4/21/13 at Rogers Centre (NYY @ TOR)

I was in Toronto Sunday. See the tower in the background? That’s the CN Tower, a 1,815 foot concrete communications and observation tower in Toronto. It was completed in 1976, becoming the world’s tallest free-standing structure, and world’s tallest tower at the time. I lost my picture at the moment, but the day before, I was looking down at Rogers Centre through the glass floor observatory. Later that day, we explored Toronto more, and I even tried Indian food for the first time! Anyway, on to the next day: game day –

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To make a long story short, I was with my girlfriend visiting her sister in Buffalo. Friday night, I went to a Ranger game where they beat the Sabres 8-4 ;), and when I planned this trip early in the winter, before I even looked at the schedule I decided I was going to do a baseball game in the area, whether it be the Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bisons, or even a Detroit Tigers game if I had to. I don’t normally get to this area of the country, so I wanted to make the most of it. The Jays happened to be home this weekend, but of course the Yankees were in town, so I expected crowds of 45,000 plus. This was in contrast to the crowds of 15-18,000 the Jays were pulling in earlier in the week vs. the White Sox (it seems like I can never catch a break).

I started with my usual walk around the ballpark, taking in the atmosphere and appreciating the architecture around the area:

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Here I am with Natalie –

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I kept going around the stadium –

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And I reached this ridiculous thing they threw up on the side wall:

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I kept going, and reached the front (or back, I’m not sure what to call it) of Rogers Centre:

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Here, is where the Renaissance Hotel connects to the Center Field windows inside, and you can watch a game from your room. The only person I know who has done this is Zack Hample, and you can check it out on his blog here, here, and here.

I moved around to the area where Gate 2 is. If you ever go to Rogers Centre, Gate 2 is pretty much a little to the left of where the Right Field foul pole would be, to give you an idea. So you can plan your entrances accordingly based on that info. When I got to Gate 2 however, this is what I was looking at:

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Ay yai yai. Turns out it was “Edwin Encarnacion” bobble head day, so that plus the Yanks in town didn’t bode well for me from a ball hawking perspective. (Remember when I talked about luck earlier?) On the other hand, I was glad to see the Jays have a full house. I hate seeing teams fail to bring people in. I did, however, notice a much, MUCH tinier line here:

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This was Gate 3. (Duh.) When I lined up, I started chatting it up with some locals, and apparently this gate is for people who need an elevator to get up or down to the correct floor. I didn’t know this at the time. Also, there were representatives from Spitz Sunflower seeds handing out free samples. Score.

Now, the game was slated to start at 1:07 (I still don’t get the Toronto :07 start times.). Around 10:58, two minutes before the gates were supposed to open, a crabby Blue Jays “team member” came out and said anyone in this line without a suite ticket was required to move to another line and wait.

……………………….

No way was I doing that. The lines were backed up all the way to Front Street, and I was really aiming to be the 1st one up to the 200 level for some Easter Eggs. I wasn’t leaving. The two elderly people behind me told me to pretend I had a bum knee (which I kind of do, so it’s not really lying, right? Right?) And that I needed the elevator. I was going to go with that. Most of the people were freaking out because they were worried they wouldn’t get a bobble head. Which, I didn’t care about. When I went inside, they checked my bag, but not my ticket. I quick hopped onto the suite elevators, ran out to the 200 level, and was disappointed to see I wasn’t the first one there, naturally. Here was my view, though:

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Here was my view to my left and my right:

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I could’ve gone either way. I was torn between going to the 100 level, or staying in the 200. There weren’t many balls being hit, and Darren Oliver and Aaron Loup, shown below, weren’t throwing anything up to anybody. The music wasn’t loud, so I know they heard everyone yelling:

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After a good 35 minutes of nothing, a ball got lined but over my head. It was traveling so fast, I had no time to react. It hit off a seat about 6 rows behind me, so I jumped up high for the ricochet but it barely left my glove and landed back on the field. Ugh, I wanted that one. I decided to try my luck in Left:

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The competition wasn’t too bad:

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…but I just needed something to be hit there. Encarnacion was putting on a show, but he was pulling them down the line. By the time I ran over there, I knew that he would start hitting them where I was at. That’s just how my luck is. Eventually, he was pulling them my way. One was caught by a guy who had to be at *least* 350 pounds in front of me, so I had no chance on that one. The second was hit just to my right, and landed off a woman’s forearm. After that, the Jays headed off:

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Welp. After throwing on my Yankee shirt, I decided to head down here for Yankees BP:

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…and it was just as slow. David Phelps, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, and Hiroki Kuroda all ignored the ONLY Yankee fan in the area. I’m telling you, I couldn’t believe it, but I was the only one there at the time. Kuroda in particular, it must be a Japanese thing. I’ve struggled with him forever, and he either ignores me, waves, or half-asses a ball underhand that goes nowhere near me. I WILL get a ball from him this season. I even asked him in Japanese last year! Does anyone have a player they struggle with?

As for competition, I was becoming boxed in, and I didn’t like it:

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To my left, was a random railing that separated the sections, so yeah, I was pretty much boxed in. Considering my seats were in the 500 level with a packed house expected, I was facing getting shut out.

Travis Hafner then pounded one in my direction, but it hit the warning track and fell just short of my glove on the bounce over the wall and landed here:

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Now, before the game, I planned on making my glove ready for the “glove trick,” but my rubber bands broke and I couldn’t get to a drugstore before game time. That’s what I get for not being prepared. There were 3 balls in front of me, but I had no retrieval device.

If you haven’t been to Rogers Centre before, this is how the outfield wall is set up:

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The gap there eats up so many homers. If you have a glove equipped with a glove trick, and can use it well, bring it. The security sparingly checks the area for balls every 30 minutes or so.

The Yankees were down to their last few guys for BP it seemed. Just when I was getting ready to accept defeat, I decided I’d wait it out. Then, Lyle Overbay lined one right to me. The trajectory was perfect. The height was perfect. The kid next to me had his glove up. I leaned further in than he did, held up my arm…. And…

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Sweet! MY first ever BP homer on the fly! It felt awesome. I knew it’d come sooner or later. Some guy demanded I give it to him even though he didn’t have a glove. Come prepared, pal. I ignored him, and headed out of there quick over to Left Field:

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The only guy there, as you can see, was a trainer of some kind, and he’s not allowed to toss balls up, so I just hung around hoping for another homer. BP ended shortly after, so I continued my walk exploring the inside of the stadium now (I do this for new stadiums, by the way. It won’t be like this every post.). I came across the Jays pregame show:

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On the right is former MLBer Gregg Zaun. The guy on the left, who knows. It took forever to get around, the concourse was PACKED.

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I managed to *sneak* my way down behind home plate and took some photos:

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After a while, I got bored sitting there, and walked around more. I stuck my camera through a hole in the batters eye in Center Field and snapped a photo:

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Later in the game, a home run went into this area and I imagined myself sneaking under the tarp to grab it.

It was game time, and here is where I was positioned:

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Too far away for a foul ball, and after the busy, busy weekend I had, I was too tired to care. I had 1 ball, and I was on the board. To give you perspective of where I caught my home run, I took a shot from my seat:

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In the 9th, the Yankees were down to their last out, so I went alllll the way to the last row of seats:

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See that thing on the corner? That’s a bay of lights:

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Imagine having those seats for a season ticket plan? Woof. I’ve never seen something like that before. How do you see the scoreboard? I guess you don’t. Here’s another cool architectural photo:

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Final score:

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Here I am:

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If you’re wondering what the “3” is for, I’m planning to attend a game in all 30 stadiums. When  I do, I’m taking each photo with a sign number, and making a large collage out of it to hang in my man cave. Cool idea, right? I know. The seats emptied fast, but there was still one guy left in the crowd:

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I took a few last photos of the stadium:

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And a panoramic photo (which I think came out well, click to enlarge):

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And one last photo of Natalie and I. Were so cute, right?

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And get this: Look how this clown parking attendant decided to park his car in front of mine, after claiming I didn’t pay him for the spot when I clearly did, then magically gave me a 10$ fine because I didn’t have the parking pass displayed on my windshield even though I asked him and HE SAID NO I didn’t have to:

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That’s my car in black. What a clown. Be wary where you park in Toronto. Also, be aware of the immense amount of traffic you’ll encounter if it’s a busy game like this one. Ooof.

  • 1 ball at this game
  • 5 balls this season
  • 86 career balls
  • Yankees record when I attend in 2013: 1-1 (36-23 all time)
  • Blue Jays record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (3-7 all time)

I also took a black light photo of the ball Overbay hit to me:

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That’s all for now. See you next week at Yankee Stadium for Astros-Yankees. I’m planning on going Tuesday. If I don’t get a commemorative, I’ll be there Wednesday. I hope to get a commemorative ball!

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