On Lawriemania

Alex Anthopoulos and I have something of a disagreement. Not a major one– and not one that I really need to keep beating like some dead whores [Note: that's the phrase I'm looking for there, right?]– but one that does have to do with the big story of the second half of this season, and one that lands precisely where I’ve got something stuck in my craw.

“I think Brett Lawrie, whether he was Dominican or Venezuelan, would still be a fan favourite because of the way he plays the game,” Anthopoulos tells Terry Bell of the Vancouver Sun. “I think the fact that you can take even more pride that he’s Canadian is great. But I think it’s the type of player, high energy, speed, power, hardnosed. Being Canadian just adds to it.”

Really, Alex? Because that’s kind of not at all the feeling that I get. But, y’know, I only base that mostly on your own company’s numerous marketing efforts in the wake of Lawrie’s call-up, and the cavalcade of articles about him and his Canadianness in the local papers.

The Toronto Star reports of the “hundreds of fans, long lineups, wrist bands, cameras, phone cameras, teenaged girls — and even crying toddlers” that greeted Lawrie during an autograph session Friday at Eaton Centre, some lining up as early as 7 AM. Unprecedented much?

Then there were the members of the team that Canada sent to the Little League World Series– Like the Memorial Cup, but with less date rape! (TM)– who were on hand at the Rogers Centre on Sunday “to take in a Blue Jays game and meet Lawrie,” as Michael Grange of Sportsnet explains.

Not AL MVP candidate Jose Bautista. Not fourth best ERA starter in the American League Ricky Romero. Their fellow Langley, BC, native; he of a whole 24 games in the Majors; he who JaysTalk callers are already openly comparing to Pete motherfucking Rose.

I get it. Fans pined for Lawrie as he tore up the Pacific Coast League all summer, and as soon as he arrived in the Majors he started to deliver. It’s kind of fucking awesome. But I think it’s laying the maple syrup on a little thick to suggest that Lawrie’s Canadianness is simply adding to the phenomenon.

Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a thing I struggle with, for some reason.

Yes, every Jays fan should be thrilled that their team has a player who’s looked as good as Lawrie has so far. And even the ultra-cynical among us who are unnerved by just what a whopping fucking difference a player’s birth certificate apparently makes must, at the very least, appreciate Lawriemania for its potential to be exploited for the benefit of the organization.

Yet, I’m having trouble resolving my discomfort with this– and maybe it’s because I’ve spent so many years groaning and rolling my eyes in the direction of the army of maple dicks who insufferably trumpet the notion of the Jays getting their hands on every single fucking Canadian who makes the slightest blip on MLB’s radar. Now I’m seeing that there maybe really is something to this, no matter how much I think it’s completely ridiculous to have an extra level of appreciation for a player on a team you already like based on where he was born.

Or maybe it’s just that it feels like way too much of an encroachment into baseball of a form of English Canada’s crude, xenophobic, Don Cherry, Darcy Tucker and Tie Domi are fucking awesome but Mats Sundin is just OK bullshit meat head hockey culture for my taste.

Parkes mused in that vein, aiming high (er… low?) and missing when he groped for a resolution his own discomfort with Lawriemania last Friday at Getting Blanked, calling Lawrie “the perfect storm for popularity in Toronto. First of all, he’s Canadian. Secondly, he’s got the whole White, Anglo Saxon thing going for him. And finally, he appears to try hard. The insecure, inherently racist, casual baseball fan in Toronto didn’t stand a chance.”

“Inherently racist” is a pretty goddamned thick brush to paint with [as you may recall from two paragraphs ago, I prefer "xenophobic"! HEYO!], but as far as a player’s nationality creating an incentive for casual fans to like a team goes, I totally get that.

And maybe it is just the casual fan who is losing his or her shit on the back of some gaudy nationalism– the Star reports that at Eaton Centre, “the vast majority of fans on hand for Lawrie’s signing were younger than the 21-year-old himself.”

On its own that totally makes sense, but I can’t shake the feeling that all the maple-flavoured Lawriegasms are part of something much bigger than just casual fans finally having someone on the Jays they feel akin to and can cheer for, and I just can’t get behind it on that level, whatever it is.

Oh, who am I kidding? It’s totally the hockey thing.

Comments (74)

  1. Seriously, is this really worth getting worked up about?  Stoeten, this is a waste of your talent.  If Johnny Mac’s avg was 100pts higher and a rookie with hype, he would be treated the same way.  

  2. There’s no mention of his performance since he’s arrived which has to be addressed, no? Do you think the same reaction would still be taking place if he had a David Cooperesque type start?

  3. There is a difference between what the media is pushing and what actual fans are feeling.  I think AA understands this but I don’t know if you do.

  4. This is just your leftist-pinko-commie-liberal self hating white man issue coming to the surface. Jack’s death hit us all very hard, yes. 

    Dont fear though Stoeten, I am white, and my favourite player is still Jose. Of course I moved down to Latin America and have a thing for their woman, so perhaps Im racist too???

  5. Im so happy Brett Lawrie is white.

  6. You neglected to analyze the two most critical aspects of  Lawrie’s career for the Jays. Lawrie is from BC, and the first legitimate potential Canadian star (maybe even superstar) the Jays have ever had.  That’s the most crucial part in terms of me not caring about the HypeMachine (TM) that is Brett Lawrie. 

    The BC part – This is crucial.  Lawrie’s westcoastness is critical to the Jays marketing of him.  While BC fans may not flock to the Rogers Centre on a regular basis, they provide crucial TV ratings audiences.  Obviously, better TV ratings = more $$.  So why not let the national media gloat over him and drive up the ratings.  Rogers hasn’t released much about ratings (nor do the Jays generally crack the 900k threshold that would put them in the public top-30 Nielsen ratings) but I’d be willing to bet a huge amount that the current ratings are higher than years past, and a lot more diversified across Canada.

    More importantly, the Canadian superstar.  Not only is this just awesome from a national pride aspect, but more importantly it’s likely to rejuvinate (on a somewhat muted level due to a variety of demographic factors) interest in the Jays and baseball across Canada.  Canadian kids starting out in t-ball now have a homegrown superstar to root for.  Combine this with a hopefully competitive playoff team in 2012 or 2013 at the latest, and you could see somewhat of a return to the glory days.

    Let’s be realistic, Lawrie’s hype is unavoidable.  I can see exactly why the Jays are driving a lot of this and why there is no hesitation to make this a national pride thing.  Lawrie presents a national marketing tool not seen since the “glory days”.  If Lawrie was a timid, weak kinda guy, or a headcase like Drabek, this would present some risk in terms of his mentality, but with the way he plays the game, I don’t think this is going to prove to be a big deal.

  7. Paraphrased from the Getting Blanked thread, but it’s worth mentioning: What’s the difference between cheering for Lawrie because he’s Canadian, and cheering for the Dutch soccer team? Isn’t it fine to have some national pride?

  8. Johnny Mac is what he is because he’s a mediocre, late-30s white guy. His popularity comes from a pathological national projection. If he was an American stud 15 years younger, what would suggest his treatment would be any different than the treatment of Travis Snider has been from a certain part of the fan base? His biggest sin, even three years ago, has always been talent. Lawrie gets a pass on being talented due to his Canadianess. If Lawrie was a 3 WAR upside guy, he’d still be a star here. If he was born 200 miles south but still had a 7 WAR upside, he’d be viewed with suspicion.

  9. hmm, well people will be people doesn’t matter what country it is.  I just hope the team doesn’t try to market him anymore than anyone else, as tempting as it is.

  10. I respect your insight, but this isn’t a fight worth having.

    People like the kid. He’s playing very well. He’s probably making a little bit of money for the organization.

    I don’t think the promotion of baseball in Toronto is ever a bad thing.

    My sister-in-law hates baseball and even she’s heard of Lawrie. That’s when I knew this was getting big.

  11. I call troll

    No one ever comments at Getting Blanked

  12.  I could not have said it better Randy.
    This was my point to Parkes a few days ago. Its obvious this is all just an effort on the part of Rogers to increase their slice of the sports pie in not only Toronto, but Canada as well. And like I said, I dont care who comes to the games, and why they are there, as long as the building is full and revenue is flowing in. If ratings are through the roof, and the Dome has 40,000+ on average… Id assume it would be impossible for Rogers not to spend upwards of 125-150 million on the team.

  13. Stoeten and Parkes, you two need to check your fucking lifestyles. The jays call up the most exciting young hitting prospect in memory (mind you I am only 20 and have no memory of the glory years) who also happens to be the first legitimate Canadian stud the jays have had in their line up. And yet, in a time in which optimism for the jays might be at a post world series high, all you two fuckin dusters can think to do is crap on all the casual jays fans who have been caught up in the hype.

     What is wrong with you that you dont understand why a canadian player might be preferable to an American player or a Dominican player? The Blue Jays play in Toronto, a Canadian city, in front of Canadian fans. There is a reason that the World Cup and the Olympics are the two biggest sporting events in the world; for better or for worse nationalism is one of the most powerful forces in the world. Just by having Brett Lawrie playing on the Blue Jays elevates them from simply a baseball team playing in Toronto to something approaching a truly Canadian team, which could united fans from all over the country instead of just the GTA. If that isnt  be something you would be interested in Stoeten, maybe you should move to the US of A where you wont be bothered by us idiotic canadians who actually have some national pride. 

  14. There are a lot of fair points in the comments about this, I think, one of which is that we haven’t really had any Canadians to cheer for. And since the Blue Jays are the only Canadian-based MLB team, it is nice to have a born-and-bred Canadian on it.

    Hockey is a decent comparison, actually, as the Boston Bruins vs. the Vancouver Canucks this past season was a pretty interesting illustration of “team home base” vs “actual team nationality”. The Bruins had 21 Canadians on their roster, far more than the Canadian-based and Canadian-named opposing team. But much of Canada was still behind Vancouver, out of loyalty to the Canucks’ home base.

    It’s not the Olympics, but the city or country in which a team makes its home has a lot to do with loyalty, especially in a market so vast and unserved as Canadian baseball.

    I’d also like to point out that the Little Leaguers were FROM Langley, B.C., as you mention here, Stoeten — I mean, wouldn’t it be great if you were a little kid and got to meet a bona fide rising star from the major leagues who grew up in the same town as you? I think that’s a huge factor, especially for players so young with dreams of playing in the majors.

    I don’t disagree with everything here. I think you hit a bunch of great points on the head, particularly in treating Canadian sports nationalism as something that can often be full of xenophobia (sorry to bring the hockey back again, but Don Cherry, anyone?), or the fact that the Jays getting any Canadian at all is the biggest deal to Jays fans. A lot of it is ridiculous, and the fact that a player was born in Canada shouldn’t be the reason we acquire them, but rather should just be an extra point of interest.

    Brett Lawrie has been tearing it up since he arrived, though, and this kind of major-league debut is just going to make the hype crazier. The fact that nationalist sports fans have a Canadian to cheer for just drives it further.

    Whew, so many words, sorry.

  15. National pride is fine, it’s when national pride gives people this huge extra gear to get excited about someone that– as fans of the team– they should be totally excited about already, regardless of birthplace, that I find it a little odd.

    Like, if the Raptors had signed Steve Nash five years ago, why would the fact that they signed a Canadian add to the excitement of the fact that they signed someone really, really, really good? I get that it DOES for people, but I think it’s dumb.

    I mean, I sometimes follow soccer teams I’m otherwise not a fan of more closely when a Dutch national team star goes there, so I understand it can be a reason to be interested when you’re not really interested to begin with. But when you already like the team… it just– and this is an extreme example– it kind of implies that if, say, Jose Bautista was Canadian, Jays fans would have an extra level of ape-shittedness to go over him than they already do, meaning that, apparently, they’re holding back some amount of adulation for the best player in baseball because he’s Dominican. That’s kind of fucked.

    And before you say that’s crazy, I again would like to point you to the example of Mats Sundin.

  16. What a terrifically written article! I love it!

  17. Is it really that bad if casual fans start giving a shit and coming out to the games?  Yes, there’s a certain meat head, hockey aspect to it, but if that’s what it takes to get this city caring about the Jays again (something this site has talked about numerous times) is it worth the trade-off?  

  18. I live in Latin America and they go nuts for Latino players in baseball, the NFL, you name it. As far as I can tell, most black kids grow up with black sports idols. Yet if white kids likes a white player like Lawrie it’s racist? Give me a break. There is a difference between systematically discriminating against someone who is of a different color – which is inherently wrong – and cheering for sports players you can identify with 

  19. ya I’m not sure what the problem is Stoeten. The Jays are more relevant in this city than perhaps any time since the mid-90s. When you become more relevant, you start to attract a wider variety of fans, and some of those fans like players because of how many RBIs they have or because they say “eh?”. If Rogers was hyping a kid who was shitty then sure, you’d have a good argument. But, we’re talking about a guy who has been the best player in baseball since the day he came into the league (doesn’t mean he is the best player, but it’s hard to find anyone who has put up better numbers than him in that short timespan). You can’t really fault a business for trying to benefit from that.

    I also think Lawrie is the guy who is taking on most of the excitement people are feeling about the Jays simple because he’s the one most willing to take it on. People are pretty excited about the moves that have been made, but let’s face it, guys like Escobar, Rasmus and Morrow are pretty quiet and don’t seek the spotlight. Hell, even Bautista is pretty quiet.

  20. I’m kind of like stoeten that there is a little something about the Lawrie love that turns me off, ever so slightly, and I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe it’s that he had to be Canadian and white and have the whole Gordie Dougie thing going on to get the casuals interested in this team.  Roy Halladay was fucking awesome, but he didn’t get this kind of love.  Carlos Delgado was fucking awesome, Jose Bautista was fucking awesome, etc.  But Brett Lawrie who’s been in the big leagues for like three weeks is more popular than them all.  It just kind of reminds me of the casual misperception that a lot of people have of the Jays, “oh they’ve sucked since 1993″ and “they haven’t had any good players since the glory years.”  Except they have had good and interesting players, but no one noticed because they weren’t born in the right place.

    Anyway, overall it’s surely a good thing.  It gets people to notice the team, and the sport, and I’m sure the tv ratings will be even better because of it.  The last piece of the puzzle is actually getting into a playoff race one of these years.

  21. Aah Stoeten.
    Trolling for pageviews again I see.

    If you can ever go stateside ( BTW are those charges still pending?),most Americans think that the only thing Canadians know about is hockey.They opine that we can’t possibly know anything about baseball,nor could Canada produce any baseball player.Even when you list all the Canadians playing in MLB,their response is “I didn’t know he was Canadian”.So a little homegrown talent playing on the local team is something to brag about.
    Funny how, in the States, a local kid makes it to the show,his hometown or state will tell the world,but if Canadians do it,it’s bad.
    Lawrie is lauded because of his hustle and hard play.Just like Pete Rose or Halladay.Lawrie tries and plays with emotion.
    Ever wonder why Rios got run out of town?
    And as usual Parkes’ comments are laughable,trying to elicit a reaction and increase his pageviews.
    You should try raising your game and not sink to this level.
    Try cheering for players who at least try hard,with the talent they have.You might actually enjoy the game and stop being an asshole.( Well,you’ll still be an asshole but you get my drift.)

  22. I think it comes down to the fact that people love an underdog, and they love one that suceeds even more.  Brett Lawrie being Canadian makes him an underdog in other Canadian’s eyes…it’s a complex they’ve developed.

  23. I don’t think it’s fucked at all.  It’s a positive for a sport in Canada that has seen better days at best, and at worst, could be fading into niche range.  Sure, Jose Bautista is undoubtedly the best position player the Jays have had in a long time and likely the best in the game right now.  But look at his outside baseball impact to the casual fan and average Canadian: A Booster Juice spokesman role.  Then look at guys like Jeter and Mauer whose faces are extremely prominent in advertising in the US.  Baseball in Canada needs Brett Lawrie.  The Jays need him to be a star player on the field, make young girls and little kids swoon, and get him a Tim Horton’s commercial.  And most importantly contribute to the team and put asses in the stands and eyes on the TV.

    Bottom line, there is some intangible aspect (and it’s, for the vast majority of fans, not racist or xenophobic) that makes Brett Lawrie’s Canadianness have extra appeal.  I think to criticize any hyping of him ignores the critical juncture that baseball in Canada is at right now…

  24. While Lawrie’s been playing great, and is exciting, it’s hard to imagine him getting the same reaction from fans and media if he wasn’t Canadian. The Lawrie-nationalism phenomenon, with its own particularities to Lawrie himself and the Blue Jays, also comes in a time of heightened jingoism on the Canadian landscape more broadly — an important context that shouldn’t be ignored — played up heavily by the Tories and certainly to some degree by the NDP. Wars in Afghanistan and Libya, sabre rattling over the arctic, planned spending of tens of billions of dollars on the military, joint military exercises in Honduras etc etc. It’s far more advanced in hockey and with the Leafs, not suprisingly. Here’s hoping it doesn’t spread to the Jays, and we start seeing Joint Task Force 2 Commandos scaling down from the roof of the Roger’s Centre before a game. But there’s a long historical connection between militarism/imperialism and sport, especially in North America where, unlike in Europe (as far as I’m aware) we’re expected to stand for national anthems (which I don’t; I go for the sport not the jingoism) before games.

  25. I’m…not sure how much I agree with this article. from a personal standpoint, patriotism is a relic – I’d love it if we joined the United States and don’t gain any identity from appreciating ‘canadian things.’

    …but I still watched the Olympics, I still cheered for the gold medals, I was sad when TFC traded Attakora because he went to my high school and we met about three times for a total of one minute, and now I don’t change the channel when Lawrie is batting. I don’t change it for Bautista, either, but I don’t care if I miss a Colby Rasmus at-bat, and it would be completely unsurprising if Rasmus out-WARs Lawrie next year. i don’t think it’s a big deal in sports – it’s natural for us to expand on anything that connects the identity of an athlete to our own (or to admire the transcendent ability of a particular star) because otherwise we’re just cheering for dudes to hit a ball with a stick. 

    Lawrie has a chance to be BOTH – a guy we understand and a guy who delivers exceptional murder to the sport of baseball; oh, and along the way, he’ll “lead” the team back to the Promised Playoff Land where they have not dwelled for decades. of course we’re excited for him!

  26. Shouldn’t you assholes be following the Canadian soccer team, not the Dutch, if you are truly rabid nationalists?

  27. You just beat me to what I was about to say.  As we all know, many Canadians pay extra attention to how we are perceived by Americans.  There is something inherently fulfulling to Canadians to see a Canadian boy on a Canadian team succeed greatly in an American sport. 

    Steve Nash and Mike Weir (yes, I know golf isn’t an American game but the PGA Tour is an American instituion) are about the closest examples to what Lawrie represents.   If Nash were a Raptor during his prime years, you would have seen a similar hyping like what Lawrie has now.  And just remember how nuts Canadians were about Weir when he was at his prime.  My Dad hates watching golf, but even he paid close attention to Weir’s tournaments earlier in the decade.

  28. Clearly the Jays are trying to have it both ways.  Pimping him out on the one hand, while sheltering and coddling him with the other.  He’s everywhere in the media, and so I hear, on billboards, but he’s also “not a saviour” and still batting 7th.  I don’t really care about their tactics, but for the love of the game, move him up in the order for fuck’s sake.
    But most Jays fans are casual fans; they haven’t had enough success to warrant more interest.  Casual fans may be a little annoying and cloying, but this is baseball, not hockey, and the market isn’t saturated yet.  I don’t consider myself a casual fan, but I like Lawrie more because he’s Canadian.  I do like him first and foremost because he’s fucking awesome.  He’s not just the maple syrup, he’s candied salmon – possibly the greatest non-dairy, non-pork-ribs food there is.  Delicious, delectable wild salmon soaked in maple syrup.  Shit, I think I’m digressing here.
    What has me most stoked about Lawriemania is the fact I don’t think he’ll ever leave Toronto (at least until the fans have decided we’ve had our fill).  I’m reminded of my youth as an Expos fan.  Larry Walker was on the cusp of superstardom, and the poor, poor Expos didn’t even offer the man arbitration in 1995, just assuming they wouldn’t be able to afford him.  The Jays, on the other hand, are quite fond of saying they have the money to extend their star players.  If Lawrie because the juggernaut we all expect him to become, there is no way the brass would, sorry – could ever, ever let him get away – even if he is able to command one of the highest salaries in baseball – because the backlash would be so great, given that they have already not-so-subtly deified him to the masses.
    It’s a win-win for Jays fans.  He’ll be on this team through his prime if he’s great, so we can get attached.  If he’s not great, we get to enjoy the dog days of a mediocre team’s season a little more in the meantime, through hustle plays, excessive celebrations, and individualized handshakes and dance moves for each teammate’s home runs.  That he’ll likely generate more revenue for ownership, through ticket and apparel sales and increased interest and viewership is a really, really good thing, considering the fact we’re told the payroll is sort of tied to revenue, and we could use a much larger payroll to compete perennially in this division. 
    That you here at DJF feel like this nationalistic zeal is a little quaint is fine, but I suspect the average Canadian baseball fan feels otherwise – lifelong Jays fans might not understand, but remember that half of the baseball fans in this country – and I’m among this group – had their team (rightfully or wrongly, not the issue here) stolen from them, and this likely feeds their persecution complex and to my mind justifies advertising the Canadian-ness of the franchise in general and whichever great Canadians happen to be playing on it.  Sorry for the length…

  29. Throw this phrase into google: “As American as Baseball and Apple Pie”.  Lots of results.  Now when you have a baseball team in the Canadian city that has become the centre for anti-american sentiment over the past 20 years, you can see why they might be marketing whatever Canadian angle they can find.  They would not be marketing Lawrie this hard if he were either a) American or b) Rob Butler.  It’s kind of a perfect storm situation where Lawrie is Canadian, talented and appears to work his ass off.  If Jose Bautista was Canadian, Jays fans would have an extra level of ape-shittedness to go over him than they already do, because it would be less “America’s game” and more Canada’s game.  This is more fans starting to follow or coming back to follow the team.  I suspect the long term fans find Lawrie’s Canadian status to be a curiosity, but not that important.

  30. The only person who suggests that Lawrie’s popularity is due to the colour of his skin,  is Parkes.
    Haven’t seen it anywhere else.

    Wonder who really is “The insecure, inherently racist” baseball fan(writer)?

  31. Some of us do. See you on Friday night at BMO.

  32. Most casual fans cheer for players for stupid reasons. Women in Cleveland buy Mrs. Sizemore shirtseys because he’s a looker, while people in Minnesota love Joe Mauer because he’s a hohm grohn bohy. That’s just the way shit goes. It doesn’t mean that women in Cleveland discriminate against ugly people or that Minnesotans are insular xenaphobes. These casual fans don’t not like Bautista as much as Lawrie because he is Dominican. It’s because they haven’t found a character trait that they can latch on to. It’s stupid, but sometimes being the best at something doesn’t make you the most popular (see All Star game).

    This doesn’t make the casual fan racist or xenophobic. It just makes them unnappreciative or unaware of true greatness.

  33. Well, Lawrie’s type of play and performance certainly boosts his popularity.  I mean, the Jays had Corey Kosie but there were no marketing campaigns around him.

  34. Pete Rose was my favorite Expo

  35. BC can go get fucked.  Southern Ontario should just separate from the rest of the country because we’re nothing like those CFL-loving clowns. And hopefully there’s a big earthquake so that Hamilton splits off into Lake Ontario and floats all the way to Buffalo to merge the two worst cities on Earth.

  36. OT : Villanueva activated, Tallet DFA’d


  38. It’s human nature.  Montreal fans go apeshit over their french-canadian players.  People from Texas love them some Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.  As someone else said earlier, Latino fans adore the players from their home countries.  Seattle fans were furious that they drafted Brandon Morrow over Tim Lincecum.  Chinese fans didn’t exactly hold back when Yao Ming became the first legitimate Chinese star in the NBA.  (Coming in first place in fan voting for the all-star game, even in years he was out for the reason with injury?  Really??)  If anything, I would argue that American and Canadian fans are more reserved on these matters than others (although that is pure speculation on my part, so feel free to debate).

    At the end of the day, people identify more strongly with people that are similar to them – we’re tribal by nature, it’s in our biology.  Just accept it and be ok with a little of that.  If you find yourselves lynching black people or murdering people of a different religion, then you know you’ve gone too far.

    Although I guess that’s exactly what’s being debated here – how much acceptance of that behavior is ok.  In my opinion, Chinese fans voting Yao Ming into the all-star game is ridiculous.  Canadian fans going nuts about a potential Canadian superstar coming up on Canada’s only big league team, and absolutely killing it in his first month here (all while having a mega-type-A personality, to boot) is completely understandable.  Canadian star baseball players don’t grow on trees.  If Mexico had one MLB team, located in Mexico City, and the (potentially) best Mexican star in a generation just happened to be coming into the big leagues with that team – I’m highly confident he would be a god over there and that there would be a media orgy around him.  In fact (as per my earlier opinionated comment), I think the fans there would be going even crazier compared to what we’re seeing here with Lawrie.

  39. Pretty sure you’re confusing Saskatoon with BC.  I dont think they give much of a shit about the CFL either.

  40. Rommie Lewis will probably shit his pants on national tv next time he has to pitch.

  41. “If anything, I would argue that American and Canadian fans are more reserved on these matters than others”

    I agree with that, and that’s why the big deal made about Lawrie’s Canadianness startles people.  We seem to be moving more and more in that direction where petty shit like that is all that matters and fans don’t actually use their brains to evaluate what’s happening on the field.

  42. Tallet’s line

    1G 0.1 IP 2H 2BB 2ER WHIP 12.00 ERA 54.00


  43. Elitist post. Wrong hill to die on. Sounds like the fan who’s indie band goes mainstream and your sour because of it.

  44. What you said.

  45. I think the fact that he’s Canadian has a huge impact on how he’s been received here obviously. I wonder how different the reaction might have been if he was less hockey-like in his approach. If he were say an Adam Lind reserved-type with the Canadian passport, would people be losing their shit the way they are? Less Gordie Dougie and more Billy Butler maybe.. wait does that even… The fact that this kid has all of a sudden made baseball VERY relevant in this city with people who normally wouldn’t give a shit is HUGE.  The phenomenon deserves to be analyzed in the way that both Parkes and Stoeten have done. I give props for trying to keep people honest.

    The thought I have is this: In a sport that is dominated by Americans, how important is it to fans in Canada to have someone on the roster who is from this country, plays the way we like, AND is awesome? It seems as though out its rather important. Whether its just Canada’s typical National insecurity rearing its head again, as it does every time we compare ourselves with the USA over ANYTHING.. I don’t know. Is it racism? Hard to say. Would Canada/TO like him any less if his parents were Caribbean? Different sport, but Montreal Canadiens fans sure love the shit out of PK Subban and he’s neither French nor White. And yet the rest of Canada had some rather unfounded things to say about how he should be playing the sport (you know, the white way).

    Are we different in TO? Fact is, right now Gordie is the Beiber of Canadian baseball – well if Beiber was 200 pounds of pure hustle and heart chugging the bases and taking you yard if you throw anything even resembling a strike BRO. 

    I know I sure as fuck still love Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar, Ricky Romero et al. I’m also not the patriotic type at all, so its hard to really judge what my Nationalistic senses are telling me. I’m just stoked as fuck to see this kid look like he’s a 28 year old slugger at 21. I would normally count myself as one of the VERY cynical towards call-ups, but lately I’m feeling a lot like those 14 year old girls at the mall waiting for an autograph. I got my mathbook at my crotch at the blackboard – and its smelling oddly of pancakes.

  46. Some of us who are older than 20 remember not only the Jays’ glory years but lots and lots and lots of less than glorious stuff (war, genocide, discrimination) that “national pride” promoted. Just because it can sometimes be harmless, does not make it generally harmless. Some of us care more about human rights than fucking flags and we will always, rightly, be suspicious of liking someone becuase of where he comes from – it is exactly the same fucking thing as disliking another because of his origins.

  47. A 1000 word vitriolic diatriabe on Brian Tallet’s sucktitude would have been more appropriate today

    Who cares on why people like Lawrie. Maybe some get converted to paying customers and those extra paying customers allow Rogers Baseball Operation to justify to its shareholders why it is spending more on their Gameday Personnel

  48. Rape is also part of human nature. Lame defense eh? Every group of people in the world can have a core of idiots who prefer their “own” (however they define it) over everybody else; that will not make it acceptable to thinking people.

  49. Gosh Stoeten – better stop thinking about anything before expressing it or else Brent will just keep calling you elitist.

  50. There are psychiatrists who can help you, perhaps even treat yourcomical self-righteousness. We are talking about Canadian kids cheering for a Canadian baseball player. In Argentina they adore Manu Ginobli who plays for the San Antonio Spurs. Are Argentines evil genocidists for doing that? 

  51. Check out how that exact same base of feeling was expressed in their press during the Falklands War. Not that the UK press was any better. THAT is exactly why some are suspicious of such feelings. It is not always dangerous, but it is always potentially dangerous. I could deal with that if it weren’t completely useless – those identities serve little purpose.

  52. Heaven forbid the Canadian Little League team from Langley BC, wants to meet the rising Canadian baseball star from Langley BC. That makes no sense whatsoever.. These are 11-13 year old kids, why the hell wouldn’t they want to meet a guy that grew up in their hometown, played for the same teams they’ve played for/will play for in the future and made his dream come true. Not that they’d want to idolize a guy like that, that can’t be true.. They should care about Ricky Rom and Jose more because Lawrie’s only played 24 major league games, you know because 11-13 year old kids care about how good Ricky’s ERA is or how Jose should be the MVP but probably won’t be. And to top it all off, they don’t idolize these guys because they’re either black or hispanic, this article is money all around.

  53. Do you really think comparing cheering for local athletes to rape,  genocide and human rights violations is really sane?

  54. You and Parkes both touched well on a little of why Lawrie has this fandom: He’s Canadian, white (yes, this comes into play), and exciting. Doubt the intensity lasts over a full season, but it’s fun to watch, isn’t it? The fact that he’s Canadian adds to the appeal because it’s relatable: He’s Canadian! Like us! Woo! I’d hope it’s not to the extreme that we like Bautista less because he’s not Canadian, but I can’t adequately assess that beyond denying it in my own case. I don’t live in Toronto, and am not a Leafs fan, so I’ll admit ignorance on the Sundin thing.

    I think we’re underestimating the “novelty” of Lawrie: he’s relatively new to most casual Jays fans. We now (rightly or wrongly) expect excellence from Bautista, Romero, etc, and that’s less novel. Lawrie’s the new remote control car we got for Christmas, and we’re going to enjoy it for a while. But the Nintendo will always be there, and is probably way better.

    I don’t have that extra gear of appreciation for Lawrie like most, but it’s been fun to watch him. And if other people watch him for different reasons than we do, why not? The Jays need new fans, and for said fans to be invested. If Lawrie helps that, let’s ride the wave.

  55. I feel like we’re splitting hairs some, but I think I get the argument now. You’re not opposed to new fans coming on board because of Lawrie, but current fans getting their maple boners on for him, and being more interested because of his involvement?

    You and Parkes both touched well on a little of why Lawrie has this fandom: He’s Canadian, white (yes, this comes into play), and exciting. Doubt the intensity lasts over a full season, but it’s fun to watch, isn’t it?

    The fact that he’s Canadian adds to the appeal because it’s relatable: He’s Canadian! Like us! Woo! I’d hope it’s not to the extreme that we like Bautista less because he’s not Canadian, but I can’t adequately assess that. I don’t live in Toronto, and am not a Leafs fan, so I’ll admit ignorance on the Sundin thing.

    I think we’re underestimating the “novelty” of Lawrie: he’s relatively new to most casual Jays fans. We now (rightly or wrongly) expect excellence from Bautista, Romero, etc, and that’s less novel. Lawrie’s the new remote control car we got for Christmas, and we’re going to enjoy it for a while. But the Nintendo will always be there, and is probably way better.

    I don’t have that extra gear of appreciation for Lawrie like most, but it’s been fun to watch him. And if other people watch him for different reasons than we do, why not? The Jays need new fans, and for current fans to be more invested. If Lawrie helps that, let’s do it. Might not make sense to everyone, but what does?

  56. Parkes’ understated brand of racism was on display at this site before, back before he became too good to fling poo at the monkey army.

  57. Get over yourself.

    Take off, ya hoser.

  58. One of the best comments I’ve read in a long time.

    One big driving factor that must be influencing the string-pulling of the hearts of Canadian Blue Jays fans is:

    When was the last time the Jays had a prospect that actually made a difference to the team instantly?

    I honestly can’t come up with one, and Lawrie being Canadian just makes it worse–which isn’t necessairily a bad thing, it’s just a fact that the media likes to blow it up.

  59. Yeah they really held back on that promotion getting him the highest number of votes to the all-star game.  What else, short of him taking a few swings at that dolt on the Rogers TV commercials would you have them do to promote Jose?  You are looking for racism where none exists.

  60. I would very much like to argue against the statement that, “First of all, he’s Canadian. Secondly, he’s got the whole White, Anglo Saxon thing going for him. And finally, he appears to try hard”. From my personal point of view it would go something like, “First of all, he is an exciting baseball player to watch. Second of all, he tries hard. After years of watching Lind, Hill, Overbay, etc. strike out and do the slow walk back to the dug out I get the sense that winning and success is actually important to Lawrie.  And finally, he gives me hope that after years of mediocrity this team has a future.

    The problem is that for as good as Lawrie has been he probably is no better than neck-and-neck with Desmond Jennings and while Jennings is an exciting and successful rookie addition to the Rays I really don’t think that hundreds of people would line up in Toronto for his autograph. So… perhaps there is something to the argument that local fans find something in Lawrie that they can relate to.

    All of which leads to the argument that the addition of Votto, Morneau, and Bay might do more for attendance than signing Yu Darvish, Prince Fielder, or- heaven forbid- Albert Pujols.


  61. Damn, Stoeten, you’re in good form today. 

  62. Strong points. I’ll have to think about that… Say something useful or save the bandwidth.

  63. I mostly agree with Stoeten here because I am getting sick and tired of everyone fawning over every routine play that Lawrie makes. I love the fact that he’s turning out well (so far) but I mean, Lawrie tags a guy out and you would have thought that he had just made the play of the year. He’s Canadian, we all get it, but I wish the media would be a bit more realistic about what this guy is doing. You don’t get a boner when Yunel Escobar makes a fairly routine tag.  Also, I don’t blame Rogers for trying to market the shit out of Lawrie because as we see people love the guy because he’s Canadian.

    Where I disagree with Stoeten is when he says that we shouldn’t cheer for a guy because of his birth certificate. Thing is, it’s a natural thing to cheer for your own countryman because it is something that people can relate to.  It’s like they’re a part of your very, very extended family. That’s what nationalism is. If you believe in not cheering for Canadians simply because of their birth certificate then why should the people of Canada cheer for the Toronto Blue Jays? As a person from Vancouver, I only cheer for the Blue Jays, and have my whole life, because they are a Canadian team. I’ve been a Mariners fan as long as I can remember because Seattle is 2.5 hours away.  The reasoning behind it is  isn’t entirely logical. However,  it is something that is engrained in us. It’s the way we are. That’s why the Olympics are so damn popular. I sort of think it’s a bit sad that Stoeten and Parkes can’t understand it because it’s another one of those little things that just makes life a bit better. By the way, I really, really like Steve Nash.

  64. Can we please never use the term “Maple Boner” again? (I’m not even sure if it’s in the above article, but I’ve seen it many, many times in other ones, and I’m too lazy to look one of those up)

    I get it, it’s cute, and it was kind of funny when it was first said. But now it’s like Betty White. Yes, I got that too….when Betty White first made her “comeback” a year or two ago, it was funny…cause she’s an old, grandmotherly lady, and yet, there she was on sitcoms and commercials, talking about sex and sex related things. It was LOL’s all around.

    But then all you saw was Betty White somewhere, and as more and more stupid people picked up on the gag, it stopped being funny. Same with “Maple Boners” It had it’s day in the sun. now let it rest.

    The same people who think that’s still hilarious are probably the ones who still yell “I’m Rick James, bitch!” once they’re drunk at the bar. Or the ‘Jager bombs’ bit from My New Haircut.

    Comedy is not meant to have longevity.

  65. Exactly, Here’s a video that sums up these ideas.


  66. Same origin – same mental processes. It doesn’t make national pride a crime. It makes suspicion of it (which is Stoeten’s thing here) both unavoidable and reasonable. That some people react strongly to that suspicion only reinforces the point. It doesn’t change things that few of the people expressing those opinions will ever do anything dangerous (though that is undoubtedly fortunate) – you are still sharing a space with the dangerous ones. Check out the whole Coke / Facebook / Portugese update thing… always surprising what bubbles up from the seemingly innocuous banter.

  67. I don’t have to be racist nor xenophobic to feel good that a fellow Canadian has 14 fucking extra-base hits in 24 games.

  68. As a Jays fan, I often look at Lawrie as an awesome prospect and I often forget about the “he’s Canadian” part.  I don’t even think of it.  Then you get shit like this and you remember that Lawrie is, in fact, Canadian.  And then you watch the ball game and forget that fact, and just remember he’s a great ballplayer.

  69. Parkes definitely missed with his post the other day.  This post makes the point a bit more clearly.

    It’s OK if you don’t get behind Lawrie because he’s Canadian. 

  70. Stoeten,

    When Corey Koskie joined our team in 2005, there wasn’t any hype from him because he sucked and can’t hit for shit.  Until a new Aaron Hill joined the team and Koskie was injured, we wanted Koskie to get the fuck out of our country.  We are hyped for Lawrie because he is talented, always increasing his Baseball IQ  and AA paid a heavy price for him.  Now look at what we are seeing, this kid is into the game everyday and playing the game with all the enthusiasm in the world, always knowing what to do at bat, and WANTING THE HIGHEST PRESSURE MOMENTS no matter how many mistakes he might make.  The Rogers Center is going ape-shit because we all know he wants to do something to help us win in a louder fashion.   Bautista’s the same thing, but he does it quitely.  Also Baut’s back is starting to hurt because Lind and Hill have not been delivering lately and Lawrie is showing to the captain that he wants to piggy-back Bautista with that load he’s carrying.

  71. I’m not sure how Hill’s been doing for the D-Backs since the trade, but I do know he’s delivered absolute squat for us since then for obvious reasons.  ;)

  72. Parkes is a good writer, but he is, at heart, a bitch

  73. Wait a second… Brett Lawrie is white?

  74. What the fuck is up with the racist, Tea Baggers commenting here. Like the one fuckknob who implied white kids needed white role models. Why? Because they can’t identify with blacks or latinos or asians? How fucking stupid is that? Where are you from, South Carolina? Listen, if you’d actually left your trailer to go to school, you’d realize that (of course) race matters here, and the fact that Stoeten and Parkes are blogging about it means other smart people see it too, and it IS a bit disturbing. The rest of you super-whites need to crawl back to the village where you came from. Holy fuck, have we banned educationin certain parts of the country? 

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