Forget Disney World ...
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Okay, Disney World, if you will, Champion Stadium, spring home for the Atlanta Braves, about 30 klicks from downtown Orlando.
And where the Jays take on the Rays these next three nights beginning, like, 15 minutes ago. Having a problem realizing these games count – not just some extended spring thing.
Place seats about 7,500 with room for another 2,000 or so on a wee hillside beyond the fence in right. Whole idea, as far as the Rays are concerned is to better regionalize their brand throughout the state.
Rays decided they’d better try something a couple of years back when online ticket purchases and assorted surveys revealed their top six cities, in terms of fans making it to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg were, in order, St. Pete, Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota – then Boston and New York. No way, the Rays figured, should Boston and New York be outdrawing Orlando – about 150 km east of Tampa. So the Rays played the Texas Rangers three games here last May. And, while hardly just because of that, Orlando’s now No. 5 on the Rays’ list.
Something the Jays might want to know: The Rays swept the Rangers a year ago. ….
Just prior to game-time, Rays announced they’d dealt minor-league right-hander Josh Butler to the Brewers for outfielder Gabe Gross, Jays’ first-round pick from 2001. Gross just happened to have had two hits and scored the winning run in a Brewer win over the Cardinals in Milwaukee Tuesday afternoon, but he was not expected to try matching Joel Youngblood’s record of getting a hit for two different teams in two different cities on the same day. On Aug. 4, 1982, Youngblood had a hit for the Mets in a matinee at Wrigley, got traded to Montreal after the game, them made it to Philadelphia in time to get a hit for the Expos that night. The pitchers Youngblood put the tough on: Hall of Famers Fergy Jenkins and Steve Carlton.
First inning done with at 0-0 – Matt Stairs running his hit streak to 10 games with a single. Alex Rios getting the night off with Joe Inglett patrolling right. …. You’ve probably got this on the tube, right?