Archive for the ‘DJF Guides’ Category

While most of our DJF guides instruct readers on how best to get fucked up, how best to fuck someone else up (or down if you prefer), or how best to sneak stuff into the stadium to get fucked up, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that there are respectable teetotallers out there in the Rogers Centre crowd and explain that baseball audiences aren’t always as ruckus as a stadium full of people waiting for a Bludklot, Festering Puke and Zombie Hate Brigade triple bill.

In fact, one of my favourite regulars from last season was a man in his mid to late thirties who would bring his three young kids with him to games and patiently explain to them some of the finer points. I never once saw him have to keep one eye shut in order to better judge the distance between steps in an aisle on his way to get more to drink, but I respected him nonetheless.

As the 2008 regular season creeps closer and closer to the starting line, I thought that now would be as good a time as any to prepare ball game goers for the time of their life.

Tickets

Don’t ever, ever, ever buy tickets from scalpers, even if they look like Gregg Zaun’s rickbag cousin. They are the lowest form of life on a baseball stadium’s property and that includes the people who get excited over getting a shitty box from FedEx. Scalpers are not conceived naturally. They are created through asexual means and are birthed out of pods that are found in sewers.

You know when you’re walking up Front Street and that whiff of maggoty rancour hits your face? That’s not an ordinary urban odour. That’s the smell of a scalper’s afterbirth seething out of a birthing pod.

Don’t buy tickets from them.

For almost every regular season game, you can purchase your seats through the Jays ticket office on the day of the match. If you’re one of those plan ahead types, you can also purchase tickets online, over the phone or at those Rogers Video stores that I don’t go into anymore because I racked up some serious late charges on a Hot Tamale DVD.

Getting To The Game

I know it sounds hippieish or whatever, but seriously your best options are walking or bicycling. The TTC can be more infuriating than a rusty screw being driven into your backside if it’s only minutes before the opening and you still have to pick up your tickets at will call. Driving in gridlocked traffic downtown just prior to a game is even more unpleasant, and finding adequate parking isn’t exactly a treat either.

If you have to take the TTC, make sure you find your way to the Spadina Streetcar. In fact, go out of your way to get on this trolley and take it to the Bremner Blvd. stop South of Front. Trust me on this one. A bunch of idiots are going to get out at the Front stop and walk an extra kilometre to the game, but if you get off at Bremner you can cross Spadina and follow the boulevard right to the box office at Section 9.

If you have to drive, you’re probably a weird control freak or you live far away which is even stranger. God help you in traffic, but if you’re looking to park on the cheap, there are a bunch of buildings on Front Street between Spadina and Bathhurst. Some of these buildings have visitor parking areas you can use for a few hours. It’s definitely a case of use at your own risk, but sometimes $15 can be better spent on a beer and a . . . well, a beer inside the stadium, than on parking.

Inside The Stadium

I’ve never really understood the thrill of getting a ball at a game, but some people go berserk for one. If you want to ensure a souvenir, during the visiting team’s pre game warmup, go down the first base side, close to the field, but avoid the section with the Comfort Zone seating. Not only are you likely to step on crack vials on the floor (never mind, that’s a different Comfort Zone), the ushers are a bit more protective of this area. Try Section 114 or the outfield side of 115, and politely ask one of the opposing players to toss you a ball.

I’m not going to shit you. Having a great rack or a cute kid definitely helps, but most ballplayers or equipment managers are accommodating if you’re genuine and polite. A few good things did come out of the work stoppage in 1994.

If a foul ball is more your game, be a man, and please don’t use a baseball glove or fishing net. It’s sad, and when you catch a foul with something other than your bare hands it makes my balls feel like I just saw someone get kicked in the gonads. You can increase your chances of feeling the smack of manhood on your hands by sitting anywhere in the 113s on the first base side or the 130s on the third base side.

For home run balls, you can check out Hit Tracker Online to see where the balls going yard have landed at Rogers Centre in the past. Last season, with the Jays predominantly right handed lineup, Section 138 in left field was the money shot section.

Never, ever get tricked into sitting in any of the following sections: 141, 142, 237, 238, 520, 521. These are the Cable Box’s non-alcohol seating areas.

Getting On Jays Vision

There really is little mystery to getting on Jays Vision, or what was formerly called The Jumbotron (fortunately with last year’s addition of Frank Thomas to the ballclub, a jumbotron is still a part of the Rogers Centre experience). All you have to do is act like one of the “Special Kids” from your elementary school when you stole their Ritalin and traded it to a high school kid for a mickey of rye, or a senior citizen who lost his heart medication.

Between innings, dance to whatever shitty song offends your ears over the PA system. Dance, dance, dance. Do the lawnmower, throw some fist pumps, bring the mother fucking hammer down. Do all this, and you will get on Jays Vision and your sad need for attention will momentarily be assuaged.

Once again, if you’ve got a nice rack or a cute kid, you’ll easily get the attention of a cameraman in the camera bays next to the dugouts (near Section 116 on the first base side and Section 127 on the third base side).

During weekend games, keep an eye out for in-game hosts Ryan Greer and Jill Clark patrolling your section. Pay them a compliment without it sounding sarcastic, and they may pick you for the next trivia question. Answer correctly and you could win a glamourous duffle bag or a gift card for a strictly mediocre chain restaurant.

Foodings

As previously mentioned, you can bring your own food into Rogers Centre. As long as it’s properly packaged and isn’t laced with a detectable narcotic, you’ll have no problem getting it past security.

If you don’t mind dropping $10 on items that normally cost $5, try a Philly Cheese Steak near the top of Section 114 or a runny burrito at the top of Section 129. Otherwise, combo up your meals at the regular concession stands and the prices are only partially outrageous. Just remind yourself that you’d probably pay around the same amount for the same food at a pub anyway.

If you’re craving a hot dog though, don’t waste your time at the regular concessions. Seek out the kosher dogs on the third base side. Don’t waste any time at the noodle house either. You’ll do better to wait until after the game and buy a $.25 pack of Mr. Noodles.

Exit Stage Right or Stage Left

The end of the game is usually a clusterfuck. I’m simply not cut out for walking outside the Rogers Centre in the cold Ontario Spring air or sweaty Ontario Summer air and breathing in the second hand smoke of future cancer victims while getting my ass credit carded by denim cut-off wearing former convicts yelling “How ‘bout those Blue Jays!”

That’s why, no matter where I’m sitting, I make my way to the exit ramps near Section 108 or Section 135. Walk up one level, and you’re free to exit the ballpark like a human being instead of cattle. You come out of Rogers Centre close to Front Street and about ten minutes ahead of the people who used the other exits.

On Saturday and Sunday, never use the ramp near Section 108 because that’s where the munchkins line up to run the bases after the game. Anytime I start to get serious with a girl, I take a walk up this ramp after a matinee game. Once I exit Rogers Centre, I immediately place a telephone call to terminate the relationship.

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted and that’s mainly because the Colorado media seem even less interested in Towers than we ever were so I got nothing. Also because a lot of this pre-season news deals with factual information about baseball and that’s something best left to the minds of Stoeten and Parkes (who’ve been fucking nailing it these past few weeks).

My job is dealing with the hypothetical and nonsensical. And with all the trade talks, the new faces we’re seeing here, the old faces we won’t be seeing here no more, the questionnable J.P. moves, the roid accusations and the loss of Towers to the Rockies, I’ve noticed a loss of morale among some Jays fans. And that’s when you start to wonder if there really are any heroes left in the game. The simple answer to that is: Fuck no.

If there is an outstanding player in the game who you admire, chances are he’s either totally juiced, or he drives to and from the game totally loaded, or he cheats on his wife, or he’s a complete asshole or he’s into child pornography. Let’s face it, professional athletes are a bunch of heartbreakers. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking otherwise. Having a hero in the game is essential in keeping your faith during another season where, yeah, we’ll probably finish third again. But having a guy there who you just lose your shit for will have you oblivious to the standings, let alone the fact that it even has other players. It’s only now that Towers is gone that I’m learning the names of some of these fine folks we have here like Hank Thomas, Werner Wells, Alex Ross and Boy Holiday. Some of these guys are pretty good!

But aside from the delusions, a favourite player can simply elevate your viewing of the game to a higher plateau. And let’s face it, if you can’t name a favourite Jays player, you probably have no personality whatsoever. Plus, it makes for great conversation if you’re trying to get a girl in the sack — damnit, I just can’t bring myself to writing punch kitty.

So as we approach the 2008 season (which granted seems pretty far away with this fucking -25 degree wind chill), here are some helpful tips on how to successfully nab yourself a hero for the year. After all, as Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and that fat fuck told us in that “Spiderman” song:

And they say that a hero can save us.
I’m not gonna stand here and wait.
I’ll hold on to the wings of the eagles.
Watch as we all fly away.

Wait a minute. What the fuck does that even mean? Not that I predicted that these lyrics would be profound or anything but that just doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t even have anything to do with fucking Spiderman. I guess when you pronounce words in nu metal speak you can get away with anything. Awesome.

1. Be original, don’t pick a superstar

OK, that’s pretty much the only rule right there in terms of picking a favourite player. We’re just going to branch out from that with some tips on how to be original so that you don’t end up like this guy:

a) Don’t pick a superstar and claim credit for his awesomeness

Our friend over here (I’d say Brazillian friend but really, I’m not so sure) is demonstrating how you can commit a bigtime picking-your-favourite-player sin by not only choosing a soccer player who even Americans have heard of, but also pointing out for our benefit that Ronaldo is in fact “the shit.” Thanks for the update dickless! Nevermind the headband, this guy has douche written all over him and that’s not because I think Ronaldo is a douche (dude learned how to speak Dutch during his time with PSV and can still speak it!).

I also just went to the Leafs game on Saturday with Priestman (playoffs!) and my reservation of the Leafs and their fans as human beings was immediately heightened by some 40-year-old dude wearing a Sundin jersey who promptly stood up and pointed to himself when Mats Sundin’s name was announced for that night’s starting lineup. Dude, for real? You’re not Mats Sundin. I realize you spent over $200 to get a jersey pretty much the same as his that he gets for free but that’s where the similarity ends. The only reason for this behaviour would be if the guy was Mats’ long-lost Swedish brother. And he wasn’t. And Priestman and I promised each other that we’re going to be become San Jose Sharks fans next year.

If you still don’t get what I’m going after, consider the classic Offspring analogy. Remember when their second album “Smash” came out and you were stoked cause you were one of the 13 people who had their first album cause you saw one of their songs featured in a skateboarding video? And then you got to the title track with the chorus:

I’m not a trendy asshole.
I do what I want, I do what I feel like.
I’m not a trendy asshole.
I don’t give a fuck if it’s good enough for you.
Cause I’m alive.

And you thought they’d penned an anthem just for you and the other 12 people who bought that album? And then a bazillion other people bought that album and sang along to that chorus? Didn’t that make the band and the song somewhat less special if not completely irrelevant? Sure, if they were playing a gig at the Silver Dollar and there were eight people around, you could proudly sing along. But would you do that in a stadium filled with 40,000 morons singing the same thing? Think about it.

b) Don’t pick a player because everyone else likes him

Maybe it’s just me but I never pick popular players as my favourite players. While that probably makes me a total loser, at least I’m a unique total loser. I wouldn’t even say I don’t like to follow the crowd, maybe it’s just that I’m uncomfortable when I’m in crowds.

I certainly know that I didn’t want to “Be Like Mike” when I was in Junior High School and the photo to the left is one of the main reasons why (although part of me thinks this photo is self-parody, looks at the guy’s stache!). The other reason is that everybody loved the Chicago Bulls and I could never see the point in that. They won all the time. And usually due to heroics by Michael Jordan. While many found that to be admirable and a great reason to cheer for them (come to think of it, I guess it is), I found it to be horribly predictable and lame. And the worst part was most of these so-called fans didn’t have a clue about basketball (remember the fat dudes at your school who loved Jordan but couldn’t make a free throw to save their life? Is it fair to call that pathetic?) and would just join in with the winning team. I guess I was an indie rocker even then when I was into Motley Crue cause that just never appealed to me. What did appeal to my limited interest in basketball was the Celtics and Larry Bird. Now Bird was certainly a superstar, but unlike the exciting style of Michael Jordan, Bird was a boring fuck and although his talent was certainly recognized, no one wanted to associate themselves with his throws compared to the awesomeness that is slam dunks (read: showboating). All this is saying is that I was superior to all of my school mates and I never kissed a girl in Junior High School and I was probably a racist.

c) Don’t pick a superstar and then make fun of lesser players

As a Towers fan, I get a lot of this. And it makes me defensive to the point of losing my sanity. But seriously, you like a player who is blessed with natural talent you do not have and gets paid more in a month than you will see in your lifetime? Fine. But if you want to scoff at someone who actually reflects your life as his own life is a bitch and a constant struggle and nothing comes easy, you may as well be a Yankees fan.

d) If you are going to pick a superstar, have a reason

Alright, you can’t be bothered to waste your life like me and cheer for a total loser. At least have something to back up your choice instead of “He’s awesome.” We all know that you fuck, he does play for the Blue Jays. But what makes him special to you? Acceptable reasons are:

- he saved my mom’s life.
- he paid for my university education.
- he let me sit in his box seats because I was a sick.
- he absolutely destroyed the Kansas City Royals in some game in 2005 in about 85 minutes, allowing me to make it home and still do my laundry.

One of those reasons happen to be the reason why the Chairman Mao’s favourite player is Roy Halladay. I’ll begrudgingly accept only because I still feel he would hate Josh Towers even if he were to accomplish all four of these tasks.

e) Pick a farm team dude

I don’t really think you can go wrong with picking a new guy in the club. Unless he’s some overhyped fuckface like Eric Lindros was in the NHL, you got nothing to worry about. Your boy is an underdog right there, and we all know the underdog is always a superior call (if you don’t mind losing a bunch). Thigpen, Lind, Litsch and De Jong (because of his ancestry) are all admirable to root for. And the best thing is, if they do turn out to be bona fide superstars, you can claim all the credit you want for their glory. You played just as much a part of it and while they might not share any of their earnings with you, you can still be mighty proud.

f) Let your favourite player choose you

This is a tough topic and one that you’ve seen floating around in the comments section from time to time (mostly filled with my rants). I don’t think I’ve come close to ending the argument but ultimately, the fact that your favourite player is someone who chose you is not up for debate. A wise friend once told me: “You don’t choose your favourite player, they choose you.” So if you’re still at a loss, stop forcing it already and relax. You’ll know when the time is right. And if you don’t believe me consider the fact that as occasional contributor to DJF, the most asked question I definitely get (and it’s been asked at least twice) is: Why is Josh Towers your favourite player? Why the fuck do you think? It’s not like I had any choice in the matter.

A couple weeks ago, I stumbled into an Indigo (Canadian for Barnes & Noble . . . sort of) looking for a quick read over the lunch hour. Without a single baseball magazine to choose from, I went searching through the stacks of baseball books that were hidden almost underneath an escalator.

Interested in one out of every two dozen stacked, I made three decisions: 1) I was going to spend this summer reading as many books about baseball as possible, 2) I wasn’t going to read any shitty books about baseball, and 3) I wasn’t going to read any fictional books about baseball (no matter what good things people say about Mark Harris’ The Southpaw).

After a quick and frustratingly unfruitful search online, I consulted my friend and fellow baseball head James (previously mentioned in this blog as the man who intends on tying his first son’s right arm to his body as a means of improving his chances of raising a Southpaw) on a proper list of good baseball reading.

His suggestions combined with my own baseball reading have resulted in The DJF Guide To Summer Reading. Throughout the summer, I’ll be providing reviews on many of these books, as I knock off the ones I haven’t already read.

The Long Ball by Tom Adelman
This is an in-depth look at the 1975 season, mainly covering the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds, with features on Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Catfish Hunter, Pete Rose and one of the greatest World Series of all time.

A Pitcher’s Story by Roger Angell
Angell, quite possibly the greatest baseball writer, follows David Cone during the 2000 season, the worst of his career. Despite some pity for the arm aneurysm, I hate David Cone. I hated him when he left the Jays for Kansas City and then I hated him again when he came back and whined to be traded.

Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof
We all know the story and everything, but this book goes into more meticulous detail about the 1919 Black Sox than you when you brag to your friends about your first threesome experience. Although written in 1963, this book would still be a stand out if it were written today.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Before the days of tell-all book deals, this story named names and made no attempt to protect anyone. According to Wikipedia, Ball Four covers all “the petty jealousies, the obscene jokes, the drunken tomcatting . . . and the routine drug use” of a professional baseball team.

Diamond Dreams by Stephen Brunt
Probably Canada’s best print journalist, Brunt covers the first thirty years of our beloved Blue Jays, from drunk fans who loved Rush to, well, drunk fans who still love Rush.

The Last Best League by Jim Collins
Collins chronicles the Cape Cod League’s Chatham A’s during the 2002 summer league season and introduces a number of characters amongst the college all-stars. Along the way, we’re given an appreciation for summer on Cape Cod and the place of baseball in the heart of a local community.

Game Of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams
Do you hate Barry Bonds, but have trouble articulating just why? You can skim any random page of this amazing piece of investigative journalism and come up with a dozen reasons to hate the soon-to-be Home Run King of Kings.

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James
I know you’re thinking this is likely just the first baseball abstract, but with a new epilogue or something. It’s actually almost an entirely new book in which James rates the 100 best players at each position and introduces more ways to statistically analyze ball clubs.

The Boys Of Summer by Roger Kahn
Kahn takes a look at the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization, right up to their 1955 World Series win. He also follows the individual players from these storied teams as they live their lives after baseball.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis
You’ve probably used the term “moneyball” more than the word “please” over the last couple months, but find out why Oakland GM Billy Beane would not want Jeremy Bonderman and Ben Sheets on his team. Also learn what Silver Tongue Ricciardi was up to before his days as Jays GM.

Fantasyland by Sam Walker
Subtitled as a season on baseball’s lunatic fringe, Walker writes about his experience getting into the world of fantasy baseball. According to the The New York Times review, he “goes all out, hiring experts, attending spring training, peppering general managers and players with technical questions and trying to determine whether the clubhouse access he enjoyed as a sportswriter would help him in drafting the best batters and pitchers.”

Weaver On Strategy by Earl Weaver
With a managerial strategy based around pitching, defense and the three run home run, it would be interesting to see how Weaver would stack up against his managerial competitors today. However, the cocky, foul-mouthed manager isn’t just full of piss and vinegar. Reading about his baseball philosophy is a great companion piece to the more scientific Moneyball.

May The Best Team Win by Andrew Zimbalist
Zimbalist wrote the book on the economics of sport. No, literally, he wrote The Economics of Sport I and II. In this book, the American economist examines the current state of baseball and offers economic solutions for the many inequalities between the haves and have nots of Major League Baseball teams.