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Slash, Trailer Park Boys at Jays opener

Shi Davidi, Canadian Press

March 29, 2005

TORONTO -- Laurel Lindsay knows it sounds cheesy but she can't help herself.

"You want to make a splash and you make a splash with Slash," she said with a laugh Tuesday after the Toronto Blue Jays announced plans to have the former Guns N' Roses guitarist perform the national anthems before the club's April 8 home opener against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

"Opening night isn't your typical night," added Lindsay, vice-president, consumer marketing for the Jays. "It's about entertainment and it's the one game of the year when you can be different from other nights."

With the three main characters of the Canadian cult TV hit Trailer Park Boys on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, Blue Jays fans can be certain of that.

Rather than the safe, staid choices who typically perform the anthems at the Rogers Centre -- it was R&B artist Keshia Chante at last year's opening day and Shawn Desman a year before that -- Slash is a riskier, more memorable choice.

The renowned guitarist, famous for wearing top hats that sit precariously atop his wild curls and strumming with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, was a longtime member of rebel heavy metal band Guns N' Roses before joining rock supergroup Velvet Revolver.

Deb Belinsky, who is in charge of in-game entertainment for the Jays, pitched the idea to Slash last summer when he was in Toronto with Velvet Revolver for a show. He'll make a side trip from the group's current tour to play the home opener.

"He loved it," said Lindsay. "He loved the fact of coming here to perform solo and do the anthems. He's never done it before."

As for those worried about what Slash might do to O Canada, Lindsay says not to worry.

"It's going to be similar to a Jimi Hendrix style of anthem," she said. "It's going to be his rendition. He's been supplied with all the music and I know he's already practising."

The ceremonial first pitch, however, might not be as incident-free.

Showcase's Trailer Park Boys revolves around the troubled lives of Julian (played by John Paul Tremblay), Ricky (Robb Wells) and Bubbles (Mike Smith), who will take the mound in character and perhaps bring the shenanigans from the show with them.

"We'll know when they get to the mound," said Lindsay. "I have a feeling with these guys, you can't really predict a lot."

Actor Eugene Levy threw out the first pitch last year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was at the game last night. I was in the 100 level, 25 rows back from 1st base.

I have a few thoughts on the game and the new Rogers Centre:

The Good:

- The new field turf looks good, especially when you compare it to astro turf. More importantly, the new turf plays like grass.

- Slash ripped it up. I loved his half Blue Jays half Red Sox jersey. It was bizarre listening to fans accompanying the Canadian anthem along with Slash's guitar melody.

- The new score board looks good. Also, the video ribboning around the left and right field adds atmosphere and useful information like scores and stats.

- The crowd was loud and into the game for the most part.

- The Jays, especially Hinske and Bush, impressed.

- I think this Jays team will play hard all year and are worth checking out. The dome is way better this year in terms of atmosphere.

The Bad:

- The Red Sox had a great pre-game introduction. I said THE RED SOX HAD A GREAT PRE-GAME INTRODUCTION. WTF?????? The Jays by comparison started their pre-game intro by announcing assistant trainers, their strength and conditioning coach etc.... Plus, the audio for the special individual player video intro sucked. The Trailer Park Boys had a video segment that was incomprehensible due to the muddy audio. It looked funny however.

- The dome is obviously more corporate than it was last year. Commercials run during every inning and advertisers have constant video displays on all the new score boards. The ads are freaking obnoxious and loud - kinda like a Gwen Stefani video.

- The in-house televisions DO NOT show live game action, so if you are in line getting a beer, you won't know what's going on... this happened to me in the 3rd-4th innings.

- You can only get Bud on draft. Bottled beer is Bud, Bud Light, Blue, Blue Light and Keith's.

The Ugly:

- Every seat had a gift package attached to it. Inside was a program, 2005 season fridge magnet, more Rogers advertisements... Anyway, HUNDREDS of those fridge magnets were continually thrown onto 100 level fans heads and at players throughout the night. Security was virtually non-existent, or were not trained to handle the situation. It's obvious that this year's staff is new. It was really embarrassing. People were complaining, yet only one announcement was made in reference for people to refrain from throwing things onto the field.

- The Jays trucked-out recently fired, long-time PA announcer Murray Eldon for an award before the game. George Bell, Cito Gaston and the man that fired Eldon, BJ president Paul Godfrey presented the award. This was an embarrassing and classless token gesture. Godfrey looked like a weasel, the weasel that he is.

- Before this season, the Jays made a big issue about wearing a patch dedicated to the memory of 4 former Blue Jays that died last year: Bobby Mattick, Doug Alt, John Cerutti and Peter Widderington. However, last night's video montage memorial was buried between the 4th and 5th innings, and it was poorly produced, ill-timed and confusing as heck, especially for Red Sox fan that filled at least 1/3 of the dome.

All and all, I enjoyed last night. The Jays didn't quit or as I like to say, pull a Raptors. I'd say that if you like baseball but hate the dome, this year's Rogers Centre is a noticeable improvement, given the bad Bud on draft and the corporate odor that permeates throughout the dome.

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