Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baseball in Autumn

I love Autumn.  The leaves begin to change color and the temperature begins to be bearable.  I love wearing hoodies and vests.  The long drives just to see the new colors as they appear.  Autumn is also when the postseason begins for baseball.  
There already are commercials on FOX promoting their postseason coverage.  The Blue Jays have not been in the fall classic in over 19 years now since they won it all in 1993.  This season will be no different.  This season will also be completed with an asterix beside it with all of the injuries they have endured. 

But there is something bigger than getting players healthy that needs to be addressed next season.
The Toronto Blue Jays need to fix the impression that the average fan has of them.  

Below is a picture from the local newspaper that I received at my front porch just a few hours ago.  

I would like to think that the cartoonist is taking a double shot at the team by poking fun at the fact that the Baltimore Orioles (I know its a robin not an Oriole but its looks close enough) are in playoff contention and the Blue Jays are not, but I doubt they were that smart.

Ever since players like Carlos Delgado, Roger Clemons and recently Roy Halladay; I believe the mainstream media have been taking shots at the Blue Jays for their lack of success.  I am not talking about the major sports media outlets, who showcase the nightly highlight shows on TV.  But the average Toronto newscast.
If your reading this, chances are you probably are a Blue Jays fan, but think about what the average guy at work thinks about the Blue Jays when you mention their losses as of late.
I am not sure why people who don’t know or watch the Blue Jays have this idea that they are not a good team.

The only thing to combat that notion is winning – and a lot of it.  In the past 10 years, the Blue Jays have won at least 81 games, 7 out of the 10 seasons.  Only once (in 2004) did they lose 90 or more games.  A feat they are not on pace for but could reach.  They have averaged the 4th worst attendance percentage (at 54.5% with 26,854 people per game).  Beating only Houston, Cleveland and Seattle percentage wise.

I think they are at least 20-25,000 fans in Toronto who regularly attend games.  The trick is getting the other 40% of the dome filled.  At the beginning of the season I was seeing a lot more hats and jerseys around the city.  There was an excitement in April surrounding the Blue Jays.  We all had a feeling the post season might be a reach, but an 81 game season, was attainable.

We all know that every team has injuries and other hurdles they need to move past to have great seasons.  Injuries will hold any team back but to have the amount the Blue Jays have had (and are still having with Happ and now Cooper just this week), it certainly can be a buzz kill.

The thing that holds Jays fans attention is the development on the young rookies – Gose, Hech, Lawrie, and Sierra.  But try selling that to the fan who couldn’t tell you where the Blue Jays triple-AAA team plays or what position Brett Lawrie naturally plays.

Its easy to say, ‘those are not really fans anyways’.  But as long as the Blue Jays play in the Rogers Centre, the team will have to find a way to attract the other 40% of fans who come to be entertained by wins alone.

Sadly, until the Blue Jays play in October, we will continue to see comics like this appear in local newspapers across Toronto.  The idea that the Blue Jays are losers needs to be reversed.  Lets hope 2013 is the beginning of something special like it was in 1989 when they won the AL East and began to build towards 5 years of success and two world series wins.


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