With only one professional baseball team in Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays are without question Canada’s team.
On Canada’s 150th birthday, people may think of the Toronto Blue Jays. The reason is obvious — they’re Canada’s team. Especially since the Montreal Expos packed up and headed to Washington as the Nationals in 2004, Toronto has a whole country to support them.
The Jays are the one baseball franchise whose fan base uniquely stretches from the Atlantic coast all the way to the Pacific. That’s not to say the New York Yankees don’t have fans on the West coast, but the West is not their “home” fan base. That’s the difference.
The Jays have prideful fans from coast-to-coast. Proof of this is a midseason road trip to Seattle for the Jays. Seattle, 3,100 km away from Toronto, serves as a home away from home for the Jays. The crowd is a great majority of Blue Jays’ fans, and it’s not even close.
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“It’s something different, I really can’t explain it. I don’t think anybody’s seen anything like it,” said Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons. “It’s amazing. It really is.”
The Mariners average attendance in Seattle is typically around 25,000. But when the Jays come to town, the draw in Seattle is more than 40,000. Center fielder Kevin Pillar describes the scene as “overwhelming.”
So now that the Jays’ fans have spread across the country, at the hub of the team, Toronto, the Jays are averaging north of 38,400 patrons per contest. This puts the team from the North at northernmost (first) in the American League for attendance.
There has been the rumours courtesy of GM Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro that the next few weeks will be a telling time for the fate of this year’s incarnation of the Jays. If they do well, it seems the Jays will be buyers. If they do poorly or continue to middle, they could be sellers and trade away their assets and invest in the future.
However, if the fans and attendance numbers are any indication, the Jays should buy, buy, buy. The fans have spoken. They’ve supported huge and deserve a contending team. Canada deserves a contending team.
Playing at home on Canada Day is a tradition for the Jays, and they have won three of their past four contests taking place the day our nation was born. On Canada Day in 1987, the Jays set a team record of 47,828 attendance.
So everybody knows, this year the Jays will play host to Boston at the Sky Dome (Rogers Centre) on Saturday, July 1st at 1 pm.
They will wear red, which they used to only wear on Canada Day, until this year it was decided that with the Jays being Canada’s team, they should wear red every Sunday at home.
While attendance is normally a strong-point, Canada Day is decidedly different from a typical home game. It’s always sold out and the crowd is a sea of red. There is an aura in the air called patriotism as everybody rises up for the country’s team.
And the players– even non-Canadians– feel the pride too. A legend in Jays’ folklore, Edwin Encarnacion, said, “it’s Canadian Day; I feel like I’m Canadian.”
It’s only fitting that on Canada’s 150th birthday, everything should be ramped up that much more.