Highlighting the cultural impact of the Toronto Blue Jays to Canada
A bit of the wind may have been taken out of the Toronto Blue Jays sails this past weekend. They lost two of three games at home to the New York Yankees.
However, that hasn’t slowed the overall momentum of the fanbase. Supporters across the nation seem to be embracing this team for the first time in a long while, and it is something that is absolutely necessary for Canadian sports.
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Here in Canada there are a variety of professional sports leagues, but sadly all get dwarfed when compared to the National Hockey League. I mean this is rightfully so – hockey is the sport in such a winter-laden country.
With that being said, it still has been 22 years since the last time a Canadian team hoisted the Stanley Cup, which was 1993. This happens to coincide with the last time the Blue Jays won the World Series.
Canada also has the Toronto Raptors in the NBA, although they have never really won much of anything. At the end of the day it’s hockey that reigns supreme.
Right now, this is usually about the time in the year where every other sport on earth becomes an afterthought as the Hockey season approaches. But given that Canadian markets haven’t enjoyed the most success in the NHL the past few decades, fans across the country are ready to get on board for any sort of winner that the nation has – case in point the Blue Jays:
Baseball just isn’t a game that is really known much of in Canada – one can even point to the fact that Canada just won the Pan-Am Games Gold Medal in Toronto. They did this by defeating the United States, in what was one hell of a game.
However, not that many people outside of those in attendance got to see it, because it wasn’t televised. If this were any type of Hockey championship, then this thing would have been covered off the wall.
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Yet for a game that is still an unknown to a lot of people here, the popularity is sure growing. The opener of the series versus the Yankees on Sportsnet drew their largest audience for a single event in the stations history. Considering Sportsnet handles NHL games and insight basically around the clock, that is no small feat.
But what do Canadians love about the Blue Jays? For one, there is such a diverse group of people involved with this team, as was pointed out in a great piece by ESPN.
They have players of many different nationalities and they all seem to bring a different bit of flair to the team. These guys have different personalities that seem to gel.
They all seem to have a different handshake with one-another, which shows that their finding ways to have fun during the monotonous dog-days of summer. But what Canadians really love to see is a team that simply cares.
The big change with this season hasn’t just been the names in the clubhouse, it’s been the culture that has come along with them. They may have let go of a few of the laid-back types, while replacing them with a few more A-type personalities.
Aug 16, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) is greeted by third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) after hitting a two-run home run against New York Yankees in the third inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jose Bautista has been a figurehead for the organization for a while now. Although I’ve criticized him for arguing with umpires, one cannot despite that he plays with a certain edge and likes big moments.
Acquiring Josh Donaldson was huge. Here is a guy that will have an effect on any team that he is on.
Donaldson loves talking baseball and is a real student of the game. Not only that, but that guy is competitive as hell.
Then at the trade deadline they go out and get Cy Young Award Winner David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Price is known for being competitive and being a great clubhouse guy, while Tulo has been described as someone who maybe didn’t have the most friends in Colorado, because he was so obsessed with winning.
You bring these guys into a mix that includes R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle and there is a special mix. Dickey has had to prove himself every time he steps on the mound his entire life, while Buehrle seems to get outs from sheer will these days, because it definitely isn’t just that 84 MPH fastball.
This group has a good mix of All-Star talent and near castoffs who became late bloomers, i.e. Bautista, Donaldson and Dickey. With this in mind it’s easy to see why this team has a bit of an edge. Now add to it that they play for a team that hasn’t won in forever, and that’s just more fuel to the fire.
Fans loved seeing the altercations the Jays had a few weeks ago when the Royals were im town. It brought out the inner hockey fan in us that was looking for blood.
Sure, there’s a massive bandwagon that’s joining along for this ride right now, but why not? I welcome any new fan to the game of baseball.
The fans from Toronto and around the country have these players excited – all you have to do is check Price’s Twitter as proof of that. It’s just great to see that Canadian fans are showing that baseball matters again.
The last time the Jays were relevant was the early 90’s. You want to know why Canada has the sixth ranked National Team in the world? Because the kids that grew to be fans then have also grown up to become many of the Major Leaguers and professional players of that team today.
It’s about time Canada embraced this sport nationally. There’s many reasons to do so.