Dear Fellow Fan,
As a teenager, even more misguided than I am today, I crafted a lengthy document entitled "The Hartford Proposal". It was an attempt to convey to then-management of the NHL's Hartford Whalers -- who were teetering on the edge of losing their team -- all the various tactics and strategies they could implement to broaden and enthuse their fan base. It was earnest and bold and progressive and never got sent.
A few years later they were the Carolina Hurricanes. "Never again," I vowed to myself, between games of RBI Baseball.
Today I am writing to you of a similarly urgent matter. At times I have come to you for guidance, for revelry, for community. We have shared suds in the good times and even more of them in the bad. We have a common bond, you and I. Our Mastercards are emblazoned with Blue Jays and we each know what WAMCO stands for, now and forever. We bleed baby blue.
This is an exciting time for us. As we surmised recently, with the acquisition of Colby Rasmus, the minor league trajectory of Brett Lawrie, and the indefatigable climb of Jose Bautista, the Jays are on the rise. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig wants to expand the current playoff setup to include at least one additional wild card team, freeing us from the spectre of the Red Sox and Yankees buying first and second place in the division and inhibiting our chances at the post-season.
Our minor league system is replete with talent at every level. Our current roster is loaded with promising developments. Some games the crowds even thicken to the level where we can get The Wave off the ground. The resurgence is real. The revolution both televised and webcast.
But something is amiss. Not long ago, you and I took part in the Roberto Alomar ceremony, sharing joy and spreading reminiscence as his number 12 was retired. Taunting us in 20-foot-high detail, there it was, on the video board, the missing link from the past and what we so desperately need moving forward.
Our original logo.
In 1997, with the team floundering -- as was much of baseball in the wake of the 1994 strike -- a desperate Blue Jays team, one that had grown accustomed to setting attendance records, gave up on itself. Twenty years of proud Toronto fans would be forced to acclimate to a new logo, then another cartoonish version in 2000, a total redesign in 2002, and again in 2004 and 2007, each one growing more faceless, more bereft of the championship quality of the original.
I'm as mad as Hell and I'm not going to take this anymore! (I feel you, Peter Finch.)
To be sure, the Blue Jays aren't the only championship team to tread in these murky waters. In 1995, coming off consecutive championships and boasting a reinvigorated fanbase, the NBA's Houston Rockets decided to pull the plug on their logo of 23 seasons, one that suddenly had victory in its stitching. The internet is awash with Houstonians pleading for the return of their former symbol. At least the Jays waited four years.
Would the Yankees dismiss their pinstripes? Never. When they struggled in the 1980s did they remove the stylized, overlapping "NY" on their caps? Fuhgeddaboudit. Time in between championships is just time in between championships.
(Sidebar: The altering of a uniform or logo almost always emerges as an act of desperation. I am an unabashed Atlanta Hawks fan, circa 1984-1994. They went through exactly what the Jays are going through. They had an easily identifiable logo, one that had been made famous (in their case) by the best player in the franchise's history -- Dominique Wilkins -- and it was bold and simple and classic. In 1995 both Dominique and the logo were gone, replaced by a host of imposters and eight logo variations in the past 13 seasons. The fanbase never recovered its pride. There is a lesson here. The Blue Jays, like the city itself, needs to have more self-respect.)
When the Jays first won in 1992 and again the next year, the logo and uniform were minted. Done. Forever a classic. Somewhere an 18-year-old Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner was thinking, "You just been pimped." Years of record-setting crowds, tiny bat giveaways and BJ Birdie-led "OK Blue Jays" chants had brought us to the promised land. We could wear our baby blues with the pride of victors.
When Alomar's number 12 was emblazoned on the field last weekend, as it was hung on an outfield banner, and as it was retired in a video tribute, the logo was ubiquitous alongside the line-within-a-line lettering that defines the Blue Jays style. It felt like old times but it also presented the glaringly awkward aspect of the moment: seeing the Jays of lore in the original uniforms and the smart variations of the late '80s and '90s, juxtaposed against the team's current threads, you and I couldn't help feel a shooting pang of disconnect through the entire event. Those damned faceless, italicized New Coke uniforms. I seethed. You seethed.
Now let me take us to the bridge. My purpose is less to gripe and more to force action. I am taking time out of my busy day of trivial contemplation and idle puzzling to write you. Time away from deliberately confusing my dog. Time away from checking and re-checking who of my friends posted drunken pictures from the long weekend. Quality time I'm taking.
We can make this happen. Bring back the old logo, not as a third jersey, sometimes-on-a-Friday type deal. We have to send a message. With a change to the post-season structure, a deep pool of emerging talent and a general manager in Alex Anthopoulos who is as impressive and trusted as his last name is tough to spell, we have our opening. We need the logo back for next year. Spring training. Pride back.
If you're with me, please treat the comment section below like a petition. Sign it and demand we bring the original Toronto Blue Jays logo back. The logo of Doug Ault's 1977 opening day two homers. The logo of 1978 Rookie of the Year Alfredo Griffin. The logo of Bobby Cox. The logo of the greatest outfield of the '80s, George Bell, The Shaker and Jesse Barfield. The logo of the Terminator, Tom Henke. The logo of the upstart 1985 division winners. The logo of WAMCO. The logo of the only team other than New York to win back-to-back championships in the past 35 years. The logo that brought out the colour in Roy Halladay's eyes. The logo that adorns the bronzed cap of Roberto Alomar Velazquez in Cooperstown. The logo that needs to be the logo of Joey Bats. The logo of Toronto.
Please sign and distribute. Let us bring the pride back without the cloying tactics of the Maple Leafs' "Spirit Is Everything" or "The Passion That Unites Us All" campaigns. Not necessary. All we need is a link to our championship past. One that we will be able to connect with our championship future.
And seriously, I can't look at that hideous italicized "T" for another season.
Much love and respect,
Follow Mike Gallay on Twitter: www.twitter.com/memachine