Thanks for Your Concern


You are doing it wrong. You, as a loyal baseball fan and mouth-breathing moron, are unable to see the forest for the trees. You, pathetic plebeian, cannot see how easily the wool is pulled over your eyes. Baseball teams are HOLDING OUT ON YOU, refusing to pony up to deliver the playoff bounty you desire nay, DESERVE, NAY AGAIN, DEMAND, as a sports fan.

Without the guidance and providence of well-meaning writers high above the fray, you are lost. You see, there is no cheering in the press box because these paragons of virtue do not sway in the mighty wind blowing through the ballparks of the world. They see the sporting landscape for what it is and, thankfully, they’re here to help.

Owning a baseball team is an easy job. Sure, the barrier for entry is set impossibly high but that ensures only the best and brightest are able to reach this upper echelon of humanity. It takes a lot of know-how and a lot of capital. It may seem like owning a sports team is more like owning a piece of fine art than owning a Subway franchise, but you’re wrong. They both work the same way. You get what you pay for.

Owning a sports team has nothing to do with ego or legacy, it is about value. Money. A baseball team is a license to print money, where creative accounting ensures even the most albatrossish contracts are little more than rounding errors. If ownership doesn’t try to win, it is imperative that all fans piss and moan and hold their breath in front of the box office (WITHOUT BUYING A SINGLE THING) to ensure the winning product you require is placed before you within a suitable timeframe. Preferably instantaneously.

But you cannot do this because you are weak. Weak and ill-informed at the hands of company men and lackeys and apologists serving as little more than unpaid marketing interns, erecting shrines to The Man’s product while back-slapping men do cocaine and count your money. Luckily, merchants of truth and right and the advocates of the Working Man act on your behalf. They are angry because you don’t know how. They smartly see the error of your ways and aim to correct you of this pesky predilection for the mediocre. And for that we should thank them.

Thank you for becoming the avatar for my misplaced outrage. Thank you for fighting for what is right and showing me that without a row of head-bedecked pikes outside the publicly-funded stadium, the bean counters at Telecom Inc. will never heed my call.

You might think you actually just love baseball. You believe you love the day-to-day drama and then ever-shifting storylines in winter and the pure athletic splendor in summer. You might think that, as a dedicated fan so hopelessly in the tank for a team thanks to a bond first forged when you were closer to diapers than pubic hair, your emotional investment in your team or sport or favorite player takes up huge space in your life because it might actually be fun to follow a baseball team and live and die with every pitch and sit in the stands with good friends and crack wise and shout and notice the little things like how Vlad Guerrero was always the last guy into the dugout coming off the field and the last guy out of the dugout when it was time to head back onto the field but, guess what? You’re wrong.

Watching sports is about winning. That is it. You watch sports so you can see your team win. If they don’t win, it’s because ownership doesn’t want it bad enough. They wish to deny you the sole pleasure one can derive from watching professional sports – participating in a championship parade. You think you watch for entertainment, for the hundreds of hours of idle TV and radio and blog posts you consume each year because being a sports fan is more of a life-consuming hobby now than ever before? WRONG. You show up, plunk yourself down into a seat and wait for the winning to start. If you don’t see the winning, you’re being cheated.

If, having been cheated by dishonest suits in their ivory towers, you don’t simply stand up and walk out, leaving behind those sunny afternoons at the ballpark or the background noise while you BBQ and the annual Opening Day ritual and everything you thought you loved about baseball (but were wrong!), you’re a sheep. You’re just making those fat cats fatter, man.

Until you’re able to recognize the error of your ways and how foolish and misguided you are in your enjoyment of the little things and constant presence of baseball in your life, you can never truly be free. It isn’t baseball you love or even like, it is knowledge that the ownership will do whatever it takes to ensure your favorite TV show has a happy ending. Every year. They must not sell hope or even their product, they’re selling spots on the parade route or they are just picking your pocket. Over and over.

It may seem excessive when you realize the utter hopelessness and despair one stands to experience when corporate ownership uses your favorite team as a multi-platform tool to promote synergy and brand awareness at their discretion. Better yet, don’t realize that. Just know the ownership of your favorite team is rich and they didn’t sign Edwin Jackson yesterday because they know you and twenty thousand sad junkies just like you will show up all the same.

So pack up your shit because we are leaving. No longer can detached irony save you. It is time to put up then shut up. Hack the broken bone at the joint and limp away. Do not return until you see a concerted effort to appease your trophy lust. As a wise man once said, anything less than the best is a felony.

Comments (51)

  1. *applause*

    God, I’m so sick of the Rogers bashing.

    • There aren’t “two camps,” by the way. That’s another idea that you’ve constructed in the attempt to pigeonhole the ideas of others. Just because I believe Rogers should spend up to their capabilities and up to the appropriate level of their market, it doesn’t mean I’m against “an organized, strategic, tactical approach to team-building with an eye towards sustained success.” It doesn’t mean, like many try to construe, that I’m against spending money on player development and scouting and building up a successful minor league system. It means I, like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers (and other teams like them), recognize that a successful hybrid approach is possible. A team with the financial resources that the Jays do doesn’t simply have to simply follow the Rays’ approach to a T. They can try to enhance it.

      Also, I doubt Baker’s arrogance would garner such a response from the Jays blogging community if he wasn’t making legitimate points about how this particular ownership group handles its baseball team. No, watching sports certainly isn’t just about winning (otherwise, I would have likely quit watching this team in June every season for the past 18 years), but that’s the end goal. That’s where hopefully all of this is working towards.

      • Oops, that was meant to respond to another one of Kevin’s posts.

        But to address your point (and you’ll probably be unsurprised at what I think), I don’t think Rogers gets criticized nearly enough for the way they’ve run their baseball team over the last 12 years. There are, of course, many other things to criticize about their corporation as a whole, but let’s just stick to the baseball here.

      • Fair enough. From my perspective, it’s unreasonable to compare Toronto with the Yankees et al, not because the ownership is impoverished, nor because the market isn’t capable of funding expenditures at that level. Rather, I feel that to call the ownership greedy when they haven’t seen any indication that revenues will spike upwards if they invest in the team is to look at the ownership as though it were running an accountability-free charity. Rogers can’t be expected to singlehandedly finance the costs associated with putting a winning team on the field, and with no clear indication that the fan base will come out if Fielder is signed, that’s exactly what you’re expecting them to do.

        • I’m only hoping that they actually support the team that they own and try to create a consistent winner using the vast amounts of money that they have. That has proven to be too much to ask for over the last decade, though.

      • Very good post. I know Geoff personally from high school. He was an Expos fan like me growing up in Montreal. He knows the silly things that teams do. The issue with the Jays is that Rogers has the ability & it should be in their best interest to put a competitive team on the field year after year. The multi platforms they control would have increased revenues from fans watching games etc..

  2. See, I was going to just type, “Excellent,” but I’m being told that my comment was too short. So instead, I’ll take a paragraph to say the same thing: Excellent.

  3. There are a LOT of things to hate Rogers about…this is not one of them. Baker’s a tool

    • Baker should be paying attention to the City that pays him – not the one that got tired of his B.S.
      He was one of the weakest writers in the media when he was here – nothing much has changed.

  4. But… but… my Rogers bill costs, like, SO much. Surely they must be able to put every cent of it into the Jays!!!

    • If you study the corporate history of Rogers, you will see that they benefitted from getting the exclusive rights to cable tv revenues in certain geographic areas. The profits from cable tv sibsidized the company’s investment in cellular technlogy in the late 1990′s. It is not crazy to suggets that profits from cable TV & cellular phones be invested in the Jays. The idea is to have a competitive team that draws fans & revenues on TV etc….

  5. I will also take this opportunity to fill this space (so as not to get the message too short error) before saying all I really wanted to say… which is to say:

    Hear, hear.

  6. I don’t know why you let hacks like Baker get under your skin. Accept the fact that there are always going to be those fans/journalists out there who will perpetually lament that their team failed to sign Albert Pujols and trade for Justin Verlander (without, mind you, giving up any talent in exchange) to win the world series this year. These people exist in every sport and, indeed, every walk of life. They’re the ones who complain that the water cooler makes the water so cold it hurts their teeth, and the ones who don’t understand why the government can’t give them smooth roads, free healthcare and tax cuts.

    Without Fulmer Fan, Geoff Baker and the rest, reason and rationality would have no context; no value.

    That said, great post.

    • But it’s not just the have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too-ism…those people are a dime a dozen. It’s that combined with Baker’s insufferable arrogance and condescension. That’s what really pushes peoples’ rage buttons, I think. Mine included. Good job, Drew.

      • Fair enough. I just think that the folks who write this blog take years off of their lives by stressing over goofs like Baker and responding to their irrational, condescending viewpoints. The Getting Blanked team effort is best suited to examining and analyzing baseball, in my opinion, rather than trying to explain why Baker (or whomever) is wrong in their analysis. Let us, the intelligent reader, draw our own conclusions and pick sides.

        Some of us would prefer to see our team go out and sign Vernon Wells and BJ Ryan and Frank Thomas, while others would like to see an organized, strategic, tactical approach to team-building with an eye towards sustained success. I know which camp I fall into, and I’m pleased that my team is run by a man who seems to be of a similar mindset.

        • I disagree, I love it when Drew blasts Baker. This was so spectacular, it didn’t even need the “sad girl” photo.

        • It’s amusing to watch bloggers get irate at a jurnalist who asks why a team like the Jays or Mariners can’t compete?

          Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap. Some teams will take advantage of that & sign free agents. Will they turn out? no. Will they all get value for WAR? No.

          There are enough prospects that fail ?

          A hybrid approach is probaly the best strategy.

  7. This is just excellent, excellent in every way.

    I do hope Baker reads this…

  8. Bravvvvvooo *Clap Clap Clap Clap.

  9. I had to reboot my computer after you overheated my sarcasm detector.

    Every year, 29 teams fail to win the world series. This means either 97% of fans are sad fools crying over a pipe dream, or there might be something of value in just watching the games.

    Looking forward to all that with be unique and special in the next 8 months.

    Oh, and Go Blue Jays!

    • Yes, but how many of th 29 teams have no chance a the playoffs?

      Unforunately, The Jays are stuck with the Royals & Pirates for having little or no chance.

      If Rogers didn’t have any money to invest in the team it would be acceptable.

      As a former Expos fan, it was clear that the team didn’t have the money to compete, so fans couldn’t lash out at mgmt.

  10. Let’s all make a concerted effort to ensure ‘albatrossish’ is added to current and future lexicon.

  11. Wait, you want double meat AND double bacon, AND you want it toasted?

  12. Kevin:

    Yes, because all of those that want Rogers to spend more were pleading the Jays to sign Pujols or trade for Verlander. I know it’s easy to pigeonhole positions opposite from your own into a neat little bullshit category, but my wish to see this team spend more isn’t because I want or need short-term gratification or that I can’t handle patience. I’m a big proponent of rebuilding in pro sports (rather than simply going through the treadmill of mediocrity for years as the Colangelo/Burke Raptors and Leafs teams had done for so long), and I was in favor of Beeston ending his waffling in 2009 by going with a new GM and a new approach. But when you assemble a team with as much talented, cost-controllable players as Anthopoulos has with the best hitter in baseball on the team in a window that won’t last forever, it’s hard to argue against the idea that this process should be accelerated.

    I think most reasonable people have recognized Rogers’ propensity for cheapness over the last decade and knows they likely won’t break the bank to make this team a contender any time soon. Nobody expects them to do this. The issue, though, is that they could and they probably should. With the best hitter in baseball on a great contract and a team full of young, talented, cost-controllable players throughout the roster, there was really no better time than now to try to contend. Another big bat and a starting pitcher might have propelled this team right near the top of the AL East. Without them, we’re looking at another mediocre 80+ win season barring some kind of 2008 Rays-like surge with our young players.

    And while it’s not the same kind of window that it was for Ricciardi, the longer they wait to contend, the shorter the time they’re going to have with their top players in Bautista, Escobar, and Romero in their primes. We don’t know how much longer Bautista, for example, is going to hit like this. So in essence, it’s the same problem that Ricciardi had. By the time the rest of the team is ready (if that ever happens…prospects and young players routinely fail in living up to expectations), Jose may have already begun his decline, which would obviously hinder their chances significantly (considering they’re certainly not going to go out to pay exorbitant prices on elite free agents to replace him in such a situation). We need to take advantage of our elite players while we actually have them. Rogers didn’t do that with either Delgado or Halladay. And they’re at risk of doing the same with Bautista. There shouldn’t be any defense for that.

    And yet, we continue to have people like yourself defend the faceless corporation that owns this team despite the plethora of evidence over the past 12 years that winning takes a back seat to its shareholders. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hoping that an ownership group with as much money as Rogers in a market as large as Toronto spends more than the major-league average each season. There is nothing irrational or unreasonable about that. That should be a basic expectation.

    • Sustained #winning > window

      I’ll take Detroit Red Wings sustained excellence over Carolina flash-in-the-pan. (Apologies for the pucks reference.)

      • If you spend more money to win in all aspects, there is a far greater chance of sustained winning.

      • Red Wings payroll over the past decade is at the top of the league. What’s your point? I also want a juggernaut team in Toronto but until Rogers opens up the wallet, it will never happen.

    • Sorry, I just saw this comment.

      I’m ok with the accusation of ‘defending the faceless corporation’ in this case for a simple reason: in this case I am of the belief that the corporation is aiming to spend its money responsibly rather than what I would call frivolously.

      On most points you outline above, I agree with you. For instance, I agree that the team is probably quite close to seriously competing with the elite teams in the league, and that signing CJ and Pujols (or whomever) might have been enough to push them over the top. And I agree that the window for doing something with Bautista is shorter than most seem to think; I don’t believe he will be a 4 WAR player in two years’ time, and that if possible, making a run of things now would be ideal.

      Finally, I agree that Rogers has not done anything to suggest that winning is their priority, above all else, in managing this team, best exemplified by the fact that they haven’t thrown money, hand over fist, at the team’s management to make sure that it happens. However, where my opinion differs with yours is in the belief that we should expect Rogers to do so, and that we should be angry that they won’t do so. And no, I’m not talking about some responsibility to the shareholders here, I’m talking about prudent management of resources. Whether this team wins or not, prudent management of its resources means putting a product on the field that puts asses in the seats and eyes on Sportsnet during the games. To date, this has been the greatest failure of the organization; not drumming up the excitement with the team to keep people interested during the summer and bring in revenues.

      I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them to throw money at the team when there is no indication that the fans will come out to the games. As I’ve said a number of times today, while this needn’t be a heartless corporation, it’s also not a charity.

      The only other defense I see with your stance is that they should ‘invest’ in the team by signing someone like Fielder in the hopes that it will lead to people coming out. But as we’ve seen before, signing players doesn’t necessarily lead to wins, and wins don’t necessarily lead to increased revenues.

      It took 7 years of the Jays being near the top of the heap in the AL before they were able to spend frivolously. Until we get near the top of the heap without excessive spending, I don’t see why you would expect and demand that spending to lead the team.

      • You’re assuming, though, that the Jays aren’t already making Rogers a ton of money and that the money isn’t there to spend. I don’t see any reason to make that assumption.

        • You’re right. That is my assumption. And I’m making that based on consistent 15,000 fan attendance, and middle of the road TV ratings. Show me something that suggests that the Jays are raking in dough so that they can compete with big spenders in the league, and I will fully get on board with the idea that they should be spending more. Until I see anything that suggests the Jays are among the top 20 in revenue, I don’t expect them to be a top 10 team in expenditures.

          • For clarification’s sake, I’d say the Jays TV ratings are more than middle of the road.

          • I’m pretty sure that the consensus opinion in business is that you have to spend money to make money. In fact, I’m absolutely certain that is the case.
            The argument that fans have to show up before the team spends just goes to show how far down your throat the company line rests.

    • Very good post. I hate to mention this, but I wonder if bloggers who have higher career aspirations with Rogers are afraid to rock the boat.

      Attacking Rogers is not a good way to get a job with Rogers which now has control over all major sports teams in Toronto.

      What’s funny is that Rogers should realize that the best way to maximize shareholder value is to have a competitive team.

      In it’s other business’s Rogers purchases the phones from Apple and sells them to cusomers at a loss, but forces them to ge 3 year contracts which guaranttees revenues.

      They hope the customers like the phones so much that they use extra bandwidth, which Rogers charges for etc…

  13. I never see the need to attack another blogger. Save it for the pro’s boys, keep it classy.

    • Guess I should clarify…I meant attack the blog posters, not the article writers. Those boys are fair game.

  14. As a stupid person and a former Subway franchisee I am deeply offended by this article.

  15. It’s always amazing to see the Rogers devout defending the Alex W Anthopolis plan, “W” for Walmart). I think were all in agreement that he is a very good GM, and were lucky to have him. In order to keep us out of the Baltimore cellar-sphere, the thinking correctly was to build the farm which had fallen into the cellar, but that’s not going to get us into the playoffs in the AEast. If that’s all the fans want, and to watch the farm grow, then that’s exactly what were going to get. Rogers is in fact following the Rays model, and you betcha they will be selling the help when the costs go up. Unfortunately were just nice Canadians and watching a 3rd place team is what were going to be doing for a very long time. A sad story is that by the time we have a better chance to compete with the AEast giants, Batista will be past his prime, its unfortunate.

  16. @Kevin I would say we are in a hybrid model. We definitely arn’t going in the rays direction as our payroll has consistently been 30M more than the rays, with the exception of one season. Your also implying two different opinions at once, you want the jays to have sustained success yet your also saying the jays need to go all in with a big bat and frontline pitcher because our “window” is now. There is no such thing as window in sustained success.

  17. woops I mean @fullmerfan

    • To an extent, it’s an hybrid model. They aren’t, for example, at risk of losing their stars as quickly as the Rays do (although both Delgado and Halladay did eventually leave). But they’re still spending far less than the major league average each season and far less than they’re capable of.

      And there’s nothing contradictory about what I said. Adding a big bat and another pitcher would both help with winning now and sustaining the success in the future. I’m unsure where people have gotten the idea that turning try to contend in 2012 would somehow prevent such a thing in the future. If they actually win, it will only give Rogers incentive to spend more. And as long as their player development and minor league system remains strong, they will continually be able to succeed.

      • Halladay left because, after a decade of taking below market money and being told they would take a shot if they got close; they didn’t. He saw through Rogers bullshit and asked to get out.
        Delgado left because he saw through the bullshit and wouldn’t sign at a discount.
        You should stop being such a pariah, just cite some bullshit stats like WAR and OPS+, give AA a virtual handjob for every decision he makes and agree with everything the stat drones say and you’ll be in the club.

    • I was a little confused there….

  18. If I`m looking for Zen I`m not going to spend $50 to sit in a concrete dome to watch grown men play baseball.
    You know its gotten bad you`re talking about the majestic beauty of baseball to defend the Blue Jays payroll.

    • shhhh…we’re meditating. Just close your eyes and repeat the mantra…go jays go.

    • Research suggests that hormonal resonses to winning/losing are an important part of fandom, overall. Particularly, with young men, there seems to be a consistent craving for the small but real testosterone boost that comes from self-associating with a winner.

      Lots of young men are sports fans, and even non-young-men are impacted by the hormonal effect, hence winning impacts interest and attendance and revenues.

      But the aesthetic appeal of sports has always been there alongside the animal instinct. Sports can have the intellectual appeal of fine art at half the investment in bullshit. I can understand you needing tour testosterone fix – I don’t mind it myself – but there’s no reason to deny the zen of sports for those who know where to find it.

  19. Bravo. i’ve been thinking the exact same thing. baker thinks he’s the messiah of journalists… teams can only win if they spend on free agents, and if they’re not spending, they’re not trying and fans should roast them slowly over an open fire. and if they spend big and still lose, then the pat on the back from guys like baker will completely make up for millions of dollars lost and fans disillusioned.

    for the record, i’d be all for a joint free agent/player development strategy, but i can totally see why rogers would be unwilling to put the cart before the horse. i believe AA can make the jays into a winner doing exactly what he’s doing now, and at that point i believe increased revenues will encourage rogers to open the purse strings. its not the fastest route, but it is the financially safer route, and rogers can hardly be blamed for being careful with their money. just ask the nationals how they feel about their first venture into the FA market. but hey, i’m sure baker’s thrilled that they at least gave it a go.

    • I agree that AA should be able to develop an 80-85 win team on a cost controlled payroll with young talent. However, they will need a few free agents to get them into the 95 win territory to make a consistent run at the playoffs.

      If we look at The AL, the Jays now have to worry about the wildcard coming from the Al West & Al East.

      Texas or LAA Angels will win 90 plus. The Yankees or Red Sox will win 90 Plus.

      The Rays are still strong. The Jays may pass them in 2013.

      The Rangers & Angels & Yankees & ESPN have massive amounts of TV revenues.

      If Rogers does not allow the Jays to use the broadcast revenues generated by the team, I don’t see how AA gets enough money to put the Jays in the playoffs.

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