Toronto Blue Jays Need To Pay Attention To Twitter

By TSM

Those of you who are kind enough to drop by often and for the last several years are aware that I am a huge fan of Twitter. As an aside I have offered up $100 donation to the charity of choice to my 2000th follower! I am a huge believer that twitter was made for the sports fan. There is no better way to digest a sporting event than doing so with full access to twitter. As a Toronto sports fan, I can cheer on, or comment on the games or stories as they break along with the rest of the world in real time. I can read, comment and react as players (yuck), management (yawn), media (cool) and fans all offer up their respective thoughts. As a consumer, that’s a great thing.

Last night, and for the last several days, I hope the folks at Rogers have been watching the Blue Jays attention on twitter. For those who don’t think there is a huge appetite for baseball in Toronto you aren’t paying attention. The biggest indicator to me of the market is that the majority of baseball insiders south of the border tweet about and respond to tweets on the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays simply don’t have any interest south of the border. For writers on SI, ESPN and FOX to name but a few to be tweeting about the Jays, they have to know that the interest level in the USA on the team is limited to the expat Canadians living in the USA. I am a firm believer that writers write to an audience, and the reason the Jays get so much love is that the writers know there’s an audience there.

The Darvish story was one to remember. If the NYPost hadn’t reported that the Jays would be named the winning team, I think last night would have passed with barely a whimper. Instead, all the papers, radio stations and media outlets covered it. Hockey writers, bloggers and those who generally don’t say boo about the Jays were following, predicting and editorializing on the outcome. In terms of size of story, it had all the makings of a top sports news story in Toronto. All because we were told to expect to win. So much for that.

There are three stories in my mind that are worth reading on the Yu thing.

The first is from Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star:

“Sources in baseball insist that the Jays’ bid for the 25-year-old Japanese star was over $50 million, barely edged out by the winning bid of $51.7 million reported to be posted by Rangers GM Jon Daniels.”

If this number is accurate, and the Jays did in fact bid over 50m, then we as fans should be optimistic. There’s no shame in losing when your bid is over 50m. None. All reports suggest that the actual contract could be as high as 75m so being willing to spend 50m to get to spend another 75m should tell us that the Jays were prepared to spend and spend big.

“The fact is nothing has changed for the Jays. Just because of the failed Darvish adventure, management is not simply forced to spend the $50 million that Rogers ownership had clearly offered to pay for the Darvish posting. But Rogers is still willing to be convinced if the right move can be made.”

I think that’s right. There are those out there who are saying that the Jays must spend that money in order to show the fans. I personally don’t think the smart fans want the Jays simply to spend for spending sake. It’s management’s job to convince ownership it needs the funds to do something big. I don’t want my GM to spend for the sake of spending money.

Over at Sportsnet, Michael Grange has a good take on the story too:

“Blue Jays fans are in a sensitive state. News late Monday night that Toronto had lost out to the Rangers and the record $51.7 million they paid for the right to negotiate an expected $75 million contract for the Nippon Ham Fighter hit them like a load of bricks.”

I was on twitter last night and that’s the only place from which I can judge fan reaction and I’d have to say that wasn’t the case. Shortly before the decision was announced I polled my followers as to whether they thought the Jays would be the winner and the nays outnumbered the optimists by over a 4:1 margin. Unscientific, I agree but I think the proper description would be that Jays fans were disappointed and maybe felt that the rug had been pulled from under them.

“Anthopoulos’ explanation for the lack of insight was tactics: if other clubs or agents get a sense of what kind of money the Blue Jays have to work with when it comes to big-ticket talent it could be used against them in future negotiations.

Bad move, I think.

In this case an explanation might go a long way toward helping Jays fans keep their fragile faith that the club is determined to compete in the AL East, even coming off a season when their payroll was a third of the pennant-winning New York Yankees.”

I agree with Grange. I don’t think there are any secrets in sports. I think every MLB team already knows exactly who bid what. I think it’s a mistake on the part of the Jays to not admit that they failed only after coming up a bit short; assuming that’s the case. I think that if it’s true, they should have nothing to hide and more importantly I think it will garner them a tremendous amount of good will. The proof is in the pudding, winning is all that counts, but as the number one criticism of ownership is unwillingness to spend what it takes, proof of an attempt is a good start.

Lastly, there’s Bruce Arthur’s take over at the National Post:

“But National Post sources familiar with knowledge of the Blue Jays’ thinking strongly contradicted that the Jays were willing or able to spend the required money on Darvish. And in Tuesday’s conference call, Anthopoulos was careful to note the payroll parameters he has been given — which resulted in a US$70-million payroll on Opening Day last season — remain in place.”

Hmmmmmm I wonder who the posts sources may be….

It’s articles like that which just scream to Rogers to show us the money. Don’t spend it, just tell us what you did. Why allow for the questions to linger?

“And what we are left with here is the possibility of the kind of commitment from Rogers Communications that would likely help the cause, but nothing tangible when it comes to spending money on players right now. Anthopoulos has a disciplined and creative mind, and he has core principles on how to build “the right way,” and a lot of those happen to coincide with the fact that he has an owner that promises it will spend when the time is right. Which means Anthopoulos probably has to scrimp his way to contention before he gets the resources to try to close the deal.”

Winning, everyone tell me will be the cure all for the Jays. Start winning and the dome will be full. Those who say have to be smarter than me and well, Rogers has to know this too. So why the stubborn refusal to spend? I know, the plan, the plan the plan. Well, I am here to tell Rogers, there is a huge appetite out there just waiting. I don’t think it waits forever, but it is there. Last night and the last few days was something I hope you paid attention to. Baseball fans are itching to get excited about this team. Either you feed that hunger or they starve to death.

TSM

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