Is Rob Manfred Going to Announce an All-Star Game in Toronto?
Is there anything cooler and more nerve wracking than throwing out the first pitch at the Blue Jays Home Opener?
Over the years, they’ve had some pretty stellar guests take the mound; Geddy Lee and Roy Halladay to name a few. So didn’t it seem a little odd when it was announced yesterday that MLB’s new commissioner Rob Manfred would throw out the ceremonial first pitch?
There may be an ulterior motive for Manfred’s visit to Toronto in just under two weeks, and perhaps it might have to do with the Blue Jays being awarded an All-Star Game in 2018.
Clue Number One – The Commissioner is Coming
I like to think of the commissioner of a professional sport like the superintendent of a high school; they don’t often make an appearance. So when they do suddenly show up, that’s when you know something big is going down.
Rob Manfred is coming to Toronto to throw out the first pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener on Monday April 12th, which is a huge red flag in of itself.
Ceremonial first pitches at the Home Opener are usually reserved for former players, other sports figures or celebrities; they aren’t typically reserved for “suits”.
I can’t even remember the last time an MLB commissioner even visited Toronto. An event like this would would usually be reserved for bigger markets like New York, Boston or Los Angeles.
So the fact that Rob Manfred is not only coming to town, but that he’s also throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Jays Home Opener hints at something bigger going on.
Clue Number Two – The Grass Installation Timeline
MLB has announced where their All-Star Games will be taking place in 2016 and 2017, but they haven’t yet locked down a location for the 2018 Midsummer Classic.Coincidentally, the Blue Jays are targeting 2018 to have a grass field retrofitted into the Rogers Centre.
The research is currently being headed up by Eric Lyons at the University of Guelph. He noted that if the Blue Jays are to reach that 2018 target date, the grass will need to be planted this year.
I’m still not convinced they’ll be able to get it ready in time, but the promise of hosting an All-Star Game would certainly expedite the process of installing a grass field in the Rogers Centre.
Obviously the Blue Jays would love to have a lush, green field on display if they were to host an All-Star Game in the coming years, but Rob Manfred spoke with Jeff Blair and reiterated that a grass field might not even be necessary to secure the game.
“Who gets a game is really a product of who submits the most competitive bid for the game. I don’t think for example, whether you’re on artificial turf or grass given that it’s only one game would be a huge factor in that decision making process.”
It’s promising to hear Manfred say the artificial turf might not hinder the Blue Jays chances of winning an All-Star Game bid, but one has to think having a grass field ready for 2018 would significantly improve their chances.
Clue Number Three – The State of the Franchise Question
During the Blue Jays State of the Franchise held back in February, one of the preselected questions to be answered during the Q & A portion of the evening addressed the Blue Jays’ chances of bringing another All-Star Game back to Toronto.
Of all the questions submitted by season ticket holders, why would they choose that particular question to be asked unless the Blue Jays were preparing a bid to host a future All-Star Game?
To me, this hints that the Blue Jays are either in the process of submitting a competitive bid to host the Midsummer Classic, or they’ve already sent in their proposal and are making a very strong push to host the game in the near future.
Images courtesy of MLB.com and @granlama