Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tour 2009: WBC Pool C Championship

All photos of day 5 in Toronto available on Flickr.

We left the hostel around 1:30 on Wednesday to make a couple of pre-game stops. Again it was raining as we strolled into the nearby St. Lawrence Market. It was like the public market in Milwaukee, except much bigger. There were quite a few seafood vendors, an Asian place, some meat and cheese shops, produce, and even clothing in the basement. It was very tempting to get some local southeastern Canada oysters, but we went to Hooters for lunch instead. After about 15 minutes of walking around, we headed out.

The downtown Toronto Hooters was adverstised as a "foul ball from the Rogers Centre," and it was actually very close to the ballpark. It was a quite the departure from Hooters in the states, where all that is on television is college basketball or Sportscenter. In Ontario, bars have typically been featuring hockey and curling 24/7, either highlights or a game. Since there was no hockey or WBC game on on a Wednesday afternoon, we were subjected to three hours of Premier League soccer and curling as we took back some wings and a couple pitchers of Labatts. Then around 5 PM, as the really hot evening shift waitresses rolled in, we reluctantly left to head to the ballpark.

Today was the 6th and final game of Pool C play. It was mainly a game for seeding purposes; it really didn't mean anything since both teams were already in, and the United States played that way. Manager Davey Johnson was managing this game as if it were a spring traning game, just trying to get pitchers their work in, as was most evident when he left in Jeremy Guthrie for over two innings despite his horrible effort. Ryan Braun and Gregor Blanco had another 3 hits each, and Blanco definitely gets my vote for Pool C MVP, if there was such a thing. Victor Zambrano pitched very well in four innings for Venezuela, and Ted Lilly was pulled after only 38 pitches but also looked good. Henry Blanco also had a homerun for Team Venezuela, and Chris Ianetta hit yet another homefun for the US that was actually foul. Overall it was fun game and a fun time at the Rogers Centre. We met a lot of interesting people and are very glad we went. We were kind of disappointed with the poor attendance though, so I wouldn't look for this tournament to travel back to Canada for awhile.

After the game, we concluded the evening as we have been every night - 3 pitchers of Molsons at Gabbys. We said our goodbyes to our friend Mike, who met us out again, and our favorite (or "favourite" in Canadian) bartender at Gabbys, whose name is Japanese and I don't remember. What I do remember was that she bought us going-away shots, and all the stories she told us about Toronto athletes she'd hooked up with over the years, including a former Blue Jays infielder (whose identity I will protect since he was married at the time). And to cap the whole night off, we watched Mexico destroy Australia, and some more curling - I will definitely miss Canadian beer and curling & hockey on the tube when I return home. Today is our last day in Toronto, and our attention now switches to hockey as the first round of the WBC concludes. We plan on going to the Hockey Hall of Fame this afternoon, and we have Leafs tickets this evening.

game stats:
starters - Victor Zambrano (VEN) v. Ted Lilly (USA)
opponent - Venezuela v. USA
time of game - 3:08
attendance - 12358
score - 5-3 VEN
Brewers score that day - 6-2 L

USA, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Netherlands

Erik - 6
Peter - 6

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