It is 3:27 a.m. My arms are shaking. My throat is sore. My eyes won’t close. I’m not sure if my ears are still attached to my head. And there has been a smile across my face for the last four and a half hours.
The cause? I attended a baseball game last night and the Toronto Blue Jays won! That’s all.
When Josh Donaldson slid head first across home plate to win the game in the 10th inning, the crowd erupted. I was jumping around. The people next to me were jumping around. The whole stadium was jumping around. And no one knew what to do with their hands.
High-fives require precision. Everyone knows that. I don’t think any high-fives in the stadium connected properly when the game ended. Or maybe it was just mine that didn’t. I was too excited to aim.
I was pulled into a group hug with my two friends before turning to my right and giving a huge bear hug to the guy next to me. He was a complete stranger. It was that kind of night.
There is something unique about sports in that they can bring people together. By the 2nd inning, it felt like everyone sitting around me had known each other for years. Gender didn’t matter. Age didn’t matter. Race didn’t matter. Religion didn’t matter. Political views didn’t matter. Absolutely nothing mattered. Canadiana at it’s finest.
Because in that moment, we were all the same. We were all fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. We started chants together, we exchanged high-fives when a play went our way, we discussed game strategy, we cracked jokes, we booed the opponent to oblivion, and we stood shoulder to shoulder while screaming at the top of our lungs.
If that isn’t “Bonding 101”, I don’t know what is. It was beautiful.
Sport did that. Baseball did that. The Toronto Blue Jays did that.
The Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers. It was the third game of a best-of-five series. Toronto won all three games. A sweep!
And it was a lovely day for sweeping, if you ask me.
After the game, we hung around until the players came back out and did a lap around the field to celebrate with fans, who didn’t want to go home.
I can get into the heated rivalry between the two teams. I can get into the Jose Bautista bat flip from last October against the Rangers in the playoffs. I can get into the brawl earlier this season. I can get into Rougned Odor and Matt Bush. I can tell you that we hate Texas, and I can tell you their fans hate us just the same.
But there is no point. Just know, everything I mentioned in that last paragraph helped contribute to how satisfying of a win this was for the Blue Jays.
I started to lose my voice during the player introductions, before the game even started. Classic case of peaking early. And then it was time for the anthems – another opportunity to scream loudly.
Believe it or not, most of the crowd was singing the American anthem. Perhaps we were all a bit peeved we would be missing the
Donald Trump Show presidential debate?
And then the Canadian anthem got going and the crowd took over. We even mastered the french part – something we normally don’t fully commit to.
Have you ever screamed so loud, that you can feel your throat in your ear? I felt that tonight. Quite the sensation. Don’t try it at home, kids.
When the video board said “RALLY TOWELS”, you better believe we all picked up the towel we were given on our way in and began waving that thing in the air, like we just didn’t care. I’m kidding, we made sure not to hit anyone in the head with it. We’re Canadian, after all.
Hey, if you want a good workout, wave a towel in the air. Your arm will be screaming in thirty seconds or less.
This was one of the best, if not the best, sporting events I’ve ever been to. The camaraderie among the fans, mixed with the rivalry between the two teams, and the potential of a series sweep, made it an incredible evening full of fun and stress.
I felt like I was having a heart attack every 90 seconds for 4 hours. By the end of the night, I (and everyone around me) sounded like I had been smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for fifty years. I’m only 25. I’ve never even had 1 cigarette.
But I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Last night was a “Where were you when” moment.
As I took the subway home and the train started to clear out with every stop, I sat there and thought to myself, “What the hell just happened?”
I was still in shock. The game ended and I went into instant celebration mode with the fans around me. I couldn’t even tell you what the first three minutes of the celebration on the field looked like.
When I got home, I refuelled with a pack of timbits (Americans call them, “donut holes”) from Tim Hortons and re-watched the game on the PVR and skipped ahead to the big moments. I knew how the game ended, but still got nervous watching it. And when the Blue Jays won, I had to rewind it and watch the ending over and over and over again.
I have goosebumps just writing that.
I don’t know what the Blue Jays will do the rest of the way, but last night was euphoric. No matter what happens, I’ll always have those memories.
Now if only I could get my voice back…