Toronto Blue Jays: Paul Beeston Quick to Defend Rogers


Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have reluctantly accepted the fact the team’s corporate owner is cheap.

It doesn’t matter that Rogers is a multi-billion dollar telecommunications giant or that it purchased both the Jays and the Rogers Centre on the cheap. The company wants to run the team at bargain basement prices – the type of thing you’d never see Rogers offer its own customers.

Aug 8, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ervin Santana (30) takes a breath against the Washington Nationals in the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This sad reality of “payroll parameters” and players offering to defer their salaries so that the team can sign a desperately needed pitcher is accepted, if not fully understood, by the fans. If Rogers has money, why can’t they invest it into a winning baseball product?

Success on the field will breed greater success at the box office, no? Everyone loves a winner.

For whatever reason, Rogers, which forms one third of the Canadian telecommunications oligopoly, doesn’t see it the same way. There’s no point in asking the company to explain its frugalness. (I’d like to say the money’s going towards better network coverage and customer service, but I won’t lie to you or defend Rogers.)

This fiscal abandonment of the Jays, however, has put team president Paul Beeston in an awkward position. As the media critics line up to question him, he’s forced to defend the absurd, the inexplicable and the unacceptable to hungry Jays fans.

Speaking on Sportsnet 590 The Fan yesterday, Beeston quickly came to the defence of his corporate overlord.

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  • “I’ll set the record straight. We’ve never [gone] to Rogers and asked them for money for anything we haven’t got,” he said. “They’ve been very, very generous with us when we took our salaries up from $90 million to $125 million. I think we’ll be up next year. There’s no question about that. They’ve been very supportive.”

    I wonder if he hasn’t gone to Rogers for more money because he already knows the answer. The players seem to have this understanding of the situation.

    “When I hear last week that we didn’t make decisions because we didn’t have the money or there was a hockey contract, it’s just flat out wrong,” he continued. “It’s patently false. We’ve got what we need to do. If there wasn’t a trade that was made, it was because Alex [Anthopoulos] and the baseball people didn’t think they wanted to part with the players for what they’d get back.”

    Aug 15, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) congratulates relief pitcher Casey Janssen (44) after a win against the Boston Red Sox at the Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated Boston 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Who were the critics? Obviously, many fans and media figures were discouraged by the team’s lack of activity, but you can also add players like Jose Bautista and Casey Janssen to the list. It seems no one understands the corporate situation besides Beeston.

    (Here’s what I know: Rogers used to rip me off every month before I switched to one of the smaller guys.)

    Is Beeston starting to make you rethink the situation? I doubt it. Here’s the final salvo in his brilliant defence of Rogers:

    “When we lose, all of a sudden it’s because of finances. It’s because we don’t have the money. That’s really not fair to Rogers. That’s because of decisions we made or because of injuries or the way we play. It’s nothing to do with the financial part of it.”

    (Is he blaming the players at the end?)

    Unfortunately, Beeston has the argument wrong. No one has said the Jays are losing because they haven’t spent any money at all. The argument is that the Jays haven’t kept pace or moved ahead of their closest competitors since they’re unwilling to spend additional money at the trade deadline. Although the difference may seem subtle, it’s enough to destroy Beeston’s defence of Rogers. If you have any doubt, look at the improved New York Yankees following the trade deadline – a team that has absolutely no right to find themselves in playoff contention today save for the breadth of their owner’s wallet.

    What do you think? Do you agree with Beeston or is this simply the case of a corporate stooge defending his corporate overlord?

    Let us know in the comments section below.