In America we’re used to hearing about how baseball is the “Great American Pasttime” and as hockey fans we’ve (mostly) accepted our role that our favorite sport isn’t just going to club sports fans over the head and make them watch it.
In Canada, however, life is a little different as was evidenced in Toronto last night when the Toronto Blue Jays drew just over 11,000 fans for a home game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim while the Toronto Maple Leafs drew 18,556 for a preseason game against the Ottawa Senators.
Take that, baseball! Canada won’t love you again until next July.
If you needed to have the priorities spelled out any clearer for how much hockey means to sports fans in Canada, in Toronto especially, there’s no real way to do it unless you sat in the stands at Rogers Centre for a Blue Jays game and saw how many fans camped out in the stands in Leafs gear.
We’re just bummed out there aren’t Montreal Expos games anymore for Habs fans to hang out at and do the “Olé!” chant during the doldrums of the season. As Chris Johnston finds out from Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, even the Jays players are pumped up for hockey to start.
Baseball players know where they stand in the city and weren’t surprised to learn the Leafs came on top in the fan department.
“I know that Canada is pro hockey and they’re just starting up,” said Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia. “So I’m just as pumped as everybody else. If I didn’t have to goaltend tonight I would have been at the game as well.”
Yes, Arencibia is the Jays catcher and he called it goaltending. Guess we weren’t paying attention at how wild Jays pitching has been. Toronto is, and always will be, a hockey city and that’s a major reason why a lot of people figure having two NHL teams in Toronto could work out. Besides, having a second team in town to challenge the Leafs and their astronomical ticket prices could work out for all the fans. Hey, they might even get a winning team there on top of it all.