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
In the month of June, Cliff Lee was untouchable. After five starts, he allowed only one run and threw 3-consecutive complete game shut-outs. But today, it was apparent that the magical month of June was officially over for Lee.
Prior to the game, the vibes were nothing but positive. The Phillies were so loose and happy that they laughed and chatted with the mass of fans standing behind the dugout, most of whom had travelled great distances to see their team play in Toronto. Many bantered with a particularly exuberant fan a few feet away from me who was shouting their names one after another.
The Phillies are always great with the fans, but today there was a level of interaction that I have never seen before during warm-ups. Everyone was smiling and laughing, even the Blue Jays fans and stadium employees. Nothing but hugs and smiles, literally:
So when the game began, it felt like nothing could quell the excitement. The Phillies offense got off to a hot start, scoring four runs in the second inning. It looked like the bats were going to be hot all day.
But perhaps the Phillies were a bit too relaxed going into this one. Because after the second inning, the offense went right to sleep.
However, with Cliff Lee pitching, it seemed like four runs should get the job done. But through seven innings, Lee had allowed three runs narrowing the Phils lead to 4-3. Multiple stolen bases and balls finding holes put the Jays back in the game.
Shane Victorino added to the drama of the day when he got his cleat stuck in the astro turf and jammed his thumb. He was eventually fine and stayed in the game. But then in the eighth after hitting a double, Victorino got picked off leaning too far off base.
Then in the bottom of the eighth inning, the wheels completely fell off. On the first pitch of the inning, Eric Thames took Lee deep to centerfield to tie the game. And the horror did not end there. Jose Bautista homered next, as he did in each game of this series. An Adam Lind single was followed shortly after by the third home run of inning, this time from Edwin Encarnacion.
And just like that, Lee was lifted from the game and the Phillies were down by a score of 7-4.
So while they did not sweep, the Phillies still won 2 out of 3 in this series to end Interleague play for the year. The Marlins are up next starting tomorrow night at 6:10pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game. Once I return home at the end of the week, I will also post photos from the rest of my trip to Canada for anyone who is curious. Check back for that.
The All-Stars have been announced. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Placido Polanco will be representing the Phillies!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies had a chance to sweep the Red Sox today in this 3-game series, but once Cole Hamels was pulled early, that opportunity passed by. In the fourth inning, a line-drive from Adrian Gonzalez knocked the glove off Hamels’ non-pitching hand. He exited the game to receive treatment.
The injury is being called a bruise but it is unclear if Hamels will make his next start. It will depend on whether or not he can grip his glove and bat.
So the game was handed over to a very young, inexperienced bullpen. David Herndon allowed three runs over two innings. Then Drew Carpenter gave up two more.
But the bullpen’s performance really made little difference as the Phillies mustered only four hits in the game and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The only scoring was a 2-run bomb from Ryan Howard in the ninth inning.
The lack of offense is gruesome as usual. And with pitchers dropping like flies, the Phillies may have to lean on their bats in the near future. So, someone better figure out where they hid those bats…fast.
This weekend, the Phillies face the Blue Jays for three games and I am here in Toronto to bring you all the torrid details. Kyle Kendrick pitches tomorrow but Saturday is a big one. It will be the first time Roy Halladay pitches against his old team in Toronto.
The people of Toronto are so excited to see Roy Halladay again, the local TV station is even running a promo about it detailing Halladay’s time in Toronto and how much he meant to the city. The ad encourages fans to come to the game and cheer for Halladay to welcome him back. It is a real class move by Toronto. However, I assume the cheering will stop once Halladay starts mowing down Jays.
Tomorrow is also Canada Day here, which celebrates the country’s independence from the United Kingdom. I find it odd, however, that their currency still bears the Queen’s image on their $20 bill. I would tell you who is on the $100 dollar bill, but sadly, I don’t have any of those ;o)
But I digress…anyway, check back for updates on the games and, of course, photos! Speaking of which, here is one I took of Niagara Falls before I headed over to Toronto:
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography