Turning back the clock

It was like a time warp back to 1992. The streets surrounding the SkyDome – err, Rogers Centre – were bustling last night. Thousands of fans – literally – lined up at the ticket windows near Gate 9 to pick up last-minute walk-up tix to the opener of a three-game series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees.

The scalpers were out in full force. Rick, the ‘Blue Jay drummer,’ was there, as he has been since the summer of ’89 when the SkyDome officially opened for business. Most importantly, the excitement was there, rippling throughout the crowd – both outside the stadium and inside.

And why not? The Blue Jays entered yesterday’s series with the Yanks sporting an American League-best 22-12 record. That is surely reminiscent of old times, of 1992 and the ‘glory years.’ 

The official count was 43,737 in attendance Tuesday night, another reminder of times past when Jays fans routinely packed the house at the Dome. The first time the Yanks visited Toronto in ‘92 was Monday, April 13. A total of 44,115 took in that contest. Todd Stottlemyre threw a complete game for the Jays, who lost 5-2 to the Bronx Bombers thanks in large part to a Danny Tartabull two-run homer in the ninth.

The Jays got another complete game effort Tuesday night, but this time came out on the winning end, as ace Roy Halladay tossed a gem against former teammate A.J. Burnett.

And all the while the fans were loud. They were loud in their boos towards Burnett and A-Rod, a longtime nemesis and newly admitted steroid user. They were loud when Scott Rolen opened the scoring for Toronto with a two-run double to left in the third inning.

They were loud with ‘MVP’ chants for Aaron Hill after the second baseman hit his team-leading ninth homer of the year in the eighth, a solo blast off Burnett, and they were loud and on their feet for an ovation as Roy Halladay recorded the final out of the contest.

The support certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the Jays ace.

“The more fans that are here, the better team we are,” Halladay said after the game. “There’s just a lot more energy. It’s easier to get into the game and it makes a huge difference. Obviously, winning is what fans want to see, so we have to continue to do that in order for them to keep showing up.”

In 1992, Winfield wanted noise, and Blue Jays fans provided it.

For at least one game last night, the Jays faithful showed that they’re willing to do so once again in 2009.

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