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.
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.