Glen Pye, a season ticket holder from that very first snowy April day in 1977 when the neophyte team took to old Exhibition Stadium, said he is as frustrated as he has ever been in his 35 consecutive years as a Blue Jays supporter.
Almost all of that frustration, he said, is directed at team owners — Rogers Communications.
Pye said that it defies logic that a corporate entity as large and rich as Rogers sits on its wallet when it comes to the Blue Jays.
“I agree that Rogers simply has not given the team the kind of resources it needs to be competitive,” he said. “I heard tonight (from Beeston) that the team felt that certain players, like Prince Fielder, weren’t worth the money.
“But to the fans that argument doesn’t hold water. If the guy is a good player regardless of what it cost to get him, we would like to see him play here. At the very least be a serious bidder.
“We want a team that wins more games and in this day and age it takes getting players like Prince Fielder to do that.”
Pye laughed off the suggestion that the Blue Jays can’t compete with teams like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
“The way I look at it is that Toronto is one of the richest cities in North America and Rogers is one of the richest corporations in the whole country,” he said. “Our economy is certainly better than almost every American city. It is just disappointing to see that this franchise doesn’t have a bigger payroll.
“Because I believe that with a payroll that would rival other American League teams this place would be packed every night.”
Larry Birnbaum, a season ticket holder since 1985, was much more direct at laying all of the team’s woes at the door of the Rogers boardroom.
He said he almost gave up his seats this season when the team failed to sign big name free agents like Fielder and Japanese pitching phenom Yu Darvish.
“Listen, I don’t blame Beeston or Anthoploulos,” he said. “I lay the blame squarely on the team owners.”
Birnbaum said that if ever there was a season when the Blues Jays had an opportunity to play catch-up with the AL behemoths this was that year.
“Both the Yankees and the Red Sox really didn’t make much noise this winter,” he said. “It was a perfect chance for the Jays to get into the free agent market and spend money.”
Birnbaum said he is more than frustrated, he is angry, that this situation was not taken advantage of by the Jays.
He is also afraid that when Rogers announced it would partner with Bell to purchase Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, it put the baseball team in second or even third place in that hierarchy.
“Yes, I think that there will be less enthusiasm by Rogers to spend money on the Jays now that they have the Leafs and the Raptors in their grasp,” he said.
But when it comes to the bottom line — abandoning the Blue Jays — both Pye and Birnbaum said they will be there cheering the team this season, in spite of their frustrations.
“I’ll still go to baseball games,” Pye said. “I am disappointed, but you know what, I am one of those guys, one of those 11,000 or so who will still be there watching baseball.”
Birnbaum said that he is first a fan, and he loves the game.
“I am hugely disappointed that Rogers isn’t investing as much as they should but at the end of the day I still love the team.”
Pye said that winning would solve all of the team’s problems including attendance.
“If Rogers would only put a competitive team on the field we would win back young fans,” he said. “ But I am not that optimistic that Rogers will suddenly decide to put tons of money into the team.”
BEESTON FEELS FOR YOU
Blue Jays boss Paul Beeston said he feels the frustration of fans but not enough, it seems, to open up the cash register at the Rogers Centre.
He said that while fans may express anger at team management in e-mails and phone calls to media outlets in the city, he isn’t about to change the way the club operates.
“Fast forward is not always the answer,” he told one exasperated fan at the team’s State of the Franchise night at Rogers Centre.
Beeston did pledge that the team would be entertaining this season, but it appeared even he didn’t quite believe that hype.
“The future of the Toronto Blue Jays is very, very bright,” he said. “But having said that the proof of pudding is in the eating.
“The team is going to have to show that improvement on the field.”