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Take Me Out to the Ball Game


Remember back in the day, when we used to huddle for warmth on the steel bleachers of Exhibition Stadium to watch the Toronto Blue Jays? I was always envious of those nearby, who had the foresight to bring or buy one of those comfy-looking butt cushions. Recall all of the excitement and buzz that filled the air when the SkyDome was running a contest for the public to name the new roof-morphing, state-of-the-art stadium? Remember when Joe Carter belted an incredible home run to win the series in 1993? It's hard to believe that was 13 years ago.

Although it's more likely that the average Torontonian is a fan when we have a winning team (we're actually well-known as bandwagon jumpers in the sports world), in 1994 there was good reason to boo major league baseball. Part way through the season, the great baseball strike put an abrupt end to things that year, and in the process, the sport lost a lot of fans (myself included).

Since the strike, the Jays have gone through a lot of changes (payroll reduction, ownership changes, player trades, etc). They've also failed to be a winning team for quite some time. But this year, there seems to be a push in the winning (and heavily promoted) direction. Being as curious as I am, I quickly seized the opportunity to go to a game when the Toronto Blue Jays offered us complimentary tickets (thanks a bunch, Brad!).

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We had great seats (just above the Jays dugout at third base), and the team jumped out early with 8 runs in the first 2 innings. The crowd, although very small, seemed into it. One fellow cruising up and down the aisles selling beer got a giggle out of me when he called out "Last chance for overpriced beer here!", although my laughter quickly petered out when I had to fork over my $10.

I had a lot of questions for my friend Adam, who has continued to follow baseball and goes to games still. Who is the Glaus guy?! Why does BJ Birdy look so different and wear "Ace" on his jersey?! Why do I see more empty seats than people (see photo)?! Why when we heckle the visiting team do the people turn around and give us dirty looks?! Why isn't the guy on the sound effects machine trying to rally the fans?!

In the end, it was a fun 3 hours that brought back a lot of memories of the Jays of my childhood. Would I go back and catch a game again? Perhaps, but likely only if I sit up in the cheap seats and go with a bunch of rowdy friends. Why a winning team can only muster up about 18,000 fans to the game is a mystery to me, but I honestly do feel that the greed and disruption caused by the 1994 strike is still haunting baseball. And Cracker Jacks were not readily available from my seat. Best part of the game? Hanging out with Andrea, Robin, and Adam. Oh, and when former World Series winning Blue Jay John Olerud popped out onto the field to say hello!

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