There's something to be said for cheering for a rebuilding ballclub. In a way, it's much easier than pulling for teams like today's Yankees or Red Sox - or even the '92-'93 Blue Jays. Teams like that are built to win - expected to win - the World Series, and anything less is complete and abject failure. Each loss is magnified, and maniacal paranoia sets in (see Sam Horn, Sons of). The disgusting sense of entitlement is another unfortunate sidebar (think pinstripes).
Then there's the flip side of the coin - teams like the Royals and Pirates - who attempt to fool their fanbase (more and more unsuccessfully as the seasons pass) under the guise of rebuilding....when really all that's happening is a revolving-door roster of shitty, low cost - but young! - players who never seem to live up to the marginal expectations the organization really has for them.
Perhaps the worst of all is the team stuck in the middle: 75 to 85 win clubs stocked with relatively unexciting players; good enough to compete but not enough to win. These teams typically have no real vision and can't decide whether to tear the fucker down or sell out for a shot. Sound familiar?
No, if you're going to rebuild, you have to go all in. You have to trade away your franchise player who you won't be able to re-sign (check). You have to commit to youth and development, even if it means sacrificing current results for future gains (check). You have to have leadership with vision (check). And you have to have ownership committed to that vision (um....).
Until today, Blue Jay fans (post -'93) could never say for certain we've had that. Until today, we've only had Paul Beeston (bless 'em) paying lip service with quotes like "the money from ownership is there when we need it". You can forgive us, Paul (can I call him Paul? Because I just did...), if we're just a little jaded about the whole "the money is there" thing when we've seen players out there begging to be signed (below market) who would have filled holes quite nicely....only to have the team pass. And let's not regurgitate the whole 2009 draft discussion. Nobody wins in that argument (right, James Paxton?). Point being, since Ted Rogers' passing, we haven't heard much from ownership, and we certainly haven't seen much to get excited about.
But today, things might have just changed. For me, anyway. The Star's Dave Perkins caught my attention with the headline blasting "Ownership will spare no expense to win the World Series". My immediate reaction? "Yeah, right". Then I read the article. I read how Nadir Mohamed flew down to address the team - face to face - and proclaim that "the ultimate goal is the World Series and that the organization will do – and spend – what is necessary to get there again." More lip service? Maybe. But Mohamed is quite clearly a successful CEO, and to boldly address the team in such a manner with no intentions on following through wouldn't exactly set much of a precedent, with his employees or the fans.
In a follow up article focusing on Mohamed, we find more golden nuggets like "It's a commitment, we've made the commitment and we're going to make it happen"....and "We know what the team means (to Toronto)," Mohamed said. "We're here to make it work. We feel we have the best men for the job in Paul and Alex. I'm excited."....and possibly my personal favorite quote (hey, I'm a finance nerd), "One of the top execs in the organization has off-handedly remarked that Blue Jay losses, within the Rogers empire, amount to "a rounding error.""
Now, maybe I can be accused of being a sucker, easily fooled. That argument is probably not without merit. But holy shit, I think I'm excited about the future of this team.
Maybe someday, sooner than later, we'll be saying "Playoffs!" and actually meaning it. And that aint nothin', my friends.