Thursday, April 12, 2012

Opening Day Insight

I know I am not the only Toronto Blue Jays fan out there who is absolutely pumped that the 2012 season has finally started! I cannot possibly contain my enthusiasm and excitement to watch the Boys of Summer compete in the AL East this year. This division really is the pinnacle of competition and has flawless organizational execution from top to bottom – I wouldn’t want to swap out of this division for anything in the world.

Here are some thoughts from my experience at the #HondaHomeOpener this past Monday.

Atmosphere: I was riddled with goose bumps for at least an hour during the introductory ceremonies, and throughout the first few innings listening to the excitement from the crowd of 48, 473. I was enjoying the roller coaster of emotions the Blue Jays fans were riding during the stellar start of 21-year old Henderson Alvarez, and watching the young offence put the team in position to win (well at least attempt to). Here are a few things I took out of the game.

Why not repeat this atmosphere on a more consistent basis? It would take an absolute fool to truly believe that just being Opening Day makes it a better atmosphere! It is about fans! It is about the excitement of the game! The beautiful thing about the sport of baseball is the lengthy season, which spoils true fans with 81 opportunities to turn the SkyDome (it will always be the SkyDome) into a tough road trip for an opposing team. Granted the drinking and partying atmosphere is hard to consistently repeat, but true fans are there for the excitement of the game! If you want the big players to join our team, if you want playoffs, and if you want a championship – then own up to your end of the bargain fans. Plant yourself in a seat and continue to help make Toronto a destination where winners will want to come and win!

Toronto Fandom: I must confess that I am just as passionately obsessed with the Toronto Blue Jays as anyone else will tell you that they are. There is nothing wrong with that passion for your team, city, & boys – but the Toronto fans could use a good shake sometimes.

First of all, let’s take care of the elephant in the room – newly acquired closer Sergio Santos. He is a young guy with electric stuff, a solid delivery that will help his longevity, and a passion to win that fits right in with the swag of this youth movement in Toronto. I watched Brewers fans sit idly while their young Canadian closer John Axford spoil his first 2 save opportunities before going on to slam the door shut 47 consecutive times!

The Toronto fans must appreciate their role in the current upward trend toward playoff baseball. I do understand that Toronto sports fans have been struggling with dramatic negativity for their teams for quite a while now; however, we must realize how our unwarranted negativity will affect this young impressionable team. Blue Jays fans must remain on an even keel with the play of this exciting team – we have to not get too high on the highs, and more importantly not get too low on the lows. With players like Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, and now Sergio Santos the Toronto Blue Jays have collected some young and very talented players to become a major part of this team. As a fan base desperate for a championship, we must do our best to cultivate and create an “at-home” advantage for our boys. With the right kind of energy from our energized fan base we can make the Dome a terrible place for other teams to play and a spot that our team can’t wait to come home to. Can you imagine our team with a young, hard-throwing closer like Santos treating the Rogers Centre like Papelbon did with Fenway Park – we have the chance to help something special grow here in Toronto. So let’s all make a Toronto Blue Jays fan pledge to not throw garbage on the field, or throw jerseys back onto the field of our players that may struggle; I promise if we do not do those things, then we won’t poison our young team like Leafs fans may have done with their young hockey team.

Other thoughts on Santos: I will leave you with my final thought on Santos – he will be more then fine. Sergio is a young and talented hurler who possesses a dominant combination of power and control, with his two fastballs, which only set-up his out pitch slider. It is a nasty late-breaking slider, which has been called the best in the game, and it looks more like a cut fastball.

Here is what Mike Wilner had to say on his blog “Miked Up” about Sergio Santos:

“This is just his second full season in the big leagues as a pitcher, and last year, he was amazing. It’s very difficult to have the opposition hit .181/.282/.314 against you by accident, just as it’s tough to call 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings over 63 1/3 innings of work a fluke. This is a special arm, and I firmly believe he’s going to be just fine.”

Feel free to comment on what you thought about the Home Opener in the section below.

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  1. Good article. I wasn't at the opener so I can't comment much on how the fans behaved. I caught some of the boo-birds out there, but they're idiots. Everyone knows that less than 50% of the people at the home opener can name more than 5 players on the field. I think that the the way that this team plays the game'll bring fans to the seats, more importantly, they've got a pretty easy April schedule (minus some competition from the Rays but they've got them at home). Taking advantage of that schedule and topping the AL East early (the Sox and Yanks haven't looked great) could be big for fan support. I just hope that they get there before May, because that schedule gets nasty fast.

    1. Thanks for the comment Luke. The impression I wrote about from the Home Opener is based on the almost immediate negative reaction that hung over Santos when he came out in the 9th to face Pedroia, AGon & Youk. That is a tough order for a young closer of any calibre on any team. My problem is the rooted negativity that our Toronto fandom exude - we are almost never happy unless we have something to complain about or a scapegoat to absolutely shit on. I know that this Blue Jays team can be something special, but the best sport franchises sustain championship level success largely based on the strength they receive from home crowds and their fanbase. If we want to cheer for the best team, it is time we start acting like the best fans in the world. Buying tickets, watching games, cheering our hearts out for our boys and heckling the hell out of the other teams. I know that guys like Lawrie, Arencebia & Romero want the RedSox & Yankees to fear coming and playing in front of a raucous crowd at the SkyDome! Let's make this happen! It really the least we can do as fans.