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.

Holy Schitt’s…Creek!

Ever have one of your posts that you thought was fun, but a throwaway…go nuts once you posted it? As of today, I have!

Johnny and Moira Rose aka Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara

I stopped by the cardboard cut outs of the cast of Schitt’s Creek and posted a series of pictures of them on my Twitter.

Alexis and David Rose aka Annie Murphy and Dan Levy
Noah Reid and Sarah Levy aka Patrick Brewer and Twyla Sands
Emily Hampshire aka Stevie Budd
The entire cast has a front row seat!

I really didn’t think much of it, I just thought it was fun and I was sharing BaseballRoss’s and my love for the show. If you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend it. In fact, as I was checking in on the post, Dan Patrick and his “Danettes” were talking about it. We agree with their points that we were initially not sure if we liked it based on the premise or name but once we started watching it, we realized what a piece of comedy gold it is!

It may be my all time favorite comedy. It took me about 3 episodes to get into it, but now, I’d give my left arm for another season or at least meet the cast.

So as I’m writing this I checked the first post on the thread I posted about Schitt’s Creek and there is almost 50,000 views! It’s the fastest that any of my posts have reached that milestone!

The only thing left for me to say is:

HOLY SCHITT!

Edited to add: at 1:40 it’s at 51,000 views.

Continue reading

Could the Blue Jays Stay in Dunedin Longer than the First Two Home Stands?

I first became a Toronto Blue Jays fan when we moved to Dunedin, Florida nine years ago. Living just 4 blocks from TD Ballpark, I found myself being invested in my new “hometown” team. It wasn’t long after my love for baseball became known that I was appointed by the Mayor of Dunedin to the Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee.

We worked with the City of Dunedin and the Jays and provided input on what would be come the news updated stadium and player development facilities that everyone is raving about. When the Jays announced that they would play the first two home stands here in Dunedin, I was thrilled.

Due to the limited Covid “pod” seating protocols, tickets for these major league games sold out on the primary market very quickly and the prices escalated even quicker on the secondary market. Luckily, we managed to procure tickets to the first major league game that will ever be played here in Dunedin, when the Jays will face off against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I will finally get a chance to see Mike Trout!

We also managed to grab one more ticket to the first game in the series against the Yankees. Once we paid for those two games, we decided that we had spent enough, at least we could see Trout and Aaron Judge play practically in our own backyard!

We are still wondering where the Jays will go at the end of April as in Toronto they have decreed that sporting events cannot restart until July 1st and then without fans.

Then today in an article in The Athletic by Kaitlyn McGrath, Mark Shapiro President and CEO of the Jays states:

…knowing that we can’t come back to Toronto before July 1, unless something changes dramatically. It’s feeling like playing here (in Dunedin) past early June is going to probably be a challenge, just weather-wise. I’d stick with what I’ve mentioned before, that the solution to our season probably lies in a combination of Dunedin, Buffalo and Toronto, with significant involvement and feedback from our players.

…That’s why we haven’t come up with a final date yet. Obviously, we’re probably going to be in Dunedin a little longer than we’ve communicated. We’re still working through that. But we also will likely not remain here over the summer.

So it seems that we may just get at least another few weeks of Major League Baseball! They may not be here all season, but I’m happy with as many games as we can get!

In the article Shapiro notes that due to the weather here in Florida, the Jays may move to Buffalo where they played last year at the Buffalo Bisons stadium. My only question is if they are playing there, where will the Bisons play? Here in Dunedin, they would likely have the option to move the Low A, Southeast League (the old Florida State League) back to Jack Russell Stadium where the Dunedin Jays played two summers ago while the downtown stadium was renovated.

At this point, at least in public, it’s all conjecture. If I had any sway, which I don’t, I’d keep them here. Of course, that’s because who doesn’t want to be able to walk four blocks to a major league game?

Baseball Betsy and Jays President/CEO Mark Shapiro

Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin Stadium Renovations Nearing Completion

It’s been a long year but the extensive improvements being made to the Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Stadium in Dunedin, Florida are nearly complete.

Baseball Ross and I took a walk just a few blocks to see it. I also took some video that you can watch it here:

It I s worth noting, however, the player development complex at Englebert is significantly BEHIND schedule and is now looking to be completed in AUGUST. Therefore, as an active construction zone, there will be NO VISITOR ACCESS to the complex. Please do not go to the complex.

 

Blue Jays Spring Training Stadium Renovations Near Completion.

I’m almost teary-eyed as I write this. Today I got to take a look at the inside of the newly christened TD Ballpark here in Dunedin, Florida.

Why? I’ve been on the Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee for six years. When we started, we didn’t even know if the Jays would stay in the only spring training home they ever had. They’ve been here since 1977 and they’ve become part of the fabric of our little coastal town.

The last renovation was in the 1990s and the Stadium was looking a little dog-eared. No video board, small bathrooms, it was defiantly showing its age.

I was there when the city made their desire known that we wanted the Jays to stay, when the Mayor, Julie Ward Bujalski was overwhelmingly elected based on her “Keep the Jays” agenda. I sat through meetings where all that could be said was, “negotiations are ongoing” due to confidentiality agreements. I was at the meetings showing the “blue sky” plans, environmental impact and traffic studies, I appeared before the City Commission, spoke before them voicing my support and I was there the night when all the agreements were signed. It’s been a long, hard road that is finally coming to an end.

Today was the last of the “regular” status meetings where we were allowed to go out on the office balcony overlooking the stadium. As I looked at the stadium bowl I got teary. It was quite emotional seeing it so close to being finished.

The boardwalk, which will be known as the Orange Belt, an homage to the local train line that once took the oranges from the groves that once were located where the stadium now stands to points north, is just needing a few final touches. The bar on the third base side just needs the glass windows and finishing. The open air bar at right field has its roof. Most of the new seats WITH CUPHOLDERS are in. The roof is on the new elevator, giving it a coastal design. Everything inside the concrete, the wiring the plumbing is all new. New (and more) bathrooms and concessions. Off behind the bar is the area that will have the permit any barbecue restaurant and children’s play area. The team store will be accessible from outside the stadium so that you can purchase souvenirs as gear if you’re here on a non-game day (something that wasn’t possible before.)

The capacity has gone from 5,000 to nearly 8,000 (or more-still to be determined).

I am so flabbergasted, gobsmacked and twitterpated.

I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. I’m so happy. I’m including some stills and will have a video with bits from the outside as well. I wanted to post this while I was feeling “all the feels”.

It’s a Done Deal-Financing in place for New Blue Jays Spring Training Complex in Dunedin

Image by Populous

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you will know that I have been invested in the Blue Jays staying in their spring-training home of Dunedin, Florida. I live only a few blocks from the stadium and have served on the Dunedin Stadium Committee for more than four years. I have sat through numerous meetings, city meetings, hearings and spoken before city council-all so I can say:

It’s finally done!

It’s been a long road and the Jays mean a lot to the city of Duneden, this is the only spring-training home they’ve ever known-they’ve been here for 42 years. By the time this deal is done they’ll be here another 25. They’re the only team in major league baseball who hasn’t moved and they won’t be moving for a long, long time.

The city council voted last night and the county voted their approval this morning.

You can read an article outlining the details of the deal HERE and watch the city council meeting HERE.

The Jays Will Stay! Dunedin City Council Unanimously Approves Deal to Improve Facilities For Jays 

Four long years. Tonight was the culmination of four years work to create a a deal that was fair and affordable that would keep the Toronto Blue Jays Spring training home here in Dunedin.

Dunedin isn’t a big city. There’s only 35,000 people in town. We don’t have high rise hotels on the beach or a shopping mall. Our  beach is a state park, our “mall” is a string of mom and pop shops on a quaint Main Street. The Jays are a big part of what brings tourists into our little hamlet just north of Clearwater.

We are the only spring training home the Jays have ever had. 40 Years. Canadian fans have bought property to come here year after year to see “Canada’s Team”.

How could such a small town provide world class year round facilities? 

It took 4 years of negotiations but we have a deal. Both sides gave a little, both sides walk away winners.

The city will contribute $5.6 million, the State of Florida $13.7, Pinellas County’s “Bed head tax” (a tax on hotel rooms that the revenues generated can be used ONLY for tourism projects) $46 million with the team the remaining $20 million.

We could get into the economics of the tourism that spring training brings in (more than $90 million county-wide) or how just the announcers saying “Dunedin” during spring training broadcasts is worth $5 million alone…

But having the Jays here is more than that.

It’s how most kids see their first MLB baseball game right in town, it’s how the Jays have charity bowling games in summer, or how they let the local high school baseball team play on their major league caliber fields or how the Jays help the little league have first class fields to play on.

It’s what has been termed a “40 year marriage” and tonight we renewed those vows for at least another 25 years. 

It was personal for me. I found my house because I came here to go to a Phillies and Jays game and we got lost. We walked through downtown Dunedin and on to the stadium…on the way we fell in love. We’ve been here a little over five years. I’ve been on the Stadium Committee over four years having been appointed by the former mayor.

It’s been a long road. Tonight was the beginning of the end of that long road. We still have a few more steps to go, but the highest hurdle has been jumped and I am relieved.

Dunedin City Council with Mayor Julie Ward Bujowski holding the signed approval.

Josh Donaldson Makes Another Rehab Appearance

Today was one of those days where nothing went as planned but turned out great in the end. I had hoped to see former Blue Jay Pat Venditte make his first appearance at Phillies camp since being traded to the Phils from the Mariners. Since he had just returned from the World Baseball Classic, we thought that he would be at the Phillies’ complex. He was not.

Welcome to the Blue Jays

So I jumped in my Mini and headed back to Dunedin and to the Mattick Training Complex where the AA and AAA Phillies and Jays teams were playing. I got to the field as the Jays were taking the field in the bottom of the third inning. Just as I got behind home, the crowd rushed to the fence and when I looked up, I could see why, Josh Donaldson was about to bat.

I have to pause here to say that this was one of the coldest days of the winter. Early this morning, it was 39* F (4*C) and by now, it was in the mid 50s (12.8* C) with a very strong wind coming in from the gulf, right into our faces. It was freezing.

Donaldson took a swing……

Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson

Even into that strong headwind, there was no doubt that that ball was going to go out. There was a collective, “Ooooh” from the crowd as the ball cleared the fence and bounced out into the grass near the softball fields on the other side. It was one beautiful shot INTO the wind.

It was his last at bat of the day so I don’t know how his earlier at bats went, but let me tell you, he’s hit long homers into the wind the last two days, there is no doubt that his timing is down and he should be good to go, once he is given the green light to run again.

I never did get to see Venditte, rumor is that he was with the Phillies MLB team. Frankly, I forgot about him once I saw Donaldson hit that homer.

 

Phillies vs Blue Jays-March 2, 2017

My favorite games are the ones where the Phillies play the Blue Jays here in Dunedin. Even with my bad foot, we live close enough that we can walk to the stadium without any difficulty. (If we don’t go, we can listen to the PA from the front porch!)

I will ALWAYS be a Phillies Girl, but that being said, the Jays are my American League team. I live in Dunedin and am invested in the team staying here in Dunedin. I’ve gotten to love the Jays. Currently, my favorite major league player is Jose Bautista and I was happy to get to see him play.

Aaron Nola was back on the mound for the first time since his surgery. The radar gun in Florida Auto Exchange Stadium was reading that Nola’s top speed was 94, much higher than the 91 we saw him hit in his professional debut when he played for the Clearwater Threshers vs the Lakeland Tigers. (You can read my blog about his debut game HERE.)

Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola

The first time Bautista was up, he missed a home run by just a few feet (as you can see below). He settled for a single.

img_6090
Jose Bautista misses a home run by just a few feet.

img_6088
Jose Bautista misses a home run by just a few feet, as you can see here.

Later, facing Ben Lively, Bautista would not be denied, he killed the ball and got a three run homer. I was particularly thrilled when I caught the ball going over the fence in right center.

img_6086
Bautista nails the pitch from Ben Lively

img_6085
Going…..

img_6083
Going….  

GONE! Bautista's ball clears the fence.
GONE! Bautista’s ball clears the fence. (Upper right-hand corner.)

Bautista comes home with a 3-run homer.
Bautista comes home with a 3-run homer.

It was a good day for a game. For someone who loves both teams, it couldn’t be more appropriate that the game ended in an 8-8 tie.

Baseball Ross and I put together a video that we think you’d like, with pictures and video from today’s game as well as our thoughts. You can watch the video HERE.

 

 

Dunedin on the Eve of Spring Training 2017

All is quiet in Dunedin, Florida. The sun was shining, it’s a balmy 73* (That’s 28.8* C). What a great day to be alive in Dunedin!

Watch my blog to see how Dunedin is ready for the crowds of spring training fans to descend on the city. You can watch it HERE.

Welcome to Blue Jays Spring Training 2017
Welcome to Blue Jays Spring Training 2017