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!

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.

2020 Phillies/Blue Jays/Tigers/Yankees Minor League Spring Training Schedule

Below you will find the Phillies, Blue Jays, Tigers and Yankees 2020 Minor League Spring Training Schedule.

PLEASE NOTE: the Blue Jays Complex at the Mattick Complex is NOT OPEN TO VISITORS. It is still an active construction zone due to the massive expansion to the complex. Expected completion is sometime this summer.

Phillies 2020 Minor League Roster Released!

Below you will find the first edition of the Phillies Minor League Spring Training 2020 Roster

Phillies 2020 Minor League Spring Training Roster

Here we go again, ANOTHER fan injured (this time a small child) by a foul ball.

This has been something that has always peeved me about baseball. People being injured by flying balls and bats. It’s not a “new” problem. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that this is a cause I’ve championed for ages. I’ll post links to my previous blogs below.

Photo courtesy of David Phillip/AP

In case you haven’t heard, last night a 4 year old little girl was hit by the a foul ball hit by Albert Almora Jr. it must have been terrible as the players all reacted in horror. As a fan, I know this sound.

I was at a game in Lakewood, New Jersey when an “airmailed” throw from third sailed into the crowdabove the first base dugout and pegged a toddler square in the back. He was standing directly in front of his mother. There was nothing she could have done to protect him. It made this sick, thump as you could hear the air knocked out of the child’s lungs. He did not cry.

That was even scarier, the lack of crying. There was dead silence and for a brief second I thought he had been killed. Then he made this high pitched squealing breath and started to cry. It was terrifying. Luckily, there was a pediatrician sitting in the next section who immediately attended the child.

The player was horrified at the damage he had caused.

It’s been almost 13 years since that game, August 19, 2006 and yes, I remember the date. When is the safety of the patrons going to rate spending a few thousand dollars for poles and net?

It’s not just horrifying to the injured person, their family and the adjacent fans but looking at Almora’s reaction and subsequent sobbing on the shoulder of a security guard when he was told she’d be ok shows how traumatizing it is for the players that bat the ball.

In the NHL, one little girl, Brittani Cecil was killed by a deflected puck in March, by the beginning of the next season, all NHL facilities had protective netting. That’s all it took, one accident. With the myriad of incidents and serious injuries with MLB, why have they not acted?

This article in the Washington Post outlines some of the most egregious injuries and deaths in baseball history. The key part of the article is as follows:

it has come to be known as the “Baseball Rule.” As long as teams offer some protected areas, fans sitting outside that zone do so at their own risk — a warning still printed on the back of every MLB ticket today.

It’s not an idle warning. A review by Bloomberg in 2014 found that 1,750 fans per year are injured by foul balls. Many of the injuries have been harrowing. In 2017, Sports Illustrated’s Gabriel Baumgaertner recounted some recent cases: a woman in Dodger Stadium whose jaw was broken in two places by a flying bat in 2008; a fan at Fenway Park who spent a week in serious condition at a hospital in 2015 after a thrown bat hit his head; a screaming line drive at Wrigley Field that same year that left a fan carted out on a stretcher. Per ESPN, only two fans before Goldbloom had ever died due to head trauma caused by a baseball at an MLB game: a 32-year-old named Clarence Stagemyer, who died in 1943 after being hit by an errant throw to first at Washington’s Griffith Stadium; and Alan Fish, a 14-year-old who died in 1970 after a foul ball at Dodger Stadium hit him in the head.

Linda Goldbloom, Alan Fish and Clarence Stagemyer have all died from batted balls. How many others have been seriously injured by balls and bats?

How many people have to die or be seriously injured before MLB will do something? MLB promotes their in park ballpark apps…further distraction from play on the field-one more thing that could lead to someone getting hurt? Players are bigger and stronger, the technology in the equipment allows them to hit balls harder and faster. MLB is even promoting “EXIT VELOCITY” and “LAUNCH ANGLE”, two more ways to encourage harder hitting.

The Japanese League has added netting from home to foul poles. They take fan safety seriously.

The new netting is very thin and it in no way interferes with the experience. They installed it at Spectrum Field last season so I can speak from experience.

Are people so worried about not being able to get a foul ball that they are willing to risk serious injury? Would you take that chance with your family? As it stands now, MLB thinks it’s a risk you are willing take.

Previous Blogs:

Another Fan Killed by Foul Ball at Dodger Stadium

Another Serious Injury to a Fan-This Time at the World Series

Enough is Enough! More Netting is Needed at Baseball Stadiums! Freddie Galvis is Right!

Fan Injured By Bat Hit Into the Stands

Meeting John Middleton-Phillies Owner

Today I was enjoying my free ticket to the Phillies game. Threshers season ticket holders are given a chance to see the Phillies one game a year. Part of a section is reserved and tickets are dispensed on a first come, first served basis. It’s a great time as you get to see a lot of your friends you haven’t seen since September.

Ross and I arrived early and walked around. I saw that there was someone garnering a lot of attention. It wasn’t a player. Phillies owner John Middleton was signing autographs. By this time, we were eating lunch and I had just sat down, so it was either abandon lunch for an autograph or let it go. Lunch won. I was sad about not getting the autograph but I really didn’t have a choice.

After lunch, I was feeling good as I’m recovering from my foot surgery so we walked a lap around the field. When we came back around Mr. Middleton was almost to the concourse and still signing.

I grabbed my “limited edition, only available for 24 hours” Topps Now card of Bryce Harper’s debut for the Phillies and asked Mr. Middleton to sign it. He did and said he hadn’t seen one nor did he have one and that he thought it was cool.

After he walked away, I realized I had a second copy in my bag. So I ran back and caught up to him and gave him the copy.

He grabbed my shoulder, smiled and said, “thank you so much that is unbelievably kind and thoughtful of you!” He shook my hand a couple times before thanking me again and heading to the owners suite.

I think so many people ask him for things that he really appreciated that someone would think to make such a gesture. I was glad to do something for the man who brought us Bryce Harper….

Speaking of Bryce Harper…stay tuned for my report on the game tomorrow…Here’s a hint…

Bryce Harper’s first home run as a Phillie

What Does it Take For A Warning to be Issued? Jays’ Pitchers Take Shots at Phils

What does it take for a warning to be issued? Does someone have to be permanently injured or disfigured? Don’t get me wrong, I live in Dunedin so I do support the Jays, but I’m seriously reconsidering that after what I’ve seen in the last two games.

Is it because of Harper? The Jays didn’t play like that the first game–which was the day the Phillies signed Harper.

Then during Harper’s debut, the brush-backs started. First, Jean Segura:

Jean Segura barely dodges a pitch

Then during Rhys Hoskins’ second at bat, his first after his 2-run homer, he was nearly got nailed in the face:

Rhys Hoskins nearly hit in the head by a pitch

Rhys Hoskins nearly hit in the head by a pitch

Today, Harper was nailed in the ankle. See Harper getting hit HERE.

Harper after getting hit (Photo courtesy of Sports Center)

I know that after Hoskins was nearly decapitated no warning was issued…and not today after Harper got hit.

After the game a steaming Hoskins said he Elias ready to back up Harper if he would have charged the mound.

I’ll be at the last matchup VS the Jays next week. Hopefully, there won’t be a repeat of this kind of behavior.

Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez Make Rehab Appearances in Minor League Game

Guess I just got lucky, went to the first minor league game of the season and managed to catch both Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez making rehab appearances. I saw Odubel made 3 at bats and Hernandez 2 (they may have batted more, but as I was covering 2 games-They may have batted more.) Neither played the field.

Many times in minor league spring games, rehabbing major leaguers will bat at the top of every inning until they get their work done.

Odubel Herrera

Cesar Hernandez