5 Jay Games in Vegas
Did I pledge to write 10 of these Blue Jay blogs??? Yeah that must have been when they were still in it. I’ve spent the last few days picking my broken heart up off the floor, and am back to try to fulfill that ridiculous promise. Man, I must have thought they playoffs would last forever. 10 blogs???
Today I will do a little bit of cross promotion. I do have another blog. It’s a Las Vegas travel blog actually. Some of you have read it, and judging from the stats, most of you haven’t. That’s cool. I understand how weird it must be to be a Las Vegas enthusiast. If you were to click over to http://www.paymevegas.com you will probably notice that I don’t get to write in that one nearly as often. The reason? I just can’t justify going to Vegas as often as I’d like to go, but I do go to Vegas a fair bit by most people’s standards. In fact, I just returned from a week-long journey, so Pay Me Vegas will have some new content shortly.
As happy as I am to watch the Toronto Blue Jays in the playoffs, even I would have to admit that they did everything in their power to hijack our Vegas itinerary. I remember when the playoff schedule came out and I mentioned to my wife that they might have some games that I absolutely MUST watch while we’re there. Maybe just one. There did exist a scenario where there would be five in total. Guess which scenario played itself out? This required a lot of patience and understanding from my wife. Not that she doesn’t love the Jays too. It’s just that I have a 3-year old (who was still 2 at the time) who really doesn’t give a shit about baseball unless it’s an excuse to have me pick him up from his crib well past his bed time….. oh yeah, under those circumstances, he’s fan #1. The boy needs to be monitored/entertained during all waking hours. This made things awkward, because if I need 3 or more hours of focus and attention towards a ballgame, then my wife gets stuck on kid duty for that length of time 5 out of the 7 days we’re there. Possibly making matters worse is the time change. These playoff games were played at 4pm EST most of the time, which is 1pm Vegas time. That’s right smack in the middle of the day. This is the story of how I managed to watch all 5 games.
Oct 11/2015 Game 3 of the ALDS
We were down 2-0 in a best of 5 series against the Rangers. The Sunday game was at 8pm EST which was 5pm in Vegas. This was huge for me because I flew in that day, and would have been crushed if the Blue Jays played an elimination game while I was in an airplane, or getting fucked by Thrifty Car Rental (that story another time). We had time to get to the hotel, have dinner, get settled, well before the game started. While I wanted to have cool/obnoxious stories to tell to my friends about where I watched the game (Hey man, where are you? On your couch?? Cool! I’m sitting on a patio overlooking the strip in Vegas in a t-shirt, is it cold there? etc……….), I was perfectly happy to watch the first game in the hotel. Our room had a good-sized TV, a bunch of channels on digital cable, and a comfortable couch to sit on (we were at a time-share, so we had a condo unit, which was perfect for still being able to watch the game after the boy went to sleep). 5pm rolls around, and I grab the remote, and start flipping through the channels. There were like 50 or more channels. I didn’t see the game anywhere. It must have been on commercial. I flipped through again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. They’re gonna throw the first pitch in a minute. I think it’s on FS1. I don’t know these channels, what channel is that? I’m looking at a chart with the channels, and it’s saying FS1 is channel 5-1, but when I flip past with the remote, it skips over. I’m in full freak out mode. There’s an elimination game being played and I can’t get the goddamned channel? It’s a playoff game. Isn’t baseball America’s pastime? I’m in America! I won’t stand for this. So my wife manages to get the game on the radio on her iPad while I call the front desk asking what the trick is for getting FS1 on the TV. They even sent a guy who came and flipped through the channels just like I had 3 times already, only to tell me that they don’t get that channel, and sometime during that my wife goes to the store to get some supplies. So there I am with my son watching cartoons with the Blue Jay game on the radio, losing my mind with every pitch. This was not sustainable. I was going to have to go to the bar. My wife came back and it was the 3rd inning. I texted one of my buddies and asked him to message me a play by-play while I walked to the nearest bar. Even though I was staying off the strip, I was located pretty close to the new Linq Promenade. I found a bar as soon as I walked in. A huge one called Yard House, which I was familiar with, and hoping to go to because of its vast beer selection, but I could see all the TVs had Sunday night football on. Yes, early season NFL games between 2 non-playoff teams trumps playoff baseball in the United States. Can’t believe it. The next place was called the Tilted Kilt, and I saw it had the game on, but was packed (it was the Sunday before Memorial Day, so a long weekend in the States meant busy bars). I walked up close to the window to at least see the score and inning. As I got close, I saw someone get up from their seat at the bar. I ran inside, sat down and ordered a Sam Adams. Phew! Disaster averted. I was there about 30 minutes before Troy Tulowitzki hit his 3-run homer to give us a commanding lead in the game. I could tell who the Canadians were when the table in the far corner went ape-shit after it happened. Jays win. If Jays lose, series over, and probably a better vacation.
Oct 12/2015 Game 4 of the ALDS
Down 2-1 in the series, we had another elimination game. This time it’s a 1pm start in Vegas which is right in the middle of the day. Our plan was to go to the Planet Hollywood Hotel after our lunch at Bobby Flay’s burger restaurant. The boy usually takes a nap at that time, and my wife figured she could push him around the Miracle Mile Shops and shop while he slept. I could then go to the lounge in the Planet Hollywood Casino, where at 1pm on a Monday, it wasn’t too busy. Now if the boy slept for 3.5 hours, we totally could have pulled this off. Luckily the game was a bit of a laugher, with the Jays scoring a bunch of runs early, and getting good pitching as well. When he did wake up, we went to Garrett’s Popcorn, and got what I maintain is the best popcorn in the entire universe. We were able to sit outside a bar (which is outside the concert venue where there is a Brittany Spears concert just about every night for those that find that appealing), and watch the end of the game. Jays win.
Oct 14/2015 Game 5 of the ALDS
The series is tied 2-2, and back in Toronto after 2 games in Texas. This game decides who advances and who goes home. We decide to go to Mandalay Bay on this day. The Shark Reef Aquarium was something kid friendly on our agenda, and maybe something that my wife and son could check out while I obsess about the fate of my Toronto Blue Jays. We decided to have lunch there. I saw an Irish Pub called Ri Ra in the shopping area. We ascertained that the game was on TV, and went in for lunch. It was Wednesday and I was already ordering salads. Everytime I go to Vegas, we just keep having epic meal after epic meal, and sometimes my body just stops wanting food. It’s those times that I know if I see a good-looking salad on the menu, order it and live to fight another day. I had a Guinness IPA for all you beer fans. Apparently this was a limited edition, but it was crazy. It had that smooth texture, but totally tasted like an IPA. So weird, but good. I’m sure they’ll have them everywhere soon. This game was kind of nerve-wracking. My son doesn’t have the attention span to sit in a restaurant for too long, so we watched a few innings, and then I needed to do a location change. What would happen in between the Irish Pub, and my final destination? Would some legendary baseball play happen that Jay fans would remember for all of eternity, and I would miss it? We were boogeying down to the Mandalay Bay Sportsbook, where I would finish watching on TV while my wife and son went to the aquarium. I walked past a hobby store and saw Pete Rose in there signing autographs. I wanted to just go in there and tell him that I think he’s awesome even though he’s been treated like a steaming pile of shit over the last 25 years or so, but I didn’t have time to stop. I went to the washroom and came out. Texas had scored the go-ahead run on a Russell Martin throwing error that was one of the most bizarre plays in MLB playoff history. Luckily they replayed it 5,219 times or I would have really missed out. Then a few minutes later it happened. Easily a top 5 moment in Toronto Blue Jay history, when Jose Bautista hit a home run that gave us the lead in the game and series for good. It was weird because I was in public, but not with anyone, and I started jumping up and down like a 5-year-old. I guess it was one of those ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ moments. I didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of me. I was just having a full on celebration by myself in a room full of people who were probably a little indifferent to the outcome of this game unless they bet on it. One guy came up to me and hugged me though. He must have been in the same situation as I was. It was a pretty joyous moment. I wished my wife was there with me, but she was looking after my son so I could enjoy that moment, and I’m forever grateful.
Oct 16/2015 Game 1 of the ALCS
The Jays were in Kansas City. In an effort to accommodate my son, we decided to go to Circus Circus. Our friend had flown in to join us for a couple of days, so we had an extra adult with us who was also a Jay fan. Again, my wife and son are off playing games, or doing whatever you do there. Our friend and I were in the Circus Circus Sportsbook suffering from second-hand smoke and mediocre beer. When my wife ran out of patience, we were happy to change locations. I hadn’t been to Circus Circus in years. There’s a reason for that, but I don’t like to be judgemental. It’s a good place for a certain crowd I suppose. Had the ventilation been better, I might not have minded it so much. Courtesy of our friend, we now had a rental car, so we drove back toward ‘home’ again, listening on the radio as we drove. We decided to go back to Linq Promenade, and gave the Yard House another try, which worked out great, since I love beer and they have fantastic food. The Jays didn’t fare so well. Royals win.
Oct 17/2015 Game 2 of the ALCS
Back to the Miracle Mile inside of Planet Hollywood. We went right back to that bar inside the mall near Brittany Spears. I drank a Pina Colada while my wife pushed my son around in the stroller. When he fell asleep, she brought him over. This bar was basically just a circle inside the mall. At the entrance there was a line where you couldn’t cross unless you were 21. I sat right beside it, and parked the stroller on the other side with my son fast asleep. This allowed my wife to go to the casino to do some gambling, which she hadn’t done much of up to that point. I was happy that I was able to watch the game and my son at the same time, so she could go have fun for a bit. This was looking like an awesome game. David Price was pitching a gem until the 7th inning when everything fell apart. Royals win.
All told, 5 games in Vegas was bittersweet. We won the first 3 and moved on to the ALCS. We lost the next 2 and would go on to lose the ALCS. I felt bad for the amount of time we spent working around those games, but at the same time, I think we did a lot of the things we wanted to do. I think I might owe my wife some additional consideration on our next trip. My son has already forgotten all about it I’m sure.