Friday, April 1, 2011
Coming Home: The Blue Jays Home Opener Has Arrived
By Ian Hunter
Having watched the new crop of Blue Jays commercials these past few weeks, I'd say the "coming home" message is very apropos for today. The wait for Blue Jays in baseball is finally over; the Blue Jays are home.
Dustin Parkes called the spot "manipulative excellence" on Getting Blanked, and I tend to agree. It's a commercial that milks a catchy hook, but honestly ... how can you not get goosebumps after watching it?
Why Did the Home Opener Sell Out?
I've been racking my brain trying to pinpoint why there's such a renewed interest in the Blue Jays this year. While I don't think it's one thing in particular, it's probably a multitude of reasons that have contributed to the swell in interest.
A couple people suggested to me on Twitter that the Winter Tour maybe had something to do with it. Much like the Blue Jay itself, the team usually flies south for the winter and isn't seen or heard from again until the spring.
That all changed this year with the Blue Jays Winter Tour. They made a concerned effort to have a presence during the winter by sending their top stars across the country to get fans excited about baseball.
Another contributing factor is maybe even Twitter itself. Now with the multitude of Blue Jays who have joined the Twitterverse, it's easy for them to stay connected with fans during the offseason.
Let's also not overlook the fact that things aren't nearly as "doom and gloom" as they were one year ago. After trading Roy Halladay away to the Phillies, things looked pretty bleak for the immediate future of this team.
Last year, many experts pegged the Blue Jays to dead last in the American League East and to even lose close to 100 games. Not exactly the best motivator to bring fans to the ballpark.
Out of the gate, I think attendance is going to fare much better this year than they did last year. With the strides the team made in 2010, momentum is on their side and Blue Jays fans are on the uptake.
Personally, I've really noticed big a change because I've had about 5-6 people these past few weeks ask me how to get tickets to the Home Opener. These people aren't necessarily what I'd call hardcore fans, either.
So if the casual baseball watchers are coming out the woodwork and want to get in on the action, then the Blue Jays are definitely doing something right.
Regarding Tonight's Festivities
For those making the trek to the dome, be sure to read the BJH Guide to the Blue Jays Home Opener. They will be honouring Jose Bautista, Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick in a pre-game ceremony, so I imagine the game probably won't get underway until around 7:30pm.
There are rumours the Blue Jays are poised to retire Alomar's number 12 tonight, and I think that's a very strong possibility. After all, why would Edwin Encarnacion have changed his number from 12 to 10 unless he had to?
I was going to say that Pat Gillick might receive one of those Vernon Wells Sr. signature paintings they've been handing out, but now that Vernon's gone, does that mean his father's services are as well?
Jose Bautista will be receiving his Silver Slugger Award, and might possibly be honoured for setting the new franchise record for home runs in a single season.
For those who are sane enough to avoid the gong show at the Rogers Centre, pre-game coverage on Rogers Sportsnet begins at 6pm. However you're watching the game, have a safe and happy Blue Jays Home Opener, everyone!