Here we are entering the 30th season of the Rogers Center existence, and while much has changed since its opening, the artificialness of the playing surface remains the same, and likely will even after renovations are completed.
Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. I hate it too. It’s just that lately one gets a sense that any renovations that do take place will likely revolve around aesthetics and fan experience at the games. Those things make money for ownership. We have heard from Blue Jays management that installing real grass at Rogers Centre would be a colossal undertaking, with no guarantees of success. They had the University of Guelph study the physics behind if its even possible, and the results did not seem to have pushed the issue any further into reality.
The fact is, nobody is going to spend that kind of money with no guarantee of results, as that’s bad business.
So where does that leave us?
On artificial turf, and likely for a long time.
Now if for just a moment we can put aside all of the negative associations we have in our minds about artificial turf and bring a clear mind into this, I can make a case for how an artificial turf can give the Blue Jays a distinct advantage over other teams while playing at home.
How will they be able to gain that advantage? By embracing artificial turf and installing it at as many minor league Blue Jays affiliates parks as possible. Also when the renovations for the spring training facility in Dunedin start, I would make the case for installing artificial turf there as well.
The Boston Red Sox are aware that the Green Monster in left field can cause issues for hitters who are unaccustomed to it. So they went ahead and built Green Monsters at their Greenville, Pawtucket, and JetBlue facilities. Now when their players reach the big’s they not only are at ease hitting with the Green Monster at Fenway, they thrive at it.
Can you imagine a scenario where Blue Jays players come into the majors and already have 3-5 years experience playing on an artificial surface. Surely this would give them a massive advantage for adapting to the playing surface. Also with artificial turf being less forgiving on the player’s body, it could give players a chance to see what they can and cannot do successfully on the artificial turf without causing injury.
By adding it to the Dunedin spring training field, it would give the players a jump-start on gaining a feel for the playing surface which could translate to early success during the regular season. For new players brought in during the offseason it gives them a good amount of time in the spring to get used to the different bounces and nuances that come with an artificial turf.
Maybe we even save out on a few sprinkler head injuries.
Look, I hate fake grass too. It sucks. But for us Jays fans, the artificial turf is not going anywhere. So I say let’s go all in. Lets embrace the hell out of this unique turf and turn it into an advantage. Let’s train every single one of our upcoming Blue Jays to be so dominant on that artificial surface so that when they make the big’s they come out flying. Other teams players will always hate it, and that’s why we need to embrace it fully. Our players will be “born” on it, and use that knowledge and experience to beat other teams regularly on it.
That’s how you build a winning product, from the ground up.