I’m going to tell you something you probably didn’t know.
Toronto is a baseball city.
No, I’m serious. I know you probably don’t know this — especially if you don’t live here. You have to really experience it to know what I’m talking about. But just trust me.
Toronto. Is. A. Baseball. City.
Don’t believe me?
Check this out …
It’s the night before Game 1 of the 2015 ALDS against the Rangers. First time since 1993 — since Joe Carter — that the Blue Jays are in the postseason. You can feel the buzz around the city.
Some of my teammates and I go to the Air Canada Centre for the Maple Leafs game. The Leafs hooked us up, too. We got Leafs jerseys with our names on the back and everything. It was awesome.
So you got me and a bunch of my guys coolin’ it up in the box, and the arena goes dark. Up on the jumbotron, they play this sick Blue Jays hype video, wishing us luck in the postseason.
But that’s not even the coolest part.
After the video, the lights come back on and the camera pans to us up in the box. So we’re on the jumbotron, and the whole building goes nuts. Everybody’s clapping, cheering — the crowd just lost it.
Then the puck drops, and the whole arena breaks out in a chant.
Let’s go, Blue Jays!
Let’s go, Blue Jays!
I got chills.
We had a Blue Jays chant going … in a hockey arena … in Canada.
That’s baseball city status.
But Toronto isn’t just a baseball city. Let’s face it: Hockey is No. 1 in Canada. So Toronto is a hockey city. It’s also a basketball city these days with all the buzz around what Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are doing with the Raps. Then you got Drake, Bieber, The Weeknd — so it’s also a music city. It’s a fashion city. A food city.
And across all these industries, everybody shows love.
The Leafs show love to the Blue Jays. Drake and the other artists show love to us and the Raps. Nobody’s trying to dominate the city. They just rep The 6ix. And if you also rep The 6ix, they got your back.
Nothin’ but love.
That’s why Toronto is my favorite city.
Which I can say truthfully because when I got drafted by the Blue Jays out of Duke in 2012, I was pretty upset about it. I didn’t want to go to Canada. I didn’t know anything about Toronto. All I knew was that it wasn’t New York, where I’m from. It wasn’t Duke. It was Canada. It was a different country.
But like I said, to understand Toronto, you have to really experience Toronto. You have to be there.
When I got called up in 2014, that’s when I got to truly experience Toronto, and I learned that it’s such a hip and trendy city — very up on the times. Perfect for a young guy like me. It’s a small city in the sense that it’s not overwhelming. I live right downtown, so I’m a five-minute walk from the Rogers Centre or a Raps game or a Leafs game. I’m 10 minutes from the sickest restaurants in the city.
I just fell in love.
I remember the first time I really felt like Toronto was my city. I had been up in the major leagues for about three months, and it was one of those Toronto summer days — afternoon game, sun out, dome open. We played the Tigers and I threw against Max Scherzer. I went nine innings, gave up two runs on four hits. I didn’t get the win, but we won in extra innings.
To understand Toronto, you have to really experience Toronto. You have to be there.
That was the game where I realized, I’m here to stay. I’m here to not only play, but I’m here to dominate.
That was the day I knew I belonged in the major leagues.
After the game, me and my guy Aaron Sanchez went to Oasis, the rooftop patio over at Wayne Gretzky’s, to eat. There were tons of Blue Jays fans, some wearing my jersey. The highlights from the game came on TV, and everybody stopped what they were doing. It was surreal to be sitting there, seeing everybody so tuned in and cheering, knowing that it had been me out on the mound in that game.
People were looking at the TV, then looking back at us. They recognized me and Sanchy and started coming up to us to say what’s up. And everybody was so cool. Just giving love. It was awesome.
That was the day I knew I belonged in Toronto.
Those two moments — out on the rooftop that night in 2014 and at the Leafs game a year later — are both so gratifying for me, but for very different reasons.
After that night on the rooftop, I felt like I had made it. I was at home on the mound, and in my city.
But in between that night and that Leafs game, I had probably the craziest year of my life.
via Marcus Stroman, The 6ix | The Players’ Tribune and photos Getty Images
Please comment below and share