September 07, 2012

Go Jays Go: A Religious Conversion

With college football season in full swing, this is obviously an unusual time for a baseball post. Furthermore, it is especially odd for a post on two second division teams, as opposed to a discussion of the exciting pennant races.

Nonetheless, I thought I would use this opportunity as a sacramental “rite of publication” to memorialize my formal repudiation of my former team, the New York Mets, and my wholehearted acceptance of my new team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Through this post, I reject Mr. Met and all his false promises, while professing my belief in Ace (the little known Blue Jays mascot). In doing so, I realize that I am breaking one of Bill Simmons’s cardinal rules of fandom. Still, I think the following reasons are sufficiently valid to justify an exception to this rule.

Why Give Up On The Mets?

Before going into details on why I have quit on the Mets, please understand that I have not been a casual fan. Rather, I have been a devoted, as in someone who watches over 100 games per year, Mets fan since approximately 1992. While a student at Notre Dame in 2000, I left the Stanford game after a quarter to watch Game 3 of the NLDS. I have enjoyed the limited good and suffered through the substantial bad, but now it is time to make a clean break. Why?

A.  The Wilpons

The overwhelming factor in this decision is my complete, irrepressible disdain for the Mets owners, Jeff and Fred Wilpon, both of whom are tried and true Michigan Men™. Simply put, the Wilpons are dishonest, incompetent, disgusting criminals, who, with the help of Bud Selig, continue to cling stubbornly to the franchise they do not deserve. During the salad days (by Mets standards) of 2006, the Wilpons were able to mask their fecklessness by using their Madoff money to create a massive spending advantage in a sport that suffers from a competitive imbalance. Unfortunately for Mets denizens, the Ponzi-fueled well has run dry, leaving only bad hiring decisions, a galling lack of awareness (e.g., adorning Citi Field with Dodgers regalia and failing to include any recognition of Mets history) and backhanded comments at star players. I do not want to be a part of this.

B.  I (Only) Love (Upstate) New York

Professional athletes, unlike college athletes, are essentially paid mercenaries. To cheer for a professional team, therefore, there must be some sort of nexus or shared connection between fan and team to stir the passions of the former. Logically, this takes the form of civic or regional pride.

The problem for me? I hate New York City. It is a stinking, crowded, expensive, unfriendly dump of a city, surpassed only by Boston in its terribleness. I adore my hometown of Rochester, and it is of course located in New York, but it is as close to NYC as it is to at least 5 other major league cities. More importantly, Rochester has far more in common with other rust belt cities such as Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, Detroit and even South Bend than it does with Gotham. In fact, I would wager that most New York City residents could not spot Rochester on a map.

With an ownership group, fan base and city that I don’t like, there is no justifiable reason to continue supporting the Mets. It’s not like I’m giving up on championships either.

Why Support the Blue Jays?

A. Historical Affinity

Despite being a Mets fan primarily, I have always had a soft spot for the Blue Jays that was suppressed primarily by a lack of television coverage in a pre-MLB Extra Innings world. My first vivid World Series memory is jumping off the couch after Joe Carter buried the Phillies with a game winning home run in 1993. Also, with Toronto being the closest major team to Rochester, I have been able to attend several very enjoyable games at the Rogers Centre (nee Sky Dome).  While the Rogers Centre tends to get low marks as a venue, mostly for its sterility, it embodies everything that is awesome about Canada: clean, friendly and unique. Toronto rocks too.


Beyond that, the Jays are objectively awesome. The iconic uniforms, the underdog ethos in a division with two deep-pocketed behemoths, the proud but short history, “Go Jays Go,” the use of “centrefield” on a scoreboard, etc. It all works, and spectacularly.

B. Surname: Can(ada)field

Although I am an American, my Canadian roots run deep (cue Ice Cube). Through the magic of ancestral research performed by my father, it turns out that my great-great-great-great-great grandfather was the first Attorney General of Prince Edward Island, an amazing provice from where my grandfather hails.  As soon as I can get the paperwork in order, I will proudly finalize my application for dual citizenship.  Hell, I even tried to convince my fiancee to get married in Charlottetown. 

Oh, and the coup de grace?  The provincial bird of Prince Edward Island is the blue jay. 

I love everything about Canada. I love Tim Horton’s, poutine, hockey, snow, maple trees, the QEW highway, the unique font on Kit Kat bars made in Canada, Labatt, the French language, “O’ Canada,” the beautiful Canadian flag, the British Commonwealth and corresponding orders of merit, colo(u)rful currency and the overt sexism of Alex Trebek. It all works, and spectacularly.

The Upshot

2012 is obviously a lost year for the Jays, but they have gained a loyal, diehard fan for life, which makes it a net win. As winter hits, I will be glued to the hot stove in the hopes that the Jays can upgrade their team, heal themselves and get ready for a run at the AL East in 2013.

Au revoir Mets and, of course, Go Jays Go!

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