TORONTO – With an exceptionally long and chilly winter finally beginning to draw to a close, GTA residents are once again teeming with excitement for the warm spring weather and – more to the point – another thrilling season of baseball at Toronto’s iconic Rogers Centre.
Formerly known as the SkyDome, the Rogers Centre has been the home of the Jays since 1989, when the team moved into the brand-new stadium from its original (now long-gone) outdoor venue at Exhibition Stadium. One of the stadium’s biggest perks is its enviable location in Toronto’s booming South Core neighbourhood – just steps from Union Station, the Air Canada Centre and the CN Tower.
A wealth of nearby restaurants, vibrant game-night atmosphere, and reasonable pricing – 2014 tickets can be bought online for as little as $11 each – have helped make the dome a popular summertime destination, whether it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon or a brisk weekday evening. There are also 81 home games in each season, giving you a gigantic selection to choose from, including “Premium Game” matchups against vaunted rivals like the New York Yankees.
2014 season preview: high stakes, roads to redemption — and a whole lot of free pizza
If you keep an eye on Toronto sports then you’re probably already aware that the Toronto Blue Jays have a lot on the line, following an injury-strewn 2013 season that ultimately ended with the Jays unable to secure a playoff spot last October.
After the previous off-season’s blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins – one that saw Toronto acquiring multiple stars from down south – it’s been a relatively quiet winter in the Jays front office, with team management currently bracing to double down on a lean and largely homegrown 2014 roster.
That having been said, the team did make several fine-tuning moves this winter. For the benefit of casual Jays fans – or regular GTA Real Estate News readers hoping to dive into the game this year – here’s a quick primer on what to look forward to in April.
- While the Jays bullpen remains largely unchanged from 2013, the team’s rotation of starting pitchers for 2014 has been tweaked to include Brandon Morrow and Drew Hutchison, who’ve both missed playing time in recent seasons due to injury. Don’t bother looking for 2013 starter Josh Johnson, who ended the season as a free agent and is now signed with the San Diego Padres.
- Gone also this season is long-time Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, who signed with the Texas Rangers after a disappointing season in 2013. This year the Jays will feature a “humungous on-field upgrade” in newly-acquired primary catcher Dioner Navarro.
- Rookie infield sensation Ryan Goins, who dazzled with his glove during a small stretch of call-up appearances late last season, will likely have a chance to prove his offensive worth this season, as he looks to take over erstwhile second-baseman Emilio Bonifacio’s everyday starting duties in 2014. (No firm word, yet, on what fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki’s role will be in the franchise this season.)
- Another favourite tradition of weekend Jays games is the awarding of free pizza to fans if the home team’s pitchers manage to put up seven or more strikeouts. This year the promotion’s official slice vendor is switching from Pizza Pizza to fellow hometown favourites Pizza Nova, a move that we doubt will disappoint loyal fans.
This year’s Jays squad – also featuring beloved franchise sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion – is off to a solid start, having already nailed down two series wins against the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles. They’re currently on a road trip, but will be back in Toronto on April 22 to face the Orioles once again in a three-game series at home.
For ticket packages, team info, and more, you can visit the team’s official web site at www.bluejays.com. We’ll see you at the diamond!