I'm nominally a Blue Jays fan, enjoying watching baseball and them being Canada's only major league team. In the late 2010s, however, I realized (for the second time1) being a fan of a single team wasn't as enjoyable as being a fan of the sport. I also didn't watch much sports during 2020 and 2021, because the dread around the pandemic overshadowed the product on the field, and the quiet of the stadium coupled with the fake crowd noise only served as a reminder of the lengths we were going to in order to ignore the despair. I watched the playoffs when fans were allowed back, however, and it was fun watching the last day of 2021 where 4 games had implications for the playoffs.
When the Blue Jays announced the Leadoff ticket package, I was initially not interested. The more I thought of it, though, the more I liked the premise: It was a ticket to each home game, randomly assigned, in the truly cheap seats. There was almost zero chance of a foul ball or home run reaching that area.2 That took the decision of where to sit out of the equation, and got me in the stadium, where I could walk around wherever I wanted and watch at the standing-room areas anywhere in the stadium. So I bought the package, and went to most of the games, making it worth the price. Plus, I live a 15-minute walk away from the stadium.
The downsides were that every seat had an obstructed view. Opening night, I couldn't see most right field, and every other night, the corners were not visible. I was there for Bo Bichette's first grand slam of his major league career, but I couldn't see it go over the fence. I also have very few physical mementos of the games. There was a booth outside the stadium on Opening Day selling programs, so I bought one, but for other games, I couldn't find them at all on the 500 level. While one can bring their own food into Rogers Centre, it's a rarity, since I don't think people know that you're allowed to. One day I'll bring in a bánh mì sandwich and maybe someone will ask me which booth I got it at.
I ultimately waited too long to get the ticket package for May. I attended one of the April games with a friend, not part of the ticket package, but still in the cheap seats, and this time with unobstructed views of the field. So I think I'll try to sit in that same section when I do go to a game by myself.
Some other thoughts:
- I was struck about how there was basically zero messaging about the COVID-19 pandemic. Nothing on the JumboTron, nothing in the PA announcements, and almost no signs of a new respiratory disease other than the employees all wearing masks (along with a certain percentage of attendees).
- The Blue Jays put on a good show. I did catch myself wondering if there was ever, or ever will be, a Quiet Night at the Ballpark. That is, turning down the volume on the PA announcements, and no music between pitches, and no exhortations to "GET LOUD!!!" When attending with a friend, it was hard sometimes to hear him, and we can both be soft-spoken, and I'd rather try to speak over other people than walk-up songs and whatnot.
The games I did not watch: Sunday games, and the Thursday afternoon game during a weekday. It was a bit exhausting, especially after I had memorized the answers to the between-innings quizzes which didn't differentiate much, so I don't know how people who attend all 81 games can do it. I plan on going to one or two games a month from here on out.
Two events, one in Canada, one in Eastern Europe took the spotlight off of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has entered its third year.
I went on a couple of trips, attended events, and otherwise spent another three months not sheltering in place.
Since July of this year, I've been to Hamilton twice, went to an Ontario cottage for the first time while living in Toronto, and have gone to a co-working space every couple of weeks or so. While I've mostly been working from home, I haven't exactly been sheltering in place like I did for the previous 16 months.
I attended a Hamilton Honey Badgers game.
Having someone to speak with and continuously practicing writing is essential in learning a language.
Toronto is opening up even further.