Celebrating Canada Day at the Rogers Center Credit: MopUpDuty

A Rebuttal: Why Toronto (and Canada) deserve the Blue Jays


So one of our FanSided brethren from the Bay Area recently wrote an article at Golden Gate Sports about five cities that don’t deserve their teams. So as the Blue Jays make their way to San Francisco to do battle against the Giants, we here at Jays Journal will also be lining up against some Bay Area adversaries to defend the reputation of the fans in Toronto.

As you can see in the article, he arbitrarily decided that the lovely city of Toronto was not deserving of our MLB club, the Blue Jays. Obviously this is an outlandish and ridiculous notion, made even more insulting by the line:

“Maybe Canadians just aren’t baseball people — I mean, just ask the Expos.”

Perhaps in the sunny confines of California, Jeffery Loria is only known as a benevolent savior of Florida baseball who brings stadiums and players that make the league minimum to the public, and in exchange he asks only for a massive windfall of tax dollars. However, in Canada the deceitful tactics employed by Loria as well as Bud Selig’s complacency in allowing the Expo’s to be moved stolen from Montreal is still very well-remembered, and should in no way be an indictment against Canadian baseball fans. Also, even with amazing fan support the lack of corporate money available in Montreal was what truly paved the way for Loria to waltz out of town with the team, and that corporate money is very much alive and well in Toronto.

Before overreacting to their claims though we must bear in mind where they’re coming from. Even though the Bay Area sports scene is currently in a golden age of prosperity, let us not forget that there is only one half indigenous franchises in the region. The Athletics and Giants were originally in Philadelphia and New York respectively, the Golden State Warriors also were once based in the city of brotherly love, and the Raiders are the prodigal son of the areas franchises leaving only the 49ers as a team that began in the area.  So when an area has pilfered three of their professional sports teams from less fortunate regions, the vulture like attitude of sniffing around for a team that can be had for the taking is just ingrained in them.

Now courtesy aside I will come to the defense of Toronto, which most certainly is deserving of the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have a rabid fan base, while those south of the border as well as the majority of the mainstream sports media likes to paint Canadians as hockey-only fans, there is a very active community of baseball fans as well. I mean this blog you are reading right now is one of many blogs dedicated to getting fans their fix of Blue Jays information that the mainstream media either neglects to cover or taints with hockey comparisons. *cough Damien Cox cough* Not only do the Blue Jays have a very busy segment of the blogsphere in terms of volume there is also passion behind the blogs, to the point where we will write a rebuttal after being mentioned in a list that decries our right to have a team. I feel that the notion that all we know in Canada is hockey in fact forms an even stronger baseball fan base that has learned to search outside the box for it’s baseball content, instead of simply being spoon fed by the mainstream media.

In the article, the author says that Toronto ranked 30th out of 30 in a popularity poll. While I don’t have access to this poll and where it was taken from, I’m guessing it was most likely conducted in the continental United States where there is probably very little love for the sole Canadian team in the American League.

Toronto has had its ups and downs with the fans since the 4 million fan days of the early nineties, but despite years of poor corporate ownership from both Interbrew and Rogers, the fan base has remained strong. Even while Rogers manipulated its customers by making new channels to air Jay’s games on so you have to upgrade your cable package, all while they kept low payrolls to take advantage of a faulty profit sharing system, the fan base remained strong, with ownership behaving like that a more fitting category for the Jays might be under teams who don’t deserve their city.

Admittedly the fact that in 2010 Toronto, which is one of the largest markets in the league,  ranked 26 out of 30 teams is what the French would call “pathetic.” But when you consider the fact the team hasn’t played a meaningful game in September since winning the 93 World Series, and that 2010 was the first season after the Jays traded franchise cornerstone Roy Halladay, a dip in attendance numbers can be somewhat expected. Even when Toronto did employ the red-haired robot of pitching excellence, the mausoleum like charm of the Rogers Center is enough to deter most would be baseball fans from taking a trip to the ball park. You would figure as a member of the Golden Gate region would be more aware of how an old ugly stadium can impact attendance. The San Francisco Giants, who play in the gorgeous AT&T Park, enjoy excellent attendance usually within the top 10 in the league. Their neighbors across the bay, the Athletics, playing at the Oakland Coliseum however always seem to sit right near the bottom. While some might point to the Giants’ two World Series victories in the last three years  and Oakland’s relatively dismal recent past as the reason for this, I will gladly point those people to the year 2006.

Frank Thomas was largely ignored by “undeserving” bad baseball fans as he led the 2006 A’s to a division title
Credit: Eric Risberg

In 2006  with Barry Zito and a resurgent Frank Thomas the A’s took the AL West by storm winning 93 games en route to a division title and the 26th spot in the attendance rankings (The Jays were 18th that year I might add). The Giant’s meanwhile finished 9 games back of .500 at 76-85 and secured the 7th spot in league attendance. The Giants drew more than 1 million more fans than the A’s. Does that mean that San Francisco deserves their team but Oakland does not? Or maybe one of these cities doesn’t have good baseball fans… although I’m not sure who would be the worse fans, those going to see a lousy team, or the ones that didn’t go see a winning team?

While anybody saying that any city does not deserve their team is rude it becomes much worse when using faulty information and untrue generalizations about the fan base. But when mentioning attendance numbers that trump those of a division winning team in your own city…well Mr. Pot what would you like me to tell Mr. Kettle, he’s waiting on Line 1.

Tags: Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays