Without knowing if the Blue Jays can make their way back to Toronto this season, it’s a very good thing they have such an exciting new core.
The more I looked at the NHL playoff exemption and what it does and doesn’t mean for a potential return to the Rogers Centre for the Blue Jays, the more I got thinking about how lucky ownership might be with the timing of having an exciting young roster. That might not be a total coincidence, but still.
There’s no doubt that the Blue Jays are a product that’s marketed to all of Canada, but their central support system is in Toronto, a city that hasn’t been able to host a baseball game since the fall of 2019. The Jays spent their home games in Buffalo for the 60-game season of 2020, and then started this year’s schedule calling Dunedin home before returning back to Buffalo. Ideally it’s a temporary solution before they can make a triumphant return to their true home field, but that’s still very much up in the air at the moment.
Imagine for a moment that the Blue Jays were in the very beginning stages of a rebuild rather than where they are now. I know people have had to learn to live without a lot of things, but rushing back to watch a losing team wouldn’t be at the top of a lot of post-pandemic checklists. However, the idea of supporting your favourite team on the rise would be just what the doctor ordered, and an easy recipe to welcome bandwagon fans who have been starved for live entertainment and social interaction.
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At 30-27 the Blue Jays are well set up to continue making this season an exciting one for the fans, even if we’re limited to just watching at home. They’ve had one of the toughest schedules in baseball to this point, and once the middle of June rolls around they should get a bit of a break with the quality of their opponents. For now they’ll still have tough tests with the White Sox, Red Sox, and Yankees before they get there, but this team has shown they can compete with pretty much anybody. That said, it would sure help if they could do so in front of their home fans for once.
Even in a best case scenario it will be nearly two years between games at the Rogers Centre, and that’s not the easiest thing on a fan base. Sure there would be the initial excitement of getting them back in town, but keeping the fans there is another task. Thankfully the Jays have the type of team that should be able to do just that, whether that comes at some point this season or if it has to wait until 2022.
As it stands, the fact that the Jays are talented and in the thick of the early postseason race will just add to the euphoria when they can finally play in Canada again. Here’s hoping that happens in 2021, and that this talented roster can reward them with a return trip to the playoffs.