Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Empty Hands and the Long Walk Home

After all that basebally goodness on Saturday, last night's 6-2 pasting at the hands of the Italians before largely empty seats was a hell of a letdown. Similarly, Sunday night's US-Venezuela tilt (the only game I was able to make the trip into the city for) wasn't exactly the epic battle I had envisioned. There were Venezuelans in abundance (and a distinct lack of Venezuela caps for sale -- you must anticipate, Jays Shop people!). If I hadn't watched Saturday night's game, I'd have said that a few thousand scattered Venezuela fans can generate more noise than a full house of Canadians (especially when booing a representative of Chavez's government tagged with first-pitch honours). There were a few Americans, too (dude next to me drove 19 hours from Kansas). Guys in full Yanks regalia cheering YOUK! is a strange thing to behold.

Best moment of the US-Ven game for me took place in the American bullpen (I was sitting in RF). Some kid leans over from the stands in the corner and yells at LaTroy Hawkins, who's minding his own business, leaning back in his folding chair and watching the game, and the kid yells, "LaTroy, YOU SUCK!"

Hawkins: "I'm rich." That seems to shut the kid up.

Then Rogers Centre security zeroes in on the culprit and has a long, serious talk with him, presumably about how best to straighten out his life. I tried to imagine a similar conversation in New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago or Cleveland, and I couldn't, because it wouldn't happen. Only in Toronto would a heckle involving no profanity draw the attention of a member of stadium security (who looked a lot like Sidney Pollack, incidentally).

Still, good things to come out of the WBC for Canada include Votto's hometown performance, and Phillippe Aumont setting them up and then mowing them down in the seventh. Holy shit, that was awesome. It was like we were able to watch the kid mature in the middle of an inning. That's what's great about the tournament, I think: how else could a kid at his level have a chance to face the likes of Wright, Youk and Granderson in a game that actually (sort of) means something? All of which is to say: where do I get my Aumont jersey? I think we see now what the M's (and Mariners fans) like about him. I see Lloyd approves, too.

Reality returned Sunday, of course (and again last night -- 12,000 on hand for a home squad elimination game?) when Toronto showed its true stripes. It's a hockey town. Here's your rabid fanbase enjoying a high scoring affair between a pair of teams stacked with high quality major leaguers:

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