Welcome to Blue Jays from Away’s obligatory New Year’s post! It’s truly unfortunate that New Year’s comes in the offseason because who wouldn’t want to ring in the new year with some baseball!
We’ve only been around for a little over a year so reminiscing about the year past over here is probably not going to tickle that many fancies. However, on a personal note, 2013 was a pretty good year. I finally overcame the multiple conspiracies of York University and finished my PhD. On the down side of that, I’m out of the warm embrace of academia and am now in the middle of a major under-employed period of my life. So, yeah.
The Blue Jays gave me lots to write about, regarding both the major and minor league teams, and I hope that I was able to bring all the lovely readers out there some great coverage of the Jays minor league system in particular.
Also in 2013, we shifted Blue Jays from Away from our old Blogger site to our fancy new WordPress site with our very own domain name and server.* Of course, this was right AFTER I had business cards printed up with the old site to hand out down at Spring Training last year, rendering them pretty useless. Seriously — anyone want to take some business cards with the old website on them off my hands?
The upside is, of course, that we’ve been able to add the Blue Jays from Away Podcast to our stable of services and have hosted 19 of the things over the past year. Through that, you’ve been able to hear from such interesting people as Blue Jays minor league radio voices Tom Gauthier, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Tyler Murray and Trey Wilson. We’ve also spoken to Baseball Prospectus writers Zach Mortimer and Chris King as well as other Blue Jays bloggers Charlie Caskey, Noah Sherman and Michael Ray. Finally, you’ve been able to hear from a wide variety of minor leaguers including Wil Browning, Christian Lopes, Dalton Pompey, Ian Kadish, Matt Boyd, Eric Brown, Justin Jackson, Chris Hawkins, Adam Loewen, Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin, Kevin Nolan, Shane Dawson, Tom Robson, D.J. Davis, Mitch Nay, Jorge Saez and major leaguers Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek. Check out our archives to go back and listen to some highlights.
The other bonus of actually getting out and seeing a lot of minor league ball is getting out and seeing a lot of minor league ball! It’s no secret that I love watching minor league games much more than major league games. I enjoy the more intimate feel of the games, the ownership that small towns will take over their clubs** and the fact that anything can happen.
What does 2014 have in store? Probably more of the same although I’ll probably be better organized and prepared this year in order to maximize the content that I’ll be able to get out of my coverage of the games. I’ll be taking several trips to Buffalo, Lansing, and hopefully Manchester and Bluefield again this year. I’ll also be repeating my trip to Spring Training but I’ll be much more prepared this year. I’m arriving just when the minor league games will be getting under way so I’ll be able to see more game action and less pitcher’s fielding practice. I’m planning to do a podcast series during Spring Training, hopefully being able to file an audio story every day while I’m down there.
I’ve taken on another portfolio in addition to writing here and at Jays Journal. As a co-editor of Grading on the Curve, I’m covering all of the minor leagues and while I probably can’t afford to take too many extra trips to cover other minor league teams, I’ll certainly be paying much more attention to the Blue Jays’ affiliates’ opponents while I’m on the road and spend a little more time in the visiting clubhouses. I may also follow the Jays’ teams on the road a little more (especially if it makes for closer trips), much like I did when I went to Midland to see the Lugnuts. It’s a much shorter trip to get to Akron or Erie than it is to go all the way to Manchester.
You’ll also notice that the quality of the photos that we’ve got here at Blue Jays from Away took a big jump when I went to Bluefield this year. It’s because I got a new lens for the camera I use and was able to capture the action much better thanks to our good friend, Mr. Telephoto. Oh, Mr. Telephoto, you’re such a useful fellow. (If you click on any of the photos here, you can see bigger versions. Because I’m using a DSLR camera, the raw files are far too big to post here.)
Finally, there’s going to be a surprise coming to all of you, loyal readers and otherwise, that should be revealed in a couple of months. It’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while and it’ll take a little while to put things in place before we can really start talking about it more.
So that’s it, Blue Jays fans. One year ends, another begins. Anticipation for the 2014 builds despite the big league club not giving us a lot to whet our appetites. I’ll see you on the other side.
* The host server is in my bad books right now for making me go all “nerd” and finding a workaround for an issue that they’re having with all of their WordPress sites that keeps users from being able to log in. While I don’t think the problem has been resolved yet, the workaround is letting me write this.
** This is kind of not so true with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Located deep in the heart of Red Sox country, the Fisher Cats get their best attendance when the Boston’s Double-A team, the Portland Sea Dogs, is in town.