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Sunday, April 3, 2016

It's Opening Day - Time to Multitask!

Hello, my friends! It might be 40 degrees outside here in Maryland,  but it's time to play some baseball!   Opening Day "light" is today (only three games are on today's schedule), and as always, I am thrilled.

It was a long winter for us, having dug ourselves out of three feet of snow after a record-breaking blizzard. But Easter has passed, the snow has melted,  and the Boys of Summer are ready to play.

In our house,  this is an extremely busy time of year. My daughter has outdoor track, my son has baseball, and my husband and I are taking classes in addition to our busy work schedules. So here I am typing this on my tablet while watching the Cardinals-Pirates game, running downstairs to the computer in between innings to finish my class assignment, and periodically checking on the laundry. It's definitely time to multitask even more now that baseball is starting.

So what do we have to look forward to this season?  Well as far as my Washington Nationals, they had a very good spring training and are all starting the season healthy. They have a decision to make as far as having Michael Taylor or Ben Revere in center field (I would go for Taylor), but that's a good problem to have.  Personally, I just need to get used to manager Dusty Baker always having that darn toothpick in his mouth and I'll be fine. I think Dusty is a good addition to the Nationals - the mostly-white organization was definitely in need of some diversity.

We can also look forward to the retirement of Alex Rodriguez (good riddance! ).  While he's not 100 percent sure if this is indeed his final season, we can be certain that his retirement won't have the season-long fanfare that Derek Jeter's had last year.

Then there's 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki. If you don't love Ichiro, you're an idiot.  Ichiro has 2,935 hits (5 million if you count the hits he got playing pro ball in Japan).  With 65 more hits, Ichiro will join the elite 3000 hit club. We know you can get it done, dude!

Before I go (gotta move clothes from the washer to the dryer and finish that darn assignment for tomorrow night's class), I wanted to advise that you keep an eye on Francisco Liriano and the Pirates. You all know I don't like to make predictions, but Pirates fans may want to keep their calendars clear in October. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Almost Time! It's Almost Time!!!

Oh my goodness - are you all as tired of the cold weather as I am?  Well Spring Training for Major League Baseball is just around the corner (pitchers and catchers report to camp starting February 17!), so warmer temperatures should soon follow (I hope!).  What do we have to look forward to in the 2016 baseball season?  Plenty!

  • For starters, David Wright only needs 18 more home runs to pass Darryl Strawberry as the New York Mets' all-time home run leader.  I followed the Mets back in Strawberry's day, but I'm OK with Wright passing him - Wright is a quiet yet consistent player - let's just hope none of those home runs come against the Nationals.
  • Also worthy of note this season is Ichiro Suzuki, who is only 65 hits away from reaching 3000 MLB hits (he already reached that milestone if you count the hits he got while playing professionally in Japan).  Everyone loves Ichiro (including me), so hey - go for it.
  • Speaking of old guys, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz are very close to reaching the 500 home run/600 doubles club (joining Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron).  Pujols needs 17 more doubles (doable), and poor "Papi" needs 16 (not so doable).  But it's Ortiz's last season, so he'll enjoy all the attention and gifts he'll receive when he visits each city one last time even if he's too slow to steal any bases.
  • And as much as I don't like Alex Rodriguez, I have to mention that he only needs 13 more home runs to reach 700.  Whatever.  On a brighter note, my man Miguel Cabrera only needs 8 doubles to reach 500.  There's that.
  • And what about the switch hitters?  Well Carlos Beltrán (392) and Mike Teixeira (394) are looking to become only the fourth and fifth switch hitters to reach 400 home runs.  Any idea who the other 3 are?  Some guy named Mickey Mantle, a former Oriole by the name of Eddie Murray, and cutie-patootie Chipper Jones - not too shabby of a list, huh?
  • What is WRONG with me - I still haven't mentioned any catchers!  Well Yadier Molina (if he can stay healthy) will break the record for most games caught by a Cardinal.  But "Yadi" is still recovering from thumb surgery, so we'll have to see how many times he can get behind the plate.  Getting old, Yadi!
  • And of course there's this year's Hall of Fame inductees - Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr - who will have their jersey numbers retired by the Mets and Mariners respectively.  I was never a big Piazza fan, but you just couldn't help but love Griffey - his smile, his dedication, his commitment to the fans and the game.  Cooperstown will be lucky to have him.
  • As far as the young guys, last year's AL Rookie of the Year, Carlos Correa, needs 36 more home runs to pass A-Rod as the hitter with the most home runs at short stop at the age of 21 or younger.  Yes, it's an obscure statistic, but since Correa is Puerto Rican, I had to mention it.
  • Finally, it's important to note that the Dodgers' veteran broadcaster Vin Scully will be retiring for real at the end of this season.  Scully has significantly cut back on the games that he does (home games only), but he is truly a broadcasting legend who will be deeply missed by Dodger fans (I'm not going to miss him, because I don't get Dodger home games in my neck of the woods).
Then there are the questions surrounding the upcoming season:
  • Will the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton have his first 40-home run season ever?  (I hope not!)
  • Will the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw have his third career sub-2.00 ERA season?  The last pitcher to do that was Sandy Koufax, and that was a LONG time ago!
  • Will Nolan Arenado win his fourth Gold Glove award?  If so, he would be the first player since Ichiro to do so in his first 4 years in the Majors.
  • Will the Chicago Cubs have their first 100-win season since 1935?  I hope so!
  • Will the National's Bryce Harper (last season's NL MVP) win the Triple Crown?  I highly doubt it, because RBIs have been hard to come by for the Nationals, but it will be fun to watch him try.  Let's hope he stays healthy and continues to grow up (he matured nicely this past season, so hopefully the tantrum days are long past).
  • Will my husband and I visit more ballparks this season?  Well we're at least going to Philadelphia, so there's that.  My quest to visit all 30 ballparks is taking way longer than expected!
So there you have it - plenty to look forward to this baseball season, which means I'll have a lot to blog about throughout the upcoming months.  Stay tuned, and for the love of Pete, get rid of all this snow!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stop Being so Darn Sensitive!

Racism is a terrible thing.  Saying racist comments or doing certain actions that denote racism are signs of ignorance and intolerance (along with domestic abuse and kicking pigeons).  Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, there are still many Americans who do not welcome the diversity and cultural differences that make this melting pot of a country a very nice place to grow up in and raise a family.  However, the problem of race issues is aggravated by the over-sensitivity of some, especially when the media takes someone's statement and immediately makes a racial issue of it.

Yes, this is a baseball blog, so naturally I'm referring to a specific baseball-related issue here (because you REALLY don't want to get me started on Donald Trump!).  It's not about Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, or Roberto Clemente (though they are pioneers in their own right).  This latest issue involves the Washington Nationals' new manager, the veteran-of-the-game Rusty Baker.  Rusty is one of those old-school guys who has been around a long time and is well-respected in baseball.  He is going to give the Nationals that spark and competitive fire that they've been lacking lately, and I'm perfectly OK with him taking over as manager (I was actually surprised when he was hired, because I have always thought that the Nationals' General Manager, Mike Rizzo, was a bit racist).  So yeay for Rusty and the Nats!

Well during this year's Winter Meetings (where players are dealt, traded, and signed), Baker made two statements that immediately got the media in a tizzy.  First, he said that the Nationals need more speed, so he wants more African-American and Hispanic players on the roster.  How is this racist?  Really, people - chill out!  Baker finished by saying "I'm not being racist, that's just how it is."  Who has the record for the most stolen bases?  Rickey Henderson, who is black.  Whose record did he break?  Lou Brock's, and he's black.  Who is the fastest baserunner currently (in my opinion)?  Lorenzo Cain, who is black.  Dee Gordon, who stole 68 bases in 2015?  Black.  Who is the fastest man in the world?  Usain Bolt, who is Jamaican (and black).  It's no secret that blacks are pretty fast, whether on the base pads, the football field, or the track (Oscar Pistorius was pretty darn fast, but with aerodynamic blades as legs, I would be fast too.  And don't accuse me of being insensitive to the disabled - not only am I legally blind, but I know many people who agree with me about Pistorius).  Anyway, back to Baker's comment, I have been saying for years that the Nationals need more minorities on their staff and on their roster, and I don't see anything wrong with his statement.

Baker's second faux-pas was regarding Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman.  Baker said Chapman "is a heck of a guy.  I'll go on record and say I wouldn't mind having Chapman."  Well you see, Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and shooting a gun during an incident in October.  Not cool.  But Baker, who managed Chapman for three seasons after Chapman defected, was purely speaking of Chapman as a player.  Yes, he's a heck of a pitcher; I will second that.  Is he an idiot?  Probably.  Should he suffer a consequence for choking his girlfriend?  Yes.  Should he be banned from baseball for being a jerk?  No.  Unless his actions directly affect his performance or the outcome of a game (Pete Rose!), Chapman (who had 33 saves and a 1.63 ERA this past season) should be allowed to play (once he has served whatever consequence he deserves for being a woman-beater (not cool AT ALL!).  Baker said he does not know the details of Chapman's offense and has not seen the police report corresponding to the matter, so he was speaking of Chapman purely as a baseball player.  Nothing wrong with that.

So yes, the Nationals need more speed.  They also need reliable left-handed pitching and they need to stay healthy.  Whether that "speed" comes from Michael Taylor (who is black) or from a player acquired during the off-season will be interesting to see.  And if there's a white guy out there who can fly, then by all means sign him and give him the red light.  But regardless of how fast a guy is or what race he is, he needs a good first-base coach who is aggressive and a manager who encourages base stealing.  Or do like the Chicago White Sox, who have their own baserunning instructor (Vince Coleman).  So as you can see, it's not just a matter of black vs. white - there are many factors that make a team "fast."  So let's stop bringing race into it and stop being so sensitive.  Good luck to Rusty Baker and the Nationals in 2016 - may they get their pitching needs met (by signing Johnny Cueto or Chapman himself?) and may they get some fast guys who can steal some bases (be they Black, White, Hispanic, or from Mars).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I'll Have a Blue World Series Without You

Major League Baseball’s 111th World Series is set to start soon, with the blue-and-orange New York Mets taking on the blue-and-white Kansas City Royals.  It’s the Royals’ second consecutive trip to the World Series (which they lost to the San Francisco Giants), so naturally I have to root for them because it was so sad to see them lose last year.  I think it’s my first time picking an American League team since the Minnesota Twins went to the “big dance” in 1991 (and won it by beating the Atlanta Braves).  I was a huge Kirby Puckett fan, and seeing him do so well in the World Series was one of the highlights of my baseball fan-hood.  This year I’m a big fan of… let’s see… no one really; but I have to root for the Royals because I just can’t get myself to cheer for the other team.

What’s wrong with the Mets?  Don’t they have a Gold Glove-winning outfielder in Juan Lagares (who stole the award from the Nationals’ Denard Span in 2014)?  How about that guy Yoenis Céspedes (who killed the Nationals in the last regular-season series they played against each other)?  And don’t they have that good relief pitcher, Tyler Clippard (former National)?  Yeah – I’m a little bitter about the Mets making it this far while the Nationals didn’t even clinch a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.  Still licking my wounds a little bit.

The funny thing is that I used to be a die-hard Mets fan in the late 80s.  I can still recite their regular lineup (Dykstra, Teufel, Hernandez/Magadan, Strawberry, McReynolds, HoJo, Carter, and Elster – and I swear I didn’t get Google’s help!), and I remember their starting pitchers in 1989 being Ron Darling, Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, and Bob Ojeda (I believe Frank Viola came in halfway through the season).  I had the shirts, pennants, yearbooks, and even got a media guide from them after having sent them some sort of fan mail.  Darling and Elster were the cute ones, and the Mets still have the biggest section in my baseball card collection.

But alas, the Washington Nationals came to town in 2005, and I had to jump on the bandwagon.  I had not been able to embrace the Baltimore Orioles in the few years I had lived in Maryland, mainly because they were an American League team and because my first husband was not supportive of my baseball habit (lesson learned:  Don’t marry someone who doesn’t share your hobbies!).   After our separation in 2005, I decided to embrace the new team in town and have not looked back as a Nationals fan since.

Part of being a loyal fan is sticking by your team regardless of how well or how sucky they play (spell check says “sucky” isn’t a word, but I’m using it!).  And believe me – those first few seasons as a Nationals fan were pretty brutal.  Before the days of Strasburg and Harper, the team played in a crappy stadium, struggled to build their fan base, and went through several managers and staff changes.  And while they’ve come a long way in just ten years, some people think they haven’t lived up to the hype and the high payroll.  Yes, it would have been nice if the Nationals had made it this far (the red and white would have complimented the Royals’ colors nicely) – but I have not had a problem going to bed at my usual 10:00 time during a playoff game’s 6th or 7th inning.  If the Nationals had made the playoffs, I would have been sleep-deprived, stressed out, and impossible to live with (and that’s not my husband or kids talking – I think I know myself pretty well!).


So for all you fans of the other 28 teams that did not make it to the World Series:  Enjoy some good baseball, have fun checking out the cute players (Eric Hosmer for the Royals and Matt Harvey for the Mets), and feel free to go to bed before a game is over (unless it’s game seven or any other deciding game).  I predict that the Royals will win in six games (so they can win at home, which is always nice), but if the Mets end up winning, I will just shrug and wait for Bryce Harper to be announced as the NL MVP in November without having lost much sleep.  See how easy and laid-back it is when you don’t have anything vested in either of the two teams?  Let’s hope for some good clean baseball and let’s go Royals (I guess)!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Long and Winding Season

One of the things that frustrates me about Major League Baseball (or any professional sport, for that matter) is the media hype.  Before this year's baseball season had even started, "experts" had already made their predictions, picked their favorites, and crowned the next World Series champion.  The problem with that is that there are 162 games that have to be played between Opening Day and the playoffs, and a LOT can happen during that time.  If your team is predicted to be the next best since gel nail polish or precooked bacon and doesn't end up making the playoffs, it's a big disappointment.

That's what the Washington Nationals are currently facing - a disappointing end to an up-and-down season plagued by injuries, inconsistency, and bad managerial decisions.  The players are dejected, tempers have flared in the dugout, and fans have been left with a bad taste in their mouths.  How do I feel about my beloved Nats not making the playoffs this season?  I'm actually OK with it (no, really, I am TOTALLY OK with it!), and here's why:

First of all, the Nationals had a terrible time out west in August, losing to the Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies.  That awful road trip put the Nats further behind the NL East-leading Mets, who just could not lose a game in August or September.  It was pretty clear halfway through August that the Mets would be the team to beat.  So if you tell yourself at that point that your team sucks, it won't be such a big let-down when they don't make the playoffs.

Another thing that affects a team's success (or lack thereof) is injuries to key players.  The Nationals had their share of injuries throughout the season - the players in their top-notch lineup that was the talk of baseball during Spring Training only played one or two games together during the whole season, with long stints on the Disabled List by Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman and shorter stays by Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendón.  There was so much inconsistency in the lineup because of injuries that you didn't know who was going to play from one day to the next.

Then there's pitching. Yes, Max Scherzer pitched an almost-perfect no-hitter, and yes, Stephen Strasburg is healthy and pitching incredibly well (too little too late, since he didn't get good until late August).  But the bullpen was pretty dismal throughout the entire season.  Drew Storen was the closer in the beginning, but despite doing a decent job, was replaced in his role by hot-head Jonathan Papelbon, who came over from the Phillies with the condition that he become the closer.  So Storen moved to the setup position, where he absolutely sucked.  He blew some pretty important games in which the Nationals had been leading when he took the mound, and in early September he was so frustrated that he ended up punching a locker and tearing a ligament in his thumb (and subsequently being out for the rest of the season).  Doug Fister lost his starting role and was moved to the bullpen, Gio Gonzalez was not as reliable as in years past, and poor Tanner Roark was jerked around, being moved from starter to the bullpen to the minors and back to starter.  Jordan Zimmermann remained consistently awesome, but we all know he's not returning to the Nationals next year (and neither is Ian Desmond, the other big-name free agent in the team).

So yeah - I'm OK with my Nationals not being in the playoffs because honestly, they don't deserve to be there.  If they had made it, it would have been too stressful, knowing they were inconsistent and probably wouldn't be making it past the first round.  That doesn't mean I won't be watching the playoffs - there's a LOT of baseball still to be played (and watched), and for Pete's sake, the Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs!  I have decided to root for the Pirates and Blue Jays, but since I'm not a die-hard fan of either team, if they end up losing, it won't bother me too much.  So I'm going to enjoy my October of post-season baseball, and I'm going to eagerly await the announcement of this year's National League MVP, which should be given to Bryce Harper, the bright spot in the Nationals this year.  I've been a Bryce-basher in the past, but he matured a LOT as a player this season and deserves the award (since he's leading the National League in home runs and batting average).  Go Bryce, go Pirates and Blue Jays, and for the love of God, go away Cardinals - I'm tired of seeing you in October!

Friday, September 4, 2015

"The Liars and the Dirty Dirty Cheats of the World"

While I never thought I would use the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song as a title for a blog post, I thought it was appropriate for a post about cheating in sports.  Whether it's "deflate-gate" in the NFL, Lance Armstrong getting blood transfusions during the Tour de France,or Barry Bonds having "no idea" what he was being injected with during his home run tear in Major League Baseball - cheating happens in every sport at every level. And with sports being a microcosm of society, it basically means that the world is full of selfish, insecure, win-at-any-cost people.  Oh that is so discouraging!

Why am I writing about cheating in sports when Major League Baseball is heating up with teams vying for playoff spots?  Shouldn't I be crying about the Orioles' recent nosedive and the Mets' consistent success?  Well a friend asked for my opinion on the Tom Brady situation, so I figured I would present my opinion along with the baseball perspective.

So totally hot and sexy Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, was suspended by the NFL for the first 4 games of the season, because according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady had a part in a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season's AFC championship game, a 45-7 whoopin' of the Indianapolis Colts.  Well a judge decided that Brady was treated unfairly and not given due process, so he dropped Brady's suspension, which the NFL quickly appealed.  Brady INSISTS that he had NOTHING to do with the deflation of the balls, despite ordering that his cell phone be destroyed right before being interviewed by the NFL.  Right - Tom Brady had no prior knowledge of "deflate-gate" and I'm the Queen of England (though I'd rather look like Jennifer Lopez than the Queen - no disrespect to "your Highness.").

Why am I so sure that Tom Brady had everything to do with the deflated balls?  Because I'm tired of being duped.  In the 1990s, I was a huge fan of Minnesota Twins center fielder, Kirby Puckett.  I read his book, collected his cards, and followed his career religiously.  I knew all about him on the field, marveling at his gravity-defying leaps in the outfield and celebrating his World Series home runs.  When I found out that Puckett was a wife beater and groper of women in restaurants, I was completely deflated (as opposed to Brady's footballs, which were only PARTIALLY deflated).  I felt betrayed and so disappointed knowing that a person I admired was not totally the hero I made him out to be.  Kirby Puckett didn't cheat (that we know of), but finding out he was a real jerk was just as devastating as if I had found out that he took performance-enhancing drugs.  It just sucked.

Then there's cheater extraordinaire Lance Armstrong.  I also read his books, prayed for him during his cancer diagnosis, and even had one of those yellow LIVE STRONG rubber bracelets that he made famous.  Lance could do no wrong, and because of him I learned about cycling as well as the beautiful scenery of the Alps and the grueling event that is the Tour de France.  All those accusations that Lance had cheated were always countered with please of innocence - he could look straight into a camera and adamantly deny that he did not take performance-enhancing drugs or blood transfusions or anything like that.  And then the truth came out, and he looked like a real ass.  That was a real heartbreaker for me - I had told my kids all about him and how great he was and then I had to explain to them how he was a total phony.

This is why I think Tom Brady is guilty of knowing about the deflated footballs.  I don't want to defend the guy and then find out he's a liar and a cheat.  No, there's no clear evidence that he was involved.  No, there is no key witness to testify that Brady was involved.  Yes, Brady might retire without the real truth ever coming out.  But I'm tired of sticking by these conceited, I-can-do-no-wrong-because-I'm-famous guys with over-inflated egos, so I'm just going to assume Brady is guilty unless proven otherwise.

What gets me is that someone as talented as Tom Brady does not need deflated footballs to excel at his sport.  Ask the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.  Both of them served suspensions for having used performance-enhancing drugs, yet both are back to playing well despite being off the drugs.  Not that I'm defending A-Rod (please!), but he's always been a fine player without the drugs.  Some say it's the pressure of having to perform well at such a high level that leads already-good players to start the drugs; I say it's just insecurity and low self-esteem.  I've read that despite looking confident and cocky on the outside, A-Rod is privately an insecure guy who often throughout his career has doubted his talents.

So whether Tom Brady played a part in the "deflate-gate" scandal or not, he will be able to play this season while the NFL's appeal is heard, and I'm neither here nor there about that (since I'm not an ardent football fan).  I'm still focusing my attention on the last month of baseball's regular season, where a lot of games still have to be played for playoff spots to be determined.  May the Mets falter, the Pirates and Nationals rise to greatness, and may all current athletes contemplating cheating at their sport think twice, because in these days of social media, lack of privacy, and increased screening and scrutiny, someone will eventually find you out.  And you wouldn't like some little kid to idolize you and then find out you're a fraud - that's just heartbreaking.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Baseball North of the Border

On a recent visit to Canada to visit family, my husband and I planned our trip so we could catch a ball game at Rogers Centre in Toronto.  This would be ball park number 6 in our quest to visit every Major League baseball park (we only have 24 more to go - no biggie!), and it was a great visit.

The ball park itself was kind of "eh," but the experience was a good one overall.  While I'm not a fan of artificial turf, the Centre's retractable roof was something I'd never seen in person before, and that made it interesting (my husband the engineer kept trying to figure out how the whole thing worked).  I'm glad the weather was nice enough to leave the roof open, because I'm not sure I would enjoy an indoor baseball game (I know; I need to prepare myself for Miami and Milwaukee).  It was a bit chilly for us southerners, but the crowd was lively and extremely well-behaved (it's Canada, after all).

The first noteworthy tidbit is that every single Canadian in that ball park knew the words to their National Anthem.  Everyone sang along while "O Canada" was played, and unlike our hard-to-sing song about bombs bursting in air, the Canadian anthem talks about love and God and pride.  Yes, God was mentioned 5 times in the song, and no one complained about it.  No offense to Francis Scott Key, but not all of us can reach the high notes like Whitney Houston, so even if we knew all the words, 35,000 fans singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" would not sound as good as the same amount of Canadians singing their song.  There was also no "pomp" like at Nationals Park - no presenting of the colors and no football-field-size flag undulating in the outfield.  I was totally OK with that.

Also interesting was the person who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  It wasn't a season-ticket-holder, war veteran, or big corporate sponsor - it was a man who performed CPR on a stranger and saved the person's life.  Now that to me is a true hero, and he was very worthy of throwing out a first pitch and so much more. 

The game itself was very exciting.  It's always nice when the home team is winning, so the Blue Jays' 10-3 victory over the Oakland A's was a definite plus to my ballpark experience.  Former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey pitched for the Jays, Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak hit homers for the home team, and the victory put the Jays in first place above the Yankees. 

What were my least-favorite things about the Rogers Centre?  Well it's another one of those parks that was shoehorned into a bustling city with big buildings around it, so it made the concourse area very dark (though not as cramped as Oriole Park).  The epoxy coating on the floor made it seem almost airport-like, though it was very clean (the whole city of Toronto was spotless, actually).  The concession vendors that go up and down the seating area were way too quiet - they were all like "Would anyone like a cold beverage?" as opposed to the "ICE COLD BEEAH HEAH!" guys I'm used to.   The grilled prosciutto and provolone sandwich I had was very good, but the food selection wasn't as extensive as in other ball parks (not sure if they had a gluten-free or vegan stand, like at other parks).

And oh my gosh, those Canadians do NOT swear or use cuss words of any kind!  When you leave a ball game in the US, regardless of whether your team has won or not, you always hear four-letter words being used - not in anger or anything; they're just part of people's conversation ("That was @#$% awesome!" or "The umpire $%!#% sucked!").  After the Jays won and took sole possession of first place in the AL East, everyone was happy and cheerful and said "Let's go get a drink" without placing any bad-word adjectives in front of the word "drink."

Overall, our visit to the Rogers Centre was one of the things that made our trip a very nice one.  As if the movie "Argo" wasn't enough to make me want to hug a Canadian, this trip reinforced my belief that Canadians are super-nice people and Toronto is a very nice place to visit.  In August.