Bars and Bats

Face it: Toronto will always be a hockey town. Even as the Maple Leafs remain mired in the team’s longest playoff drought in decades — an exciting late-season Hail Mary notwithstanding — hockey continually dominates the city’s sports landscape. It’s enough to make a guy forget that Toronto has other major franchises. The Blue Jays, whose 2011 season starts April 1, reliably justify the hope for Toronto sports glory most years, and this one in particular (the current pre-season hype is exceptional— sorry, Cito!). Still, it’s surprisingly rare to find a bar that chooses to show baseball over hockey in the April-June overlap. Here are four blessed exceptions.

Opera Bob’s
Part of the burgeoning Dundas and Ossington scene, Opera Bob’s is admittedly more than a bit off downtown’s beaten path but might be the closest thing Toronto has to a Blue Jays bar. On opening day, the pub will present a live screening of the Jays game with sound (an anomaly in this city’s establishments), complete with a special baseball menu that includes “Old-Man Buckets”: five Pabst Blue Ribbon or Labatt 50 for $13. The bar maintains the spirit for many Jays games over the season, though not all — so it’s worth phoning to confirm. 1112 Dundas Street West, 416-536-5585.

The Dizzy
With its non-greasy “gastro” pub menu and relatively up-market vibe, The Dizzy has always stood apart from other Toronto sports bars. No surprise, then, to see this Roncesvalles hangout afford as much importance to other teams as to the sacred Leafs. Granted, plenty of hockey still hits the screen here, but the point is that you’re just as likely to find the Jays playing on one of the eight televisions. Sometimes, that’s as much as you can ask for in this town. 305 Roncesvalles Avenue, 416-538-8484.

Football Factory
As can be gleaned from the name, The Football Factory is a soccer pub (versus, say, a CFL bar), and it’s certainly not a baseball bar. Still, this doesn’t mean that the proprietors don’t feel your pain. “We built this bar in 2008 because there was never anywhere showing footie over hockey,” says co-owner Christine Whittick. Empathetically, she promises that if find yourself joining (or organizing) a big enough group of Jays fans, the bar will happily surrender the main sound system to a screening, “as long as it doesn’t conflict with any major matches.” No, she’s not talking about hockey. 164 Bathurst Street, 416-368-4625.

Real Sports Bar & Grill
Given that the ownership group is Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment — a.k.a. the owners of the Leafs and Raptors — no savvy enthusiast is going to mistake Real Sports Bar & Grill for a “real sports” bar & grill, let alone a destination for Jays fans. Then again, this undisputed behemoth boasts so many TVs (199 screens, including not just monitors built into every booth, but also into floors) that some of them have to be showing baseball. Plus, management assured DailyXY “with 98% certainty” that the Jays’ opening game will be shown on the bar’s massive 39-foot HD centerpiece screen — the biggest in Toronto. Maple Leaf Square, 416-815-7325.

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Image courtesy of  fi_chince.

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1 thought on “Bars and Bats

  1. For those out in Durham Shoeless Joe’s in Oshawa has 8 seperate HD Feeds so the Jays will ALWAYS be on.

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