It's not very often that a giant baseball nerd such as myself gets to live their childhood dream of getting up close and personal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of covering the Blue Jays/Reds game thanks to T.O. Sports Magazine, and they decided to let me loose on the field and I did my very best to act like a civilized sports writer instead of a nerdy blogger.
Immediately, I was overwhelmed with what was going on. As soon as the elevator opened to take me down to field level, there was Jerry Howarth. “Where are you going” he asks. “Down to the field!” I respond, trying not to act like a giddy school girl.
From there, I emerge in the underbelly of the Rogers Centre. For those who have not been down to the field level, it’s actually quite confusing. I had to ask two people how to get to the field. Eventually, I walked up the stairs and emerged from the visitor’s dugout and stepped out onto the field. There were reporters and cameras everywhere, and then there was little old me with a recorder and a microphone. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed.
After standing around for about 15 minutes, Joey Votto sat down in the Reds dugout and immediately the press swarmed around him. I followed suit and from the back, tried to get some sound bites with him talking about his early season struggles. As I’m holding my mic in the air, none other than Richard Griffin strolls in to my left, and in my peripheral I can see Jamie Campbell sipping on Starbucks beside me.
Once Joey Votto was done answering questions, we headed over to the Jays dugout to talk to Cito Gaston. Being that close to Cito, I could sum up his personality in one word: chill. If you thought he seemed relaxed on television, wait until you meet him. He is a very calm, cool manager who doesn’t seem to get very riled up about anything.
From there, I wasn’t quite sure what to do as some of the reporters disappeared down into the dugouts while others strolled around the infield. I decided to just chill out in the Jays dugout and wait for something to happen. So after about 20 minutes, I took it upon myself to venture down to the clubhouse. As I walked in, it was like walking into a palace. There were flat screen TV’s everywhere, a giant cooler stocked with every beverage imaginable, and large executive chairs at every player’s locker. Apparently the Jays were to come in after batting practice, but only a few players strolled in like Aaron Hill and Adam Lind. Just glancing around the lockers, I noticed that Alex Rios had his famous model airplanes and helicopters around, and there was a remote control monster truck as well.
Apparently the Jays have their own timetables to return to the clubhouse, so I chose to head up to the media area and prepare for the game. Again, it was another adventure just to figure out where to go to get up to the 300 level. After opening a few doors and venturing through a few hallways, I finally found myself in the press box.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect up there, but it definitely exceeded any expectations I ever had. There was catered food up there, coolers with drinks, and a cafeteria-style area for folks to gather. Once it got close to the game, everyone gathered in the box at their respective stations and started typing away at their laptops. It was probably very obvious that I was new to this because I was the only one without a lap top. The media guides that are handed out have tonnes of information for writers; everything from streaks to stats and everything in between. It was also the first time I attempted to score the game. As you can see below, I did a pretty half-ass job.
I found it very difficult to sit there throughout the game and not show any emotion towards the Blue Jays. When Scott Rolen hit that home run in the second inning, my first instinct was to stand up and clap. But then I realized that I was representing the media and was not supposed to show any favoritism to one particular team. I have to be honest, I don’t know if I could be a full time sports writer because you always have to weigh both sides, whereas I tend to be a homer all the way. No matter what the standings are, the Blue Jays would always be number one in my books.
Following the game, we proceeded to head down to the clubhouse once again to get some post game interviews. Before talking to the players, the media huddled around Cito’s desk to get his response to how the team played. Once again, Cito was extremely laid back and I don’t think his voice ever reached anything above 60 decibels.
Overall, it was a great experience to step into a beat reporter’s shoes for a day and cover a Blue Jays game. Before this, I had no idea how much time and effort these writers and reporters put into their articles. As a blogger who has now traveled behind the scenes of what happens with the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, I have a new appreciation for what goes on up in the pressbox and down in the clubhouse. Once again, a gigantic thanks to T.O. Sports for letting me have this opportunity, and you can also check out the article I put together for them.