Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Faith, Cynicism, Impatience and Stone Blind Love

So...are we all cool now?

First off, a mea culpa, if you'll indulge. If anyone threw gas on the smouldering embers yesterday, it was yours truly, and if we seemed less than charitable or more than a little impertinent, we apologize. Having said that, we've had a good night's sleep and some time to think about some of the points drawn out in yesterday's cavalcade of comments, and we'll address them with a bit of a clearer head.

The Boston series sucked: We made a rare trip into Toronto in order to see the games this weekend, and it was demoralizing. It's part of why we couldn't bring ourself to write much of anything on Monday morning, because we just figured that emo Tao is not all that fun to read. (Well, sometimes...) We get why people would be losing their faith in the team, the plan and all that junk. We sympathize.

On "mediocrity": If there's a word that we've come to loathe hearing when talking about the Jays, it's "mediocre". In fits of pique, revisionists like to trot out how Jays fans have suffered through 18 years of mediocre baseball, which helps to rationalize their catcalls back in the direction of those faithfully glued to the bandwagon.

So let us ask: Did last year's 85 win team feel "mediocre" to you at the time? In the last five seasons, the Jays have finished under .500 just once...is that really mediocre?

Yes, the Jays have been on the outside looking in at the pennant races, mostly because one of either the Sox or Yanks or Rays has sprinted out ahead early in the season. But making the playoffs in baseball is hard, especially in the AL East. And the lack of a playoff appearance might be frustrating, but it doesn't mean that there hasn't been good baseball over that time.

The Plan is Dead. Long Live the Plan: J.P. Ricciardi had his plans. Now Alex Anthopoulos has his. Frankly, everybody's got a plan. The whole notion that there is something too clever about having a plan is lost on us: You take an approach that you think will work, and you stay true to it as best as you can. You don't panic and pull up stakes and revamp the direction because of a bad week, or month, or year.

And if there was one thing about which J.P. deserved some criticism, it was deviating wildly from his own plans based on the results of the previous season. Ricciardi's plans were always focused on short-term gains (college draft picks, big free agent signings), often at the expense of the long-term growth of the team.

So now, ten weeks into Alex Anthopoulos' second season as the GM, people are calling him out for not indulging in the very things for which they pilloried Ricciardi: Why didn't the Vernon Wells money get spent on free agents? If we don't spend to the Yanks' and Sox' level, we'll never compete! Abandon the plan! And who the hell does Anthopoulos think he is? He thinks he's so smart...

And furthermore, we thought that we've been pretty restrained around here in contrast to some of the cartoonish deification of Alex Anthopoulos that's taken place. We're willing to go along with his plan for a few more years and see how it plays out. Maybe it doesn't work out in the end, and maybe 50% of those clever moves come back to haunt the Jays. But we're not going to pull the chute now because we've got decades of frustration feeding into our more negative thoughts.

Soon, it will be winter, and people will be kvetching on every outlet about why James Reimer has suddenly turned into a pumpkin. But for now, there's a lot of baseball yet to play. And some fun stuff coming. Let's relax and enjoy it.

Our tenure as a Jays fan: Since 1983. (Our third favourite team, after a few years of loving the Pirates and the Expos, if it matters.) If you feel that the extra six seasons that you spent watching Rico Carty and Rick Cerone makes you more of an authority on the Jays, we'd invite you to start your own blog and stop reading this one. We don't care to bask in the annihilating glow of your contempt for what we do here.

Rogers is rich, but...: Rogers is a billion dollar communications company. They make their money in part because Ted Rogers was astute enough to invest his own money on building the infrastructure that brings the HD images into your homes and the chatter, texts, and everything else into your mobile device. (And if you feel like you're paying too much or there is something unfair about the way they do business, switch. You have alternatives. Even if it is a pocket full of quarters.)

When it comes to baseball: Rogers is not a billion dollar company. Sure, they're able to leverage some additional promotional exposure through the Jays, and they probably won't lose much more than they can stomach on the team. But you're not going to have a corporation's profitable divisions throw money down a hole in order to take a significant financial risk on big name free agents.

Seriously: People are self-interested, and you can't tell us that a senior executive in the cable or broadcast or (especially) the wireless side are going to sign off on creating a budget for the Jays that makes the company less profitable and eats into their personal bonus structure, just because Johnny from Markham wants to sign Prince Fielder.

The Red Sox and Yankees ARE billion dollar baseball businesses, and so they can make those decisions, and if they mess up, it's on them. If the Jays had, let's say, signed Jason Bay to a deal that would have brought our hometown kid (from the other end of the country) to town to the tune of $16 million over the next four years, only to see him turn into a pumpkin himself. Wouldn't the GM be mocked for such a waste of resources?

Have we all forgotten the Vernon Wells deal?

But the point is that there are other ways to compete with those behemoths. The Tampa Rays have already demonstrated how it can be done. And the Jays can find a way to compete with the big boys without creating a situation where they are a burden to their corporate ownership.

Do we all remember how fun it was to be in ownership limbo?

It's baseball, after all: We're not sure how much longer we've got before someone shuts out the lights and calls it a day for us. We're optimistic that we've got a few decades left. And if we spend the rest of those years and the Jays never quite make it over the hump for any number of reasons, we're not sure that we'll find ourself on our final day begrudging the time that we invested in this team. Baseball's pretty fun. Frustrating, to be sure. But if it ever stops being fun for us to be a Blue Jays fan, we'll just walk away.

The game is the game. Take it for what it is, or don't. But don't curse it because the games don't play out the way you'd like. We had our time at the top, and now we're caught in the middle. But have some faith.

One day, everything is going to sound like a rhapsody.

31 comments:

Drew said...

Thank you for the Rogers part. As I've said before, fans expect corporations to fork over millions of dollars so their favorite TV show can have a better ending.

It's ludicrous to assume any solvent company will freely set cash on fire.

Drew said...

solvent PUBLICLY TRADED company, that is.

Tdotfanatic said...

It takes an obscene amount of patience to be a fan of this team and Toronto sports teams in general, and I think the people of Toronto see themselves as on the level of a New York, Boston, or Chicago. To be stuck in that middle is a shot to the ego of the population.

Avenger-in-Chief said...

I enjoyed the maniacal passion in the previous post and as a Padres fan I find hope in that we play in the NL West... I think the AL East would break my will.

Best of luck on seeing The Plan come to fruition.

Anonymous said...

Tao, you're an old man in a young man's blog.

Tao of Stieb said...

Also: I'm a handsome man in a fat man's body.

Tao of Stieb said...

Well put, Drew.

The complaints about Rogers not giving more to the franchise seem to resemble those of kids who launch themselves on the floor because they aren't given what they want.

"But I WAAAANT Pop Tarts mom!"

"No, you can't have them. They're not good for you. And I'm NOT spending $5 Million on Lance Berkman either. Do you remember when I bought you that Kerry Lightenberg?"

Buck16 said...

Whoa, I read yesterday's blog when there was only three comments. I'm glad I got caught up.

It's amazing how people don't realize you need to develop a great core of talent, and have a stocked cupboard in the minors, to make signing big ticket free agents (to plug the holes your organization can't) make sense.

Otherwise, it's 2007 around here again and we'll win, oh, about 85 games until eternity.

Look at Tampa - they let Carlos Pena - a premier power hitter (although not much else) walk, Carl Crawford heads to Boston for a boatload of cash, and their entire bullpen spreads out around the league with larger contracts, but they continue to be awesome on a budget because their minor leagues are stocked and ready for this exact scenario.

And they're not players on the free agent market like I believe AA will be when he needs to plug holes around his homegrown talent.

Navin said...

Nice dig at James Reimer, especially considering you're a Sens fan.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Rogers . . . to a point. They are a faceless, evil billion-dollar company that doesn't give a shit about baseball, winning or fans. They care about cross-promotion. I canceled my cable years ago, watch sports online and go with a small ISP. (as you all should too!)

The point is that this kind of sports owner (and business model by the way, which destroys not only your local team, but the environment, labour laws and the lives of poor people all over the world)is not conducive to winning games.

Rogers is perhaps the worst run company in Canada, but not because it does not make money, but because it serves only the ultra-wealthy executives and massive stock holders. (leave that business-school tripe about "public company" at home--limited liability just makes the rich richer, and means that they don't lose their homes when they go belly up. Everyone else suffers from this kind of company.)

Go Jays. Fuck Rogers.

Anonymous said...

but because it serves only the ultra-wealthy executives and massive stock holders. (leave that business-school tripe about "public company" at home--limited liability just makes the rich richer, and means that they don't lose their homes when they go belly up. Everyone else suffers from this kind of company.)


How`s life at Greenpeace?

Anonymous said...

Is that supposed to be an insult? Idiot.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and the idiocy is in italics.

Anonymous said...

Ah, fascists, you gotta love 'em. I'm sure you and Rob Ford spend every night jerking each other off.

Anonymous said...

Facists don`t like gays you queer.

Anonymous said...

Love the Bob Dylan reference. Nice.

Rob said...

"Rogers is perhaps the worst run company in Canada, but not because it does not make money, but because it serves only the ultra-wealthy executives and massive stock holders. (leave that business-school tripe about "public company" at home--limited liability just makes the rich richer, and means that they don't lose their homes when they go belly up. Everyone else suffers from this kind of company.)"

Well, for starters, the fact that it makes money does mean, by definition, that it is a well run company. You may not LIKE the way it's run, but that's entirely different ballgame. As well, I think your a bit confused re: your tirade about "business school tripe" and limited liability companies and public companies. Limited liability companies need not be public, private companies can be as well. So it seems like your beef is with companies in general.

Either way, you're the worst type of idiot. An uninformed, naive fool who thinks everybody ELSE is uninformed and naive.

Did you have a tough time reading through the more technical parts of Ted Kacsynskis manifesto?

Anonymous said...

'i'll let you be in my dream if i can be in yours. i said that.'

KissMyPurpleButt said...

Good follow up post Tao. Hey all the comments show people care, and that's a great thing. (Except for the language part)

Now I can't stand Rogers as much as the next guy, but interbrew was worse.

Anonymous said...

It is always funny to read comments from bandwagon fans and not fans of the team. With bandwagon fans, they want a win now at all cost mentality. Real fans see the positives each year that are displayed and watch the weaknesses addressed.

If the team finishes 81 - 81, the season was a success. We will get to see Thames, Lawrie, Drabek, Reyes, Stewart, Arencibia's first full year, etc. Players that struggled are back in triple A, so they can reinvent themselves for success.

I prefer that scenario than throwng 20M at a player and then being stuck with him for many years. The Angels today cut Kasmir outright, after believing they had acquired an ace two years ago. Free agents are a toss of the dice, but many bandwagon fans want them signed for large amounts to fail, hoping they will hit more than .200 - 2 - 30. When they don't, the fans blame the GM for stupidity, but never berate themselves for the same stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I love the "real fans" argument, always the way to try and alienate anyone who doesn't agree with you.

Anonymous said...

All "public" corporations are limited liability by definition--stock holders are only responsible for losing the money they put into the stocks; if they go bankrupt they do not lose their personal fortunes, houses, yachts etc. That is not "all companies". A small store operates not only with the threat from big corporations trying to drive them out of business by undercutting them, but with losing not only the store, but everything they have.

Corporate capitalism is having a horrible effect on our world right now, perhaps not as noticeably in Canada as elsewhere, but nonetheless we have seen what the loss of manufacturing jobs (going to the lowest bidder in the third world where pay scales and environmental regulations are lower etc.) has done to our country in terms of joblessness.

Clearly I'm off topic a bit, but calling someone on the internet "an uninformed idiot" is awfully easy, I would love to have a discussion with you in real life and see you backpedal. Put your head in the sand if you wish, but Rogers and companies like them are having a drastically negative effect on the Earth right now.

Go Jays. And thanks for comparing me to the unibomber, another classy move.

CasualTaoist said...

Sorry Tao, but I disagree with the mediocre thing. The Jays have been mediocre.

Mediocre:
of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate.

Since 2005, they've finished 7th or below in the AL. That's right smack in the middle of the pack (or worse). That's mediocre to me. They're average. They're normal. Not excellent, not terrible. Mediocre.

Sure, that's better than being in the basement, but it's nothing to really celebrate either. It just inspires indifference.

I'm still on the bandwagon and glued to the tv because I like baseball and I'm hopeful and despise cynicsim. But I don't think you can call anyone who accuses the team of mediocrity incorrect.

Greg W said...

I love it when both guys in an argument post a Anonymous. Makes them both look freakin' brilliant,

Gil Fisher said...

love it when both guys in an argument post a Anonymous. Makes them both look freakin' brilliant

unless you`re Anon 11:04

Anonymous said...

Yeah, making up a fake "name" makes a HUGE difference. We are all anonymous folks.

oakville69 said...

I think Rogers would benefit from increased broadcast revenues & gate revenues if it spent 20 million more this season to put a team on the field that could win 90 games.

The team chose E5 to be a bargain basement DH with predictable results, see yesterday's GIDP.

AA's long term plan should be followed but where there are holes in the lineup, I expect Rogers to fill them with competent players not perennial DFA players.

Garold said...

Anonymous, you seem to be ranting against corporations in general. While true that some corporate entities should be forced to be privately held institutions (i.e. Investment Banks), your arguements don't really make a lot of sense when it comes to Rogers.

Specifically, you rant against jobs moving overseas but Rogers employs everyone within Canada. Yay, employment for people in Canada! Secondly, you have a problem with it being publicly owned and crushing the little guys but there aren't many small business owners that can afford the capital to run a media company. That's why corporate capitalism exists. It's a mutually beneficial setup to allow people to invest in business ventures so the business can exist and investors can profit.

Anyway, if you want to rant against anything in Roger's business, rant against the lack of competition in Canada which is what drives up our consumer costs. But to rant against corporations in general not only seems like a waste of time, it seems unlogical.

scott hatteberg said...

"So now, ten weeks into Alex Anthopoulos' second season as the GM, people are calling him out for not indulging in the very things for which they pilloried Ricciardi: Why didn't the Vernon Wells money get spent on free agents? If we don't spend to the Yanks' and Sox' level, we'll never compete! Abandon the plan! And who the hell does Anthopoulos think he is? He thinks he's so smart..."


Is anyone actually saying this? I don't think so. I haven't heard even the most hysterical jaystalk caller say anything like this.

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