Monday, August 21, 2017

Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs - August 18-20, 2017


If there is one stadium in which you need to see your favourite team play a road game, it is Wrigley Field. For years, I have waited for the Jays to have a series there where I could make it and 2017 finally presented that opportunity as the Jays played three afternoon games against the defending World Champions from Friday through Sunday. As it turned out, many, many other Blue Jays fans had circled the dates and Wrigleyville was filled with Canadians from all over the country. Cubs fans said they had never seen such a turnout for a visiting team before, which was probably the only point of pride for Toronto fans during the series.



It was a great weekend weather-wise, but unfortunately, the Blue Jays were the Blew Jays, blowing leads in all three games to get swept by a Cubs team that might be peaking at the right time. The final game on Sunday was particularly painful as Toronto had a 5-3 lead in the 10th and closer Roberto Osuna actually got three outs. Unfortunately, backup catcher Raffy Lopez failed to block two of the swinging third strikes, and both runners reached. In one case, Lopez simply forgot to throw to first. A couple of batters later and the Cubs had their sweep.



The Jays came into the weekend just 3 games out of the second wild card spot, but what faint hope was left was quickly extinguished. They simply don't have the depth they need to overcome all the injuries, and it showed repeatedly over the weekend. It could be a while before the team contends again. Fortunately baseball is a sport where teams can go from worst to first and who knows what might happen in the next year or two. I just hope that I can see another road win sometime!

Thoughts

I arrived Thursday and went to the Reds-Cubs game that afternoon, getting a first row seats for $40 from a guy who had received the tickets from work. The seats (view below) are called Bullpen Box, which is a misnomer as the bullpens are now behind the outfield wall. The Cubs lost that game, falling 13-10 after coming from a 9-0 deficit to tie the game at 9. To compare, the Blue Jays scored 12 runs in their 3 contests.



On Saturday, Take Me Out to the Ballgame was sung by Don Cherry (standing under the Harry Caray logo) during the 7th inning stretch. Possibly the highlight of the weekend, other than a spectacular catch by Kevin Pillar on Sunday.



We splurged on Saturday, getting seats just 9 rows from the field along third base. A great view and fans sitting there are good fans, watching the action without getting up in the middle of the inning. Given how much these seats cost, that makes sense.



On Sunday, I sat next to a pillar. My view was not obstructed, but the seat beside me is directly behind the post. Amazingly, they sell that seat and it was an unfortunate Blue Jays fan who had driven from Toronto who had bought the ticket. Thankfully he was able to move to an open seat across the aisle. Even better for him, he had left by the time the Blue Jays collapsed.



The area around the ballpark is undergoing remarkable change as more and more money flows in, but there is still a lot of history. Make sure to check out all the statues, including Ernie Banks, right near the corner of Clark and Addison.



Ron Santo is along Addison Avenue near the right field entrance. Other sculptures can be found by walking all around the entire ballpark.



The scoreboard doesn't have enough room for all the out of town scores. Curious how they decide which teams to leave out.



The Air and Water Show took place during Saturday and Sunday, with practices held on Thursday and Friday. The participants included the Blue Angels, and you could see them flying by during all three games. It was pretty impressive.



After Friday's game, we went to The Wieners Circle, whose staff is famous for verbally abusing their customers. We were easy targets with our Blue Jays jerseys. I really wanted to go back and laugh at them after a Cubs loss, but it was not to be. The char dog was fantastic by the way. Check out this video of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog taking of the staff.



I flew out of LaGuardia on Thursday morning and got pictures of both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, rather appropriate as that was the final day of the Subway Series, which the Yankees swept.





If you want a good pregame meal, try the chicken tenders at Houndstooth Saloon. It is a country bar at night, but before day games the patio is a good place to sit and listen to the trains rumbling by.

Next Up

The minor league portion of my trip begins today in Fort Wayne. I'll be seeing 9 games over the next 7 days, check back for updates as usual.

Best,

Sean

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