As the last week of Major League Baseball’s regular season begins, The Toronto Blue Jays have clinched at least a Wild Card spot – their first playoff appearance since 1993. By the end of the week, they may be the AL East champions. Fans and local businesses are ecstatic and planning for even bigger things. Concur’s Canada team is feeling the fever – we were at Rogers Centre last Wednesday when they shut out the Yankees, 4-0. In the picture above, you can see how packed the park was, and get a sense of the electricity when everybody was out of their seats.
Friday Night Lights
The magic night was Friday, September 25, when the Jays beat Tampa Bay at home, 5-3. But the mathematics of baseball delayed the celebrations. As bleacherreport.com explains there was some confusion with who would clinch the Wild Card given the closeness in the standings between Toronto, Texas and Anaheim. Still, Concur Regional Sales Executive Rick Sandhu, who was at that game, says “the energy was absolutely electric.The entire crowd was buzzing with the realization that something truly special is happening in the city right now. The crowd is completely bought in.”
By the end of the game on Saturday, there was no doubt. It took them eight pitchers and three home runs, but Toronto beat Tampa Bay 10-8 to go to the post-season playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Manager John Gibbons gave MLB.com a sense of what a playoff berth means – especially to the team’s veterans who’ve given so much to get to this moment. “…some tough years, some lean years here” Gibbons noted. “They had done their part and there wasn’t enough to get the team over the top. It will be very rewarding and will be a chance for the whole world to see what those guys are about.”
Wins all around
The winning streak is spilling out of the ballpark. As The Globe and Mail noted more than a month ago, the Blue Jays’ “…surge into serious postseason contention…is boosting the fortunes of businesses near Rogers Centre, too.”The Globe and Mail quoted the bar manager at a local restaurant, Federico Munoz, as saying “We are seeing almost twice as many customers. It’s been a full house here every night there is a game.” Munoz pointed out that when the team wins, fans are inclined to stay in the neighborhood and celebrate. “When they lose” he said, “everyone just wants to go home. Right now they are winning, and that’s a win for us, too.”
All that buzz is mushrooming the team’s value to advertisers. In a September 10 article, The Globe and Mail noted that the number of viewers has tripled over last year. Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL properties for Rogers Communications Inc., which owns the team, said: “If we were delivering 170,000, 180,000 [viewers aged] 25-54 per game last season, we’re now somewhere in the area of 600,000 to 700,000.” More eyes translates to a lot more money: “If you were buying ads now” Moore told The Globe and Mail, “you’re paying triple-digit increases versus what you would pay at the beginning of the season.”
The Jays are on the road for the rest of the week – in Baltimore through Wednesday the 30th, they travel Thursday, and play the Rays again in Tampa Bay on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mathematically, they could eliminate the Yankees and clinch the AL East title well before that last game. Then it’s on to the playoffs, and…who knows? As Concur’s Rick Sandhu says: “We’ve thrown all our support behind the notion that ‘WE CAN.’ And the players have too!”
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