Monday, May 29, 2006

Red Sox Game?

So.  The other night, my sister and her husband went to a Red Sox game.  Today, I went to a Red Sox game.

In Toronto.

See... I was coming to Toronto after to wedding (I've got a little Canadian journey here, as long as I was on the East Coast anyway), and I didn't have anything to do tonight.  And my brother-in-law mentioned that the Red Sox were coming up here, which clearly meant that the Blue Jays were playing tonight.  And I didn't really have any plans for tonight in Toronto.

The one catch was that the game started at 7:07 and my flight was scheduled to get in at 5:45.  So it all depended on how long it would take me to get to my hotel from the airport, and to the stadium from my hotel.  For this, I needed to know where the heck the Sky Dome was (they call it "Rogers Centre" now -- damn corporate sponsors.)  Now, I have to make a very tight train connection on Wednesday, so it was important to book a hotel next to the train station.  And when I went to the Blue Jays website and looked for the stadium, imagine my surprise when I discovered it was right next to the train station.  About a block from my hotel.  This looked promising -- tight, but promising.

I was encouraged when I boarded my flight and they said it was due to arrive at 5:20, rather than 5:45.  I was further encouraged when I made it through Immigration in no time flat.  (No line.  NO freakin' LINE at the Immigration desk.  Is it that way ANYWHERE else in the world?)  Was even further encouraged when, when waiting at the baggage claim area, I realized that the guy who was covering the game for the Boston Globe had been on my plane.  So, like, HE thought he could make it.

Got out of the airport pushing a trolley with my bags on it.  (They charge $2 for the trolleys.  This surprised me as they tend to be complimentary at International terminals.  Hey, who am I to argue?  Maybe they use the cart revenue to fund all those extra agents at the Immigration desk.)  I leave the terminal through the door marked "Taxi" but I do not immediately see a taxi stand -- I just see lots and lots of people standing around.

And I also see a guy who says, "Want a taxi?  Where are you going?" I tell him my hotel.  He says he has another couple who want to go downtown, and he'll take us both.

I have three thoughts, nearly simultaneously:
1.  This guy is not one of those Airport Approved Taxis.
2.  This guy will get me into town without waiting for an Airport Approved Taxi.
3.  This guy will overcharge me, but that's about the extent of what I have to fear from him.

I'm still naturally cautious, but then he mentions (and this turns out to have been true) that Toronto Transit went on a wildcat strike today, so none of the subways and busses are running.  That does it.  I know I won't make the game if I have to wait for a taxi during a transit strike.  I go with the guy.  The other couple appears.  While we're going to the guy's car in the parking lot, I ask him how much he's charging.  He says it is a flat rate of $52.  I have previously researched this.  Taxis to downtown Toronto are a flat rate, but it depends on your destination.  My hotel is in a zone that's either $45 or $48.  So, yeah, he's overcharging us.  AND he's getting two fares for a single trip.  But he's also my only chance of making the game, so I continue going along with him.  The wife of the other couple asks me if I think he's taking advantage of us.  I tell her he's ripping us off for about $5, but that's about it.  She says she hopes he doesn't mug us.  I say "there's three of us and one of him."  I say a quick prayer to whatever god protects idiots who travel, wonder whether Canada has gun control, and get in the guy's Town Car.

And, yeah, it was pretty much what I thought it was -- a guy running a private cab service out of his car.  He had business cards and everything.  And he was fast as hell, taking side streets whenever the freeway was packed -- and I ended up at my hotel at about 6:45.

Checked in, dumped my stuff in my room, threw my sunscreen in my purse, and headed off to the Sky Dome.  I asked the concierge how to get there ("the first of what I'm certain will be several stupid questions over the next few days") and she politely aimed me in the right direction.  It involved walking about a half block, going upstairs, and taking an elevated walkway.  Bam -- I'm at the Sky Dome, and it's, like 7:10.  I'm bummed that I've missed the singing of both anthems, but, by the time I got to my seat, I'd only missed, like, the first three outs.

Very different experience seeing a Blue Jays game.  I'm from LA.  I go to Dodger games.  Dodger games are, as a rule, pretty damn well attended.  Or, putting it another way, even on their worst day, they are better attended than this Blue Jays game -- and I think this Blue Jays game was relatively well attended because there were lots of Red Sox fans there who probably don't go to any other games..  I mean, OK, look -- my sister saw the Red Sox at Fenway, and had to get tickets off eBay.  If I want to see a Dodger game and buy tickets about a week in advance, I'm probably sitting up in the third level, as that's all that's available.  I hit the ticket window for this Jays game as the game was starting, and I got a seat in the fifteenth row right behind home plate.  And this ticket cost me about $60.  (They had a more expensive ticket, for $205 dollars, in a section they called, "Part of the Game."  I wondered where that could possibly be.  Maybe they'll let you be a bat boy.  Or pitch.)

Civilized crowd.  Well, civilized group of people congregated in a small area of a big stadium.  (The attendance has apparently gone down steadily since the heady seasons of the early 90s.  Now there were things about it that felt oddly like Triple-A ball.  Like the fact that some fan wins a car if one of the Blue Jays hits a home run ball on a red bull's-eye target in center field.  And their second baseman with a .000 average, had apparently just been brought up from AAA ball TODAY.  By the end of the game he STILL had a .000 average, and had also managed to hit into a double play.  Not an auspicious beginning.) .About the nastiest it got in there was when the Red Sox fans got a "Let's Go Red Sox" chant going, and the Jays fans were obligated to yell "Let's Go Blue Jays" loud enough to drown them out.  And it was close, let me tell you.  I ended up rooting for the Jays.  I mean, I didn't really have any loyalty to either team, and since I was a visitor in Toronto, it seemed right to be all neighborly and cheer for them.  And they won, too, which made it more fun.  :)

Tomorrow is my one and only site-seeing opportunity in Toronto. Wonder what sites I can see.

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