I meant to write about Jon Paul Morosi's ode to Toronto from his blog last Thursday, but the weekend kind of got away from me. Anyway, I wanted to echo many of his sentiments, as I have a few baseball memories associated with the city, as well. Toronto was often a favorite getaway spot for my family, and that meant I went to quite a few Blue Jays games. Unfortunately, several of those visits were to Exhibition Stadium, which might have been the worst place to watch a baseball game ever. (Building Skydome - now Rogers Centre - was a public service.)
But that interest in the team added another level of excitement to that 1987 AL East race for me, in what became a formative experience for my identity as a sports fan. Of course, I wanted the Tigers to win, and was absolutely thrilled when they did. But I really felt for the Blue Jays, and they became my "other team" through much of the late 80s and early 90s. Only a few close friends knew, and I took a lot of crap from them - not only for rooting against a rival, but a Canadian one.
When Joe Carter hit his home run to win the 1993 World Series, I jumped up and down in my bedroom. Alone. (Mostly because my roommate's frickin' girlfriend wanted to watch Saturday Night Live in the living room. Just between us, I've never forgiven my friend for siding with his girlfriend on that one.)
Up until last season, the closest I came to snagging a foul ball was at a Blue Jays game at Skydome. Kelly Gruber fouled one back to my section behind the Toronto dugout. It ricocheted off a poor schmoe's hands and caromed into the row in front of me. I dove over the seat, only to have some other guy scoot underneath me and cover the baseball. Dammit. If only I hadn't been keeping score. Or had the reflexes of an elephant. Plus, that dude was thin enough to literally slither under the seats. I probably had no chance.
(Last year, the only thing that kept me from fielding a Dmitri Young foul ball at Comerica Park was my little sister's head. Not only did she duck when the ball caromed off the facade toward the concourse behind home plate, but she ducked right into me, which prevented me from moving to my right and making a catch. As it stands, I probably would've been pressured into giving the ball up anyway, since a little kid next to me actually dove on the cement trying to make a catch. Dammit.)
I actually haven't been to Toronto in almost ten years now, as we've grown up and it's been more difficult for the family to get together for a trip. But I strongly considered making a road trip this past weekend to see the Tigers. And now I really wish I had.
I miss taking the train from Windsor. I miss hoofing it to Chinatown for some of the best Chinese food I've ever eaten. I miss going to a Blue Jays game, while my parents and sister went to the zoo or some other tourist destination. I miss maybe the cleanest big city I've ever seen and its exceedingly polite people. I miss watching Tony Fernandez play shortstop on artificial turf. And of course, I miss Toronto and Detroit fighting for a division title. Those were some good days.