GNABRT Day 53 (retro) – O Canada!


IMG_0607For some reason, I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to post yesterday’s Great North American Baseball Road Trip blog.  It probably had something to do with doing all the thinking and composing sitting on weird chairs (they had these little tiny seat backs) by the Apple computers in the lobby.  Meh.

Still, these day-later posts are semi-regular, so you’ll probably adapt.  I might get today’s travel day blog posted tonight and catch up before tomorrow’s Washington Nationals game.

The game in Toronto was at 1 pm, which turned out to be somewhat surprising to me, since I was under the impression it was at night.  This seems to be a condition more frequently experienced as I go longer on this trip (remember the Cubs game fiasco?).  Good thing there are only around two weeks left before I can go home.

The mid-day timing didn’t leave a good time frame to see any of Toronto.  The day was hot with no breeze, which made sitting cramped in the seat a bit of a wear.  By game’s end, I really only wanted to veg in the room.

The city:  Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  First a word about Ontario which I drove and drove and drove through…it’s big.  Really big.  As in the size of Texas and Montana together big!  Whoo!

Toronto was first known as York and operated as the capital of Upper Canada in 1793.  40 years later it became known by its current name. Nearly 200 years later, Toronto represents the largest economic impact city in Canada.

There is some confusion as to the origin of the city’s name, though all schools of thought center around Indian words.  The current popular choice relates to the Mohawk word “tkaronto” (where there are trees standing in water).  That’s probably as in-depth as the GNABRT blog is going to get researching the name.

A heavy inflow Irish immigrants in the 1850’s created a religious and cultural shift for Toronto (at one point being called the “Belfast of Canada”).  The ensuing tensions and clashes did not appreciably fade until after the first World War.

As with most of North America, the opening of railroad lines into and through the city led to widespread expansion and growth.  Also eerily similar to many U.S. city histories, Toronto had its own “Great Fire”, in 1904, that devastated a large part of the downtown area.

The 20th century led to improvements and advancements across all walks of life in Toronto, eventually allowing it to displace Montreal as the center of business and commerce.  It has a proud tradition in the NHL (Maple Leafs), NBA (Raptors), MLB (Blue Jays) and CFL (Argonauts).  The Argos and the Leafs have brought the city double-digit championships and the Blue Jays have racked up 2.

The game:  Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays.  The two teams are almost mirror images of each other with the Blue Jays riding MLB’s most potent offense and the Rays having one of the best pitching staffs.  Both play in the same division and have nearly identical records.

With a top young ace on the mound for Tampa, the Jays went down pretty quickly until a two-run homer in the 5th gave the home team the lead.  That was all the scoring until the bottom of the 8th, when the Jays added another two-run shot.

The Blue Jays pitcher had a three hit shutout in the eighth and the manager left him in to complete the inning (despite an alarming pitch count).  He struck out his final batter to a standing ovation and the Jays closed out the game an inning later.  GNABRT record now stands at 15-6.

The tab:  Ticket, $31; Brisket Poutine box w/drink, $14.99; Total – $45.99 (adjusted to U.S. dollars)

Miscellany of Day 53:

– Apparently, Canada’s slower speed limits is a product of their people.  These were the slowest moving fans I’ve experienced on the GNABRT.  They just seemed to barely move to wherever they were going around and inside the stadium (reminded me of California traffic).

– Of all the places, of the 21 ball parks I visited, only in Toronto did I find one that sold iced tea (Nestea, from the dispenser).  Finally!

– The fans left me somewhat lukewarm.  For most of the game, a number of boorish fans kept heckling the Rays’ center fielder.  On the surface, no big deal, but when the Blue Jays hit a two-run home to take the lead, these “fans” quickly returned to their heckling instead of rooting on their team.  Despite research, I never found a connection between the player and Toronto to account for the booing.

The fans also tried (and failed) to get the wave going as early as inning two.  I put this up as a positive.

– I must admit, the Canadian National Anthem is prettier than ours (probably because ours was not initially designed as a song).  It was interesting to hear a pure organ version of the U.S. anthem, without a guest singer “customizing” the pace.

– I had another noisy pair (this time above me) in the hotel.  They were not quite loud enough for me to tell whether the moans were in French.

– Another toilet incident in my long list of hotel toilet incidents.  This one appeared to have a leak somewhere, either in the base or the tank.  Plus, soap dispenser by the sink but only shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the shower (and no bar soap).  I was told this is common in Canada.  Eh?

I think I will leave today’s blog for tomorrow as well, since I expect the return from the Nationals game will be late and I need to vacate in the wee hours on Thursday to get to Philly before the traffic wakes up.



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