My intent was to write all kinds of nice things about watching championship baseball and how I’ve always had a secret affinity for the Toronto Blue Jays. The reasons to like the team are numerous, but include how much I like the city of Toronto and Canada in general, as well as one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time is Joe Carter who hailed from the Kansas City area and I have always enjoyed talking to.
All of those things are still true, but my enthusiasm for all things Jays started to fade as today’s game went on. This is a team in the playoff hunt, granted not for a division crown, but for the final wildcard spot. They are in a battle with teams such as Texas and Seattle. This is a pretty good baseball team and they are playing well. Toronto is abuzz.
I arrived for the game three hours before the first pitch and there were lines several blocks long at every entrance, I wondered if they had moved up the starting time. The crowd is jazzed and I was enjoying it with them, I was even trying to decide what kind of hat or shirt I was going to buy to share in the experience. But, then I remembered why I am not necessarily a Blue Jays fan.
Cheering your team, heckling the opponents, a good Bronx cheer, its all part of sports. But there can be limits.
Every time Bobby Witt, Jr. came to bat a fairly significant section of fans started chanting “overrated.” I actually understand this chant at times, like in college basketball when your team is beating a better-ranked team. But chanting it at a young shortstop who does have the potential to be a very good player is just silly. I don’t think anyone is claiming Witt is an MVP contender or a sure thing for the hall of fame. He is getting some attention because he has a lot of skills and is on the verge of a 30 home run, 30 stolen base season.
Even in this dismal game he made two very impressive defensive plays and came oh-so-close to literally outrunning a routine infield out. But for some reason, a group of fans decided he needed to be the target of the chant.
As I listened, I got me to thinking about Blue Jays teams of old and my thoughts zeroed in on the 2015 playoffs. Prior to losing to the Royals in the American League Championship series, the Jays squared off with the Texas Rangers. During that series there was the infamous Jose Bautista bat flip which demonstrated a considerable lack of class on his part, although he does now say it was almost an accident because he didn’t really intend to flip the bat.
Then a little more remembering went on in my mind and the sight of the Blue Jays fan dumping a beer on a Texas player during that series came to mind. Now I remember, these nice Canadians, whom I truly appreciate and admire are terrible sports fans. They bring a hockey mentality to a baseball game.
I don’t think it makes me dislike the team, but maybe I don’t know if I’d want to be confused with one of their fans, so I am still debating purchasing a hat or t-shirt. Maybe I should hang on to my funny-colored Canadian cash and maybe pick up a nice maple leaf toque or an extra six pack of beer.
Some assorted notes” The attendance today was 41,443 which is near a Kauffman Stadium sellout. In the eighth inning the crowd did a wave. I am impressed there were enough people to actually keep a wave going around the stadium, but after about the fourth round it lost its charm.
Before the game, one Blue Jay was out in left field playing catch with a fan in the stands. I don’t know if he knew him or it was just a random game of catch, but it was cool to watch. Also, just before the game, a Blue Jays player, I think first baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. threw a ball up into the stands, which is not uncommon. But he threw it all of the way to the third deck which was not only cool, but a heck of a throw because the upper deck is a long way from the field.
The Royals offense collected just two hits, both in the fifth inning, a home run by Edward Olivares and a double by Drew Waters. Salvy Perez made contact on a couple balls that sounded like he got it all, but both were caught on the warning track. Other than that, the Royals made no real threat.
During batting practice, I was down by the Royals dugout and several of the staff members were looking up at the CN tower which is next door. One attraction of the tower is being able to lean over the side about 100 stories up with nothing but a harness keeping you from a fall. A discussion ensued on how much money it would take to try it. I’m not sure how high the potential payout got, but I never heard anyone willing to be the takers.
It is Sept. 9 and the Royals have already lost 99 games.