Return to the Road: A Nooner in Vancouver

The blog post that chronicled my evening with the Vancouver Canadians was the longest such missive in Ben’s Biz history, but that doesn’t mean that I exhausted all of my Vancouver content. Of course not! The game I attended was on a Thursday evening, and I wasn’t due to fly out of the city until Friday night.

And wouldn’t you know it? On Friday afternoon the Canadians were hosting one of their popular “Nooner at the Nat” day games, so back to the stadium I went. Except this time, I opted to stow my vehicle in the public park located across the street. My thinking was that this would start the day off with a different perspective, and as always my thinking was correct.

Queen Elizabeth Park is located at quite a prodigious elevation, and as such it offers some spectacular mountain and city views.

The park’s parking lot is located a proverbial hop, skip, and a jump from the domed glory of the Bloedel Conservatory.

Among those enjoying the view from the top of the park was this bronzed family — note that brother and sister (or at least I presume they are brother and sister) are both wearing vintage Great Adventure shirts.

Smile!

I was sorry to leave my statue-esque acquaintances, but baseball was calling my name (in a shrill, unnecessarily loud falsetto). As I walked down the hill and toward Nat Bailey Stadium, I came across a species of tree which may or may not be indigenous to the wilds of Vancouver. This tree was getting a kick out of using its snout-like appendages to tickle the undercarriages of unsuspecting passersby, but when it tried that on me I was ready with a swift uppercut and it shrank away in defeat.

Back on the street, cars were lined up at the stadium entrance. Vancouverites are serious about their Friday afternoon baseball!

However, I soon realized that “Nooners at the Nat,” while a great name, is a bit misleading. Gates open at noon, yes, but the game doesn’t start until one. It was around 12:30 when I arrived on the scene, and no tickets whatsoever were available. Just read the sign!

I mingled with the masses for bit, in the hopes that someone would recognize me and that I could then claim to be “internationally famous.” But, no, it was not to be. (I remain only nationally famous, and by “nationally famous” I mean recognized at a bar this one time and by a concert merch table this one other time). With delusions of grandeur squashed, as they quite mercifully always are, I made my way into the stadium in time for the National Anthems (this is Canada, after all). Performing both anthems was a group called the “Altar Boyz,” and as one of the groundskeepers near me noted “That’s Altar Boyz with a zed.”

As you may recall, my experience at the previous day’s Canadians game had provided some quite memorable food experiences (in the form of an oversized corn dog and an even more oversized “Fungo Dog,” click on the link at the top of this post to read all about it). But this time around, I was interested in trying some ballpark sushi.

While not at the standards one would expect from one of Vancouver’s many fine sushi restaurants, this was still a tasty and unique ballpark meal. The Fuji Combo on the left consisted of two California rolls, two spicy California rolls, two shrimp nigiri, and one smoked salmon. The Red Dragon Roll, meanwhile, was salmon, seaweed, crab extract (not sure what that means), and cucumber.

Oh, and this marked the first time I’d ever had ginger and wasabi in single-serve condiment packets. What a life milestone.

New online dating profile pic:

Thumbs up for the best sushi in the Northwest League!

It was a beautiful day. The game? It was underway

As I had done the evening before, I then hitched a ride in the Smart Car for a lap around the infield.

I filmed said lap around the field with my handy FlipCam, but you know what? It just didn’t come out very well. So, nevermind. Let’s move on.

The Canadians’ dancing grounds crew, whom I had performed with the night before, are bonafide Vancouver celebrities. By the time I returned from my Smart Car journey, they were engaged in an interview with a national sports broadcast (who would later film their dance performance as well).

At this point in the afternoon, I was feeling good. The previous evening’s ballgame had provided me with all of the content I would need from Vancouver (and more), so there was nothing that I felt I HAD to do. I just took in the scene.

Much of the sold-out crowd was lurking in the shadows.

The evening before I had been a Sushi Race competitor. This time around I just took it all in from the cheap seats.

I then adjourned to an even more elevated vantage point: the roof.

On the roof is where the press box is situated, and its denizens were hard at work.

Did I mention that it was a beautiful day, and that Vancouver is a stunningly beautiful city?

Vancouver is also filled with stunningly beautiful dancers — of both the grounds crew and dugout Chicken Dance variety.

I eventually clambered down from the roof, in order to procure a new vantage point from which to snap a photo.

The Canadians bullpen is located down the third base line, and there is no escape from the fans whatsoever (note the standard-issue pink backpack down there by the catcher’s knee).


Unceremoniously and without warning, my “Nooner at the Nat” photos ended here. The above shot of a brooding bullpen observer is the last picture from a ballfield that I am able to post from the 2012 season.

Upon the conclusion of the contest, I returned to the manicured splendor of Queen Elizabeth Park.

And…scene! But would you believe that I have one more post’s worth of material to share from Vancouver? It’s true! Just one more, and then my 2012 road trip content is finally, officially, mercifully, complete Thanks for tolerating my continued attempts to milk it for all it’s worth.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

5 Comments

Pingback: Return to the Road: Finally, for Real This Time, the Road Ends in Vancouver « Ben's Biz Blog

One thing missing… the game outcome! We Vancouverites not only sell out all our weekday baseball games, we care about what’s happening on the field too. After falling behind 6-1 after 2, the C’s stormed back to win 7-6 on a Balbino bomb to left. It was a wonderful day at the ballpark, as always.

The tree you are referring to is commonly spoke of as a “Monkey Puzzle” tree. Having done service in India, many Brits were fond of them and found that they grew well in our climate. As a result many of the older homes in the area have them in their gardens.

Thanks for filling me in! I had certainly never encountered a “monkey puzzle” before.

The forest you might be referring to is consistently talked of because a “Monkey Puzzle” tree. Having done service in India, many Brits had been fond of them and found which they grew well in our businesses climate. Since a result most older homes inside the area have them inside their gardens.

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