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Return of the Home Run Jacket

After a 2020 season that ended in a Wild Card Series sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays fans had hoped their fun, young team featuring rising stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette would fly deep into the playoffs. After two seasons of failure to meet these expectations, the Toronto Blue Jays adopted a more sober demeanor for the 2023 season, retiring their famous “La Gente del Barrio” blue home run jacket. Jays players began wearing the jacket to celebrate team home runs in 2021.

The end of the signature celebration marks the team’s identity shift in John Schneider‘s first full season as manager. Schneider told Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun, “Itâ??s time to go from a talented, fun team to a talented, fun team thatâ??s going to scrap and claw and find ways to win games.” So far, the Jays have a winning record, but scrapping will not be enough to keep up with a Tampa squad that has rocketed into first place with dominant performances. Tampa has started 2023 by breaking home run records, while Schneider’s Scrappy Jays have lacked power, ranking 21st in team isolated power (ISO) at .143 and 13th in team on-base plus slugging (OPS) at .734.

One up-and-coming squad performing ahead of the Jays in terms of ISO and OPS (third and seventh, respectively) has adopted the home run jacket into its existing set of celebrations.

On Sunday, MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates beat writer Justice delos Santos posted photos of Carlos Santana modeling the Bucs’ version of the home run jacket honoring franchise legends bearing the “La Gente del Barrio” slogan, marking 2020 as the beginning date of the Gente del Barrio homer club.

The Pittsburgh version has improved on the original by paying tribute to team history and baseball legend Roberto Clemente.

The vibes on the Pirates’ ship are immaculate. But can the Bucs remain sailing atop the standings following a devastating injury to Oneil Cruz?

Featured Image: Toronto Blue Jays infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr. puts the home run jacket on Teoscar Hernández during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum by Conor P. Fitzgerald / (Oakland, California – July 5, 2022).