Toronto Blue Jays Need To Pay Attention To Twitter


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.


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Rob C.
December 21, 2011 3:54 am

And TV ratings were up last year, and that’s a contingent of fans across Canada. Most who won’t get to a Jays game in person but they are part of a fanbase who follow the team. They seemed to be focused on attendance at SkyDome when that is just a part of how much the Jays could bring in if they got back to their winning ways.

Seeing how the Blue Jays/MLB Playoffs are the only major sports property Rogers has exclusively [outside of UFC if we count that] you would think that be a reason for them to spend.

And the timing with the MLSE sale didn’t help. If the same company can spend that much on something they are sharing with others, going on and on about a budget for the baseball team is not going cut it with fans.

Also FAN590 whipped up expectations too. Heard PTS Roundtable on Friday talking about how many Japanese media would follow Darvish on an ongoing basis in Toronto if he came. Needless to say I thought they were getting a bit ahead of themselves in pumping up the story when no one really knew what was going on. Came home to roost this week.

Ami Angelwings
December 21, 2011 4:06 am

To be fair, I doubt that FAN590 hosts are taking marching orders from Rogers or the Jays to pump up the fan interest, especially if they aren’t planning to make big splashes. If anything, if they were meddling, they’d be telling Bob, Brunt, Blair, et al, to calm things down and to devote segments to how it’s a good reason to NOT spend money on Darvish, Fielder, etc…

Ami Angelwings
December 21, 2011 4:16 am

The problem with the “if you win, the fans will forgive everything and flock back” is while it’s true, there’s 2 problems, 1) you’re setting yourself up for an either/or scenario with no in between if you ignore the mood of the fans, and don’t want to give out any information instead letting a rift grow between management and fans, because then if you don’t win, you won’t even have hope because fans won’t trust you (right now it feels like fan trust is pretty low, at least if everything I read and hear on twitter and the radio is an indication) and 2) what’s “winning”? Is it being over .500? Is it being neck and neck in September? Is it making the playoffs? Or is it getting to the championship?

The less fans like you, the higher the bar starts to be. You can even see it with the attitudes of Mike Wilner to the Tampa Bay Rays (“yeah but have they won the world series?” “they BARELY made the playoffs”) and Bob McCown with the Oakland As, where he praised the Rays as a better story because they made the playoffs but “what has Oakland done?” (make the playoffs too? o_O )

I think it’s dangerous to play the “the only thing that matters is winning” game to the point where you decide it’s fine to erode fan confidence, or fan interest/faith or trust in you because, hey if you win the championship, all will be forgotten, because then you better be right and you WILL win. :\

I also think everything that’s happened has raised the bar, because people are no longer seeing it as what the team is, but we it COULD have been, and they’re taking it almost as if we’ve LOST something rather than just failed to make gains. They’ve already counted their chickens and the 2012 team had Darvish and Fielder on it, and each time you don’t get something that SHOULD be on that team, some of the fans will see it as a loss rather than a neutral move. :\ So even if you come close to the playoffs, or maybe get in and lose in the first round, it’ll all be dredged up again “if you had Fielder, we’d have made it” “if you had Darvish…” etc

I think Alex really needs to throw the fans a bone simply by being a little more open. He seems to be reacting to the increased speculation and interest by clamming up even more… and it’s not going over well…

As I said, winning heals all, but if you’re betting everything on that, you better win. xD

December 21, 2011 6:49 am

People should have known better in the first place than putting stock in a story from the NY Post, the ruler of the media kingdom when it comes to rumour mongering and inaccurate stories. I could care less whether AA shares the bid or not. As Colonel Trautman said to Rambo, “it’s over Johnny. It’s over.” Move on everyone. It’s back to work for AA. He has a plan, and he’s clear with the media and public regarding his tactics. I’ve enjoyed his first couple of years of work, and have no doubt the next few years are going to be interesting and exciting as well.

December 21, 2011 8:34 am

It’s December 21st, and the biggest story in the city is baseball and the Blue Jays.

I love the Blue Jays, and I think this is great, but what does it say about the Maple Leaf’s?

Last night Blair and Brunt talked about how the demographics of a Blue Jays crowd is getting younger and is very new media savy – i.e. blogs and Twitter. AA is getting a lot of flak for how he has managed this situation but he is a young face of management who is smart and who young fans can relate and look up to, has a lot of fans amongst the US media who cover baseball, and he is consistent and honest with his message.

The Maple Leaf’s have a GM and a coach who look and sound “old”, are confrontational with the media and poor at communicating the plan. They turn me off the team and I have to imagine they turn off other people as well.

December 21, 2011 8:39 am

The team have made efforts in the past 19 years to satisfy the win-hungry, NOWNOWNOW Jays fans in the past. Big splashes have been made on players such as BJ Ryan, Frank Thomas, and Roger Clemens. They traded Michael Young for Esteban Loaiza because they thought they had a playoff run in em one year.

You can’t just throw money at a big name free agent and expect wins. The Jays aren’t the Yankees or Red Sox and won’t be. The re-building process is the only way to go, really. The young talent isn’t quite there yet. If you follow the minors and see the progress of d’Arnaud, Syndengaard, Hech, McGuire, Gose, Marsnick, and the rest of the blue-chippers, the future looks good. But the team they have now probably isn’t one (or even 2) big names away from making a playoff run. We’ll need Alvarez, Carreno, Lawrie, Rasmus, etc to continue to develop this season and look towards 2013 or (gasp!) even 2014 before a sustainable playoff run.

Ami Angelwings
December 21, 2011 8:42 am

Jays fans and Leafs fans may not necessarily overlap. I’m a general sports fan so I overlap for everything xD But there’s a lot of hockey fans that are just hockey fans and a lot of baseball fans that are just baseball fans. I also often hear, like in comments and calls and stuff that there are many baseball fans and basketball fans don’t like hockey and are sick of hockey dominating everything. It might just be my observations though and not actually true that that attitude is prevalent. :\

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
December 21, 2011 8:52 am

Jays followers are suffering from Battered Fan Syndrome. The amount of energy spent arguing about whether Rogers is committed to winning is dizzying. Here are two facts that seem relevant to answering that question:

1. The payroll has been in the bottom half for several years.
2. The Jays have not signed a significant top level free agent in several years.

AA has done a wonderful job rebuilding the farm system, adding scouts, and acquiring young high-upside talent. IF that were the only way for the Jays to win, then there would be nothing left but hope. But the Jays are owned by a very wealthy company, and COULD complement young talent with proven major league talent. But that would cost more money, since those guys are mostly available through free agency. Further, adding free agents it doesn’t guarantee success in any given year. That’s why you have to be willing to sign guys who can make your team better every year.

December 21, 2011 9:25 am

To answer your question Ami, about “what is winning”, I think that the majority of Jays fans would define winning as “Toronto Blue Jays, circa 1984 – 1993”. Basically, a sustained period where the Jays make the playoffs or, at the very least, play some meaningful games after August 31st (I included ’84 since that would have been the case if the Tigers hadn’t had the ridiculous 35 – 5 start to the season)! In the AL, NYY, Boston, Tampa, Detroit, Anaheim, and Texas form the “winning” group currently.

In that respect, AA is doing just fine as I believe he is patterning (is that a word? My apologies if it isn’t.) the current Jays off of the Jays from 29 years ago…i.e. the 2012 season should be similar to 1983, when the Jays took a solid step forward into respectability/fringes of contention (i.e. 89 – 73, 4th place in 7 team division, 9 games out).

I think the extra venom (heightened expectations, whatever you want to call it) is stemming from the fact that adding Darvish &/or Fielder would vault the Jays into that ‘almost contender’ status, without costing the team roster players or prospects. This would allow them to continue on the ‘sustained success’ trajectory of the ’84-’93 Jays, by allowing those chips to be played in the future in order to get the team into ‘1985/89/91-93’ status. The aggravating factor is, of course, Rogers. By not putting out the money (when they clearly have it for the MLSE purchase, as well as on a corporate level), fans see Rogers as robbing the Jays for the benefit of their television properties (free content, no matter how crappy the team!), and the corporate bottom line (i.e. running the Jays as a pure business proposition, instead of going that extra mile by increasing payroll BEFORE the revenues start to tick upwards, as many winning sports franchises do, at some point).

December 21, 2011 9:32 am

Wow…looking back at 1988 standings…the AL East had five teams (including Jays) finish within 3 1/2 games of first…all with less than 90 wins!!


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Ami Angelwings
December 21, 2011 10:06 am

Sometimes I think the worst thing that ever happened to Alex Anthopoulous, in a way, is Jose Bautista suddenly becoming the best player in baseball. Suddenly, he has a 30 year old who you don’t know how long his prime will be, who is one of the best (if not the best) hitter in the game, and to a lot of fans, a time limit suddenly appeared on the Jays and it revolves around Bautista. There wouldn’t be this much buzz around Fielder if we didn’t have Bautista b/c the need to find “protection” for Bautista wouldn’t exist. And a lot of the writing around the Jays revolve around us doing something before Bautista goes past peak. When AA started this plan I’m pretty sure he never thought he’d have a superstar past 30 to worry about and so there’d be no “window”, because he knew he wouldn’t sign a player like that, or trade for one… and suddenly Bautista popped up. I think he’s happy to have him, but it makes “don’t worry we’ll keep building up and building up” harder for some fans (and writers) to take because they see Bautista getting older.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
December 21, 2011 10:20 am

Rob — i agree that blaming the fans for the Darvish hype is pretty lame. everyone pumped this story because it’s a legitimately big story. The Jays were rumoured to be in from the beginning, and AA personally scouted Darvish, and spoke about it openly. Beeston said the money would be there for the right guy. There’s no need to blame anyone for the story or the expectations actually.

Pudge — great posts. the AA/Beeston/Rogers soundbytes have indeed come home to roost. Either the money is there or it’s not. This is not a case of mortgaging the future. It’s just about spending more money on the major league payroll, which Nadir Mohammed has reportedly referred to as a “rounding error” for Rogers.

Ami — one could argue that there is a similar timeline on the young pitchers (Romero, Morrow) reaching free agency. Forced metaphor warning: there’s always going to be a closing window on some of your best players. That’s an argument in favour of being willing to sign guys in free agency to fill areas of need — it keeps your window open longer. If you’re always in developing mode then your window is never really open.

December 21, 2011 10:26 am

Derrick – Great point about the timing and buzz around the Jays as well as the difference from the Leafs’ management media personae.

I am not sure which is better though, one who stonewalls the media or one who berates them. It seems the local media is engaged only after the transaction is done and announced elsewhere. In my opinion AA’s “need to play his cards close” to the vest is now an issue for the Jays. Like the Farrell stories, the Jays are in react mode dealing a potential firestorm of negative reaction in the fan base. He did not create either situation but once out there he needs to deal with them much better and quicker.

Frankly I for one am tired of learning of Jays news from media in other markets. I think the issues with Twitter are just a symptom of a larger issue with the current media strategy. I am not sure who is advising the Jays on this PR strategy but it is not working.

They are now backed into a corner with a large contingent of fans and potential fans. There was genuine excitement and interest built on the potential to win the bid which is now turning to frustration and anger in some quarters. At this point refusing to even acknowledge whether they submitted a bid is mind boggling to me. It seems now that 100M rumoured for the Darvish sweepstakes has been earmarked by these Fans for tangible upgrades. Once again the story is controlling message rather than the Jays.

December 21, 2011 12:35 pm

“AA has done a wonderful job rebuilding the farm system, adding scouts, and acquiring young high-upside talent. IF that were the only way for the Jays to win, then there would be nothing left but hope. But the Jays are owned by a very wealthy company, and COULD complement young talent with proven major league talent.”

I think that’s an excellent summary of where things sit, MIB.

AA has done a really great job of building the foundation of a promising team in a very short amount of time. He’s done it without spending, and by being remarkably shrewd and creative sometimes (ex: acquiring Miguel Olivo for cash, then immediately letting him walk to collect the compensatory draft pick – he essentially bought a draft pick!).

So all that is good. It’s just that it COULD be easier. We know that Rogers COULD invest in payroll far more than they are. The Prince Fielder market seems up for grabs, for instance.

December 21, 2011 1:38 pm

Really well done post, TSM.

As a big Jays fan, Monday night was a real disappointment. But at the same time, there was a positive in that it revealed the extent and passion of the fanbase.

Brunt and Blair had a very interesting discussion about that at 5 o’clock. It does seem as though a ‘wave of interest’ is coming in regarding the Blue Jays. Hard to pinpoint, but I can’t imagine that this Yu Darvish story would have been nearly as big a deal 10 or even 5 years ago. Maybe even 3 years ago.

I’m not entirely sure what’s fueled this interest. Baseball does seem to have struck a chord with the ‘hipster/20 something’ crowd here ( is a good example of this). Hard to ascertain why.

But, I think TSM is bang on. Rogers should be taking full advantage of this and cultivating it. As Brunt said yesterday – this is a great thing. There are a lot of people out there that are very invested in your team.

Instead they seem to be coyly keeping their distance.

They shouldn’t be wasting this opportunity. This isn’t the Leafs where you can count on that passion forever, regardless of what you do.

Cultivate it and make the most of it. Could end up being a great thing.

December 21, 2011 3:40 pm

Stunned that NO ONE has mentioned about Gregg Zaun’s comments last night.
The talk seems to stop with Brunt and Blair til the 6 o’clock hour. There was still an hour to go of the show.
Zaun came on at 6 and he basically let the Jays have it! It was awesome! If you watched it, you could see Brunt and Blair nod in unison agreeing with what Zaun was saying.
Bad move about going after Darvish, and blasted the Jays FOR NOT going after Prince Fielder.
All of his points were bang on!
Constructive criticism is always good, and I for one, wished more media type people would have the balls to say what Gregg Zaun did! It was needed after AA two-stepped around Jeff Blair’s questions at 4:15 yesterday. Well done Gregg, well done!

Chef Mike in Burlington
December 21, 2011 5:45 pm

Has anyone actually seen the Jays offer??

Is it on-line somewhere??

Seriously, is it out there somewhere to be seen or do we only have the word of “inside sources” that it even existed??

Has AA, Beeston or anyone in authority at Rogers actually verified that the $50M offer existed??

Has AA, Beeston or anyone in authority at Rogers actually said what their offer was??If not, why not??

…we all know “why not”, because it was never real and we’re all getting played…Rogers would never pay $$50+M to just TALK to someone, especially when he would be expecteding an $70M+ contract…

Show us the offer AA, verify its was real, otherwise its nothing but talk…

December 21, 2011 6:33 pm

Chef Mike – AA doesn’t comment on anything to do with rumors/trades/Fas. Big stuff like the Darivsh or little things. So it is consistent with how the team behaves.

That said it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jays bid was well below 50. Buster Olney thinks nobody came near the Texas offer, the Jays may have thought they could get him for less.

Brad – Zaun is awesome. Him and Jamie Campbell have a coach’s corner thing going … but Zaun is a lot more coherent.

December 21, 2011 9:05 pm

In honour of AA’s status as the “Ninja Assassin” of GM’s (he did get rid of V. Wells’ contract after all), here’s my “whacky theory” of the whole Darvish process:

– Someone on Jays staff (on the Ninja’s instructions, of course) plants the “Jays bid large” story with the NY Post (where all the insanity started) early in the process.
– Texas had yet to bid and, knowing they lost CJ Wilson to their division rivals (who had also signed Pujols), felt they needed to get in on the Yu Darvish circus to keep up the arms race with the Angels.
– Figuring that a “large bid” would be in the Matsusaka range, Rangers go in for $51.7 million to beat Matsusaka’s previous record of $51.1 mil with Boston.
– Jays put in a significantly smaller (say $30 mil or smaller, whatever) bid to be in on the process, should Texas (or another team) decide not to bite.

The theory being…did AA plant the “large bid” story so that another team would blow their budget on Darvish? This would open the door to the Jays having a better shot at someone like Fielder this year, or a player on the team that won Darvish (i.e. Hamilton of the Rangers) as that team would be less able to re-sign a player due for free agency.

Purely a whacky theory for the sake of whackiness, but…

Chef Mike in Burlington
December 21, 2011 11:29 pm

Pudge…whacky??…no it’s not, In fact It would make sense, but that presupposes that AA is actually in the free agent market at all. There is zero evidence that they are, his home grown, no timeline, no budget money no star “plan” will be his blueprint, and he’ll do exactly what he’s told to do, talk big, spend little and be 82-80 at the outside.

December 22, 2011 9:49 am

The Mike really had great comments yesterday, agree with you chef

But Mike in beantown said it perfectly, the loser teams even with their quality draft picks and constant rebuilding tend to stay losers while winning teams tend to keep having quality teams in most sports. A big reason is players tend to look around and see an easier path of winning or being relevant and take off to those teams that are willing to pay for FA.

January 2, 2012 10:38 pm

[…] Toronto Blue Jays Need To Pay Attention To Twitter 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, … Read more on Toronto Sports Media […]

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