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Tag Archives: baseball

We didn’t plan a lot on this trip to Japan since its our third trip in 5 years, but one thing we did plan was to go to a baseball game because we have heard that that experience is unlike what you get at North American parks.

I did some research beforehand and while the Tokyo Giants (Yankees of Japan) would not have a home game during our stay, the Yokohama DeNA Baystars across the Tokyo bay did, and they were playing the Hanshin Tigers (Red Sox of Japan). We couldn’t buy tickets online (cheaply) so we just went up to the gate and bought them – although this was difficult as we had a double handicap where we couldn’t speak or read the language and had a baby with stroller.

In the end, it wasn’t too hard as the random ticket office lady spoke English and we were able to check our stroller at the gate. There were actually a lot of babies at the game!

We sat on the first base (home team) side at the 200 level equivalents. It cost 3500 per ticket but I got a 1500 discount because the promotion that day was that men got a discount. We also arrived early enough for the tailgate party which featured cheerleaders and a power ranger (turns out he was one of 3 mascots for the team).

You’re allowed to bring your own food, drinks and booze into the game so we went to the local corner store to pick up some stuff. They only ask that you pour your beer into a cup. You could also buy a beer from one of the beer girls running around – there were a lot of them each selling a different brand. That would set you back 500 which is about double the price. You could also buy bento boxes, ice cream or ice coffee/tea – no peanuts though.

In the seventh inning, instead of stretching they blow up balloons in the team colors and then collectively let them go/deflate into the air. The visiting team got to do their colors at the top of the inning.

The other weird thing was that relief pitchers would come in on a convertible! They still have a walk of shame to the dugout though.

The seating is a bit different. They put seats in the foul line (where MLB TV cameras are) and there is an overhang so you can sit above the dugouts (and get things that players toss)

For all the hype about the the baseball experience in Japan, it wasn’t that incredible – they just do a lot of things differently than North America. After a while, the game is just as boring or interesting as it would be here because once you get past all the culture watching, it is still baseball. I would say that the experience is like going to see a Toronto FC match at BMO field. You have ardent supporters who bang on drums and cheer their team on. If you are a true fan, then you want to yell and cheer anyways regardless of where you are.

I went down to Skydome Rogers Centre to celebrate a friend’s birthday at the Jays game yesterday. It was my first game of a promising season (where we made several big acquisitions and were expected to compete for the World Series) that never materialized. Currently the Jays are in last place in their division (although they have won their last five – now six).

The Jays were playing the Rockies in inter-league play. It was a pitcher’s dual for most of the game, with the Rockies’ pitcher holding a no-hitter for almost half the game. Even though it was tense, it wasn’t that exciting. However, the game got exciting in the bottom of the 8th when the Jays scored two runs to gain the lead. The held on to the shutout in the top of the ninth to end the game early. 20,900ish watched our pitcher Josh Johnson throw 10 strike outs but get a no decision. It was a good outing though.

Going to the game also gave me a chance to use the MLB At the Ballpark app that was interesting to me. It’s basically an free interface where a fan can navigate around the ballparks in the league, while buying tickets and getting other relevant information. The best thing about it for me is that you can keep a journal (synced to the cloud) of which ballparks and which games you’ve watched. After downloading it, I went through my blog and found all the dates at which I went to a ball game and entered them in! Unfortunately, it only goes back to 2005 so I couldn’t put in my 2004 trip to Safeco field.

I remember thinking, when I was smaller, how awesome it would be to be a sports athlete. You would make millions (or even tens of millions) a year, have a 20 year career and then sit around, for the rest of your life after 40, on a big pile of money. If you were lucky enough to have the right genetics, then that could be you!

Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, that is still somewhat true – if you are one of the bests then you’re going to have a huge pay day; but in reality you would have a better chance of winning the lottery than being a superstar. Let’s scale back our dreams a bit and say that you’ll just end up being a scrub or bench warmer, but on a major league team. The major league minimum is still more than a million a year!

It still sounds good, but then you realize that you have to invest your childhood and younger years into getting this goal, so after your (shorter) career (maybe 5 years?), you don’t have a lot of skills to draw from. You could be going from the top 1% of salaries to a median or a below average salary for the rest of your life. Hope you invested that $5+ million well!

And then there are all those people who never even make it to the major leagues after years and years of (wasted) effort. They end up spending their 20s shuttling around the continent in buses making < $100,000 a year. Then in their 30s, when they’ve been released by their teams, what skills do they have to fall back on to earn a reliable wage?

The investment seems to be a bad bet, especially because only a small portion of new players are added to a league each year (10%?). Your genes may give you a ticket, but you still need to win a lottery.

This all resonated with me when I read this article in SI about steroids, except this article was not about the stars, but about the fringe players in the junior leagues trying to win their lottery. Most of them don’t succeed, and the one that does was on steroids. In a way, they all lost.

In four years Naulty gained 50 pounds and added 10 miles an hour to his fastball. (He would eventually top out at 248 pounds.) His legs were enormous. His shoulders looked like cantaloupes, with the rounded, watery hallmark of steroids. He loved the way his body looked, loved to take his shirt off, loved the compliments he got from coaches and loved the way nobody in baseball asked, How? The Steroid Era was taking hold, made possible by a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. “Everybody is telling you how great you look,” Naulty says. “Nobody ever asked if I was using drugs. I never had one discussion about steroids around another baseball player. All my discussions about steroids were with bodybuilders.”

In a Canada Day weekend tradition (as it has been two years in a row), I went to catch a baseball game. Last year I saw one at Yankees stadium but seeing as we didn’t go anywhere this year, I saw one at the Roger’s Centre Skydome.

Well we kind of went because we haven’t gone to a game in awhile, it was a nice day, and tickets are cheap. We just showed up at the gate and bought tickets for the 500 sections ($16), sitting behind the foul pole in right field. I think we were closer to CN Tower than the field.

The game was part of Roy Halliday’s visit to Toronto, although he didn’t pitch in the game (he would pitch the next day). I saw more Halliday Phillies’ jerseys than his jersey from Toronto! It wasn’t an exciting game, but we got to see two home runs – the second was a two-run shot by Jose Bautista to give Toronto the lead in the 7th inning! Unfortunately, our reliever could not hold the lead in the 9th and we ended up losing.

Apprently, the crowd likes to cheer on Bautista by singing the Montreal Canadiens’ Olé Olé Olé to José José José.

Going to the baseball game is not always about seeing the game itself. Beforehand, there was a street festival to celebrate Canada Day. They had activities for kids and gave out some freebies like flags and giant fingers (I don’t know what these things are actually called). The first 10k fans also received a free t-shirt, but we didn’t make it for the promo.

With all the fanfare, there were over 45,000 fans at the game! That’s pretty close to a sell-out.

We were fortunate enough that the Jays were in New York this weekend so we’re catching the game from the left field bleachers. We were a bit late but arrived just in time to see the Yankees score 11 runs in their half of the 3rd inning on a grand slam, hit batter, a couple of walks and an error. I don’t know what else could go wrong. Now we just need to sit thru the rest of the game in 31 degree weather under the cloudless sun.

* moblogged from my phone. How cool is that?

Sunday was fan appreciation day at the Rogers Centre, but Monday was cheapie fan appreciation day. The Blue Jays gave out a pair of 200 level outfield tickets to everyone who signed up for their newsletter and answered a few questions. Being a cheapie fan, I filled out the form and went to my 3rd Jays game this year (and 2nd free one).

I left a bit early from work, and after stopping off at home, headed downtown. How the deal worked was that you had to show up with your photo ID on the day of the game and pick up your pair of free tickets. I was a bit worried that there would be a huge lineup and they would run out of 200 level tickets, but even though I got there at 6:30ish, they still had a pile of good seats. I ended up with 3rd row seats! Along the way, I passed a ton of scalpers selling tickets at below cost, some advertising at 50% ticket price. I also saw a lot of people just giving away their tickets, because like me, they probably just grabbed two for the hell of it.

I met up with Horace, who also had a pair, and went in. Horace picked up his tickets in the morning and got 2nd row tickets, so I don’t think they actually gave out any 1st row tickets. They probably saved those for people that paid. A little while later, Rishi and Victor + friend showed up, but they were late enough that they received 500 level tickets instead of 200 level. After some phone calls, and a ticket switcheroo later (yay for extra 200 level tickets), they were able to fill some of the empty seats in our section.

The game itself was boring, but exciting in sort of a passive-aggressive way. The first half of the game was a pitching duel, with Marcum and Wakefield taking no-hitters into the 5th. This all changed when Wakefield gave up his first hit, a double to Jason Phillips, walked the next batter, and Alex Rios homered on the first pitch he saw. The Jays followed up with another 2-run homer in the next inning, but Marcum gave up a single in their half of the 6th which broke his no-hitter bid. He ended up with 10 strikeouts, which was more than enough for free pizza (yay extra tickets), but apparently the promotion finished the day before. But the 5-0 win meant that the Blue Jays is currently placed second in their division ahead of the Red Sox, I wonder if it’ll stay that way? Aside: What happened to the Bosox? I thought they had a good team, but the only standout in their lineup was David Ortiz. Aside #2: We were sitting in RF, which didn’t see a lot of action; the homers went into LF, but we saw a double (well we couldn’t actually see it due to the wall) and a huge foul ball by Ortiz that made it into the 500 level where we usually sit.

Afterwards we headed up to Burrito Boyz again. OMG why won’t people get tired of that place…

Overheard at Rogers Centre: It’s Going, Going, ZAUN!

I heard this classic number in the 11th inning of the Blue Jays’ 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners. It had been a tight game the whole day, with the Jays’ explosive offense held in check by my lack of attention. Carrying a 3-2 lead into the ninth, our win seemed assured as BJ Ryan came in to save the game. However, after a long fly ball scare, Betancourt hit a home room to almost the same part of the fence and tied it up, blowing Ryan’s chance at his 25th save of the season.

At this point, I was growing restless. It was supposed to be a hot day, although us sitting in the shade counteracted the heat fairly well. We had been spending the last few innings in the 100 level visiting dogs because it was Dog Day (I saw 2 HUGE Saint Bernards and 1 large arctic-wolf variety), and managed to find some empty seats near the 3rd base line. Pauline had expressed her baseball knowledge by stating that the game would last 11 innings, and it turned out to be true. When I heard a fan shout the aforementioned quote when Zaun came up to bat, he wasn’t able to hit a walkoff homer, but singled and started the chain of events the result in Catalanotto’s walkoff RBI. An exciting finish & win for once!

I went to this game because a few weeks back, I went to a game where I received a free Vernon Wells bobblehead (saw it on sale today for $19.99!). There were people handing out online survey passcodes with the motivation that if you finish the survey, they send you a pair of complimentary tickets. So I ended up with 6 tickets and was able to invite a variety of people as well as meeting up with some of my other friends who received complimentary tickets. The unfortunate thing was that we didn’t arrive in time to be one of the first 10,000 fans and receive a free cap! Oh well.

so i went to the mariners game at safeco field on the company yesterday. there were 75 free tickets, and each ticket included $5 in food/drink/merchandise money so it was a good deal to go! anyways, there ended up being like 10 people who went, and we all got another $5 so i guess a lot of people got tickets but didn’t make the bus or something (aside, it’s funny they rented a big coach for 10 people).

i’ve been bugging people to goto a jays game for awhile as i hadn’t watched live baseball in awhile; and i guess it was a good thing you guys didn’t agree because i was bored by the second inning (we didn’t get there till the bottom half of the 1st). the 300-level seats didn’t really help either (they don’t have 500-level like they skydome, these were the boonies). i’m surprised that they are able to charge people $17 to sit up there. anyways, after awhile we walked around the stadium (surprisingly similar to qwest field), purchased some merchandise and went down to the 100 level to watch the game.

a funny thing about the merchandise is that there are a lot of hello kitty things there. i agree that it seems weird for american baseball fans to buy hello kitty mariners at the ballfield, but it’s because there are a ton of japanese people attending the game to watch ichiro (3 walks, reached base on error last night). so that’s kinda something you would never see in toronto.

before hand, we checked out pyramid breweries across the street from safeco which was supposed to be a decent pub. well, it had a lot more atmosphere than the actual game itself! i had an awesome blackened chicken burger there too. so skip the game and take a beer tour instead.