Take Me Out To The Ball Game: A Beginner’s Guide To The Ballpark

Attending a minor league baseball game in Canada is an experience that can’t be beaten, especially in Vancouver during the summer and even more so as a big (or small) fan of the great game. I spent a perfect, sunny afternoon at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium, eating concession goodies, learning about the history of baseball in Vancouver and watching America’s (and Canada’s, depending on who you ask) favorite past-time.

“Daddy! That hotdog is the biggest you’ve had here! ” says the seven-year-old Danielle, dressed head-to-toe in Canadians gear. Her and her father Steve are here to see the fireworks display and Danielle let’s me know that she’s been here, “more times than you can imagine.” The Vancouver Canadians do a stand-up job of making this game exciting for not only kids, but the entire family. Parents can dine on sushi and Asahi beer before/during the game, and on the left-hand side of the park, there’s an entire section just for kids that houses a bouncy castle. The Canadians mascot Bob Brown Bear can be seen partaking in the fun that’s created by the youngest generation.

Just over the inside walls of this beautiful ballpark, there are images of some of baseball’s greatest players (Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Lou Gehrig, and Babe “The Great Bambino” Ruth, just to name a few) that greet you into the game. Vancouver sports artist, Jennifer Ettinger’s paintings are hung just underneath the

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Nat Bailey Stadium sign and it’s almost as if the heroes of baseball’s past are waving you inside.

The best seats in the house are without a doubt in sections 1 and 10. Section 10 is known as the rowdy section of the stadium, being compared to the Southsiders section during Vancouver Whitecaps games. Those who sit in section 10 are here for the romance behind baseball and you can’t fault them for being loud when a home-run is hit out of the park.

During this particular game and in the sixth inning, the Canadians grounds crews comes out to make sure the grass and dirt around the bases are looking as good as they did when the crowds came in before the game started. The grounds crew put on a tremendously fun rendition of The Beegees “Staying Alive,” dancing around with their rakes and even in the crowd, the twentysomethings get up and move around to the classic song we all know the words to. This is just another exciting part of the night that the Canadians give to us all.


In the seventh inning, also known as the “seventh-inning stretch” the entire stadium erupts in song and arms are slung over friends/families shoulders as the words to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, “So it’s root, root, root for the Canadia-aaans, if they don’t win it’s a shame! For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the o-o-old ball game!” is sang by those young and old.

If you’re looking for a bite to eat or a cold beer, right after the seventh inning stretch it the best time. To get the full Canadians concession experience, you’ll want to order the “Fungo Dog” . Vancouver’s own Big Lou’s Butchershop teamed up with the Canadians to create the two-foot hot-dog, a feat that only the most hungry of fans dare to try and I, admittedly could only have about half of it without feeling as if I was at the Thanksgiving table.

Even though the Boise Hawks took the game 5-4, the Canadians gave them a hell of a run for their money. The Hawks led 5-0 going into the ninth inning, but the Canadians loaded up the bases with no outs where Jordan Leyland hit a two-run double followed by an RBI single by Mike Reeves to make it 5-3. Another RBI by Justin Atkinson made the game 5-4, but Hawks pitcher Tyler Bremer struck out Andy Fermin. Bremer picked up his third save of the season. If some of that language is confusing to you at all, you’re not alone. There were some fans in the stadium tonight who aren’t interested in stats, it’s the passion these young ballplayers have that they come to watch.

The excitement you can almost see flowing out of both dugouts, eagerly waiting for their turn to bat, chasing the dream of one day playing in the Major Leagues beside those who’ve inspired them to get where they are now. It’s the same for the younger generation who are watching these players from the stands, those who bring their glove to the park (this is a must), who don’t ever miss a game, those who trade baseball cards at lunch or recess, who have Jose Bautista’s jersey on night and day. It’s a beautiful realization that can only be obtained by coming out to Nat Bailey Stadium and enjoying a night of baseball. If you come on any number of the nights that have a fireworks display, it’ll be an even better experience for you. “A great end to a great night,” says Jeff to his girlfriend Alexis, who are sitting beside me watching the sky light up. Truer words were never spoken, Jeff.


Five Accessories for the Everyday Cyclist

There’s no doubt that Vancouver is a city that loves its bicycles. There are too many bike routes, bike lanes, and bike-friendly neighborhoods for you not to own one if you’re living in the Vancouver city-limits. Think of the all the money you save on bus passes or gas during the summer! C’mon now, I know you don’t like shelling out almost $100 on the 1st of each month or $50 every time you need to fill your tank! Whether you’re tandem bike-riding on the seawall, couriering important documents across the downtown core or riding your single-speed up Main Street, here’s five bike accessories you shouldn’t be caught without.


Starting 5: TGIF – 5 Questions I Have About MIA vs. CHI

With the scene shifting to different cities and all four series squared up at one apiece, let’s look into five burning questions about Friday’s headliner between the Heat and Bulls. This series on the eastcoast is really heating up, even notorious fans are getting into the mix.


Five Baseball Films You Should’ve Seen By Now

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do: I stare out the window and wait for Spring.” – Rogers Hornsby. You could turn on any one of the great baseball films out there and dream about the Springtime, opening day, the smell of fresh cut grass in the outfield, the sound of cracking bats and the atmosphere of a stadium after a home-run. I’m counting down my top five favorite baseball movies, a knuckle-ball full of nostalgia and love for the game.


Starting 5: 1st Impressions of the NBA Post-Season

To put this in the most celebratory way possible, the playoffs are the official “weekend” of the NBA season. Not in the sense that it’s a time to necessarily relax, but instead a time where every game should be approached in the most cherished way possible – making the absolute most out of every second and every possession like it’s your last. And hopefully if by the end of it you’ve played your cards right, things should result in glorious fountains of champagne pouring. Silly, far-reaching metaphors intact, let’s look at the first round of our “weekend” and share the potential storylines that may play major factors in getting us to the promised land. Let’s get to it!


Starting 5: On Shaq

For most of us in our mid twenties, we are hitting the prime of our lives with the most exciting and drastic changes to come, but at the same time, it’s settling in that we’re creeping toward the wrong side of our youth. Case in point, as far as sports go, we’re now able to say that we’ve watched players go through whole careers. Ie. We remember things like Iverson crossing up Jordan 16 years ago as if it was yesterday. SIXTEEN!



Elevated Basketball Court by J1Arquitectos

If only we had this type of court installed at our high school! We would have practiced more, never left this basketball nest and would be hooping in the NBA at this very moment. Damn these Spaniard students, if I was the architect of this structure

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I would be a little disappointed if I didn’t see at least one kid shooting around in there at every hour of the day. Enough about me and my what ifs, have a look at the wondrous work of University professor, artist and architect – Guzmán de Yarza Blache. Salute the man!


NBA 2012-2013: Dunks of the Year (So Far)

The dunk, a slam, jam, alley oop and all of the above, above the rim. Here’s a nice quick hitting review of our 5 favourite in-game dunks (+ some honourable mentions) so far from this 2012-2013 NBA Season. A lot of worthy candidates over the past couple weeks, we rank ‘em 1 through 5 with a pair of honourable mentions.


Petition to Bring the NBA Back to Vancouver

Attention all Vancouverites, and all Canadians for that matter: life would be so much

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better with an NBA team back in our hometown, no? I know you’ve heard this all before but now it’s time to quit complaining and actually take some action. Had I known about this petition when it first began last May I would’ve been sharing this like a blunt at the VAG on 4/20. Some noble organizers have put together this petition addressed to none other than Canuck owner, Mr. Francesco Aquilini (and David Stern), vying for our beloved ball team to return home.

For this petition to have started 9 months in May 2012 and only be at 1,563 signatures is ridiculous.

Help Reach the Goal of 10,000 HERE!

Story via vancitybuzz.com