All “Good” Things Come to an End…

In any bad situation, I always try to find something good. My personal philosophy is, “you can’t always control what happens to you, but YOU CAN control how you choose to react to it.”

With the difficulties the Toronto Blue Jays have been dealing with in getting back to Toronto, I’ve taken full advantage of them playing the first two months of the regular season here in my hometown of Dunedin.

Baseball Ross and I managed to see nine games, the most regular season games we have ever seen in one season. We saw one game of every team that came to town and all all three games against the Phillies. There isn’t a bad seat in all of TD Ballpark and you’d never be closer to the action in any other park.

I grew up in Central Pennsylvania and a Phillies kid but watching these Jays, I’ve fallen in love. There’s something special about this team, it feels like they’ve been catching lightning in a bottle. (True story-as I wrote that Lourdes Guerriel Jr hit a home run.)

I’ve also come to fully appreciate the Jay’s fan base. I don’t know if there is a more friendly, positive and welcoming fan base out there. Hopefully, when Covid is over, I can make the trek to the Rogers Center to take in a game.

Today, it really hit me, though, it’s all over. As we came home today we drove by the stadium and the auxiliary light standards are gone, they are taking down some of the extended fencing and it looked like they were packing up the merchandise to send to Buffalo.

No more hearing the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd and the home-run horn from our front porch. No more days of watching the crowds of people marching up Douglas Avenue. No more waking up and feeling the anticipation of a game that day. There’s a different feeling of excitement in the air on game day.

It’s all done.

While I feel for my new friends up North, I now fully understand what I’ve been missing and will miss from now on. There something special about this team AND their fans. I will miss them until they return next spring. It won’t be a regular season game but I will love it just the same.

So a thank you to my friends up North, thank you for “lending” us your team. With luck, I’ll get to meet some of you next spring and we can raise a pint of Labatt’s to the team we all love and share. Here’s to the Blue Jays, I’ll see you next spring.

On the Eve of the Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin Home Opener.

It feels like Christmas morning. I’m almost giddy, keyed up, I can’t get ready to go to sleep TOMORROW IS THE HOME OPENER IN DUNEDIN! Let me go back to the beginning and tell you how this former Pennsylvania girl fell in love with a Canadian baseball team.

I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, Phillies country. Ok, there were a few Pirates fans and even feet Orioles fans but we always looked at them like they were just a little bit “different”. Just kidding.

Back in 2007 or there about, Baseball Ross and I came to Clearwater for Phillies spring training. Back then, GPS was new, it was an add on service to your phone plan and $12 a MONTH extra. It was terrible. When we got off the Courtney Campbell Causeway, it told us to go 12 miles and turn right, the entire land mass of Pinellas County is only SEVEN miles wide! I digress, we were going to see the Phillies play the Jays in Dunedin and I put “Blue Jays” into the search bar and the GPS took us to the training fields, 2 miles from downtown.

We turned around and parked somewhere downtown and walked down Douglas Avenue to the stadium and fell in love with the quaint little town. We started thinking how we’d love to live in a place where you could walk to spring training games and Florida State League games in the summer. The seed was planted.

Eventually, we packed up and moved into a little house in downtown in 2012. We walked to every spring training game versus the Phillies here in Dunedin.

After we were established, I was appointed by the then Mayor Of Dunedin to the Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee. We worked as a citizen input group and worked with the City and the Jays to help them here in Dunedin and help both sides to craft a plan where the Jays got the renovations and new training facilities they needed. It took six years for the deal to be done, but it really was a labor of love. All of that hard work makes tomorrow’s Opening Day even more special.

We have spent the summers walking to the stadium to see the Dunedin Blue Jays play the Clearwater Threshers. Never did we ever think we would see a Major League game that COUNTED here in Dunedin. The Covid pandemic changed that.

We got tickets to the opening day game! We also ordered the virtual tickets as a momento since our tickets are e-tickets.

I’m so excited. Never did I ever think that the Dunedin, oops, Toronto Blue Jays would play a game here in “little old” Dunedin. It’s sort of like the baseball version of the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field, where the stadium is in the middle of town, there’s little onsite parking and many people end up parking in people’s front yards (for a fee) or along the streets, in church parking lots and public parking downtown.

I’ve been pinching myself. Even more so since they announced the third home stand (including games against the Phillies) will also be in “my backyard”.

Don’t think for a moment that I don’t feel bad for the fans back in Toronto. I do. I feel privileged to have gotten to know quite a few of you on Twitter and have picked up a few followers from Canada as well. I appreciate you and I want to thank you for loaning us your team for a little while.

So over the next few weeks I have at least tickets to four games (one for each team) and will be looking to do the same when tickets go on sale for the third home stand.

So my Toronto fans, know I’m taking you with me to the games, I’ll be blogging and posting pictures on my Twitter and Instagram (@BaseballBetsy).

To my Phillies followers…stick with me while I enjoy the once in a lifetime experience of being able to walk a few mere blocks to a regular season game and cheer on my hometown Jays. I don’t know what I do when the Phillies come to town!

Toronto Blue Jays Staying Longer in Dunedin!

The Toronto Blue Jays announced yesterday that their time in Dunedin has been extended to include their third home stand, effectively keeping them in Dunedin until the end of May.

I must admit, I’m happy about it. I mean, who would have thought when we bought our house here in Dunedin, that we would be living mere blocks from a regular season, major league ballpark?

Baseball Ross and I managed to snag tickets to the first time ever, regular season game here in Dunedin against the Angels. I’m excited to see Mike Trout for the first time. We also have tickets to one of the games against the Yankees.

Tickets for the third home stand go on sale April 15. Included in that home stand is a 3 game series against the Phillies. I am definitely getting tickets for those games!

There has been no word on how the Jays staying in will impact the Dunedin Blue Jays’ schedule. The South Eastern League (Formerly the Florida State League) games start the first week of May. During the renovations to TD Ballpark, the Dunedin Jays spent the summer playing at Jack Russell park, the former home of the Phillies before they moved to BayCare Ballpark.

Mark Shapiro, Jays’ CEO and President commented that they were unlikely to stay the entire season in Dunedin siting the weather/heat as a concern and posited a move to the AAA Buffalo ballpark. He also noted that ideally, they would only need to move once and that move would be back to the Rogers Centre.

How long they play in Dunedin is anyone’s guess at this point, but I will be enjoying their extended stay as long as they are here!

The Pandemic Pod Ticket Buying Experience-Phillies Edition

As you are well aware, the pandemic has changed everything about public events. Gone, at least for now, are the days of sitting squished up against someone dripping with sweat and greasy with sunblock. Now we have what MLB has called “Pod Seating”. Pod seating which is when tickets are sold in “pods” or groups of seats with additional empty seats around them to allow for social distancing. With the reduced capacity and pod seating, the Phillies indicated there would be 2,200 seats available of the approximately 10,000 who can attend on a busy game day.

The problem, for us, anyway is that it seemed that there were far too many large 4-person pods and not a lot of 2 person pods. The we logged in to buy tickets, we were able to get a 2-person pod for only one of the 4 games we purchased tickets for. The other games we had to buy a 4-person pod. In fact, after only purchasing tickets for the first game, all other 2 and 3-person pods for all the games were already gone.

How does it matter? Well yes, technically they sold the seat, but with that being said, only concessions and merchandise will be sold for 2 people. They may have sold tickets for 2,200 people, but actual attendance will be much less. How do I know? After posting about our experience on Twitter, people commented and messaged me that they had done the same thing because that was the only way to see a game in person.

How do we feel? We did pay twice what we would have for tickets BUT and for us this is a big BUT, this will allow us extra space from other people. It’s important because even though Baseball Ross is vaccinated, I am not. We celebrated the full effectiveness of his vaccine on Thursday.

It’s new and uncharted waters. No one really knew what to expect, how many tickets would be sold and frankly, the Phillies have no idea how many people bought 4 when they will only actually use two.

For me, being at risk for Covid with asthma and the fact that I don’t like being stuck next to strangers, I’m ok with it. But will the Phillies bottom line be ok with it? Only time will tell.

Access to Phillies Spring Training

As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world and how we access it. I understand this but it doesn’t explain what happened yesterday at the Carpenter Complex, the Spring Training facility of the Phillies.

Yesterday, we drove by and while we understand that there was no access to the actual complex, we wondered if we would be allowed to observe from outside the fence. As we drove by we saw that there was no sign at the parking lot that said, “Closed” or “Players and Staff Only” so we pulled into the parking lot. The Clearwater Police officer who was stationed there was leaving for the day and paid us no mind and neither did the guard in the guard shack even though he saw us pull in the lot and drive by him. We drove over to one of the open spots and parked.

I put on my mask, took my camera and walked over. Mind you, the guard is in the shack and when I get over near the fence I deliberately look for a sign or mark or something that would tell me how far patrons are allowed to go. There are none. NOTHING. NADA. There is no way to know where the line is.

The players were on the absolute opposite side of the field, over 300 feet away so I went to line my camera up to take the first shot and suddenly the guard is flying out of the guardhouse screaming, “YOU! STOP!” I moved back to where the sidewalk is and motioned, “Is this ok?” He keeps running screaming like a deranged banshee, “YOU CAN’T GO THERE! STOP! MOVE BACK!” I felt like I was at the fence at a prison and the guard was afraid I was trying to get contraband over the fence to a prisoner inside.

I move back onto the paved lot and he finally got there. “YOU CAN’T BE OFF THE PAVEMENT! YOU CANT GO IN THE GRASS OR TOUCH THE FENCE!” Mind you, he’s like 4 feet from me and I in no way offered any resistance and am totally compliant with his instructions. “YOU CAN’T GO THERE!”

I replied, “I’m sorry, there were no signs, there’s no markings I didn’t know.”

He continued yelling, “YOU CAN’T GO OFF THE PAVEMENT!”

Again, I calmly replied, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. How was I to know where I was allowed if there are no signs or marks?” At this point I am at that stage where I don’t know whether to get mad because I HAVE followed his instructions and he’s still yelling or start crying because I’m the kind of person who follows the rules when they are known.

He must have realized and then said, a bit softer, “I don’t mean to yell, but you can’t go there.”

I simply stated, “Since there was no sign, I didn’t know, now I do. I will not leave the pavement. More importantly, I’m leaving. I don’t need to be yelled at when I didn’t know the rules.”

I’ve been coming here since 2007. I’ve never knowingly broken any rule and never given any attitude or tried to cause any problems. I really don’t understand why there were no signs nor anyone either at the gate or near the fence to tell you what is and isn’t allowed. If they wanted to totally close the complex like the Blue Jays did with theirs, I’m fine with that as well. The Phillies should just close the parking lot. For them not to give you an idea of the boundaries are, then berate you like you were trying to break into a prison is really not a good look and it really leaves me cold. Also of note, at no time were any players closer than 300 feet. So I doubt that with the sun, distance and the fact I was wearing a mask that I was such an imminent threat that yelling like that was warranted.

So if you go to the complex beware! Don’t leave the pavement. Sign or no sign. 2021

Or, you can be like me and not go back. Not this year and to be honest, I just don’t know if I’ll bother going back to the Carpenter Complex next year. Not when you are treated like that, when you have no idea what the perimeters are. Nope.

Phillies Finally Sign Baseball’s Premier Catcher, JT Realmuto

Let’s be honest, even die hard Phillies fans were sweating this one out, no one knew if the Phillies would cough up the dough to make (in the words of the Inky’s Matt Breen) “Baseball’s Premier Catcher” JT Realmuto stay in Philly.

I know I bit my nails to the quick. I really didn’t think they could come up with enough money to give Realmuto his dream to be the highest average annual value for a catcher in the history of baseball. The “magic number” they agreed upon was $23.1 million per season over five years for a grand total of *drumroll* $155.5 MILLION DOLLARS.

For the next three years, the Phillies look to have a rather beefy team with Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. They also just inked Rhys Hoskins to keep him at first…hopefully, “Rookie Season Rhys” will return and be a bigger contributor this season.

After the abysmal year that was 2020, both on and off the field, may be, just may be, there’s a light at the end of this long tunnel between championship wins. Let’s just hope it’s not the headlight of an oncoming train.