Jays From the Couch brings you a die hard fan’s perspective of the Toronto Blue Jays 2022 Home Opener
Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase
Have you ever had a “home away from home”? The Rogers Centre is that for me. It’s where I go to indulge my passion for the Toronto Blue Jays. After my husband, our cats, and (most days) extended family and friends, there is nothing I love more in the world than the Toronto Blue Jays.
I remember my late father taking me to a Jays game at old Exhibition Stadium back in the late 70s. I would have been around 12 or 13 at the time. The Jays were an expansion team and they weren’t very good. They lost by a lot, and in spite of that, there was something very interesting about the sport itself.
Life got in the way for several years and my baseball fandom went to the back burner for a number of years. Then in September of 1992, for my birthday, it was my father again who took me, my stepmother and younger brother to a Jays game. Even though they also lost that game, this time I was hooked. The “baseball bug” bit me on that day and I have never looked back.
I’ve been a die hard Jays fan through the good and the bad. I was over the moon to watch them win back to back World Series championships in 1992/1993. I stuck with them through a playoff drought that lasted from 1994-2014. I suffered through the players’ strike of 1994-1995 and the lockout of December 2, 2021 – March 10, 2022.
And there was Covid 19.
The world has been turned upside down for the last two years. Not to minimize the most serious part of the pandemic, people who have died or lost a family member or friend to Covid. As we all know, much of normal life has been disrupted as those in charge did what they thought was best to keep people as safe as possible, and try to get back to normal life.
It meant that MLB played a 60 game regular season schedule in 2020 The Blue Jays were denied permission to play that season in Canada. Out of necessity they called Buffalo home that season. The hope was that things might be back to normal in time for the 2021 season. It was and it wasn’t. 2021 saw a normal length regular season of 162 games. However, due to ongoing Covid 19 waves, the Jays were once again denied permission to start the season in their actual home.
It was heartbreaking to watch them play their “home games” in Dunedin for the first two months of 2021. A big part of home field advantage is supposed to be having the fans on your side, but they were anything but. The fans that did show up were, for the most part, fans of the visiting team. They moved to Buffalo for June and most of July and things were better, most of the time. It just wasn’t really home.
Then in early July, rumours began that they would be allowed back in to Toronto, with fans allowed to attend. It was official on July 16, 2021 and on July 30, the Jays played their first game back at Rogers Centre in almost two years.
It was both joyful and bizarre to go to a “home opener” on July 30th, on the 100th game of 162. Sure it was great to finally have them back home and be able to attend, but it wasn’t the same as an actual home opener.
Flash forward to April 8, 2022, the beginning of a new season whose existence was once again threatened, this time by a work stoppage rather than Covid.
My husband and I have gone to the Jays home opener every year since 2002, just after we started dating. It’s emotional for me every year, and especially so this year. Each year the off season comes, the snow and cold weather mirroring how I feel as I count the days, waiting for the Jays to come back.
This year it was extra special.
The first true home opener in three years. The last time there was one, in 2019, Jays fans could only debate how bad the team would be that season. The answer was, pretty bad! At 67-95, only the Baltimore Orioles at 54-108 prevented them from being dead last in the AL East.
Now, just three seasons later, the outlook around the Jays couldn’t be more different. Young players, many of whom made their MLB debut in 2018 or 2019, have grown up as players in the organization, and they now form the core of this team. Management has supplemented the team with free agents and trades and many have picked the Jays to represent the AL in the 2022 World Series, possibly even win it!
At long last, Opening Day had arrived!
The atmosphere was electric, in front of a sold out Rogers Centre. Renovations to the Rogers Centre have begun, including a new 1080p HD scoreboard and new LED lights around the stadium. It really had the feel of being a show.
Pregame ceremonies included presentations of 2021 silver slugger awards to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Teoscar Hernandez and Marcus Semien who is now with the visiting Texas Rangers. Guerrero Jr also received his 2021 Hank Aaron award.
Then there was the game itself. Down 4-0 before the Jays ever came up to bat and 7-0 before the home side pushed any runs across home plate, lesser teams might have given up. Not these Blue Jays! They came all the way back for a 10-8 victory in what felt like a playoff atmosphere for game 1 of 162.
If Opening Night is any indication, we are in store for a special season.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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