TORONTO - Methinks it was 1995 when we first used the words “apathy” and “Blue Jays” in the same sentence.
And we used it in 2000, again in 2009 and probably could have used it many more seasons.
The words did not go together Monday as the three wise men — president Paul Beeston, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell — sat atop the Jays dugout, along with MC Buck Martinez, at the eighth annual state of the union address at Rogers Centre.
Roughly 800 season-ticket holders showed passion, concern, knowledge, anger and frustration over an off-season which saw the Jays pass on Prince Fielder and bid on but not gain the services of Japanese free agent Yu Darvish.
The Jays said they would not go past their self-imposed limit of five years. Fielder signed for nine years with the Detroit Tigers.
There were great questions and dopey questions. In other words, it was like a daily Farrell press briefing.
The difference was the paying customers were asking the questions.
“I wish they’d spend some more money,” said Grant Moore, former Allan Cup winner with the Orillia Terriers and a season-ticket holder since 1977.
Moore’s ideal night at the ball park? “The outcome is in doubt until the last pitch and then the Jays win. I don’t like 10-0 games either way. I wonder if they can get free agents to come here,” Moore asked.
When the questioning started — “my passion turned to anger ... I’m not sure I’ll be back ... Carlos Beltran, two years at $12 million, come on, we can’t beat that?” — Anthopoulos said he offered more cash and more years to two free agents and they went elsewhere.
One obviously was Beltran.
“Sometimes players, no matter the money, don’t want to play on turf, change leagues or DH,” Anthopoulos said.
Beeston’s reply to, “the turf behind you is a patchwork, eyesore, why not bring in real grass?” was to explain how grass has been brought into the Rogers Centre for soccer events and was being considered for Jays games. When the SkyDome opened, it was a controversy but being a multi-purpose facility, turf was the only option.
More answers to newsworthy questions:
• Beeston said that the Jays could in post-season play five years from now and then later altered it to twice within the next five years.
• Farrell, after a fan said he, “feels like he’s watching a winner watching Lawrie or Anthopoulos, but John I’ll give you another year,” replied, “We empathize with the frustration and the push back. I’ve been called worse on my way to the mound.”
• Anthopoulos, on whether he gave up too much pitching to obtain centre fielder Colby Rasmus: “We gave up Marc Rzepczynski and Zach Stewart, who are under control, everyone else is a free agent. We looked at this year’s market, saw Coco Crisp was the best and did not want to rush Anthony Gose.”
• Anthopoulos, on his club “sailing in a sea of mediocrity” replied, “We had trade options but we were not going to trade Lawrie or Henderson Alvarez and four others.”
• Beeston, on whether his successor was seated upon the dugout, said, “It’s not my choice, but it’s easy to recognize talent.” Did he mean former manager Martinez?
• Anthopoulos, on why the Jays did not have more Canadian prospects: “We have Marcus Knecht and Michael Crouse who should be at class-A Dunedin this season and we drafted Tom Robson, the first Canadian selected last June. (Scout) Jamie Lehman does an excellent job.”
Knecht is from Toronto, Crouse from Port Moody, B.C. and Robson from Ladner, B.C.
• Farrell, on who will be this spring’s Lawrie: “Maybe Drew Hutchison, Travis d’Arnaud, Deck McGuire or Gose.”
• Reliever Tom Henke’s name is being considered as the next name to be added to the Level of Excellence.
• Beeston said a change in inter-league games is being discussed where the home AL team plays under NL rules, while NL home teams would use the DH.
“Look, if you have a question,” Beeston said. “Phone me ... or e-mail Alex.”
With the passion on display Monday, the GM’s inbox should be full by noon.