The three-game series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers concluded Wednesday afternoon, with every Jays fans’ favourite (or least favourite) rival taking the rubber match by a 2-1 score on a shadow-stricken Globe Life Field in Arlington. As much as I despised watching the Rangers get away with a one-run victory in which Hyun-Jin Ryu went seven strong innings with as many strikeouts, he was simply outdueled by veteran righty Kyle Gibson, who had a 5.35 ERA last season but stymied Toronto’s bats across six scoreless innings in his second start of the year. The lone bright spot on offense came from Marcus Semien, who skyrocketed his team-leading 3rd home run of the season to the second deck.
Marcus Semien with a solo 💣
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 7, 2021
This series marked the first time the Blue Jays have played at Globe Life Field, which served as a super-spreader of sorts when roughly 40,000 fans packed into the tuna can-lookin’ ass ballpark for its first-ever home opener Monday. While I was looking forward to watching the boys in blue play at the new ballpark, especially since it was the first full stadium in North America in forever, I’m more excited for the team’s next destination: Dunedin, Florida. If you’re wondering whether the Blue Jays were just there for Spring Training, you would be correct. If you read the headline of this article anticipating that they’re about to play their home opener today, you’d be correct again. But that’s the reality of this 2021 season as the Jays’ first “home” game will be played at TD Ballpark in Pinellas County, just west of their NBA counterparts.
This is the second consecutive season where the Blue Jays will be playing at a home away from home, but this is certainly a cut above Sahlen Field in Buffalo. The stomping grounds of the AAA-affiliate Bisons was an adequate Airbnb for the Jays throughout a shortened season, especially after significant renovations ensured its amenities were somewhat Major League-caliber, however, TD Ballpark is undoubtedly an upgrade — especially since it isn’t located in Buffalo.
#TDBallpark is ready for YOU!
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 17, 2020
Improvements at TD Ballpark include an increase in capacity from 5,500 seats to 8,000, a 360-degree boardwalk along the concourse, and even a WestJet Flight Deck to make the stadium feel a bit more like the house that Ted built in Toronto. What was formerly known as Florida Auto Exchange Stadium until 2018 was considered one of the worst facilities in all of baseball, or “the laughingstock of MLB, frankly” as team president Mark Shapiro put it, but $102 million worth of renovations will change that real quick. The souped-up TD Ballpark is a thing of beauty, complemented by a state-of-the-art player development complex that runs circles around what was there before. While only a relative handful of fans will have the privilege of attending regular season Blue Jays games at TD Ballpark due to minor league-sized bleachers mixed with a shrunken COVID capacity of just 15%, the renovated PDC will make a big difference for the players which is really what matters since Canadians can’t even see them play in-person anyway — no matter how seriously some of us have considered hopping the border and embracing the care-free Florida man lifestyle.
For now, TD Ballpark is the Blue Jays’ home, but it won’t last forever as the team has announced that it will stay in Dunedin for just the first three homestands of the season. It’ll be up to those who make the big bucks to decide where the Jays will go after May 24, since playing at a roof-less stadium in Florida during hurricane season isn’t ideal and there is currently no inclination that the government will allow their only MLB franchise to return to Toronto even at a Rogers Centre sans fans. Sahlen Field is again a possibility, but that’s the equivalent of the skinny kid with Coke bottle glasses and a limp who gets picked last for every game at recess. Fortunately, the fans aren’t in charge of such decisions, meaning we get to enjoy watching the Blue Jays wherever they play.
The Toronto Blue Jays will play their home opener Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and you could hardly script a better inaugural regular season series at TD Ballpark. Mike Trout, the best player of this generation, is back to his usual superhuman self after a down year in 2020 in which he only placed 5th in AL MVP voting, and two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani should be in the lineup as a designated hitter and is slated to get the start on the mound in Sunday’s series finale. The 26-year old from Japan was an absolute treat on Sunday Night Baseball when he touched 101mph with his fastball and then proceeded to hit a 450-foot home run in the same inning. Ohtani certainly lives up to his “Sho Time” nickname and the Angels are one of the most fun teams to watch in all of baseball, giving you even more reason to tune into the Blue Jays’ “home” opener at 7:07pm. Let’s hope the Jays continue to pitch well and play solid defense, and we’ll see if their bats can beat up on Anaheim’s mediocre rotation and keep up with some of the best hitters in the game over in the visitors’ dugout.