Canada has become known for some of the most diehard fans in the Western Hemisphere, especially during the playoffs (and they’re competing with Brazil). Hockey games in Canada, no matter the team, are as rowdy as you can imagine. From the Montreal Canadiens, to the Vancouver Canucks, and even the loser-Toronto Maple Leafs, games in the regular season are crazy. Even the NBA team, the Toronto Raptors, have a great fanbase.
But the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t always felt that love.
For years, the Jays have been caught in the no-man’s land of pure mediocrity. One year, over .500 by two games. The next, under it by seven games. It was a mixed bag of purely lackluster results. I mean for crying out loud, the team hasn’t been to the playoffs since winning it all in 1993.
So why should Canada get behind a mediocre baseball team, especially since they’re a country that is all about hockey?
Because the Jays are finally good this year.
When I first started watching baseball when I was a kindergartner back in 2005, I was taught that it would always be the mighty New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox duking it out for first, and the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays would situate themselves between third and last.
As the years have gone on, the O’s and Rays have always been competitive and made the playoffs — but the Jays never have.
Finally, the Blue Jays, and credit to GM Alex Anthopolous who isn’t afraid to trade prospects, find themselves 1.5 games above the Yankees in first and looking down upon the other teams in the AL East. At least for this year, they’ve slipped past the mighty Yankees and the rest of the division.
And for the first time in a longtime, they seem to be relevant in the postseason scheme of things.
So let’s say the Blue Jays finish in first place, which they probably will, and their first game is at home, at the Rogers Centre for Game 1 of the ALDS.
54,000 screaming Torontonians and Canadians. White and blue rally towels waving. A sea of blue. The cheering so loud that the announcers of the game must yell into their microphones. And we know since it’s Canada that it will be snowing come October and the roof will be holding in all of this noise and keeping out the reminders of hockey season.
How could this not go in Toronto’s favor?
The opponent would get showered with boos, chants and chirps: from the left field seats to seats along third base, the chants would be continuous. However for the Blue Jays, when they’d catch a pop-up, the place would go wild.
Talk about a twelfth man. The Blue Jays would create a “tenth man”.
The hockey-type atmosphere would flood the stadium. A perfect example of that was when just this past spring, the Winnipeg Jets scored their first playoff goal since being moved away in 1996. The place went ape-crazy, the towels were waving, and TSN (the station who broadcasted the game) didn’t even go to replay of the goal, but of different shots of the crowd going into a frenzy.
That’s what it would be like in Toronto.
Except way more people, and way more excitement. It’s been a long time a’comin. Will a Joe Carter-like home run happen this year for the Jays? It’s hard to tell.
But if it does happen, there’s a good chance we’ll hear the cheers all the way here in the States and throughout the Canadian landscape.