Florida vs. Arizona

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The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner runs down the differences between spring training in Florida vs. spring training in Arizona. He focuses on how as of next year every Cactus League team will play in the greater Phoenix area and how everything in Florida is spaced out. He could have added that the weather, generally speaking, is better in Arizona too (though in my spring training week there were the same number of washed out days — one — in both Florida and Arizona).

Personally I didn’t mind Florida’s spring training geography, but I’m something of a road trip freak who appreciates long drives on two lane roads, Waffle Houses, and cheesy tourist traps more than most people do.  Anyone looking for the most baseball bang for their buck, however, would probably do better to hit Arizona for a week than the Sunshine State.

Next year I’ll probably do Arizona just to see what that’s like, but like most things in life, I’m glad there is some diversity in spring training sites. If for no other reason than it gives us something to argue about.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.