TORONTO - Worst owners ever.
In my opinion, Rogers is the worst (major) sports franchise owner in this city’s history, with the possible exception of Harold Ballard, though say what you want about Pal Hal, the man did have an unquenchable thirst to win. Rogers? Not.
Perhaps the Jays weren’t interested in Prince Fielder. Whatever. What it is, though, is yet another big name free agent up for grabs, that the Jays didn’t get. Just like Yu Darvish and the other guys they apparently wanted, but didn’t get.
To win in Major League Baseball, which doesn’t have a salary cap, you have to spend money, especially in the AL East. They don’t spend enough. And please, no lectures about how Rogers has to be careful with their money. I don’t understand that and never will understand that. Unless you’re paid by Rogers, why should fans worry about how much money Rogers spends? Rogers has tons of money. Rogers is rich, RICH. Listen, if Rogers splashed out on a big-money free agent like a Prince Fielder or C.J. Wilson they wouldn’t go out of business. They’d still be rolling in it.
If Rogers was serious about winning, they would spend more. Period.
As for this crap about waiting for the time to be right — and I know I have harped on this before — why do Jays fans have to wait? Jays fans have already waited 18 years. Why do Jays fans have to be patient — like those Rogers employees lecture them to be. Yankees fans don’t have to be patient. Red Sox fans don’t have to be patient. And they’re not patient. And guess what? The Yankees and Red Sox get into the post-season a lot. Not every year, but a lot.
And even if the Jays do spend when “the time is right”, then what? Is it a one-shot deal? Rogers is willing to spend money for one or two seasons, and then it’s back to decades of mediocrity? The Yanks and Red Sox are in the mix pretty well every season. They don’t win every season, but they’re usually in contention. Given the means of their owners, the Jays should be in the mix every year. And if they’re not in the mix, then they’re not really serious about winning. Jays fans are paid lip-service and, unfortunately, a lot of fans buy what Rogers is selling.
I truly believe that if this team was owned by someone outside of the sports communications business, the knives would be out big-time in this city — there would be a deafening hue and cry for a new owner — an owner that would be willing to mix it up financially and compete against the big boys, year after year. But things are too cosy in this town when it comes to the ball team.
IMAGINE FIELDER AND BAUTISTA BAT-TO-BAT
What started out as a regular ‘Leave it to Beezer’ column has turned into (another) Blue Jays rant. I know, I’ve been down this road before. But every time the Jays miss out, or don’t even bother to go for a big-name free agent, it gets my goat. And worse than that, we then have to endure the legion of Rogers apologists justifying the organization’s lack of spending, all the while putting Jays fans in their place for being angry or frustrated.
Why wouldn’t the Jays go out and try to sign Fielder? Yes, it’s a big risk. But so what? Nothing in professional sport comes without a risk.
There’s a reason why Fielder is commanding big money. He’s not a chump. He’s a valuable asset who brings a lot to the table. Imagine Fielder’s bat beside Jose Bautista’s. Magic. Post-season magic. And it just so happens, a number of readers and colleagues have told me this week that their Rogers cable has bill has gone up again. Typical.
ROGERS SHOULD DO US ALL A FAVOUR...
Driving into the office on Wednesday, I hear on the radio that, basically, Jays fans should be grateful that Rogers owns the team because nobody else in Canada would or could.
What a sell-out. The Jays are a business. And like any other business, if the price is right, someone would buy them.
So why doesn’t Rogers do us all a favour and put this team up for sale?
Nothing has convinced me that this corporate owner wants to win above everything else — like Mike Ilitch wants to win, or Mark Cuban wants to win or George Steinbrenner wanted to win. And, frankly, I don’t care if they’re sold to foreign interests. As long as the owner wants to win, that’s the important thing. Wanting to win is more important than the nationality of the owner.
NOT BUYING WHAT JAYS ARE SELLING
Here’s the thing. I’m a believer in Alex Anthopoulos. I buy into the theory that he’s a smart, cunning baseball guy. And I believe that the Jays have a lot of great parts — Brett Lawrie, Bautista, an improved bullpen, an ace in the rotation in Ricky Romero. But I also feel sorry for Anthopoulos. I think if he had the money, he could make this team a contender almost right away. If he was allowed to spend anywhere close to the Yanks or the Red Sox, he’d be able to sign one or two big-time free agents or pull off a blockbuster trade, and that would turn the Jays into real contenders.
I have faith he could do that. But, no. Despite working for a corporation with more assets than some central American nations, AA has to work within a limited budget. In that light, have the Jays taken a step forward in the off-season? Are they in position to really contend like manager John Farrell suggested some weeks ago? They might be better than last year, but are they that much closer to catching the Yanks, Sox and Rays?
A couple of baseball people who know a lot more about the sport than I do, including a certain hall of famer who calls me Pepe, don’t think so. This has been a pretty quiet off-season for the big boys — the Yanks and Sox — but the consensus is those two clubs, as well as Tampa, are still better than the Jays. But they don’t have to be. Despite what you’re told.
SMALL MARKET BALONEY
One other thing: Don’t buy into those suggestions that when it comes to baseball Toronto is a small market team, and therefore Rogers has to watch its nickels and dimes. Not true. This is a franchise that once set attendance records — including the first Major League franchise — before the Yankees, before the Dodgers, before the Cubs — to attract over 4 million fans in one season (1991).
When the club is winning, when they have a real chance of making it to the post-season, the fans will come. The fans are there. TV numbers support that. There’s no vicious circle here. You spend the money needed, you get into contention, perhaps you even win, and the fans will show up. This is not a small market franchise. But, sadly, it’s a team that wants you to think that it’s a small market franchise.