The only thing better than September baseball is October baseball. If you have been following Major League Baseball you know that the Toronto Blue Jays hold a slim lead over the New York Yankees as we enter the homestretch. Whether they win their division or a wild card spot, the chances of them making the postseason are good.
To watch the Toronto media coverage of the team you would think they had invented the game. That’s fine, the team is playing well and a little bravado is accepted.
Since Canada’s first MLB team, the Montreal Expos, left town, the Blue Jays have been the only team north of the border. But being the sole Canadian-based team is a whole lot different from being Canada’s Team.
Canada has hundreds of thousands of baseball fans; many go back long before there were Canadian teams. There are baseball fans in Halifax who have supported the Boston Red Sox for generations. Yankees fans are everywhere and longtime Twins and Brewers fans can be found across the prairies.
But with the Jays playing well in September evidently all Canadians are expected to shift allegiances and get behind them. Just as when a few seasons ago the Montreal Canadiens were the only Canadian team in the NHL playoffs and the entire country got behind them. Well, maybe not, nor would I expect them to.
By definition fans are loyal to a favourite team. Expecting people to rally around another is a bit over the top. If we were talking international competition, it would make perfect sense. But league play is a different kettle of fish.
This is not just silly Toronto-bashing; this is purely a sports team support issue.
In a special column in the Montreal Gazette recently Jack Todd lays out his take on what to do. He comes to the conclusion that he is ready to offer his “tepid, half-hearted, definitely maybe support to this year’s edition of the Blue Jays. So go get ’em, Jays. Maybe. Sort of.”
It is that ambivalence that best defines many fans’ feelings. Toronto has long tried to convince anyone who would listen that it is a “world-class city”. However they never seem to grasp the concept that world class cities need not herald their status, it is readily evident. If you have to keep pointing it out to people, well ….
So will the Blue Jays keep up their momentum and win it all, or will they implode and come up short? I have a hunch fans across the country are divided on which way they would like to see things go.