There is a certain feeling in the air in Toronto about this year's Blue Jays team. Jose Bautista is coming off his second straight season as the American League's home run king while the Blue Jays' farm system is jam-packed with top prospects such as Anthony Gose and Travis D'Arnaud. Finally, ownership has given Alex Anthopolous the resources to become a player in free agency.
This gives the Blue Jays a realistic chance at signing top free agents Prince Fielder or Yu Darvish.
These are not exactly new ideas for the Blue Jays. They have had All-Stars before, their farm system has produced very good players such as Alex Rios and Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays have made big free agent signings in the past such as Frank Thomas and Troy Glaus.
However, this time around, it seems like this Blue Jays team is innately "Toronto" and connects to the fan base like no Blue Jays team before.
The first, and arguably the most overlooked part of the rebirth of the franchise, is the logo and jersey rebranding. This offseason, the Blue Jays introduced a modernized version of the uniforms that they wore during their two World Series runs. To no surprise, this renaissance was met with rave reviews.
Although the uniforms are not exactly the same, they are close enough that a hat, jersey or T-shirt is surely on every Torontonian's Christmas list. The uniforms remind fans of the magic from nearly 20 years ago; now fans can create a link between their former heroes to their current ones.
Each time Jose Bautista puts one over the fence in the Rogers Centre in his new number 19 split-scrit jerseys, fans will be reminded of the old number 19, 1993 World Series Most Valuable Player, Paul Molitor.
Secondly, the young Blue Jays stars have used social media to connect to the fan base in a way that former Blue Jays never had the opportunity to. J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, Ricky Romero and Jose Bautista have used Twitter to connect with a fan base in a way that resonates with them.
In fact, as I write this article, and watch the Maple Leafs, my Twitter feed shows a tweet from Arencibia stating, "Yeahhhhh and power play coming up!!!! Not over till the fat lady sings!!!" just as Phil Kessel scores.
It is no secret that nothing matters more in Toronto than the Maple Leafs, and to see the Blue Jays showing their support for the Leafs shows the City of Toronto that every player on the Blue Jays is one of them.
In fact, the Blue Jays have befriended the Maple Leafs through Twitter with the creation of #TeamUnit, a Toronto sports fraternity consisting of the city's biggest young stars. Whether its asking fans for Fantasy Hockey advice, or tweeting pictures of Tyler Bozak at batting practice. The young Blue Jays are showing that they are proud to play for, and represent, the City of Toronto.
Finally, the Blue Jays' rebirth is led by a national hero, British Columbia's own, Brett Lawrie. Every city has and needs a player that represents its city. New York has Derek Jeter, the calm and collected Shortstop who grew up a Yankees fan and is unfazed by the big lights of New York City.
Minnesota has Joe Mauer, the St. Paul native who was an All-State athlete in three different sports. Although Lawrie is not from Toronto, he connects with the city through Canada's national pride. The Blue Jays' number one marketing scheme is to market themselves as Canada's team.
They represent a nation, not just one city, as the only major league team in the country. It is only fitting that (although he hates to be called it) "The Saviour" comes from the other side of the country, but still connects with this team on a personal level.
The entire country loves Brett Lawrie and Brett Lawrie loves Canada. He has been willing to represent the country in international events such as the World Baseball Classic and the Baseball World Cup.
Ultimately, unless the Blue Jays show that they can contend with the Yankees and the Red Sox in the American League East, the excitement will eventually die out. However, the optimism that it can be done this year is higher than ever. That optimism will fill seats, and maybe give the team the moral support to play their first playoff game since Joe Carter "touched them all."