Friday, April 4, 2008

Opening Day! Part 4 of 5 - It Drags Me In Every Year

I SWORE up and down that I would NEVER go to another Toronto Blue Jays game if I had to pay for it. Not only is the ballpark a disaster of an environment to watch a ballgame in (from the fans to the jail-like atmosphere) but the unprofessional treatment of fans is what truly got to me.

In 2007, as a 'mini pack holder', I attended nearly 20 games. Each game was enjoyable, simply because of the product on the field. But that is where it stops. The concessions are over priced, even for ballpark standards and the employees are simply running out their time. I had one security guard say to me, 'I cannot wait until the end of the season'. What kind of product pride is that???

Specifically, there were two games, one of which I will not discuss, because it was simply my fault, although I do not agree with my treatment. The other, was a direct sign of unprofessionalism and simple lack of understanding of the game of baseball.

Let me paint the picture for you:

On Friday July 6th, 2007 the Toronto Blue Jays faced off against the Cleveland Indians at the Sky Dome. The Indians scored a quick run in the first and it looked as if they were about to put up a crooked number on the first inning scoreboard. Roy Halladay then buckled down and finished off the inning allowing only one runner while stranding two. In the bottom of the second, the Jays got their revenge and plated five runners. The Indians scratched their way back getting the Jays within one run before Matt Stairs hit the 12th triple of his career.

Fast forward to the top of the 9th inning. The score is Toronto 8 - Indians 5. Jeremy Accardo takes the bump in a save situation. The PA announcer urged the fans to get to their feet and support the Jays to hold the lead. The fans, to their credit, did stand, for a moment.
With the fans properly seated, I, in my Victor Martinez home jersey remained on my feet. I accepted the appropriate hoots and hollers, that was part and parcel with wearing the oppositions jersey (keep in mind however, this was the first amount of criticism I received, also laughable).
  • Next batter, Grady Sizemore, lines out hard to Alexis Rios.Keep in mind, I remained standing, not being obnoxious as to attempt to not draw attention. Those directly beside and behind me had nothing to say, they simply pivoted their head slightly. It was those who were 5+ rows behind me that had a problem. Also keep in mind, that I am Todd MacCulloch.
  • Casey Blake doubles to deep right center moving Michaels to third and putting Martinez up to bat as the tying run. It was around this time that a young usher asked me to sit down. I asked if I had too, she said I did not, so I remained standing.
  • Martinez blasts a shot to left field, this is obviously going for extra bases, two runners are going to be plated, this is going to be a one run game...But...Oh Reed Johnson! What a catch! Probably the best catch I saw all year. One run scores.
  • Travis Hafner then comes to the plate and promptly grounds out to second. The game is over.
Not so fast! A beer comes flying at me. Which, I have to say, really upsets me. I don't mind so much that something was thrown at me. But to literally THROW $9 away, disgusting! Also, what is kind of startling. I imagine the Jays stop serving before the 9th inning, what was this guy doing with adult pop left?

A teenager in front of me, who appeared to be on a first date, then went bezerk, running up the stairs wondering who threw the beer. I had taken note of the possible beer throwers earlier and decided to calmly walk up to a male, about my age, quite a bit bigger then me, and suggest to him that he probably shouldn't throw a beer at a ballgame. Yelling and complaining is one thing. But throwing a beer is what starts fights. I commented that with his company (a young lady) he probably did not want to fight and neither did I. Further comments 'rained' down on me from both perspectives. Really, I did not care. A couple other instances occurred, but again, trivial in the big picture.

I then, to be annoying, asked to speak to the supervisor of the usher who asked me to sit down. I discussed my issue and simply stated that I have been to many games where throwing objects onto the field has occurred. Clearly people feel as though they will not get punished and she might want to have her ushers keep a better eye on this. Simply put, a mess could have resulted from their ushers lack of control. The usher then came and pulled her supervisor over, told her the story. To which the supervisor came over and told me, 'You are wrong'.

Now I've worked in the service industry before. I've worked at restaurants and in retail. On the first day of training, I have always been told, 'The customer is never wrong'. In fact, even when a manager or supervisor was being taken advantage of, they would still never tell a customer they were wrong. So, I got a little upset. I then asked to speak to her supervisor. Enter Will Hill. Probably the worst public relations official I could imagine. I can't even imagine what it is that Mr. Hill does.

Needless to say, this situation, combined with Mr. Hill's lack of professionalism is the reason why I decided to never attend a game at the Sky Dome. But here we are, April 4th, 2008. The morning of the Blue Jays Home Opener against the Boston Red Sox. Maybe next year, right?

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