Saturday, July 7, 2007

Day 13: Rogers Centre

All photos of Toronto and Rogers Centre available on Flickr.

What another exciting day north of the border! After blogging, Erik and I started the afternoon by walking to the CN Tower and taking the 58-second elevator ride to the top. The CN Tower is the world's tallest freestanding structure, and even though the observation deck is not all the way at the top, it was still cool to be up that high and look over the city and Lake Ontario. After being shafted at the Sears Tower, it made this excursion even that much more sweet. The best part is the glass floor they installed up there about 10 years ago. Erik and I both got pictures laying on the glass with the SkyDome directly beneath us. We then walked through nearby Union Station and did some shopping, and I finally got my much-anticipated Mats Sundin Maple Leafs jersey and a small Canadian flag. Both were things I was looking forward to purchasing since Day 1. We both wanted to also see the Ontario Parliament buildings and the Hockey Hall of Fame, but we ran out of time and had to get down to the park. However, I love Toronto, and I'm sure I/we will be back someday to see that stuff.

We made our first foreign currency of the trip while fundraising, pulling in $5 American and over 30 in Canadian scratch. It was cool to hear the clink of "loonies" and "toonies" being dropped in the box. Then -- off to the park, which is right downtown near the lake, CN Tower, Union Station, and the Air Canada Centre. I had very low expectations of Rogers Centre; it's relatively old, it's a multi-use dome (the CFL Argonauts also play there), it has old-school astroturf, enough said. And had the roof been closed, I may still have not liked the stadium; it always looks so dark and dank on ESPN highlights. We fortunately had the rare treat of taking in a game at the SkyDome with the roof open, which only occurs about 10% of the time, and I loved it. Our seats were ridiculously close, and the stadium was very charming. I was mesmorized the entire game by the gigantic jumbotron in center field and all the activity happening in the adjoining hotel, bars, and restaurants. Besides the turf, the obvious downside of the stadium was the prices - everything from food to clothes was ridiculously expensive. I spent $6 on a chili dog and $35 on a Lyle Overbay t-shirt (the only reasonable price in the whole city was the huge $2 beef hotdogs we bought at a street vendor). The team shop and concourses are incredible though, and overall I walked away feeling good about the experience. I was proud be an honorary Canadian for a day, wearing my Leafs jersey, donning my Expos cap, and singing every word to "O Canada."

The game itself was a typical AL barnburner on "Flashback Friday" in Toronto. The Jays ended up winning 8-6 behind a lackluster pitching performance by staff ace Roy Halladay, who gave up 5 over 5.2 (he still got a standing ovation upon leaving). Vernon Wells and Alex Rios provided most of the offense, with Wells tagging a towering blast into the 2nd deck in left field. Despite the Blue Jays pitching staff falling one strikeout short of the entire stadium getting free pizza, and the fact that Lyle Overbay didn't play, it was a good game nonetheless. The highlights were definitely Matt Stairs' awkward triple, and the El Ranchero Jalepeno race in 3rd inning.

Overall, I absolutely fell in love with the city, despite the apparently high cost of living. It is very alive and has many charming areas. Toronto and Pittsburgh have definitely been added to my list of potential places to live when looking for employment. I'm really excited to go to Vancouver later in the trip and see how it compares with eastern Canada. Saturday it's our longest drive of the trip thus far (7 hours) to crash at Frank's house in Rhinebeck NY before heading the additional 90 minutes to Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 5 (it's a dome)
views from park - 7 (only because roof was open - can see skyline and CN Tower)
view to field - 8 (we had excellent seats up along 1st)
surrounding area - 9 (heart of downtown)

food variety - 3
nachos - 2 (stale chips, small amount of chips & cheese, pricy)
beer - 5 (not a wide variety and very expensive, but they do have Labatts)
vendor price - 2
ticket price - 7 (500 level is only $9)
atmosphere - 7 (a beautiful evening for a ballgame)
walk to park - 10
parking price/proximity - 5 (good proximity, high price)
concourses - 6
team shop - 8 (points deducted for high prices)

best food - the giant all-beef hotdogs are apparently a Tornoto thing...
most unique stadium feature - first retractable stadium roof in world, hotel in center field
best jumbotron feature - Flashback Friday MLB highlights from 1980s
best between-inning feature - tie between Jalepeno Race and playing of "OK Blue Jays" song during 7th inning stretch

field dimensions - 328/400/328
starters -Cliff Lee (CLE) v. Roy Halladay (TOR)
opponent - Cleveland Indians
time of game - 3:02
attendance - 28500
score - 8-6 W
Brewers score that day - 6-2 W

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