“Take me out …”

As a result of the Jays losing nine in a row, as well as the J.P. Ricciardi-B.J. Ryan fiasco, the crowds have been sparse at the Rogers Centre since the club returned Tuesday to begin a nine-game homestand. After drawing well on ‘Toonie Tuesday’, only 21,784 turned out to see the Jays-Red Sox on Wednesday, and just 22,290 took in Thursday’s Roy Halladay-Tim Wakefield matchup. And finally, despite snapping their losing streak, the Jays drew just 20,542 against the Devil Rays tonight — their lowest attendance on a Friday night this season.

Skydome Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come. After all, the Blue Jays have witnessed an increase in attendance every year since 2002. As well, last year’s overall mark of 2,302,212 was the club’s highest since 1998.

At any rate, neither of these totals come close to what Toronto enjoyed during the ‘glory years’ — both on the field and at the gates — between 1989-1993.

In fact, the club set attendance records in each of those campaigns, capped off by a count of 4,057,947 in 1993. During that remarkable run, the Jays witnessed 60 consecutive sellouts between May 18, 1990 and April 8, 1991 (Opening Day). Indeed, even ‘500 Level’ tickets were in great demand during that stretch.

The initial hoopla surrounding SkyDome is now long gone. As well, despite recent ‘aesthetic improvements’, there’s no denying that Rogers Centre remains near the bottom in the American League in terms of ‘ballpark beauty’. Sure, it bests Tropicana Field and the Metrodome; but comes nowhere close to Camden Yards or Jacobs Field, let alone the baseball ‘museums’ in the AL like Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.

Still, there is a lot to be enjoyed at a baseball game in Toronto. However, it’s no secret: winning will put more fans in the seats. But, despite an almost inconceivable amount of injuries, this current Blue Jay ball club is still good enough to win its share of games. Will they win enough to keep the fans coming? Only time will tell. But A.J. Burnett definitely took a step in the right direction Friday night.

Just hours after learning that fellow teammate and Blue Jay ace Roy Halladay will miss 4-6 weeks with appendicitis, No. 2 man A.J. Burnett delivers perhaps his best outing of the season, striking out 10 and allowing just a single run in 6.2 innings, finally putting an end to the Jays’ nine-game skid … As if the Jays need more bad news, third baseman Troy Glaus pulls up lame running to first base in the opening frame and leaves the contest … Lyle Overbay continues to swing the bat better, going 2-for-3 on the night … Leadoff hitter Alex Rios hits his team-leading seventh home run of the season … Among the many question marks that remain on this Blue Jay ball club include the complete lack of offense out of the shortstop position. John McDonald gets the nod on Friday night and goes 0-for-4, making him 1-for-25 (.040) over his last nine games … Dustin McGowan looks to make it two in a row tomorrow at 1:07 pm …

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