Blue Jays


ESPN Passport: The Games I Have Attended 2

Anyone who knows me knows that I love stats. One of the more underrated sports related stats website has to be ESPN Passport. It is an awesome service provided by ESPN that allows you to archive all the sports events you have been to (and even watched from home) and spews out stats about how the teams have done in those games. They show a win-loss record, active winning or losing streak and how the teams have done at home and on the road in the games you saw them play. Over time, they have added medals which you can earn if you attend events and the team goes on a winning or even a losing streak.

Full link to all the stats available here on Google Drive.

Here’s a look at some of the stats for my events: (Note: I only log the games that I have attended in person)

I am certain that I missed a couple of games that I attended in person but of the 38 games I have logged in so far, there are 10 teams that I have never seen lose (3 of them I have seen on more than one occasion):

New York Mets: 3-0, 2 games at Citi Field (vs. Yankees and Chicago White Sox) and one at Rogers Center
Seattle Mariners: 2-0 (both in the same stadium but once when it was SkyDome and one as Rogers Center)
West Virginia Mountaineers (CFB): 2-0 (both at High Point Solutions Stadium)

The following teams are 1-0: Houston Astros, Cincinnati Bearcats (CFB), Fresno State Bulldogs (CFB), Buffalo Sabers, San José Sharks, Miami Heat and Syracuse Orangeman (CBB).

The most frequent teams that I have seen are by far the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees:

Toronto Blue Jays: 6-9 record, 5-7 at home and 1-2 on the road (all road games at Yankee Stadium)
New York Yankees: 8-5 record, 5-3 at home and 3-2 on the road (all road games at Rogers Center)

List of Arenas with record of home team in brackets:
SkyDome/Rogers Center (5-7)
Old/New Yankee Stadium (5-3)
High Point Solutions Stadium (3-4)
Citi Field (2-0)
Izod Center (2-1)
Madison Square Garden (1-1)
Air Canada Center (0-1)
Rutgers Athletic Center (0-1)
TD Garden (0-1)
Citizens Bank Ballpark (0-1)

Stats by Sport:
Major League Baseball: 23 games
NCAA DI Football: 7 games
National Hockey League: 4 games
National Basketball Association: 3 games
NCAA DI Basketball: 1 game

Finishing off with the medals page, I have six in total which include easy ones like checking into your first event, posting comments and attending a game on a holiday. However two cool ones that I have is “Zero Hero” which is attending a game with a shutout (I just got at the Mets/White Sox game) and “Doubleheader” which is attending two games in one day. I got that one on October 27, 2007 by watching a college football game between Rutgers Scarlet Knights and West Virginia playing a game at noon and then heading over to Madison Square Garden to see the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers play at 7pm.

 


Quick Update

I haven’t gotten a lot of chances to write recently primarily because of work consuming about 12 – 13 hours of my day. I am out of the house at 7 a.m. most days and end up taking the train (or bus) back after 6 p.m. I am a week away from completing my initial three month contract here at Chartis and it is remarkable how quickly time has gone by. There has been plenty of chatter about converting me to a full-time employee now but I have yet to receive an offer, so I will withhold further comment on that until there is actually something to write about.

As another promising but disappointing Blue Jays season winds down, it is important to note that the Yankees have played six games in Toronto since I have moved here. The more interesting fact is that the only two games they have won from those six happened to be the ones that I attended – including the Tuesday night. Jays have to find a way to turn things around quickly as the division seems to become more and more competitive every year.

Hockey season is right around the corner with the Leafs playing their season opener against Montreal a week from today (and about 3 blocks from my work). You can already see the swarm of blue and white jerseys around downtown with people heading towards the preseason games around the same time as I leave work.

I recently searched for Maple Leafs tickets as I have never seen them play at home but the cheapest available at the moment for a Hockey Night In Canada game is $100+ a ticket for a game in February. Maybe holding out on buying a Leafs’ ticket is the best option right now as I’m afraid the hockey season will be disappointing again as a Leafs’ fan. The Maple Leafs have missed out on the postseason in each of the last five years and the primary goal for Toronto this year will be to end the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s storied history. Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf are clearly the two new stars on the team and hopefully can spark something miraculous.

This is the place where legends are made of. Just like the players who ended the Red Sox World Series drought, the players who bring home the championship to teams like the Cubs or the Maple Leafs and hopefully something good happens soon.


Sports Teams In Toronto

The one down side to summer is that there isn’t a lot of variety available in terms sporting events to go watch in person. The Raptors and the Leafs have finished up, leaving the Blue Jays who were the only team I saw in person when I first lived here, the Toronto FC and I suppose you have the Canadian Football League but I’m not really interested in seeing much of that in person although I am interested in trying to get tickets for the Bills in Toronto game this year against the Bears.

That being said about the Jays, I haven’t been to Rogers Centre since it was renovated, revamped and renamed – that place will always be SkyDome to me. I am thinking of going there towards the end of September when the Yankees roll into town for a 3-game set. Who knows, maybe the Jays continue this good stretch and cut the 10.5 game deficit into something manageable heading into the last few series. Especially with the stadium within walking distance from my work, it is no excuse not to make a couple of games down the stretch of the season.

Most importantly, I can’t wait for hockey season to start up again. I was in elementary and middle school when I lived here for 5 years so I would always every game and eagerly await Hockey Night in Canada but never really got a chance to see them play in person. Hopefully this is the year they will finally stop the drought and make the playoffs. I wonder how much a couple of decent seats will cost me since every single home is sold out irrespective of the fact that they haven’t won a title since 1967 but then again people still go out to see the Cubs too.

Even though Bosh has gotten up and left in hopes for a ring, I’m still hopeful that the Raptors can at least compete for a playoff spot in the East. A few years back when the Raptors played the Nets in the playoffs, I remember going to the games in Jersey where the fans in attendance were split 50-50. There was such a lack of interest by the local fans there coupled with the fact that the Raptors growing fan base was willing to make a trip since it was easier to get Raptors tickets in NJ than back home. They should have another decent shot to finish second in the division but whether that will be good enough to make the playoffs, we’ll see.

Back in 1994 when I was still in Pakistan, we all used to get up in the middle of the night to watch the FIFA World Cup games. Even though there was a slight translation difficulty when we moved with a tiny kid like me asking people if they wanted to play ‘football’ and getting weird looks in return, the passion for the sport did not fade. With my elementary school being within walking distance, I would come home during lunch breaks just to catch parts of the game and update the rest of the class upon my return. I will admit that I don’t think I have seen more than a handful of the Toronto FC games but with all these arenas and fields located centrally around my work place, it makes it very convenient on days I want to do stuff right after a tiring work day.

I’m still not sure how actively they show collegiate sports here north of the border, but I will have to keep track of RU football and eventually college basketball once that rolls around. Unfortunately, I can probably already assume that March Madness will not be the same here as it is there and that’s an unfortunate sacrifice I will have to make.


Different Behaviour And Other Observations 2

In my second edition of Toonie Tales, noticing the behaviour (<– notice my spelling) of people here has been a refreshing change from those south of the border. No matter where I have gone – take it from the Passport Office to the Tim Hortons to the Government of Ontario offices to the people at Pizza Pizza – there has been nothing short of gracious service and friendly people everywhere. It’s a complete culture shock even though I have visited here nearly every year since I moved away but moving back has been great.

First experience was immediately felt at the border. I presented the guy there with my proper forms of ID for crossing into Canada and I figured since I had tons of stuff with me, I would have my work contract since he would most likely ask. Instead, the guy asked me about my school and where I graduated from, which state I was currently residing in and whether I planned to still own the car the next time I would visit. THAT was it. My contract lying on the seat next to me went by the way side, no luggage check for someone admitting to move into the country and in under a minute, I was on my way. It’s safe to say, people like me are usually the ones “randomly” selected to be inspected at any TSA line.

I thought maybe I had gotten lucky but I was in no mood to push my luck so I carried on. The rest of the travel was rather short and I only unpacked and called it a night. The next day was my first at work and I had spared myself some extra time getting to downtown because of the train commute. I got there a little early and the thing I noticed, (noticed it when I came for the interview too), was that there is no uptight security like we have back in the States. Any work environment I have been a part of, barely lets you set foot into the building before being forced to talk to a security guard of some sort or brandish your work ID. Here, there is a guy sitting at his desk but he just said “Hi” as I walked in like I had been here before. Interestingly, all the doors on every floor including the entrances from the staircase are ID protected so you can get in the building, but can’t do much else.

The relaxed and refreshing environment of security was also present at the passport office too where a very pleasant officer was greeting people waiting in line going out the door and was suggesting alternative timings to come avoid the rush or different places if you were there just to pick up your passport instead of filing for one. The kind people over at Service of Government of Ontario were great too. I didn’t have an appointment (they accept people from 4-7pm with appointments only) but the lady waived me through as the queue was rather empty. Apparently I didn’t have all the necessary paperwork ready that day but when I did come back a couple of days later, a different lady guided me through all the paperwork, even chatted about why I hadn’t lived in Canada since 2000 and what I liked better.

I put all the government offices first because that’s where you are least likely to find a friendly environment in New Jersey or New York but this behaviour transcends those walls too. The local Tim Hortons next to my work has a packed line at 7 or 8 in the morning and yet they each find a way to laugh about something with each customer. How do people get the energy to do that, this early in the morning? The Pizza Pizza near where I am living apparently goes even beyond that. First, the lady upgraded our order from a large to extra-large because there was a sale/it was going to cheaper on our end and then once the order was complete, they opened up each box to show that we were satisfied with what it looked like. Apparently, they go back and cook more / make you a new pie if it is too burned. Good like finding that kind of service at Pizza Hut or Dominos without putting up a fight.

All that praising aside, they do have a complex with identifying every single person who is Canadian though. For example, there have been repeated updates on the radio of injured “Canadian” first baseman of the Minnesota Twins Justin Morneau. It is quite awkward to hear all Blue Jays, Raptors, Leafs and Argos updates and they include a tiny segment for the Twins vs. White Sox update because Morneau is not playing. Also on the radio, there is a rather bizarre obsession with Lady Gaga music here that has to be classified as some sort of disease.

My biggest adjustment so far would probably have to be not crossing the street on a red light. No one and I literally mean no one crosses the street when there is a red hand up. I am sure everyone has places to go but even on an empty road in the morning or the add break in traffic leave for home, everyone seems to patiently wait until the light turns green and the ‘walk’ symbol appears before they start walking. Succumbing to public pressure, I have also stopped and kindly twiddle my thumbs while waiting for the light to turn green – I guess I need to learn to be more patient.

On a funny note to end this, I did experience one incident of road rage while I have been here but it turns out the license plate of the guy was from the great state of New York. Go figure, right? Good Ol’ USA.

P.S. Popeyes still has the best chicken and biscuits of any fried chicken place.