FanPost

Opening Night at the Ballpark: A 1000-Word Fanpost

Tom: I moved this to the front page, but I do have to note that this is a 'fanpost' not a 'fanshot' ML: Fixed!

I've gone to every Blue Jays home opener for since 1998 now. Once when my dad and I couldn't find tickets for a game, we walked into Windows Restaurant from street level (back then when it was still an actual restaurant) and tried to get seats there. No luck, but for some reason we weren't able to go out the way we came in, and were told to exit through the ballpark. But, since they had some sort of giveaway that day, the security guard actually wouldn't let us exit the stadium, so we had to stay. Oops.

I began that story not only because Opening Night has always been a cherished memory of mine, but also because this year again, I was late to get tickets for Opening Night. The plan was to go with three of my friends, but by the time I got around to get tickets, none were available on the web. Here, I must thank Mr. Glenn Jackson--he's an account executive for the Blue Jays' ticket sales department. He let me know that there is a time in mid-March where a bunch of tickets that were held back for flex-pack holders were going to be released for general sales. He called me the second the tickets were released, and was able to get my group four tickets to the hottest event in town. Thanks again!

Getting in there was fine as well. I arrived at the gate by 6:15 this year and went through the line and gate in 3 minutes. Another friend who was late arrived at around 7:00 and still just took 7 minutes to get through security. This is in direct contrast to the horrid organization last year (I was at the stadium by 6:20 and did not get in until the 2nd inning).

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The tickets were for section 504, row 9 (see above). I don't know how well you know the Rogers Centre, but that section is in the upper deck, right beside the middle section where the hotel, restaurant, and the Jumbotron are, and row 9 is the very back row of that section. In terms of the field, we couldn't really see left field, nor any other parts of the outfield within ~15 metres of the wall. We also missed everything on the Jumbotron, and all announcements on the speakers (all we heard were muffled echos). When I got home and watched the opening ceremonies on bluejays.com, I was surprised that Bert Byleven was there. We had no idea up at 504.

 

OK my description make it seem like they were pretty crappy seats (actually they were) but I still had a heck of a time there. My section and everyone else in the stadium were LOUD in the first few innings. It started off with the anthems. Now apparently the kid who sang The Star Spangled Banner was pretty bad (not that we 504ers heard the difference), and the kid who sang O Canada started off kinda soft. But it didn't matter, all of us started helping him and sang together along loudly.

That first inning was really fun. Started off in the top of the inning with one good and one great play by Romero off the mound to retire the side, and then continued on in the bottom half with an assortment of different plays that helped fill my non-fan friend's vocabulary: infield hit, pick off, avoidance of pick off, walk, bases loaded hit-by-pitch, sac flies, error, balk. Marketing probably called the dugout, panicking and telling them not to start the season with such unsustainable excitement and success.

Of course, then came the homers for the good guys. Home runs were fun to see up in 504 because we had no idea what happens to deep flies until we hear the rest of the fans react. When JPA hit the first homer of the season for the Jays, it was cool to see the rally towels raining down on the field like ticker tape at a parade (or like paper at the House of Commons). Then when Jedi hit one out and an Adam Bomb was dropped after, more towels floated down on to the field. At that point, it was still tolerable. But as the game went on, the beer continued to flow, the young men started to throw their towels at the field at any opportunity and it became embarassing. I am always afraid that the visitors would simply pull their team off the field and force a forfeit. I don't get why the Jays insist on handing out giveaways before the game on Opening Day. Did they already forget about the helicoptering of magnetic schedules a couple years ago?

Then around the 7th or 8th the fights started in my section (although I'm sure they were happening in other parts of the 500 section). Two groups of young men turned a loud verbal spat (over a young lady methinks) that turned into a shoving match after security asked them to leave. Then a few minutes later, two other guys were fighting in row 1 (note: row 1 of the 500 level is not the safest place to have a drunken scuffle). After all this was done, 504 was tightly observed by two ushers, a bunch of security folks, and one of Toronto's finest. Although it was disappointing to see a lot of fans leaving before the end of the game, maybe it was for the best because most of the "real" fans stayed.

But these disruptions were to be expected at a game with 47k+ people. What I will take away from this game experience was how much fun and how loud the stereotypically stoic Toronto fans can get, and that  with a good product on the field and a good crowd, the Rogers Centre isn't really that bad of a place to see a ballgame. I wish the dome was rolled back, but then I would've been complaining about the wind or something.

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