The 100 Level of the Skydome concourse was buzzing last night as Blue Jays Season Ticket Holders and a select group of bloggers attended the teams annual State of the Franchise event. Along with Brad, Reid and Andrew, I loaded up the BIB Mobile and hit the 401 for another memorable road trip.
Having been lucky enough to attend the 2012 event which was filled with fans that had a bad taste in their mouths from the teams brass passing on free agents Prince Fielder and Yu Darvish, it was pretty easy to predict this year would be a bit more of a love-fest for The Beest, AA and the returning Gibbons.
Right off the bat the Blue Jays knocked it out of the park by letting fans in the freakin’ door! Last years evening started out rather frigid as fans were left waiting outside for what seemed like forever before finally being let juuuuuust inside the doors to an area that wasn’t any warmer. As we approached Gate 9 my fear of a repeat quickly faded as I could already see fans milling about inside.
It was hard not to get lost in the moment as we entered through the Media Entrance and quickly found ourselves deep in the thick of things. Free food, free beer (and pop since I DD’d) and hundreds of fans walking in every direction looking for a familiar face or two in the crowd. After meeting up with some of the folks that fill the BIB Twitter feed with baseball talk everyday we were instructed to the stadium seating for the Q & A period.
It didn’t take long to realize that the Q & A period wasn’t much more than a rehashing of answers that most fans have heard over the past couple of months in interviews and pressers. While flossing over the fact that Windows Restaurant has been removed and will now be accessible for fans to walk through, The Beest did give us something to think about.
When asked about changing the AstroTurf to a natural grass Beeston reiterated that he wants the Dome to have a grass playing surface and HE WANTS IT NOW! Okay, he didn’t say that exactly but he did suggest that it could happen within two years. The new part of his grass comment was the thought that we could see grass in the Dome between March and October only, which seems to make sense if they still want to use it as a year-round facility.
Anthopoulos addressed the Cabrera signing and Dickey trade among other topics and Gibby finally confirmed that he will split up the lefties in the starting rotation and re-affirmed that Dickey will start Opening Day. What pleases me most is that Morrow will follow him in a rotation that goes Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Johnson and Romero.
As a surprise to the fans who weren’t monitoring their Twitter feeds upon entering the building, Jack Morris was introduced to a standing ovation as the new radio partner for Jerry Howarth on Sportsnet The FAN 590. Morris spoke glowingly about returning to Toronto and went over his broadcasting career since retiring from the game. Although many fans have shown frustration with Morris as the choice to replace Ashby, I find it refreshing that they went outside of the company to bring in a different voice and different perspective. I haven’t heard him broadcast enough games to give judgement whether he is any good so I’ll hold out hope that he satisfies my needs.
Following the Q & A session the panel, along with Morris, hit the concourse to mingle and take photos with fans. Anthopoulos must have stood in the same spot for over an hour taking pics while Beeston and Gibby hammed it up with everyone around. Morris was mobbed like a newborn baby by a bunch of suits and didn’t seem to show any of the traits that he became known for throughout his career, even with the worst Zack Morris/Jack Morris joke I’ve ever heard thrown his way. I don’t think I’m the only one who wanted to punch that dude.
As I stated after attending the Coaches Clinic in January, the Blue Jays are a first class organization and they definitely know how to treat their guests well. Unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity for any interviews this time around but it was an unforgettable experience that I think Blue Jay Hunter summed up best.
@bibnetwork Thanks! I was just going to post “sunshine and lollipops” but figured it needed to be a little longer than two words.
— Ian (@BlueJayHunter) February 6, 2013