Despite being in the basement of the AL East, the Blue Jays have the top attendance in the American League, and a fan base hungry for a contender.
The Blue Jays have finally snapped their losing streak, defeating the Yankees by a score of 4-1 in the second game of their series on Tuesday. The Jays will look to take the third and final game on Wednesday and win their first series in their last five attempts.
Having dropped nine of eleven, things have turned a little dark in Blue Jay land lately, and the discussion around tearing down the roster and rebuilding hasn’t been this prevalent in Toronto for a few years now. There are several reports of rival GMs taking interest in the Blue Jays’ talented pieces, and there will be plenty of speculation in the coming weeks.
Despite all of the struggles and frustration in Toronto lately, the Blue Jays are still leading the league in average attendance. They’ve registered over 1.65 million fans in their 42 home games thus far, good for 1st in the American League and third in all of baseball. They’re averaging 39,335, which is fourth in the MLB and first in the AL.
Baseball fans in the Ontario capital have always been great about supporting a winning team, and the positivity around the club heading into the season was high, especially after back to back playoff appearances. Up until recently, they’ve has been in the thick of the race in the AL East and the Wild Card picture, despite being in the 5th in the division for the majority of season.
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Things are slightly different after two weeks of shoddy baseball, and fans are starting to wonder about the direction of the ball club. Surprisingly, there were still tickets to be had in the hours leading up to their Canada Day bout, which is usually one of the hottest tickets of the year. Fans still came out in droves with over 46,000 in the seats, but the fact that tickets were available is a bit of a telling sign.
Several media pundits have pointed to the attendance figures as a strong reason that Rogers shouldn’t do a complete tear down of the roster, and there’s certainly validity in that line of thinking. The team has been very profitable during their last 2.5 seasons, and it wouldn’t help the books to create apathy in the fan base. They’ve been filling the Rogers Centre with regularity in the last couple years, and that adds up to a lot of cash in the vault. Even with a franchise record payroll, this is a profitable franchise as things stand at the moment.
The ownership group is surely aware of how their numbers compare now to those from five years ago, and they won’t be keen on seeing a dip on the books. For that reason, it’s hard to imagine a complete sell off of their marketable resources, especially when they do have several young, controllable assets.
That doesn’t mean the Blue Jays won’t be sellers at this year’s deadline, but it should be a lot easier for the fan base to swallow a trade of Marco Estrada (who will be a free agent as season’s end), than to see a Marcus Stroman in another jersey. It’s still hard to fathom that we’re talking about a last place team, but that’s where we’re sitting with less than four weeks before the trade deadline.
The Blue Jays will be one of baseball’s most fascinating teams to follow in July, as they still have the talent and potential to go on a run, or they could become one of the most popular trading partners before the deadline. Just don’t look for the front office to start a fire sale, because at this point, they owe the fans a lot more than that. With the AL’s leading attendance numbers, it’s clear the fans haven’t given up just yet.