Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have garnered a very specific reputation of late. Whether this is accurate or not depends on who you ask, but the reputation I am referring to is that of the rowdy, obnoxious, and just generally classless fan. This sentiment was brought to the forefront during the deciding game of the 2015 American League Division Series, when a questionable call by the umpire resulted in fans throwing garbage on the field and booing loudly. I doubt many Jays fans would take that back however because it gave us this:
(CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
but I digress.
In the American League Wild card game in Toronto on Tuesday, a beer can was thrown at Baltimore Oriole’s outfielder Hyun Soo Kim as he tracked a fly ball. This type of incident would normally be treated with a ban from Rogers Center and nothing more. However, since the ALDS final last year the Blue Jays organization has made a concentrated effort to keep the fun loving image they have without the drunken mayhem that has started to become affiliated with them. The beer can toss happened two days ago, but the man has already been publicly identified, shamed, and had criminal charges pressed against him. Whether or not you think this is an appropriate way to conduct discipline against an unruly fan or not, the Blue Jays have drawn a line in the sand; have fun and behave according to our guidelines, or get banned and possibly more, as is the case here.
The top brass of the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball have since taken actions to force the fans of this team to behave themselves, even going so far as to discuss banning the sale of beer cans in Rogers Center. Fans could still throw their beer glasses, but the image would not be as malicious. The public image of this team has become an important issue, especially with their recent success. More and more people are becoming interested in the Jays as with any sports team that becomes successful, and let’s face it, Toronto sports fans have not had a lot to cheer about lately. With more people flocking to Canada’s baseball team, there needs to be leadership from the Blue Jays in terms of what kind of image they want to have. They have set a precedent, as they have effectively used social media to target this so-called fan who behaved poorly during a game and set a standard for the punishment of future misconduct. This man, who’s name has since been released but I won’t use it here, has drawn the ire of the Blue Jays and serves as an unfortunate example of the lengths that corporate entities are willing to go to preserve their desired public image. The Blue Jays public apology to the Oriole’s and various press releases concerning the incident along with their very public desire to cooperate with Toronto police in apprehending this man show that they are dead set on maintaining a respectable image, but we will see how well that works during this upcoming Rangers-Blue Jays series where tempers are sure to flare.