What a Weekend of Baseball in Toronto
|Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images|
It’s not very often (not to mention detrimental to this blog) that I’m left speechless, but wow … was that ever a great weekend of baseball in Toronto.
Roy Halladay’s homecoming and the Phillies trip to the Rogers Centre lived up to the hype, and even delivered more than the price of admission in all three games this past weekend. It really was a perfect storm of baseball greatness.
Being in attendance for all three games, I had a mishmash of random thoughts from all three games, so here they are in no particular order:
If you build a great series, they (the fans) will come
With over 115,000 fans going through the turnstiles at the Rogers Centre this past weekend, the Blue Jays proved if you build a great series, the fans will flock to the ballpark in droves.
A large part of that had can be attributed to the Canada Day holiday and Roy Halladay’s return to Toronto, but I for one wasn’t expecting nearly as many fans as there were on Friday and even Saturday.
I can’t say I was there to compare it fairly, but from what I’ve heard the atmosphere at the Rogers Centre was very reminiscent to that of the World Baseball Classic from a few years back between Canada and the United States.
It just goes to show you that the baseball fans are definitely there in Toronto, you just have to give them a reason to come to the ballpark. Ultimately, that reason will be to see a winning home team, but in the interim it will be to see great opposing teams and revered former players like Roy Halladay.
Welcome back, Doc … now let’s get down to business
Speaking of Doc, I’ll admit, I started getting a little misty-eyed when Roy Halladay came out of the Phillies dugout to hand in the lineup cards to the umpire on Canada Day.
As was the case with most fans at the ballpark on Saturday, this was the first time witnessing Roy Halladay in the flesh wearing a different uniform than the home Jays jersey, but it was great to see him nonetheless.
The crowd gave Roy Halladay a deafening ovation as he headed out to the mound and threw his warmup tosses on Saturday, but after that it was all business. After the first few innings, it was as if nothing had ever happened and he was just another opposing pitcher.
It was strange because every so often I’d catch myself looking at Halladay’s number 34 on the mound and thinking, “he’s moved on, and now it’s time for me to do that same”. And in that instant, I think I finally got closure.
Sketchy strike zones
I don’t know what it was about this particular umpiring crew, but boy did they ever have some sketchy strike zones.
Brian O’Nora was pretty good behind the plate on Friday, but Alfonso Marquez and Ed Hickox seemed to have a much different agenda. Just check out the strike zone maps below and tell me if you notice a difference:
|Strike zone maps courtesy of Brooks Baseball|
Looks like there were an awful lot of strikes called balls on Saturday and Sunday, and most of them were in favour of the visiting Phillies.
I understand the umpires were probably giving the Cy Young Award winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee the benefit of the doubt on most of those calls, but at least be consistent. When Carlos Villaneuva or Jo-Jo Reyes hit the exact same location as Doc and Lee, call it a strike.
Otherwise, you just might have to deal with an angry Jon Rauch. And you don’t want to see Jon Rauch when he’s angry.
Rajai Davis’ Jekyll and Hyde Weekend
Multiple times on Saturday, I lmuttered several sarcastic remarks about Rajai Davis swinging at pitches in the dirt. Davis looked like a little leaguer on a couple of strikeouts from Halladay, which only reinforced my thoughts on his recent struggles.
But then something happened on Sunday … perhaps it was because it was the Lord’s Day, but Rajai Davis was a man reinvigorated and reenergized. He laid off pitches down in the zone, down and away even, and came up with 3 hits and 3 stolen bases.
4 at bats is a ridiculously small sample size, but I really hope this is a sign that Rajai Davis has turned a corner and will become the hitter we were all hoping he would become.
Streakers: Go big or go home
I’m not sure if the TV cameras caught this or not, but there was a young man who decided to hop the fence and go for a little jaunt into centre field during the ninth inning of Saturday’s game.
According to folks sitting beside me, he was out cold mere moments prior and I guess in a moment of drunken clarity, he decided the best thing for him to do at that moment was take his shoes off and bolt onto the field.
My school of thought is, if you’re going to be stupid enough to run onto the field, you might as well go naked. Go big, or go home … you’re going to jail anyway, so you might as well get a few laughs while you do it.
And running on the field in your birthday suit may actually increase your chances of not getting caught, because no usher ever wants to be the one to tackle the naked guy.