I had meant to write about our little trip to Toronto and Philadelphia before now, but got back and, like John Lennon said 'Life is what happens while you are making other plans'.
Anyway, flew out of Calgary the morning of June 22, the plan was to get in about 4, an hour or so to get to the hotel, rest for a bit and go to the game, but then the shuttle bus couldn't get as close to the hotel as it was supposed to with the G20 security up. We were dropped off about 8 blocks from the hotel, with the long walk and with the slower trip to downtown because of traffic and all, we got to the hotel with time to throw the suitcases into the rooms and head to the park. you haven't lived until you walk across downtown Toronto dragging luggage, not quite being sure the direction to the hotel.
Much more after the jump.
Got to the park in the middle of the top of the first, starving and had a nice smoked meat sandwich and beer. I know people complain about over priced food at the ball park, but this was good and for $11 wasn't too bad of a value. We had great seats, thanks to John Sanatana from the Jays. It wasn't the best of games, Brett Cecil was hit hard for 5 innings and then Jason Frasor and David Purcey were hit even harder. Jose Bautista hit two home runs which was most of our offense. Adam Lind was robbed twice, hit the ball hard down each base line. Albert Pujols made a great diving stop on the one down the first base line. That was the play of the game, we had 2 base runners who would have scored if the ball had made it to the corner.
By the time we got back to the hotel, we were dead tired. It was a long day starting early in Alberta and late in Toronto.
The next day was a day of meeting with folks. In the morning we walked over to the Festival Hall Chapters to meet Lee, who sent me a poster signed by Dirk Hayhurst, from their store's signing with Dirk. Disturbed him at work for a few minutes to say thank you. Then headed to the waterfront to look for the Watermark restaurant for lunch with Casusby, Dexfarkin and Dexfarkin's girlfriend, whose screen name I've forgotten at the moment (sorry). It was a very nice time, sharing Blue Jay stories as well as having good food and a beer. Great fun.
A quick walk to St. Lawrence Market and some shopping followed. The walk was fun, watching large helicopters circle us. At the market we were told a earthquake hit during our walk. We didn't feel it at all. Just as well I guess. Done at the market, walked back to Rogers Centre for an interview with Brian Butterfield that the Jays were nice enough to allow me.
At Rogers, the nice people at the security desk didn't have my media credentials, but after a bit Jay Stenhouse came down and told me to go down to field level and wait for him and he'd introduce me to Butterfield, he had to go upstairs with some people that were interviewing Paul Beeston. So an elevator ride and asking 6 or 7 people which way to go, I found myself down at field level, watching Butterfield do some infield drills with the pitchers and infielder. He was mostly having the pitchers field bunts and/or cover first base. I noticed Adam Lind and Jose Bautista were the players at first base.
When they were finished their drills and were coming off the field, Jay Stenhouse hadn't appeared yet, so I went up to Butterfield and introduced myself. He said he knew I was coming and he said he recognized my name from the site. He said he has been on the site, his son and his sister have sent him here before apparently. So I'm proud, at least for a moment, till I realize if he has seen it, folks that I've been a little tough on may have seen it too. Oh well.
We chatted for a few minutes before I turned on the recorder. He is a very very nice man. I wish I turned on the recorder earlier. Talking about the blogging world he said that anyone that has been in the game long enough to make it to the majors has to have a thick enough skin to be able to handle whatever we might say about them. I mentioned Kevin Millar was my favorite punching bag last year and he laughed. He did say that it bothered him, early in the season, when Lyle Overbay was being booed. He said that Lyle worked harder on his game than anyone.
There was a good point in there. Those of us on the outside don't know how hard guys work. Sometimes folks seem to think that anyone not doing well on the field ought to just work harder and all will get better. Baseball is a tough game.
He also mentioned how much he liked talking about baseball. I'll have the first part of the interview up tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. I've found yet another thing that I'm not good at: transcribing. So that makes roughly 52,000 things I'm not good at. The 'things I'm good at list' still sits at 4. One being juggling. The others...I'll keep to myself. Just be assured none of them are things that, generally, can earn people money.
As well as the interview, I took away my press credentials away from the park, which I'm thinking of having framed. I never figured the Jays would acknowledge our existence (and quite likely never will again). After finding my way out of the building and a quick look through the Jays shop (presents for my boys are an important part of any trip). Back to the hotel with time to change and go back for that night's game.
Walking around from the hotel to the park and the rest of downtown, was actually a pleasure. With various roads blocked off and more police than I figured we had in the entire country, made walking an easy thing. The police were friendly, I'm sure the sort of friendly we'd all be if we had to stand around all day, in the heat and humidity with nothing to do yet. We saw police from all across the country. I'd imagine it cost the Jays some in attendance, I can't imagine many people wanted to fight their way downtown by car.
That night's game, we again had tickets behind the plate, a little lower down. A great place to see balls and strikes (occasionally a better view than the home plate umpire). Ricky Romero pitched a great game great. Chris Carpenter pitched at least equally well. 0-0 till the 9th when the Cards got a run off Kevin Gregg. Gregg didn't pitch badly, got unlucky on a couple of ground balls. Alex Gonzalez had a tough night, an error in the first, on what should have been a double play ball and he hit into 3 DP's himself.
We stopped for a drink and munchies at 'Loose Moose' on the way back to the hotel. Good food, neat place, NO AIR CONDITIONING. Had we known there wasn't air we'd have picked somewhere else. The difference between Toronto and Calgary is humidity. It might get hot here but it is dry, I sweated buckets while there.
Thursday was a more relaxed day. Nice lunch at a French cafe on King Street. The fun part was walking down the street looking at the menus, with each of the hostesses telling us why we should eat at their place. The rest of the afternoon was shopping. Looked in a sports collectable's place and got a nice, signed, picture print of Duke Snider making a catch at the wall at Ebbets Field. Snider is my wife's favorite player, not because she saw him play or anything, but because he was the color commentator for the Expos games, years ago. And we wandered Eaton's Center.
Our last game in Toronto was more fun to watch. Jays 5-0. Brandon Morrow was terrific, going 8 innings. Again had great seats behind the plate. Vernon Wells hit 2 home runs, making me feel good about buying a Jays shirt with his name and number on the back. Adam Lind had a couple of hits too.
During the game, some idiot jumped up on the Cardinal's dugout roof. I guess he was protesting the G20 in some manner but his message was lost on me. He ran from the ushers back to his seat. The ushers and security talked to him a bit, then went and got the police. They talked to him for a moment and something happened. The next moment the police were removing him, very roughly, from the park. I'm all for protesting and revolution and all but I think there is a time and place for everything. Getting arrested without getting your point across to even the folks sitting near you seems like a waste of effort to me.
Straight back to the hotel and to bed, up early the next morning to rent a car and drive to Philadelphia. We'll save the Philly half of the trip for part too, as this has been too long already.