Spring means finally giving the Toronto the time of day
Here in BC, it’s a well-known fact that Toronto sucks. We hate the way everything seems to revolve around them and how they constantly overlook us on the west coast.
As for sports, most BC residents could care less about their NBA team, the Toronto Raptors. Their CFL team barely registers on our radar. Most of all, we love it when the Maple Leafs lose games.
“The Leafs portray themselves as the centre of the universe and the best hockey team in the world, and that frustrates a lot of people. It makes them angry,” explains BCIT student Sukh Purewal.
But while all these things may be true, the one exception to the hatred of Toronto may be the way we support their Major League Baseball team, the Blue Jays. Despite the dreaded “T-word” that sits in front of the name, there have always been fans in the Lower Mainland cheering for the Blue Jays.
In recent weeks, if you’ve walked around BCIT campus, you might have noticed numerous Blue Jay hats and jerseys. In fact, the popularity of Jays gear may actually rival the Canucks merchandise students are wearing.
Sukh Purwal feels the difference between the West Coast’s reception to the Jays versus other Toronto teams may come down to money. The Jays have constantly been at a disadvantage over the years: they play in a division with two of the major league’s three highest payroll teams, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
[pullquote]”During their last off-season, the Jays’ payroll spending went from 23rd in the league to 10th.”[/pullquote]
“The Jays are the underdog, so people really like that,” said Purewal.
First-year student T.J. Tulloch also points to the owners’ marketing of the team in recent years. He says the Jays are branded as a Canadian team.
“One thing they’ve done right over the past couple years is they made it about the country,” Tulloch explained. “They put a Canadian flag on the arm. It’s a Canada sports team.”
Toronto-born Kyle Hocking says he’s enjoyed finding a common interest among other sports fans at BCIT.
“It’s welcoming for sure,” said Hocking. “I’ve been a Jays fan my entire life. I moved to a new city and it’s been nice to see so much support for the team here.”
While many BCIT students show excitement for the team at the beginning of the year, there’s extra buzz across the campuses this time. During their last off-season, the Jays’ payroll spending went from 23rd in the league to 10th. This means they’ve upgraded their salary spending from $75 million in 2012 to 115 million in 2013.
The Jays worked hard to beef up their roster. They recently added several high-calibre players including Jose Rayes, Melky Cabrera, Mark Buehrle, and last year’s most valuable pitcher, R.A. Dickey. With all-star Jose Bautista and rising stars Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion, it’s an impressive squad.
“I was excited [when it happened],” said Hocking. “It’s a completely re-vamped line-up.”
[pullquote]“There’s definitely potential. We’ll definitely be playing the games when they’re on.” — Peter To, bartender, Professor Mugs pub[/pullquote]
And Hocking isn’t the only one with high hopes. After all the trading was said and done, Las Vegas suddenly had the Jays at seven-to-one odds to win the World Series.
With the season set to begin, Peter To, a bartender at BCIT’s Professor Mugs pub, is hopeful the changes will pay off for the team. He says he’s looking forward to airing games throughout the year and possibly into the playoffs.
“There’s definitely potential,” said To. “We’ll definitely be playing the games when they’re on.”
Student T.J. Tulloch is optimistic things that it’s finally going to be a great year for fans.
“Come this fall you are going to see the Toronto Blue Jays for the first time in 20 years in the post season,” Tulloch boldly predicted.
Meanwhile, Sukh Purwal is being more cautious about the season but is also expecting big things from Canada’s only MLB team.
“Being a Blue Jays fan, I’ve come to a lot of disappointment but this year my heart and my head are saying the same thing: they’ll win the pennant and they’ll win the World Series,” Purewal said.
BCIT baseball fans looking to get closer to the Jays can make the two-hour drive to Seattle to catch them in action from August 5 to 7. By then, the team will hopefully still be playing some meaningful baseball and fighting for a spot in the post season for the first time since 1993.