Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays
2018 Regular Season at the Rogers Centre in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Seventeen-year veteran Cliff Floyd was on hand to call the game. This multi-purpose stadium in Downtown Toronto opened during the 1989 season. Before that, they played at Exhibition Stadium: where the new expansion team played their first game on April 7, 1977, hosting the Chicago White Sox. This complex is a far cry from that frigid day. The thermostat was hovering on zero degrees Fahrenheit, or (-17.777778) Celsius, and it was one of the coldest, snowy days ever played. This, on the other hand, is a state of the art, climate-controlled complex with a retractable roof, with a 348-room hotel adjacent to the park, beyond centerfield. The footprint of the entire structure is located at the base of the iconic CN Tower. Roger Centre is one of three remaining MLB stadiums that still have artificial turf on the playing field. The other two are Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida and Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
Fair or not, there are historical plays that get a lot of exposure on the highlight reels every year. This is the site of the 1992 & 1993 World Series. In 1993, Joe Carter hit a walk-off home run and instantly began to jump up and down uncontrollably, as he made his way around the bases to win the 1993 World Series. He also caught the last out in the 1992 World Series and started to jump up and down in similar fashion, at the Old Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta Georgia, to win it all. But most people only remember Joe Carter hitting that home run here in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. On the other end of that was Mitch Williams, relief pitcher of the Philadelphia Phillies who had the honors of throwing that home run to Joe Carter. While walking off the mound, he almost never looked back to see where that ball landed. The deafening sound of the crowd gave him an idea of where the ball was going to land. But, as he approached the third base foul line, he took a gander beyond left field to confirm that the ball did clear the wall. Just like that, the “Wild Thing” became a lasting part of Blue Jays History.
It’s the closest thing to an isolation bubble that MLB has. It’s only one field. But all the other facilities are there for an ideal isolated environment. In fact, you can literally drive in, park your car in the garage, take the elevator to your section, watch the game, and never even see what’s happening out side. It’s a self-sustained complex. On my drive to Toronto from Niagara Falls, the dark clouds from Lake Ontario made a menacing presence. The day of this game, a thunderstorm swept through downtown Toronto.
Either way, it’s located outside the borders of the United States and the government of Canada denied approval for the Blue Jays to play here during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team of young ball players are “cardiac kids” for more reasons than one. They play hard and with their hearts on the sleeves. They’re also dealing with some stress over being homeless and looking for shelter as well as a place to play. At first, there was talk of playing their home games, at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. When that fell through, they scrambled to find a home as season opened Thursday July 23. The displaced Blue Jays will resort to playing home games at Sahlen Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons, their Triple-A affiliate. They’re making “modifications to the infrastructure” to get it up to MLB standards: not sure what that really means. First home game is Schedule Aug 11.
This new groundswell of talent includes three players who are sons of former MLB players. The two fathers of both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio are Hall of Famers. And, Dante Bichette, father of Bo Bichette, was hired this year as a hitting coach due to the great rapport he’s had with the players. The Blue Jays are making a push for the future with these “cardiac kids” who are taking the baseball world by storm.