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Overbay expects boos in Toronto

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
 

Pirates first baseman Lyle Overbay expects to get what he said is "the normal" reaction from Blue Jays fans when he returns to Toronto tonight.

"They booed Marco Scutaro and he's a pretty good player, so ..." said Overbay, who played for the Blue Jays from 2006-10. "They're gonna boo the other team. That's the way they are. They're passionate. I don't expect anything different."

Then again, how much noise can a small crowd make?

In the early 1990s, the Blue Jays were a tough ticket. This year, however, Toronto averages 20,907 fans per home game. That ranks 25th in the majors and is three spots below the Pirates (22,543).

The Blue Jays averaged more than 49,000 fans in 1992 and more than 50,000 in 1993, the years they won back-to-back World Series.

Overbay said baseball's work stoppage in 1994-95 "killed" fan interest in Toronto.

"Ever since the strike, it's been bad," Overbay said. "Those kids who boycotted it back then, now they have kids and they're still boycotting it."

Attendance bounced back in other major league towns after the strike. Why not Toronto?

"I'm assuming just because of their values," Overbay said. "I don't know. They're not as forgiving as Americans, I guess. It's personal for them, and they're sticking to it."

Overbay batted .268 with a .796 OPS in five seasons with the Blue Jays. At Rogers Centre, he hits .267 with an .809 OPS.

"It's a good hitters' ballpark," Overbay said. "There are really no negatives, except for the turf."

Overbay recalls how even minor injuries seemed to linger because of playing on the artificial surface.

"We won't have that problem because we're only there for three days," he said.

Digits

2-4 -- Pirates' interleague record against the Blue Jays

0-3 -- Pirates' record at Rogers Centre

Quotable

"Our fans have been waiting a long time for this, just to see us be consistent and have a chance to win every day. They deserve it. They've gotten behind us." Lyle Overbay -- Pirates first baseman.

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