A short while ago Blue Jay president Paul Beeston publicly expressed an eagerness for Toronto to play regular season games in Montreal when in actuality he should have professed a growing desire to play games in Vancouver. His longing to reward the long suffering faithful fans from Canada’s first major league baseball city is admirable but Montreal is mostly a part of the sport’s past—Vancouver is part of this country’s baseball future.
Look at the list of professional baseball players that have emanated from Canada’s west coast—Jason Bay, Justin Morneau, Michael Saunders, Ryan Dempster, Jeff Francis, Rich Harden. It is easy to see that there is a baseball factory taking place in British Columbia. Only Russell Martin has any association with Montreal—he grew up in Quebec but was born in Ontario, in an area that also spawned reigning NL MVP Joey Votto.
While it is likely that Beeston was simply giving lip service to the possibility of playing games in Montreal so that the Jays could continue to profit from merchandise sales and ticket revenue there is a fan base out west that is exponentially larger. It also fits nicely within the scheduling.
Here’s how. The Jays typically make two trips out west per season. There are three teams in the AL West division that can be classified as west coast teams; the Angels of Anaheim, the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. In the early stages of the season trips to the other coast by teams often draw poorly in opposing ballparks. This season the A’s ventured to Toronto for an April three game set that averaged 14,000 fans, and the Jays went west to Seattle for a three game series that averaged less than 14,000 per game.
Would a three game series in April between the Jays and either the Mariners or the A’s draw more than 14,000 fans in Vancouver? The likelihood is that the first game would draw what those clubs drew in the entire series.
In Toronto fans and interested, and support, the Blue Jays, but there are many dates on the calendar that, if lost, would mean very little to anyone outside of a hardliner.
So how hard would it be for the Jays, and major league baseball, to arrange for a three game series each year in Vancouver? Perhaps on a rotational basis where the Jays give up three dates at home one year to face the Mariners or the A’s (the Mariners would likely be the better draw considering the number of Seattle baseball fans that reside in Vancouver) and then the next year the west coast team gives up a home series. The likelihood is that each team would turn a much higher profit from the games in Vancouver, and it would create an incredible amount of interest and excitement in the west coast city.
Not to mention increase interest in the sport, in the Jays, in telecast numbers for Rogers, and in Blue Jay merchandising. The Blue Jays classify themselves as Canada’s team so why not prove it.
There is gold in them thar hills.
Blue Jay notes…It is becoming apparent that there is a huge chasm between the top two in the rotation and the remainder of the starters on the club. Romero and Morrow are first-rate—but they are followed by essentially three number five starters. Kyle Drabek has the ability but he is young, Litsch is a bull dog but has average stuff and Reyes is a middle reliever. If the club wants to contend this area needs fixing quick.
So I ask you—Blue Jay fans—would you include Aaron Hill or Travis Snider in a package to send to Seattle for Felix Hernandez? The Mariners are saying they want to keep Felix, and the Cy Young winner is saying he wants to stay in Seattle but it’s all lip service from both ends. The Mariners would deal Felix but need a return that exceeds (Justin Smoak) what they received in last year’s Cliff Lee deal. The Jays are one of the few teams that can not only offer the quality youngsters but can absorb Felix’s heavy contract as well. It’s just a matter of if–or when–the Jays want to pique Seattle’s interest.
Playoff notes…Somebody at the NHL head office surely bungled this one. Imagine having games six and seven of a playoff series scheduled to be played on consecutive nights. It’s one thing to schedule games on back-to back nights early in the series–and it can work if the teams don’t have to travel between games—but to have the two games at the end of a grueling series played on consecutive nights in different cities is preposterous. Whatever the reasons for this scheduling (arena conflicts, television conflicts) it is ludicrous for a league that is trying to promote its game to have this happen. Game seven of the Montreal-Boston series produced sloppy play for the most part—certainly understandable considering the nature of the series and the rivalry. In the end Boston simply outlasted Montreal.
…The NHL usually produces the best action early in the playoffs when players are fresh and mostly injury free. As the tournament progresses the injuries mount and the games become much more plodding in nature. With so many good teams—but none that are great—the opening series typically produces great contests. Four of the opening eight series needed a seventh game to decide the action.
…The NBA, on the other hand, usually gets better further into the tournament. Basketball has many more dominant teams and less parity so the early series are usually just romp-throughs for the better teams. Not surprisingly none of the opening series needed a seventh game.Tags: MLB, spotlight, Toronto Blue Jays, Vancouver