TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – It took four batters at George Steinbrenner Field before a fan yelled “C’mon, blue!”plate umpire Kaleb Devier after two consecutive close pitches were called balls.
Never mind that a computer was making the calls.
Didn’t matter on Tuesday night as the Tampa Tarpons took on the Dunedin. Because from Omaha to to the Jersey Shore, minor league baseball was back after a lost season, with fans, crazy promotions, and even those robot umpires. The Tarpons found themselves already in the dog day. They hosted the Dunedin on “Tail Waggin’ $2 Tuesday,” where fans could bring their pups to the park for two bucks. New York Yankees Vance Smith greeted and talked with fans as they entered the ballpark to
see the Class A affiliate, calling it a homecoming after aseason wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. “Excited, but also hesitation,” Smith said. . That’s the one thing I’m excited about because it’s been 18 months since we’ve Tarpons baseball and baseball.” The scent of hot dogs – the kind with mustard, not the mutts – signaled a sense of normalcy. The masking and showed there was still a way to go.
Side attractions like Speed Pitch are gone, and concessions are cashless, but the, finally. “Super excited to be kicking off the season,” Yankees senior director of player development Kevin Reese said. “I was one of many who were not too confident that this would fashion.” There was a cheer when the PA announcer said, “Are you ready? Let’s welcome your 2021 Tampa Tarpons,” as the Yankees prospects took the field.
But there have been significant changes since Tampa, and the minors last played in September 2019.
A reorganization bysaw the long-standing High-A Florida State League, in which Tampa played for a quarter-century, become the Low-A Southeast League.
And after experiments in the independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League, the Southeast League is the next proving ground for the automatic ball-strike system.
Devier got a roasting after Blue Jays batter Zach Britton took those two pitches for balls.
Dunedin is following the lead of its nomadic parent team. With the Torontoplaying big-league games at TD Ballpark in Dunedin through May, the D-Jays are scheduled to play their first 24 games away from home. That follows the lost 2020 season and the 2019 campaign, where they played home games in nearby Clearwater while the Dunedin ballpark underwent a significant renovation project. “The other uniqueness we’re dealing with this is a shortened minor league season,” Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim said. “There’s a lot of planning and processing that we can do differently this year.”
The Dunedin Blue Jays‘ Twitter site summed things up when posting the lineup:
“First lineup graphic in almost two years! We are so back. Happy Opening Night.”
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Sign up for Daily Newsletters
Copyright © 2021 The, LLC.