Toronto Blue Jays: Fans Like None Other

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Toronto is a beautiful large city, and their team, the Toronto Blue Jays play in a great park. The city has its fair share of pollution, a haze hovering over the city, but it’s an eclectic mix of pretty much everything and every type of person.

There are unique neighborhoods and great shopping—like along “The Path” in downtown Toronto.

20160707_175918It’s also home, as every Major League Baseball fan knows, to the Blue Jays who play in Rogers Centre.

I love visiting new parks. It gives me a nice idea of the true layout of the park and how likely foul balls are to go into certain sections. A seating chart only shows you where sections are. It doesn’t give you a clear indication of how much foul territory there is or distance from home the dugouts are (the areas to which most foul balls fly).

This trip offered me a first-hand understanding of where fouls go the most, at least in this one game.

 

Parking and Entering

If you go to Rogers Centre, note there is no central parking of any kind. You’ll need to locate a municipal parking area near the park. There are plenty. The one we parked in was $25 CAN (roughly $20 USD based on current exchange rates) and was about half a block from Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant and Walburgers. It was about a three block walk.

We were surprised by the lines when walked up. We’d never seen such a line so early before. It is very cool seeing so many dedicated fans, though the guys behind us in line didn’t seem to know anything about baseball. Not sure why they were there.

The family in front of us started talking about foul balls. Guess who chimed in to add their knowledge about locations?

The lines into Rogers are pretty fast. They have a very effective set-up for moving fans through. Comerica lacks this effectiveness, but The Royals‘ Kauffman is quite good at it too.

 

Food and Such

We looked forward to the poutine (basically french fries with gravy and cheese curds on it) advertised as a fan favorite at Rogers. I hate to say it, but it’s nothing more than basic. It’s still VERY good poutine, but it’s something I’ve had many other times. It was also a bit pricy, but that’s par for the course at ballparks everywhere. The main issue I had with this is we waited 15 minutes the first time. The line moved ONCE in that 15 minutes. So we bailed in order to not miss Verlander’s opening pitch.20160707_184728

My daughter and I went back around the 5th inning and still waited 15 minutes plus 10 for our food at the poutine place. In all it took us 40 minutes to get our food.

We didn’t realize it until about the 6th inning that Rogers really doesn’t seem to have anything for families and kids. There’s no carousel or ferris wheel like at Comerica, and no Mini-RC like the Mini-K at Kauffman. It is simply what it is.

But the par does have one very cool aspect (not the dome, which was open for out game): The Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel is built into the Centre. There are several rooms which overlook the diamond. You can get a room with a view overlooking a game, watching right from the comfort of your room. No crowds or long waits at the bathrooms or food lines.

 

The Fans

I love Blue Jays fans! They are some of the nicest fans I’ve had the pleasure of meeting! These folks cheer and jeer at individual pitches. And they do it A LOT. They complain a pitch was a strike or a ball at least once a half inning. And they are so polite about it. They don’t curse when they think the ump made a bad call. I guess that’s reserved for us U.S. fans. Interestingly, we were sitting at the far reaches of right field and Blue Jays fans were still cheering and jeering about pitches.

With the exception of the Detroit Tigers fan behind us who is married to a Blue Jays fan—how’s THAT work? Different Divisions help make it work?—we were the only Tigers fans in the area. We thought that would work to our advantage when the Tigers were doing batting practice. NO! The Tigers outfield gophers (bullpen flunkies) and even John Murrian (#98) the bullpen catcher warming up Verlander ignored my kids who were in the front row almost on the field (see the picture?). He acknowledged me when I yelled at him about whether or not Verlander was looking good. That should have been a hint there were Tigers fans behind him. They couldn’t miss the ONLY Tigers kids in the area. Sadly, neither of them got a toss-up from any player on the team they root for.20160705_114454

 

In Foul Territory and in a Foul Mood

I understand the irony of the guy who studies and writes about foul balls in MLB parks and who rants and rails against fans using their phones at games and not paying attention using his phone to live tweet during the game.

But I practice what I preach; I tweeted only between pitchers and innings. During this time, I also snapped pictures of fans near me. Six within camera shot were buried in their phones, including taking selfies, DURING pitches. Granted, we were snuggled into the farthest reaches of right field, but as the ground rule double by Saunders proved, we weren’t out of danger at all.

I was dumbfounded seeing this many fans—all women—puttering away, typing and taking pictures as the game progressed. At least one fan was buried in her phone for two straight innings. TWO 20160710_132348_001innings. She missed never 1/5th of the game.

Then came the double in the 7th. It curved significantly and one bounced toward us. It was literally the perfect catching ball for me. I didn’t need to move at all. My hand was up and then the Blue Jays fan (a kid of about 14 or so) with a glove simply swatted it away. We reviewed the MLB.tv coverage and it really does look like he intentionally blocked it with this glove instead of trying to snag it.

To say the least, I was (and still am) a bit ticked off. It was fine if I didn’t catch it on the bounce. I know things happen, but for a kid to bring a glove to the game then use it to slap a ball away instead of catching it, struck me as sad and horrible. If it had been a Tigers hit, I MIGHT have understood the slap, but it came off the bat of a Blue Jay hitter. Very confusing. You can watch the play and see how the ball bounces back on to the field. It’s not the bounce of a bunch of hands missing it. It’s an abrupt ninety-degree turn indicating it hit only one object and deflected off it.

Oh well. Though it put me in a foul mood, at least I have a sad baseball story to tell. 20160710_132224

Later, watching it on MLB.tv, we found ourselves, and I heard one of the Blue Jays announcers comment it was fan interference. The ball bounced into the seats. Nobody interfered at all.

Overall, despite the lack of family entertainment, the double fiasco and the basic, but still very good poutine, I’d go back to Rogers. The fans make the game fun and calming. They are polite and very cool. My only regret is the Blue Jays social media person (people?) failed to interact with fans tweeting at the game. If they had, the women’s bathroom wouldn’t have been out of toilet paper and flooded, and Mike, the man behind us whose birthday it was, would have had a team representative visit him with a gift.

It seems I am 3-for-3 this year on pleasant fans at games. A game is always more fun when you don’t have obnoxious drunk fans near you.

The first chance you get, get thee to Rogers Centre in Toronto for a game.

 

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