The first day of baseball season is usually filled with pageantry, celebration, and optimism. Last Thursday, as the Blue Jays opened the season on the road in Cleveland, Opera Bob’s pub provided a closer-to-home outlet for fan passions.
The event was organized by Drew Fairservice, Dustin Parkes, and Andrew Stoeten, the bloggers behind The Score’s Blue Jays fan-blogs Getting Blanked and Drunk Jays Fans. It began with a pre-game show featuring analysis, commentary, and predictions.
There were also hot dogs and tall boys to give Opera Bob’s the stadium feel, but the 150 or so fans were marked more by enthusiasm than gimmickry. Chants of “Jose, Jose, Jose” cheered slugger Jose Bautista, and fans heckled second baseman Kelly Johnson. (“That’s a girl’s name!”)
Opera Bob’s co-owner and namesake, opera singer Robert Pomakov, best exemplified the shared optimism about the coming season. “I travel a lot for my work, and I find the best fans are baseball fans. Baseball is a slow and methodical game, but I think that’s the brilliance of it.” (The Jays are expected to make some noise this season, but not necessarily make the playoffs.)
Fans’ patience was tested during Thursday’s game, with the Jays falling behind early and not managing much offense against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson. But in the bottom of the ninth, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double to send the game to extra innings. After six more scoreless innings—to make it the longest opener in baseball history—fan favourite JP Arencibia hit a three-run homer in the 16th to give the Jays a 7-4 lead, which became the final score.
Many fans in Cleveland had already left, but Opera Bob’s remained packed. Patience, so far, was paying off.