Eleven years ago today.
Roy Halladay pitched in a Blue Jays’ home game’ against the Blue Jays. It was his first start against the Jays. I was there.
It comes with a bit of a back story.
I had bought tickets for six games in Toronto, a series against the Cardinals and a series against the Phillies. Toronto was going to be hosting the G20 Summit of world leaders the weekend of the Phillies series. By people in the front office, I had been assured that the games would go on as scheduled. I had been holding off getting flights and hotel rooms, but I had assurances that the games wouldn’t move.
About two days after I bought everything, Paul Beeston held a press conference saying they were moving the Phillies series to Philadelphia. I was less than thrilled, mainly because Beeston talked about how the team would reimburse Phillies fans who had planned to make the trip to Toronto, without suggesting that they would help Jays fans who planned a trip.
A couple of days later, I sent a grumpy email to Mr. Beeston, and the next day, I got a call from a VP of Marketing, who helped me arrange tickets in Philadelphia and exchanged our tickets for the Cardinal games better ones. I rearranged the hotel, booked a rental car, and was all set. I watched the three Cardinal games, walking past a few hundred police officers to get to Rogers Centre. It was interesting to talk to the officers. They came from all across Canada. I talked to one from the Yukon who said there were more people living in a five-mile radius than lived in his entire territory.
Then it was off to Philadelphia. From the recap:
So, well, this was a long day. Up at 6:00 to get the rental car. It wasn’t hard to get to the rental car. Downtown Toronto looked like an early scene in a bad SF movie. Not a soul to be seen, except for cops. Drive pretty much like crazy, 10 hours. Not a terrible drive and I drove through country I haven’t seen. The traffic wasn’t bad until we hit Philadelphia. I will never complain about Calgary traffic again in my life.
I got to the hotel in time to throw the suitcase into the room and walk over to the park.
It is a beautiful park. After the three games in Toronto, where the usual poor attendance was but by the fact no one from Toronto would want to fight their way to the Dome, man, this place was packed. And almost everyone in Phillies colors. It seemed like 50% of them with Halladay’s name on their back.
The game itself? Doc was good. Our batters were terrible. The non-home field advantage showed up early when Vernon Wells and Fred Lewis had no idea how a ball would bounce off the right-field wall and turned what could have been a double into an easy triple. Vernon also ran a mile to have a shot hit him in the glove and fall to the ground. John Buck’s long swing vs. Roy Halladay’s pitching isn’t a fun thing to watch. Lewis didn’t have fun batting against him, either.
Jesse Litsch was terrible. David Purcey and Brian Tallet at least as bad. Between them, they managed to walk Jimmy Rollins 4 times.
Some almost forgotten names from the past in there. It is amazing how much changes in 11 years.
Jays lost 9-0. Halladay pitched 7, allowing 6 hits, 1 walk with 4 strikeouts. He was terrific, as always. Halladay would face and beat the Jays one more time.
We won the second game of the series, Shaun Marcum got the win. Aaron Hill, John Buck, and Alex Gonzalez all homered.
We’d lose the final game of the series, 11-2. If you can imagine it, John McDonald hit leadoff and played LF (poorly). He went 0 for 5. Our 2 runs scored on a Vernon Wells homer. Again from the recap:
The first hit of the day for the Phillies was a fly ball that any LFer would have caught. The Philadelphia fan beside me said, ‘What’s wrong with your left fielder?’ I said, ‘Wait till you see him hit leadoff.’ Sorry, John, I love you, but you should play short or second only.
The nice lady sitting in front of me, scoring the game, turned to me and said, ‘I’m charging all those runs to Cito. I should be the manager. I know McDonald isn’t an outfielder.’ I told her she got my vote.
Yeah, that was overly mean to McDonald. It wasn’t his fault he was playing left. I still can’t imagine what Cito was thinking, other than ‘left-handed pitcher, hey Johnny bats right’.
Beyond the games, we managed a visit to Hugo and met his (then) newborn son, he’s 11 now, daughter, and Mrs. Hugo. I asked Hugo where we should eat in Philadelphia. We had been getting fast food on the road and wanted a nice sit-down meal. Hugo suggested Jim’s Steaks. I thought, ‘steak sounds good.’ Unfortunately, it was cheesesteak (but I was too stupid to figure that out). I’ll admit, I thought it was strange to stand in line for 40 minutes for a sub, but we enjoyed it. But then, it wasn’t a nice sit-down meal we wanted.
It was an adventure, but I went to Philadelphia and didn’t see any of the city. I didn’t run up the stairs like Rocky or see anything about the city. It did change how I plan trips to watch the Jays. I always plan an extra few days to enjoy the city I’m in. But I drove through a bunch of towns that I had only heard of in Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel songs. And I played ‘Sailing to Philadelphia’ possibly too many times on the trip.