By Bob Elliott
Alex Anthopoulos is always on the move.
The Blue Jays general manager bounced into the sky-box at 11:13 a.m., removed his coat and was set for his Live Chat with Blue Jays fans on Wednesday morn.
(Good Night) Irene Thomaidis, who invented the Live Chat at our place, had her laptop set up.
And I had mine, expecting to input his answers.
“Can you type?” Anthopoulos asked me.
I answered no. You have to be able to type only as fast as you can think ... and my hunt-and-peck method is way ahead of my brain.
“I’ll type my own answers,” Anthopoulos said.
It was impressive.
I’ve read hundreds of ghost columns over the years: Ernie Whitt and Garth Iorg during the 1985 post-season, David Cone in ‘88, Paul Quantrill in 2001 and others. Players were interviewed. Reporters wrote the story.
Anthopoulos did his own work on Wednesday.
It was just like Carlos Delgado in Japan and hockey star Bobby Smith with Team Canada. On tour with a major-league all-star team in 2000, Delgado wrote his own copy and filed. My favourite dateline: “ABOARD THE BULLET TRAIN --.”
At the 1978 world junior hockey championship in Montreal, Smith drove from the Forum to Ottawa, typed out his own copy and dropped it off at the Ottawa Citizen.
My important role during the Live Chat was to delete repeated questions (i. e., 15 each about Sergio Santos and Adam Lind), two-word queries ( “Hi, Alex”) and chuckle at: “How do we really know it’s you. It could be Manti Te’o’s girlfriend?”
(Did not see her anywhere.)
The disturbing news to come out of the chat was the GM’s dislike for classical and country music. Does he not know that most country songs are classics?
And that the George Strait Cowboy Rides Away tour kicked off in Salt Lake City on Friday?
QUIZZING: And the Anthopoulos quiz ....
BAROMETER 1: So, how much interest is there in this season’s Blue Jays, anyway?
Tough to tell since we don't know how many season tickets have been sold ... or flex packs either.
One indicator was Week 1 of Bill Humber’s 35th annual Spring Training for Fans class, which began last Saturday at Seneca College.
Humber estimated it was the largest class in at least 15 years. And it certainly wasn’t because of his initial guest.
BAROMETER II: Organizers of the 26th annual Best Ever coaching clinic were worried about registration last weekend on the airport strip.
The Jays had already staged a celebrity-filled clinic earlier in the month at the Rogers Centre, which drew a sold-out crowd of 350.
A total of 350 coaches showed at the Best Ever, too, a large increase over a year ago. They listened to the likes of Detroit Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, Colorado Rockies catching coach Jerry Weinstein, Lewis- Clark State athletic director Gary Picone and others.
McClendon had Burlington’s Brad Bedford on stage to illustrate one-handed drills off a tee. Bedford held his free hand to his chest during the drill.
The next clinician, Ball State’s Rich Maloney, immediately said Bedford’s posture reminded him of twins Jeremy and Shayne Ridley, who Maloney had coached at Ball State. Maloney then spoke about their father, the late Jim Ridley, a hard-working scout for the Jays and the Minnesota Twins, who coached Team Canada.
What Maloney didn’t know was that Bedford played for Ridley when Ontario won the 2007 national peewee championship in Quebec City.
THE TOP SIX FOR JUNE: Right-hander Nic Pivetta of Victoria, B.C., who is pitching at New Mexico Jr. College, is the top-ranked Canadian for the 2013 draft, according to Allan Simpson’s Perfect Game scouting service. Pivetta is ranked 111th on the top 500 combined list of high schoolers and collegians.
The others: catcher Tyler O’Neil, Maple Ridge, B.C., Langley Blaze, No. 188; outfielder Adam Nelubowich, Stoney Plain, Alta., Washington State University, No. 208; right-hander Cal Quantrill, Port Hope, Ontario Terriers, No. 223; infielder Malik Collymore, Mississauga, Ontario Blue Jays, No. 329 and lefty Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, University of Missouri, No. 373.
WBC-ING YOU: Georgetown right-hander Shawn Hill and Mississauga’s Chris Leroux are expected to start the first two games for Canada against Italy and Mexico at the World Baseball Classic in March.
Hill won 11 games in the minors last year at triple-A Vegas, while Leroux was in the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen before blossoming as a starter at triple-A Indianapolis. He was 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA as a starter, walking 14 and striking out 38 in 42 innings, and holding opponents to a .216 average.
VIVA ITALIA: Right-hander John Mariotti and infielder Anthony Granato will play for Team Italy in the WBC.
Mariotti, 28, a graduate of Murray Marshall’s Hamilton Astros, is expected to get a start one of the three games. He pitched four seasons in the Baltimore Orioles system and was 21-2 with a 3.35 in 34 starts for the Quebec Capitales in the independent Can-Am League the last two seasons.
Granato, 31, attended Virginia Commonwealth, played eight seasons in the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies systems plus indy ball before playing two seasons in Italy.