A Memorial Day In Canada

Yesterday evening, the Toronto Blue Jays played host to the Baltimore Orioles. Proving that the team could use some lessons in etiquette for treating guests, the Blue Jays proceeded to trounce the Orioles 6-2 like it was 2011 or something.

During the game, you may have noticed something peculiar about the baseball caps being worn by both teams. Or, perhaps, with the camouflaged logos being sported by the respective teams, perhaps you didn’t notice anything at all.

Seriously, you could be forgiven for not noticing, because for the first time in human existence, camouflage was used subtly for non-military purposes.

Take a closer look:

The Blue Jays, who are based in Toronto (which is Canada’s largest city) honouring the United States of America on a holiday for that nation apparently rubbed some Canadians the wrong way.


I’m all for barely provoked outrage, but it seems a bit excessive to hold any bitterness toward an organization comprised mainly of Americans participating in America’s national pastime while in a league comprised almost completely of American teams that chooses to honour America on an American holiday, even if that celebration takes place in Canada.

It’s probably a missed opportunity by the league schedulers to hold such a game on American soil, just as it’s a mistake not to have afternoon games in Canada on holidays that are unique to this country. However, it’s hardly deserving of the type of uproar some insecure Canadians would like to make of it, let alone any ire directed at Major League Baseball.

In fact, for those insistent on pointing fingers, some of the blame could be sent the way of the Blue Jays for not being more aggressive with the league in ensuring Canadian holiday games are played at home. During the Ricciardi era, I remember speaking with some ushers who heard through the grapevine that the attendance increases from playing on a holiday didn’t bring enough ticket revenue to justify paying staff an increased wage to work  on a holiday.

I don’t know how true that is, but as a commenter pointed out at NBC’s HardBall Talk blog, the Boston Red Sox have no trouble whatsoever ensuring that a home game aligns every year with Patriots Day.

Last season, Toronto fans were treated to games on both Victoria Day and Canada Day, and both games were against premium competition which makes it difficult to judge if the increased attendance was due to the holiday or the fact that the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were in town. Given the similar number of people at the game on the day following the holiday, I would guess it had more to do with the visiting team than the timing.

Before missing out entirely on Canadian holidays in 2010, the Blue Jays played a Canada Day afternoon game on a Wednesday in 2009 against the Tampa Bay Rays and drew a crowd twice the size of the previous night’s attendance. Surely, such numbers would justify the increased wages for staff members working the game.

This year, Blue Jays fans missed out on a Victoria Day game at Rogers Centre, but will enjoy seeing the Los Angeles Angels visit for a matinee engagement on Canada Day. And fans will also get to see those lovely camouflaged logos up close again when the Kansas City Royals visit on America’s birthday, and then again on September 11th when the Seattle Mariners drop by.

By the end of the season, Canadian baseball fans will know all the words to God Bless America.