The Tampa Bay Times Reports Blue Jays Stadium is a Hit With Locals!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that while I am a Phillies fan, I have a big spot in my heart for the Toronto Blue Jays. When I moved to Florida, our new house was only three blocks from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium where the Jays play.


After settling in I was appointed by the mayor of Dunedin to the Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee, a group of volunteer residents of Dunedin who work with the Jays and the City.

It’s been a project close to my heart, 4 years of work. (You can see my posts on the city council meeting HERE and HERE.)

Today, the Tampa Bay Times had an article of how well received the $81 million plan was received. The text of the article is below:

  DUNEDIN — Nearly 150 people attended the city’s recent open house about the proposed $81 million project to upgrade the facilities used by the Toronto Blue Jays. During the Sept. 27 event — the first time the community was able to get a close look at the plans — attendees were encouraged to fill out comment cards.

Overall, the response was positive. Ninety-six percent of the 73 people who filled out a card answered yes when asked if they like the overall concept.
When it came to architectural style options for the planned renovations to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, commenters could choose between a Key West theme, a retro theme and a Mediterranean theme. Forty-seven percent voted for Key West, 40 percent for retro, and 13 percent for Mediterranean.
Suggestions, some of which are already part of the proposed plans, included a tiki car, berm viewing, a kid zone, group viewing areas, more and healthier food options, ways to keep cool and cup holders in seats. Some concerns were parking, noise levels, where the team will play during construction and shade.
Blue Jays project a hit with Dunedin residents 10/13/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2016 11:53am] 

You can read the article complete with pictures HERE.

I voted for the Key West Style, it fits with the surrounding neighborhood and screams “you’re in Florida”.

Tuesday, the Dunedin City Council UNANIMOUSLY approved the applications to the county and state for their portion of the money needed for the project!

It’s the second step in a long journey, but it IS A STEP FORWARD.

Go Jays!

2016 Extended Spring Schedule for Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates and Yankees

 I was able to get a copy of the schedule for the Extended Spring Training games for all of the teams in the Northern Division: Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates and Yankees. The schedule is posted below:

 
  

Phillies Trade Pitcher Chris Leroux to Toronto Blue Jays

The Philies have traded pitcher Chris Leroux to the Toronto Blue Jays for “cash considerations”. Leroux is expected to join Triple-A Buffalo. Leroux had been listed on the Phillies extended spring training roster.

Chris Leroux
Chris Leroux

Phillies, Blue Jays, Yankees and Pirates Minor League Spring Training Schedule Published

Today I was given a paper copy of the Spring Training schedule for the Phillies, Blue Jays, Yankees and Pirates minor league teams. As far as I know, it’s not online anywhere else. I hope it’s helpful…
  
  

  
  

16 Days and Counting

mlb spring training logo fla

There’s sixteen days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. I’m excited.

The best thing of living where I do is that I am almost equidistant from two MLB teams, the Phillies and the Blue Jays. I can walk three blocks to the Jays’ Stadium, however, their minor league complex is 3 miles from my home. The Phillies are five miles away.

The Phillies are a team in the midst of major confusion and rebuilding. They’ve picked up a gross ton of free agents that are older and also have the greatest number of prospects on the top 100 list at seven. It will be interesting to see how they blend the experience of the veterans with the raw talent of these up and comers.

The Blue Jays are a team who came “Oh-So-Close” to making the World Series. They haven’t made as many changes but have made strong choices and look to be cocked and loaded to take a shot at the top.

Which team will prevail? What approach will bear fruit? It’s only 9 months until we find out.

In the meantime, I’ll be at both camps to keep tabs on their progress.

The Long, Hot Summer and My Favorites From It

I’ll admit it, I’ve slacked off a bit this summer. It’s hard not to. This has been one of the hottest summers in recent history and definitely the hottest since Baseball Ross and I moved to Florida full-time.  Almost every day for over a week has had “feels like” temperatures over 100, with one day being 110!

With the heat like that, going to Gulf Coast League games at noon is brutal. At the Carpenter Complex, there is a trade off: if you want shade-you get no breeze, if you want a breeze-you get no shade. Regardless of where you sit, every available space for spectators is covered in heat-absorbing concrete.

Couple all the heat with a severe case of elbow tendinitis in my right elbow that kept me from being able to take pictures with anything heavier than an iPhone and you have a recipe for a long summer.

That being said, I have gotten to see a fair bit of baseball and a few things that helped me to love baseball again.

So I will list them here (in no particular order):

1. Winning a jersey in an auction that was worn by my favorite Williamsport Crosscutter. Ross and I have been good friends with Feliberto Sanchez since last year when he spent the year here in GCL and the Fall Instructional League. He’s a great kid and I just had to have the jersey. OK, the auction was for their “Ugly Christmas Sweater” promotion, but still, it was Sanchez’s jersey. There was only one problem. The Cutters never responded to my inquiry about proxy phone bidding. Luckily, Tim Luzier (@20schmidtfan) saw my plea and helped me out. I’m so grateful for his help.

Sanchez Jersey

2. Our crazy marathon trip to see every team in the Phillies minor league system–IN ONE WEEK. (You can read it and see the pictures in this post.) 3,200 miles (1,200 by car) and it was a blast. That being said, I’m not sure I’d do it again! It was very draining.

3. Seeing pitchers overcome difficulties and succeed. Colin Kleven had a back injury that prematurely ended his season in Clearwater last year. Seeing him come back and steadily progress has been great. As difficult of a season that Clearwater had, I always looked forward and went out of my way to see him pitch and was often rewarded by a strong performance.

Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven at the preseason “Meet the Players” picnic

I was also glad to see Jesse Biddle roar back in a rehab appearance here in Clearwater. Jesse’s difficulties this year, starting with a concussion caused by a hail stone, have been well documented. To see him tear it up in his first rehab appearance was just great. (You can read my blog about Jesse here.)

Jesse Biddle
Jesse Biddle

3. Seeing Aaron Nola’s first and second professional starts. That could be one of those things that in 10 years I’ll be bragging about it. You can read about his first start HERE and the second start HERE.

Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola

4. Getting to know Frank Viola III and learning about the knuckle ball. I had written a story about Frank’s return to baseball and one night, while Ross and I were at dinner the waiter came up to me and asked, “Would you happen to be Baseball Betsy?” I replied that I was and he smiled and said, “The gentleman at that table over there would like to buy you dessert.” (Now there’s a guy who knows the way to my heart!) I looked over and it was Frank and his mother. He had read the story and liked it. Ross and I ended up joining them and had a great time. I learned so much about the “mindset of the knuckleball”.  If you’ve read my blog this summer, about a third of the posts were about knuckleballs.

Frank Viola III

After that, I followed his progress through the Blue Jays minor league system including a stop in Dunedin, where I got to see him pitch.

Sadly, my heart was broken at the end of July when he was released. On the plus side, I made a new friend and that is amazing by itself.

5. Helping the Threshers mascot, Phinley win the Mascot Mania Challenge to be the best mascot in ALL of minor league baseball. It was a hard push, but after hundreds of tweets, retweets, online votes and my followers retweeting my tweets helped to make Phinley a winner. It was a matter of time since he was second last year.

photo photo

 

I know looking at the picture above you can hear “You’re the Best Around” playing in your head.

6. Bark in the Park/Yappy Hour. To me, this is the best trend in all of baseball. Pay a few dollars to an animal charity for a “ticket” for your dog and they can join you at the game. We have two small shih tzus and over the years we have taken them to several BitPs. Sadly, Maggie our 14 year old, cannot endure the Florida heat so she was not able to attend this year, but Veronica our youngest, LOVES to go. I wrote a story about her game.

Veronica LOVES baseball
Veronica LOVES baseball

Just look at that face, you can tell she’s having a blast.

So there are the things I loved most about the summer of 2014, I couldn’t really even rank them because they were all pretty stellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trouble with the Knuckle

I’ve become fascinated by the knuckleball. They say the first step to healing is to admit you have a problem. So there, I’ve said it. I’m fascinated by the knuckleball.

I saw R.A. Dickey throw his in spring training, while I thought it was “neat”, because of the angle of my seats, I never got to appreciate the movement of the ball. I did get to appreciate R.A., however. I saw him walking around downtown Dunedin, my hometown and the place where the Jays spring train. I didn’t say hello, I didn’t want to bother him, but he’s definitely the kind of guy that stands out in a crowd.

I also “just missed” running into R.A. at my hair salon. No, REALLY. LOL. My stylist, who is simply the best I’ve ever had, said to me when I came in, “you’re into baseball, you know who that guy was?”

“What was his name?” I asked.

“I think he plays for the Jays, he’s got letters for a name.”

My eyes widened, “R.A.?”

“Yeah, that’s it! I cut his hair.” She smiled and went about her work on my mane.

Sure enough, next time I saw him, he had a new cut. But I digress.

I was lucky enough to have the pleasure to talk to Frank Viola III again this week and he and I had a lengthy discussion about the knuckleball: how to throw it, the way the strategy is a little different with a knuckleball and how what you aim for with a knuckleball is “soft contact”.

I found it fascinating because you think of the mentality of a pitcher wanting to go out and mow down the batters with a simple 1-2-3 inning, but with a knuckleballer, it’s more of a “set them up, then a soft contact hit for an out.”

Dickey did just that yesterday. It seemed like he had it all under control. He lasted 8.1 innings 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB and 1HR (that was in the 1st inning).

Baseball Ross and I listed on the MLB channel on satellite radio as we were running errands. I almost didn’t get my errands done because if Dickey was pitching I wouldn’t get out of the car.

Dickey was dealing…and I was hanging on every knuckled pitch.

I am hoping that I can catch Viola pitch this week, I just have to see that pitch, I’m like a cat watching a laser pointer.

Hi, my name is Betsy and I’m a knuckleball addict.