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When the Blue Jays came a purler in the 2009 season, turning in a disappointing year where a strong one was expected, it basically destroyed all of my long-term hope for the Jays.

See, I was a Ricciardista from way back. The plan might take a while to kick in, but eventually it would, and then everything would be okay. And then in 2009 it became obvious that the plan was not going to kick in, and I became extremely pessimistic. While this was largely an emotional reaction, I had no trouble finding rational support for it.

The way I figured it was this. In the extremely tough AL East division, you basically have to have everything go right to win. You need 1) supportive ownership, 2) a genius GM who can assemble 3) many players of formidable talent, and 4) large numbers of supportive fans. I didn't see any of those things in front of me. I saw instead 1) Rogers Communications, 2) a guy who had been standing next to Ricciardi when the axe came down, 3) some talented players who had made a point of kicking away every high-profile game they had played for most of a decade, and 4) Leaf Nation.

I was willing to admit that Rogers would probably prove to be as supportive as their long-term bottom line would justify, that Anthopoulos seemed bright enough, and that the 2010-11 Jays didn't show the same knack for losing right when they most needed to win... but I didn't see the fans ever coming back. Not in large enough numbers. And that would limit the amount of money Rogers was willing to put into the team, and that would restrict the Jays from ever getting good enough to make the playoffs again. And that, I concluded, was that.

I honestly believed that the Jays would never play in the postseason again in my lifetime, and that a +.500 record was more than I could hope to expect in an average year.

But last night? When the Leaf fans at the ACC started calling "Let's Go Blue Jays" in response to some more of the Maple Leafs' patented futility? I never thought that could happen. Never ever ever. The Jays coming out ahead of the Leafs in Toronto consciousness? Based on a spring training record? I never thought that could ever happen.

So, maybe it is possible. Maybe the Jays do have a chance. One of these years. I'm always willing to admit it when I'm wrong, and I hope to be proven wrong in short order.
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John Northey - Friday, March 30 2012 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#253502) #
I think that stuff like that happened in the mid-80's when the Leafs were run by Ballard and the Jays were winning for the first time.

Still, the big thing is that it shows how desperate Toronto fans are for a winner - even a spring training winner is something. If the Jays can get off to a strong start and hold it into August I bet we'll be seeing full houses regularly. The last time the Jays had a realistic shot was 2000 when they were in 1st on July 14th and just 4 1/2 back in the end (10 back on September 13th so no real shot as far as fans knew). Back then the Leafs were good (one step shy of finals in 99 & 02, won a round in 00 & 01 & 04, made playoffs in 03, nothing since). The Raptors were in the playoffs 3 years straight (00, 01, 02) with their only playoff win in 01 and Vince Carter the big star in town.

Boy have things changed in the decade+ since eh?
Mick Doherty - Friday, March 30 2012 @ 07:07 PM EDT (#253508) #

I can relate.

Dallas has always been Cowboys first, last and always. But the Rangers have been to back-to-back World Series. the Mavericks are defending NBA champions. With the stars havin won a Cup as "recently' as,w hat was it, 1999?, that means EVERY pro sports franchise has won a title more recently than the Cowboys (1992 and '93). North Texas made it through the Dave Campo/Chan Gailey mess, but it's really never been the same. Dallasites notice baseball and basketball now. the two major papers will run the Rangers ABOVE the fold, next to a teaser for the Cowboys that says "See page 5" or somesuch. 

It's completely impossible.

BlueJayWay - Friday, March 30 2012 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#253511) #
Well, as I said on DJF, I don't know if it's support for the Jays as much as it was a way to rankle the Leafs players and management.  "You guys suck so bad we'll start a cheer for another local sports team at your own game."

Still, it's kind of hard to imagine that happening till it did.

christaylor - Friday, March 30 2012 @ 09:44 PM EDT (#253520) #
The fans also chanted for the Argos, so let's not get ahead of ourselves with this bit.

That said, it is amazing to see how top of mind the Jays are in those who watch baseball for a living. They've been mentioned all over ESPN recently, merely the buzz of that should be good to get a few more general sports fans who've tuned out to tune in just out of curiosity.
ComebyDeanChance - Friday, March 30 2012 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#253521) #
I'd be happy if the fans at a Blue Jays game started a "Let's go, Blue Jays" chant. The cantor of baseball cheering has never come naturally to Torontonians, although it did in Montreal. In Montreal the "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole" cheer, was encouraging, friendly and fun. Torontonians on the other hand, often remind me of the crowd in a wonderful story by the wonderful Roger Angell, about a spring training game in Sarasota (can't recall whose team was there at the time) which he described as like an embarrassed, quiet, rural group at a huckster's how. His description was better than that of course, but that was the gist.

The "Let's go, ....", which Yankee and Red Sox fans chant, is encouraging to the team when the team is down. Torontonians are much more like hockey fans, who complain that the home team didn't skate, or hit, rather than cheering them on. In fact at a spring training game, it's unique to Canadians how quickly the discussion in the crowd turns to hockey, and how when they can't 'front run', the fans act as though there's something to complain about.

For years, I've hoped that Toronto's fans would embrace "Let's go Blue Jays", or "Let's go (Player's name). Somewhat typically it was only to mock when it happened at a hockey game.
Chuck - Saturday, March 31 2012 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#253533) #

But last night? When the Leaf fans at the ACC started calling "Let's Go Blue Jays" in response to some more of the Maple Leafs' patented futility? I never thought that could happen. Never ever ever.

I remember bringing my son to his first ever Raptors game at the ACC many years ago. He looked up at the rafters and saw the banners commemorating each of the Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup victories. He was listing them off, year by year. He came to 1966-67, which was at the end of the row, and then turned his head to continue reading off  the subsequent banners. When he saw none, he asked where the rest were. Were they missing?

And then I explained to him the misery that life is supporting such a sad sack team, a misery that is thankfully not a personal affliction.

In Montreal the "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole" cheer, was encouraging, friendly and fun.

Being a native Montrealer, and having attended numerous sporting events in both Montreal and Toronto, I agree with CBDC that there are cultural differences in the two cities that directly impact fan behaviour. Understanding that these are broad generalities, Quebeckers tend to be much more vocal and much more comfortable being vocal. Ontarians tend to be more subdued and being vocal counters an impulse to not be. Again, broad brush strokes here. I personally believe that this is a French/English thing. I believe that English Quebeckers are as subdued as Ontarians. For reasons that I can't pinpoint, French Quebeckers seem more comfortable being vocal fans. I saw this in spades at Olympic Stadium during the height of the Montreal Expos' success. I don't know why French Quebeckers are less self-conscious than we maudit anglais, but they seem to be. It's a much better way to go through life.

Mike Green - Saturday, March 31 2012 @ 11:33 AM EDT (#253546) #
I don't know, Chuck.  I know the old stereotypes, which have their root in the two solitudes.  You would have thought that things would change to some degree, as more and more Torontonians would describe their ethnic origin as something other than Anglo-Saxon.  Torontonians certainly don't drive the way they did in 1965, and so l don't see why they can't now cheer with the same boisterousness that they drive with. 
Chuck - Saturday, March 31 2012 @ 01:18 PM EDT (#253554) #
Could be I'm trapped in time, drawing generalizations from outdated observations. Wouldn't be the first time.
hypobole - Saturday, March 31 2012 @ 08:07 PM EDT (#253571) #
A few weeks back I read the Joe Posnanski blog about the Grand Falls Olive Garden review. In it, he tells the story of taking his young daughter to Disneyland. She's having a great time singing and dancing during the parade, when a girl about her age walks by, looks at her with disdain and mouths "grow up". His daughter is mortified and immediately stops.

I think a lot of Jays fans are simply too "grown up". I do hear the "Lets go Blue Jays" chants at the games, but the voices are invariably young. I occasionally join in, but very occasionally. It's almost as if the Toronto teams we're rooting for haven't done enough yet to deserve having their (especially older) fans lose themselves in the moment enough to bring out the kid in us.

That said, one semi-feel good moment last year was shortly after the last failed "EE the 3rd baseman" experiment, where he was the subject of derision from a sizable number of home town patrons. I made it a point to stand and loudly cheer for him whenever he came to bat. I still remember looking around the stands and the only other people standing were vendors or people leaving for the facilities or food court; I seemed to be the only one actually combining standing and cheering.

Thank goodness the Jays finally seem to be on the cusp of bringing out some of the childlike enthusiasm many Toronto fans seem to have lost.
hypobole - Saturday, March 31 2012 @ 08:20 PM EDT (#253572) #
Small correction - that should be Grand Forks, not Grand Falls in my post above. And here is the link to that short Joe Pos blog - definitely worth the read.
Brent S - Saturday, March 31 2012 @ 08:58 PM EDT (#253573) #
hypobole, thank you so much for linking that article. I must have missed that one and I'm sorry that I did -- Joe Posnanski is truly the best sports writer in the business.
Mike Green - Sunday, April 01 2012 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#253583) #
I was there when EE had that big game against the Yankees behind Brandon Morrow (including an almost miraculous defensive play).  The fans in our section were chanting "EE MVP", which has a nice ring to it, and standing for his later at-bats in the game. 
vw_fan17 - Monday, April 02 2012 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#253720) #
IIRC (and it's been a while, so forgive me if my impressions were incorrect), when the Jays were in the thick of things with Philly in '93, the Toronto media largely ignored the Leafs 10-0 streak to start the season (still tied for the longest winning streak to start the season ever).

It CAN happen.

At this point, watching the Jays is like drinking - I'm doing it to forget the NHL season that is about to finish.. :-(

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