Showing posts with label Baseball. Show all posts

Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Game On A Budget

blue jays

This week I attended a Toronto Blue Jays game and challenged myself to do it on a budget.

Anaheim Angels

Anaheim Angels

On vacation in California a few weeks ago I got the chance to see a game at Angel Stadium, home of the Anaheim Angels!

10 Best Baseball Cities


It's nearing the end of August and that means we are getting close to saying goodbye to summer but we still have two good months of baseball left! This is the time of year that the boys of summer really push for the top of the leader board and for fans, there is no better time to get out and see a game! Every baseball game from here on out is going to be exciting and I am here to give you the 10 best baseball cities. It's not just about having a great team or having an architecturally interesting baseball field, the surrounding city has to offer something as well!

When my family and I head out for a game it usually means a few hours in the car or airplane so we do our best to make a fun trip out of it. Each of the cities I am recommending have great restaurants, museums, local attractions and sometimes just the city itself is great. Nice walks, pretty architecture (I'm looking at you Boston!), friendly locals, and beautiful green space all enhance ones visit to a new city.

A few of these places I have been to (I'll link out to the post where applicable) and others are high on my bucket list of cities to see a baseball game in. For the cities I have not yet been to, these are places I have read about and have had recommended to me by other baseball travellers. So without further ado, I give you my list of the 10 best baseball cities (in particular order).

Los Angeles Dodgers


I have had the pleasure of seeing a game at Dodger Stadium on two separate trips. The first time we had our two boys with us and the second time it was a couples only trip. Whether you are out on your own or have the whole family in tow, I guarantee you will have a great time seeing the Dodgers. They are a consistently good team and I recommend you take the tour before a game, that way you get to see all of the beautiful stadium! During the tour you get to see artifacts from the Brooklyn Dodgers and learn all about the move to LA. The concessions at Dodger Stadium are plentiful and I recommend the Dodger Dog (a foot long hot dog). New last year they introduced the bacon wrapped Dodger Dog which I know my teenagers would be big fans of.

LA is one amazing city. You can do all the downtown touristy stuff like walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame, spend the afternoon at Griffith Park or head to Disneyland in nearby Anaheim. I am a big fan of the surrounding cities like Calabasas (one of my most favourite places to visit!), Malibu and a little further out, Pasadena. LA is famous for their traffic (I swear it's not as bad as people make it out to be) so I really recommend renting a car and bringing your GPS along to cruise some of the most beautiful highways. LA is home to some of the world's best restaurants and if you're a celebrity watcher you just might see someone famous while dining at The Ivy. Big city adventure or ocean side escape, you really can have it all in LA.

Washington Nationals


At the very top of my baseball bucket list is the Washington Nationals. They are one of the few teams that I have never seen play in person! Like everyone else, I'm a big Bryce Harper fan (he makes baseball very entertaining with his incredible homers) and I'm hoping the rumours (which I believe he started) are true, that he will be in the home run derby in 2018 when the Nats host. I am doing my best to see both a regular season game and the home run derby in 2018! Nationals Park opened in 2008 and is the youngest park on this list. Something that I am personally excited to see when I finally visit is the panoramic views of the Navy Yard, riverfront and national monuments from the stadium.

While I have not yet been to the park, I have been to Washington D.C. before and this is the city for history buffs! There are more museums than you can possibly image and they all offer free admission. The White House is always nice to see (I was able to visit the interior on a tour during the Clinton years) and if you can only visit one memorial, make it the Lincoln Memorial. Say hello to Honest Abe, grab yourself an ice cream and sit on the stairs overlooking the Reflecting Pool (that's what my family did and it was great!). The Metro subway system is incredibly easy to use and it quickly connects you to Arlington National Cemetery, the U Street food corridor and many other sites including Nationals Park! Don't forget to stop in Georgetown to stroll the historic cobblestone streets and to visit Georgetown Cupcake.

San Diego Padres


It has been a few years since I saw a Padres game in Petco Park but considering they just hosted the All-Star Game this year, I'm sure the park has only improved! It is a very family friendly park - there are many pre-game activities for young ones like a mini ball field where they can play a few games and make some new friends, and a picnic area in the outfield. And it wouldn't be Petco Park without a few pets! Each year they host the Padres Dog Days of Summer where up to 500 dogs are allowed to come and watch the game with their family. Situation on the Pacific Ocean, it is a water lovers dream! If you sit high in the 300 level at the game you can see the ocean and view the U.S. Navy ships, yachts and other pleasure craft that are in the water. The parks incredible views combined with family and pet friendly policies make up for them trading Matt Kemp to the Atlanta Braves (I'm a big fan of Kemp).

San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is a beautiful district to walk and view the city's incredible architecture. The nightlife, which I have yet to experience, is supposed to be great (I was there young kids and did not get a chance to check it out, but I have heard great things about the bars and clubs). Belmont Park is a retro beachside amusement park and La Jolla beach is not far away. If you get the chance, cross the Coronado Bay Bridge and stay at the famous Hotel del Coronado (it is where they filmed the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like It Hot).

Toronto Blue Jays


My hometown team! The Rogers Centre, formerly the SkyDome, built in 1989, has seen a number of improvements over the last two years that have been well received by fans. The party deck is a popular spot to meet up with friends and a large concession area was created to provide you with a multitude of dining options including such Canadian classics as poutine and peameal bacon on a bun. Each year there is a new addition and I'm excited to see what the future holds. Theme days are the best time to visit - Country Day, Beach Day and Cottage in the City are the most popular. The festivities start pre-game near the gates and carry on inside. Also a great time to visit is on a giveaway day. My recommendation for bobblehead days and jersey days (the most popular), line up early. The last one we went to, Russell Martin jersey day, we lined up at 9 am (gates didn't open until noon) and while it was a long wait, we all got a jersey! There are always kids activities outside the gates and Jr. Jays can run the bases on Saturdays. Oh, and seeing the dome open is beautiful thing. Such an engineering feat and the view of the CN Tower is incredible (Drake not included).

Toronto is a fabulous city and what I like the most about it, is you can pretty much walk to everything from the Rogers Centre. The entertainment district is two blocks away on King Street, Chinatown is 4 more blocks with Kensington Market only a few blocks after that. Or, you can walk in the opposite direction and visit St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District. Trinity Bellwoods and Yorkville have some of the best shopping in the city and Riverdale has the prettiest parks. Those areas are a bit of a walk so I recommend public transit. Or if a day at the beach is more your speed, head to the waterfront and board the ferry to Centre Island where you can spend the day at the Centre Island theme park or if it's big theme park adventure you are after, head to nearby Vaughan to visit Canada's Wonderland!

St. Louis Cardinals


Another team I have not had the pleasure of seeing, the St. Louis Cardinals. I stopped in St. Louis a few years ago on a return trip from Memphis. We stopped for a few hours to let the kids burn off some energy in the park under the Gateway Arch and to visit the museum at the base (which is fab BTW). Busch Stadium is a fully open stadium, which truth be told is my personal favourite. Fresh air, sunshine and that view! You can actually see the Arch just passed the outfield.

The Mighty Mississippi is a stones throw from the arch and Ballpark Village, a dining and entertainment district, is right next door to the stadium. City Museum is the home of massive slides and a maze of caves and for even bigger adventures, there is a Six Flags near by. And you can't visit St. Louis without trying some of their regional eats like St. Louis style pizza at Imo's and of course, St. Louis style BBQ (a listing of the top BBQ restaurants in the city).

Detroit Tigers


The last time I was at a Tigers game my kids were on diapers so I am long overdue for a trip to see a game! Comerica Park has a lot to offer during games besides just baseball (although that is pretty fantastic on its own). There is a carousel made of tigers, tiger statues throughout the park but its the baseball ferris wheel will always be a favourite of mine. Make sure you don't venture off too far from the game because you will want to see the water fountain in the outfield start when a Tigers player hits a home run! It's coordinated to fireworks and music, a must see! Kids can run the bases and have the opportunity to high five PAWS, the Tigers mascot who is usually waiting by first base. 

 I am a huge fan of the city and I'm just so happy to see it on the rise. I last visited in November (my Detroit City Guide) and had a fabulous time skating, shopping and eating in the downtown. Even though it was Thanksgiving weekend and very (very, very) cold we still walked down to see the ballpark all tucked away for the winter. Detroit is an easy city to walk around in and the people mover (monorail) is easy to use and connects you to so many hot spots. Downtown is full of urban restaurants, shopping and some of the greates architecture you will see in all of North America. I did a self created walk tour of newly renovated historic hotels and it was great fun! 

Cleveland Indians


Cotton candy sunsets and trendy city skylines are only a few of the things to enjoy while taking in a game at Progressive Field. Children of all ages can play in last years addition, the Kids Clubhouse, a multi floor space with interactive games, batting cages, a pitching area, little league field, toddler play areas and a two story slide shaped like a baseball bat! I visited with my family last summer just after this space opened and it truly is state of the art! For adults there is Right Field District, a place to connect with friends or unwind after work (how I wish I lived in Cleveland!). For a mere $13 you get a ticket to this standing room area and your first drink is on the Indians! You can choose to hang out in The Corner Bar and sample some foodie delights in The Neighbourhood while keeping an eye on The Tribe. 

Downtown Cleveland is a jewel. The architecture, the restaurants (hello Morton's!), the upscale grocery store set in an old bank, and the can't miss Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland really does rock! I always say that the coolest things I have ever done is tour a WWII US submarine which I did right on the shore of Lake Erie.

Boston Red Sox


I have seen more grown ups getting choked up talking about Fenway Park than any other ballpark. Even though there is no crying in baseball (except for this month, everyone's retiring and crying!) you really can't fault anyone for feeling so emotionally attached to this club. The Boston Red Sox history is wildly know and their World Series win in 2004 after an 86 year drought brought out the Red Sox fan in all of us. I was lucky enough to tour Fenway a few weeks before their historic win (I've always said that I am their good luck charm!) and for any baseball lover, this is a must do. The tour, like many ballpark tours, takes you behind the scenes into areas that past and current player use and that the public does not normally see and the guides provide the history and high points of the team. As much as I love sitting third base line, I would definitely want to watch the BoSox from the top of the Green Monster, the giant left field wall with standing room capacity for 269 of your fellow Red Sox fans. Fenway Park is the oldest stadium in the MLB. Built in 1912 the park has seen many upgrades and improvements, from 2002 to 2011 they have upgraded everything from waterproofing the concession areas to replacing the video display systems, but they have never lost the charm of an early 1900's ballpark. Fenway Park also plays host to summer concerts, this summer Zac Brown Band has the honour of playing on this historic field. And I can't mention the Red Sox without talking about Big Papi. David Ortiz is the face of this team and has been since he joined in 2003. Papi is retiring at the end of this season and just like when Mariano Rivera retired from the Yankees in 2013, Papi is receiving gifts and standing ovations from every team he visits. A home run hitter with a bigger than life laugh and personality, he rallied a city, nation and world with his speech following the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. He will be missed by many.

The city of Boston really needs no introduction. If you are interested in American history, this is the city to visit. Founded in 1630 the city really has seen it all. You can take guided walking tours through cobblestone streets, visit museums and historic homes and if you are up for a little drive, Salem, Mass., the site of the infamous witch trials in the late 1690's, is only 30 minutes away. If shopping is more your speed, Newbury Street is the place to find gifts, clothing and more. Cross the bridge and visit Harvard University, making sure to stop for coffee or lunch in Harvard Square. It's a great place to people watch. Boston has been the backdrop for some popular shows and movies. The exterior of "Cheers" is in Beacon Hill and sites from "Good Will Hunting" and "The Departed" are easy to find. Of course my favourite thing to do in Boston is walk the city just taking in the architecture. It's not everyday that you get to see a house or a building from the 1600's! Fun fact - the oldest building in Boston is the Paul Revere House circa 1680. I've always said that Boston is my most favourite city in the world and with each visit that just gets stronger. If you have never visited Boston before plan a trip soon! Boston in the fall is not to be missed.

Cincinnati Reds


Last year, on the way back from a visit to Kentucky, AMH and I stopped in Cincinnati to see if we could take a tour of The Great American Ball Park. It was such a last minute thing that I had no time to research the city or the field so I really wasn't sure what to expect. I knew they had just hosted the All-Star Game and while waiting for the tour we were told about the extensive renovations so I figured we were in for a real treat. And we were! The ball park is beautiful, has great concession areas and kids areas, as well as a self serve beer bar! Yeah, I need to come back and investigate that further. There are so many great details at the ball park like the smoke stacks in the outfield, pictures and statues everywhere of past players and an onsite museum! 

Cincinnati itself is one cosmopolitan city, starting with the fact that the entire city has Wi-Fi! Of course that's not all the city has to offer (although I'm sure Pokemon Go players sure enjoy that feature!) there are stunning sites like the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the beautiful waterfront with paths, shops and restaurants that all lead to The Great American Ball Park. There is also Findlay Market (open Saturdays) and Hyde Park Square, the upscale shopping and dining district. Both are big draws for tourists. 

Seattle Mariners


Another park I have not yet visited (this one is at the very top of my baseball bucket list). Safeco Field opened in 1999 and quickly gained a reputation of being THE place to see a game. There is a beautiful Seattle skyline and those sunsets over Puget Sound (google it, they are amazing!). On site is the Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest that celebrates the Mariners and baseball in the region. The Mariners are known for their concessions which reflects their quality, local,  food movement going on in the city. They offer so much more than just cracker jacks! Liege waffles, gourmet hamburgers, craft wine and beer, and even a healthy food option restaurant can all be found at Safeco Field's concession area.

There is no lack of museums and parks to visit in the city, and lots of activities to see along the Pacific Ocean. Pike Place Fish Market and the first Starbucks are only a 30 minute walk from Safeco Field. The Seattle Art Museum is nearby, just in case it rains, or if it's an adventure on the water you seek, head to waterfront and take a ferry ride.

So there you have it, 10 of the best baseball cities. If you have been thinking of taking a weekend vacation, try one of these places and don't forget to catch a game! Is there some place you would add to the list? Leave a comment below!

You can read all about the baseball fields I have visited with photos and tips for enjoying each city on the "Baseball" drop down menu on the homepage.

Rochester Red Wings

Last weekend the husband and I decided to take a little couples weekend away in New York State. The Rochester Red Wings were playing on Saturday night and the promotion was a fireworks night! I love fireworks! Rochester is a great place to visit, it's only a three hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, and what a beautiful drive it is (unless your tire blows on the QEW and you have to drive home to get another car and then start the road trip all over again). We quickly checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Rochester Downtown, and walked over to the field. 

Even with the car troubles we had, we still made it in time to watch the Rochester Red Wings play the Toledo MudHens. Before finding our seat we went on a tour of the stadium, which we last visited in 2014 (See a full list of all stadiums we have visited). First up was the team store. 

An entire wall of hats! Classic New Era hats in full back and snap back. AMH and The Oldest already have a Rochester Red Wings hat so we moved on. 

Well this is new, a full section of women's wear! A great assortment of women's clothing in team colours and pastels. All fitted to women and not the dreaded "unisex" sizing. As a baseball loving female, I was so excited to see this! I've passed on many baseball t-shirts and sweaters because the fit was all wrong. 

I didn't purchase any new clothing but we did leave with a blue plaid, baseball, picnic blanket! Three of my favourite things combined! 

Our new picnic blanket came in handy right away! We stopped by the peanut and chemical free lawn where families sat and children were free to run around. 

Ok, this may seem a little odd but when you visit as many baseball fields as I do this is important. The Red Wings have one of the cleanest bathrooms in all of baseball. Yes, I am saying that out of all the MiLB and MLB fields I have been to, this is the cleanest. They also have a very clean changing station which I no longer need but did meet a mother in here that said she was so happy it was clean and easy to use. 

I'd have to say my favourite thing about seeing a baseball game in Rochester is their wide assortment of craft breweries (well, after actually seeing the game of course!). We stopped to try Rohrbach Brewing Company and to support a local children's charity. All the money raised from beer sales that night supported a local skate club!

Found our seats, Section 205 Row L Seat 5&6 (For those wondering, these seats are $11.50 making it a great value for a night out with your spouse and/or kids!). Time to enjoy a little ball, sunshine and beer, #ROCthesummer. We had a great view with the Kodiak building overlooking the park and we got the last bit of sunshine on our side. 

The Zooperstars is a hilarious troop of animals with names that play on famous sports players, this guy is Mackerel Jordan. He spits baseballs at the bat boy and wants to play a game of catch. When the bat boy becomes annoyed with him, Mackerel Jordan eats him and spits out his clothes! Then he spits the bat boy out with just his boxer shorts on and runs away. It's great fun between innings. They have quite a few characters and they all have their signature moves. 

We were feeling antsy thanks to sitting so long in the car (with our blown tire we were in the car 5 hours, with an hour of waiting for a tow truck) so we left our seats and walked around the field. We found a new stand that sells adult root beer, Small Town Brewery out of Illinois. AMH and I decided to split a Not Your Fathers Root Beer 5.9% since we were not all that sure how a beer root beer was going to taste. This is dangerous stuff my friends! It is delicious and tastes as silky and sweet as a regular root beer, but you get a buzz! It is very sugary and I'm glad we decided to just split one. I would buy this and serve it as a dessert drink.

We found a table in the outdoor eating area, the perfect viewing spot for the on field fireworks. 

And it was right beside the bar! Two more craft beers, Brooklyn Summer Ale (love it!) and we purchased two plastic Red Wings mason jars for $2 to take home for the boys. 

The fireworks were set to 80's music and paid tribute to the purple one, Prince!

The fireworks were outstanding and the 80's music took me back to being a little kid. It was the great way to finish out our visit to the Rochester Red Wings. 

Many thanks to Nate and the Rochester Red Wings for the tickets and for a wonderful night out!

Baseball Spring Training

mlb, baseball
You better believe I am a MLB TV subscriber. I was very excited when this landed in my inbox.

It's Baseball Spring Training week! Games started on Tuesday and it was so nice to come home after  a long day at work, in a snow storm I might add, to hear those familiar sounds of the game. It takes me right back to sunshine filled stadiums where hot dogs and beer are the gourmet items of the day and high fives are passed around with your seat neighbours at each home run. I know, I know, I romanticize the game. I just love baseball so much! The low Canadian dollar has put the brakes on a few baseball stadium trips I had planned for this year (it may just kill me to not see Big Papi play at Fenway!) but that doesn't mean I won't be watching and reporting to you, fellow baseball lover, what is new in the world of baseball. I like to think of myself as a 'baseball fan experience' expert so stick around and I'll show you what parks you should be visiting this summer! (You can check out a few of my favourite stadium visits here, here and here.)

What I am excited for in baseball this year

This is very bittersweet. 2016 marks Big Papi's last year with the Red Sox. David Ortiz is not only one heck of a slugger, he is a very cool guy (watch the documentary of him on Netflix). My family and I have loved watching him play with the Red Sox and as the unofficial coach at every Home Run Derby. It's always fun to watch him getting in there and interacting with the players, even when he is not batting that year. A little Celebrating this Life baseball trivia for you -- I was almost hit by Big Papi's bat! It happened in Toronto and AMH and I had incredible seats. I was so excited to be sitting so close, you could hear what the players were saying! This also put us in the danger zone and after one heck of a hard swing, and a miss, Big Papi let the bat fly into the stands, right towards me! Luckily my hubby ducked and pulled me with him only for the lady behind me, who I might add was not playing attention to the game at all, took the bat to the face. Poor girl left with a big bruise and more than a few ice packs. I'm just so thankful my hubby has great reflexes.

This year I am headed to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Interleague games are a big deal, the Dodgers (part of the National League) do not normally travel to The Six to play (The Blue Jays are in the American League). The Dodgers are playing three games at the Blue Jays and very lucky for us, the tickets we got are on Russell Martin jersey giveaway day!

A throwback to 2011 when my boys were still shorter than me!

The Home Run Derby! This is a total bucket list item for me. I will be doing every thing I can to attend in 2018 when they are held at Nationals Park in Washington D.C (the Canadian dollar HAS to improve by then, right?!?!) This year I will be watching  on my MLB TV while they play in PetCo Park in San Diego. I still list San Diego as a 'must see' ballpark, especially for those with young kids. When we visited, the boys were a little younger and were able to take part in the mini ball field they have for kids to play on. We sat high up in the nose-bleeds as it was fireworks night (we had a great view for that!) plus, the Pacific Ocean is just behind you! Great views all around. The Padres really go out of their way to make the game a family friendly experience. If I could move anywhere in the world it would be to the high rise that over looks this park. We could see scores of people on their balcony watching the game and even a BBQ happening on the roof top terrace. Now, that's a great view!

There are so many more things that I am excited for but I'd love to hear a few things you are looking forward to this year.

 Do you have plans to make it out to a game? A player you are excited to watch? Let me know in the comments below!

Toronto Blue Jays - Rogers Centre

Congratulations to the Toronto Blue Jays on winning the ALDS!

In honor of the Toronto Blue Jays epic win last night or what will forever be referred to as "The bat flip heard 'round the world" I thought I would share a review/photos of our recent fan experience at the Rogers Centre. 

My family and I (myself, hubby, two kids, one MIL and one BIL) visited in late August on a promotion day. The giveaway was a bobblehead commemorating the 1985 Blue Jays Division Championship with three players on a single bobblehead, Jesse Barfield, George Bell and Lloyd Moseby (Bell and Moseby taught The Oldest during a Blue Jays Baseball Camp he attended. Moseby even knick-named him "The Man").

We knew that going to see the red hot Jays on a bobblehead day we were in for crowds which is nothing new since the Jays have been selling out games for the past few months. What I had not expected was the early lining up one must do to get a bobblehead. Luckily my hubby did anticipate this and we were in line more than a few hours before the gates opened.

The staff who were manning the line told us people started lining up at midnight. Midnight for a bobblehead?!?! Just crazy. Anyway, this is very far away from the gate and we stood here for hours. With no coffee. And it was 10 in the morning. The line eventually went all the way back to the ACC and if you are familiar with the area, you know that is one monster line! Well it was all in good fun and once the line started to move we were in very quickly and that's having your bags checked and walking through the MLB regulated metal detectors. 

The bobblehead is pretty cool and since we are a family of four, we each got one and later made a few trades online to get ones that we missed out on earlier in the year. What are we going to do with these things? I have no idea but we have four different ones now. I'm sure they will eventually find a home somewhere in our house.

I will say that I have been a lifelong fan of the Jays and the SkyDome (that's what it was called when it first opened). I was there on a school tour the year it opened and returned every year with my elementary school to watch a game. During the not-so-great-years (that would be the early 2000's) my hubby and I would take our boys to games every week, for a while we lived close by and visiting was easy, for $2 tickets and while we were there they would give you coupons to return for your next game free. They could not give away tickets. Now, good luck getting your hands on any. All this to say that yes, I do love the Jays but that doesn't mean I have overlooked some of the not so nice things going on in this stadium.

Anyway, back to the fan experience at Rogers Centre.

What I like about the Rogers Centre

  • The organization. We have a great team of stellar players, John Gibbons is a phenomenal coach and with Alex Anthopoulos at the helm, we are a force to be reckoned with. Mark Shapiro was recently named as President and he was the driving force behind the upgrades at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, so I have high hopes that some of the things on my not-so-fond-of list will be resolved. 

  • The Architecture! Seriously it is just the greatest. The CN Tower over looking the field, every seat has a good view (ok yes minor exceptions behind poles) and we don't have to freeze outside in April or October like other cities have to. 

  • Ok, this may fall into the above point, but watching the dome open is so much fun I felt it deserved to be on the list all by itself. It takes just over 20 minutes to fully open or close and it gets me in the feels every time. 
  • Transit and parking is actually really good. You can park right at the Rogers Centre (I never have and I hear it's expensive) or you can park at any number of lots surrounding it, my favorite is to park underground at Simcoe Place or even better, take the train in. Union Station is a short walk from the stadium and it picks up from so many locations outside of Toronto you never have to worry about driving downtown, which some days is enough to make you want to stay at home. 
  • The location itself is great. It's right downtown so there is a lot to see and do. There is the Steam Whistle Brewery, Ripleys Aquarium, CN Tower, Air Canada Centre and the Convention Centre all right beside Rogers Centre. Venture a little further away and you will find amazing restaurants (my fav here), incredible shopping and interesting districts like the Entertainment District that is within walking distance. 
  • FREE WI-FI. Everyone rejoice! This was an enhancement this year and one that is very welcomed by visitors from other countries and kids without 3G (like my boys). When we visit ball parks in the States it's so nice to have Wi-Fi to be able to connect with the team via social media and post in real time. 
  • The pro shop is surprisingly well stocked and the prices arn't completely outrageous. In the past I have bought tshirts, jersey's, memberships to the Jr Jays Club for the boys, bats, balls, autographed balls and even once third base that was used during the first four innings from the Jays/Red Soxs game we were attending. 

What I am not so fond of at Rogers Centre

  • Food selection is limited with no real signature item. And please do not add something like "poutine". I'm Canadian and I've never had that and never will. I grew up in Canada and had never even heard of it until I took a trip to Montreal in my early-20's. When pitcher David Price joined this year he remarked that he was happy because he loves the popcorn at the Rogers Centre so much. Really? It doesn't taste any different than the popcorn at Yankee Stadium or Fenway, or any other ball park I've been to. A few years ago they upgraded one area to create a fresh market style store where you can buy food and drinks. They also added a standing room only style party deck that was pretty cool when it first opened. Both are in need of updating. 

This was the line The Youngest and I were in to get a plain old hotdog. It took us 40 minutes. I won't even complain about price, it's on par with other stadiums.

  • Long lines (and I mean like waiting at an amusement park to get on the best ride type lines) inside the stadium and the location of food vendors in the concourse. The food kiosks (there really is no better word for them) are so far out in the concourse it makes it difficult to line up and/or walk around. I find it extremely weird that they are just kiosks and not permanent structures against the outer wall (my only hope is this is part of a plan to do that next year but since it's been like this forever, I doubt it). The crowding was unbelievable this year. It's the first ball park I've been to that I did not feel comfortable letting my kids go to the bathroom/pro shop on their own just due to the overcrowding. The only solution is to expand and since they are right downtown with little space surrounding the stadium I'm not sure that will happen.

My beautiful, baseball loving, family.

  • Not very family friendly. Yes, there is Jr Jays Saturdays where kids can run the bases (children 14 and under), my boys have run the bases since they could walk, but aside from that there is nothing to entertain children. The Tigers have a ferris wheel shaped like baseballs, the Indians have an amazing Kids Club House, which I reviewed here. Toronto needs to add something for kids as well. (I once heard a rumor they had an inflatable slide for kids outside but I have never seen it or any proof that it exists).
  • In game entertainment is lacking. Badly. If I hear the Adams Family theme again imma gonna scream. They have been playing that same song since the Dome opened in '89. After seeing all the amazing videos, music and fan/social media interactions at various ball parks this year (here are a few of the games I have been to), the Rogers Centre is down right boring.  
  • I'm also going to add the lack of social media and interaction with the fans. I guess they post often enough but they miss a golden opportunity in responding to fans. The Blue Jays Facebook and Twitter feeds have an active community of fans. I have asked questions on these forums and never received a response. Others feel the same way. I have watched other teams interact with the fans, the Cleveland Indians are the best at this, so I'm not quite sure what the problem is. Maybe their hands are tied and they cannot respond or 'like' a fans comment. But since the world is plugged in and online for the majority of their waking hours, they should probably think about updating their policy. 

  • I'll keep this one as short as I can. While I think it's very cool to be able to see the team's sports broadcasters live I will never for the life of me understand why these two insist on being so overly critical of the team and it's players. I have not seen this while watching other teams broadcasts. Maybe they think it's a Canadian thing to be self depreciating? It's not and Gregg Zaun isn't Canadian. Time for an upgrade here Blue Jays, and preferably to someone who actually likes the team. 

I really want to hear your thoughts, do you agree or disagree with my statements? I know there are a lot of Toronto fans out there and that y'all are very opinionated (if you saw they game last night you will know that we like to disagree with the MLB rules from time to time. Who made up this lie that Canadians are polite anyways LOL). 

Tell me what you love about your fan experience at Rogers Centre. Tell me what you dislike. And if you are from the Toronto Blue Jays, I am more than willing to work as a consultant for you to fix all these problems for the 2016 season. 

Yankee Stadium

A few weeks ago I posted about our 24 hour adventure in New York City (you can see that post here). The reason for embarking on an early morning 8 hour road trip was to visit Yankee Stadium! 

Opened in 2009 Yankee Stadium was built to replace the original Yankee Stadium, which is now a public park across the street, at a price tag of $2.3 Billion making it the most expensive stadium ever built! The Great Hall, pictured above, has banners depicting all the legends who have played for the Yankees.

The Toronto Blue Jays warming up on field. I was rather surprised we were able to come this close in the seating area without being asked to see a ticket. Quite a few people were sneaking down here, just like us, to snap some photos. 

Security didn't shoo anyone away and I thank them for that. Yes, if the game is about to start you shouldn't be allowed in an area that you do not hold a ticket for. But hours before the game, anyone should be allowed close to the field to snap some photos. The kindly security guard even took our photo! Of course, he did laugh that we were in Yankee Stadium with Blue Jays jerseys on. 

Not surprisingly the dominant color throughout the park is Yankee Blue. The frieze on the upper deck was constructed to replicate the original Yankee Stadium before a 1970's renovation removed them.  

Each post along the frieze has a flag representing each team in the Major League in order of standings. There is a great article from the New York Times on the flags and the crew who place them (Link to article).

After a quick look around we were off to find beer and our seats! I have heard a lot (and I mean a lot) of people complain about the price of beer and concessions at Yankee Stadium. While each beer is $12 (for the large size I have above) that is pretty on par with the other stadiums I have visited this year. In fact Toronto and Cleveland are the same price. I took a peak at food costs and there is a burger & fries combo in a collectible bucket for around $12 which seemed ok. The big problem is the ticket prices! I love sitting on the third baseline or behind home plate but at $500 a ticket there was no way we were paying that!

We purchased tickets in the Jim Beam Suite through Stub Hub (paid $130 each). 

The lounge was my favorite part of the trip! Lots of air conditioned seating indoors with a private bar fully stocked with beer and of course Jim Beam! We recently visited Jim Beam and it was nice to be able to try some of the flavors we tried at the distillery. 

The Jim Bean Suite opens before the game starts and they have special activities for kids. The rooms are decorated with mylar balloons that they give away at the end of the game (I took the ones above and gave them to a little boy in a Yankees jersey outside of the stadium). They had a table set up and decorated for a luau party with treats, toys and Yankee items. I brought home some twirly straws for my boys. 

The suite is all inclusive (except alcohol). Lunch was buffet style with pizza, chicken fingers, fries and little desserts with all the popcorn and soda you can eat! We happened to visit on cowboy hat giveaway day, which you may have seen on my Instagram page. Other benefits of the Jim Beam Suite are: access to the Sony Terrace (wrist band entry to outdoor lounge with cushioned chairs), private restrooms (no waiting, a huge bonus!) and concierge.

When you check in at the Jim Beam Suite, they give you a wrist band to be able to come and go as you please. Our seats were in section 321 and had a great view of home plate. You can see David Price walking towards the pitchers mound, he's the reason we wanted to see this game! Such an incredible pitcher, we are all hoping he stays in Toronto next year! 

The Blue Jays won and after the game we hung around Yankee Stadium and chatted with locals and other Jays fans. I have to give the people of New York real credit. People were calling out to us in our Jays jerseys and saying that they are supporting the Jays as well! Did you ever think you would see a Yankee fan say that they like another team too? Class act every single one of them. From the guys at Starbucks, to the subway, to the stadium, everyone said they think the Jays are a great team. 

If you get the chance to visit Yankee Stadium try and visit the New York Yankees Museum on the main level at Gate 6. We didn't get the chance to see it, actually I didn't find out about it until after we left. They have a "ball wall" which holds a collection of former Yankees signatures including Babe Ruth! Oh well, gives us a reason to go back and visit!