Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Since You Asked: Our thoughts on grumpypants Scott Rolen

The Fan's Mike Wilner has stirred the pot quite a bit in the past few days with his revelations that Scott Rolen was particularly unhappy in Toronto and quite vocal about his displeasure.

Considering the fan love the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time had engendered this year, it's a bit of a shock to hear the degree to which Rolen was miserable and the extent to which he shared his feelings amongst his teammates.

Since you asked, here's what we think: If Rolen was unhappy in Toronto for a multitude of reasons (the turf, the city, the country, the organization, the occasional day off, what have you), then it didn't particularly show in his play. Rolen didn't sulk or pout on the field, and went all out in the field and on the basepaths in pretty much every game where he pulled on a Blue Jays jersey.

He dove for balls. He ran out ground balls. He gave up his body on take-out slides. He took the extra base and he kept his head in the game. On that level, we as Jays fans don't have much to complain about.

It's possible that Rolen's grumblings were off-putting in the clubhouse, and players felt as though his complaining led to an erosion of the esprit de corps. We've worked in an office where there are persistent malingerers, and it sucks to have to be around those sorts of people. But given the fact that the team has taken a nose dive since Rolen left, we can't help but feel like his bitching and/or whining wasn't the thing that led to the team's demise.

Rolen carries a reputation as a malcontent, and it shouldn't surprise us that he brought that attitude north of the border. At least we got some players in return (we hope) and freed up some salary.

What's this say about Toronto?
There is something unsettling about the idea that players are looking to get out of Toronto, or avoiding it as a destination.

Long gone are the days when Toronto was the marquee franchise in the league, able to attract the cream of the free agent crop. Because of the lack of profile that the team and the city have south of the 49th parallel, Toronto has slipped backwards into a middle-tier of baseball cities, like Minneapolis, Cleveland, Detroit or Milwaukee. Not places to avoid, but not high on your list of places to be.

Toronto should be up with L.A., Chicago, New York and Boston as one of the most attractive cities, but its diversity and its wealth of cultural offerings are probably somewhat lost on your average American ballplayer with little more than a high school diploma and a sense of entitlement.

Of course, every player who had a list of teams to whom he couldn't be traded over the past decade always included Toronto and Montreal, so this sort of thing isn't new.

27 comments:

Callum said...

"little more than a high school diploma and a sense of entitlement"

Zing! I love sweeping generalizations. Especially when they turn out to be true.

Tao of Stieb said...

It's a cheap shot, for sure. But I'm just feeling a little grumpy myself these days.

G Valentino said...

It's the same with almost every team in this market, and I include the Leafs. It seems the guys who want to come to the Leafs are either young local boys or middle-to-approaching retirement guys who don't wanna have to worry about paying for meals.

I'm not sure how bad Rolen's attitude could have really been. Like you say he played with hustle and didn't seem to negatively impact the clubhouse (in fact, didn't Wilner himself call him a leader, or did I imagine that?)
Maybe after Shea Hillenbrand we just don't notice anymore.

eyebleaf said...

Well, it certainly doesn't show in the quality of your bloggage, Tao. And I guess that's all that counts.

Anonymous said...

Sorta related to this - There was an Aaron Hill interview on Wilner's 'Blue Jays This Week' show & in it Wilner asked him about players perceptions about Toronto & basically Hill said: 'Without mentioning names, I've had quite a few guys who've told me they'd love to come play in Toronto - some of them are gonna be free agents...'. Wilner then said: 'Does any of their names rhyme with Phone Higgins?'....

Don't know if anyone heard that but it seemed interesting enough.

Ian H. said...

I said something similar over at Sports and City, but whether or not Rolen liked the city of Toronto, he still played his ass off each and every game. He can be a dick in the clubhouse all he wants, so long as he puts up great numbers (which he did) I could forgive him for being adverse to Toronto.

Mattt said...

What else can Toronto do to raise it's profile, especially to your typical(not all) American that refuses to see Toronto for the amazingly unique city that it is. It ranks in the top in every category for all cities in the world from culture-#4, to financial power-#10...

So if the attitude still exists that playing here is somehow a lesser place to play then that attitude will be there forever I'm afraid.

The Ack said...

Anon 515, did not hear that, but even if it was bullshit, it's the sort of fluff I need to hear right now. Of course, it will ultimately be heartbreaking if Rogers decides to invest NO MONEY in free agents this offseason.

Phone Higgins: "Hello? Alex Anthopoulos? Phone Higgins here. I'd love to come play for you....what's that? Payroll Freeze? Well, fuck you very much for your time then."

Also, fresh faced Lind was quoted (in the Sun maybe?) as saying he'd like to spend his entire career with one organization. Love that naive little bastard.

So, yeah. We got that going for us.

Anonymous said...

Ack, if you're interested you can hear the Hill interview here:

http://fan590.com/ondemand/?page=4
Scroll down to the bottom.

The Hill interview is the 1st segment of the show.

Lothar of the Hill People said...

So, riddle me this. Would the good old boys of the Toronto media have given Mr. Rolen such an easy time if he wasn't himself a good old boy himself?

Anonymous said...

I still think this is just Wilner stirring up shit for his idiotic phone in show and also kissing his bosses assholes.

Let's remember what Wilner is. He's just a radio jock that has a phone in show for idiots. He isn't really an authority on anything and he NEVER sways from the company line.

Joanna said...

I had a discussion with someone about this. Rolen is from the midwest. Toronto is not at all like the midwest. He might not have been happy in LA or New York either. Or maybe he is a total grumpy pants and hates everywhere. I can't hate him. he played his ass off.

Matthew said...

Kind of curious as to how a player who has begged his way out of every clubhouse he's ever been in wanting out of Toronto somehow indicates this isn't a desirable location for free agents. The two free agents I can remember spurning us are Rod Barajas and Gil Meche. One signed here the next year and the other is such a winner he went and signed with the worst team the worst division in baseball. Glaus and Hillenbrand also wanted out, but Glaus had a nagging foot injury that was exasperated by the field turf and Hillenbrand was a Billy Koch level douchebag. Oh, and Chipper Jones thinks this town is boring. Of course, Chipper Jones plays in Atlanta so one might question his idea of excitement.

Darren Priest said...

Do players pay Canadian taxes on their salaries when they play in Toronto? That alone would cause most players to want to stay south of the border.

What millionaire athlete from Georgia (for example) would want to help support our many welfare queens?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go fill out my EI report.

Colin said...

Remember, many of the best baseball players are not American. Carlos Delgado loved the city, and I'm sure there are many other Non-American players who would love to be here, if we stopped sucking so much.

Look at the Raptors. Most NBA players are American, and like the Jays they're the only team in Canada, and yet they managed to get Turkoglu, the biggest name on the market this summer and who actually actively preferred Toronto, because not all the players are American.

Colin said...

Ugh, I wasn't paying attention and said we, thinking the city in general. I meant the Jays.

Bruno Van rottweiller said...

@ Darren, Joannna and Tao are right. You have no idea how rubeish some of these hayseeds who pay ball are. The US is much less civilized then Canada is. A friend of mine from high school live sin atlanta and it is ass backwards(in reference to your tax example)! Can't compare them to NYC or even any Canadian city.

@ Colin, Carlos Delgado is an American BTW. He's from Puerto Rico and the last time I checked that's part of the US of A. He has an american passport and citizenship. San Juan ain't no cultural hotbed , BUT Delgado is cultured.

Tao of Stieb said...

@ Bruno

I'd beg to differ on San Juan not being a cultural hot bed.

I mean, they've got their own language and everything!

Alex said...

The Leafs got gustafsson too, and his pick was purely on a team/city basis since the money is limited by the CBA

Anonymous said...

The most frustrating feature of living in Toronto--for someone who has moved here from New York--is your belief that Toronto is a great city.
It isn't. It really isn't even a city. It's just a huge collection of crappy suburbs. The city itself is dull and ugly and anti-American chauvinism is off-putting.

Darren Priest said...

I think it would be very interesting to see how the whole taxes thing works when you are making that kind of money. I heard ballplayers get a paystub just like the rest of us. The deductions, if they are made automatically, would be hilarious.

Gross income this period: 2,300,879.00
Income tax deducted: 1,002,456.00
Union dues: 4,567.00
EI contribution: 123.00
CPP: 54.00

Stick around long enough and you too, Vernon, can collect the Canada Pension!

Anonymous said...

Love those New York trolls

Darren Priest said...

NYC is indisputably one of the best cities in the world. Makes me wonder why anon made the move.

Colin said...

Americans think Puerto Rico is part of America. Most Puerto Ricans do not, and that's the important part. They play their own team in the WBC.

Also, aside from PR there is the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Canada, and Japan, to name a few, who all put out some excellent non-American players.

Bruno Van Rottweiller said...

@ Colin, tell that to the gazillions of Puerto Ricans that live in the NYC area! Unlike other Hispanics, they are not illegal in this area, can vote, usually speak English and look down on other Hispanics BECAUSE of their priveleged position as not being "foreigners". The Puerto Ricans are very anglo compared to the other Hsipanics as well...well more Americanized.

Colin BTW, Englsnd, Wales and Scotland play separately in international football, does that mean that Welsh are not British,then?

@ Tao, I hear you. I did business with PR years ago and people from the island do speak English pretty well, at least the ones I talked to. also, they are not assholes about speaking english like the quebecers are either!

Darren Toronto is much safer and more beautiful than NY is . Take a tour in the Bronx outside of Yankee Stadium and prepared to see proverty that would shock the poorest Canadian. There are parts of Brooklyn and queens that are unsightly compared to TO. You guys have it sio good up there, where squalor and poverty are still seen in NYC on a regular basis.

Colin said...

The Welsh consider themselves independent from the English, and the English consider themselves far better than the Scots, Welsh, or Irish (I should know, I'm English). They're all British, but that doesn't mean the Welsh are any more attached to Liverpool than Hamburg.

timmers said...

"Long gone are the days when Totonto was the marquee franchise in the league..." Errr, when was that again? Please don't say '91 -'92, for even at the zenith of it's powers, TO was never the marquee franchise in any league. "Toronto has slipped backwards into the middle tier of baseball cities?" Methinks you're aiming a little high there. Two World Series titles and a monument to overindulgence you call a stadium do not a baseball city make. Listening in on the city's baseball fans conversations for only a few innings will quickly confirm this fact. Lastly, the "average American ballplayer" probably can't compare with all those highly educated Canadian hockey players the junior leagues crank out, eh?