Posts Tagged ‘sports’
Donnovan Bennett’s article at MacLean’s, originally posted at Sportsnet, reads poignantly after the Blue Jays’ loss 8:7 to the Boston Red Sox. That said, for a Toronto sports team they did decently enough.
The Toronto Blue Jays are past the awkward phase of dating when you are still uncomfortably learning someone, but they aren’t quite at the stage where you are so comfortable that the intrigue and excitement disappears and you resent some of the things they do.
The Blue Jays’ marriage with their fans is in the sweet spot.
The home opener is here, the AL East banner will be hung. Savour this moment if you’re a Blue Jays fan. Pay no mind to the hot and cold 2-2 split with the Tampa Bay Rays. This is the 40th season of the franchise and there are few others where the outlook has been this bright. They’re ascending, not descending.
The sports business is fickle. Our expectations cloud our perception. The Toronto Maple Leafs are talked about positively although they have qualified for the playoffs just once since 2004-05 and were eliminated this year on March 19. The Toronto Raptors are described with angst even though they’ve set a franchise record in wins and improved their record for five consecutive seasons. In the same city, the Blue Jays find themselves somewhere in the middle with a much more realistic chance at hanging a championship banner.
That’s because the narratives of sports teams continue to ebb and flow. The slope is slippery. Rebuilding teams have hope. The terms used are aspirational positives that are seen as indicators of a brighter future.
Torontoist’s Erin Sylvester and Erica Lenti call for the Rogers Centre to return to its original name of the SkyDome.
We’ve dealt with the Ted Rogers statue outside the stadium (despite threats to throw it into the lake). We’ve swallowed the cost of overpriced beers at the ball game.
It’s time that fans got a break. We want the SkyDome back.
In an act of pure revolt, Torontonians are flocking to sign a petition to Rogers, demanding it change the name of the Rogers Centre back to SkyDome. At the time of publication, the petition had more than 13,000 signatures.
Started by Change.org user Randy Rajmoolie, who is a TTC bus driver by day, the petition says Rogers disappointed fans, who chose the name SkyDome in a public contest in 1987, by changing the stadium name to the Rogers Centre in 2005.
“Why did they have to change it? What was wrong with a name that we loved and that symbolized important moments in our city’s history?” Rajmoolie writes.
The CBC’s Jamie Strashin writes about the impact of the relatively strong Toronto Blue Jays on the youth game across Canada. Here’s to hoping their first game tonight goes well.
Nearly 25 years later, Rob Butler still can’t believe it.
“I was only 5-foot-9, the smallest player on every team I ever played on. I just somehow managed to grind my way up to the big leagues,” Butler remembers during a phone call from the baseball facility he operates in Ajax, Ont., just outside of Toronto.
Butler’s career was brief (he managed 200-plus at-bats spread over parts of four big league seasons) but memorable. The obvious highlight for the Toronto native was being part of the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series-winning team. He remains the lone Canadian to win baseball’s biggest prize as a Jay.
Butler says it was the Blue Jays’ early success in the 1980s that pushed him towards what he calls the “greatest” game.
“[The Jays] really impacted what I thought about baseball and how much I loved playing and how I wanted to play every day,” Butler says. “It was never a dream of making it to the majors because nobody in Canada really did back then.
“It was just a love of the game.”
Historicist Jamie Bradburn writes about the first day of baseball at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Stadium in spring of 1926.
The bottom of the ninth inning. Trailing by a score of 5-0, the odds were terrible for a comeback by the hometown team. The rain which delayed the opening of their new ballpark for a day lingered as drizzle. Not enough to force a second postponement in a row, but it made a dent in the day’s attendance. In a field built for 23,500 fans, around 14,000 witnessed the Toronto Maple Leafs fall behind the Reading Keystones. Perhaps attendees were already headed to their cars to avoid the post-game traffic jams along Bathurst and Fleet streets.
Those who stayed for the last moments of the debut baseball game at Maple Leaf Stadium on April 29, 1926 were rewarded for their perseverance.
From 1907, the minor league baseball Maple Leafs had played at Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island. By the mid-1920s, attendance declined due to the inconvenience of moving large crowds via ferries to and from the ballpark, and drivers who didn’t want to pay the ferry fare to catch a game. Team president Lol Solman looked to the mainland to build a new, larger stadium. A site at the foot of York Street was surveyed, and construction on a playing field started in 1924, but differences arose between the Maple Leafs and the Toronto Harbour Commission (THC). The following year, the team acquired land atop fill into the lake the THC had recently created at the foot of Bathurst Street. Plans reported in September 1925 called for a 30,000 seat venue which, besides baseball, could also be used for football, lacrosse, soccer, and track meets. Additional features included an apartment for the groundskeeper, a restaurant, and team offices. Acres of parking would be provided for the growing stream of fans that preferred driving to games. The stadium was designed by the architectural firm of Chapman and Oxley, whose works soon dominated the neighbourhood: over the next few years, they were responsible for the Princes’ Gate, the Government of Ontario Building (now the Liberty Grand), and the Crosse and Blackwell Building (now OMNI). Unlike the furor which greets modern stadium financing, Solman privately financed the stadium.
As construction began on Maple Leaf Stadium in fall 1925, motorists driving along Fleet Street (sections of which are now Lake Shore Boulevard) saw around 150 workers and 50 teams of horses prepare the field. From an estimated budget of $300,000, the price tag wound up being around $750,000. Pictures taken the week before opening day showed scaffolding still up and workers finishing the park.