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!

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.

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.

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”.

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