The Yankees clinched the American League East with three games to go. The Blue Jays’ season came to an end when Roy Halliday fell apart in June. Heck, Reuben Sierra managed the Yankees for the day. Despite the game’s futility, my road trip to Toronto for the final game of the regular season was well worth it.My friends and I hit the road at 8:50 a.m. After hitting the border at 10:05 a.m., we reached Toronto at 11:20 a.m. As we exited the highway and approached the SkyDome, we watched the retractable roof inch its way open. We searched for a parking lot, settling near the Air Canada Centre. The price seemed steep at $20, but the other lots were $25, so this was a bargain. We, of course, didn’t have any Canadian money, so we paid $20 US – no change. The rip-off we experienced would be made back in the next 15 minutes.As we walked to the stadium, we were swarmed by scalpers – those preseason ticket purchases don’t really pay off when you finish last. We decided to check the box office. Good move. Although the Yankees were a premium opponent, this was a “value” game. Instead of the normal $9, the entire upper deck was $2 – Canadian! As I attempted to pay $6 US, the attendant handed back my one-dollar bill. With the three tickets, she returned $.50. I would be watching the New York Yankees play a regular season game for $1.50. That’s six Jays’ games for the price of one bleacher seat at Yankee Stadium. We took a lap around the concourse, searching for good batting practice seats. After a quick bite, we settled behind third base. But the backstop was missing, and so were the players. Damn, there is no batting practice the day game after a night game. This gave us some more time to explore and find better seats. We wandered down to the visitor’s dugout and decided to sit in the second row until we were asked to move. In the second inning, Derek Jeter hit an RBI double, Alex Rodriguez sacrificed home Dioner Navarro, and Gary Sheffield nearly took my head off with a foul ball. Fortunately, the man sitting in front of me made a great catch, and in a classy move, gave the ball to a kid sitting a few rows back. I’m still waiting for my first foul ball.The Yanks were still leading in the fourth and we still had the best seats in the house. As the Blue Jays came to bat in the bottom half of the inning, two girls arrived and asked us to move from their seats. Who shows up in the fourth inning? With the lower deck nearly full, we went to the nosebleeds. As we hiked up the ramp to the 500s, we discovered that there were no 300s or 400s – that’s Canada, eh? Maybe it’s because we were coming from perfect seats, but compared to the 14 other stadiums I’ve visited, this upper deck seemed unusually high. We sat behind a group of teenagers – all Jays’ fans. Whenever Jeter batted, he was booed loudly, as expected. Former Blue Jay John Olerud was still loved. Claiming to be “the fastest grounds crew in baseball,” the Jays’ grounds crew sent about six men out to each base as they raced to rake the field. After “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the crowd joined in the Jays’ theme song and dance. I don’t remember how it goes, only that it made “Meet the Mets” seem like it was composed by Beethoven.With the game tied, Carlos Delgado came to the plate in what might be his last at-bat as a Blue Jay. In another classy move by Jays’ fans, he received a standing ovation. With two outs in the ninth and Delgado on deck, Vernon Wells lined out to end the game.After finding the car, we sat in gridlock for 25 minutes. Then we sat in traffic for four and a half more hours. Despite the traffic and the overpriced parking, a good time was had by all. If you plan to make the trip next season, remember to check for those “value” games, and you might want to take the ferry, if it ever runs again.Swidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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