Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Permit me, if you will, to vent a little spleen.

There's a story at the Blue Jays' MLB site about the auditions and final selections for the "J-Cru" and "J-Cru Jr." These are not, as one might reasonably suspect, tryouts to replace the guy now batting in front of Barry Bonds, but for the team's official dance and promotional outfits.

You may be thinking, "What does a baseball team need with a dance troupe?" What, indeed.

The J-Crus are split into two age groups. The Juniors are aged 8-14 and are employed for weekend game performances, both inside and outside the park, presumably to pry the attention of the 10-and-under crowd away from the Gameboys they brought with them. The seniors, whose ages range as high as a doddering 22, are there for -- well, let's be frank, they're meant to be eye candy.

Here are some excerpts from the article, along with a slightly cynical running commentary.

[The Junior J-Cru] will work mostly weekend games. They will work in the stadium by helping the J-Cru with fan activation, promotions, seventh-inning stretch and running the bases after Saturday games.

"Fan activation"? I suppose that's one way of putting it. It's disquieting to hear oneself described as a consumer who requires activation, like something hooked up to an electrical outlet. Though in fairness, considering the comatose state of most Blue Jays crowds I've been part of, maybe a few hundred volts down a strategically placed wire wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

As for the seventh-inning stretch, consider this an openly desperate plea to the Powers That Control Such Things, please, please discontinue the "OK Blue Jays" physical fitness routine. It reeks of 1981, Olivia Newton-John, and soccer-style uniform numbers, and it's been lame beyond description for almost two decades. Seven very simple words: Take. Me. Out. To. The. Ball. Game.

Gathering in the large ballroom in SkyDome's hotel at 9 a.m., Hazel Mae, from Rogers Sportsnet, was the Master of Ceremonies ...

.... to assure the contestants that if they can't dance their way to professional athletic involvement, they can someday hope to sit in a studio and narrate highlights about it. Actual female athletes need not apply, presumably.

The judging was done on three things: talent, appearance and presentation.

Okay, talent I get -- can they dance? Appearance I get --- are they attractive? Presentation --- okay, presentation I don't get. Is this just another way of saying appearance without appearing too baldly focused on looks?

Mae was to read off the numbers of those who make it but first said, "I am already crying for you."

"...because you are such squalid losers. I suggest you abandon any pretense of a fulfulling career in entertainment here and now. Maybe TSN will have you."

"The first time someone asked me for an autograph I thought, 'Wow! I'm famous. Someone is looking up to me.'"

Sharp learning curve ahead.....

There will be differences from last year, like no dancing on the dugout roofs.

Yyyyyyeeesssss!!! First piece of good news I've come across in this article. As anyone who had to sit through the rooftop routines last year can attest, they single-handedly transformed a day at the ballpark to a lunchtime meeting at Hooters, or worse.

Jennifer, 22, found out only two days ago about the auditions. She has danced for five years on cruise ships and is now back on land.

Remind me never to board a cruise ship so long as I live.

Lisa, 21, was on the J-Cru last season. "Today is really good," she said. "I am very energetic today because I am leaving for Cancun at 4 a.m. on Monday. I'll be on the beach tomorrow afternoon.

if I had a vote, Lisa, you would have burned it right there. Do you know how much snow fell in Ottawa this past weekend?

All the hopefuls were taught choreography to two songs. The second was a variation on the Elvis Presley classic and was called "Blue Jays Shoes." This is one of the many new songs that have been specially recorded for the J-Cru this year.

Aarrgh! Have you people learned nothing from the CHUM disaster? Bulletin: Elvis Presley died 26 fricking years ago! Your key demographic wasn't even a glint in someone's eye! When Blue Suede Shoes was released, Duke Snider was patrolling centerfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Will someone in your marketing department please go out and get a clue about what people 30 and under are actually listening to?

There. Okay. I've vented now. Thank you. In my one non-cynical observation, I will say that most of these girls seem nice and wonderfully enthusiastic about the chance to be a part of the J-Crus. It's not their fault that it's a dopey, dated, embarrassing marketing notion that should've died when the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders stopped being interesting. I don't blame them for the fact that major-league baseball teams feel they have to stick gyrating female dancers on the field to keep fans coming to the ballpark. You go, girls. But if I see any of you on Canadian Idol next year, I'll be very disappointed with you.

The Cheerleaders | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Matthew Elmslie - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 04:02 PM EST (#95628) #
Actually, 'Blue Suede Shoes' is a Carl Perkins classic. Elvis just covered it. The Perkins version is the definitive one.

Not that this has anything to do with your point. I'm just saying.
_pete_the_donkey - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 04:23 PM EST (#95629) #
On some nights, the J-Cru are enough to make me consider leaving and never coming back. Why do I need ear-splitting loud music and pre-pubescent dancers at a BASEBALL GAME???
On the same vein, I hope to high heaven that the following 'entertainment' is removed from the game day experience:
1) Pizza Pizza "Old Fat Guy Tries To Catch The Fly Ball Before The Game" promotion. Ya - I love watching Guido from Ajax trying to lumber his 250+ pounds across the turf to catch a pop up, only to miss. Side question - what the hell is the Pizza Pizza mascot in the spaceman suit, and what purpose does he serve other than to annoy and confuse? Is the spaceman really supposed to make me crave more pizza? Mind-boggling.
2) Fireworks. WHY??? Enough said - I won't even try to elaborate.
3) Pre-Game 'Host' whose microphone produces about 150 decibels. Great - so young Suzy from Brampton is at the game tonight. Why do I care? Why is she reading the lineups? Why do I need earplugs at the ballgame??????
4) Grounds Crew On LawnTractors. Canadian Tire is a sponsor. They sell LawnTractors. The Blue Jays are sell outs. OK - now I get it.
5) Sound Effects. Does the artificial sound of breaking glass make a foul ball entertaining? Does Homer Simpson saying d'oh after a missed swing make me laugh? Does a clucking chicken sound add to the value of my evening? NO. CUT IT OFF ALREADY.

Somebody should take the Jays marketing department for a little field trip to Wrigley or Fenway. Ugh.
_Jordan - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 04:23 PM EST (#95630) #
No, you're right, Matthew -- and Carl Perkins is a vastly underrated figure in American music, too -- but people today generally associate Blue Suede Shoes with Elvis, and choosing it as one of the team's "newest" songs just underlines how out of touch these people seem to be with popular culture. Heck, I was 9 when Elvis ate his last fried peanut-butter sandwich, so as a musical icon he means nothing to me. And I'm 35, already edging inevitable out of the team's demographic window. If I think this is dated, I can't imagine what the reaction of actual kids would be.

Anyway, this is just part of a larger vendetta I have against the boomers. But that's another post....
_mo tucker - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 04:50 PM EST (#95631) #
Gideon is way too modest about the size of his spleen. But anyone needing encouragement to a venting contest would find plenty of it
in the fatuous parade of single-sentence paragraphs of which this vacuous reportage (rhymes with gastric lavage,) is largely made.
Only if one has time, of course.
Dave Till - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 05:06 PM EST (#95632) #
I'd be happy if they dropped the volume on the between-innings songs. In the fifth deck, the music is deafening, possibly literally.

I don't have that much of a problem with "OK Blue Jays", as it reminds me of the times I watched people do silly arm exercises in 1993, and 1989, and 1985. The Jays have solved the Take Me Out To The Ballgame problem by playing TMOTB after "OK Blue Jays".

I'm not sure that Wrigley-style marketing would work in the Dome. Wrigley is a small, friendly ballpark; the Dome is a large, cavernous mausoleum that is trying to compete for the Toronto entertainment dollar with the spanking new ACC. (I like the Dome, me, but I like large, cavernous spaces.)

Which reminds me: how many major league baseball franchises are having to compete with newer stadiums built for other sports?
_Matthew Elmslie - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 05:28 PM EST (#95633) #
"Which reminds me: how many major league baseball franchises are having to compete with newer stadiums built for other sports? "

I would venture to say 'none'. The thing about baseball is that is has a lot of its season all to itself.

I don't think the stadium has a lot to do with it. If people were willing to come out to SkyDome before - and they sure were - they'll be willing to come out to it again. If they were willing to go to the Ex, they certainly should be willing to go to SkyDome. I don't think stadiums compete; I think attractions compete.

The advantage the Leafs and Raptors have is not so much the arena as it is their recent status as playoff contenders, a status the Jays have not had for a while.
_Spicol - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 09:03 PM EST (#95634) #
I agree with Dave to a point. I think there would be an effect on attendance in cities where new arenas/stadia open up a few years after the baseball stadium does. Joe Factory Worker's entertainment dollar can only go so far and if he's comparing a state of the art facility like the ACC to the SkyDome, which is merely serviceable, the SkyDome may seem to be sub-par and not worth the money. I'm not knocking the Dome...I think it's fine...but many of the softcore fans might be influenced in such a way.

Probably more so than with the general public, I know that the opening of the ACC has an impact on corporate dollars. The suits that used to be at the Dome, even when the Jays were losing, are now at the Hangar since it's the place to be seen. Check out the floor seats right before a Raptors game and you'll see some of the most powerful business men in Canada. When season tickets sales went in the dumper for the Jays in 1999 (coincidentally, the year the ACC opened), it was the corporate clients who stopped buying. That had little to do with how successful the team was on the field.

The decline in attendance is a multi-faceted problem but one of the facets is certainly that the SkyDome isn't the place to be anymore and the ACC is.

Off topic for a sec: Here's more ex-Jay news. Homer Bush is retiring.
_Geoff North - Monday, February 24 2003 @ 11:21 PM EST (#95635) #
Wow, I had a hard time trying to figure out exactly how to pronounce "J-Cru." What would be so terrible about calling them the Jay Crew? Does that look too much like the clothing company? Or the J-Jays? Junior Jays? Or something that isn't some attempt to be hip so they have to misspell marketing grab? Ugh. I guess that's one of my personal peeves, the bastardization of the English language, especially with regards to spelling that is so rampant these days. But hey, the kids today use the language that way, don't they? Avril Lavigne has a "hit" single out now title "Sk8ter Boi." How does this stuff get released like that? Double ugh.

On the topic of stadium entertainment, music and sound effects, all any stadium really needs for high quality entertainment (other than a terrific team of course) is a good stadium organ (I'm an organist myself, so I have an affinity), but those just aren't be built any more. Too bad really.
_Prince - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 12:27 AM EST (#95636) #
Avril Lavigne has a "hit" single out now title "Sk8ter Boi."

Eye don't C why it matters 2 U.
_Sean - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 01:01 AM EST (#95637) #
I whole-heartedly agree with Geoff. Prince can go play in traffic. ;)
_jason - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 04:45 AM EST (#95638) #
The end of the line for a former Jay?
_jason - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 04:52 AM EST (#95639) #
Does this guy count as a former Jay? I know this one does.
Dave Till - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 07:54 AM EST (#95640) #
I think kids like to use spellings like "Sk8ter Boi" precisely because it annoys us older folks. As a teenager, that's why I liked playing my Sex Pistols record over and over again.

While I'd hate to see textphone-speak become standard practice, as I have trouble deciphering some of it, I don't think it will be more than a passing fad: eventually one or two of those words will become standard usage, and the rest will disappear.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, Bill Bryson (the travel writer) has written two books about the evolution of the English language: Mother Tongue and Made in America (the latter is an American-specific history). According to him (if my memory serves me correctly), "bastardization of the English language" is not a new thing. I recall reading that "OK" is a contraction of "oll korrect", which was the trendy way to spell "all correct" in (I think) the eighteenth century.

A more recent example: the use of "he or she" in place of "he" (or, alternatively, randomly choosing to use either "he" or "she" in text) is now accepted practice. Twenty years ago, grammarians were up in arms over it, saying that "he" was the only correct usage. They were also fulminating about the use of "gay" to mean "homosexual", saying that it was ruining a perfectly good word.
Coach - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 09:22 AM EST (#95641) #
In the fifth deck, the music is deafening, possibly literally.

Perhaps even worse are the seats in the back rows of the 100 and 200 levels that happen to be near speakers. It's driving away customers -- one of my favourite companions at a ball game prefers Sunday afternoons at Christie Pits to any seat in the Dome because loud electronic noises are painful for him.

Easy on the fireworks -- post game shows on Victoria Day and Canada Day are fine, but after every HR and every win is overkill. Maybe to celebrate a walkoff homer.

The advantage the Leafs and Raptors have is not so much the arena as it is their recent status as playoff contenders

I'm sorry for the Raps' bad luck this year, but it bodes well for bigger April and May baseball crowds. This team, these players, if seen by enough casual fans, will market itself better than packaged JumboTron ads, sound effect cliches or "gyrating female dancers".
Dave Till - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 10:10 AM EST (#95642) #
I don't think the team is quite ready to market itself yet. The Jays are two quality starting pitchers and two years of maturation away from being an outfit that will kick butt and take names. We, as hard-core Jays fans, are excited about this team because we see what it could become; the average fan, if he or she visits the Dome in April, will likely see the Jays get whupped by the Yanks, the Sox, or the Twins.

The Jays will be lucky to start the season 10-10, thanks to the Evil Scheduler, and could well start off 6-14. By the time the Orioles come to town for their annual humiliation, the Jays will be out of contention. Given this, it's probably a good idea for the Jays to promote themselves aggressively. If it takes celebrity dugout dancers to do it, then let's do it - that way, the Jays will be able to afford to sign Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells to long-term contracts, rather than see them move to New York.
Craig B - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 02:58 PM EST (#95643) #
A degenerative hip problem has tragically felled Homer Bush where his degenerative talent problem never did.

A sad end, true. It's a shame that he won't be on hand for the Marlins to provide the leadership skills he has talked about so incessantly.


Anyway, Byson's books on language are terrific (an epithet I would not extend to his travel writing) and well worth checking out.

1337 5p33k - or its slightly simpler textphone equivalent (like "c u l8r") is simply a subculture's way of identifying itself to itself... no more or less different than lawyerese, street, "Mod", or those cryptic symbols that doctors and pharmacists write on prescription pads. That this fashionable mode of writing has been adopted for marketing purposes is hardly a surprise, particularly in packaged pop music. It won't last any more than the "Valley-talk" phase of the 1980s did.

I find the music at the games a touch loud (and a touch excessive), and the team could do more to encourage cheering groups, but generally they do an OK job. If the Jays really do want to attract a younger crowd... and they need to... the worst way to do it is to have an organ playing. I love a ballpark or arena organ, but it is (to borrow a catchprase of yesteryear) totally Squaresville.
Craig B - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 03:30 PM EST (#95644) #
Also, I like fireworks. They go boom and look pretty... and they are a great way to celebrate, provided it's not after 11 on my street.

As for gyrating female dancers, while I certainly don't object to such a thing on principle, they really do look out of place at the ballgame. In fact, they look stupid at any sporting event, but people have become so used to them at football that it's become cliche.
Mike D - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 03:58 PM EST (#95645) #
Sadly, Jays fans are not well-suited to a Wrigley-style organ/minimalist approach to fan stimulation. Jays fans have never been much for simultaneously getting on their feet and making noise, like Yankees, Red Sox and Indians fans are wont to do. Toronto crowds are very good at acknowledging good pitching performances and great defensive plays, and are really quite a factor in the postseason, but otherwise generally show gab-with-your-neighbours apathy or quiet concentration at the game. Leaf fans also fall terribly quiet during parts of regular season games. They're actually *concentrating,* a trait possibly unique among North American sports fans.

Pete the Donkey's surely correct about the overuse of cheesy sound effects. Fact is, though, that Jays fans often need the "Obey-O-Tron" to create a modicum of a home field advantage in key situations. That was even the case when they were averaging 50,000. (Can you even fathom that number for any one ballgame this year?) I say limit the sound effects and cheer provocations to key moments, where they'll have the greatest impact on the Dome crowd.
_Matthew Elmslie - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 04:28 PM EST (#95646) #
"Anyway, Bryson's books on language are terrific (an epithet I would not extend to his travel writing) and well worth checking out."

I agree, except that I also like his travel writing. Most of it, anyway.

"Toronto crowds are very good at acknowledging good pitching performances and great defensive plays, [...] but otherwise generally show [...] quiet concentration at the game."

This is me. I'll applaud a good play or an RBI or something, but I don't want to spend all my time making gratuitous noise. For one thing, I don't enjoy doing that, and for another, I'm trying to watch the game.

Shame about Homer Bush. I always liked him as a player; he seemed like a decent and intelligent guy. I even had hope that he could have become a Ricciardi-type player; he had said in interviews that he was trying to walk more. If he had done that, and stayed healthy, well, that's a good player - a .300 hitter with walks, a good SB percentage (which he had) and good defense at second base? I'll take that, despite the lack of power. Oh well.
_Jordan - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 04:42 PM EST (#95647) #
Jays fans often need the "Obey-O-Tron"

Mike, if it's possible to copyright this phrase, you must do it right away. It's brilliant, and right on the money.
Mike D - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 04:53 PM EST (#95648) #
Alas, Jordan, it's hard to copyright a phrase when I'm a plagiarist. I think it's a Zumsteg phrase.
_Sean - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 05:55 PM EST (#95649) #
I'm sure we can think of a legal defense. What is the proportion of lawyers amongst our authorship lineup--4 of 9?
_7 of 9 - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 06:29 PM EST (#95650) #
Resistance is futile.
_Sean - Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 08:39 PM EST (#95651) #
I avoid Star Trek like the plague, and vastly prefer Babylon 5 and Farscape, but I have to admit that I wouldn't resist 7 of 9 either. Amazingly, from what I'm told there was no silicon involved, just ridiculous outfits that caused her to occasionally faint.
_Gloria Borden - Sunday, September 21 2003 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#95652) #
Tyr ing to find a bio or some info on Hazel Mae. Where she was born, her nationality,etc etc

The Cheerleaders | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.