Friday, May 6, 2011

Restore the Blue Jays/Tigers Rivalry


By
Only 400 kilometres separates Toronto and Detroit, but as far as baseball matchups concerned, they may as well be on opposite sides of the continent.

One would think that two cities so close to each other that they would have their fair share of series, but MLB's unbalanced schedule says otherwise.

The Blue Jays and Tigers will get together for the first of only six games this season; a four game set at the Rogers Centre followed by a two game series in a few weeks at Comerica Park. Considering how much history their is between these two teams, it just doesn't feel like enough.

A piddly six games against a team that's only a four hour bus ride down the 401? Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather see the Blue Jays play the Tigers a few more times instead of 18 times against the Rays or Orioles.

For those living in London Ontario, you basically have the best of both worlds smack dab in the middle of both teams. It's almost equal distance to get to the Comerica Park as it is to the Rogers Centre.

There are undoubtedly a lot of Tigers fans in London, and maybe part of that has to due with the London Tigers. Growing up in the Forest City, I remember seeing the Tigers play at Labatt Park was one of the hottest tickets in town.

I even remember their jingle - "London Tigers Baseball: tear 'em up Tigers, let's go!"

It's amazing to look back on how the Detroit Tigers had their AA affiliate in London. I think it helped cultivate an interest in not only the Detroit Tigers, but the Blue Jays as well.

After 1993, the London Tigers left town and set up shop in Trenton, New Jersey. London was essentially the link between the Tigers and the Blue Jays, and when the London Tigers left, sadly that link was severed.

The remnants of Tigers feverdom remain in London, though. If you head to Joe Kool's, when you walk in you'll see a photo of Kirk Gibson's iconic home run plastered on the wall.

Although London is technically closer to Toronto that Detroit, I get the sense that London is a Tiger town more than it is a Blue Jays town.

Whichever side of the fence you're on, it's just a shame that the Blue Jays and the Tigers only get together for 6-8 games a season because there is a vast amount of fans in the 401 corridor from London to Windsor.

Even back in 1999 and 2000, the Blue Jays and Tigers played 12 times a year. That's even after the Tigers moved to the Central division. Prior to that, it was typical for them to meet 13 times every season.

I'm not saying that adding a couple series here and there is going to bring baseball fever back to southern Ontario, but would go a long way to restoring the rivalry between the Tigers and the Blue Jays.

Plus, it's nice to have an excuse to road trip to Detroit a couple times a year.

8 comments:

  1. I've lived in London for almost 4 years now and can say that it is without a doubt a Tigers town. I get the feeling it always has been this way and I am sure it has to do with the AA London Tigers.

    Let's just banish the unbalanced schedule. Or go back to a 2-division league? :-)

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  2. "It's almost equal distance to get to the Skydome as it is to the Rogers Centre."

    Ya don't say?

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  3. Callum, that's what I've always thought too. It feels like a Tiger town more than a Blue Jays town. I think the only Blue Jays merch I've seen in a bar in London is a Joe Carter poster that is firmly glued to the wall at Winks.

    Nick, whoops - typo there, meant to say Comercia Park.

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  4. As someone who's lived in london for twenty years I respectfully disagree, downtown I see much more jays merch than tigers merch and the few people I do run into sporting a Tigers hat are often barely fans. The tigers may still hold a older loyal contingent but they definitely lost the young fans once the London Tigers moved.

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  5. Anon, that's what I've found as well - maybe the 40+ crowd is more loyal to the Tigers, but the folks below that age bracket are probably more likely to follow the Blue Jays. I just think it's cool that there's a city in between that is a hub for both teams.

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  6. I could reveal my old schooliness by remembering Auto's was the 'Jays bar and Joe Kools was for Tiger's fans, but perhaps I shouldn't. The attraction of the Tigers in the '80s was that they were winners and the Jays were chokers, and its more fun to back a winner, isn't it?

    Since re-alignment, it hasn't been the same, but there are certainly as many Red Wings fans as there are Leaf fans in town, still.

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  7. Greg, that would definitely explain all the Tigers merch at Joe Kool's then. I can see why folks in London might have been more drawn into the Tigers because they were perennial playoff contenders while the Blue Jays had a reputation of either blowing it down the stretch or on the playoffs. Thankfully the 90's changed all that!

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  8. I live in toronto now but i grew up in London and I am still a diehard Tigers fan. I remember the rivalry in the 80s and 90s. Best memory was in 93 when the tigers shocked the jays taking 3 of 4 in a 4 game set. I wore my tigers jersey with pride.

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