Every fall, my brother and I take a road trip to watch an NFL game in a different city. We started the tradition a few years ago, and so far, we’ve been to Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland. Where possible, we add a second sporting event to our itinerary, and I’m always pushing for a baseball game. Last year, when we visited Cleveland to see the Browns, we also went to Progressive Field to see the Indians on Jim Thome Night.
This year, driving to the U.S. to watch football didn’t work with our schedules, so we came up with a great alternative — two days in Toronto to watch the Blue Jays host the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. I saw the Jays twice last season, but hadn’t been to a game yet in 2012. If my first Jays games of the year weren’t exciting enough, it was an added bonus to see the team in its new uniforms for the first time.
On our way to Toronto, we stopped at a sports store on the edge of the city to buy some shirts for the game. Because it was the end of the season, the Jays stuff was a) discounted and b) sparse. In fact, most of the adult shirts were size small, except there were plenty of these in all sizes:
I finally found two larges — Brandon Morrow and Brett Lawrie, and opted for the latter. I’ll have a photo of that shirt in a later blog entry, but you’ll also see me wearing that shirt in this post.
We got to Toronto about an hour and a half before first pitch, and parked in my secret location. Downtown Toronto is a nightmare for parking, and if you’re close to Rogers Centre, you can expect to pay $25 or $30 to park. (Not as bad as Fenway Park, but still.) The lot I’ve used for years charges exactly $5, and is roughly a five minute walk from the stadium. This view from the lot shows the CN Tower in the background, and if you aren’t familiar with Toronto, the stadium is directly at the base of the tower:
After parking, we cut through the lot and out to the street where this was our view:
Ideal parking, right?
I’ve been to Rogers Centre a million times, so unlike my usual baseball road trips, I didn’t need to document everything with my camera. Instead, I just took a few shots — like this one, looking up at the tower …
… before we picked up our tickets:
Since the gates had already opened, we zipped right inside and watched some of the pregame show with Jamie Campbell and former MLB catcher Gregg Zaun:
Then, we checked out the team shop and I’m glad we did. Since I visited last season, the Jays have added a memorabilia/game-used room, and if you know me, you’ll know this is right up my alley. The crown jewel of the room is the team’s back-to-back World Series trophies which, until now, weren’t available for the general public to see. Here’s me lurking behind them, wearing my new T-shirt:
The room had a bunch of other cool stuff, like game-used bats:
And Yunel Escobar’s hat from July 4. I didn’t inspect it for any non-MLB regulation lettering:
And a ton of game-used and game-issued jerseys:
I didn’t buy anything at the time, but I picked up something very cool for my collection the next day, and I’ll blog about that later on.
By now, the game was just about underway, and we decided to watch an inning from the concourse before getting some lunch. This is the view from the concourse just outside the team shop’s entrance:
From here, I was able to zoom in and get a photo of the guy on my T-shirt, Brett Lawrie:
After the top of the first inning, we decided to grab some food and find another place to sit. We’d bought 500 Level tickets for the game, but I shared one of my patented Rogers Centre tricks with my brother — find a spot behind the railing in the 100 Level concourse, grab two folding chairs and watch the action from there.
On our way around the concourse, we paused so that I could snap a photo of Derek Jeter:
And then, I hit the Quaker Steak & Lube concession for the famous chicken wings. I ate the wings last year, and they were just as good this year — although there were far fewer drumettes than last time. Still, they’re delicious, and for my money, one of the best things you can eat at Rogers Centre:
My brother opted for a foot-long hot dog and got it loaded with onions, cheese, hot peppers and baked beans, among other things:
As we had our lunch, we kept laughing as piece after piece of his hot dog’s toppings dropped to the floor. The loaded dog was just so large that it was practically impossible to eat. By the time he finished, this was the scene between his feet:
Now, I should say that I got special permission to take this photo.
Me: Do you mind if I take a photo of the mess on the floor? You know, for the blog.
Him: Sure, that’s cool.
Me: You aren’t worried that it’ll make you look, you know, like … a bit slobby?
(I should note that he did clean up the mess afterward like a responsible citizen.)
As for our makeshift seating, it was great. I love sitting at the railing at Rogers Centre. Our view was perfect …
… and right above and to our left, we could watch the game’s TV feed:
Despite not having an amazing camera, I could still get some decent shots of the infield:
(I’m not sure what Nick Swisher is doing here.)
And my favorite Yankee, Ichiro Suzuki:
Believe it or not, the Jays won convincingly, which was a welcome surprise. Late in the game, I snapped this panorama from our seats:
And shortly thereafter, got this one of the Jays celebrating the win:
Then, it was out to the pavilion in front of Gate 11 for a photo, which wrapped up a perfect day:
Less than 24 hours later, we were back at Rogers Centre to watch the Jays and Yankees again. I’ll have a blog post about that soon.