November 13, 2012
Blue Jays' ownership gets it right with Marlins deal
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - I’ve been hammering Rogers for so long, their customer service agents actually stopped calling the house to try to sell me stuff. Can you believe that?
Well, even if you don’t, the point is, when someone steps up to the plate and delivers, you gotta tip your cap. No longer when a friendly Rogers’ service rep calls will I slam down the phone with a curt “Bundle this.” Today, I’m tipping my cap in the direction of the good folks at Rogers Communications. As if by a miracle, the billion-dollar big-shots who own and operate the Toronto Blue Jays have awoken to the realization that they have long been neglecting their ball team, and they can no longer con their loyal fans.
It’s like after decades of mediocrity, a light has come on and Rogers suddenly understands that their fans are not just annoyed, they’re angry, and they refuse to drink the cool-aid being served up by Rogers’ on-air employees. It’s been 19 long seasons since the Jays qualified for the post-season and Jays fans (the non-gullible ones) refuse to buy into the “we’ll spend money when the time is right” spiel. More and more fans have been demanding that Rogers — one of the richest owners in baseball — loosen the purse strings so hotshot GM Alex Anthopoulos can make some deals to put this team over the top. And they finally did with Tuesday’s stunning blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, a deal that turns the Jays into instant contenders.
Now, I hate to say I told you so, but clearly the tall foreheads who call the shots at Rogers have finally bought into the premise (spouted by some of us) that to compete on a consistent basis in the AL East (without hitting rock bottom and collecting a series of very high draft picks), they have to spend big money, and not just put on a happy face and expect their GM perform a miracle year after year.
Spend more money. It’s quite a concept. Despite what you might have heard, the Blue Jays play in a major professional sports league without a salary cap in consistently the toughest division in baseball. Yet, for years they’ve resisted the urge to dig deep into their fat-cat pockets. You can get away with that when your fan base is gullible and you own media outlets that toe the party line. But only for a time. The truth is, all that nonsense about NOT needing to spend over $100 million to contend in the AL East is a load of hogwash. Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays have made the post season in recent years, as did the Baltimore Orioles this season. But the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox have proven time and again that to regularly — consistently — contend for the playoffs in the AL East, a team has to write some big cheques. The Yanks and Red Sox have consistently been the highest spenders in baseball — and that’s paid off. Since 1993, when they last won the World Series, the Jays have failed to qualify for the post season. In that period, the Red Sox have made it into the playoffs nine times and the Yankees an incredible 17 times. So much for not needing to spend money. The Jays are the only team in the AL East that haven’t made the post-season in the last 19 years.
There’s no guarantee that this deal will take the Jays to the promised land in 2013, though it certainly puts them in the driver’s seat. There are never any guarantees in sport. But at least they aren’t going into the season with their hands tied behind their back. Even better, their fan base is over the moon, which is great to see. There’s actually a buzz in this town over a sports team. How great is that?
And so, in the spirit of my Hall of Fame colleague (Big Boy) Bob Elliott, “we” (meaning me), tip our hat to the Toronto Blue Jays ownership.
Shortly after details of Tuesday’s deal with Miami began to leak out, Jays superstar Jose Bautista tweeted: “Its a good day to be a bluejay!”
That speaks volumes.