One of the Blue Jays best off-season moves was cutting a new Triple 'A' affiliate agreement, leaving Las Vegas and relocating to Buffalo.
Not only does that make player call-ups easier and less time consuming, it gives Blue Jays fans the chance to cross the border and see how some of the top prospects are doing firsthand.
At least off Opening Day, the move is a bang-up success. The Bisons drew 15,852 fans to Coca-Cola Field, their largest Opening Day crowd since 2004, and the most they've drawn for a weekday game since 1999.
In a wild slugest, Buffalo beat Rochester, Minnesota's Triple 'A' club by a score of 12-7 with the two teams combining for 30 hits. The Jays would-be centrefielder of the future, Anthony Gose went 3-for-4 and knocked in a run hitting out of the number two slot. But Gose also all did something I don't think anyone has ever seen before.
Gose made a valiant effort to catch a Redwings' homerun. He went up the wall and hit it with such force that he damaged the fence, apparently dislodging a section from its moorings.
No problems, Gose got a boost from rightfielder Moises Sierra, climbed over the fence and fixed it before play resumed. What a gamer!
Bisons manager Marty Brown and third baseman Andy LaRoche weren't around at the finish. They were tossed out late in the game after LaRoche was hit on the wrist by a pitch that the ump ruled was a foul ball. They got the heave-ho for arguing a little to vociferously.
The Blue Jays were well represented at the Bisons opener. They had a seven-man contingent on hand for the Opening Ceremonies including Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, Howard Starkman, Duane Ward and Roberto Alomar, who threw out the first pitch.
Interesting note on the Buffalo starting rotation, the average age is 32.6 years old while the average age of the Blue Jays starting five is 31.8 years old.
The Bisons five includes Justin Germano (30), Ramon Ortiz (turning 40 next month), Claudio Vargas (34), Dave Bush (33) and Todd Redmond (27).
Why so old? Well, the Blue Jays were determined to put a winner in Buffalo, and they also wanted to gather as much veteran pitching experience as possible in case they ran into the kind of injury epidemic they did a year ago with the big club.
While we're talking Triple "A", catcher Travis D'Arnaud, the key piece going to the Mets in the R.A Dickey deal, got off to a great start for Las Vegas in their Pacific Coast League season opening win over Sacremento. Batting third for the 51's, D'Arnaud went 2-for-3 with a walk. Both hits were doubles, he scored four runs and knocked in another one.
Weird and wonderful stuff
Washington just missed shutting out Miami three straight times to open the season, which would have matched the Major League record set by the 1963, St. Louis Cardinals. The Marlins got their lone run in the second inning of the series finale and lost 6-1.
Houston somehow won one game of its opening three-game set at home against Texas, despite striking out 43 times to set a record for the first three games of any season. The Astros were also shut out twice and came within one out of having a perfect game thrown at them by Yu Darvish in their second game of the year.
It's still early, but the Angels 3-4 hitters, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are hitting .091 and .083 after the Halos' opening series at Cincinnati, where they dropped two out of three. Great numbers for Bingo, not baseball.
For those of you worrying about the Jays (0-2) start, the Yankees were (0-3) to start 1998, and went on to win 114 games and the World Series in a four-game sweep of San Diego.
The one thing that should concern you is the health of Brett Lawrie. He may not be back until the end of the month from a rib cage muscle strain, and combined over the first three games, the replacement third basemen Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa have made three errors.