#JaysOpener – a better hashtag

I was scrolling through my tweets a couple of minutes ago and saw the @bluejays account tweet that if you’re tweeting about the Toronto Blue Jays home opener tonight use the hashtag #HondaHomeOpener and I couldn’t help by roll my eyes.

This is a 15 letter hashtag, 16 if you include the # that is more about making the corporate sponsor happy than actually creating a Jays nation on Twitter.

First if I’m tweeting about the game, I’m probably not going to have 16 characters to spare, that may just be me, but maybe not.

Second most of us add the hashtag #jays #bluejays and will likely add #jaysopener or #jays #homeopener to their tweets tonight, because it conveys the home opener and categorizes the Jays and uses something that has a strong likelihood to already trend in Toronto and even Canada tonight.

I get that making money and making corporate sponsors happy is important, especially in a city like Toronto who probably doesn’t have the marketing, merchandising and ad support that say a club like New York or Boston have, but come on, we’re now taking blatant corporate branding to Twitter that makes it feel like Honda’s part in this game is more important than the actual members of the Jays team, or heck that it is the Honda team that will be taking the field tonight. Did the Jays get renamed and I missed it?

As fans we identify with the Jays and the Jays home opener. Most of us could care less that it’s Honda who is backing this home opener. We are glad someone is backing the home opener, but it’s not a bow down moment to any of us. Yes the branding will be buried in the recesses of our minds, but really, unless we own a dealership, are a sales person for Honda, or MAYBE own a Honda, it could be Toyota, Ford, BMW, Lexus whoever that was backing this opener.

This game is about our JAYS, it is the JAYS home opener. It is for the players on that roster and the nation of fans that rally behind this team year after year. Yes money is important and corporate backings such as Honda’s are invaluable to the team, but, when there is only 140 character available, leave the marketing to the team and Honda, leave the fans out of it. If it’s a big deal to push Honda out into twitter, buy and add, but use a hashtag that works for fans and says something about our team, not the car manufacturer who won the rights to have their name tagged to the opener.

Those are my two cents and there it is folks, my first Jays blog of the season.

I cannot finish though without saying how proud I am of this team so far. They have played incredibly well in the first three games, and could have easily swept the first series. Here’s hoping they can maintain their level of passion and fight to sweep the Red Sox out of Toronto.

And for anyone wondering, this year’s Twitter Jays:

@jparencibia9

@blawrie13

@joeybats19

@2Morrow23

@CaseyJanssen

@SouthpawDO28

@Encadwin

@EThames 14

@Kyle Drabek

@VizquelOmar13

@RickyRo24

@bennyfresh_8

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Time for a Blue Jays Rant – Lawrie Up – Snider Down

I’m feeling a bit frustrated with the Blue Jays at the moment.

Today the Blue Jays called up Brett Lawrie from AAA. Ok, YAY a Canadian on the Canadian team. I was looking forward to Lawrie coming up, but the Jays have completely ruined it by who they chose to send down (IMO).

To make room for Lawrie on the roster the Jays chose to option Travis Snider back down to AAA, only a couple of  weeks after his return to the bigs.

Travis Snider first made an appearance with the Jays on August 29th 2008. Travis has seen bits and pieces of 3 seasons. He was drafted as a top prospect and he is one of the youngest players to debut in the majors wearing a Jays uniform. Since drafting Snider, the Jays have said that he is a key piece to building a strong future. They’ve said they see him being a cornerstone of the Jays outfield in the future; that he will lead the team in the future.

For all that the Jays organization says the right things about Snider, they certainly aren’t treating him like a Franchise player, a top prospect, or a key piece of their future.

I get that he is still young and has plenty of time, he is only 23; but it can’t be helping his value any if other teams are seeing Toronto play yo-yo with him. He’s been playing in the majors for parts of each of the last three seasons and in my opinion the team is now at this point jerking him around.

At the beginning of the season I seem to remember several conversations with the media by both the coach and the GM saying that Snider was going to be the Left Fielder, that they were going to support him and be behind him 100%; they were going to do whatever they could to make sure that Snider was a key piece of building this year’s team and this year’s outfield.

And how have they done that? Well Snider  had a bit of a slump so they sent him down. Fine, give him a chance to work out his swing in the minors. He works his butt off, does well and gets back here, only to have another outfield acquired which successfully puts him out of a job when Lawrie gets called up and Bautista returns to Right Field.

The outfield is overloaded right now. Bautista is your Right fielder, he is the best player in baseball right now, you’re not sitting him. You have Davis and with the speed he has, you are not getting rid of him, he can generate runs on the bases. That leaves Thames and Rasmus. I like Thames a lot, I don’t want to see him go anywhere. Rasmus though, seems like a nice kid and he is talented without a doubt, but he is a new acquisition that the Jays are standing behind and in doing so they are sticking a knife in the back of Snider (IMO).

I have nothing against this Rasmus kid, he’s a decent player and will probably grow into a fantastic player. But if I were Snider I’d feel somewhat betrayed by my team. I know “whatever is best for the team; whatever will get the wins” blah blah blah, but still I’d be annoyed, I am annoyed and I am just a fan!

Snider was told that this team believed in him and saw him as part of their future. The future is now and they keep pushing him back in line in favour of others.

I guess it is a good problem to have that many talented options for the outfield, I just feel bad for Snider. The organization says the right things, but then doesn’t have the actions to back it.

I’m sure that you could do a statistical analysis that says this is the right move out of the options that they have, but still I feel bad for the kid. He deserves his chance and a real chance. Someone needs to stick up for this kid. Some may argue that he’s had chance, but I’m sorry there have been a lot of players who’ve been a lot worse, who’ve gotten a lot more time to ‘earn their spot’ or sometimes even keep it.

Maybe this is the right move, honestly I don’t know what the best move would be in this situation, I just feel frustrated on the behalf of Travis Snider. If you’re in a job and you boss is telling you that you’re the future of the company and you keep getting sent to the mailroom, how would you feel? (And yes I know, AAA is not comparable to the mailroom).

I hate to say it but maybe what is best for Travis is a trade. I would hate to see him wearing any jersey that wasn’t a Jays jersey, but I think that being traded may be the only way he is ever going to get the chance that he deserves.

Opened or Closed?

The Toronto Blue Jays play an afternoon game tomorrow and it has been announced that the roof will be closed for the game at Rogers Centre.

The reason that Rogers Centre is keeping the roof closed is due to the weather advisories in effect for tomorrow and the projected temperature of 37 degrees which will feel more like 47 degrees with the humidex.

I got into a bit of a discussion with someone I follow and occasionally speak with on Twitter on the decision to close the roof for the game tomorrow.

He didn’t agree with the decision to close the roof.  Some of his points were:

  • Other teams play in hotter weather on a regular basis
  • The players are highly trained athletes who can/should be able to handle the weather
  • That baseball is meant to be played outside
  • That many games, baseball and other, have been played outside in temperatures worse than what Toronto will experience tomorrow.

I can’t necessarily dispute his points (though I believe I did), because well other teams do play in worse temperatures, these are professional athletes who could probably handle it, baseball historically is an outdoor game and sporting events have taken place in worse conditions.

I can see his point of view, I can understand it and I can respect it, but I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Other teams may play in hotter conditions on a regular basis, but their trainers presumably condition them for the climate and the weather they predominantly play in. That is not to say that the Jays aren’t well conditions (though at times I have questioned it with some of the random injuries) but they may not be conditioned for this heat and humidity. Heat like this is a shock to the body and it can put a strain on the human body. Thames was already pulled from a game recently due to leg cramp presumably due to dehydration caused by the current heat wave that we are experiencing. If players are playing in extreme heat that their bodies aren’t used to, there is a chance the body won’t respond well and injuries could happen. Toronto is doing well right now and no one wants to see Thames, Bautista, Lind or anyone else on that team go down with an injury that could have possibly been prevented. (Note I no professional background in health science, so while I think I know what I am talking about, someone with such a background may not)

These players are highly trained athletes and might very well be able to handle the heat, but why not, when possible, create an environment that limits the chance of injury or harm to players?  Also with this extremely heat players need to be cooled down and the MLB tends to blast AC into the dugouts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is hard on the body to go from that extreme heat to the cold AC and back and forth for the duration of a game. Have you ever noticed that in the summer when you go from outside heat, to inside AC multiple times throughout a day you start to feel kind of crummy?

Many games have been played outside in worse temperatures, but there have also been many athletes seriously injured due to playing or training in extreme heat as well. Just because people have played in worse temperatures doesn’t mean that they should. What’s more important? I personally think the health of the athletes is more important, more so than tradition or fan expectation.

Take the players out of the equation though, this (IMO) is a phenomenal marketing move.

Before I get to that, this decision to close the roof, I believe, is not just about the players, it is about the safety of the fans as well. I personally don’t want to see some poor schmuck pass out in the 500s due to heat stroke, or even someone in the 200s or 100s. Now granted the attendance won’t be even close to the same, but I was at a concert at Rogers Centre just over a week ago and the roof was open. The temperature that day wasn’t nearly as hot as it will be tomorrow, but that stadium was a sauna (admittedly because of the number of people). I swear I have never sweat so much in my life, I thought I was going to pass out by the time the concert was over. I know very different situations, there were 60,000+ people packed in there, I’m just saying that ballpark can get hot with the roof open.

Back to why I think this is a phenomenal marketing move. This is a mid-week afternoon game (something fans gripe about, but is a necessity between home and away series). Mid-week afternoon games traditionally have pathetic numbers as far as attendance goes, which is pretty expected, people have to work. So Rogers Centre wants more bums in the seats for the mid-week day game and the city (and well beyond) is going through a severe heat wave. I believe the city of Toronto or it’s health unit has probably issued a heat advisory, I know the London & Middlesex Health Unit has, so I presume Toronto is no different.

Anyways, Rogers Centre, or Skydome, has the ability to close the roof and turn on the AC. If you’re a poor schmuck living or working in Toronto and your office and or apartment/house doesn’t have AC and you are a fan of baseball (or maybe not) and you hear that the roof is closed at Rogers Centre and the place is a cool escape from the heat, what are you going to do? I’ll tell you what I would do. I’d go buy myself a ticket, take in a great ballgame and cool off! Sit in a cool stadium, take in a ball game and have a nice cold beverage and beat the heat and maybe if I’m lucky pick up one of the young single Blue Jays, but I digress.

Now maybe this won’t happen, but I have a funny feeling at least a couple of people who weren’t planning on taking in the game tomorrow will be now! The Jays organization played this right. They made the call early, this afternoon, and they publicized it throughout the broadcast of the game, as well as on twitter and I believe on their website and presumably on the radio. They are making sure people know that the roof will be closed and that taking in the game will be the coolest way to beat the heat tomorrow in Toronto.  So in my mind this has the potential to mean, increased ticket sales, increased beverage sales and maybe even increased merchandise sales for a typically poorly attended mid-week day game. No only does this help the team pocketbook, but it’s a good PR move because from my perspective it is a good deed that is deserving of a write-up in at least one major paper, magazine or blog.

I’m sure that the safety of the players was a huge consideration when deciding to close the roof. I’m also sure that fan safety (and venue liability) was a factor in making this decision. As a marketing person, I hope Marketing & PR had a hand in this at some point, before or after (I know I’d be screaming “Hey our attendance sucks for mid-week day games and it’s hotter than Satan’s living room, let’s close the roof, cool off this place and give Torontonians a break from this heat!”).

So those are my thoughts on the decision to close the roof tomorrow. I get both sides, but I think it is better to err on the side of caution and protect the fans and players when possible. I also think it is a good idea to leverage a situation to increase attendance on a day bound to have low attendance numbers.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Correction on something I’ve written? Comments welcome!

* You don’t have to agree with me, feel free to disagree. I just ask that you be respectful of the opinions expressed by others on this blog, including myself.

** Also I would like to thank the individual that sparked this blog post with the conversation we had on Twitter, if you are reading this, you should know who you are. Thanks for the discussion!

The Toronto Blue Jays – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention today is Social Media Day.

The MLB has adopted social media probably better than any of the other major sports leagues and today they are leveraging social media to get fans involved with their teams.

One way they are embracing social media today is the caption contest where fans are asked to come up with the best caption for a picture of a player from a specific team.

I found a link this morning that took me to a picture of JoJo Reyes during a post-game interview after he broke his 28 game winless streak. In this picture JoJo Reyes is receiving the standard Blue Jay treatment for any Blue Jay who achieves something great during a game and is awarded the post-game interview; in this case JoJo Reyes is getting a bucket of Gatorade (presumably) dumped over his head by his catcher JP Arencibia.

I thought that this was a great contest and a great way to get fans involved. I added my caption and was ready tweet it when at the bottom of the Caption Contest page was a disclaimer stating “By Filling out this form, I agree to the rules of the MLB.com Twitter Caption Contest.” 

Having entered a lot of contests recently, I always read the rules to make sure that I am eligible. I figured that since I’d found this contest link through the @BlueJays twitter account and it took me to a page on the Blue Jays website that I would be eligible for the contest.

I clicked on the link to view the rules and regulations, while reading the eligibility though, this is what I found:

For anyone who can’t read the print above, it says “The Contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and Washington D.C. …”

I was on the Toronto Blue Jays page, looking at a picture taken at Rogers Centre (Skydome) in Toronto Ontario, that was featuring a SportsNet Report, and two Toronto Blue Jays players JoJo Reyes and JP Arencibia, yet I was not eligible to participate in the Caption Contest because I do not reside within on of the fifty States or Washington D.C.

My first reaction was: “Wow a major #FAIL by the @MLB with their Caption Contest, Jays have a pic, but look at the rules #jays”, which I tweeted from my @Sadie_Liz twitter account.

The Toronto Blue Jays have been a part of the MLB since 1977, a span of 34 years and yet the Blue Jays and their fans are still often treated as second class citizen by the MLB and sports media.

This MLB run contest was only open to Americans, despite there being a Canadian team that is support by million of Canadians from East coast all the way to the West Coast. I am sure this is not the first MLB contest like this, nor will it be the last.

It is not all that surprising though, outside of Canada the Jays and Jays fans get very little respect or recognition. If the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, the Yankees are said to have “Destroyed the Jays”. If the Jays beat the Yankees though the “Jays Get Lucky in Win Over Yankees” or “Yankees stumble in loss to Blue Jays”.

When Toronto loses, the other team is said to dominate, or crush. When the Jays win though the Jays are said to have gotten lucky, or the other team is said to have stumbled. Toronto is rarely said to have ‘destroyed’ or ‘outdone’ their opponents, even if that is precisely the case. They Jays rarely see top billing for new articles on their wins on sites like ESPN or even MLB.com.

Despite 34 years in the MLB and back-to-back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993, the Jays are the forgotten and looked down upon team of the MLB (not to say that there aren’t others). The Jays are in the hardest division in the MLB. They currently have arguably the best play in the MLB in Jose Bautista; In years past they arguably had the best pitcher in the MLB in Doc Halladay, but the Blue Jays still don’t see the coverage or praise that other teams do by sports media and even the MLB, (though the MLB had improved greatly thanks to their use of social media this year, there have been a number of video tweets showing plays and hits by Blue Jays).

Canada may only have one team across the entire nation, (after the Expos got moved to Washington and renamed the Nationals). That team though has the support of the entire nation and will not be silenced by the naivety of the MLB and sports media. This is our team, and we are proud of them. We will stand behind them and fight for them as hard as we can and if you won’t talk about them we will. We will blog, we will tweet, we will podcast, we will write, we will sing, we will promote our Jays.  We can and we do make a difference, you need proof, look at who is leading the All-Star Balloting this year. I would hazard to bet a number of those votes came from north of the border. Toronto is a good team, with good players, who fight yearly against the hardest division in the AL. After 34 years I think it is time for a bit more respect for the team and fans from Canada, don’t you?

“But You’re a Girl”

I’m sitting watching the Blue Jays game, like I do most evenings during the summer. While I sit watching the game I am tweeting comments and updates on the game, something I have taken up this season. 

Since having taken up tweeting (and blogging) about the Jays this season I have gotten a couple of comments that take me back to my childhood. 

Last week I had a follower tweet “@Sadie_Liz I love that a girl is my source for hardcore Blue Jay news on Twitter 🙂 keep up the awesome work!”

This is not the first comment of this nature that I have received this season. While I love and appreciate comments like that, they still make me laugh a bit. 

I am now in my mid-twenties and I find myself chuckling at the fact that I am still shocking the male gender with my interest and knowledge of baseball (and other sports). 

I am certain it is not the intention of those offering comments like the ones above, but there is a subtext that basically reads “But you’re a girl, girls don’t like/know anything about baseball/sports”. 

I’ve faced this thinking most of my life. I’ve always been passionate about sports. My Mom tried to get me into ballet and it was more of a bull in a china shop scenario and I took up baseball. I grew up in a small community, and often that meant if I wanted to play sports, I had to play with the boys. Playing sports with or against boys was both easy and hard. The sport part was easy, the team/social part was what was often a bit more challenging. For some reason there were always those guys who didn’t think a girl should be playing with them; guys who thought that a girl couldn’t possibly be as good as them or that girls were too sensitive to play with the boys. 

I played on a competitive fastball team for the better part of 9 years (followed by 4 house league years). It was a competitive boys fastball team that I played on. Every year I had to prove myself to my team again. It didn’t matter how good I was the year before, or the fact that it was the exact same team; I had to win them over each time. There were a couple of guys who instantly had my back. There were some who quickly warmed up after they were reminded how good I was. Then there were those guys whose mission it was to make my life on the team miserable, and the guys who were trying to impress those guys, thus joining in on the torture. 

Most would think it would just be the guys on the other teams giving me grief and it was, but there were always a couple on my own team making sure I didn’t forget that I was the girl on the boys’ team and that I didn’t quite belong. I always had guys (on my team and not) who tried to hurt me and break me down, both physically and emotionally.

I never let them break me though, I let everything that they did to me fuel me to be even better. I constantly won over the skeptics and surprised the resistant with my positive attitude and my above average skills. 

I have always surprised people with my interest in sports and knowledge of sports. No matter how old I get though, it is always going to stun me that people are shocked or questioning of my interest because of my gender.  I have even be accused of pretending to like sports to flirt, because as a girl I couldn’t possibly have a genuine interest and knowledge of sports. 

Well for those of you out there who think sports is a man’s domain, you’re wrong. I love sports and I am not the only girl out there who does. It’s a new world boys, there are women who like sports just as much as you and who know just as much, if not more. We may be a bit more rare, but we are out there and in this day and age, it really shouldn’t that big of a surprise. 

And for those who are impressed to get Blue Jays tweets from a ‘girl’ (like me), check out the other female Blue Jays fans that I follow on twitter:

@alleycat17

@spcock

@BlueJayGal

@powder_blue

@BlueJMadi

(there are more, those are just the ones I look to for info)

**** Note: I take no offense to guys being shocked (or maybe just pleasantly surprised) that I am their Blue Jays (or other sports) information source, it just makes me laugh

 

Blue Jays Drafting

So the 2011 MLB Draft has come and gone and the Blue Jays have  drafted a number of new prospects.

Over the years the Jays have traded away draft picks and prospects, who have later popped up in the majors on opposing teams. Fans have cringed and grumbled over the way Blue Jays management have handled prospects and draft picks. With the exception of a couple over the last while (Arencibia, Snider, Romero, Hill), the Blue Jays team hasn’t appeared to be built from the draft but rather a series of (occasionally ill-advised) trades. I know this is common for a lot of teams, but given that the Blue Jays have acquired some less than stellar players, and cannot afford the top players in the league, I as a fan cannot help but hope they draft and cultivate some young talent (like the Tampa Bay Rays did).

Toronto had a number of picks in the 2011 draft, thanks to a number of compensation picks received for players that were lost to other teams during the off-season. I haven’t found a list yet of all of their draft picks, but I would assume there was somewhere around 20 or 30 picks for the Jays.

I have read some stats, tweets and articles on the Blue Jays 2011 draft choices and I can’t help but wonder if they made the best decisions.

Now I know next to nothing of the players that they drafted, but on the surface it appears possible that some of their draft picks could have been made for the wrong reasons.

Toronto Blue Jays, as everyone knows, are the only remaining Canadian MLB team. Due to that fact, the Blue Jays seem to have this unspoken mandate to support and foster baseball and baseball talent across Canada. In the U.S. each team is only responsible for its city, at most its state. The Canadian team though, especially since Canadian prospects are often forgotten about,  is responsible for recognizing an entire nation of prospects (not that there is an alarming number of MLB caliber Canadians, comparatively speaking).

In the 2011 draft 18 different teams drafted at least 1 Canadian prospect. A couple of teams drafted 3, a couple more drafted 2, and a number more drafted only 1. The Blue Jays lead the way though, drafting 8 Canadians.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Canadian team signing Canadian talent. I am like all the other Canadians who love seeing a Canadian dawn the Jays uniform and wish all the Canadians would gather in Toronto and make a run for the pennant. I can’t help but wonder though if it was the right decision to draft 8 Canadians, or if it was done out of a sense of duty.

It is entirely possible that one or more of those players could become the next Matt Stairs, Erik Bedard (Mariners), Jason Bay (Mets) or a Russell Martin (Damn Yankees), but it is equally (if not more) possible that they will never see life past the minors.

So I wonder, did the Blue Jays draft these players out of a sense of duty and national pride for the country that calls the Jays their own? Or did they draft them because they were the best potential players left to be drafted?  I am all for supporting the Canadian kids, someone needs to take notice of them, but did we miss out on some great talent, because the Toronto team felt required to draft some homegrown players?

This thinking extends to two other draft picks, neither are Canadians, but both are tied to the Jays team. But John Farrell and Don Wakamastu’s sons were drafted by the Blue Jays in the late rounds of the 2011 draft. Again I can’t help but wonder if they were drafted because they were the best players left  who were available, or if they were drafted out of a sense of duty to and respect for the current Jays’ Manager and Bench Coach.  I am sure these kids are talented and deserve to be drafted, but were the Jays just being polite and considerate to their new coaching staff?

Then again this could be a good move. The Canadian kids probably grew up dreaming of playing for the Toronto Blue Jays (or Montreal Expos) and playing for a team in their own country. Maybe these kids will be more determined to stay in the Toronto system and not search for trades should they make it to the big leagues, or even before. They may want to bring a championship back to Canada for the first time in nearly 2 (or by the time they get called up 3) decades. Maybe the same can be said for the sons of the Farrell and Wakamatsu, but then again, who knows how long the current coaching regime will stay in power.

So while it is possible these Canadian kids will be superstars and the American kids who were also drafted will refuse to sign,  I can’t help but wonder if the picks that brought 8 Canadians and 2 coaches sons, were a little less strategic and little more “Canadian” (polite/respectful).