The Red Jays?
Depending on how Toronto's upcoming jersey redesign goes, there's a chance we could be calling them that. As the only major league team north of the border, the Blue Jays have lately not been shy about their future marketing strategy.
Namely, they really want to drive home the idea that the Jays are "Canada's team." It's a plan that has some in Toronto predicting that national pride — read: the colors of the Canadian flag — will be a key element in the Jays' new uniforms.
Jays players, who wore red caps [and jerseys] during the Canada Day weekend series in Toronto, could have a more pronounced maple leaf and red and white colours on the uniform to capture characteristics of the Canadian flag. The Jays have been wearing a bright red maple leaf on the right sleeve of their uniforms since the 2009 season.
I can't say I'd be a big fan of any Jays uniform with red as the primary color. Canada Day is one thing, but, y'know, they're called the Blue Jays for a reason. Put 'em in red and I think it'd be the poorest color choice since the Mets and Reds stubbornly bowed to mid-'90s fashion and adopted black jerseys.
It is not hard, however, to see why the Jays are going so hard after the fanship of their fellow countrymen. Paul White of USA Today wrote an extended piece on the topic earlier this week and it's a business strategy that has the potential to be something big.
As White points out, the Jays have the unique opportunity to create a Red Sox or Yankees-style television network with Rogers Communications owning the team.
And even though the Jays already play in the league's fourth-largest media market, the team estimates that it can tap a population the size of California — without having to compete with four other teams, of course.
From USA Today:
"The only business model that works for the Blue Jays is to be Canada's team," says Jim Bloom, former marketing director for the Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. "There are still baseball fans in Montreal (a city the Expos left in 2004). There are still baseball fans in other parts of the country. It does have to be marketed that way."
Hockey is king, of course, in Canada and that's a fact that will never change. But if the Jays — led by Canadian product Brett Lawrie(notes) — can even get a little slice of the nationalism that helps to fuel hockey's popularity, we're talking a lot of eyeballs. With head honcho Paul Beeston hinting that the team's payroll could increase over future seasons in a big attempt to go after the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, that increased market share could go a long way in improving the team's chances at its first playoff spot since the glory of the early '90s.