Turns Out Baseball Isn’t Cricket

Baseball! Toronto takes the Blue Jays pretty seriously (after hockey, maple syrup and beer). I saw them play the NY Yankees in the mostly full, 50,000+ capacity Rogers Centre downtown. And they won!

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The stadium has a retractable roof (was opened for nice weather) and Blue Jays fans dressed in branded blue were pouring through gates with a power of the Niagara Falls.

Luckily, as baseball is not prevalent outside North America, I had 3 helpful locals next to me explaining the rules. My understanding is that players wear tight pants, carry bats for personal protection, steal bases to take them home, and wear a single glove like Michael Jackson. No sequins or moonwalk though – just a super energizing hip routine from a guy called Jose Bautista.

Blue Jays dedicated a couple of minutes to the legendary baseball columnist Bob Elliott who has retired from  the”Sun” (= TimeOut Toronto) on May 31st.

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The only area cricket has baseball beat is the mandated tea breaks. But! Baseball outshines cricket with their Cheerleaders! They are truly the glam, chic, beauty, vibe and fun of the game and the only girls who moved comfortably and freely on the field without police interference.

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It did not appear anyone was shy about branding. Sport is a business and is definitely run as one.

By the time sun went down – the stadium was groaning with anticipation of forthcoming victory and CN Tower burst into rainbows. The NY Yankees showed no desire to score, loosing 7-zero and it was very exciting to see happy Blue Jay’s fans booing, cheering and sharing joy.

Watching girls and boys shake their hips made me hungry for chicken and freedom. Fortunately the most Canadian shawarma was just next door. History is indeed now 🙂

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P.S. The first recorded game of baseball in Canada and arguably the fist ever way played today – on June 4th in 1883 in Beachville on a field behind a blacksmith’s shop.

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Spring in the city

Toronto in Spring is all about the 3B’s – Beautiful, Buzzy and Breezy (lots of free stuff as well, think street concerts, festivals and ice cream tastings). Every day there is a tiny change in surroundings – the city is greener, lusher, brighter and of course,  warmer (except for when it suddenly snows). On a clear day, the famous CN Tower can be spotted from almost anywhere:

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The people of Toronto and visitors opt for walking and cycling over commuting underground. Streets are filled with love:

The best place for a “walk, breath and watch” experience is High Park. The land was gifted to the City and people by John George Howard (civil engineer, architect and artist) at the end of 19th century. Every May, park turns into a Mecca for cherry-blossoms fans, however this year the weather pulled a wicked trick, and left me heartbroken with no vivid memories:

I learnt that the Canadian spring is moody. I was exposed to the wind, snow, rain, clouds and sunshine all in 1 day. Locals love to quote: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait for a few minutes”. True!

Another way to get into Spring Spirit or Hipster Spirit/Hippy Spirit/Cocktail Spirit is to visit the famous Kensington Market. That place is a legend featuring many Victorian homes and hand-made robots. A true mix of flavors and cultures.

While Canada is loved world-wide for its nature, Toronto is a place where wild life finds you whether you want it or not. Watch out for cute little creatures like squirrels or raccoons plotting to steal your lunch:

Built of glass, concrete blocks and dark-brown bricks, downtown Toronto resembles the streets of New York. No wonder American Psycho, The Interpreter and How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days were shot over here.

Remember the CN Tower? It’s literally poking the sky. It used to be the tallest building in the world (1975-2007) and then Burj Khlaifa in Dubai grew into the title. Sky in Toronto is another phenomena – 50 shades of white and blue.

On the last Monday before May 25th, Canadians celebrate a birthday of the “Mother of Confederation” – Queen Victoria. The long weekend usually marks the beginning of the outdoor season with people opening up cottages, organizing picnics and barbecues. Torontonians gather at the Beaches waterfront to watch fireworks and share a drink from coffee flasks.

No matter where you are – Spring only happens once a year. Use your time wisely!

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