Buck Martinez signing autographs for Jr. Jays Club Members
You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possibly be – in baseball
and in life. – Pete Rose
After all is said and done, the first experience of a Home Opener while working for a Major League team will no doubt surpass the majority of my baseball game memories. There was so much that happened throughout the day that recalling everything would be a daunting task, making me grateful for the photo log I kept, capturing all of the best moments. Words are problematic at times; often, the more you try to convey your thoughts and reactions using an elaborate description, you fall short of doing the lone task you set out to do: allowing an audience to tap into your exact feelings and emotions by revisiting a specific moment in time. So, forgive me if it’s difficult to sum up the entirety of the day; so many words are appropriate but none provide adequate justice.
For a week prior to the Home Opener, I observed and assisted (where required) as the field was constructed, the office staff planned and organized the pre-game ceremonies, Rogers Centre was set-up and prepared for the next six months and the Toronto Blue Jays were on a five-game winning streak. The pitching mound that had been in its preliminary stages my first day on the job, had been worked on and shaped by grounds crew to meet league regulations. Olympians and Paralympians were confirmed, jerseys were ordered, media coverage highlighted Spring Training and forecasted 2010, ACE cleaned up for the beginning of another new season, JForce rehearsed and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With everything that goes into the first home game of a season, fans only witness a tiny glimpse of the preparations for a few hours during the night, but it’s everything that ensued prior to gate opening, that allows the night to go accordingly as its seen and televised nationally.
You could tell it was the Home Opener for a multitude of reasons but most noticeably because Rogers Centre was energetic from the first moments of the day. Contagious smiles, a buzz about the building and employees wishing one another a “Happy Home Opener.” I overheard a co-worker proclaiming to another in the office, “there are only three reasons why I dress up; my birthday, New Years and the Home Opener.” The suits, shined shoes and fresh haircuts exhibited that point and everyone was around the building was eager for game time. The Home Opener is an annual chance on a municipal, provincial, and national stage to showcase the franchise and their efforts to fans at the commencement of the new season. It also inadvertently acts as proof that this city – the only major league baseball city north of the US boarder – is adamant about baseball in this country.
The digital narrative I posted acts as a photographic play-by-play of the Home Opener encompassing the 48-hour span in which the day was set-up, rehearsed, and executed. The entire day is a blur but what exists in my memories a couple days after the big night, are fragments of reactions and thoughts that I endured throughout that time frame. A few moments in particular are vivid in my mind and it’s as though I can put myself back in that precise moment every time I recall that memory, reliving every step.
The minute I stepped out of the car Monday morning, I began the day with so much energy and excitement for what was approaching. That reaction to the Home Opener remained and grew throughout the day. I had the opportunity to chat with fans and members of the media as well as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, who for the most part, had never seen a game of baseball, but the best moment by far, was towards the end of the pre-game ceremonies almost immediately before the first pitch. The drum line and JForce lined centre field with the armed forces on either side holding flags representative of Canada and the US; thirteen Canadian Olympic and Paralympic medalists stood tall behind the pitching mound, wearing their medals with pride in a new place full of passion and pride and both teams, stood on the field for the national anthems after the team introductions. It was that moment, right before the field cleared for the commencement of the game, that time stood still, even if it’s only in my memories. In a split second, that moment had passed, the field had cleared and the first pitch was thrown. Needless to say, I can begin to describe it, but words don’t do it nearly enough justice.
I’m positive that all 46,321 fans in attendance would agree that if there’s anything you should experience in Toronto, it’s a Home Opener. There’s expectation and determination with the hope of success riding on this season and if the Home Opener was any indication of the support that the Jays have behind them, this team will no doubt prove what they’re capable of in the upcoming months.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today is the day. It’s what baseball in this city
lives for: it’s that moment; a new season with new hope. It’s the hustle
and heart that the Toronto Blue Jays bring to a national stage. They’re
not only the team of Toronto but the team of the entire country. Home
Opener isn’t about one day though, it’s about the process which it takes
to arrive at that day. For months and weeks leading up to tonight’s
first pitch, the Toronto Blue Jays staff work off the field to make sure
everything it set to start the season off in the best way possible.
order for you to be begin to comprehend the daunting task of creating a
Home Opener, I’ll be taking photos throughout rehearsal and during the day. I’ll be updating as
frequently as possible with photos as they happen, so stay tuned. [EDITORS NOTE: Click on photos to enlarge]
Even after a long day, I’m just so happy to be there.
9:56pm – 24 hours from now, it won’t be nearly as calm…
It’s a beautiful day for baseball in TorontoEdit 3: Home Opener Midday Photo Op: April 12th, 2010 12:20pm
Alex Bilodeau and his Olympic Gold Medal with Jamie Campbell
And so, 13 Olympians, T-Shirts, Interviews, and 11 Innings later: Happy Home Opener.
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}
of all, HAPPY SEASON OPENER! Today, my dear friends, is the day you’ve all
been waiting for: the 2010 baseball season has officially begun!
Right now, the
Blue Jays are in Arlington, Texas where they took on the Rangers for the first of three
contests this season. After a tough 5-4 loss this afternoon, the Jays will play
their next two games giving the Rangers a run for their money. I can feel it and despite the
loss, it’s hard not to be optimistic at this point in the season. In other
news, you know what that means? Less than one week until the Jays bring it back
to Toronto to showcase the 2010 Roster in the Home Opener next Monday against
the Chi-Sox. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to catch up with what
the Jays have done in the off season, I wanted to give you a little bit of an idea
of who you’d be seeing for the next six months. So,
let’s begin with the Opening Day starting lineup, as there has been a lot of
chatter about these guys already this season:
1. Jose Bautista, RF – Easily one of the best offensive performances
in Spring Training came from the 29 year old, right-hander. Most recently I
caught a clip of Bautista hitting a double off of Doc Halladay in the first match-up between
the Phillies and the Jays this season, and that was pretty awesome. Bautista
made 57 plate appearances for the Jays and led the Spring Training team in runs
(16), hits (25), and doubles (9). Bautista, who made his MLB debut in 2004 with
Baltimore, has been known as a utility player until this
season, earning a spot in right field.
2. Aaron Hill, 2B – The second baseman is now in his sixth season with
the Blue Jays and has only improved since joining the team. He was recognized
as the AL Comeback Player of the Year in the 2009 Season and was selected for the Silver Slugger Award as leading second baseman in the AL. Hill, who’s 28 years old, was the AL leading second baseman
in home runs (36), RBIs (108), and total bases (340). Hill
will play a key role in the Jays offence if he plays consistently throughout
3. Adam Lind, DH –
Two days ago, the Designated Hitter and sometimes Left-Fielder
signed a 4-year $18-Million contract with the Jays, which locks the 26 year old up
until 2013. To put it into perspective, Adam Lind is on pace to hit 162 homers, 162 RBI, 324 runs
scored and 486 hits this season and in turn is earning $6 million per hit since
signing his new contract (http://mlbastion.mlblogs.com). Lind, a native
of Indiana, received the Edgar Martinez Award and was the
second Blue Jays Silver Slugger Award recipient for his performance as a
left-fielder in the AL for the 2009 Season. Last season, Lind led
left-fielders in the AL in home runs (35), RBI (114) and batted .305 for the
4. Vernon Wells, CF
– If you were watching the Opener in Texas this afternoon (I was, read below) you would have
caught some great action out of the gate from Vernon Wells, who recorded his
first home run of the season in the first inning. Wells, after under going wrist surgery in
the off-season, is ready to go and is looking good after Spring Training.
Despite other notable players in the Majors, Wells remains one of the highest paid
players in the league and will dress in a Jays Uniform until 2014 by contract.
In 630 plate appearances last season, Wells recorded 84 runs in 164 hits and 15
homers for the Jays. Not bad, but after the surgery was a success, expect Wells
to come out much stronger this season.
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
– So, did anyone else catch the handle bar mustache? You know, as much as he
probably gets hounded for it, it makes him look a little meaner, so maybe
he’s trying to give himself an edge. A little background on Overbay: He made
his MLB debut in 2001 for the Diamondbacks, before playing a year with the
Brewers in ’04-’05 and finally signing with Toronto for the 2006 Season. His
middle name is Stefan, he is originally from Centralia, Washington, and he’s 33 years of age. Last season, Overbay led
the Jays in walks (74) and recorded 112 hits in 423 plate appearances.
6. John Buck, C – After five seasons with the KC Royals, Buck
signed with the Jays for the 2010 Season in December of 2009 on a one-year
contract. Buck, a 29 year old from Wyoming, has recorded 70 career home runs and is the father
to a set of twins, Cooper and Brody. Buck recorded 16 runs, 8 home runs, and 36
RBIs in 59 games last season for the Royals.
7. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B – In his second season with the Toronto
Blue Jays, the 27 year old from the Dominican Republic, was acquired by the Blue Jays last season in the
Scott Rolen trade in July 2009. Encarnacion made 293 plate appearances in 85
games and recorded 35 runs, 66 hits, and 39 RBIs. Now that he’s had some time
with the team, expect to see good things this season.
8. Alex Gonzalez, SS – The 33 year old short-stop, originally
from Venezuela joined the Blue Jays in the off season on a one-year
deal. [EDIT: After much confusion with dates and stats, there’s one thing to remember: this is the OTHER Alex Gonzalez.] After his performance
in Spring Training (3 H, 9 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI) let’s hope he’s using the Jays
forward momentum to kick start the 2010 Season.
9. Travis Snider, LF – At 22, Snider is the youngest member of the Blue
Jays Roster and took over in left-field after Alex Rios was traded to the White
Sox. Snider, a 6-foot, 235 pound southpaw from Washington, made his MLB debut with the Jays in August of 2008.
In 77 games last season, Snider made 241 plate appearances and recorded 34
runs, 29 RBIs, and 9 home runs and his middle name is James.
Pitching: Shaun Marcum –
If you caught the first bit of the game today, you’d realize what an asset Marcum
is the Blue Jays and how crucial he will be this season. After undergoing Tommy
John surgery in 2008, the right-handed pitcher missed the entire 2009 season
due to continued pain post-surgery, but is healthy and eager to get back at it with the Jays
this season. After pitching six innings in the Season Opener against the
Rangers this afternoon, Marcum’s pitching line was: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 6 K, 0 BB. Not
bad at all for the first game of the 2010 season.
Last, and certainly not least,
not only is today Monday, the Season Opener for the Toronto Blue Jays, but it’s
also my very first day as an official employee of the Toronto Blue Jays! I set
up shop this morning at my desk and made myself a home where I’ll work for the
next six months. The faces I saw a couple weeks ago were re-introduced and I’ve
had the chance to meet quite a few new ones, who have been very welcoming and kind.
It was the perfect day for me to start too because the Season Opening Employee
Meeting was early this afternoon and I got to attend on my first day with the
Jays. So, picture this: When I was told there was going to be a meeting today I
assumed it would be in a board room or in some sort of theatre or auditorium; you
too, right? Well, we’re both wrong. I walked down with some of the other people
from the Marketing and Promotions department and low and behold, the meeting is
set up just inside Gate 9 in the 100’s Level Concourse. Secretly, I’m amazed
that it’s actually happening and of course, hide my excitement as I sit and
listen to the first meeting of the season, with introductions from none other
than Paul Beeston and various other members of the departments. The one thing
that resonated the most (in not so few words) is that the Blue Jays team is not
only what you see on the field but what goes into making the team on the field
happen, and for the 2010 Season, I’m a part of that! I was still trying to wrap
my head around it all and of course, there’s more! Lunch is served in the HSBC
VIP Club and just as I sit down the Video Board lights up and the sounds of
Sportsnet’s Buck Martinez’s voice is heard throughout the Club area. At 2:07pm, the very first pitch of the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays
Season was thrown and I watched it on the Video Board sitting in Rogers Centre.
Can you say awesome? I can.
As the day has progressed
I’ve been taken on a few tours around Rogers Centre (which I was told today
should never be referred to as “THE Rogers Centre” just “Rogers Centre”) I
realized just how big the stadium is and how much goes on in preparation for
the Home Opener next week. The photos below are a few phone photos from my
tour, but the best part about it was that the dome was OPEN and the place was
empty. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be here and to be sharing this and
how excited I am for the season and for this opportunity. Now, off I go to find
some vegan edibles for supper tonight, but I’ll be posting regularly; this is way
too cool not to be sharing.
ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I
do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers
The Toronto Blue Jays will be making their way to Texas in
six days from today to start to the 2010 Season against the Rangers. As you
should know, the Home Opener is also approaching and is an exciting thirteen
days or 312 hours away. Are you ready for baseball season? I definitely am. So
far this season there hasn’t been a lot of buzz surrounding the Spring
Training Team. Quite a few people I’ve spoken to don’t have a clue about the
team that they’ll be watching for the next six months. After Roy Halladay
departed for Philly, there hasn’t been any blockbuster trades in the news, but
the key to this season, is that the Jays are working with the talent they have
to grow and continue building the franchise. There are a
couple notable mentions and new faces to the roster this season that you may
or may not have heard about, so let me briefly catch you up to speed.
behind the top team in the Grapefruit League, the Tampa Bay Rays (18-7).
Spring Training is a chance to forecast the rest of the season, not over-doing
it but making sure the right choices are made early on in the year. In what
will be Cito Gaston’s last year as Manager for the team, there is a current
focus to secure the final pitching rotation, but that takes time. With
injuries and various possibilities, choosing the best starters will foreshadow
the success of the team on the mound this season.
Let’s chat about
Dana Eveland. Eveland is a left-handed pitcher, acquired by the Blue Jays back
in early February of this year from the Oakland Athletics. Eveland, who’s
recorded 198 career strikeouts since his debut in 2005, has made six
appearances in Spring Training for the Jays, pitching 22 innings,
in hopes to have a regular spot in the pitching rotation (or at least the Jays
Bullpen). If chosen as a starter, Eveland would join 6-foot, 210 pound
left-handed pitcher Ricky Romero and right-handed pitcher, Shaun Marcum who
missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008.
According to reports,
Marcum and Romero are
the only definitive selections for the starting rotation and the remaining
three spots will be filled by any combination of RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP Marc
Rzepczynski (ZEP-CHIN-SKI), LHP Brian Tallet, LHP Brett Cecil, or LHP Dana
In order for the Jays to be successful offensively in 2010,
they’ll require continued and consistent effort from second baseman Aaron Hill
and Left-Fielder/Designated-Hitter Adam Lind. In 2009, Hill was ranked first
among second-basemen in the league and recorded 36 home runs. Hill was also
awarded the Silver Slugger Award and was named the American League Comeback
Player of the Year. Lind, who made 587 plate appearances last season, recorded
97 runs and 35 home runs for the Jays. Center-Fielder Vernon Wells, who will
most likely remain with the Jays until 2014 (by contract), is back and ready
to go after a successful wrist surgery in the off-season. Though he suffered a
lot of pain last season, Wells made 630 plate appearances for the Jays and
recorded 84 runs.
point in the season with the hope and drive to surpass the training reports on
the team. In order to do so, these three players, along with the other members
of the active roster, will need to step-up to instill confidence within the
young members of the roster with the support and reliability from players who
have been around the league longer. In one of the videos on the team website,
a narrator makes the goal for the season very clear, in true Toronto form:
“This season, it’s about the name on the front of the jersey, not the
All this talk about the starting rotation is getting me really
excited to see the team in action. T-Minus 13 Days until the 2010 Jays Roster
makes their first appearance on the turf at the Rogers Center. Do you have
your tickets? No? Hm. You call yourself a fan? Do you want tickets? Not just
any tickets though..no, no, no. How would you like to treat a friend to the
Home Opener against the White Sox in style? I’m talking comfortable seats,
snacks and drinks and two hosts that will surely keep you entertained while
you wear your new Jays Hat and speak to Jays General Manager Alex Anthopolous
in a private box. Ahem. Excuse me, while I brush the dirt off your shoulders.
Well lucky for you Fancypants, you could have your friends fighting
for your attention and showering you with bribes and all you have to do is
enter to win. I also hope you have an opinion about the Jays, because the FAN
590’s Don Landry and Gord Stellick sure do. They’ll be the hosts of the box
while you and your buddy take in the first glimpse of a revitalized Jays team.
I interned at the FAN 590 for just over a year and a half and eight
months of that time was spent as an intern on the Morning show with Landry and
Stellick. Every morning, Monday to Friday last year, I started my work day at
5:00am assisting the producers on the show. Weekly I got to call (Read: wake
up from a deep slumber) Cito Gaston, take calls, do research and compile
information on the latest triumphs in sports for the guys. If you ever listen
to the show, you’ll hear two guys that really love what they do and have
various opinions on the sports teams in Toronto.
So, what are you
waiting for? Get a move on right now (click here)
Finally, last week was a big week and so is the upcoming one. You
should know already, after my brief introduction, that baseball has had a huge
impact on my life. I wish you could have seen the smile on my face when I
walked into Gate 3 of the Rogers Center to have my photo I.D. taken and given
a tour of the office I’d call home for the upcoming months. That day was a
blur and for someone who usually has an excellent memory (read: I don’t forget
much at all) I haven’t a clue who I met or what they do, only that I smiled a
lot and was so excited to meet everyone. It hit me the moment I left to go
back to school: I get to go to work every day at the Rogers Center and be
around the game I love all of the time. I really couldn’t imagine a better way
to spend my summer. For the first time, I would get my own space with my own
desk not to mention, for the only professional club in Canada. Cool, huh? I
bought myself a cookie (a vegan one) that day, because I was so excited. My
family has been adding to my Jays memorabilia collection this week, to
personalize my desk at the office. I’ve got a plaque with the 1992
Championship team on it and two autographed Blue Jays Hockey Sticks that were
given away to fans in the late 70s-early 80s at exhibition stadium. So you
know what that means? I’m now the proud caretaker of some family heirlooms.
officially start on opening day, so I’ll be posting regularly then and for
crying out loud, go get your Home Opener tickets, I don’t like excuses.
When you think about the Blue Jays, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? My Toronto roots bring me back to summer afternoons in the mid-90’s sitting with my Papa listening to the games on his old radio outside or sitting on his lap watching them on T.V. He wore a denim Jays jacket and yelled at the TV set in his thick Scottish accent, which always made me laugh. The Jays to me are a part of this city, of my childhood, and a reflection of the way sports culture effects our lives every day. So the next time you think about the Jays, think about why you’re a fan or what it is that you love about the team, through the years and in the present.
With that, let me introduce myself! My name is Megan Robinson and I’m a baseball fan. It’s nice to meet you. I’m a Radio and Television Arts student at Ryerson University and will graduate next spring. I have interned around Toronto for the past five years in various media outlets having a chance to write, report, blog, interview, and really get a grasp on media and sports in Toronto. I grew up playing baseball and to this day, playing catch is one of my all-time favourite ways to pass the time. I started playing baseball when I was three years old at Corvette Park in Scarborough, Ontario. My uncle sponsored a team which his two sons, my two eldest cousins, played on. They needed a couple girls on the team to be co-ed and I was lucky enough one of them, using my black Rawlings glove with neon green stitching. I loved the in-field and played third base but at the age of three, got tired quickly and chose to sit on the base during the game. Little did I know, that would be my introduction to one of my favourite games. Since then, I’ve played in all kinds of leagues and on school teams and have quite a few memories to remember it all. I have watched and listened to baseball in a few other cities and there’s nothing quite like it. The sport itself has so much history behind it and brings people together for so many great reasons.
It’s simple: I love baseball.
I associate seasons with different aspects of the game: Spring is of course Spring Training – the hope and passion that enlivens the upcoming season is invaluable. It’s a fresh start and a chance once more to display talent and endure the season eager for October baseball; Summer reminds me of social butterflies – How many times have you caught up with an old friend at a baseball game, catching a glimpse of a few plays or doing the seventh-inning stretch all the while enjoying each others’ company with the ambient noises of baseball? Summer is fantastic for that, when the Rogers Centre is open and the city is illuminated at night or on a Sunday afternoon as the sun shines brightly over the first-base line; And of course, there’s Fall – October baseball is what the whole season comes down to. Most players start the beginning of the season with a clear vision of playoffs in mind. After all, they play to win and to win, most importantly, in the post-season. By late October when the leaves have fallen and the air becomes cooler, baseball is the last chance at summer before the snow falls in Canada but to all baseball players, October baseball is what they live for.
If you’re like me and see baseball as anything but a bore and look forward to the six month season then you’d understand why I want to be a baseball writer and work for a professional ball club. Mid-way through my first year at University my dreams of becoming solely a sports reporter shifted when I realized that the people who knew the game the best were the writers who spent their days at the field, getting to know the players and coaches and living every day looking for a fresh angle to say something about the team or a player. I decided a couple years ago that I wanted to learn professional sports inside and out and that every aspect of a club would be an asset to my writing and in turn my career in baseball or sports in general, so you can imagine my excitement when I got hired as an intern with the Blue Jays for the summer!
Getting hired was nerve wracking but I was excited throughout the process. I was initially selected for a phone interview which happened to be while I was on a family vacation in Mexico. After being given the green light, I had arranged that I would call Toronto from Mexico as I didn’t know how I would be accessible while out of the country. You’d think making a phone call to Canada from Mexico wouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong. After three days of looking for a phone that would accept my calling cards, I resorted to using reverse collect calling and after a few test calls finally managed to have the brief interview from my room. I had met my superiors while working at the FAN590 as an intern on the Morning Show last summer, so it was neat that they already had some idea of who I was and what I was about. I was contacted for a in-office interview the following week once I had returned from my seaside vacation and asked to prepare some ideas on contesting and promotions for the upcoming home opener (it’s a MONDAY, so the promotional concepts weren’t exactly limitless). Walking to the Rogers Centre for me is like putting my game face on. Every time I go there, as a fan or a reporter, I always travel the same way – through the Skywalk from Union station and slowly down the path, past the CN Tower. I wasn’t nervous going into the interview, I was eager to meet them and to answer their questions. It went well and I went off to leave the short-list in their hands to determine the successful candidate (read: the wait and see game is excruciating when you’re excited).
That was a Thursday so when a missed call and a voice mail from ‘BLUE JAYS’ appeared on my phone the following Tuesday, two days before I had expected to hear anything at all, I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I got it. I would be (officially) the Promotions Intern for the 2010 Season for the Toronto Blue Jays. A Pro ball club! The opportunity to learn this side of the business is going to be an amazing way to spend my summer and soak in as much as possible from the people around me on a daily basis.
When they asked me to blog I thought a lot about what I would want to say, every day for six months. How many people do you know that work for a professional team? I realized that the insight I would gain from the start to the end of the season was reason enough for a blog. Every day tasks and game day duties are all things that will be a part of my job this season and I’m excited to be able to share that with you! Since the blog is entitled Triple Play I will be sharing three major points of interest – Jays news, stories from around the league, or something that happened in my day. As well, weekly features and updates on the Jays Triple A team the Las Vegas 51s, interviews and videos as well as contests and current Jays Promotions will be part of Triple Play. Make sure you check in as often as you can because I’ll be posting daily entries and videos about my daily encounters and notable mentions.
Stay tuned for my next post including my thoughts on the Grapefruit league and the Jays in Spring Training!