This past offseason the Toronto Blue Jays organized a Winter Tour in which they traveled to Canadian cities and participated in typical good will activities like speaking to local members of the media, visiting community centres and working out in front of fans who normally would not have had the chance to see Major League Baseball players up close and in person.
It would be difficult to classify the public relations barnstorming as anything other than a success, forcing Blue Jays fans to wonder why the team, as the only one in all of Canada, had not at least attempted to draw in a larger portion of the existing national market. While we have seen the effect of the policy shift in terms of increased television ratings for Blue Jays games outside of the Greater Toronto Area, we have also seen it in terms of a desire to see live competitive baseball.
I cannot remember another period of time since the height of baseball popularity in Canada, shortly after the Blue Jays back to back World Series wins, when the other large Canadian cities were clamouring for professional baseball to be played in their municipality. However, already this year, we have heard rumours from Montreal, Ottawa and now Vancouver about an increased presence of professional baseball teams.
The latest baseball fire outside of Toronto was sparked by the timing of the Blue Jays phenom Brett Lawrie call up and recent visit to Seattle, mere hours away from where he grew up in Langley, British Columbia. This was not just local newspapers in Vancouver looking for a nice sports story on a slow news day. Even an American columnist for FOX Sports J.P. Morosi was getting in on the act:
At a time when Major League Baseball is keenly aware of its international reach – and with the 2013 World Baseball Classic to promote – the sport shouldn’t ignore a slam-dunk option to grow the game where it’s already getting stronger: The Mariners and Blue Jays should play one series each season in Vancouver.
Really, it shouldn’t be that complicated. The Seattle and Toronto franchises would forgo a home series in alternating years. In a season like this, when the teams are scheduled to play three times, there would be one series in Seattle, one series in Toronto, and one series in Vancouver.
If marketed properly, the teams could share revenues and end up making more money than they otherwise would. Besides, Mariners-Jays games haven’t been hot tickets in either town, with averages of 13,654 (Seattle) and 19,065 (Toronto) during their previous meetings this year.
While forgoing a home series is simple enough to write, it is not simple enough to do. Season ticket holders, especially ones in Toronto would more than likely be nonplussed about losing games to a destination on the other side of the country. However, the other road block to a Major League Baseball series in Vancouver seems to be a non issue according to a recent story from the Vancouver Courier about the current renovations being undertaken at BCE Place.
The stadium is undergoing a $563 million renovation for a Sept. 30 reopening and its floor and lower bowl will remain convertible for baseball.
While there could be some issues surrounding the height of a proposed scoreboard, B.C. Pavilion Corporation president Warren Buckley explains:
None of the components of revitalization precludes us hosting a baseball series but we would have to upgrade some of the outfield components. In addition, we would of course have to amend the (synthetic) turf for the bases.
This sounds like more of a cosmetic issue than anything that stands in the way of facilitating, at the very least, an exhibition game. As much as I may roll my eyes for all of the hype surrounding Brett Lawrie, based on the city in which he was born as opposed to his play on the field, I have no problems using any tactic or publicity method possibly to grow the game in this country. And if that means that the Blue Jays play an extra series on the West Coast, well the last time I checked, cheap flights to Vancouver and Abbotsford are almost always available if you keep your itinerary flexible.
And The Rest
Last night, the Kansas City Royals got away with a home run that should not have been.
Sammy Sosa is advising Chicago Cubs pitch (sort of) Carlos Zambrano. Of course, he is.
I wonder who owns The Evil Empire moniker that is often bestowed upon those delightfully non-litigious Yankees in New York.
An increase in walk off walks is alright for business.
This is certainly one way to end a baseball game.
Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz will be sitting out a couple games with a bruised testicle.
San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson saw Dr. James Andrews yesterday, but the news was good, which is strange for the Giants right now.
The willfully ignorant drive me crazy to the point where I shake my head and ask how it is possible for anyone in any occupation to not seek out the latest information.
That Zack Greinke guy might be pretty good. I remember the old days when the NL Central was actually close.
And finally, the quote of the day, from Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow:
Some of those numbers don’t look so hot, but if you look at the nerd stats, I’m having a pretty good year. I’m not always sure how they come to those conclusions, but I like them.
While that may be why I like Brandon Morrow, this is why I love him.