Monday, May 17, 2004

Three French Toast, Two Turtle Necks...

"I witnessed Kevin Youkilis' Major League debut and saw his first Major League hit--a home run!"... is what I would be saying right now, had I stayed in Toronto for one more game. Instead, I left Saturday morning, after seeing Thursday and Friday's games at the Skydome.

My first thought upon arriving at the stadium on Thursday at around four o'clock was: Is the game cancelled?

Skydome is a big ugly hunk of concrete in the middle of an otherwise good-looking city. It looks more like a big bus station...that buses don't go to anymore.

After walking halfway around the stadium, I finally saw some human beings: a few Sox fans and some scalpers. Like most scalpers, this one guy, who I'd say was the head of a big scalping ring, made you feel like you're stupid to do anything besides give him your money. He reminded me of Easy Andy, the character in Taxi Driver who Travis Bickle buys his guns from. In the movie, Andy does a stellar job of selling specific guns to Bickle. After Bickle decides to buy basically all of them, Andy adds up the prices, collects the money, and then starts asking if Bickle needs drugs as well. Or a car. "I can getcha a brand new Cadillac!"

This guy wanted to set me up with "amazing" seats for the whole weekend.

So I went to the ticket office.

It's weird how in Canada, you can pay for anything with U.S. dollars, but they give you your change in Canadian currency. So you have to play the game of: I have to get enough Canadian money so I'll have exactly enough to buy what I need before I leave Canada. I ended up with a pocket full of one and two dollar coins. (I don't think they have bills lower than five.)

The CN Tower is right next to the dome, it was cool to crane my neck and stare at it.

Once inside the dome, I couldn't help but notice that I was in yankee Stadium with a lid.

From the urine-smelling concrete, to the blue seats, to the scoreboard and PA frills, (does it fulfill these people spiritually to yell "Charge!" when commanded to do so by a horn sound-effect twenty times a night?) to the chants of "1918" and "Boston Sucks," to the guy with the Blue Jays shirt and yankee hat, this place was yankee friggin' stadium.

Oh, and the souvenir store at the stadium had about, I'd say, 80% Blue Jays apparel, 2% other team apparel, and 18% yankee gear. There was a whole wall of yankee shirts. Toronto's other team, I guess. I think I know who those people root for in October.

There were also tv commercials on the scoreboard between innnings, when they weren't doing the minor league staple, "Man in the Stands," who asked people trivia questions for prizes, etc. And they had these dancers who would dance on top of the dugout, and the Blue Jay mascot was also a trained dancer. It was very bizarre seeing these men doing really professional Britney Spears moves on the dugout.

They also have their own 7th inning stretch song, complete with special dance, which everyone seems to know, in the way most Americans freakishly break into the chicken dance as soon as the song starts at weddings.

The funny thing was, when there weren't sound effects blaring, you could hear a pin drop, as the crowd of 5,000 (they said 20,000) sat silently, waiting for a hockey game to break out.

As the Jays took the field, the loudest fireworks I ever heard in my life went off about 100 feet above my head, scaring the living crap out of me--and everyody else. The guy behind me said he knows it's coming every time, but every time he jumps out of his shoes.

I got seats in the 500 level for the first game. The ushers wouldn't let anyone stray out toward the thousands of empty seats down the baselines. And then when I tried to go down lower, I was shocked to find that the access to the lower decks were blocked off. You either could take the "Exit To Street," or stay in your seat.

They did have veggie dogs there, though. That and the cheap ticket prices were some of the few positives.

The second day, I was watching TV and it said the temperature would be 26 degrees. I couldn't figure out how warm that was, until finally they showed a map off all of North America, with the high temperature for the major cities. So I looked at Miami: 27 degrees. LA: 28 degrees. Okay, so it's gonna be hot. And it was.

But the roof was closed that night. The night before it was open, and in the upper deck, I was freezing by the ninth inning. Go figure.

For the second game, I sat in the lowest deck, in right center field. I brought my video camera, and got some nice shots of Damon, Manny, and Millar in the outfield, and during BP I filmed Pedro jogging with his headphones on, and the rest of the team.

I got a ball in BP, too. Daubach hit one over my head in right field. I turned, and the ball was rolling around. I hopped two rows of seats, and as I retrieved the ball, I heard an older Spanish-speaking woman saying, "Owww." Knowing the ball must've hit her, I grabbed it and gave it to her. She was kind of flustered, and rubbing her hand. I kept saying, "Are you okay?" but I don't think she spoke English. When BP ended, I waved to her and she mouthed the words "thank you" to me. And as I was leaving the area, her son came running after me and gave me the ball. I said, "Are you sure?" He didn't speak English either, but pushed the ball at me. So I took it and attempted to thank him, and he ran off. I had written about a similar situation that happened to one of my yankee fan friends in the eighties. (see my March 16th post) I think this makes up for that one.

I got to see a loss and a win, and I decided I'd just get up and go home on Saturday, because if I stayed for the game, the eight hour trip might have me driving til very late, and in the rain. Had I known Youkilis was playing his first game, I probably would've stayed. Oh well, I got to hear the whole game on the radio driving home, and the yankee game went like five hours, so that took up a good chunk of the trip. And the Sox won and the yanks lost in awesome fashion. (Although Michael Kay's intro for the following day's game was all about the yanks home run hitting, and their "virtual murderer's row."--and, oh yeah, they lost. I've talked about this before--even in losing, the yankees always win. Whatever.)

Canada's cool and all, but it's nice to be home. To quote Lisa Simpson, while in France, from tonight's Simpons episode, "America has it's grandeur, and it's folly. But most of all, it's where all our stuff is."

The magic number sits at 126.


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Location: Rhode Island, United States