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Okay, I know these kinds of articles are the sort of feel-good bumpf that marketing departments churn out in their sleep. Nonetheless, these two stories from the Jays' MLB site make for a nice read and provide a small degree of insight into the players who participate.

What I don't really understand is why these events aren't reported in the local press.

Certainly, if Sandra Bullock or Heath Ledger were making a movie in Toronto and dropped into the cancer ward to visit children, the Star and Sun would be all over it: it's the kind of ready-made space filler that editors love, especially with photos of celebrities and children. I presume that the Blue Jays' marketing people do try to push these articles on the local sports editors. But the Star evidently prefers to publish columns like this from their very own in-house Dr. Doom. How come?

It might be that these sorts of charitable events happen so often that the editors don't consider them news -- though whenever Tie Domi does the same thing, it's on the front page. It might be because the editors resist the self-promoting nature of these staged events -- but the long-standing promotional symbiosis betwen sports teams and local media is so strong that I doubt this thought even occurs to the editors anymore. It might be because there's too many other sports stories to report -- important stuff, you know, like what Brett Hull thinks about Curtis Joseph sitting out the Leafs game.

Me, I think it goes like this. The editorial script of the local Toronto sports press is that baseball players are overpaid, spoiled, (non-Canadian) millionaires who resent the three seconds it takes to sign a simple autograph, and who can't wait to desert the city as soon as the season ends. So how do you reconcile that party line with someone like Ken Huckaby, who flew from Arizona to visit Sick Kids' hospital, or Chris Woodward, who lives with his family in Toronto year-round, or Corey Thurman, who will probably spend next year labouring in Syracuse but still made the effort to visit? You can't -- and that's why readers never hear about these events. Richard Griffin, Steve Simmons and the like can't sell their tired old song-and-dance if facts like these get in the way.

Sports journalism -- plus ca change. Makes me so glad I never entered the profession.
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_Kent - Friday, November 15 2002 @ 12:32 PM EST (#102271) #
In my comment on Jordan's "Thinking outside the Dome" piece, I mentioned my interest in contacting the Jays about helping to revive youth baseball in Toronto's downtown core.

Thanks to Kevin Briand, who is in charge of the team's relationship with amateur baseball, I have learned how involved the Jays are already in various programs throughout the province. It supports your argument that these "good news" stories are inadequately reported.

Here's another MLB page that lists the local team's many community activities. I was unaware that they helped Riverdale Park start a Rookie League last year; that's exactly what's needed at all the downtown playgrounds.

I'm told that neither Trinity nor Regent Park will operate baseball next year, and the traditionally strong organizations at High Park and Christie Pits are in trouble. So I remain hopeful that the Blue Jays, much better corporate citizens than most of us realized, will assist. Perhaps MLB, through its RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) initiative and Baseball Tomorrow Fund, would share some of the costs. I intend to find out.

Speaking of marketing, it's interesting that Phelps, Hinske and Wells (all suitably beaming) adorn the team's Christmas card, and the club's new ad campaign is noteworthy both for its humour, and the absence of former cornerstone Carlos Delgado.
_Jordan - Monday, November 18 2002 @ 01:50 PM EST (#102272) #
Kent, I had meant to comment on your proposed Blue Jays sponsorship of local baseball leagues, to say that it's a terrific idea. With the Jays rebuilding and the game likely to experience a certain degree of re-ascendance in the area, now would be a perfect time for the club to build goodwill, visibility and a participating fan base among local kids. You could tie in a Rogers sponsorship, free movies or video-game rentals to all members of a winning team, in order to get the corporate bosses onside too. I definitely think you should take this to the organization and see how far up the flagpole it gets. Great idea and good luck.
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