The tickets have been purchased, the jersey has been pressed, I’ve preemptively called my boss and told her not to expect me in the office next Tuesday...
The Blue Jays home opener can’t come soon enough.
But before the Jays set foot on that turf (the same god-forsaken turf that Brett Lawrie blamed for just about everything) here are three reasons why you must plan a trip to the ‘Dome this season.
Reason One. The Blue Jays hit for power.
How does a team that hasn’t flirted with the playoffs in two decades remain relevant? In baseball it’s easy: hit dingers! Call me simpleminded but nothing jacks me up more than watching José Bautista crank one “HIGH AND DEEP AND OUTTA HERE.”
Seriously, how many balls did the Jays hit into the Fenway parking lot alone last year? I heard NASA recently discovered a hidden ocean on one of Saturn’s moons. Maybe next they'll start searching for that ball Encarnacion hit over The Monster off Felix Doubront last May...
Now I hate math and know nothing about statistics but I do know that the Blue Jays hit home runs at a scarcely rivaled pace. As a team they hit the second most home runs in the American League last season, third in the MLB. In the past five years they have never finished lower than sixth in total home runs.
The Jays should be near the top of that category again in 2015 as newcomers Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson, and Justin Smoak have all previously hit 20 or more home runs in a single season (Michael Saunders once hit 19 at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field).
With that kind of power, I’m even expecting to see a few opposite-field dingers in section 108.
Reason Two. The Blue Jays have a shot at the playoffs... (for real this time).
The American League East - usually known as one of the toughest divisions in sports - is as wide-open as it’s been in recent memory. This bodes well for the Blue Jays, a sort of sleeper pick that few are ready to glorify but everybody is keeping their eye on.
The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox are all considered legitimate divisional contenders, with some experts saying it’s going to come down to whoever wins the Cole Hamels sweepstakes.
And let’s not forget, the New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees and a healthy Tampa Bay Rays rotation scares me more than an injury to Marcus Strom-... wait a minute... (*tear*)
In other words, strap yourselves in for a tight race.
In the previous installment of “Section 108” I predicted that the Jays would finish atop the division. And although I offered absolutely no statistical reasoning for my bold assertion it seems some baseball experts agree.
In their 2015 Season Forecast, two out of five MLB experts from Yahoo Sports believe the Jays will be playing in the postseason. Three out of six experts from Sports Illustrated also have the Jays making the playoffs, with one even predicting Josh Donaldson to be the American League MVP (Brett Lawrie, who?).
Let’s hope they’re right. It’s time for the Skydo- apologies, Rogers Centre - to start rocking again. Home opener and bobblehead days excluded, the only way that will happen is if the Jays keep themselves in contention.
Reason Three. The ballpark is the greatest place on earth.
Indeed, baseball stadiums are magical structures complete with lore and myth unrivaled by other sporting venues. I’d argue they’re as close to utopia as one could get - minus the beer prices of course.
There is little doubt that the ballpark offers something for everyone. Spend a day at the Rogers Centre and you will see hardcore fanatics glued to their scorecards, filling in their 6-4-3’s. Turn your head and you will find a group of friends chatting casually as they take in the uniquely social aspect of our beautiful game.
No idea what a slugging percentage is? No problem. Just keep yelling “GOOD EYE” whenever the Blue Jays are up to bat. You’ll fit right in.
Still not convinced? Allow me to paint you a mental picture: peanuts, popcorn, cracker jacks; succulent sausages and footlong hot dogs; freshly grilled burgers, barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, and shaved Alexander Keiths brisket (on top of NACHOS?)!
The culture of ballpark food continues to evolve. Take a stroll around the Rogers Centre and you will find a plethora of gourmet options capable of whetting the appetite of even the most cynical Queen West-ian. My favourite spots: the King Club Carvery (section 128) and Muddy York Market (section 108, conveniently).
Just remember, if you’re ever at a game and you find yourself wondering, “Who is that obnoxious fool yelling obscenities in section 108 and how is he juggling two hot dogs and a Budweiser?” that’s not me...