March 2010

TP01: Spring Training Report & Home Opener Countdown

“People
ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I
do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers
Hornsby

The Toronto Blue Jays will be making their way to Texas in
six days from today to start to the 2010 Season against the Rangers. As you
should know, the Home Opener is also approaching and is an exciting thirteen
days or 312 hours away. Are you ready for baseball season? I definitely am. So
far this season there hasn’t been a lot of buzz surrounding the Spring
Training Team. Quite a few people I’ve spoken to don’t have a clue about the
team that they’ll be watching for the next six months. After Roy Halladay
departed for Philly, there hasn’t been any blockbuster trades in the news, but
the key to this season, is that the Jays are working with the talent they have
to grow and continue building the franchise. There are a
couple notable mentions and new faces to the roster this season that you may
or may not have heard about, so let me briefly catch you up to speed.

As of today, March 30th, 2010 the Blue Jays (10-11) are only 6.0 games
behind the top team in the Grapefruit League, the Tampa Bay Rays (18-7).
Spring Training is a chance to forecast the rest of the season, not over-doing
it but making sure the right choices are made early on in the year. In what
will be Cito Gaston’s last year as Manager for the team, there is a current
focus to secure the final pitching rotation, but that takes time. With
injuries and various possibilities, choosing the best starters will foreshadow
the success of the team on the mound this season.

Let’s chat about
Dana Eveland. Eveland is a left-handed pitcher, acquired by the Blue Jays back
in early February of this year from the Oakland Athletics. Eveland, who’s
recorded 198 career strikeouts since his debut in 2005, has made six
appearances in Spring Training for the Jays, pitching 22 innings,
in hopes to have a regular spot in the pitching rotation (or at least the Jays
Bullpen). If chosen as a starter, Eveland would join 6-foot, 210 pound
left-handed pitcher Ricky Romero and right-handed pitcher, Shaun Marcum who
missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008.
According to reports,
Marcum and Romero are
the only definitive selections for the starting rotation and the remaining
three spots will be filled by any combination of RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP Marc
Rzepczynski (ZEP-CHIN-SKI), LHP Brian Tallet, LHP Brett Cecil, or LHP Dana
Eveland.

In order for the Jays to be successful offensively in 2010,
they’ll require continued and consistent effort from second baseman Aaron Hill
and Left-Fielder/Designated-Hitter Adam Lind. In 2009, Hill was ranked first
among second-basemen in the league and recorded 36 home runs. Hill was also
awarded the Silver Slugger Award and was named the American League Comeback
Player of the Year. Lind, who made 587 plate appearances last season, recorded
97 runs and 35 home runs for the Jays. Center-Fielder Vernon Wells, who will
most likely remain with the Jays until 2014 (by contract), is back and ready
to go after a successful wrist surgery in the off-season. Though he suffered a
lot of pain last season, Wells made 630 plate appearances for the Jays and
recorded 84 runs.

It all seems to come down to expectation at this
point in the season with the hope and drive to surpass the training reports on
the team. In order to do so, these three players, along with the other members
of the active roster, will need to step-up to instill confidence within the
young members of the roster with the support and reliability from players who
have been around the league longer. In one of the videos on the team website,
a narrator makes the goal for the season very clear, in true Toronto form:


“This season, it’s about the name on the front of the jersey, not the
back.”

All this talk about the starting rotation is getting me really
excited to see the team in action. T-Minus 13 Days until the 2010 Jays Roster
makes their first appearance on the turf at the Rogers Center. Do you have
your tickets? No? Hm. You call yourself a fan? Do you want tickets? Not just
any tickets though..no, no, no. How would you like to treat a friend to the
Home Opener against the White Sox in style? I’m talking comfortable seats,
snacks and drinks and two hosts that will surely keep you entertained while
you wear your new Jays Hat and speak to Jays General Manager Alex Anthopolous
in a private box. Ahem. Excuse me, while I brush the dirt off your shoulders.

Well lucky for you Fancypants, you could have your friends fighting
for your attention and showering you with bribes and all you have to do is
enter to win. I also hope you have an opinion about the Jays, because the FAN
590’s Don Landry and Gord Stellick sure do. They’ll be the hosts of the box
while you and your buddy take in the first glimpse of a revitalized Jays team.

I interned at the FAN 590 for just over a year and a half and eight
months of that time was spent as an intern on the Morning show with Landry and
Stellick. Every morning, Monday to Friday last year, I started my work day at
5:00am assisting the producers on the show. Weekly I got to call (Read: wake
up from a deep slumber) Cito Gaston, take calls, do research and compile
information on the latest triumphs in sports for the guys. If you ever listen
to the show, you’ll hear two guys that really love what they do and have
various opinions on the sports teams in Toronto.

So, what are you
waiting for? Get a move on right now (click here)

Finally, last week was a big week and so is the upcoming one. You
should know already, after my brief introduction, that baseball has had a huge
impact on my life. I wish you could have seen the smile on my face when I
walked into Gate 3 of the Rogers Center to have my photo I.D. taken and given
a tour of the office I’d call home for the upcoming months. That day was a
blur and for someone who usually has an excellent memory (read: I don’t forget
much at all) I haven’t a clue who I met or what they do, only that I smiled a
lot and was so excited to meet everyone. It hit me the moment I left to go
back to school: I get to go to work every day at the Rogers Center and be
around the game I love all of the time. I really couldn’t imagine a better way
to spend my summer. For the first time, I would get my own space with my own
desk not to mention, for the only professional club in Canada. Cool, huh? I
bought myself a cookie (a vegan one) that day, because I was so excited. My
family has been adding to my Jays memorabilia collection this week, to
personalize my desk at the office. I’ve got a plaque with the 1992
Championship team on it and two autographed Blue Jays Hockey Sticks that were
given away to fans in the late 70s-early 80s at exhibition stadium. So you
know what that means? I’m now the proud caretaker of some family heirlooms.

I
officially start on opening day, so I’ll be posting regularly then and for
crying out loud, go get your Home Opener tickets, I don’t like excuses.

The First: An Introduction

When you think about the Blue Jays, what’s the first thought that comes to mind? My Toronto roots bring me back to summer afternoons in the mid-90’s sitting with my Papa listening to the games on his old radio outside or sitting on his lap watching them on T.V. He wore a denim Jays jacket and yelled at the TV set in his thick Scottish accent, which always made me laugh. The Jays to me are a part of this city, of my childhood, and a reflection of the way sports culture effects our lives every day. So the next time you think about the Jays, think about why you’re a fan or what it is that you love about the team, through the years and in the present.

With that, let me introduce myself! My name is Megan Robinson and I’m a baseball fan. It’s nice to meet you. I’m a Radio and Television Arts student at Ryerson University and will graduate next spring. I have interned around Toronto for the past five years in various media outlets having a chance to write, report, blog, interview, and really get a grasp on media and sports in Toronto. I grew up playing baseball and to this day, playing catch is one of my all-time favourite ways to pass the time. I started playing baseball when I was three years old at Corvette Park in Scarborough, Ontario. My uncle sponsored a team which his two sons, my two eldest cousins, played on. They needed a couple girls on the team to be co-ed and I was lucky enough one of them, using my black Rawlings glove with neon green stitching. I loved the in-field and played third base but at the age of three, got tired quickly and chose to sit on the base during the game. Little did I know, that would be my introduction to one of my favourite games. Since then, I’ve played in all kinds of leagues and on school teams and have quite a few memories to remember it all. I have watched and listened to baseball in a few other cities and there’s nothing quite like it. The sport itself has so much history behind it and brings people together for so many great reasons.

It’s simple: I love baseball.

I associate seasons with different aspects of the game: Spring is of course Spring Training – the hope and passion that enlivens the upcoming season is invaluable. It’s a fresh start and a chance once more to display talent and endure the season eager for October baseball; Summer reminds me of social butterflies – How many times have you caught up with an old friend at a baseball game, catching a glimpse of a few plays or doing the seventh-inning stretch all the while enjoying each others’ company with the ambient noises of baseball? Summer is fantastic for that, when the Rogers Centre is open and the city is illuminated at night or on a Sunday afternoon as the sun shines brightly over the first-base line; And of course, there’s Fall – October baseball is what the whole season comes down to. Most players start the beginning of the season with a clear vision of playoffs in mind. After all, they play to win and to win, most importantly, in the post-season. By late October when the leaves have fallen and the air becomes cooler, baseball is the last chance at summer before the snow falls in Canada but to all baseball players, October baseball is what they live for.

If you’re like me and see baseball as anything but a bore and look forward to the six month season then you’d understand why I want to be a baseball writer and work for a professional ball club. Mid-way through my first year at University my dreams of becoming solely a sports reporter shifted when I realized that the people who knew the game the best were the writers who spent their days at the field, getting to know the players and coaches and living every day looking for a fresh angle to say something about the team or a player. I decided a couple years ago that I wanted to learn professional sports inside and out and that every aspect of a club would be an asset to my writing and in turn my career in baseball or sports in general, so you can imagine my excitement when I got hired as an intern with the Blue Jays for the summer!

Getting hired was nerve wracking but I was excited throughout the process. I was initially selected for a phone interview which happened to be while I was on a family vacation in Mexico. After being given the green light, I had arranged that I would call Toronto from Mexico as I didn’t know how I would be accessible while out of the country. You’d think making a phone call to Canada from Mexico wouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong. After three days of looking for a phone that would accept my calling cards, I resorted to using reverse collect calling and after a few test calls finally managed to have the brief interview from my room. I had met my superiors while working at the FAN590 as an intern on the Morning Show last summer, so it was neat that they already had some idea of who I was and what I was about. I was contacted for a in-office interview the following week once I had returned from my seaside vacation and asked to prepare some ideas on contesting and promotions for the upcoming home opener (it’s a MONDAY, so the promotional concepts weren’t exactly limitless). Walking to the Rogers Centre for me is like putting my game face on. Every time I go there, as a fan or a reporter, I always travel the same way – through the Skywalk from Union station and slowly down the path, past the CN Tower. I wasn’t nervous going into the interview, I was eager to meet them and to answer their questions. It went well and I went off to leave the short-list in their hands to determine the successful candidate (read: the wait and see game is excruciating when you’re excited).
 
That was a Thursday so when a missed call and a voice mail from ‘BLUE JAYS’ appeared on my phone the following Tuesday, two days before I had expected to hear anything at all, I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I got it. I would be (officially) the Promotions Intern for the 2010 Season for the Toronto Blue Jays. A Pro ball club! The opportunity to learn this side of the business is going to be an amazing way to spend my summer and soak in as much as possible from the people around me on a daily basis.

When they asked me to blog I thought a lot about what I would want to say, every day for six months. How many people do you know that work for a professional team? I realized that the insight I would gain from the start to the end of the season was reason enough for a blog. Every day tasks and game day duties are all things that will be a part of my job this season and I’m excited to be able to share that with you! Since the blog is entitled Triple Play I will be sharing three major points of interest – Jays news, stories from around the league, or something that happened in my day. As well, weekly features and updates on the Jays Triple A team the Las Vegas 51s, interviews and videos as well as contests and current Jays Promotions will be part of Triple Play. Make sure you check in as often as you can because I’ll be posting daily entries and videos about my daily encounters and notable mentions.

 Stay tuned for my next post including my thoughts on the Grapefruit league and the Jays in Spring Training!