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Robot umps and dogs, minor league ball back after lost year

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TAMPA, Fla. – It took just four batters at George Steinbrenner Field before a fan yelled “C’mon, blue!” toward home plate umpire Kaleb Devier after two consecutive close pitches were called balls. TAMPA, Fla. – It took just four batters at George Steinbrenner Field before a fan yelled “C’mon, blue!” toward home plate umpire Kaleb…

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TAMPA, Fla. – It took just four batters at George Steinbrenner Field before a fan yelled “C’mon, blue!” toward home plate umpire Kaleb Devier after two consecutive close pitches were called balls.

TAMPA, Fla. – It took just four batters at George Steinbrenner Field before a fan yelled “C’mon, blue!” toward home plate umpire Kaleb Devier after two consecutive close pitches were called balls.

Never mind that a computer was making the calls.

Home plate umpire Kaleb Devier calls a strike during a Low A Southeast League baseball game between the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Tampa Tarpons at George M. Steinbrenner Field Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The game is one of the first in the league to use automatic balls and strike calls. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Didn’t matter on Tuesday night as the Tampa Tarpons took on the Dunedin Blue Jays. Because from Omaha to San Jose to the Jersey Shore, minor league baseball was back after a lost season, with fans, crazy promotions and even those robot umpires.

The Tarpons found themselves already in the dog days on opening day. They hosted the Dunedin Blue Jays on “Tail Waggin’ $2 Tuesday” where fans could bring their pooches to the park for two bucks.

New York Yankees vice-president Vance Smith greeted and talked with fans as they entered the ballpark to see the Class A affiliate, calling it a homecoming after a minor league season wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Excited, but also hesitation,” Smith said. “We’re following some protocols, but we’re happy to have baseball back. That’s the one thing I’m excited about because it’s been 18 months since we’ve Tarpons baseball and minor league baseball.”

The scent of hot dogs — the kind with mustard, not the mutts — signalled a sense of normalcy. The masking and social distancing showed there was still a way to go.

Side attractions like Speed Pitch are gone and concessions are cashless but the games were back, finally.

Home plate umpire Kaleb Devier wears an earpiece and a battery pack during a Low A Southeast League baseball game between the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Tampa Tarpons at George M. Steinbrenner Field Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The game is one of the first in the league to use automatic balls and strike calls. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

“Super excited to be kicking off the minor league season,” Yankees senior director of player development Kevin Reese said. “I was one of many who were not too confident that this was going to happen in a timely fashion.”

There was a cheer when the PA announcer said, “Are you ready? Let’s welcome your 2021 Tampa Tarpons,” as the Yankees prospects took the field.

“It’s a lot of fun going out there and being able to watch these guys do what they love doing,” said Tampa manager David Adams, who played 43 games for the big league Yankees in 2013. “I think everyone will agree with that.”

But there are significant changes since Tampa and the minors last played in September 2019.

A reorganization by Major League Baseball saw the long-standing High-A Florida State League, in which Tampa played for a quarter-century, become the Low-A Southeast League. Some cities lost their teams entirely as the overall number of affiliates was cut from 160 to 120.

And after experiments in the independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League, the Southeast League is the next proving ground for the automatic ball-strike system.

Devier got a roasting after Blue Jays batter Zach Britton took those two pitches for balls.

“I thought it was pretty good,” Tampa catcher Austin Wells said of the automatic system. “There were a couple calls here and there that me and the umpire thought were maybe strikes and balls, but it’s a good opportunity to work on different things.”

Right before the first pitch, Wells helped Devier adjust part of the system on the back of his belt.

“I was rigging it in our favour, actually,” Wells said with a laugh.

Wells, taken by the Yankees in the first round of the 2020 draft, hit a two-run homer and had an RBI double in the Tarpons’ 11-7 win that took almost four hours — long games, some things never change.

The Tarpons did fist-knocks after the victory and left the field with the PA playing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

“It was the best feeling in a long time being able to play under the lights again,” Wells said.

Dunedin is following the lead of its nomadic parent team. With the Toronto Blue Jays playing big league games at TD Ballpark in Dunedin through at least May, the D-Jays are scheduled to play their first 24 games away from home.

That follows the lost 2020 season and the 2019 campaign where they played home games in nearby Clearwater while the Dunedin ballpark underwent a major renovation project.

“The other uniqueness we’re dealing with this year is there is a shortened minor league season,” Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim said. “There’s a lot of planning and processing that we can do a little bit differently this year.”

The Dunedin Blue Jays’ Twitter site summed things up when posting the lineup:

“First lineup graphic in almost two years! We are so back. Happy Opening Night.”

NOTE: The ball used in the game was the official minor league ball with the signature of former MILB president Pat O’Connor, who retired last year as MLB was working on redoing the minors.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Minister Ng announces launch of Canada’s Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement Model

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Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, introduced Canada’s modernized and inclusive Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) Model, which will help provide a stable, rules-based investment environment for Canadian businesses investing abroad and for foreign businesses investing in Canada…. May 13, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario -…

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Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, introduced Canada’s modernized and inclusive Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) Model, which will help provide a stable, rules-based investment environment for Canadian businesses investing abroad and for foreign businesses investing in Canada….

May 13, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada

Canadian-owned firms that invest and operate abroad create good middle-class jobs in Canada and around the world that are contributing to our country’s economic growth and prosperity, as well as to a speedy recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, introduced Canada’s modernized and inclusive Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) Model, which will help provide a stable, rules-based investment environment for Canadian businesses investing abroad and for foreign businesses investing in Canada.

The new FIPA model balances the interests of all Canadians, including women, Indigenous peoples and owners of small and medium-sized enterprises, so that the benefits of Canada’s investment agreements are shared broadly across society. The new model includes a number of innovations, clarifies core investment protections, and preserves the right to regulate in the public interest.

The new FIPA model is the result of extensive public consultations initiated in 2018 with a broad range of stakeholders, including from civil society and labour unions, legal experts, representatives of all sizes of Canadian business, representatives of provinces and territories, and Indigenous partners.

“Foreign investment is an important driver of Canada’s economy and will be critical in our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our government is committed to ensuring that Canadian businesses interested in investing abroad have the necessary protections to do so, including through robust and modernized FIPAs. Our modernized FIPA model will allow Canada to negotiate agreements that stimulate mutually beneficial business activities and economic cooperation with Canada’s international partners.”

    – Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Youmy Han

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Youmy.Han@international.gc.ca

343-551-0246

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Minister O’Regan and Minister McKenna to Make Climate Action Announcement

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The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Garth Frizzell, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, will make a virtual announcement for greener cities. OTTAWA  — The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and…

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The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Garth Frizzell, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, will make a virtual announcement for greener cities.

OTTAWA  — The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Garth Frizzell, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, will make a virtual announcement for greener cities.

A media availability will follow.

Date:                       May 14, 2021

Time:                      9:30 a.m. EDT

Location:                This virtual event will be held using LiveMeeting platform.

Notes:                      Accredited media are asked to pre-register to participate. 


Ian Cameron

Senior Communications Advisor

Office of the Minister of Natural Resources

613-447-3488

Ian.Cameron@canada.ca     

Media Relations

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Ottawa

613-907-6395

media@fcm.ca

Steve Winkelman

Executive Director

Ottawa Climate Action Fund

613 216-9475

swink@ocf-fco.ca 

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Government of Canada taking steps with partners in Ontario to improve education for First Nations students

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Please note that the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and Grand Chief Francis Kavanaughand of the Grand Council Treaty #3, will hold a media availability following a signing ceremony with the Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Province of Ontario. Ottawa, Ontario — Please note that the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous…

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Please note that the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and Grand Chief Francis Kavanaughand of the Grand Council Treaty #3, will hold a media availability following a signing ceremony with the Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Province of Ontario.

Ottawa, Ontario — Please note that the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and Grand Chief Francis Kavanaughand of the Grand Council Treaty #3, will hold a media availability following a signing ceremony with

the Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Province of Ontario.

Date: May 14, 2021

Time: 4:00 pm EDT

Where: Media will be able to view the media availability via Zoom

Meeting ID: 845 2744 6869

Passcode: 155426

Media should join 15 minutes prior to the event and identify themselves and their outlet when logging into Zoom.

Adrienne Vaupshas

Press Secretary

Office of the Honourable Marc Miller

Minister of Indigenous Services

adrienne.vaupshas@canada.ca

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