Our first baseball experience as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Texas Rangers in the MLB
The morning of our first baseball game didn’t get off to the best of starts when we woke up to find that the foster cat we are looking after, Gracie, had disgraced herself and decided that when you have to go, you just have to go, and had wiped her ass along the floor in a ‘u’ shape. Thank god for hard flooring and not carpet.
After an unscheduled disinfecting and mopping session of the floor we headed down to the Rogers Centre for 11am. The match didn’t start until 1:07pm, so why get there 2 hours before? Well the first 20,000 fans through the gates got a free Toronto Blue Jays hat! Now we can really fit in in Toronto, as we can join the hordes of people that walk round in Blue Jays merchandise over the summer months.
Closer inspection of similar hats on sale in the stadium revealed that the average cost is $20. Given our tickets cost $16 each, and we didn’t spend anything on food or drink in the stadium, I think we did pretty well.
Hats in hand (or should that be ‘on head’?), we headed up into the heavens to our seats. Despite being on the top tier, our view was still remarkably good. However, whilst back home, England was experiencing some great weather last weekend, Toronto was experiencing weather that England should have during the summer – rain, cloud, low temperatures, wind and general greyness. The good news is that the Rogers Centre has a roof, so no case of rain stopping play here. The bad news is that we had picked seats specifically that should have given us a view of the match as well as through the open roof of the CN Tower looming over us next door (always thinking of the photo opportunity you see). Better luck next time I guess.
The ceremonial first ball (marking the end of pre-game activities and the start of the game) featured the Blue Jays mascot and for some reason a Sasquatch dressed in a baseball player’s uniform. As Emma’s brother pointed out, at least the hunt for Big Foot is over now – he’s been hanging out in Toronto all this time.
The match then got underway. We were familiar with the basics, as like all British kids of our generation, had spent many an hour on the school playing field playing rounders, and in later years, had avoided smashing a TV screen with the controller whilst playing Wii Sports.
I was surprised by the lack of hitting though, and had certainly expected more ball on bat action. In some ways, it was very similar to cricket (how much more British can this post get? The weather, rounders and cricket have all been mentioned so far), when the bowler will often whistle the ball past the batsmen without him getting his bat to the ball.
That wasn’t the only similarity with cricket. Obviously there is the bat and ball aspect, they both play innings, and a batting team tries to hit as many runs as possible whilst the fielding team tries to get them out in a number of ways. Meanwhile, non-cricket nations don’t get how you can play a game for up to 5 days. Well here the Blue Jays were playing the Texas Rangers for the 3rd day straight of a three match series. The next day they would start a 4 match home series against the Boston Red Sox, with all matches taking place over 4 straight days. OK, each day may represent a different match, but really, it’s not that different to cricket if you’re playing the same opponent 3 or 4 days in a row!
After a slow start, Josh Donaldson hit a massive home run for the Blue Jays! Next innings, and another two Blue Jays players, Jose Reyes and Devon Travis, brought in runs, meaning that the score was now 3-0. Game over? Well not quite, as the Rangers hit back immediately, picking up a run in each of their next two innings.
Now at 3-2, the match was delicately poised. For their next few innings, the Rangers seemed certain to collect a run or two, to at least bring the scores level if not take the lead. The Blue Jays meanwhile seemed to do anything but get another man to even the first base! You could certainly feel the tension in the crowd, but also the relief and joy when a Rangers player got out. But through some inspired pitching, the Blue Jays held on much to the crowd’s adulation and joy.
We enjoyed our first baseball match. It was fun, although no doubt Toronto winning played its part. The cost of the tickets was great too when you consider how much you pay for first class sport normally.
What about Gracie though? Did we return home to a scene of horror like that which we had woken up to? No, thankfully, but she will forever be now known as Disgraced Gracie.
Our tips for for watching baseball in Toronto:
- Short on cash? You can take your own food in and there are water fountains too, so you can fill up your water bottle.
- Want a free hat? Check out the promo days where the first 20,000 fans get a range of freebies including hats, mittens and jerseys.
- Last minute? Tickets often don’t sell out in advance so you’ll usually get some good seats on the day.