Gibbons: Toronto, as a baseball city, is ‘on fire right now’

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. (David J. Phillip/AP)

CLEVELAND — Toronto, as a baseball city, is red-hot according to Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

“You know, it’s on fire right now,” he told reporters Friday prior to Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against Cleveland. “I mean, we saw that last year. But when I first arrived, my first year on the job there was 2002, and our teams weren’t very good.

“And the attendance was down. But I probably wouldn’t have paid money to see a team that wasn’t very good, either, honestly. I couldn’t blame them for that.”

Times have changed. Toronto drew 3.92 million to the Rogers Centre this season, averaging 41,878. There were 39 sellouts.

“You put a legitimate team out there that’s competing at the end, they’ll show up,” Gibbons said. “That’s what happened last year at the end of the season. And then, of course, they came out all year long… . They’re definitely doing their part, that’s for sure.

“It’s an exciting place. It’s a loud place. Like I said, the people are on fire and it’s a good place for home-field, that’s for sure.”

Pitcher J.A. Happ, on his second go-round in Toronto, says the city’s hunger for a championship was a big reason why he came back.

“I always felt like the city would really be incredible if we could get to that playoff run,” said Happ, who is slated to start Game 2 Saturday.

Jays fans have followed the team on the road all season, including their playoff stops in Texas and Cleveland.

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