Tag Archives: Sports

My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 5

The Summer I Met Two Legendary Soon To Be Ex-Jays

I know I promised 10 of these. 6-10 are coming next year during baseball season. This blog is shutting down all baseball operations for 2015. Before that I will tell you a story from my childhood chock-full of encounters with famous people, and baseball nerdery. To be honest, I can’t remember for sure which summer this was, but according to my research, it was probably 1989. Before this I don’t recall ever meeting a major league baseball player, and if I had, I will hopefully remember that by the time I’m finished writing this post, and then I’ll just scroll up and delete this sentence. So if you just read that last sentence, that means I didn’t delete it, which means these were in fact the first 2 Blue Jays I ever met.

I collected baseball cards from the time I was a small boy until it got to be a crappy hobby thanks to unruly collectors, and market saturation. I used to memorize baseball statistics on the back of the cards as a kid. I have knowledge of baseball history that can only be described as unnecessary. I kept the cards organized by teams, then by year, then by batting average and so on and so on. You couldn’t buy me toys as a kid, but if you bought me records or cards, I was good to go (records is what we used to call music….for the young readers). My cards started out in piles with rubber bands around them. Then one day it occurred to me that these cards were actually worth money. Everyone always told the story of what a Mickey Mantle card would go for, and a generation of baseball nerds figured if we took care of our cards, that someday they might be worth something. If they weren’t in mint condition, they weren’t worth anything, so I started putting my good cards in the sleeves of binders and protective cases where they sit to this day. I had sad moments realizing that my Cal Ripken Jr rookie card and other notable gems had devalued while being shuffled around through different filing systems.

Everything I learned about collecting came from frequent visits to a local sports card store that had opened up around this time. Family owned by people who seemed to be the inspiration for every comic book store owning cliché I’ve ever seen on TV or in film. They had a tough time hiding just how annoying it was dealing with 12 year olds all day, but when they were in the mood for it, we got along great. After all, we were regular customers and spent big money (only by our meager standards of course) in there. We were there constantly. It was a bike ride away. I loved picking up the monthly price guides and finding out how certain cards in my collection had increased or decreased in value over the last month, and trying to predict those trends. It led me to have a pretty vast collection. It was through the employees of this store that I became aware that Blue Jays first baseman Fred McGriff would be signing autographs at a Honda dealership one summer morning.

My buddy and I got dropped off at the dealership. We weren’t even old enough to drive yet. I’m sure Honda was hoping that some of the Jay fans that would descend on their dealership that morning were at least potential car buyers. There was a rule about just how many autographs you could hit Mr. McGriff up for. I’m gonna say 1 or 2 items were the max. While in line I saw that greedy bugger from the card store. His eyes were popping out of his head, and when he saw us in line, he giddily informed us that Fred signed EVERYTHING. They had brought like 12 items. All of these items would now be for sale at his store for double the original value. I wondered if Fred knew or cared. Maybe this guy just pretended to be a huge fan so Fred wouldn’t know the difference. I think we had brought an extra baseball card over the limit just in case, but we certainly didn’t have 12 items. When I got to the front of the line I was pleased to find out that Fred McGriff was a super nice guy that was very generous with his time. He engaged in small talk while signing my cards, and gave me the confidence to say what I really wanted to say to him. As casually as I could, I asked him to hit a home run for me that night. I don’t know why. It’s not like he was signing my cast in a hospital or something. Sounds dumb to me now, but if I could somehow gather a list of everything I ever said as a kid or a teenager, I’m confident that 80% of it would absolutely sound dumb to me now, and such is life. He grinned at me and said…. something, I don’t remember what he said, but he basically agreed to hit a home run that night. Now I don’t think I was ever naive enough to think that he didn’t try to hit a home run every single time he went to the plate, and if anyone was prodigiously powerful enough to be able to confidently call a shot, it was him. You know I can’t end the story with a hitless night at the plate. Of course he homered in his first plate appearance that night. I called everyone I knew and took full credit for it. After all it was my suggestion.

Later that summer, I was playing tennis with the same friend. This is in Mississauga, which is where I grew up, and just outside of Toronto for my readers that aren’t from around here. Man, I wish I still played Tennis. Those were fun times. It was in the evening during baseball season which seems impossible now that I think about it. For a lot of reasons it seems impossible, but this was the 80s man, and ANYTHING was possible back then. My buddy and I just playing tennis, and I look over to the other court, and there was only one other court. I see a guy that looks so much like then Blue Jay shortstop Tony Fernandez, that I had to call my buddy up to the net for a little chat. I explained my suspicion, and without drawing too much attention to ourselves, we needed to be sure that this was in fact Tony Fernandez. We started rallying again, hitting the ball just slow enough so we weren’t even playing tennis, but watching Tony Fernandez play tennis. This was dumb, so we approached the net again. Do we make a break for it with our bikes, and try to get our Tony Fernandez cards, and a pen, and come back before he’s done playing? I used the word impossible before. In this day and age, a guy like him would be getting paid $15 million dollars a year, and would have an entourage, and wouldn’t come out to the suburbs to play tennis on an outdoor public court. It was summer too. They have games like every day. Are you telling me that this rich Dominican ballplayer was in town, and spent an off-day in Mississauga, and played tennis in the evening? Maybe. I mean definitely, it happened, but I still can’t believe it. Maybe he had a buddy that lived in the neighborhood. Who knows? So my buddy and I are caught between the prospects of awkwardly watching Tony Fernandez playing tennis, or stopping their game to try to talk to him, or more interestingly risking the whole encounter by leaving to try to get something to autograph, and trying to rush back before he leaves. I should mention that both of us lived about a 3-5 minute bike ride from the court. So we risked it. Even crazier is that there was nobody waiting for our court either. We used to have to wait for that court all the time, and the night Tony Fernandez is there, there’s nobody around? Crazy! We drove our bikes home like we were shot out of a cannon, grabbed whatever Tony Fernandez baseball cards we had available, and were back in 6 minutes tops. Then we had to hurry up and wait. We asked if we could get an autograph, and his buddy who was speaking on his behalf said that if we waited until their game was over, he would sign our autographs. Fair enough. We stayed behind the fence and watched Tony Fernandez play tennis for a bit on the same tennis court that we played all of our tennis on. Eventually he came off and signed our cards one at a time. During casual chat time, I tried to bait him into talking about the Jesse Barfield for Al Leiter trade which pissed me off so much at the time, although historically, it turned out ok. He just said that Jesse was a good guy, but was fairly diplomatic otherwise. Once we had our autographs, we left them alone, and probably went home to brag to our other friends who weren’t there. It was a nice surprise.

Blue Jay fans know too well what ties these 2 players together in team history more than any other detail. Unfortunately it’s not what they did for us on the field, because they were both exceptional baseball players, and their names are up there with other choice few names as the best players in Blue Jay history. Soon after these chance encounters, they were both traded to the San Diego Padres for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, and it seems ridiculous to say that the trade was lopsided from a talent perspective, but Carter and Alomar were the 2 key pieces that lead the Blue Jays to back to back World Series champions in 1992 and 1993. Does that mean they couldn’t have won with McGriff and Fernandez? Nobody will ever know. All I know is meeting me seemed to be their bad luck charm that summer, but it’s a fun Blue Jays memory for me nevertheless.


My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 3

Me, My Dad, and The Toronto Blue Jays

We’re a couple of days past the 3 year anniversary of my dad’s passing. I try to honour him with a blog each year, and I’m a couple of days late this year. I was in Vegas, and while I don’t mind using my wife’s iPad for certain things, typing isn’t one of them. I need that old school desktop computer when I write. It’s just how I get down. I had pledged to write a series of Toronto Blue Jays related posts, celebrating their first post season appearance in 22 years, and while my tradition of writing about my dad takes precedence, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The truth is, I’m a Blue Jay fan first and foremost because of my dad. He was the first one to put me on to the Jays. Boy did they suck at the time. My dad was a loyal fan though. While the Montreal Expos were the far more interesting Canadian team at the time of my initial baseball awareness, it didn’t take long for me to cross over to the Blue Jays and their mighty moustached All-Star pitcher Dave Stieb. This was close to 35 years ago. I’ve never looked back. To celebrate, here are a random selection of thoughts and memories regarding my father as a baseball guy.

– From the time I was a baby, he would sit me on his knee and watch sports with me on TV. Watching a sporting event with my father was awesome if you enjoy watching someone go through an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve always been an enthusiast of colourful language. My dad hurled obscenities at the television set on a regular basis. It was a stark contrast from his actual personality. Fairly laid back, and extremely friendly to anyone that had the pleasure of knowing him. Didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, wasn’t violent. How does a guy like this blow off steam? He yells at a TV set. “You f*ckin donkeys!!!” “Get your arm out of your ass and throw the f*ckin ball!!!” You know….. stuff like that. My mom would get embarrassed if there were other people in the house. He’d try to tone it down a bit by replacing ‘f*ckin’ with ‘friggin’, or my favourite and an original I believe which was ‘frinken’. After a while she’d give him shit, and he’d start pleading with her. “But dear, if they would just………” I have friends that can do great impressions of him based on what little outbursts they may have been lucky enough to see. I’m honoured to have had this man introduce me to the game.

– He was a reluctant but well-loved baseball coach. I started playing little league baseball when I was 6. He took me to the majority of my games and practices. I gotta send a shout out to my mom, who will read this and remember all the times that she had to drive. Let’s say that between the two of them, they always got me there. My dad coached me a few times. I’m not sure it was ever by design, but once he’d done it once or twice, they’d keep asking him. He’d usually step in if someone else fell through. We had a strange dynamic as coach/coach’s son. He had a pet peeve about little league sports. It always drove him nuts when a guy would coach a team, and let his son play all the ‘cool/fun/challenging’ positions on defence, and hit clean up, particularly if the coach’s son wasn’t that good of a player (which happened all the time). He felt like the coach’s son should be treated like just another player. That’s not to say I didn’t get a chance to play cool positions. I did, but I was a fairly capable player. I never took the spot of someone who deserved it more. My dad took things even a step further. When the team needed to get yelled at, I basically got yelled at. He was too nice to yell at another parent’s kid, but if he felt like the team needed to be more focused, he’d generally give me shit for something. I actually loved him for that. He set it up so that my teammates never resented me for being the coaches son, but liked me because I probably took some of the abuse that they might have otherwise gotten. We had our battles, but never stayed mad. Overall, we had some great times competing together, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

– He took me to my first Blue Jay game. We played the Minnesota Twins. I think it was a school night, because I remember some debate about whether he should take me or not. It was a crappy game as I recall. We played the Twins and lost either 7-0 or 7-1. We were sitting down the right field line at old Exhibition Stadium in a section that actually had metal benches with numbers on them as seats. The accommodations were no better than they would be at a high school or little league game, yet this was a major league ball park. Brutal. The only thing I remember about the game was that Leon Roberts hit a double for us, and that was maybe the only exciting moment in the game. That’s a pretty obscure name. Upon further research, he only played for us in 1982, so I was 7 years old at the time. Interesting Jay fact…. He was later traded for a young prospect named Cecil Fielder. Wikipedia rules! We would go to many more games over the years. Most more exciting than that one.

– He taught me the difference between a regular season 3-game series, and the World Series which was the only series I’d heard of at that point. I remember being in the bathroom while my dad was shaving. ‘Guess what son? The Jays swept the series against the Mariners.’ ‘Does that mean they’re going to the playoffs?’ ‘No son….they’re in last place’

– He taught me that while at a game, you need to keep your eye on the ball, and if a screaming line drive is hit towards you, don’t touch the ball unless you’re sure you can catch it, because it will hurt like a sonofabitch. I watched him learn that the hard way. Then when it was my turn to get a foul ball years later, I just waited for it to bounce out of a group of fans that went after it, and when it rolled down the stairs I just leaned over and picked it up. Thank you aisle seats. Thank you Rance Mulliniks.

– My dad got to go to a fair number of conferences in the States for work. Every time he went to a different city, he would always get me a t-shirt for that city’s baseball team. When it was all said and done, I had lots of them, but never really wore a Jays shirt.

– I alluded to his temper while watching games. I feel bad that I talked about it so much, in what was supposed to be ‘nicer’ piece, but if you know me, then you know I love the funny stories the most. This is the quick story about where my Dad was when Robbie Alomar hit the legendary home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1992 ALCS which changed the fortune of the entire franchise, and in my mind is the most important home run in Blue Jay history (which I’ve hotly debated this week, especially after Bautista’s homer last week which is 3rd, and Carter’s walk off in 93 WS 2nd). I remember this game was one of those annoying afternoon games where you have to rush home from school to watch it. I must have skipped a class or something, because I was at home in front of the TV. My dad got home at some point and started watching. In hindsight, I don’t even remember that much about the game before the home run. I just remember that it looked like once again we would come up short against Oakland, and not go to a World Series, and Dennis Eckersley was at the time the most un-hittable relief pitcher in baseball, so this game seemed to be on ice. My dad had gotten so frustrated with the Jays earlier in the game (maybe the 5 run third inning) that no amount of swearing at the TV was going to fix this situation. If we weren’t there, he would have just changed the channel, but we were watching intently, so he left the room, so appalled with them that he convinced himself he didn’t care what happened. We were down 6-1 in the 8th inning when the Jays started their comeback. They scored 3 runs in the 8th to make it a 6-4 game. I went into the other room to tell my dad what happened, and convince him that he should come in and watch the 9th. Oh no, he wasn’t coming in to watch those useless assholes. He was still huffing and puffing over the 5-run third inning, and wasn’t about to forgive them for it. I gave up and went in to watch the 9th. Alomar ends up hitting a 2-run homer to tie the game, and send it into extra innings. Never a more dramatic moment in Blue Jay history, and my stubborn dad sat in the living room pretending not to care. I laugh my ass off every time I think about it. They would go on to win their first World Series that year. He came around in time for the next game.

As happy as I am that the Jays have gone on such an incredible run this year, I really wish my dad was around to see it.

I miss you dad!


My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 2

The Time I Played Catch With Scott Rolen

One of my best friends Tim used to work for the Jays. He started on the Grounds Crew, and by the time he left the organization, he had been the Manager of Game Entertainment. That’s not to say that you should all go apply for Grounds Crew jobs in hopes of rocketing up the organization. He had the appropriate Sports Marketing background to make this happen. If you’re wondering what a person in that position might be responsible for, I don’t have his job description, but it included fun things such as who sings the national anthem, and what to show on the Jumbotron. The greatest part about Tim having this position for a while, was that he’s as big a baseball fan as I am. It wasn’t just a job, it was a dream job working for the team that you grew up watching. Way better than the job going to someone who didn’t give a shit.

Being close friends with Tim during this time occasionally provided me with a strange amount of access to certain things Blue Jay related. While I was able to enjoy some of this access periodically, I tried not to overstep my limits. Once in a while I was provided with interesting little insights that the average fan would have no idea about, and every so often I found myself in a situation that the average fan would never find themselves in. As a result, you are going to find that a good chunk of my Blue Jay stories wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Tim. Now, if he wanted to tell you HIS Blue Jay stories, I’m certain it would be worthy of a book. A great read for any true Jays fan. I’ve heard all of these stories, and re-told them periodically when he wasn’t around. Some of them are fascinating. Like ‘holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-that-happened’ fascinating. My stories fall into the ‘not-that-crazy-but-still-kinda-cool’ category.

I had always wanted to go to Spring Training. Tim went to Florida for 3 weeks every year. It was some of the most important work they would do all year. They would do interviews with all of the players, so they would have footage to use on the Jumbotron at the home games throughout the year. The 162 game schedule is so hectic, that it was really hard to get the players to do these interviews or promotional work during the season, so this was typically done in the pre-season. This seemed like a glamorous work trip to me, but I know it was really hard work. One year my wife and I decided to vacation in Orlando while Spring Training was on, and do a little side trip to that magical place called Dunedin, which I’d only ever heard about. The Spring Training games hadn’t started yet, but the practices had, and guess who got us into the practice facility?

That year Tim wasn’t actually working for the Blue Jays, but was working for a consulting firm that was hired to do his job, and they hired him to do it. Oh, the business world! The only reason I bring this up is because that firm also picked up the contract to do the Tampa Bay Rays game entertainment at the same time. So Tim, who was old hat at running the Blue Jays game entertainment was stationed in Tampa for most of that season, remotely running the Jays as well. That ended up being the season where the Rays went to the World Series (with current Jays David Price and Dioner Navarro), only to lose in 5 games to the Philadelphia Phillies. Tim got an American League Championship ring for his troubles.

When we arrived there, the players were taking some batting practice, but looked like they were just finishing up. Random things that I remember seeing included Jerry Howarth, who is the radio play-by-play voice of the Blue Jays was saying some hellos to the players and coaches. It appeared as if he had just arrived in Florida, and watching him walk around and catch up with people after not seeing them all winter, wasn’t unlike the first day of school, and seeing all your friends at the end of summer break. I remember watching John McDonald taking ground ball after ground ball, while everyone else was standing around like practice was pretty much over, but this guy was putting in all this extra work. He had a reputation for being a phenomenal defender, and just having a peak at his work ethic confirmed how he got there. Hall of Famer Frank Thomas walked past us on the way to the locker room with his bag of bats, and other equipment. He gave us a nice smile and polite wave, which I thought was cool considering we might have been the only people standing around that nobody knew. That was because Tim was really busy. He’d gotten our passes and let us come in and have a look around, but then he had to do a couple of things. My wife and I just walked around and watched the players take turns hitting. We could totally hear all of their conversations. It was pretty fascinating. After a while, Tim came out and got us, and brought us into this room.

His boss, and a cameraman they liked to use were in a room shooting promos with ball players. They would be loosely scheduled to come in after a practice, and spend maybe 30 minutes answering some questions on camera, and perhaps shooting something for one of their sponsors. Tim had to head out because most of his day’s work was to take place at the Rays practice facility, but he introduced us to his co-workers, and asked them to take care of us, and we would meet up later for dinner. So we sat in this room and waited for a few minutes. Tim’s co-workers chatted with us and explained what they did, and we waited for a ballplayer to show up. Every day they would do this, and for the most part the guys dreaded coming in for these interviews. After practicing for several hours, most of them wanted to take naps, or play golf, or who knows what. In walks Scott Rolen.

Scott Rolen was a former All-Star 3rd basemen, who’s best days were behind him, but he was still quite a good player. He was in a crusty mood, so it got real for us right away. Our job was to sit in the background like flies on the wall. The ball players didn’t know who we were. They must have assumed that we worked with them. We’d shake hands as introductions were made. Scott Rolen made it fairly clear that he didn’t want to be there, and he had a long drive back to where he was staying and all sorts of other piss and vinegar. Deb, who was running the shoot wasn’t really one to back down, and showed a little sass when she got her chance. I think Scott liked that, and kind of backed down a bit. It was interesting to see him changeover from spoiled ballplayer to reasonable family man as he sort of realized he hadn’t been too gracious when he walked in. He tried to explain his behaviour, and told us he hadn’t eaten yet, and he has young kids at home that he really wanted to go see, and knowing that there was work here to be done, he decided to ‘play ball’. His interview answers proved him to be a fairly humble guy who didn’t like talking about himself. He was sort of uncomfortable through the entire process. Once that was done, he had to do a couple of ‘action shots’. Like slowly swinging a bat, or making a throw. When they needed him to throw a baseball, they ran into a technical issue. Where was he going to throw this ball? He made the motion of throwing, and hung on to the ball, but it didn’t look good. He needed to actually let go of the ball for the shot to work. If he threw it at the wall, it would make a loud sound, and possibly ricochet off some expensive camera equipment. If someone had a glove, they could catch it, but the only person that had a glove was Scott Rolen. He offered his glove, but the shot would look ridiculous if he wasn’t wearing it. So I finally (meekly) asked Deb if she would like me to stand in front of the wall, and catch the ball? She asked if I would be able to do that without a glove. Scott also seemed concerned. I’d played some baseball growing up. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable talking about that in front of a Major League Baseball Player, but I assured them that if he didn’t whip it hard, that there’s a good chance I would be able to catch it. So after a couple of warm up tosses, we shot that sequence, and it went off perfectly. I didn’t drop the ball, which made me feel useful, and not so bad about basically showing up at someone’s workplace and watching them work. Soon enough, the segment was over, and Scott Rolen left the building a far nicer seeming man, then when he arrived.

“Alex Rios is coming, do you want to stay for another one?” I looked at my wife thinking, man its past lunchtime, and if I’m hungry (with a much bigger reservoir to store food), then she’s gotta be starving, but she probably was recognizing that we were in an extremely unique position at the moment, and said she’d like to stay. This was becoming the most interesting day of my Blue Jay fandom. Periodically people like Pat Hentgen would peek their heads in the door to see if there was time for them. There was a schedule, but a lot of guys just showed up when they felt like it, making for really long, or really short days depending on the shoot. When Alex Rios came in, there couldn’t have been a more stark contrast between personalities. Rios at the time was probably 24. He was a good-looking, happy-go-lucky, extremely talented baseball player who seemed perpetually happy, and was totally easy to deal with. A young female Jays staffer came in before we got started, and wanted to catch up with him about how his winter was. It was a flirty ordeal. I’m not sure what her job was, but she was clearly smitten. Some of us rolled our eyes a few times. Once it got going, it was interrupted again. Vernon Wells came in because he and Alex were supposed to do a quick promo shot together for one of the sponsors. Vernon would not shut up about his tee time, but otherwise was in good spirits. My main memory of their shoot together was that Alex was at least 5 inches taller, and they made Vernon stand on a box. They had fun with it, but you’d never know that if you weren’t there. Once Vernon was gone, Alex had to get into his interview portion. He struggled with it a bit. He is Puerto Rican, and I think he felt a little insecure about his accent. He messed up the line “My name is Alex Rios” so many times it got kind of awkward. Then to make light of it, and maybe to get his frustrations out a bit, he lit us up with “I am ALEX MUTHERFUCKIN RIOS!!!!!!!!!!” We died. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but seemed like a super nice guy. Several years later, my wife and I are always quick with an Alex Rios impression. The joke is totally lost on anyone who wasn’t there.

As much fun as we were having, we had to leave finally. We were so hungry. It was almost 3 and we hadn’t eaten lunch. The story should end here, but I have one more thing to add, which isn’t about the Jays as much as it’s about me being a loser. We went to a restaurant called Carrabba’s which I now know to be a chain, but it was the first one I’d ever seen. I’m reading the menu, and see a dish called the Chicken Bryan which is like a chicken breast with a lemon butter wine sauce topped with goat cheese. Being Canadian, and having learned some French, I try to pronounce things properly when possible. I don’t speak Spanish, but I can pronounce the dishes in a Mexican restaurant. This was an upscale-ish Italian restaurant, so when I ordered it, I took a shot that it was pronounced Bree-yun, and I said that to the waitress, she gave me the blankest of stares, proceeded to take a few open mouthed chews of her gum (like only a waitress in a diner should be allowed to do), and said in a perfect Florida accent, “Yah mean Chicken Bryan??? (pronounced Brian)”. I was like “Yeah…. that”.


My Toronto Blue Jays Stories Volume 1

So the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the American League East Division Title yesterday. For the first time in 22 years. I quietly enjoyed watching their champagne showers from my couch at home. I don’t remember what I did the last time they won their division, but it was 22 years ago, which made me 18. At that age I probably would have celebrated with my own champagne shower….. or sparkling wine shower…… who am I kidding? I probably quietly enjoyed it from my couch at home.

The Blue Jays have been incredible this year. I don’t blog about sports very often (because when I do, my viewer stats bottom out for whatever reason, until I just figure ‘hey…. they don’t like sports blogs’), so I don’t know if I’ve properly explained my passion for the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s just use the word avid. With all respect to band wagon jumpers around the city (because you’re all welcome), there isn’t anything you can tell me about the Blue Jays since the year 1981 that I don’t already know, and before 1981, I was basically a toddler. I also know my fair share of stuff from before 1981, because I studied my Blue Jay history. My wife would be quick to point out that I haven’t been monetarily compensated for any of this knowledge. I would add the word YET to that sentence.

So I’ve watched a lot of games. I was thinking about my blog the other day, and feeling a bit bad for not posting anything in a while, when I realized that this dream season the Jays are having, and me not blogging isn’t just a coincidence. I’m just having a tough time thinking about other stuff. So maybe to remedy this situation, I should write about some of my life experiences as they relate to the Blue Jays. I’ve got some good stories. I tell them all the time. I’ve just never written them down. So today, I’ve decided that my next 10 blogs will have a Toronto Blue Jays theme to them. I hope their playoff run lasts long enough that they’ll still be playing until I’m finished this project. Otherwise the last few that I write will be no-fun-at-all. Without additional delay………..

Saturday October 24, 1992 – Where were you?

I’ll tell you where I was….. Working at White Rose. It was a nursery. I had a part-time job loading garden soil into the backs of people’s cars. That’s what I remember about it anyways. We did all manner of dirty jobs at that place. Sounds crappy, but it wasn’t somehow. We were too young to care how unsafe our working conditions were. There were a bunch of people our age working there, and it was great fun. Two nights earlier, the Toronto Blue Jays had a chance to win their first World Series at their home stadium, then called ‘The Skydome’, and I still call it that because that’s the name it was given (don’t get me started on corporate naming rights). My parents were at that game too. I had written a good paragraph about their adventure that night in the following post https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2013/10/14/the-night-my-father-died/ That’s kind of a sad post, so scroll down to paragraph 12 if you’re not in the mood for a good cry. For those that didn’t click the link, the Jays lost on Thursday, and Game 6 would be played in Atlanta with the Jays up 3-2 in the series.

So this particular Saturday night might just be the first time in my life that a major Toronto sports team (apologies to the CFL Argonauts who I love dearly, but not the same way) could win a championship. The Blue Jays for those who don’t know were an expansion team new to Major League Baseball in 1977, so by 1992, we were ready. I wasn’t quite ready, I was stuck at White Rose until 6pm. I had found out that since the game was being held in Atlanta, the vacant Skydome was allowing fans to come in and watch the game for free as long as they brought some non-perishable food items for a food drive they were having. I wanted to be there, watching on the big screen with 50,000 screaming fans. With me getting off work only an hour before game time, and living in Mississauga, how was I going to manage this?

I give my friend Chris full credit for making this happen. Neither of us drove. He got his father to give us a lift to the train station. As I recall, the last train that we could catch to get us there was leaving the station at about 6:15 or so, and I know it was probably 12 minutes away. Chris and his dad rolled into the White Rose parking lot with food items to donate at 6 on the dot. I hurled myself into the backseat like it was a getaway car, and off we sped. We arrived at the station and ran up to the platform just as you could see the approaching train’s headlights off in the distance. A couple of minutes later we were on that train, closer to our goal, but not in the clear yet.

Before I continue, I have to explain the importance of this, because as I’m remembering it, I’m tensing up with excitement, but as I’m reading it back to myself, I’m not sure that I’m playing it up enough. At that point in time this was one of the few things that mattered to me in the world! I was 17 years old. One of the only Canadian kids who preferred baseball over hockey. It was my chance to watch my team possibly win a World Series. At 40, I still haven’t seen the Leafs win a Stanley Cup, and we’re not close. I fully understood this moment and how important it was, and how I’d be talking about it 10, 20, 50 years later. I had to get into this stadium, and we were cutting it real close. By getting on that train, we had pissed away our opportunity to just watch it on TV at home. We were downtown now. We weren’t old enough to go watch it at a bar, and what bar wouldn’t be completely rammed to capacity anyways? I’m sure we had no money, just a couple of jars of peanut butter or Kraft Dinner or something. There was no PVR, there was VHS, and while I’m usually happy to start watching a game after it’s happened these days, not the clinching game of the World Series!!! There was no backup plan! How did this story start? It started with ‘Where were you?’ If I didn’t get into the Skydome, I would be NOWHERE.

Chris and I got off the train and booked to the Skydome in hyper-speed. I think we had strategically chosen a gate near the top of the stairs, thinking that it would get us up into the nose-bleed section (the 500s). We maybe figured that those would be the only seats leftover. As we got to that gate there were like 200 people in front of us. The game was going to start in just a few minutes. It wasn’t looking good. There is a huge set of stairs that lead down to some more gates. We thought it prudent to check out the lineups at a couple of the other ones to see if it was more promising, so we started down the stairs. About 10 seconds later someone came on a megaphone and announced that Gates 5 and 6 were now the only gates left that were letting in people………….These were the gates that we were approaching…… the ones at the bottom of the stairs……

This next part plays out in my mind like a movie. I’m quite certain it didn’t happen in slow motion, but when I replay it in my mind, that’s the only way I see it. I can see the lady’s mouth slowly saying the words. You know in the movies, there would be a little bit of slow motion spit coming out of her mouth as she said it, and a really bitchy look on her face as she delivered the disappointing news, but she had probably been putting up with people’s shit for 2 hours and was happy to be shutting her gate down. Then there’s the crowd of people whose faces were looking ahead, have now swiveled towards us with sheer panic, and their stances turn athletic, and Chris and I look at each other like you do in one of those zombie apocalypse movies where there’s only two humans left, and you were doing okay sneaking around, but then someone dropped a candy wrapper on the ground, and 500 zombies suddenly see you at once, and decide they want to eat your brain, so you say to each other “RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Chris and I had about a 30 foot lead on these people as they started running after us at top speed DOWN TWO MASSIVE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS toward Gate 5 and 6. I honestly can’t remember if I actually feared for my life at the time or not, but the possibility of getting absolutely trampled to death was a real thing. As I was flying down these stairs, if I’d had a loose shoelace, or god forbid, dropped my non-perishable food item on these stairs, it would have been curtains! As it were, we maintained our 30 feet advantage, and got into the Skydome with relative ease strangely enough, but when I tell you that we were the last 2 people who got in, I’m not exaggerating by very much. I do remember the security guards closing the doors not far behind us, and most of the zombies were left wanting. We were in, and it was totally sweet. What was to come was truly one of the highlights of my life.

We were really lucky to even find two seats together. We had a pretty awkward view of the (then, state of the art) Jumbotron, but it didn’t matter. We could see the game, and the atmosphere was electric. I had almost forgotten until now, but that clinching game was 11 innings, so we were there for hours. In between innings someone would always run out onto the field and try to outrun the security guards. Abhorrent behaviour at a real baseball game, but at the viewing of a baseball game on television, I was pretty happy to have the between inning entertainment. Lots of people took rolls of toilet paper from the bathrooms and launched streamers. I cringe for those that had to drop a deuce at the stadium that night. It was bad behaviour all around I suppose, but they were serving beer to a bunch of people who at the end of the day were watching a big TV.

The Toronto Blue Jays won their first World Series that night. Chris and I, along with everyone in the 100 level charged out onto the field after the game to celebrate. Security didn’t seem to mind, so they must have been expecting it. It was the first and maybe the only time (other than the following year when the Jays won again) that I’ve seen people so euphoric that they were high fiving and hugging complete strangers. It was like you knew every single person in there, and were happy to see them. Real hugs too. People that I had never met hugged me like I was a long-lost relative they hadn’t seen in years. There we were, partying it up on the same field where our heroes made their living, and where a year later they would be celebrating again (this time on home turf). It was a strange privilege that a few thousand people got to experience just for being in the right place at the right time. The party spilled out onto the streets of Toronto, and while a year later I was in Toronto for that incredible street party, Chris and I decided to head home. The train ride was full of ecstatic Blue Jay fans. I even walked home from the train station even though it was about an hour’s walk. Cars driving down a major street in Mississauga were beeping their horns at me, and we were all screaming together at the top of our lungs well into the night.

It was absolutely one of the greatest thrills of my life, and everybody should get to experience it the way I did. I hope sometime soon they will.


WTF Toronto??? The Pan-Am/Kanye Edition

There is a petition in Toronto trying to stop Kanye West from performing at the closing ceremonies at the Pan-Am Games. Yes, the same city that voted in and tolerated Rob Ford for 4 years, can’t tolerate Kanye West for one night. Ughhhh, there is so much incredibly wrong with this, that it hurts my head, and I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s start with some background since my readers who don’t live in Toronto make up approximately half my audience according to WordPress statistics. The other half should already know the story…… The Pan-Am Games are currently being held in Toronto. Never heard of them? I wasn’t too familiar with them either. It sounds mean, but they are basically the red-headed step-child’ of the Olympics. Toronto very badly wanted to host the Summer Olympics, but were beat out by Beijing a few years ago, and we’re just not wintery enough for the Winter Olympics which are better off in other Canadian cities such as Calgary and Vancouver who have hosted in the past. So we got the Pan-Am Games. Cool! Why not, right? I think it’s good for the city, great for the athletes, and shitty for traffic, but not everybody can be a winner. Now you might have sensed that I’m not 100% into the Pan-Am Games as an institution, and the only reason for that is that it’s not the Olympics. In the Olympics, the top athletes in the world compete against each other, making it a must-see spectacle. The Pan-Am Games are a step or two down from that, and while some of the best athletes in the world are here, a lot of them aren’t. It even takes a backseat to the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in some sports. Plus it’s just North and South America participating. That said, it’s still pretty cool I think. I mean every thing sucks if you compare it to the best thing in the world, right? It’s still a good event worth having.

The sports that I follow are a little disappointing in terms of athlete turn out. I’m a big baseball fan, but it’s baseball season, so the best players have to go to their day-jobs, and we get to watch a mixed bag of minor-league players play for a medal. I’m a big basketball fan. It’s the off-season, so we should be able to have dream teams from each country here, right? No. Pan-Am is not a priority for the basketball community. I only barely recognize 3 or 4 names on the American team who probably have 500 players better than any of the ones we’ll see here. They’re treating it like a game of pickup ball on the driveway. Tennis is a sport I’ve watched a lot of. The three Canadian Men’s tennis players we sent are ranked 308, 459 and 540 in the world. Great opportunity for those guys, don’t get me wrong, but there are about 10-15 professional tournaments held each week all over the world that can draw higher ranked players than that. Pan Am is probably better for gymnastics, swimming, track and field and other sports like that, but I wouldn’t know if the top athletes in those sports are here or not. I don’t want to sound spoiled. It is still a really cool thing, but if people outside of Toronto have no idea this is going on, I wouldn’t be that surprised either.

Now Kanye West….. It was announced yesterday that Kanye West was slated to perform at the closing ceremonies. Cool, right? He’s a global superstar (and sorry to be the one to say it, but as I touched on earlier, I don’t know how many of the athletes here are global superstars, at least in the sports I follow), so we should be happy, right? No. Apparently this is so distressing to Torontonians, that there’s a petition to remove him, and the number of signatures keeps changing, but as I type it was up to 22,000. The news of his performance was only confirmed yesterday. This is mind-boggling to me. That we care so much about this. At a time historically, when inclusion and acceptance seems to be at an all time high, and all eyes are back on Toronto for the first time since the Rob Ford scandal, THIS is what we want to make news about??? We’re so bent out of shape that an artist we don’t like is performing at the closing ceremonies, that we’ll all sign a petition to prevent it? This saddens me somehow, but I think to gain further perspective, we have to do the dirty deed of finding out why people don’t like Kanye West.

1. He’s not Canadian. This is not the real reason, but it was mentioned on the petition, so let’s delve. In an article, they suggested Drake, Walk Of The Earth (I honestly have never heard of this band until today), Feist and Deadmau5 among others. First of all, let’s give the organizers some credit. It probably wasn’t that easy to find someone as prominent as Kanye. Maybe some of these people weren’t available either. Also, Pitbull is not Canadian, but I’ve heard nothing about us wanting him to not perform, so let’s stop pretending it’s about that. It looks to me like they are getting artists from some of the different Pan-Am countries, and I see nothing wrong with that. Why does it have to be an all Canadian affair? So it can be a snooze fest like New Years Eve at Nathan Phillips Square every year? I don’t think that’s what’s bugging people.

2. Canadians like polite people. Kanye isn’t that. He’s as arrogant as they come. If you aren’t really into his music, then it’s easy to dislike him for his shenanigans. It’s all very calculated if you ask me. He’s extremely self-aware. Just for a second I’ll compare him to Muhammed Ali. Most won’t like this comparison, because in hind sight, we only like to remember Ali as being the most entertaining boxer of all time (some say the greatest), and for what he contributed to the Civil Rights movement. Kanye so far doesn’t seem to have the same redeeming features. Ali was the master of selling a fight though, and he went to some pretty crazy extremes to keep people talking and interested. If it seemed to make sense to Ali that he would need to behave like a complete asshole leading up to a fight, he had no problem doing that. He could be super arrogant too, and at the time, not everybody liked it, but they also may not have understood what he was doing which was generating excitement. He was definitely ahead of his time. I’m not sure Kanye will ever be looked back on with the same forgiveness and adoration despite his misdoings, but make no mistake, Kanye IS DOING ALL OF THIS ON PURPOSE, and it’s working. You hate it because you know it’s true.

3. As much as most of his other antics are forgivable, people get really mad when he cuts of an acceptance speech at award shows. I’m with the general public on this. It’s just too much. I choose to ignore it, but some can’t. I will say this though. Beck was not hurt by that in any way, and I would argue that some people unfamiliar with his music probably gave him a listen after that. Oh and Taylor Swift??? Yeah, things worked out OK for her.

4. His music. I’m not buying this argument either. I know a lot about Hip Hop music, and I also know a lot about other forms of music. The people that question Kanye’s talent and artistry are simply people who do not know Hip Hop music. I know he’s an easy guy to hate, and there’s a lot of crap you can bring up, but as Hip Hop artists go, he’s just about as good as they get. He’s a phenomenal producer, and a compelling rapper. Self made as well. He got into the game as a producer making other people look good before his own career took off. The general public attacks this guy way more than the manufactured American Idol pop music that everybody seems OK with. It’s wrong. Say what you want about him being a douche, but if you can’t look yourself in the mirror and say that you are a knowledgable Hip Hop fan, than you shouldn’t judge him because he doesn’t play a guitar or whatever. People need to talk about what they know about. Listen, I’m not a huge fan of Rush even though I’m Canadian. I’m just not that into Progressive Rock, but I would never bad mouth them, or question their talent, or dismissively say ‘they suck’, because I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. Rush is awesome, they’re just not for me. Kanye is awesome, he just might not be for you.

5. He married Kim Kardashian. So you take the prime ego-maniac of our generation, and marry him with the queen of reality television. That bothers people. Why? I know almost nothing about the Kardashians. I hear a lot of people say ‘That show is so annoying’. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen it. If you’re tired of celebrity gossip, then maybe you need to stop watching and reading celebrity gossip. It’s a choice. If you know too much about Kimye, it’s because you’ve chosen to. You are the problem. When I think of Kanye West, I try to think of him as an artist only. I could care less if he punches paparazzi or not. I know very little about his wife. That’s also no reason to not let a guy into your city.

So now we understand why Torontonians seem to dislike Kanye, and I’m OK with all of these reasons, but where you get off trying to tell organizers who shouldn’t play at events in this city? This is going to sound bad, but 95% of Torontonians wouldn’t give a shit about the Pan-Am Games if they weren’t here at this exact moment. Will you watch again in 4 years in some other city? Nope. While it’s great that you passionately support amateur athletics for a couple of weeks every 4 years, you really only do it so that you can feel good about your country when they win a medal. When these games aren’t on, it’s business as usual for 95% of you unless you have a relative or friend who is an amateur athlete with dreams of competing in something like this. You’re just enjoying the good times in your city while they last, because someone else went and did all the hard work to organize something great, and all you have to do is sit there and enjoy it. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even go see an event, but what a privilege it is for you to be able to, and after all those people went through all that trouble, you’re going to sit there on your couch and criticize their choice about who’s going to entertain you at the big party they’re throwing for you? Get off your high horse people!!! You’re embarrassing yourself and your city!


Buying Back Your Karma, LeBron?

This past Father’s Day was a great day for me. Not only did I celebrate my second year of being a Father, but I became Godfather to my nephew. It was a lovely church service with an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet to follow, and good times hanging out with family. That was enough to make it an amazing day. Those are life events, and they’re awesome. That wasn’t the end though. As my day was winding down, I watched the NBA Finals in which the San Antonio Spurs defeated the evil empire Miami Heat to win the championship. To say that was the cherry on top of my day is understating. It’s like I was eating ice cream, and suddenly I got caramel, chocolate drizzle, peanuts, candy sprinkles, and frigging gummy bears raining down on my dessert. As a basketball fan, it was so unbelievably sweet. My only objective for watching the NBA playoffs was to see Miami lose. Why do I feel this way?

Four years ago Lebron James, who is the best player in the NBA currently, and when it’s all said and done, might be regarded as the greatest of all time, became a Free Agent. To my non-basketball watching readers, this means he was free to sign a new contract with any team of his choosing. He had played for the Cleveland Cavaliers his entire career up to that point. He was born and raised not far from there, so this was his home team. Up until this point, I kind of liked him. What followed was sort of off-putting. He decided to team up with the other 2 top Free Agents that year, and all sign with the same team, basically guaranteeing that they would be the best team in the NBA. This type of collusion had never really happened in any sport that I was aware of. This is all perfectly within the rules, so can’t be called cheating necessarily. There was a salary cap system that prevented one team from spending more money than all the rest. If the Miami Heat wanted to spend all their money on only 3 players, then I guess the other 9 wouldn’t be that great. Except for the fact that a lot of quality veteran players agreed to take less money, and play a lesser role in hopes that hitching their wagon to these guys might bring them a championship before the end of their career. So instead of having only 3 good players, they had 12 good players, and became the envy of the rest of the league. There was a TV show to announce Lebron’s intentions. There was introduction ceremony at the arena where they boldly predicted that they would win the next 5 or 6 championships. It was all really disgusting to me. I tried to imagine Larry Bird agreeing to play on the same team as Magic Johnson in order to dominate the league, and I think they would have rather died. As good as Lebron was, and as hard as the Cleveland organization really tried to put good players around him, I guess at the tender age of 25, he’d run out of patience with his hometown, and took his ‘talents to South Beach’.

I really just wanted them to lose. I would have cheered for any team who went against them. They made the finals in their first year together, and lost to the Dallas Mavericks. That was pretty sweet, but to be honest, making the finals in their first year as a new team was a pretty decent achievement. I was hoping for their failure to be more extreme. The following two seasons the won the NBA championships. I watched those games, and tried to suppress the bile from shooting out of my mouth onto the entire world. It was all happening, just like they said. I so badly wanted them to be brought down to earth. Finally this year, after making the finals for the 4th consecutive year, they ran into a team that could bring them back down to earth. This Father’s Day I got to see them hang their cocky little heads in shame as they walked off the court. That said, in 4 years they made the finals 4 times and won 2 championships. I wish I could say that they somehow didn’t live up to the hype, but that’s pretty good. I hate them.

Fast forward to now. They had opt out clauses in their contracts, and guess what? They opted out. Weird. I thought as stacked as they were, that maybe they’d go after another few championships. There was no reason to think that they couldn’t. Then this morning I find out that Lebron James is leaving sunny Miami, and going back home to Cleveland. Shocking! It is kind of a feel good story though. It’s kind of making me hate him a little less. Could it be that he finally realized that he would never feel true satisfaction from his achievements in Miami because of the way that situation had been manipulated from day one? Did it suddenly occur to him that if he were able to bring a championship to his hometown, that it would be way more fulfilling than bringing it to a place with nice weather, beaches, and a cool nightlife? Is there a part of him that isn’t whole because he basically sold out his people to take the incredibly easy road to success? I kinda think so.

I think Lebron has come to the realization that there is a thing called Sports Karma which most people don’t know about or understand. What he did only had subtle amounts of evil to it. So when Karma struck, it wasn’t in the form of a career ending injury, or a lack of success, but possibly an empty feeling that he wasn’t able to enjoy his success the way he thought he would. At 29 years old he’s decided to go against all Basketball Free Agent logic, and sign with his hometown team again to take care of unfinished business, and maybe right an old wrong by bringing that long suffering franchise a championship.

I gotta say, as cynical as I am about some of these things, I kind of like this. I think maybe I don’t hate this guy as much as I used to. I almost think that as long as it doesn’t conflict with my Toronto Raptors success, that I might be hoping Cleveland does really well. I did not recently envision a scenario where the sight of this guy wouldn’t really irritate me, but now??? I don’t really mind him. Until he does some other dumb thing I guess.


Opening Daze

Yesterday was opening day for Major League Baseball. Today is opening day for my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. I (of course) have other commitments this evening, and will miss it. My family as a unit is at a stage in our technological evolution has not yet gotten a PVR for our TV, but seem to be above having a VCR for recording things. Therefore I will not be watching the opener this evening. I usually don’t miss it.

For those readers of my blog that don’t know me personally, you may be unaware of the fact that I am a die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fan. I like to keep sports out of my blog, and just focus on rants and opinions, but trust when I say that I could easily write a ‘Blue Jay Blog’ every day (time permitting). I use approximately 85% of my brain to think about the Toronto Blue Jays, and allot only 15% for all other facets of my life, which makes me seem a lot dumber than I am. The truth is I’m smart as a whip about all things Toronto Blue Jay related.

The Blue Jays have been around since 1977. I’ve been around for slightly longer. I have witnessed either in person, on TV, or on the radio just about every meaningful moment in Blue Jays history. I’ve watched them when they sucked as an expansion team. I’ve watched them when they were a good young up and coming team. I’ve watched them when they were back to back World Series Champions. I’ve watched them when they were a bunch of has-beens, and most importantly I’ve watched them miss the playoffs 20 years in a row. My interest never waned. They have flirted with success since then, but mediocrity has been their steady girlfriend for many years.

Finally they had the ‘off-season of a life-time’, and acquired a whole bunch of really good players to augment what was already a bunch of good young players. Now they are finally looking like a team that could win a World Series. I’m so stoked that I can barely contain myself. I want this. I need this. I’m as faithful of a fan to this team as anybody to any team. Need proof? Here are some of my random Blue Jay memories.

I remember Jesse Barfield hitting a pinch hit Grand Slam home run in 1982 against the Red Sox. It was the first pinch hit Grand Slam in Blue Jay history. I was too young to know what that meant (it sounded like a way bigger deal than it was, but we were an expansion team, so not that much cool stuff had happened yet), but I spent the 80s loving Jesse Barfield. I’m pretty sure I cried when he got traded to the Yankees for Al Leiter in 1989. Al Leiter the pitching prospect who was better known for his blister problems than any major league success (although in fairness Al turned out to be a pretty good pitcher). That summer I was playing tennis with a friend at the neighborhood tennis courts, when we looked over and noticed that Tony Fernandez was playing on the court beside us. We both collected baseball cards at the time, and how awesome would it be if we could race home on our bikes, and find all of our Tony Fernandez cards, then ask for an autograph. We achieved speeds that would make Lance Armstrong consider doping (wait a minute….never mind). We got back just as they were finishing up, and I asked Tony Fernandez for an autograph. As he signed it, I asked him if he thought it sucked that they traded Jesse Barfield. He gave me one of those cliché ‘it’s tough to lose a friend’ type of answers, but if you read between the lines, he meant ‘yes!!!! it sucks!!!!!’ Later that summer Fred McGriff was signing autographs at a car dealership. I went with a friend, and we lined up. Even though they had said only one item per person, Fred signed all of my cards (3 or 4). While he was signing, I asked him to try to hit a home run for me that night (in hindsight, who does that??? It’s not like he was visiting me in a hospital), and he said he would try. He did in his first at bat. By the end of the following year, both he and Fernandez got traded for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar which is arguably the greatest roster move in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays, because those were the two key players in our back to back World Series teams. Not knowing that at the time, I was pretty pissed off that the only two players I’d met both got traded, so I stopped trying to meet players.

Other items to consider as I profess my love for the Toronto Blue Jays…..

My mother baked Garth Iorg cookies. In 1985 when the Jays won their first division title, one of the newspapers was doing a thing where they asked players for family recipes, and published them. Garth Iorg was a 3rd baseman who had a son that year born in Toronto who was Canada’s shortstop at the World Baseball Classic this spring. I’m sure they’d both be stunned to know that cookie recipe became a staple in my household growing up.

I remember the day that Dave Stieb (who was my favourite player ever!!!!) pitched a no-hitter. I was at work and my friend called me to try to tell me without actually telling me that Stieb was pitching a no-hitter. You see, it’s bad luck to talk about a no-hitter while it’s happening, so he would have made up some code language to alert me to what was happening without actually saying it. Then I had to phone home, and get my father to tape the rest of the game for me on the VCR (man… i could really use a VCR today).

– I have a Frank Thomas game worn Blue Jays jersey
– I was in the Skydome watching game 6 on the jumbotron when they won the 1992 World Series. We rushed the field after. It was awesome.
– My parents were in the Skydome watching game 5 live when they should have won the 1992 World Series. They lost and their car got towed. It was not awesome.
– I was at the last ever game at Exhibition Stadium and the first ever game at the Skydome.
– I drove to Chicago with friends in 1998 to see Dave Stieb in his 40s attempt a comeback, and it was his first start with the team in 7 years.
– I’ve been to a spring training game in Dunedin Florida, and a minor league game in Las Vegas.
– I’ve sat in the booth with the PA announcer during a game eating his peanuts.
– I’ve played bare-handed catch with Scott Rolen (long story).
– I have autographed baseballs signed by Dave Stieb and Paul Molitor (awesome)
– I have an autographed baseball signed by Greg Myers, and a game worn Jacob Brumfield jersey (huh??)

(A lot of the above wouldn’t have happened without the help of a good friend who had a lot of access)

All that and I’ve only ever been to one opening day that I can recall. Slash of Guns n’ Roses fame did the national anthems on his electric guitar. It’s the first time I’ve heard the Canadian national anthem actually sound better than the American national anthem (which just seems to be a better song). I found it on Youtube. Worth having a look if you can appreciate a good guitarist.

I could write about the Blue Jays, and how our lives have paralleled for hours, days, years…. I will stop here. I hope all of you enjoy the upcoming baseball season regardless who you cheer for.