Because of the breakfast situation on Tuesday, several people – at least one from each room – went on an excursion to the grocery store to pick up items for the remaining morning meals in Surrey before heading off to Japan.
Penny was the shopper from my room and all I had ordered was Corn Flakes. I wasn’t about to cook up eggs for myself and I figured if I didn’t finish them all I could travel with the cereal, so I thought it was a good choice. But since I am not really used to waking up early and eating breakfast first thing in the morning – baseball life – I wasn’t hungry on Wednesday morning so I opted out of eating. I still need to adjust to the three-square-meals-a-day-at-certain-times-and-likely-nothing-else thing.
Before we took off for the field, Penny and I had to drop off the lunch order for the team to Subway. With the various travelling and activities and everything weighing on me a little bit, I didn’t get a chance to get a run in over the course of the morning and instead I slept as much as I could.
For some reason the GPS on my phone wasn’t working, to get us to the Subway and the field. I had just used it on Tuesday for the same destinations but for some reason it wouldn’t give me directions. Instead I relied on my memory, which I was a little worried about – just because I had Penny with me and I really didn’t want to make myself look like an idiot – but it was solid. I don’t know why I doubted it, since I can still remember over a hundred digits of pi for no apparent reason, after learning them in the first year of high school, but you know. So we made it to drop of sub orders and then even to Whalley Athletic Park in Surrey.
After having two-time All-Star Shawn Green at the first practice for the Canadian Women’s National Team on Tuesday, Hall of Fame second baseman and Toronto Blue Jays ambassador Roberto Alomar came out to practice on Wednesday. The 12-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, and four-time Silver Slugger came to Vancouver JUST for the women’s team. He flew in late Tuesday night, stayed with the team for morning and afternoon practices at the ballpark, and flew out in the afternoon on Wednesday.
Not only that, but he brought everyone hoodies. I was included, too. I should mention though that I do have an Alomar Baseball-Baseball Canada hooded sweatshirt already because when Alomar came as a guest coach of the Junior National Team to St. Petersburg, Florida during spring training, he brought a whole bunch for the boys. I saw them and asked where I could get one and he told me they had only made them special for the team and staff. I must have had a pretty disheartened look on my face because then he gave me the sweatshirt straight off his back.
Also, I wrote about his time with the juniors, and that story can be found here.
Again, I took a lot of pictures of the team practicing, especially the infielders working with the Hall of Famer. I also talked to the native of Puerto Rico about his experience with the women’s team and working with Baseball Canada so much and putting in a big effort for Canadian baseball. Then I talked to shortstop Bradi Wall about working with Alomar, and their story can be found right here.
When lunchtime came around, I headed to Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium once more. I needed wifi to get some work done and I was planning on being there for the afternoon to interview a couple more players before leaving Vancouver anyway. Plus, the team would be joining me for the game in the evening as the Canadians hosted the Boise Hawks.
I arrived to the ballpark just after the Vancouver Canadians had completed their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. After being nominated by Conor Glassey on Tuesday to complete such a thing, I made arrangements to do mine at the field with the women’s team on Thursday. It is supposed to happen within 24 hours, but since the real idea behind the social media frenzy is to raise awareness and funds for research and finding a cure – and I already donated to ALS Canada several weeks earlier – I didn’t think another day would matter much.
But I just missed the Canadians front office staff completing theirs as a team, so I anxiously awaited the video as I sat in the press box and finished some work and filed a story or two. I also managed to upload the pictures I had taken to Facebook and then went for lunch nearby before I could get anyone I needed for an interview.
I went to a great burger place on Main Street, and have no idea what it was called. But there was an even better bakery right in front of where I had parked, so I stopped in there on my way back to the car. I had something called a Chunky Monkey, a piece of banana bread-croissant-almond-chocolate loaf or something that was so delicious I downed it before I could even take a picture to post with this paragraph. My bad. Or, since I am learning a little French from the national team members from Quebec, c’est ma faute. I felt that was an important phrase for me to start with.
When I got back to the diamond, I talked to Roemon Fields, an outfielder for Vancouver from the Seattle area. He is a really interesting guy and before he was picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays, he was working for the post office with his dad. The story might take a while for me to get to because my priority at the moment is obviously to the Women’s National Team, but it will be good whenever I write it. I promise.
Then I ran into Blake Davis, one of the Blue Jays scouts Nathan had introduced me to at the Everett AquaSox game on Saturday. He was with Brian Parker, Toronto’s scouting director, so we sat and chatted for a while. We talked about Luke Willson, formerly a Blue Jays farmhand and currently a SuperBowl champion tight end with the Seattle Seahawks, if you haven’t read enough of my description of him so far (like here). The story on him will be a great one, so definitely have patience for that. We talked some football, some Vancouver and area, a little bit about my sweet job and the fact that I get to go to Japan and it also brought me to where I am currently, and then I told them they should be sure to get up to the press box to get the best view in the house from the roof. At least for a couple pictures.
I tried to direct them for lunch to the places I had gone but it was impossible since I didn’t know street names or anything. I told them to go straight three blocks and left two blocks, and I have no idea whether they tried or not.
Then I interviewed Mike Reeves about joining the team and being with a playoff contender, working with another new staff this year, as the team’s catcher, and being back home in Canada.
I went back to the press box to get more work done before Team Canada was scheduled to arrive. They had gone out to dinner in the area, but were to be on time to go on the field for a pre-game ceremony, and they also asked if I could arrange for someone to be on the pre-game radio show. I asked Amanda Asay to do it because she has been on the team for some time and is also a native of British Columbia, being from Prince George. I thought she would be a good fit and she did a great job.
When she was done, we all went to our seats in the stands – with my stuff still in the press box – before the team filed out onto the field for a quick introduction, a couple of pictures, a wave, and that was about it. I have to say though, that the Vancouver Canadians staff was so helpful with everything throughout my entire time around the team and the facility, and they were great with the women’s squad and everything that had to happen. It was much appreciated and I hope to get back there soon.
I went back up to the press box pretty soon into the game, to try and work some more and get whatever done I could. I took some pictures from the roof, which was apparently very worrisome for the people in the press box who didn’t know what I was doing, but it worked out okay. I even managed to get a couple decent shots of Mike Reeves up to bat with the brand of his bat showing, because his provider had asked if I might be able to do that. It worked out.
There were post-game fireworks on Wednesday because weather or something had delayed them from another day, so that was awesome. I like fireworks. Plus, I had to wait a little while to leave because I was heading to one of the team’s host families’ houses for dinner after the matchup. They were so kind as to invite me over and I am glad I went because I had a great time.
The host father told a lot of stories about his work and his boat breaking down – rich people problems – and his horses at the track, and all of that kind of stuff, and then the host mom was filling me in on some of the players they had hosted over the years, guys like Nick Swisher and some other big names. It was pretty cool. Dinner had a southern theme and reminded me of my time in Oklahoma, eating chicken-fried steak, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes with white gravy, and maybe a beer or two. I stayed long enough for the beer to wear off and then headed back to the hotel.
It was the first time throughout my stay in the Vancouver area that I didn’t run into any traffic. It was great. But when I got back I realized my key wasn’t working. I guess I had put the hotel key card next to my phone or something and it deactivated the strip. The guy working at the desk was giving me a hard time and asking me to get identification so that I could get in, but I was so tired that I didn’t want to go all the way back to the car to get it and I told him it was in the room. He hesitated for a long time but eventually let me up and let me end my day.