Saturday, December 24, 2011

2012 Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of my favourite teams in baseball and I've been following them fairly closely since the late 90's, but unfortunately for the team that's when things started to get weird. Although people are familiar with the team's most recent uniforms, most people just can't help but think of their original logos and uniforms when they look at the team, and this is how people assume they should be and fulfills the comfort level for the fanbase. Much like the San Diego Padres, the fanbase in Toronto would in a majority wear the old logos, jerseys, and caps over the current uniforms, so by the 2012 season the team gave the fans what they have been asking for.

The Toronto Blue Jays have had a rich history in Toronto and after going back-to-back in World Championships in 1992 and 1993 the team was hurt fairly badly due to the 1994 MLBPA strike that struck the sport causing the last 6 weeks of the season and the cancellation of the World Series. The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the more well known and more successful expansion teams that have come about in Baseball, and they continue to fall into the shadows of the American League East.

Following the strike attendance was down and the team felt that they needed to change the uniforms slightly to get more people interested in the team and a few slight changes were made to over emphasize the Canadian Maple Leaf, but unfortunately the uniform changes weren't enough to take the bad taste of baseball greed out of their mouths and the team continued to stumble. The team was more than less thought of as a failure which didn't allow them to finish anywhere better than 3rd place in the American League Eastern Division, and much like the previous late decade there was little interest in the team.

Following the 2003 season, the uniforms were such a failure that they were changed immediately, the fanbase felt disconnected and the ownership wasn't doing much to keep them interested in the team. Following roaring Steroid Era in baseball it seemed like the Toronto Blue Jays needed to change their image to a juicing bird holding a bat with the Canadian Maple Leaf tattooed on his arm; by the way, since when did birds have arms? The general consensus in Toronto and it's fanbase hated the uniforms but they looked at them with a blind eye because they just felt that the uniforms weren't that far off, but weren't so drastic to get truly upset about them although the uniforms were not what they were used to or what they wanted. With a new year in place the team attempted to change the uniforms once again, but this was a complete uniform reconstruction that removed all history of the original uniforms and created a more stylish and modern look. The fans were no longer interested, the team had a difficult time getting people into the stadium and the Blue Jays were hurting more than a large majority of the MLB teams.

For the first time the Blue Jays walked onto the field without the Canadian Maple Leaf on their uniform at all on Opening Day for the 2004 season, this was extremely disturbing to the Toronto Fan Base, especially since the Expos left the nation two years later; by 2009 the team began wearing a Maple Leaf patch on their jersey shoulder. These new uniform logos consisted of a sharp Blue Jay's bird head coming out of the stylized “J” which led many of the old time fans to call them the J-Birds, which hints at what they thought of the team. The original hats that were worn for home were a base grey and the away were a base black, but this only lasted for two seasons in which the grey was retired and the black was made their home and away cap, and a stylized “T” logo was made as an away alternative cap.

During the later part of the decade the team began to wear throwbacks to the uniforms prior to 1997 and they were a huge hit for the team, the fanbase loved them and for the first time in Toronto history the stadium began to fill up once again. Following the 2011 season the team promised to put Blue back into Blue Jays, and that's exactly what they had done. No longer were the dominant colours Grey and Black, but were once again Blue and White. The uniform scheme borrowed heavily from their original roots and modernized them creating one of the freshest caps in the MLB and many consider this to be the best On-Field cap that is currently on the market. The cap is a base Navy Blue and utilizes a familiar logo on the front, which is a modernized version of the original team logo.

The front embroidery of the cap is one of the freshest currently in baseball, it utilizes many different levels to create multiple details that would have been previously ignored in earlier years. The bird's blue jay is outlined with a white boarder which flows into the head of the bird, which creates three different layers of stylized feathers that are held in place between the raised embroidery of the black beak and neck area along with the blue crest. The Canadian Maple Leaf is also raised embroidery and tits itself right behind the bird's head, this portion of the cap also utilizes its own white outline much like the logo all together, but it's outline is layered higher than the original and overlaps rather than blends. This style of embroidery permits the Canadian Maple Leaf to subtly emit its dominance in the logo without over-sizing it or giving it strange placements much like the past few uniform changes.

The 2012 Toronto Blue Jays cap quickly became one of my favourite MLB On-Field Caps and I hunted for the cap up until I finally was able to pre-order it on the website Minor Leagues Major Dreams (item #9432512). Being a Toronto Blue Jays fan it is extremely refreshing to see the logo, especially because the previous uniform incarnations were either downright stupid and/or embarrassing. Being in Las Vegas and a current season ticket holder of the Triple-A Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Las Vegas 51s, the upcoming season should be extremely exciting to see the new logo take over the current team and hopefully spark interest in changing Las Vegas' current team and uniform.

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