Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2010 edition of Victoria Seals baseball

The home opener is less than 48 hours away, so it's time to look ahead to the upcoming season.  Here are some burning questions as we head into the second season of Seals baseball:
  • Will Victoria's love affair with the Seals continue?
    The inaugural season for the Victoria Seals was a smashing success. Can the good times continue to roll at Royal Athletic Park? This scribe fully expects so. The organization has refused to rest on their laurels and we'll see a bunch more improvements at the ballpark this season (e.g. a kid's play area and hawkers selling food and beverages in the stands). Given the improved talent that the Seals will be putting on the field, it should be an exciting summer down on Caledonia Avenue.
  • Can the Seals break 100,000 in attendance?
    Last year, the team drew 93,691 fans in their 40 home games. However, the weather was almost perfect last year. But unless we run into some terrible weather in 2010, the Seals have a good shot at breaking the 100,000 mark. The biggest reason is that they have an extra five home games this year. On top of that, they'll be playing a variety of teams instead of mainly Calgary and Edmonton like they did in 2009. Hopefully, teams like Maui and Tijuana will help draw a few extra fans.
  • How many rain-outs will the Seals have?
    Only one game was rained out last year. You have to figure that number to be higher this season, but let's keep our fingers crossed for good weather on game days.
  • Who will emerge as the fan favourites in 2010?
    Last season Jamar Hill, Josh ("Arrrrrrrrr!") Arhart and Isaac Hess were fan favourites at Royal Athletic Park. Returnees Wilver Perez and Brian Rios have the stuff to take the place of Hill and Hess, who have moved on to greener pastures. However, I'm expecting the Garden City fans to elevate one or more of the newcomers to cult status. Who will it be? Captain Canuck Colin MoroBrandon Villafuerte? Sean Smith? Eric Pringle? Come on out to the ballpark to find out.
  • Will Victoria be treated to an Eri Yoshida start and how will she be received?
    The "Knuckle Princess", as she is being affectionately called, is due to make her first start of the season on May 29th in Chico against Tijuana. If she can hold her own in the first half of the season, you can be sure she'll get a start at RAP when the Chico Outlaws come to town on July 26-28 and August 14-17. If we're lucky, we might even get to see her twice. Not only will it be interesting to see how she does, but the entire scene should be fascinating. For instance, how many Japanese media will attend? Will hundreds of extra Japanese fans and females buy tickets? How will she be treated by opponents? How will she handle the bat when she takes her turn at the plate? Let's hope we get to find out.
  • Can the Seals go from pretenders to contenders in one year?
    Last year, Victoria finished with a 32-50 record and the organization threw in the towel in August, trading away most of our best players to teams who were headed to the post-season. This year, the Seals are expected to be much improved. Whether they'll be good enough to challenge for a playoff spot remains to be seen. I'll write more on this topic in the days to come.
  • How long before Bret Boone gets into trouble?
    Don't get me wrong -- I am a huge Bret Boone fan. I think he is the best thing to happen on the Victoria sports scene in a very, very long time. He's guaranteed to be a hit with the local fans. The umpires, not so much. While I'm not expecting him to throw Lou Piniella-style tantrums, Boonie is not afraid to speak his mind. Some think it might just be a matter of time before he says something that lands him in hot water with the Golden Baseball League. In any event, the sports reporters and bloggers will love him. Let the stream of quotable quotes begin!