As many of my readers are aware, I spent a week in Toronto to see the 3-game series between the Phillies and the Blue Jays this past weekend. If you missed the game photos, check out my previous posts from July 1-3, 2011.
Here are my thoughts on the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where the Blue Jays play:
PROS: I loved the retractable roof. Yes, many find it annoying and not very traditional, but I like the option in terms of weather and temperature control. The roof was open for the 3-game series, but had it rained, I would have been thrilled to avoid rain delays and getting my camera wet.
The location in the city is a nice area and not too difficult to get to with a variety of parking options. There were many attractions nearby, although they were nearly impossible to get to with an after-game crowd wandering about.
And the staff at the stadium was very nice, helpful and talkative. Although, sometimes it was annoying. For instance, I had an usher give me a 15 minute verbal tour of the stadium, it’s features and concessions when all I asked was if I could stand in that spot during batting practice. Nice guy, but I was exhausted after that ;o)
CONS: The concourse was dark and dingy with little to no ambiance. More like a dungeon than a ballpark, it was even a bit creepy.
The food was bad, overpriced and the selection was slim. I had the nachos, which were just chips and cheese and the chips were super salty…blech! I think that was $8.50 Canadian, which is about $9.00 USD.
The seats were nicely spaced side-to-side, but with NO leg room at all in the front. My knees were almost in the head of the person in front of me. And the curvature of the seats meant I wound up with huge bruises on both knees from butting up against the seat in front of me. Ouch!
The seating arrangement was unlike anything I have ever seen. The tickets have an “L” or “R” after the section number, which I found out meant “left” and “right.” Had I not asked, I would never have known as nothing is labeled “L” or “R.”
The seats were numbered in one row consecutively like this: #101-108 followed by #8-1. NO break in the seats…so directly next to seat 108 was seat 8. Weird. And half the seat numbers were missing which made finding my seat a real adventure.
Also, there was NO wireless internet. Most ballparks have this now, but what made this especially weird was that the stadium is called the “Rogers Centre.” Rogers Communications is Canada’s largest provider of wireless internet and digital / cable TV in the entire country. Seriously…and they could not provide internet? Cheap.
Overall, I’d give the stadium about a C+.
Review of Toronto and the surrounding area
So besides baseball, there is plenty to do in the province of Ontario. The city of Toronto and areas nearby were clean and safe with very friendly people. I travel alone a lot and felt very comfortable there.
If you are into history and architecture, this place has lots of it. The buildings and homes are almost all made of brick and sort of look like you travelled back in time except they are very well preserved. There are a lot of nature areas and parks which are calm, serene places within the city to relax.
Constructed from 1911 – 1914 is a medieval castle, Casa Loma, which was gorgeous and filled with Victorian-style furnishings and dramatic woodwork. It is right in the city and easy to find…a must-see.
But beware of all the stairs and walking involved. Not just in the castle, but all around the city is not terribly handicapped-accessible. There is a LOT of walking and even more stairs, especially around the stadium. My calves are still burning.
I also went to the Toronto Zoo, which is HUGE. Again, more walking than you may have imagined. I also visited Jungle Cat World where they let me pet and play with a tiger, a lynx and a lemur. Awesome! And yes, I am slightly insane:
Niagara Falls was also nearby right at the Canadian – US border. The Canadian side is very nice, the US side is basically a dump, except for the immediate falls area. The water is incredible and breathtaking. Go on the Maid of the Mist boat ride under the falls if you get there one day. It was crazy.
And how about driving in Canada? Glad you asked…It was very confusing at first, but I got the hang of it after a few days. But my first day was rather amusing…
The first sign I saw on the highway said, “ETR, Express Toll Road.” Naturally, I thought there would be a toll to pay, but after many miles, nothing. Then I saw a digital sign that read, “Collectors moving slowly after next transfer.” I thought it was sort of rude to call out their toll collectors like that, but again, I kept waiting for the toll booth.
10 miles passed….no toll booth. 60 miles later, same messages, same traffic, no tolls. When I got to the hotel, I had to ask what in the world all that was about. Turns out, there are no tolls. I still have NO idea why it is called an Express Toll Road. And the “collectors” are actually the non-bypass roads that travel paralell to the express roads. It is like I-95 & I-495 in Wilmington. 95 would be the “collector” and 495 is the “express” as it bypasses the city and many exits.
And the “collector” road literally “collects” traffic from the express in the left lanes and then the right lanes turn into “exit only.” This happened about every 2 miles. So if you were in the right lane, to stay on the highway, you had to move left like every two miles. It was very, very odd.
So to sum it up, Canada was odd, friendly and very amusing. I officially hate the metric system. And I have about 20 pounds (or 9.07 kilograms) of Canadian coins in my wallet. They use coins for $1 and $2 – no bills until you reach $5. I know also know that 100 km/hr is only 60 mph on the roads, which was disappointing. And gas costs almost twice as much there and is measured in liters, not gallons. But overall, a very nice trip :O)
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Just being in the Rogers Centre in Toronto today, I could sense that it was going to be a big game. Fans on both sides were anxious to see Roy Halladay pitch. The Blue Jays fans wanted to welcome Roy back to Toronto and Phillies fans were salivating for another win.
With all the hype going into the game, no one could have anticipated the fireworks that were about to explode inside the dome.
Halladay got a standing ovation as he took the mound. It was a unifying moment between Jays fans and the many Phillies fans who traveled to another country to see their team play. But the moment lasted exactly that long; for only a moment.
The Phillies offense jumped on the Jays early, scoring a run, although they should have scored much more. But once Halladay began pitching, the game took on a new life. It turned into a rollercoaster battle with a number of lead changes.
The Jays rallied in the fifth after a Chase Utley throwing error turned an out into a triple. The Jays scored twice, but Utley made up for it my smashing a 2-run homer in the seventh to give the lead back to the Phils.
The defense was mostly solid, despite the one error and Jimmy Rollins even turned a double play to end the game.
But before that, all sorts of drama ensued in the ninth inning. First, a rabid fan ran onto the field and had to be hunted down by security. Why he had no shoes on is a mystery, but it was very entertaining:
And just when you thought the inning could not get any better, pitcher John Rauch issued a walk to Ryan Howard which he clearly did not think was a walk. He did not say anything though until the next batter, Shane Victorino, singled to score Utley:
Directly after the run scored, the 6’10” Rauch got in the umpires face and screamed at him. As Rauch was ejected, he lost his mind and went all Incredible Hulk on the ump, even having his jersey torn off in the process. Being that Rauch is big enough to be the Hulk, umpire Alfonso Marquez quickly realized that he did not like Rauch when he was angry ;o)
The Jays manager got into it next after helping to restrain Rauch and he too was ejected.
Fans quickly got on the umpire, tossing things onto the field and Marquez had to call security for extra assistance. But the game remained a 5-3 Phillies lead, despite all the hollering.
Halladay finally took the mound for the bottom of the ninth and closed out the game, going the distance once again. Over nine innings, he allowed just eight hits, three runs and struck out eight batters.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. I will have photos after tomorrow’s game as well when Cliff Lee takes the mound and tries for a 3-game sweep of the Jays.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography