Tag Archives: Toronto Blue Jays

Building my Ballpark Bucket List for When the World is Open Once Again Part 2

As the world of sports continues to look into ways to safely return fans into their facilities thanks to the COVID-19 virus, sports fans are left to wait and wonder when they can return to their local Ballparks and Stadiums and raise their souvenir cups high.

Although I will not be able to see live sports any time soon, that does not mean that from the relative safety of my gigplex I cannot compile a Bucket List of the ballparks I want to visit once the green light is given to safely return to mass gatherings.

Since catching my first Major League Baseball game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore I have visited a lot of Ballparks. There are still many more Ballparks I want to see.
Photo R. Anderson

My Bucket List of ballparks was already pretty extensive, but as I have had much time at home to contemplate, I have had the chance to add to it. For the purpose of this exercise I have selected a Top 10 list of Ballparks I want to see.

The list is broken up into five Ballparks that I want to visit again, and five Ballparks that I want to see for the first time. The Ballparks include facilities at the Major League level, the Minor League Level, as well as the Independent League level.

I unveiled the five Ballparks I want to see again in Part 1. Today, in Part 2, I unveil the five Ballparks that I have never visited, but in some cases, have wanted to see for years.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the main Ballpark on my Bucket List that I want to visit.
Photo R. Anderson

While there are many Ballparks that I want to visit, the one that has topped my list pretty much from the time it was built is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. I was raised as a Baltimore Orioles fan, and saw my first Major League game at Memorial Stadium where the Orioles played prior to making the move to Camden Yards.

Once I moved to Florida, Spring Training meant trips to see the Orioles at Tinker Field, and later at Ed Smith Stadium. I have even seen the Orioles play regular season games against the Astros in Houston and against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

Still, the one venue that has eluded me is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Ballpark started the movement for single use Ballparks, and includes a distinctive warehouse wall feature which the Astros mimicked when they built their new Ballpark at the site of the old Union Station. As soon as I am able, and the world gets a little more stability, I will board that big blue Boeing 737 nonstop from Houston to Baltimore to catch a game, enjoy an Esskay hotdog, and some crab cakes smothered in Old Bay. On a positive since the Orioles have struggled mightily the last few seasons, it is likely that the Ballpark will not be full which should allow me to really explore as I check it off of my Bucket List.

Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Proximity to Space Coast Stadium allowed me the chance to see many Washington Nationals Spring Training games when I lived in Florida. However, I have yet to see the 2019 World Series Champions play at Nationals Park.
Photo R. Anderson

When I lived in Maryland, the Washington Senators had already fled to Texas to become the Rangers, after replacing the version of the Senators that fled to Minnesota to become the Twins.

Additionally, the Washington Nationals went by the name of the Montreal Expos, so the ability to catch a game at Nationals Park would have been rather difficult since neither the Ballpark, nor the team existed. But from the time that the Nationals arrived on the scene, I embraced them with the full vigor that one would for a long-lost friend.

My fandom of the Nationals was further entrenched after my mom reminded me one day that since we had lived closer to Washington D.C. than Baltimore, had the Nats existed when I lived in Maryland, I likely would have followed them instead of the Orioles, or I would have followed them both. When I lived in Florida the Nats had Spring Training less than an hour away from where I lived, which made catching games easy. Even after moving to Texas I continued to catch the Nats whenever I traveled to Florida for Spring Training.

When the Nats made their magical World Series run against the Houston Astros in 2019, I certainly got nasty looks as I wore my Nats gear proudly around the Houston suburbs but my fandom was well entrenched by then and as the song goes, “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, and the trash can gonna bang, bang, bang.” So when I make the trip to Oriole Park, I will be sure to stay in town long enough to catch a game at Nationals Park as well while I am there.

Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX

The Texas Rangers traded in their quaint, furnace of a Ballpark for a retractable roof version next door. When the scoreboard says it is 108 degrees outside it will be nice to catch a game in air conditioned comfort.
Photo R. Anderson

The third Ballpark I want to visit for the first time is Globe Life Field, the new home of the Texas Rangers.

I attended games at Globe Life Park, which the Rangers previously called home, and left each game a few pounds lighter than when I went in based on the triple digit heat, and the general lack of air circulation within the lower bowl of the Ballpark.

The Rangers decided that their under 30-year old Ballpark was not conducive to the climate in the Dallas Metroplex and a retractable roof Ballpark was built next door. Globe Life Park briefly served as the home of the Dallas XFL team, but with the XFL gone Globe Life Park will be two teams short.

While some could argue that based on the hard to miss similarities between the design of Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park, I have already seen the new facility, I still want to visit it. Whenever I do make it up to Arlington it will definitely be nice to experience a Rangers game for once without needing to bring a dry set of clothes for the drive home.

Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver, British Columbia

During my previous trip to Vancouver, British Columbia I had poutine in Stanley Park. During my next visit to Vancouver I hope to have poutine in the Ballpark.
Photo R. Anderson

While the previous three ballparks on the list have all been on the Major League level, my fourth Bucket List Ballpark that I want to visit takes us north of the border, and also down to Class A in the Minor Leagues.

Nat Bailey Stadium, located smack dab in the center of Vancouver, British Columbia, is the home of the Vancouver Canadians, who are the Class A Toronto Blue Jays farm team. A few years back, I had the opportunity to catch a Vancouver Canucks hockey game in Vancouver. Catching a BC Lions CFL game in Vancouver is also on my Bucket List, so it is only natural that I would want to see baseball north of the border as well.

Taking my baseball fandom international will certainly be an experience to treasure. Of course, traveling all the way to Canada just to see a Minor League baseball game would likely be rather silly in the big picture. Good thing that there are many other items on the list for things to do on the trip besides the game. I just hope they serve poutine at the Ballpark. Something tells me that they do.

FNB Field, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The Washington Nationals have a Farm Team named the Harrisburg Senators who play on an island. As long as I don’t have to take a boat called the S.S. Minnow to get there count me in.
Photo R. Anderson

The final Ballpark on the list is FNB Field in Harrisburg, PA. FNB Field is the home field of the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A Minor League affiliate of the Washington Nationals,

The Ballpark has been on my Bucket List for several years based on a) it being a Washington Nationals farm team and b) it is located on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. I mean, a Ballpark in the middle of a river. How cool is that?

I still have the program from my first Major League Baseball Game. between the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers. It is one of many programs that I have collected through the years. In the years to come I look forward to collecting even more programs, ticket stubs, and souvenir cups as I travel around to various Ballparks.
Photo R. Anderson

If I plan really carefully, I can likely catch a game on the island during the same trip where I go see Oriole Park and Nationals Park. Three days of Esskay hot dogs, Old Bay lump blue crab cakes, and Utz cheese curls sounds pretty spectacular right about now.

Of course, visiting any Ballpark will be welcome once the all-clear is given on this terrible virus that has taken far too many lives, and forever impacted the lives that it hasn’t taken.

Stay safe. Stay smart, and I will see you at a Ballpark in the not too distant future. Until then, may your dreams involve Ballparks with all you can eat popcorn and unlimited soda refills.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check to see if we are still keeping track of the days of the week.

Copyright 2020 R. Anderson

Where Getting it Wrong has no Consequences

There are few professions where one can be consistently wrong and still keep their jobs.

An accountant who messes up the numbers time and time again will soon find that their employer is none too pleased.

A chef that consistently under cooks food and makes his diners sick will soon find that no one wants to eat his food offerings.

The list goes on and on regarding professions where failure really is not an option for keeping their jobs.

Of course, as is the case with every rule, there are exceptions.

Two examples of professions where routine failures and miscalculations do not usually lead to job loss are weather forecasting professionals and sports prognosticators.

History is full of examples where both meteorologists and prognosticators have missed the mark on their “forecasts.” This failure is usually attributed to the fluid nature of what they are trying to predict.

It is true that weather and sports teams do not always follow the forecast models and predicted paths so as the 2013 Major League Baseball season ends its first month it is a good time to look at what preseason predictions were spot on and which ones clearly missed the mark altogether.

Big spending in the offseason as not worked out the way the Toronto Blue Jays hoped as they are dead last in the American League East standings. Photo R. Anderson
Big spending in the off-season has not worked out the way the Toronto Blue Jays hoped as they are dead last in the American League East standings.
Photo R. Anderson

Let’s start with the American League East standings. As mentioned before, it is the division that I have spent most of my life rooting for so it is both familiar and near and dear to my heart. It is also considered one of the toughest divisions in baseball year in and year out.

As of April 30, the Boston Red Sox were leading the division with the Toronto Blue Jays six games back in last place. The Tampa Bay Rays were in second to last place 2.5 games out of first.

Many preseason predictions showed the Toronto Blue Jays, who spent heavily on free agents in the off-season, running the table and battling the Rays for the Division title. In reality R.A. Dickey, the National League CY Young Award winner last year with the Mets, has failed to capture that same form this year with the Blue Jays. And other off-season acquisitions have also failed to show the sparks of greatness they were brought in for.

With the other four teams in the division within 2.5 games of each other a six-game hole does seem like a tough mountain to climb for the Jays’ new manager and let’s make a deal roster.

History has shown time and time again that the approach of “buying titles” by making big splashy off-season acquisitions rarely works. The Miami Marlins won two World Series titles using that formula when they were still called the Florida Marlins but the success was fleeting and each title was followed by a fire sale where all of the talent was sent packing in a payroll dumping measure.

The Marlins tried that approach again last year and sent most of their talent to the Blue Jays before the start of this season when their attempt to buy the series last year failed.

But despite this cautionary tale the Blue Jays will not be the last team to try the free agent quick fix route to a World Championship.

So with the American League East returning to a more familiar formula of the Red Sox and Yankees battling at the top with the Rays and Orioles trying to crash the party let us turn our sights to the newest kid on the American League block.

The Houston Astros face an uphill climb in their first season in the American League. I think everyone can agree on that fact. What people cannot seem to agree on is just how bad, or how good they will be this year.

Former Nationals turned Astros Bo Porter and Rick Ankiel hope to bring some of the winning ways from Washington with them to Houston. Photo R. Anderson
Former Nationals turned Astros Bo Porter and Rick Ankiel hope to bring some of the winning ways from Washington with them to Houston.
Photo R. Anderson

Before the season many sports prediction experts tapped the Astros as being the worst team in baseball for the third straight year with at best 50 wins over the course of the 161 game season.

Of course a funny thing happened during the first month of the season with the Astros winning 8 games or roughly 10 percent of the total number of wins most people thought they would have all year.

And yes, there have been some really one sided games and pitching issues in the first inning that have led to insurmountable leads for the opponents and really ugly losses for the Astros.

There have also been some quality wins over some tough opponents in the Rangers, Yankees and Angels. As well as four wins over their American League West division foe Seattle Mariners. And one more thing, The Miami Marlins have a worse record than the Astros and several teams have only one more win than Houston.

Does this mean that the Astros will go on a tear and win 60 or 70 games this year? Not necessarily. But, it does show that at this point in the season the team everybody wrote off in Spring Training has shown they have a little more fight and spirit than they were given credit for.

While things in the American League seem to be bucking many of the preseason trends, things in the National League are going a little more to plan at the completion of the first month of the season.

Just kidding, the National League is equally as crazy as the American league at this point in the season.

Currently trailing the Atlanta Braves the Washington Nationals are hoping to take manager Davey Johnson to the World Series in his last season at the helm. Photo R. Anderson
Currently trailing the Atlanta Braves the Washington Nationals are hoping to take manager Davey Johnson to the World Series in his last season at the helm.
Photo R. Anderson

I mean did anyone really expect that the Colorado Rockies would be leading the National League West and be two games ahead of the World Champion San Francisco Giants?

And back east did anyone expect the Atlanta Braves to be 3.5 games ahead of the Washington Nationals who had the best record in the regular season last year?

While there is still time for the forecasts to turn more in favor of the preseason numbers after the first month of the season there are certainly trends to support that many people just missed the mark on their predictions.

Personally I like when the predictions don’t go as planned since that shows that the game is unpredictable and anyone can win on any given day.

If all of the outcomes were known in advance it would make for a very boring season. So I salute the men and women whose preseason predictions missed the mark and say “let’s play ball for the next five months or so.”

Now if you’ll excuse me it is time to watch the weather forecast to see if I do or do not need an umbrella. Of course, they have a 50/50 chance of being both right and wrong.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson