No. 1: The Rogers Centre – Toronto, ON

Game Essentials

Date: Wednesday June 28, 7pm
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles
Ticket(s):  Section 515R, Row 8, Seat 6 ($6 – SeatGeek)

For the second time in my life, I found myself in one of the more raucous baseball atmospheres I’ve seen.  Toronto loves their Jays.

Pre-Game

I left a little late, so after the 5-hour drive – including a small adventure to find a Canon T6i battery charger – I got into Toronto at 4pm.  I checked into what can be politely called a hostel with private rooms, parked my car and immediately started the 1.5-mile trek to the stadium.  All things considered, staying in a bit of a dump isn’t too bad when the neighborhood is fine, you’re walking distance to the stadium, and you’re only paying $40 for the night.

Rogers Center – hereafter referred to as the Skydome – is enormous.  The upper level is flooded with seats and there are great features all around.  During batting practice I hung out on the first base line for a bit, long enough to see Manny Machado come over and sign some autographs.  From there I made my way around the stadium and checked out the Flight Deck.  It was rather subdued an hour before first pitch but that would change.  I finally moved up to the upper levels, in somewhat of an effort to be near my seat, and found a spot to shoot first pitch directly behind home plate.

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And a quick side note: Major kudos for the humor of the big screen programming.  From Josh Donaldson’s Roof Report to a pre-game program that is seemingly inspired by Internet memes, whoever is running that programming deserves a raise.

The Game

As far as baseball goes, it was a great game for the home team.  Joey Bautista leading off with a solo homerun got the crowd into it early.  Jays fans don’t need much to get excited about.  After watching 3 innings from behind home plate, I decided it was time to get something to eat since I hadn’t had anything since right before crossing the border.

This is the part where you post a picture of stadium food, right?

Yes.

And you’re in Canada, so you got poutine, right?

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Yes.

It took a while to find the poutine, and almost as long for them to get the order straight, but it was well worth the wait.  Even more better was grabbing a drink and heading over to the now much more rowdy Flight Deck.  Somehow, without much hassle, I was able to snag a spot on the front row, dead center.  I’ll say this much:  Having poutine and watching the game from that spot for an inning is going to set a pretty high bar for the rest of this trip.

After eating, it was surprising already the seventh inning (the game lasted a brisk 2.5 hours).  I decided I should head on up to my actual seat – just to say I did – and then decided to go even further to the highest seats in the SkyDome.  The hike was a legitimate workout, but the view was worth it.  A bunch of kids shortly came up to the top row as well and – in a very un-Canadian-like move – the usher came up and told them to move down.  At that point I had gotten my picture and decided it was time to sneak as close as I could.

As the bottom of ninth started, I was able to make my way all the way down to the front row just back of first base.  Toronto’s closer, Roberto Osuna, came in to lock down a 4-0 lead and the Blue Jay faithful gave him a loud standing ovation.  Osuna shut it down, ending the game with a strikeout.  What a perfect start to the trip.

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The Story

Up Next

If you’re a fan of not sleeping and speeding around Lakes Erie and Ontrario, then boy do I have the adventure for you!  I’ll be up by 5am to make the 5-hour trip from Toronto to Cleveland, hopefully arriving a couple hours before the 12:10p first pitch.  Sadly, I probably won’t be stopping at Niagara Falls to play a hand of blackjack, go on a ferris wheel, visit the wax museum, or – oh yeah – see the falls.  Straight to Cleveland and right back at it.  Tough life.

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