There has always been a lot of talk on Blue Jays blogs about maple boners. I don’t consider myself to be sporting one of those. I’d really like the Jays to get the best player possible for each position, regardless of where they were born.
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to see Canada’s only MLB team chock full of Canadian players; I would. I wouldn’t like to see that because of some misguided notion that it might fill the SkyDome. No, I’d like to see it because, if it was done the right way, it would mean that Canada was producing a metric assload of talented players.
The Blue Jays, like it or not, have a big part to play in the development of Canadian baseball. For the most part, it’s an indirect role they have to play — get young Canadians interested in the game. The best way to do that is to do what they’re trying to do anyway: Win.
But every now and then, the Torontos go above and beyond the call of duty, even if not for altruistic purposes. The recent winter tour is a good example of that. I’m sure the team organized the trip to drum up interest in the Jays, but growing interest in the Jays also grows interest in the game. If a few more kids pick up ball gloves this summer because of that tour, the state of the game in Canada will be better on the whole.
Today, the Jays are taking on the Canadian Junior National Team in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s a game that ultimately means nothing — the Jays are only dressing two players who will definitely play in the majors this year (Aaron Hill and John McDonald) — but a game like this should go a long way toward inspiring the kids on the national junior team to put in that little bit of extra work that’s needed to reach the next level. Looking into the opponent’s dugout and seeing junior team alumni (Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen, Marcus Knecht and Michael Crouse) won’t hurt that cause, either.
Want to watch the game? Take it away, whoever you are that runs Baseball Canada’s twitter account: