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For a Blue Jays podcaster, baseball still blooms

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Despite the COVID-19 shutdown, A.J. Andrews delivers a daily diamond dream: a simulated baseball season.

The baseball season is postponed so podcaster A.J. Andrews is filling in the gap with a daily glimpse into what 2020 could have beem
A.J. Andrews

“Good afternoon from the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Toronto Blue Jays will end a three-game weekend set against the New York Yankees. Both teams enter the game battling for second place in the American League East. Trent Thornton at 2-1 will take the mound for the Jays against the Yankees’ Rony Garcia.”

It’s a sound of spring that many of us are missing in these uncertain days. Those opening sentences, coming through the speakers of a television or a radio, assure us that the 162-game drama of a major league baseball season is underway.

This year, it’s different.

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping sports at a standstill, silicon has been the stand-in for real life competitions on hardwoods, hockey rinks, and extensively on race tracks.

Nova Scotia-based baseball podcaster A.J. Andrews decided to make a digital “field of dreams” to simulate a 2020 season still waiting to start. The host of the Locked On Jays podcast, and a lead writer for Jays On Couch blog, seeks to play out the 2020 season using the popular Out Of The Park 2020 total baseball strategy simulator.

“I figured if there were no games going on, I can help give some sort of distraction to what’s going on,” Andrews said during an appearance on The Trans Sporter Room podcast last week.

Her simulation will also go a step further. She will take the dual roles for her favorite team. A die-hard, lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, Andrew will act as both manager and general manager as the Jays fight for a virtual pennant. Through she’s a little more than a month into the season, this skipper/GM felt a lot of high and lows already.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
Trent Thornton put up a strong outing for his third win of the sim season in a 4-2 win over the New York Yankees
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

“The Jays are playing about what we expected, but the frustrating thing as the person who is controlling things is that they could be so much better,” she said. “You are trying to hit all these different levers and get to the point to where you can steamroll a team and then you go out and lose two-of-three to the Orioles. It’s a whole different experience.”

MLB: SEP 13 Yankees at Blue Jays
Sim-manager A.J. Andrews put her trust in Bo Bichette to produce runs. He’s found a power stroke in recent games, including a homer Sunday vs. the Yankees.
Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So far, the Andrew-led Blue Jays are hovering slightly above or below .500. This past weekend had more joy, as the Toronto took two of three against the visiting New York Yankees, including a 4-2 victory on Sunday. Home runs by Rowdy Tellez and Bo Bichette paced the club. With the win, the Blue Jays now sit in second in the AL East.

Fans of the team and her podcast, hungry for baseball, are heading to her Twitter in growing numbers for the inning-to-inning and day-to-day grind. “I’ve gotten a lot of good responses from fans. I’ve had a number of fans saying that ‘I appreciate you putting something out there.’” Andrews said.

You can follow the game-to-game simulated season on Andrew’s Twitter (@A_J_Andrews), and catch her on The Trans Sporter Room podcast, where she talked about her love of the Jays, being in sports media and her coming out last year.