The Cheerleaders

Monday, February 24 2003 @ 03:45 AM EST

Contributed by: Jordan

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.