The Toronto Blue Jays thrust themselves to the front of the larger baseball conversation this winter, overhauling their roster and becoming a World Series contender almost overnight. As with any sweeping change, there is bound to be some growing pains.
We here at Getting Blanked turned to local PR pro and woman about town Meredith Rogers to help bring new Jays fans into the fold (not to mention helping entrenched fans come to grips with the flood or newbies on their turf.) Enjoy!
A Twisted Guide to Blue Jays Opening Day: new fans at the ballpark
Allow me to be among the first to congratulate you on emerging from a long, harsh winter to baseball. Sure, we do the winter thing every year, but I’m always surprised and delighted to thaw out in the spring.
The Blue Jays 2013 season has finally arrived. Here we stand on the precipice of a thousand Colby Rasmus thought pieces. On the cusp of a hundred Jose Bautista call outs that are unfathomable to no one but Jose Bautista. On the edge of a thousand Jose Reyes GIFs.
I mean, this is happening to Toronto. It’s okay to get excited.
According to a poll published in Canada’s largest newspaper (shout out to Toronto Star), 89 per cent of people have – correctly, I’m sure – predicted that the Blue Jays will make the playoffs.
As such, longtime followers of this team must prepare for a different opening day experience than of years gone by. Change on the field breeds change in the stands. People are going to love this team for a host of different reasons and there’s room in the Rogers Centre all of them. Get ready to make some new, unlikely friends at the park.
Who are the future baseball/Blue Jays diehards? Let’s talk new archetypes.
The Newbie Stathead
They’ve spent the offseason trawling Ghostrunner on First archives and introducing themselves to the world of advanced statistics. After a quiet winter in deep study, you can expect this fan to practically scream his new learnings to friends, possibly in one breath. What fun is learning the stats if no one else is aware they know them? It’ll take a while for them to get over the novel sound of advanced stats rolling off their tongue. Bear with them; thir pursuit is noble. BA-BIP, BA-BIP, BA-BIP. Music.
The Local Celebrity Fan
The Jays are the city’s new hotness, this much is true. You can expect to see more local celebrities at games who are there to boost their profile. Geddy Lee is judging them. The Toronto celebrity roster will be pretty sad (Big Brother Canada castoffs, Ben Mulroney, perhaps the rare Chavril sighting), but if you’re at the game and you run into a Canadian star, do not approach them. Their egos don’t need it. Also, the kids from Degrassi don’t want to talk to you. Trust me on this.
The Anti-Bandwagoner Fan
“Oh, are the Jays popular now? Pardon me while I go drop $500 on Astros gear.”
The Non-Sporting Fan
Not just a group at the Westminster dog show. The non-sporting sports fan look for non-traditional ways to enjoy the team. They’re always gathering context about favourite players – they watch for the storylines. David Cooper is god among non-sporting fans, believe it or not.
The 2013 Blue Jays have two secret weapons that will interest the literary minded non-sports fan in your life: Brandon Morrow and RA Dickey. I’ve converted several bookish friends to Jays fandom by dropping the powerful tidbit that Brandon Morrow likes crossword puzzles, and that RA Dickey reads. It’s that simple.
That RA Dickey. He somehow wrote a book about religion that doesn’t offend godless people; a feat almost more impressive than his knuckleball.
The Hockey-Fan Baseball Fan
This fan was deeply upset by the Go Jays Go chants at the ACC this winter. They attend the home opener intending to start a Go Leafs Go chant. They do not succeed.
The Wave Shunner
This character is an everyday hero and longtime DJF reader. Nothing upsets the Shunner more than the persisting disruption of the wave. The wave shunner misses most of the ball game while patiently explaining exactly why the wave sucks (because it is stupid). They’re doing good work; converting a few anti-wavers at a time, but ultimately, the endeavor is fruitless. Sadly, in Toronto, much like a poor public transit system, the wave is an institution. If you are friends with a Wave Shunner, buy them $12 beer (Steamwhistle! Why not!) and tell them everything is going to be all right.
The Party Bus Fans
Groups of young fans travelling in packs of 800 or so. Loud, proud and angling to get on the Jumbotron. Party Bus Fans have been an opening day lock forever, but they’re different this year because you are older and they make you grumpy. You may not understand their #value, but they are #important to the #team because they buy a lot of Brett Lawrie shirseys and tweet about it. They’re the reason you’ll hear far more Macklemore than Baby Elephant Walk at games this year. Sorry.
The Jose Reyes Superfan
Hopefully after Reyes’ leadoff hit in the first, everyone in the building will include themselves in this category. I can’t believe I thought I knew happiness before Reyes. As a player and a figurehead he has an important role in the organization. Baseball fans in the age of Twitter tend to live, die and tweet by every play (you don’t have to tweet after each play, you know. It’s not a rule.) This extreme immersion in every game drives fans toward the hyperbolic and serious. Things can get dark real quick in baseball land.
Above all, baseball is a fun game. There is lightness in Jose Reyes that this team and city needs. Sorry, emo Ricky Romero. I hope we remember to appreciate that.
Speaking of everyone’s new favourite player, I’m worried about where Jose Reyes is going to party. I hope for everyone’s sake that Toronto’s clubs are hot like fire. Reyes looks like he needs to dance.
The John Gibbons Lookalike Fan
There will be hundreds of Gibby twins outfitted in their fanciest track suits*. Is chewing tobacco legal at the ballpark?
**Despite his proclivity for tracksuits, John Gibbons strikes me as a man of high emotional intelligence (unlike Farrell and his absentee dad vibes); a trait I value highly in leadership. Long live Gibby.
The Specifically Cruel Theatre Kid Fan
These creative fans took note of Mark Buehrle’s fight against Ontario’s pit bull ban and recognize a made-for-TV opportunity when they see one. Akin to the still funny ARod-Madonna fan spectacular, I expect/hope to see the meanest fans of opposing teams dress in dog suits and terrify us all.
The result of a deeply weird Google image search adventure:
Sidebar — does anyone know why Rogers isn’t hosting a Dog Days promotion this year? Is it to prevent Mark Buehrle’s tears from ruining the Rogers Centre turf? That stuff isn’t built for floods.
I love dogs. Why am I being so mean to Mark Buehrle? Next!
The Dustin McGowan Jersey Fan
Long ago, Dustin McGowan possessed potential and handsomeness. His jersey was a popular choice. Certain fans who believed in McGowan are now reluctant to purchase a new player’s jersey after years of setbacks and frustration. They won’t get burned again! In years past, the appearance of a McGowan jersey wouldn’t have seemed that sad, but in 2013, you worry that McGowan fandom gave them permanent trust issues.
The final archetype is what I call the knowledgeable-yet-socially-perfect-fan, which is of course where you fall. Enjoy Opening Day.