Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Boys of Summer are back!

The weather is totally crap and un-spring like.
The last bits of hardened snow refuse to melt.
Wearing flip flops is still a vague and distant dream.
But then, baseball season begins and suddenly the storm clouds seem to roll away, we shed some of those winter layers and restaurants and pubs begin to clean out their patio spaces and we all roll out the red carpet to welcome back the "Boys of Summer".

The arrival of the baseball season is cause for celebration for both fans of the game and everyone else too. It does after all mean that soon, very soon we can finally pack away the parkas and welcome the sunshine and warmth back again. Of course, this is Toronto and that could mean that we play the Home Opener in -10 weather with an inch of snow on the ground. It's the thought that counts!

A team’s Home Opener is always a big deal. The game is usually sold out – or almost close to that. And that’s a whole lot of people for a 50,000 seat stadium as in the case of the Rogers Centre where the Jays play. Even if your team is at the very bottom of the standing, the Home Opener is the time when every fan can hope (even for a short while) that “this will be the year”.
The Rogers Centre - home of the Toronto Blue Jays, with the CN tower in the background
My very first home opener experience was back in 2002 when I was a rookie game day staffer at the Box Office. That day also marked the first time I was featured on the evening news. Yup, a truly heinous shot of me bravely trying to hold a smile and a “professional front” while a hoard of angry fans stormed the Box Office in protest of long lines and ticketing systems that didn't quite work like they should. Thankfully, most of the TV segment included my left arm and side and not a whole lot of recognizable features! Not surprisingly, more than 50% of the part time staff quite after that night.

In all my time working with the Jays, I never actually WATCHED a home opener game. It was by far the busiest day of the year and for the most part us staff were running around making sure that things were going the way they should, talking/meeting/greeting clients and the likes. If at all you were lucky enough to finish work at a “decent” hour you’d probably have missed most of the game anyway! But it was also one of the most exciting days of the entire season and the hard work and long hours were worth it. There is an electricity in the air at every game. At the Home Opener it is ten times that with the excitement and anticipation rising to a fever pitch.

Last year, I watched the Jays home opener online. I was in Tokyo and it was technically the next morning, but I was determined not to miss it.

This year, I went to the game and actually watched, cheered and participated in the experience from start to finish. I thought I'd miss being part of the "behind the scenes" experience. But it was not so. I was just as excited (if not more) to be there as a fan and be just one of the many who were thinking, "Perhaps this year is OUR year."

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