That’s why fans will never see an instant super-slow-motion replay of a close double play, or get a closer look at the pitch that totally looked like a strike but was called a ball.
The jobs are varied – managing a giant TV screen is intricate work. One worker spends the night updating data, so fans know how many pitches have been thrown and where the batter is in a count. Someone else spends their night deciding which commercials should be sent to TV screens along the stadium’s concourses. There’s also deejay Jed Harper, who uses a laptop and turntable instead of an old-timey organ to fill the stadium with music.
This also where you’ll find Tim Langton. He’s the in-stadium announcer, but he’s also got his finger on the hottest button in the city.
Whenever the Blue Jays hit a home run, he turns to his right and presses the button on the wall to sound the 144-decibel homer horn (when measured from a foot away).
Mirrors, calculators, broadcast booths
Anyone watching a Blue Jays game on television might wonder at how announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler always seem to have the right statistics at their fingertips.
Just how do they know third baseman Brett Lawrie usually strikes out when there are runners at first and second base, on a Tuesday, late evening, with one light burned out in left field and three girls making kissy faces at him?
The answer is: Scott Carson. He’s been sitting beside the announcers for two decades, slipping them notes and whispering details while they call the game. Things have changed a lot over time – when he started the job, he needed to keep track of every batter’s plate appearances and then use a calculator to adjust their hitting averages after each appearance.
“That’s all done by computer now,” Carson says. “But that makes it harder in some ways, too, because you need to dig deeper to find things and there’s a lot more to worry about in terms of what people expect when it comes to statistics.”
The television box sits high above home plate, and there is a stationary camera that is used when the announcers appear on screen. That’s why they have a nicer setup than their radio colleagues one level below – it’s far bigger and comes with a fancy Sportsnet-branded backdrop.
There’s even a mirror on the wall, so anyone venturing in can make sure there’s nothing in their teeth.
The radio booth, on the other hand, is about one-third of the size. Also, no mirror. (Although it’s rumoured newly hired radio analyst Jack Morris has been seen sneaking upstairs to check his hair between innings.)
Everyone loves a (potential) winner
While fans began gathering outside about an hour before the doors opened, the field was crawling with reporters in the hours before Rush front man and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee-to-be Geddy Lee threw the first pitch.
It’s not unusual to see the number of reporters swell on opening day, but this isn’t like any other opening day. When you boost your payroll by almost $40-million and add a Cy Young Award-winning knuckleball pitcher (R.A. Dickey) to your staff, people take notice.
“No, this isn’t usual,” says Jamie Campbell, who hosts the Sportsnet broadcast from one of four live sets prepared for the day. “This is the type of crowd you see at an All-Star Game. I’ve never seen anything like it here.”
The team wouldn’t say how many press passes are issued to a typical game, but did concede it issued 60 more than is usual. The press passes are worn around the neck, and come with a “No autographs” warning printed right on the front – just in case anyone loses their mind and asks Bautista to sign a ball or a bicep.
Meanwhile, beat reporters who have covered the team for years grumbled to their younger counterparts about having to sit in an assigned seat in the press box – for the first time any of them can recall.
Life’s pretty good once they’re up there, though.
The press box is up on the 300 level, and has tiered seating along long rows. Each reporter has a power outlet and a phone, and dozens of papers prepared for them to help them look up stats quickly.
That’s all well and good, but the real action is at the buffet table. All manner of stadium food is available for the members, including a popcorn maker that is constantly being refilled.
But future journalists take note: There’s a warning sign on the soft drink machine that says it will be turned off exactly one half-hour after the game ends.
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