Takin' a T/O with BT: Bring Baseball in Toronto Back to Canada Day

xx yySenior Writer IJuly 2, 2008

Canada Day and baseball used to go hand-in-hand for me.

I can remember back in 1997 when I was supposed to see Roger Clemens go up against the Montreal Expos on Canada Day. My dad tore his ACL the week before so we couldn't go, but the All-Canadian matchup was something that was meaningful to everyone watching game.

There weren't displaced fans of the Cubs, Red Sox, or Yankees there, but fans who wanted to drink in the heritage and enjoy the two clubs who displayed the Maple Leaf so proudly, squaring off in Toronto.

The following year, the New York Mets came to town and the fireworks came early. It was a 15-10 Jays win, featuring an offensive explosion against the Mets relievers. Dan Pleasac picked up the win for the Jays, while the Expos took a trip to Boston.

Since then, however, the Jays have only played at home three times (this is since 1999) on Canada's birthday. Even with all of those away games though, not one was spent in Montreal against the Expos up to 2004 when the team folded and moved to Washington.

In the same time frame, the Expos only received three home games on the first as well. They didn't even get to spend their final Canada Day game in franchise history at home though, as they were in Pittsburgh.

You'd think that those who schedule the season would at least let Canada have its lone team on one of the biggest days of the year.

By the same account, the only teams to miss playing in America on the Fourth of July were the Florida Marlins in 2001 against the Expos and the 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Granted it's easier to schedule 15 American home games on a single day when there are 28 American-based teams. But by all accounts couldn't it have been easier to schedule two Canadian teams to play each other on the first day of the seventh month each season?

And since the Expos have left, it's become worse.

In 2004 the Jays were in Tampa Bay, followed by a trip to Boston in 2005. The next year, the Jays hosted the Philadelphia Phillies in the first Canada Day home game seen in Toronto since 2001. In the past two years they've played the late game in Seattle.

More and more it seems like Major League Baseball and Bud Selig care as much about the Jays as I do about Dr. Phil's crumbling marriage, Oprah Winfrey, and Ken Armer's Anaheim Duck suspenders—in other words not at all.

Would it be so difficult to toss a game Canada's way on the most historic day in our calendar year?

What's even worse is what the Jays organization has allowed this to become.

Years ago, they'd design specific jerseys to be worn on Canada Day. The jerseys would sport a more dynamic color scheme that featured extra red and white, or perhaps the word "Canada" across the back instead of a players' name.

Now? We've got to settle for strange red trim on the jerseys or some ugly hat.

Even the lame gimmicks that are now all too common at Jays games could be acceptable on Canada Day, in place of a cartoon in which David Eckstein, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, AJ Burnett, and Lyle Overbay save two children trapped on a broken street car.

Or maybe they go back to an animated history when one home run was able to bring an entire country together, or when a group of plucky young baseball players is eager to play it out in a Canadian snowstorm.

You wouldn't only be educating the younger fans about your team's history, but you'd have the older fans reminiscing about more enjoyable times.

Instead, now you've got Canada's only baseball team playing in a foreign country on a meaningful day, alienating all of the fans unable to fly out to Seattle for the game.

Side Note: Another good idea would be to move the team around and have them play the game in a different part of Canada each year—you know, get the literal meaning of Northern exposure. That way British Columbia and the rest of the West wouldn't feel left out, and Montreal and the East could relive some old baseball memories.

It's just a thought.

To be honest, I'd love another Canadian team again—I simply adored the Expos. The problem is that another Canadian team isn't viable, so we've got to live with what we've got. Still, that's hard sometimes.

Maybe I just miss the little things like the jerseys, or the feeling of tuning into an afternoon game before heading off to a barbecue and fireworks. Maybe I'm just wanting to relive part of my childhood. Maybe I'm asking too much.

But I'm sure if you asked around, you'd find Pittsburgh Pirates fans, Cincinnati Reds fans, Cubs and White Sox fans, Mets and Yankees fans, and Brewers fans who feel a little disheartened every time they miss out on their favorite team playing a home game on their country's favorite holiday.

One day is all I'm asking for—and maybe a jersey that doesn't look like a reject from the Bram Tchaikovsky collection.


Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report and an NHL Community Leader. If you wish to get in contact with him, you can do so through his profile. You can also check out his archives here.


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