Toronto Blue Jays – May 19

Finally, it was here. Last Thursday was the first day of my first major road trip of 2011, and I was pumped.

The plan was to drive to Toronto on Thursday, check in to my downtown hotel and watch the Jays play the Rays that night at Rogers Centre. I booked the Hyatt Regency on King Street through a discount website for a pretty good deal. Typically, when you use these sites, you get thrown in some random room that has a view of the building beside it. When I checked in, however, I was told I’d like the view. When I got up to my room, this is what I saw:

I caught up on some work for a bit, then headed down to Rogers Centre about two hours before game time. Since I’ve been a bunch of times, I didn’t get too carried away with photos. But, I did take my usual ticket photo:

Of course, by the time I put the camera away, there were three people ahead of me, but no biggie. I had about 30 minutes of listening to some Rays fan in front of me telling two other people who he was the only real Rays fan and everyone else was a bandwagon jumper. He was also wearing a batting glove. I was tempted to tell him he had missed the start of BP.

Being early paid off. When they opened the doors at 5:30 p.m., I ran to the left field corner and found a gift:

Awesome! I didn’t get anything else during batting practice. It was one of those odd BPs — not a lot of balls came even near where we were. After BP wrapped up, I took a tour around the concourse to see what was new this season. The BlackBerry Studio is new for 2010, and it was neat to watch hosts Jamie Campbell and former Jay Gregg Zaun getting ready to go live:

See Zaun’s catchers mitt in the above photo? Here’s a close up, which shows his stitched-on name. I never saw him using it on air, but it was cool to see:

Also, it was funny to see him sitting there in a suit, about to go on TV, chewing away. Here’s his tin of Copenhagen:

I watched the Sportsnet guys for a bit, then walked to a section above the field to watch starter Ricky Romero start stretching. If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d swear he was having a quick nap:

He soon moved to the bullpen, where I watched him warm up:

My ticket was for the 500 Level, but I wanted to stick around the 100 Level and watch the game from beyond the railing at the top of the section. During my travels, I snuck in behind the batter’s eye and took a shot through a hole in it:

I should note it was neat to see Eric Thames in his first week of MLB action:

I saw him last fall with the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats. It was also great to see the Pat Gillick and Roberto Alomar Hall of Fame banners, which I hadn’t seen yet. Both guys are the first Jays to enter the Hall, and they’ll do so later this summer:

Time for some dinner! Though I was tempted to get my usual Quaker Steak & Lube wings, which are amazing, I opted for a big sandwich at Shopsy’s deli. It was called the Bill Cosby Triple Decker, and had both corned beef and pastrami, and came with a pickle and coleslaw for $11:

From the side, this monstrously delicious beast looked like this:

You have to go into a full Quasimodo hunch to eat something like this, but it was worth it.

As for the game, Romero was solid with six Ks in seven innings. There wasn’t much offense for most of the game until catcher J.P. Arencibia broke things open with a two-run shot in the seventh:

I was able to get this clear shot of Arencibia because from the seventh inning on, I was sitting behind the Jays dugout. Previously, I’d been sitting on a chair behind the railing at the top of the 100 Level, and a nice lady approached me, asking if I wanted a better ticket. She had her grandson at the game, and he was tired so they were heading home. She handed me two $60 tickets for the 12th row behind the home dugout. Instead of taking her seats, I just found an open area in that section, but it was awfully nice of her.

Final score: Toronto 3, Tampa Bay 2. (The Jays also had a home run from Juan Rivera.)

After the game, I went down to the dugout and had an usher snap this photo of me:

(Of course, being a Rogers Centre usher, he had to warn me about leaning on the dugout.)

Check back soon for the details of my second game in Toronto, and then my games in Lansing and many more!

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