One thing I love about Spring Training is the unparalleled fan access to players. Being down at TD Ballpark in March is every Blue Jays fan’s dream as you can get up close to players and personnel, with the hopes of getting a chance to have some conversations or get some autographs. But even if you can’t be there you still get more exposure to your team than usual thanks to great social media content, mid-inning interviews during broadcasts, and even mic’d up gems.
If you’ve ever watched an athlete mic’d up segment you know they’re awesome. Getting to hear these players talking in the dugout or on the diamond is a great way to bring fans closer to their favourite athletes and teams than ever before. It’s like being a fly on the wall, listening to these millionaire superstar athletes shooting the shit about who knows what. They could be talking about what they made for dinner the night before or their new skincare routine, and I’d still be all ears.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 31, 2021
We recently got a new Jays player mic’up segment this Spring Training, and it came from infielder Santiago Espinal. I’ve become a big fan of Espinal since he made that bare-handed catch (which raised my heart rate by a billion BPM) to clinch the club’s first win back at the Rogers Centre after nearly 700 days, and his stock only rose from that point forward in my eyes. He crushed left-handed pitching last season to the tune of a .348 batting average, and accumulated 2.5 WAR which is incredible given he only had 222 at-bats.
He also has a vacuum for a glove so he’ll have no trouble playing more second base now that Matt Chapman will be the everyday guy at the hot corner. The way Espinal hits southpaws so well makes me think him and Cavan Biggio will make for a perfect platoon.
You can tell Espi isn’t the most charismatic in front of the camera, but kudos for him for taking the mic on and giving us some good content. Bo Bichette could sense his awkwardness and gave him a hard time which was funny to see, and I loved hearing Ross Atkins’ “DAMN!” after Espinal told him that he bulked up during the offseason. My favourite part by far is when he goes up to Hazel Mae, who’s possibly the most professional and composed on-field reporter I’ve ever seen, and tells her “I have a mic. No bad words okay?”. The guy’s got some jokes.
Mic’d up segments have really taken off in recent years across sports and continue to be well-received by fans. It’s something I’ll always watch when it pops up on my timeline. I think it’s such a great way to bridge the gap between fans and players in this age where consumers crave constant connectedness when it comes to stuff they care about. While we continue to get more and more access to our favourite athletes and teams, it begs me to ask “why not more?”.
We’ve seen how successful such behind-the-scenes content has done in sports media. Formula 1 has reached unprecedented levels of popularity in North America thanks to their hit Netflix series “Drive to Survive”. NFL’s “Hard Knocks” on HBO is usually a big hit too, and they tried to take it one step further this past year by expanding the pre-season docuseries into the regular season as well. I’m a big fan of “Open Gym” which gives us an unfiltered look at the Toronto Raptors, and the Maple Leafs were given their own season of a similar show on Prime Video with “All or Nothing” in 2021. I can’t imagine Leafs fans liked the finale, however.
All I’m saying is that if the Blue Jays did more player mic’d up segments or had their own all-access video series it would be a HIT. Especially given the hype surrounding this team whose hopes are sky-high heading into this season. Not only would it be a win for the fan but the organization could also financially benefit from a stronger consumer base. More access means a greater opportunity for fans to develop even more attachment to their ballclub and the players, which could boost jersey and ticket sales. Not to mention that as a diehard fan I would have no problem paying a stupid amount to watch a Jays rendition of “Open Gym”.
Check out these mic’d up clips from last season and tell me how much fun they are. You might remember them but they’re worth another watch. Vladdy is HILARIOUS and hearing him and Teo ripping on Springer for his thinning hair in the second one is so good. What’s stopping the Blue Jays from putting together some more of these??
Hopefully the Blue Jays realize how much the fans love the access we get from player mic’d up segments and keep pumping them out throughout this season. If they can get their creative team to step up and give us more exposure of our favourite Jays I think it’d be a big win for everyone.