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Volume 90, Issue 87

Tuesday, March 11, 1997

signals


SPORTS
 

Column:The Canadian Blue Jays?

By Alex Chiang
Gazette Staff

Toronto's loss is Canada's gain – or so the newly designed emblem that will represent the Blue Jays for the upcoming season implies.

During the off-season, the Jays' marketing staff felt it would be a wise financial move to revamp the two-decade old logo for the first time in franchise history in an attempt to capture greater fan appeal.

The tiny maple leaf that once dangled like a fashionable earring on the familiar blue bird was blown up

and takes a more prominent role as the emblem's back drop. The blue jay was also given a modern, meaner look – a more pointed beak being an example of some of the touch-ups done.

Yet of all the changes, the most controversial was the decision to rub out the word Toronto.

The end result is that the new look logo seems to be designed for the Canadian Blue Jays and the T.O. gets the shaft. This evidently was the goal of Blue Jay marketing – the logo sports an abundance of red rather than the traditional blue and white.

Though many Torontonians disagree with the end product, it makes a lot of sense if the Jays are to maintain their image as Canada's team.

When the birds reached the World Series, Jay fans demonstrated their support all across the country. Canadians from both ends of the country made the pilgrimage to SkyDome for the Fall Classics of 1992 and 1993.

Many people in Vancouver, for instance, choose to root for the Blue Jays as opposed to the Seattle Mariners, who are much closer, because of the Canadian factor.

The Jays have become a symbol of our cultural distinctiveness. This was exemplified by the dubbing of the World Series those years as a Canadian-American battle. The irony is that Rob Butler was the only Canadian player on the team at the time, while this year's team boasts only two Canadians – pitchers Paul Quantrill and Paul Spoljaric.

The Blue Jays are a classic example of Canadians attempting to establish a representation of their culture. It's the classic ideology that has become instilled in people's minds – being Canadian means not being American.

Winning baseball's most prized trophy gave Canadians the sense that they were beating Americans at their own game. After all, nothing is more cliché than apple pie and the good ol' ball game. Yet can the Jays really be Canada's team?

Toronto's players do not want to be treated differently. They were deeply offended in 1992 when President Bill Clinton did not immediately make the traditional phone call to congratulate the team and invite them to visit the White House.

How can anyone blame the president for not knowing whether it was appropriate to perform the annual tradition? If it truly was a Canadian-American confrontation, then why should the team receive kudos from the leader of the enemy? Couldn't Ottawa have started a new ritual by inviting the team to Sussex Drive?

It doesn't do any harm for Canadians to think that the Jays are Canada's team, but it is by no means comparable to hockey for example, where Canadian teams are made up of predominantly native players.

If getting rid of the word Toronto will drum up even more support for the Jays and give all Canadians something to pull for, then the new logo should do wonders for national unity, not to mention the financial benefits for the Blue Jay franchise.

The players who come north of the 49th, are here because they are paid to play baseball. Nowhere in their contract does it say they must accept the role

of becoming ambassadors of Canada.


To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997