On Saturday, November 17 the Blue Jays held a holiday photos event at Rogers Centre for season ticket holders, and I was invited by a loyal reader of Bluebird Banter (thanks!).
The field was partially assembled and dimly lit as most of the activities were limited to the 100-level concourse between the bases as well as in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse, where fans were able to walk through and take holiday photos with Ace, the Jays’ mascot.
The event also allowed me to take a look to see what renovations have been undertaken since the end of the 2019 season.
Despite low ambient lighting it was clear to see that some construction work was ongoing in the Rogers Centre’s 100-level outfield seats. It appeared that around three rows of seating had been removed from the rear of sections 101 to 108 and 135 to 142, which can be seen in these comparison photographs taken in May 2019 and this past Saturday. These seats were elevated above the concourse and blocked fans walking through from seeing the action on the field. The grey concrete pillars in those sections also appeared to have received a coat of blue paint.
Fans at the event also saw a whiteboard, which is mounted in the tunnel between the Blue Jays’ dugout and their clubhouse, which apparently tracks each position player’s effort level, good plays, and mistakes made (click here for the enlarged version).
Under the “Plus” (green) category are:
- Great Effort
- Great Turn(s)
- Good Read & Advancing on Dirt Ball
- Smart Decision Based on Game Situation
- Good Read & Taking Extra Base
- Good Jump on Steal
- Beating Out INF Hit / Force Play
- Great Timing & Jump at 3b on Contact Play
- Great Secondary Lead & Jump
- Hard Slide into 2b & Disrupting Double Play
Under the “Minus” (red) side are:
- Poor Effort
- Poor Turn(s)
- Poor Primary / Secondary Lead
- Poor Decision Based on Game Situation
- Poor Read
- Poor Jump on Steal / Running on Slide Step
- Not Moving on 2 Outs / 2 Strikes
- Picked Off / Not Going Back Hard to Bag After Secondary
- Not Running / Late out of Box on Strike 3 in Dirt
- Poor Effort out of Box
I believe that boards like these exist primarily to motivate players to be mindful of good as opposed to bad game behaviour, and throwing a running total on the board makes it a sort of competition. It is unclear when the team started tracking the running total but for what it’s worth, the leaders on the board are Cavan Biggio (146), Randal Grichuk (129) and Bo Bichette (88). Surprisingly, Justin Smoak, who had been with the team the entire season, only had 27 points.
A month following J.J. Cooper’s explosive report in Baseball America on the re-structuring of minor league baseball, Bill Madden reported further details on the Commissioner’s Office’s plans to contract 42 teams from the lower levels of the minor leagues. Both pieces are worth your time to read through.
If Rob Manfred’s contraction plans (which was unanimously approved by all 30 owners), the followers of Blue Jays minor league baseball will have to say farewell to the Bluefield Blue Jays (the Appalachian League is being eliminated) and perhaps the Vancouver Canadians (the Northwest League is being upgraded to a full-season circuit).