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The boys in blue, the politicians in red

Inside the Rogers Centre, there were plenty of Jays fans with eyes on both ballot boxes and the batter’s box


 
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman tips his cap to the crowd after being pulled from the game against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/AP/CP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman tips his cap to the crowd after being pulled from the game against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning in Game 3 of baseball’s American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/AP/CP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Carlos Pineda walked through the Rogers Centre turnstile like a man ready to play second base, if need be: Tight grey ball pants. Black socks rolled up to the knee. Blue Jays jersey with a matching cap. In other words, he looked like a fan way too distracted by the euphoria of October baseball to bother casting a vote.

“Oh no, I did,” said Pineda, a mechanical engineer who lives in west-end Toronto. “I made a point to make sure I voted first. That is a higher priority, regardless of the playoffs. You have to do it.”

Initial stereotyping aside, Pineda turned out to be the ideal citizen on Monday night: a Canadian who cared as much about ballot boxes as the batter’s box. “It’s great that we’re actually having playoff baseball here,” he continued, a white rally towel dangling from his back pocket. “At the same time, it’s a pivotal moment for the country. It puts everything into perspective: Have fun, but do your civic duty.”

The 38-year-old even made sure to fully charge his cellphone, ensuring it would have plenty of power when the election results started rolling in. “I’ll be following,” he said. (For the record, he voted NDP.)

Not everyone who scored Game 3 tickets was quite as civic-minded. For many who filled the stands, let’s be honest, only one victory mattered: a Jays victory. And, in all fairness to those diehard believers, a baseball stadium (especially one with a giant roof) is supposed to be a bubble, a temporary escape from real-life matters such as federal politics.

But, for one night, at least, the final score was not the only thing that mattered at the old ball game. Even as Jays hitters piled on runs against Kansas City Royals pitching—for an 11-8 final—some delirious spectators found time to scroll through their mobile phones, anxious to know who the next prime minister would be. “The guy beside me has been checking all game,” said Karli Mueler, who voted Liberal in her King City, Ont., riding before driving to the game. “It is a big deal.”

Think of ducking out of your daughter’s school recital to check the score—only in reverse. That was the Rogers Centre on election night. “I would have been torn if I didn’t have one of these,” said Derek Tilley, 46, holding up his phone. “But now you can kill two birds with one stone.”

Kill being the appropriate word.

The game was barely an inning old when the first batch of results started trickling in from Atlantic Canada—an eventual shutout for Trudeau’s Liberals, 32-0. By the second inning (after clutch two-out hits from Ryan Goins and Josh Donaldson put the Jays up 3-0), more than one observant tweeter pointed out the obvious: that the boys in blue had scored three more than the party in blue.

Like Liberal fortunes, the Jays offence continued to soar in the bottom of the third: a three-run homerun from shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, deep over the centrefield fence. A violent double from Kevin Pillar, scoring the lone Canadian in the lineup, catcher Russell Martin, born and raised in Montreal. Then another homer, this one a no-doubter to left off the bat of Josh Donaldson (the undisputed American League MVP, if only Canadians were allowed to vote on that, too).

By the bottom of the fourth—the Jays up 9-2, the clock a little past 9:30 p.m.—the projections started coming from the Canadian networks: a Liberal government, total seat count to be determined. “I’ve been checking everything, from CBC to Vice,” said Adam Bishop, a 29-year-old dressed in his obligatory dark-blue Jays jersey. “I’m hoping they make an announcement on the Jumbotron.”

They didn’t. Even by 10:45 p.m.—when it was clear that Trudeau had not just won, but won a majority—no official announcement was made. History came and went without an official acknowledgement to the assembled crowd.

Instead, fans focused on the immediate task at hand: jeering the home plate umpire, who ejected Tulowitzki because he wouldn’t stop arguing balls and strikes. The shortstop had to be restrained by bench coach DeMarlo Hale, but he eventually walked into the clubhouse and out of view.

Something Stephen Harper is about to understand.


 

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