The boys of spring
Last night I attended my first Blue Jays game since 2019. It’s great to have the boys back, and me, too. I’m part of a group that shares a pair of seats behind the Blue Jays dugout so the view is perfect. My guest was my teenaged grandson who knows more about sports than any other person on the planet. He’s great company. There are so many new players it takes a while to get used to who’s where, but we seem to have all positions well filled.
Despite the interregnum, a few elements remain the same. The wave spilled around the stadium three times at one point. Fans always give the loudest cheer when one of their own catches a foul ball. As soon as the Boston Red Sox took a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning, folks began to file out. They missed the best comeback ever; the Jays won 6-5 in the tenth.
There are many changes, too. Ace the mascot doesn’t seem to be his old self. He does the usual dance routines on top of the dugouts, but no longer clambers into the seats for a selfie with a youngster. New video displays dominate an enlarged scoreboard. It’s almost as if the Jays organization wants to emulate the excitement of the Toronto Raptors. At the beginning of the game, the stadium lights went out, replaced by flashing red and white strobes. The scoreboard itself presents more information than you can possibly digest. For example, every pitch is described with three stats: speed, type, and location. A 94-mph four-seamed fastball is helpful to know about, but what position over the plate is described as 8.2H 18.4V? I get the horizontal and vertical designations, but the numbers, who knows?
And the pitcher and catcher are using some kind of new electronic signalling device rather than fingers between the catcher’s legs. The catcher calls for a particular pitch by pressing buttons on a cuff. The pitcher has an earpiece receiver and delivers. The technology seems to involve flashing lights on the catcher’s pants and belt. He looks like a Christmas tree – even between innings.
The stadium has gone cashless. Whether you’re buying a hat in the store, a hot dog at a stand, or peanuts in your seat, you make your payment with a card. The seller sends your peanuts along the row followed by a handheld for payment. Tip amount is prominently displayed for selection. Tap your card in the usual way and send the machine back. No more fumbling with other people’s bills and coins. Next time I go, I’ll be able to pay more attention to the game.
I was at the same game, Rod. Great entertainment. And yes, a lot more sis-boom-bah all over the Dome. So glad baseball is back.