On the night of August 9, 2010, my wife and I arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house in the Toronto suburbs after driving straight from Niles, Ohio after watching the Mahoning Valley Scrappers game. We had a great time at Eastwood Field, compiling photos and notes for my website The Ballpark Guide. Here’s the Eastwood Field/Scrappers page on my site.
On this day, the Jays were hosting the Boston Red Sox and I’d bought 100 Level tickets online in advance. We took the commuter train from the suburbs to downtown, made a beeline for the ticket office’s will call window and picked up our tickets.
After horribly forgetting to take a ticket/stadium shot in my first game at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, I made sure to get my trademark shot right away:
That out of the way, I snapped a few photos of Rogers Centre, the ballpark I know best. I’ve been here dozens and dozens of times since it opened in 1989, but every time I visit is just as exciting as the first. Here are a couple photos:
Once the gates opened, we went to our seats, which were directly over the Jays bullpen in right field. Batting practice was on:
I was determined to get my first Major League Baseball from a Big League BP. Here’s an artsy photo my wife took of me watching the proceedings:
Halfway through BP, not a single ball had entered my section, despite my intense watching skills:
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my wife catch the eye of an usher and point at a ball below our section. Without hesitation, he grabbed it and tossed it up to her … and she promptly misplayed it, causing the ball to roll out of the section and back down behind the bullpen. Somehow, he decided to go get it for her again, tossed it up and she caught it! I was down 1-0 to my wife who, if she had her druthers, would prefer that all projectiles steer clear of her.
BP wrapped up a few minutes later, so it was time to take a stroll around the stadium before the game begun.
Rogers Centre is a great facility, but the concession prices are ridiculous. So too are the product names — the food vendors love adding special names to common ballpark food to make it appear exotic. An “Italian” sausage is a brown-tinted hot dog.
A burger for $11:
A dry piece of cardboard pizza for $5.25? Ugh. Give me Minor League Baseball’s $2.50-everything menu any day.
The one exception we found, however, we a new attraction: The Roundhouse Carvery & Bar. Here, they’ve got actual chef types slicing actual meat. It’s basically meat on a bun, but the quality looked deli-style and pretty good for stadium food. And for $10, I’d much rather have this than another burger:
Equally good looking was the Muddy York stand, which offered loaded nachos for $8.50. By loaded, I’m talking about BBQ smoked pork, cheese, baked beans, corn salsa, sour cream, green unions and jalapenos … and this feast cost $2 more than the standard yellow corn chips and yellower “cheese sauce.” (More on these nachos in my second entry about Toronto … at this point, we were touring around and not eating just yet.)
As we walked around the circular concourse, I couldn’t help but take a photo of one of my favorite sights:
And a few other pics, including this panorama:
By now, we’d circuited the entire stadium and made our way back to the rear of section 130, where our seats were. Near here, I have to mention, is the famous Quaker Steak & Lube concession stand, which serves outstanding wings. A basket is $10, and a big bucket is $21 (yikes), but they’re worth it. You can get a handful of flavors and they’re better than the average sports bar wing:
We each got a single order of wings (I somehow neglected to take a photo) and headed to our seats for the start of the game. Before getting there, I took an awkward-angle shot to show our seats, which were roughly in front of the orange Pizza Pizza banner:
Then the game begun. As you can see, the attendance wasn’t bad on this night. It’s typically pretty good for games against the Red Sox and Yankees:
From our seats, we had a great view of the Jays dugout. That’s Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp and Brian Tallet:
After a couple innings, we took our usual stroll to watch the game from different angles. From the top of the 100 Level along the third base side, I got this picture of David Ortiz:
Behind him is J.P. Arencibia, one of my favorite Jays prospects for a long time and the guy who should be Toronto’s Opening Day catcher in 2011.
I took the photos to make up this third base-side panorama later that same inning:
And here’s a close-up of Toronto starter Ricky Romero:
Here are a couple panoramas from behind home plate:
Granted, I haven’t been in many MLB stadiums, but I’ve been in a ton of NHL and NFL facilities, and the Rogers Centre “ushers” are fanatical. Now, I’m a Jays fan and always will be, but it’s ridiculous. Of course, if I have a 100 Level seat, I don’t want someone else sitting in it. But if it were the bottom of the ninth, and there were 5,000 fans left in the ballpark, the ushers still wouldn’t let someone move to the 100 Level. I wanted to get the shots for a panorama from the third base side, so I walked past the usher to stand in the aisle and take some photos. No big deal; no one was trying to get past me and I wasn’t taking anyone’s seat. And he freaked. I told him I just wanted to take a couple photos and then I’d be gone. “No. I can’t let you do that,” he said. My response? “Well, I’m going to take some photos either way, and if you want to forcibly remove me, go for it.” And he just stood there looking frazzled. I’ll end the rant here, but it wouldn’t hurt Toronto’s military-wannabe staff to take a chill pill.
Here’s a panorama from the first base line:
After taking this, we headed to one of my favorite sections in the outfield, just to the left field-side of the batter’s eye. As much as I love sitting at the stadium, I don’t like crowds around me. So here’s a trick: If you buy a 100 Level seat, the ushers allow you to move elsewhere in the 100s, as long as the new seat is the same price as the old one. The section to the left of the batter’s eye rarely has people in it, so I often go sit in the middle of it where I can watch the game in peace. The view here is pretty good:
You can also keep an eye on the bullpen: (That’s Scott Downs looking at me.)
Before the start of an inning, I snapped this photo of outfielders Fred Lewis, Jose Bautista and Travis Snider watching something on the scoreboard:
As for the game? Toronto lost 7-5, but got home runs from Adam Lind, Snider and Bautista.
After the game, we took the train back to the ‘burbs and I counted down the hours until the next night’s game, which would be Clay Buchholz against Shaun Marcum.