ticket holder audience at the Rogers Centre on February 5th at the annual State of the Franchise event. A yearly gathering of fans and media alike, it gave the Blue Jays organization a platform to both connect with their fans on a personal level, as well as address their concerns. While it was expected to be a little easier going based on the pre-selected questions by the staff, there were some tough questions that did get answered.
A season ticket holder flat out said that Colby Rasmus‘ bat was terrible, and asked Gibbons if he sees him as the starting centre fielder, or if Anthony Gose will come up soon to replace him (Gibbons said Rasmus was here to stay for the most part). Another asked when the Blue Jays will install grass in the Rogers Centre (Beeston replied with “Our resolve is to put grass in [Rogers Centre]“). Multiple people asked if the Blue Jays would raise ticket prices (they’re expected to stay the same for a few years if a lot of people show up to the stadium). Other than learning Josh Johnson was going to be the team’s #4 starter and that Izturis is no longer guaranteed to start at second base, there was no big bombshell of new information that came from the event.
That is not to say that the event was a dud. Not only did people get the opportunity to come up and talk to Blue Jays staffers like Alex Anthopoulos, Paul Beeston, Buck Martinez and manager John Gibbons, but they provided everyone free food and beverage on the concourse. Yes, this also included drinks courtesy of Budweiser, meaning that all fans involved got a better chance of opening up and discussing baseball. In opportunities to talk to fans, it was clear that there was a more excitable buzz among them in comparison to last year. Season ticket holders old and young (including some inaugural year ticket holders) were openly saying things I haven’t heard in a very long time.
“I believe we have the pieces to really go for the World Series.”
“Toronto finally has a sports team that we can be proud of.”
“The Blue Jays look like the team to beat.”
While it’s a long stretch to say for certain that the Blue Jays will bring truth to the above statements, it’s refreshing to see the most loyal of fans to show this much admiration for a team that has gone through the darkest of times and the most depressing of season outcomes. Whether or not the Blue Jays do win the World Series, or even make it to the playoffs, these fans have made it clear that they will not regret their purchase to see the team play throughout the 2013 season.
To see a small gallery of photos from the event, click here.