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.

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Twitter Jays – Arencibia Under Attack #jays

I just read an interesting/infuriating comment on Facebook regarding the Blue Jays rookie catcher JP Arencibia. There was a post from the Blue Jays organization regarding the auctioning of one of JP Arencibia’s game used broken bats (a bit odd, but hey someone will pay good money). One of the comments (not that different from some others I have seen) said ” … [Arencibia] blocks followers on Twitter whose comments he doesn’t like. The young man is childish and immature.”

I’m sorry, but that comment is ridiculous. I’ve followed a lot of the chatter towards Blue Jays players and the people who have been blocked, aren’t really innocent, so I don’t blame Arencibia for his actions.

One, there’s probably a mandate about that kind of situation in the league’s social media policy. The whole act in the best interest of the team and of the league, do nothing to negatively represent the MLB … so on and so forth.

Two, I think that Arencibia’s actions are completely respectable. Let’s think about this, say you’re on your twitter account and someone follows you only to mention or message you talking trash about you or your family, what exactly are you going to do? Personally I would block the person, wouldn’t most people? I would not bother engaging with them, because honestly that would do me no good. Engaging would only feed the troll and bring me down to its level. Now some people would bite back at someone who is taking pot shots at them or their family, but based on what I’ve seen I think JP Arencibia is a pretty classy guy. Also Arencibia is a professional and a role model. There is a time and place to defend yourself and there is a time to walk away, and Arencibia blocking trash talkers to me is the same as walking away, which I respect. Engaging could do serious damage to his career and his personal brand, not to mention the team, league and charitable brands he’s a part of.

Three, Arencibia is a professional baseball player, with huge expectations on his shoulders. It is his job to come to the ballpark everyday and do his very best. Again lets look at this in a different context. If you got up and went to work everyday and were berated by people (who really have no first hand understanding of your job) telling you that you’re no good at your job and are worthless as a person, how do you think that would make you feel? How do you think those comments would impact your attitude or your ability to do your job? Now you can sit there and say you wouldn’t let it affect you, or argue that JP Arencibia is a public figure and a professional athlete making millions of dollars a year, but the heart of the matter is that he is still just a man not impervious to the sticks and stones people throw at him. I don’t care who you are, if people are telling you day in and day out that you’re a screw up and not worth it, it’s going to start affecting you. As a professional athlete things happen; professional athletes make errors and go through slumps and they beat themselves up about it, more than anyone else possibly could. Athletes have to work hard to keep their confidence, because if they go on the field without it, their opponents will capitalize. The best way for anyone to keep their confidence is to block out all of the negative comments, only leaving room for the positive ones.

So people can sit there and call Arencibia immature for blocking the negative nellies out in the twittersphere, or he can be commended for having the maturity to do his job and have some class while doing it.

As fans we tend to think we have the right to complain when our team or a player screws up and Twitter has made it easy for us to take our complaints directly to the players. Players like Arencibia are CHOOSING to be on twitter, are choosing to give fans access, are choosing to engage. Players don’t have to be on twitter with clearly identifiable verified accounts, but they choose to do that for their fans and for the sport. I applaud players like Arencibia for putting themselves out there in that way and I give them credit for handling the naysayers in a mature and professional manner. Furthermore I thank Arencibia for not letting the actions of a few ruin it for the many. He could have easily said ‘screw it’ and cancelled his twitter account when hundreds of people laid into him over a base running error, but he didn’t.

Fans forget that these professional athletes are still only humans. Humans who make mistakes, humans who have emotions and humans who are making huge sacrifices. These players are hard enough on themselves when they aren’t living up to their potential. Anyone who’s been watching this season has seen how hard this year’s team is on itself. I don’t know that I have seen this much passion in a Jays team in a long time and it is something I can’t help but respect. I feel bad for the players when they are so hard on themselves, but I am so proud of them for caring that much about the game, about the team and about the fans.

I will continue to watch all of the Jays games and support the Blue Jays til the bitter end. Sure I will be frustrated at times over bad plays or missed opportunities, but I will always support my team and believe that they will triumph. I will continue to follow them on twitter, and make them trend nationwide whenever possible. I will continue to hope that people will realize that their idolized players are only human and that words hurt and they make an impact. We are fans and we are here to pick up our team when they are down. We are here to have faith in our boys of summer, when they have lost faith in themselves. We are here to talk trash of the Yankees and Red Sox in honour of our boys in blue.

So with that, LETS GO BLUE JAYS! Time to get the Rays back on their losing streak and give die-hard Jays fans something to really cheer about!

What’s in a Name? #JLC

So as many have probably already read in the London Free Press the naming rights of the John Labatt Centre expire in 2012.

With the naming rights of the now John Labatt Centre set to expire in 2012, local big businesses have an open door to step up and rename one of the cities more recognizable landmarks, but is it worth it?

Since opening its doors in 2002 the John Labatt Centre has been referred to by patrons as the John Labatt Centre, the JLC or even at times jokingly as “The John”. By the time the naming rights expire next year the building will have undergone a decade of branding under the John Labatt brand.

The Labatt brand was a well established brand long before the London Arena was erected. The Labatt Brewing Company Ltd. was founded in 1847 in London Ontario and though having changed ownership (now owned by Anheuser-Busch Inbev) it is still a homegrown company that people from the London area are proud of.

So with the naming rights now up for ‘auction’, I can’t help but wonder if a name change will be beneficial for anyone besides the arena owners. After baring the extremely strong Labatt brand for the last 10 years, the first ten years for the building, re-branding could be a challenge.

1) The John Labatt Centre has only ever been the John Labatt Centre. Even if the branding is changed to something else the building will be referred to as the John Labatt Centre or JLC until the buildings target demographic ages out and is replaced by the younger generation who wasn’t aware of “The John Labatt Centre”. Or it will be referred to as the new brand with some disdain, eye rolling and a chuckle because it will always really be “The John Labatt Centre”. Further Labatt’s held the naming rights for a decade. It is possible that the ownership of the arena will only sell naming rights for a decade at a time, to allow for increased income every ten years by hopefully increasing the value of the venue. So if the naming rights can only be maintained for a decade and it takes longer than a decade for the original branding to fade from the memory of the venues patrons then the second round of branding (2012-2022) will be rendered somewhat ineffective or inconsequential at least.

2) Using a local company like Labatt’s creates a local identity for the venue. If someone like TD or Libro comes in and buys the rights, all of the sudden the JLC doesn’t quite feel like ‘our own’. Yes Labatt’s is Canada’s largest brewery, but it is uniquely London. Whereas TD and Libro, while there are branches in London are not uniquely London. It has the feeling of a big city corporation coming in and buying up a piece of our home, stealing a piece of our local identity. It makes the magical venue that houses the Knights and hosts dozens upon dozens of acts throughout the year, seem overly generic and faceless. And even an individual takes over the naming rights, like local developer Shmuel Farhi I think people might view it was a greedy individual seeking power, control and even more money.

3) I can’t help but think of the Skydome, or rather “The Rogers Centre”. The home of the Toronto Blue Jays was known as the Skydome from its opening until 2005 when the name change occurred after a change in ownership transpired. Blue Jays fans from 20 years old and up still refer to the stadium as the Skydome, begrudgingly correcting themselves to call it Rogers Centre, often with an eye roll or grimace. Fans were annoyed when the big corporation of Rogers came in and changed the identity of the beloved home of the Blue Jays. Many fans I know continuously say the stadium will always been the Skydome to them. I would assume many would feel the same about the John Labatt Centre, not wanting to betray the original identity and the memories associated with it.

4) If the naming rights of this arena go up on the auction block every 10 years or so, branding is going to lose value. People are either going to stop caring about the branding all together or they are going to grow annoyed with the branding, which either way, will be of no benefit to the person or company who owns the naming rights at the time or in the future, if it is someone besides Labatt. In turn this could affect the arena itself. People will see the arena as always looking to make a buck instead of caring about the history of the venue and the people who were there for it. It will seem like the venue is disregarding the events that helped to build the brand and reputation that defines the John Labatt Centre

Now renaming could be successful, but the company or individual who buys the naming rights will have to do something to woo the patrons into believing the value of the new brand is worth their support.

Maybe a ” *new name* Summer Bash” (like the Labatt Summer Bash in 2003) would do it, maybe not. But it is for certain merely slapping the new name on the front of the building will not change the name of the John Labatt Centre as far as patrons are concerned.