Stade Olympique: Part Deux! (3/29/2014)
On the morning of Saturday, March 29, 2014, we woke up in our hotel room and looked out the windows:
It was a great day for baseball! A great day for indoor baseball, that is. We were excite for our second game at Stade Olympique.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a little place in the shops of Dupuis Place (I think that’s what it is called), and then headed down the stairs to the Metro. Remember how I said the subway was really a bunch of linked-up electric buses? Here’s proof:
Kellan grabbed a window seat so he could watch the stops fly by.
Michel was waiting at the gates already. The pre-gate scene looked a lot like it had the day before:
We had seen most of the stadium the night before, but one place we never ventured was the right field bleachers. So that is where we decided to start off at this game:
It took about thirty seconds before we noticed the ramifications of the guy falling out of the bleachers the night before. See those guys:
They were huddling and talking about the fall – that’s where the guy landed, on his head.
Now, look up at the cross-aisle two photos above. It is a nice, wide aisle with a very reasonable set of railings. You’ll see in a few more pictures that the railing is taller than Kellan, almost as tall as Tim, and higher than my waist. (By way of contrast, check out the crazy short railings at Tropicana Field [http://mlblogscookandsonbats.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/14-low-railing.jpg]). You would really have to try to fall over that thing, which is almost what happened. The guy climbed on the railing to try to start the wave. That’s just irresponsible spectating.
But when it’s the first baseball game in a particular stadium in a decade and a guy nearly falls to his death, the stadium staff are bound to change some things. And that this game, they first announced that we had to *stand back* from the railing. So, at first, we were standing in the cross-aisle, but a couple feet off of the railing. But that wasn’t good enough. A supervisor type yelled up from the bullpen area to the usher standing next to us and directed her to get everyone completely out of the cross-aisle and behind the glass that lined the first row of seats.
So if you look back at the panorama above, you can see that Tim is behind the glass and the cross-aisle is mostly open, other than people walking from place to place.
When I tried started to try to take a picture of the boys, the usher offered to take our picture – in the super dangerous cross-aisle by the forbidden railing:
And, apparently before we returned to our safe spot behind the glass, Kellan snapped this picture of a happy little Tim:
At one point, Juan Lagares tossed a baseball to Greg Barasch, who was several rows above us and a section over toward RF. Greg came over to show us that it was a 2011 All-Star ball.
Hmm…it would be nice to get one of those. We’d NEVER catch an All-Star ball – or any baseball with multi-colored laces.
Eventually, some Met (by the way, although the stadium opened two hours early (at 11:00 a.m.), the Blue Jays were long gone by the time the fans were let into the park) hit a homerun in our direction. I got a late start on it, and eventually ran down into the cross-aisle, reached my glove arm over the super-dangerous railing, and just got a piece of it at the very end of the pinky finger of my glove.
The ball deflected off of my glove and back onto the field. Some unidentified Mets pitcher (a guy with a beard – maybe, Bobby Parnell, but I’m not sure) watched this all happen. He immediately fielded the ball and tossed it right back to me.
Thanks, unidentified guy/maybe Bobby Parnell!
And, guess what? It was a 2011 All-Star game ball! (FYI, that was the All-Star game at Chase Field in Arizona).
At this point, it didn’t seem like everyone was being forced to stay in the seats in LF, so we decided to head over there.
After a long walk, we discovered that the same rule, indeed, was in effect in LF:
But Tim tried to break the rules and stay out in the cross-aisle…
…, which he managed to do for a while, before ultimately being told to get back into the seats with the rest of us.
BP was pretty much dead. Not many homeruns being hit. Not many baseballs being tossed up into the crowd. Not many Mets I recognized. And really loud music being blared in our faces from the make-shift Stade Olympique sound system.
Avi, Michel, Chris and Greg were all over in LF at this point too. At one point, I heard Greg say something to Bobby Parnell.
Ah, ha! We knew a player’s name! (I’m still not sure if it was Parnell who tossed us the ball in RF).
Almost immediately after learning which guy was Parnell, a baseball was hit to him. We (and Greg) called out to Parnell and, much to Greg’s non-delight, Parnell tossed the ball to us. And guess what?
It was a 2012 (Kansas City) All-Star ball! (Probably my favorite All-Star ball over the last decade).
Thanks, Bobby! (Sorry about the Tom Johnny!)
After BP, we went up into the back corner of the section 151 (the CF-most section of the LF bleachers) to take a panorama and chat with the rest of the guys. While we were up there, Chris took this shot for us:
Here is the panorama I took up there…
…and here is the scene generally:
Next, everyone decided it was time to go explore the stadium. We all started by exiting the bleachers through the tunnels that empty into the lower field level concourse. The boys and I had been in that part of the concourse the day before and it is a HUGE open area. When we all walked into the concourse, someone had the bright idea that we should play catch. And so we did:
Check out all of this room:
We tossed the ball every-which-a-way between Greg, Chris, Me and Tim, with period grounders in to Kellan in the middle. By the way, no one was walking around in this area of the concourse because the concourse ended just behind Tim and Greg (that’s where the construction area begins).
At one point, a security guard walked right by us. He literally walked ten feet from me and Tim on the back side of the concourse, and he didn’t even bat an eye at the fact that we playing catch.
The boys were getting thirsty, so we headed off to get some water. The rest of the guys all headed off to wherever it was they were going to explore. But after we got some water, Tim wanted to play some more catch. So we headed back to the big open concourse area.
As Tim threw the ball off the wall to himself, Kellan showed off our two All-Star balls:
Then I threw a bunch of pop flies to Tim over the various pipes…
…and then Tim made me throw him a bunch of *line drives* he had to run for so he could make what he labeled as *epic catches*!
Eventually, we decided to walk around a bit. We passed by the Expos-stuff-area where was found Andre Dawson’s 1983 N.L. Silver Slugger Award and his (broken) 1980 N.L. Gold Glove Award:
We made our way around home plate in the concourse. Here are some random shots of what the concourse looks like back there:
Eventually, we popped out into the field level seats on the 1B side. On the field, they (I’m not sure who *they* area – the Society for former Expos Fans, maybe) were celebrating the 1994 Expos:
We watched the end of the ceremony from the cross-aisle behind section 123:
Finally, just before game time, we headed down to the field to watch the Blue Jays’ pre-game throwing:
What happened next was really bizarre. As background, you need to know that I could not find the charger for my normal pocket sized camera when it was time to leave for this trip. So I had to bring Colleen’s hold (and huge) camera. The camera barely fits in my cargo pants pockets. The camera also has a strap to hang around your neck.
Now, at this time, I had the camera jammed in my right cargo pocket with the strap hanging out of the pocket.
So, when pre-game throwing wrapped up, our plan was to head up to our seats in section 437. We turned around and the aisle we were standing in ran all the way up through both field-level cross-aisles and all the way to the upper field level concourse. With Kellan on my shoulders and Tim bouncing around as he tends to do while walking anywhere, we started trudging up the stairs all the way to the top.
When we were between the concourse and the upper cross-aisle (about 10-15 rows from the concourse), I tried to take a step with my right foot at my leg got pulled back. The camera strap had caught onto the arm rest of one of the aisle seats. I stopped, looked back, and maneuvered my leg to unhook the strap. I then turned back and resumed climbing the stairs, but all of a sudden I started to trip forward up the steps. All of a sudden everything was in slow motion and it was like I wasn’t in control of my feet. I couldn’t find the steps as I tried to walk and I starting falling forward with Kellan on my shoulders. Holding Kellan’s leg with my right hand, I tripod’d to save myself from falling down. Two guys jumped out of their seats and ran down to grab and stabilize me as well. I thanked them, stood up straight again, and started walking up the rest of the way. When I got to the top, I looked back and Tim was still 10 rows down and he was running up to me. He had the camera in his hand.
It turns out that after I unhooked the camera strap from the aisle-seat arm rest, it almost immediately got stuck again. As I was struggling to walk up the stairs, the camera was pulling me back down the stairs and eventually…
…ripped out my pocket, resulting in the camera falling to the floor. Luckily, Tim noticed the camera.
Thankfully, I have walked up and down so many flights of stadium stairs with either Tim or Kellan on my shoulders over the years that I am extremely comfortable walking around that way. It was great that those guys jumped up to stabilize me, but I knew I was never going to fall even if they didn’t. And Kellan didn’t panic at all. Actually, I’m not even sure he realized what was going on.
Anyway, we walked up, up, up…
…and found our seats in section 437:
While we walked through the upper deck concourse toward our seats, Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo (dessert before dinner – or, in this case, lunch). So we go them the same treats they enjoyed the night before:
Here’s a blurry look at the first pitch of the game:
Here’s an elevated view of where the guy fell the night before:
See the guy in the orange shirt in the cross-aisle? The usher during BP to me the guy fell about 5-10 feet behind that guy (closer to the RF foul pole).
Here’s a nice first inning match-up – Brandon Morrow vs. David Wright:
Ultimately, Wright when down swinging.
Before the game, Avi told me one of his goals was to sit in the far upper OF corners in both LF and RF. I could see with my naked eye that he wasn’t in the upper RF corner. So I zoomed in on the upper LF corner:
There you go. To the upper right, that is Chris in the Mets jersey (with Natalie’s blue sweatshirt barely showing to the right of Chris), Avi (in the black sweatshirt), Greg (in the white with a Mets hat), and Greg’s dad, one row down from Greg.
I asked Tim if he wanted to go join them. Of course, he did. So we walked all the way around the stadium the long way (couldn’t cut through CF because of the construction zone) hoping they would still be there when we arrived.
As we arrived, they were just starting to walk down the stairs to head to the RF corner. But, when they saw us, they decided to sit back down so we could experience the upper corner with them for a bit.
Here is a panorama from the corner of section 462:
I stepped out a few seats so I could get another view that wasn’t blocked (as much) by the construction barrier), check it out:
I loved that you can look behind the scoreboard (or advertisements above the scoreboard) and see people on the other side of the stadium. By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, this game was PACKED! Over 50,000 fans were in attendance.
Here’s another familiar and welcome sight from my childhood:
Just like the glorious Kingdome (by the way, look for the Kingdome later in this entry), huge speakers hung from the roof of the dome all around the stadium.
Once we finally decided we’d had enough upper deck LF time, we headed down to the cross-aisle and stood around a bit. Greg’s dad had gone somewhere and we were waiting for him to return. While standing in the tunnel leading from the concourse to the cross-aisle, I got this photo:
That’s officially the first random wall cut-out with two-by-fours that we’ve ever found at a Major League ball park. Yep, the Stade has character!
And when Tim decided to blow a big blast of air into this cut-out, we discovered that the Stade has some dust too….well, it has a lot of dust.
We moved out to the concourse to wait some more. I grabbed a “dee-it coke” from a hot dog stand. Then we stood around some more.
Eventually, we decided to leave Greg behind and had over to RF.
On our walk through the concourse, we looked off the back edge down to the lower (upper field level) concourse and we found a bunch of these things:
I don’t know what those area. My best guess is some kind of counter-weigh that helps support the roof of the dome.
Here’s something else you don’t find much at Major League ball park, big piles of garbage in the concourse:
Avi, Chris, Natalie, the boys and I all headed up to the RF upper deck corner. At this point, we still needed to find fans of the Rays, Rockies and Cubs. While we were walking toward RF, Chris finally spotted a Rays fan, in line for some food. In the concourses at both of these games, it always seemed like there were thousands of people waiting in line for food.
Once we got to the RF corner, I took no pictures whatsoever because the boys and I were hardly there. Tim wanted to play catch again, so we left the rest Avi, Chris and Natalie and headed downstairs.
I had two goals: (1) get some poutine and (2) go play catch in the LF concourse. I wasn’t sure where to find poutine. So we headed to the upper-field level concourse and just started walking from RF to LF. When we got behind home plate, I took this panorama from the top of section 101:
Beautiful, eh? I really like the color of the roof. It gives the feeling that you’re at a night game with a hole in the roof.
As we walked toward LF in the concourse by third base, I heard someone call my name. We turned around to find this guy standing there:
That’s Alex – or as I always identify him for my wife “Alex of Joe & Alex.” You see, back in 2009, Tim and I ran into “Joe & Alex” a few times at Citi Field. Tim used to talk about Joe & Alex like we were going to see them at every game at every stadium, he really wished we would. He’s always loved hanging with older guys. We’d actually met Alex for the first time at U.S. Cellular Field on August 17, 2009 – see, here’s proof. We’ve also seen him at Camden Yards in 2010 and Citi Field, again, in 2013. It was great to catch up with Alex at yet another stadium. But he really needs to grow back his crazy 2009 mop-hair, don’t you think?
While we were chatting with Alex, a 20’ish year old gal in a Rockies hat walked by, I pointed at her and yelled, “ROCKIES!!!” I think she thought I was crazy. But that meant all we needed was to see a Cubs fan to complete our challenge.
After chatting with Alex for a bit, we excused ourselves so we could continue on our quest to find poutine and play catch. We wandered all around the food places, all with massive, slow-moving lines. We passed under this balloon arch…
…and then settled in for a 2-3-inning wait in line at the Bienvenue Grill:
That’s not an exaggeration. The game (tied 0-0) was sailing by and we were in line for more than half an hour! Looking back on the game, I feel like we hardly saw any of it. But the one thing Michel told us we had to do in Montreal was to each poutine, so we waited it out.
It truly was incredible how terribly slow every food place was at Stade Olympique. It didn’t help that every line we ever stood in (well, except for the ice cream/popsicle stands) ran out of major food items while we were in line – or that they only announced the non-available food items in French.
After waiting in this line for half an eternity, a guy yelled out in French, “L’blah-blah-blah. Oui, blah, blah, blah. L’blee-blue-blah.” All us Americans looked around confused and started asking the locals what he said. “No, more hamburgers or hot dogs.”
Check out the energetic and ready-to-serve staff at Bienvenue Grill:
We were going to get hot dogs for the boys and a poutine for me to share with the boys. But with no hot dogs left, we doubled down on the poutine. By the time we got our poutine, it was the eighth inning!
I decided that we didn’t have time to go play catch. Instead, we headed over to the SRO area behind section 228…
…and we started chowing down on…
By the way, poutine is French fries, gravy and cheese kurd. And it’s quite tasty. (Although, Kellan decided he didn’t want any).
After we finished our poutine, we decided to head out to LF to see about playing some catch and to see if Avi or anyone else we knew was out there. We headed out toward LF in the cross-aisle. When we got out there – or here…
…, it was still tied 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth. And then Melky Cabrera hit a 2-run homerun to put the Blue Jays up 2-0 as the game headed into the top of the ninth.
We were going to meet everyone behind the Mets dugout after the game. Because of Melky’s homerun, I (once again) decided we didn’t have time to go back to play catch again. So we headed toward the infield. And we found Avi and the guys on the way. I told them that all we needed was to see a Cubs fan to complete the all-teams-fan challenge, and they reported that they had finally spotted a Cubs fan. So we did it!
When the game ended, we made our way down to the first for behind the dugout, and Eric Langill (or as his fan club said…
… Eric “Lawn-jeel”) tossed us our final Stade Olympique baseball (at least of this trip!).
Thanks, Mr. Lawn-Jeel!
Tim got a big kick out of the smily-face eggs on the back of the grounds crews’ jackets:
We all milled around a bit, trying to extend our time inside Stade Olympique. Eventually, we got some pics of me and the boys, and me and Avi…
…featuring my new, beautiful Kingdome shirt!
And I even found another Cubs fan:
On our way out of the first row, someone (I think Chris or maybe Greg) noticed this great, personalized season ticket holder seat in the first row above the dugout:
“Maybe this year”?? Well, *maybe* for the Natspos of Washington, D.C.
As we headed to the exits, I took our final Stade Olympique interior panorama (for now, at least) from mid-way up section 118:
And then we headed out into the Great White North to check out the outside of the stadium:
Once we got a little further away, I got a panorama:
We decided not to go up the tower (because the usher inside told us it wasn’t worthwhile), we decided just to go find the Olympic Rings. We headed up a flight of stairs, until we hit the glacier that was covering Parc Olympique:
The ground was a mix between snow, slush and ice puddles. Kellan was on my shoulders so he was safe, but I had to micro-manage Tim’s walking so he wouldn’t arrive at the Olympic Rings covered in ice-water from head-to-toe.
At one point, I turned around and snapped this pic of Chris, Avi and Natalie:
Check out the cool set up at the Olympic Rings:
By the way, we had to negotiate our places – Kellan had to win the gold!
Finally, we headed back to our hotel. We had a pretty lazy evening. I took this photo showing all of our commemoratives from the trip…
…and we went out to dinner at this little Italian place:
And then Avi did work for his classes until around 3am.
The following morning we packed up and hit the road, but not before Kellan took a little standing nap:
Then it was back to the U.S. of A.:
|2014 Fan Stats|
|2||Teams (Blue Jays, Mets)|
|1||Stadium (Stade Olympique)|
|8||Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*)* Olympic Stadium Staff|
|5||Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)|
Bonus Photo – Lots of activity again at this game: