The Toronto Blue Jays start their 2022 post-season campaign this afternoon and one local baseball organization feels like it hit a home run due to all the excitement.
The Jays will host the Seattle Mariners in a best-of-three American League (AL) wild-card series at the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. in Game 1, with Game 2 to follow on Saturday at the same time. Game 3, if needed, goes Sunday at 2:07 p.m.
The wild-card series is Toronto’s first time back to the playoffs since 2020, when they were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays.
This season marked the 30th anniversary of the Blue Jays' first World Series win in 1992, a feat they repeated the following year.
The Mariners, meanwhile, haven’t been to the playoffs in 21 years.
There is plenty of excitement about the young Jays team at Smith Brothers Baseball Central, an indoor baseball and sports facility located in Phelpston.
"We are rooting for the Jays and hope they make it all the way," said Smith Brothers' Casey Zordan. "We think the biggest threat will be the Yankees in the AL and the Dodgers in the (National League). If the Jays don't win, we think the Dodgers will take it all."
Playoff success would have a trickle-down effect on the local business and local baseball organizations, Zordan predicted.
“In the past, a successful Jays season has seen increased excitement in baseball and thus a growth in baseball registration and participation throughout our community,” said Zordan. “It gets those in the community thinking about the potential to either start the sport, increase their skill in the sport, or train to play at a higher level.”
Zordan said over the past year, Smith Brothers has seen a hike in registration and participation, especially post-COVID.
“Everyone is excited to get into the sport, or to further develop their skills and step up their game to the next level,” Zordan said.
The loosening of COVID restrictions also allowed Smith Brothers to open up more and offer the services they have in the past.
“It was definitely a change from when COVID restrictions were in place, but it is nice to see that things are starting to go back to 'normal' now," Zordan said. "The best part about baseball is the ability to play and teach outdoors.
“Our Central Ontario Reds baseball teams have never stopped playing baseball. They were lucky enough to get to play through COVID in small bubbles for the 2020 season, and then back to full baseball from 2021 onwards," Zordan added.