When I retire, I know exactly where I’ll be spending the winter months: Arizona. I’ve managed to deal with being cold for half of each and every year for now, but by the time I’m in my twilight years I’m sure as hell spending as little time freezing my ass off as possible. And you know where it’s never cold? The desert. As I’m sitting here, I see a lot of comparisons between my sixty-year-old self and the 2021 Toronto Blue Jays, though hopefully I won’t be getting kicked out of my house for two years, forcing me to spend extra time in my winter (or in their case, spring) home in retirement country and then have to move to a shack in upstate New York.
But that’s been the reality for the Jays in this unprecedented season, and it’s that time of year where it’s gotten too hot and muggy along Florida’s gulf coast which means it’s time to move north for the summer. Who would have thought that the Blue Jay was a snowbird?
After spending the first couple months of the season at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, the Blue Jays have ditched their revamped spring training facility for Sahlen Field in Buffalo where they’re expected to play out the rest of their home games this season. The ballpark that traditionally hosts the Triple-A Bisons was the Jays’ temporary home last season when they were evicted from the Rogers Centre by the Canadian government, but how temporary can it be when they’re back for the second year in a row? All I know is that no team across the Big 4 leagues has had to adapt on the fly in response to the pandemic as much as the Toronto Blue Jays.
≈24 hours until #BlueJays return to Buffalo, and they're excited for a few reasons:
🔵Closer to TOR
🔵Fans at home games will actually cheer them on (at least according to Ross Stripling and Charlie Montoyo) #MLB @SPECNews1BUF https://t.co/fGfInqJVnv pic.twitter.com/EJvzfNaS3u
— Ted Goldberg (@TedGoldbergTV) May 31, 2021
When it was announced that the Jays would extend their stay in Dunedin for at least a couple of homestands, there was hope that they would be able to make the move back to Toronto from there. But Doug Ford proved he’s as incompetent as a screen door on a submarine and his half-ass lockdown measures made it all but certain that the Jays wouldn’t return to Ontario anytime soon. Instead, they were left with no other option but to give their 2020 summer fling another try.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 1, 2021
We knew all along that Dunedin wasn’t gonna last, but looking back on the Jays’ time there in five, ten years from now we’ll remember some good times. The boys in blue hit more home runs/game at home than any other AL club, with some of them landing in the nearby elementary school which couldn’t better embody what it’s like for Major Leaguers to play at a minor league ballpark. They played their (home away from) home opener in front of thousands of cardboad cutouts. They swept the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies. There was some crazy wind that sent balls flying. And who can forget that kid who called his shot by filming himself catching Bo Bichette’s home run ball?
While it turns out that the Blue Jays hated playing in Dunedin, they can’t deny that their bats feasted at TD Ballpark. The Jays played 21 games at home so far this season (well, actually zero).which is tied for the fewest of any big-league team. But in Dunedin they lead all of baseball in home batting average (.276) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.840). You don’t have to know what those mean, but being first in those means the Jays sure raked while they were in Pinellas County. With all of the bombs the Blue Jays seemed to hit out of that ballpark I was surprised to find out that their record at TD ballpark was a mere 10-11, but then again they ended their stay in Dunedin with a six-game losing streak.
Dunedin was fun while it lasted, but the Jays should be just as fun to watch while they’re in Buffalo. Sahlen Field went under some big renovations to prepare for the Jays last season, and it’ll be interesting to see what other changes have taken place. The bullpens have already been moved from down the lines to behind the outfield fence.
— HERD Chronicles (@HERDchronicles) May 29, 2021
I just hope there’ll be more Blue Jays fans in Buffalo than there were in Florida. If I had a dollar for every time I got myself worked up from hearing opposing fans cheering against the Jays on the broadcast, I’d have enough money to buy that retirement home in Mesa.
Tune in Tuesday when the Blue Jays begin their first homestand in Buffalo against the Miami Marlins, who was also the club that was in town for the 2020 home opener in the scenic queen city. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jays play even better at Sahlen Field, where they went 17-9 last season. Let’s Go Buffalo!