What’s Paul Beeston Hiding?

By tsm

Sheesh, Bruce Dowbiggin makes mincemeat out of toronto blue jays president Paul Beeston in his latest article

“In their heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Blue Jays often had the highest payroll in baseball. As the Blue Jays assemble for spring training in Dunedin, Fla., the team’s payroll is ranked bottom third of 30 teams. Of teams operating in the 10 biggest baseball markets, Toronto’s payroll ranks second last with Washington’s – only the rebuilding Houston Astros’ is lower.”

Seems fair enough doesn’t it???

Beeston didn’t sound like he felt so:

““I’m not commenting,” club CEO Paul Beeston said. “You go look it up. And how do you measure it? I tell you what, you’re off on all of this stuff. None of it makes any sense.”

I’m a Beeston fan, but have to say it sounds like he’s hiding something.

““I don’t think anything affects team payroll,” Beeston said. “What affects team payroll is our ability to put a team on the field for what we think we can do.”

Asked to confirm the $225,000 figure, Beeston said: “I don’t have to say whether it’s accurate or not. But I don’t understand where [The Globe] comes up with the number.

“The only thing that matters and should matter is what kind of team we put on the field and what type of dollars we have to build our organization. The last time I looked we had the dollars necessary to build a team.”

Maybe he does have to answer maybe he doesn’t. When he doesn’t it automatically looks like he’s hiding something.

Sitting in a bar Thursday night I caught an NHL intermission show. The topic was the NHL trade deadline. Literally every rumor thy listed had the leafs in on the available player. The leafs may use the media at times, but wow do the media use the leafs to drum up an audience. So little is believable any more.

Miss mike Toth?

Whomever leads Sportsnet late night connected show is as annoying as the Tother; sounds just like him too!

TSM

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Dave in Bolton
Dave in Bolton
February 18, 2012 2:09 am

Dowbiggin is an idiot by far one of the worst sport reporter in toronto if not canada. His work reminds me of a 12 year old going on a tantrum and btw if he wants a job at rogers which by his work over the last couple of months he does, going after Beeston won’t help him. Dowbiggin and Cox are two idiots not worth the paper written on. How those two still have a job in the media is mind bogglining! I wouldn’t wipe my ass with their work.. Rogers, Globe and Star need to act and finally fire those two idiots and if Strachan wasen’t retired id lump him in that group of the worst sports writters lead by Dowbiggin and Cox.

Ami Angelwings
February 18, 2012 6:57 am

Listening to callers complain that Beeston misled the fans about putting in grass at the Skydome, and then Brunt talking about how the Jays mishandled expectations and the message, made me wonder if Beeston is just not used to dealing with the fans and media in the age of new media. AA too, because as Beeston always tells Bob, AA hates using new media even more than Beeston does and doesn’t email or twitter or etc… If that’s true, it could explain why the Jays seem to be having so much trouble managing the message and fan expectations.

Like, in the past, they could probably say they’d put in real grass to their ticket holders, and it’d kinda end there. A newspaper might write about it, but it’d be forgotten after that because it wouldn’t be spread around and discussed the way it is now, and fans wouldn’t know other fans felt the same way they did. I think the latter part is a big thing too, like anger about the Yu Darvish thing built as fans interacted and realized that their anger wasn’t alone (and therefore was justified) and then the media starts to pick up on the story and talk about it too. I think Beeston and AA might have trouble realizing just how fast things spread now and how the fandom is more than just who calls into radio stations, or who reads newspapers. You can’t just have a few scribes that you like talking to anymore to control your message.

Sam
Sam
February 18, 2012 8:29 am

This is really frustrating. Back to Bob’s comment of – you have to spend 120 million every year to be able to have a reasonable chance of contention on a year in year out basis. Sure, I understand the whole “we don’t want to spend money until it makes sense” but at this rate it will only make sense about as often as Halley’s Comet comes around.

I’m pretty much at the point where I can’t even tolerate the Jays until they start spending money, even if its not the perfect time, because you know what? THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME!

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
February 18, 2012 10:05 am

a few things:
.

– if you have not listened to the Beeston interview from this past week on PTS, it’s an excellent 15 minutes of radio. Full credit to Brunt and Bob for running a great interview. Beeston talked passionately about the Jays, the Dome, the future of the team in the city. He strongly supported making the Dome a baseball only stadium for a part of the year, and indicated this could extend the life of the stadium. For all his faults as, Beeston is obviously an ardent baseball fan.
.

– the Beeston quotes from the Dowbigin article are complete gibberish. They are either indications that Beeston is not mentally sharp anymore, or that he can no longer handle the task of shielding Rogers from (warranted) criticism.
.

– excellent points by Ami and Sam — the perception of this team has turned sour this off-season largely due to all the obvious NewSpeak. This is also what destroyed JP Riccardi’s credibility. While AA can feel good about the Jays’ minor league rankings, improvement at the major league level must follow. Moral victories are not enough to compensate for persistent mediocrity.

Sam
Sam
February 18, 2012 10:15 am

Nice point MIB – “Moral victories are not enough to compensate for persistent mediocrity.” I’d love for that line to be thrown out in an interview by Bob, or anyone.

Mike V
Mike V
February 18, 2012 12:32 pm

Beeston’s hostility is probably due to the fact that he’s forced to talk to Dowboggin, who I don’t think anyone in Toronto sports has respect for.

The whole article is nonsense. Dowbiggin is trying to compare apples and oranges. It does not matter what Rogers lists in a contract as the rights fee as both the team and sportsnet are owned by them. They’re both part of the same division in fact. Rogers could give the team $1 and use $50 million in wireless revenue to increase payroll or Rogers could give the team $100 million with half going to payroll and use the same wireless $50 million from before to cover Sportsnet’s “losses”, it’s the same thing.

Further, Doughboy doesn’t say when the $225k was decided on. Was it this year or was this agreement signed in 2008? The skyrocket rights fees only started last offseason with Texas. The article mentions that an extension is being negotiated, which implies that the current broadcast contract was negotiated before the recent TV bonanza, and before a spike in the Blue Jays TV audience.

If anyone else wrote this article, I’d be disappointed.

Bob
Bob
February 18, 2012 1:40 pm

I rarely read Dowbiggin so I can’t comment on his normal body of work. He is however bang on in this article pertaining to the value of TV rights. Yankee’s and Red Sox payrolls jumped dramatically as they evolved with YES and NESN. Texas and Anaheim deals are new , but the money is still being used primarily on payroll. Whether or not the 36 million figure is accurate or not it is still abnormally low considering the Blue Jays market. Factoring in what total revenues should be compared to other teams in all market sizes, Blue Jay payroll should comfortably be in the 100 to 120 million plus range.
(Down trodden, almost bankrupt , City of Detroit is at 128 million and counting at this point.)
A point on natural grass. If free agents won’t come to play on concrete, why would you expect your own developed players to stay once they attain free agent eligibility? And furthermore, why can small markets like Kansas City, Cleveland, Pittsburgh etc. afford baseball only stadiums and Toronto has to accommodate tractor pulls?
Rogers, Beeston and A.A. should be snake oil salesmen including the crap they are slinging about their prospects and minor league system. The truth is that until a kid gets to Double A, you just don’t know, and then if he does make it to the show it takes another three seasons plus to develop.

Darrell
Darrell
February 18, 2012 4:06 pm

I am a Yankees fan living in Toronto and while I am not a Jays fan, I totally think the Blue Jay fans deserve better.

The Blue Jays can easily, easily, easily compete with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Rogers Communications is not poor. The Blue Jay fans deserve better than trading jewels for prospects when it gets to contract years and selling the fact that these prospects are coming up to the big leagues and wow the fans of Toronto.

I have lived here my entire life and I would like to think that citizens of Toronto and of the Blue Jays are not stupid enough to be spoon fed what the Jays management feed them?

I am not saying that they have to utterly break the bank and get into the $200 million range like Boston, New York or Los Angeles. But at least get over the $100 million range and get close to $150 million. The Blue Jays are not the Royals, Pirates or any small market franchise.

How in the world do the Rogers empire expect people to spend big bucks on tickets and concessions and see unproven little talent. Lawrie, Lind & Rasmus are good but they are not great. Jose Bautista totally deserved to see the likes of Pujols, Fielder or any other big huge bat in the lineup.

Chef Mike in Burlington
February 18, 2012 4:53 pm

Wow!!, where to start with this…

I don’t read Dowbiggin much, I find him kinda annoying, like the guy we all know, who thinks he’s 20% smarter then the rest of the room, kinda like AA does, who thinks the rest of us dullards will eventually get their joke, see their point or recognize their brilliance and cunning.

But he’s till not wrong to ask the question, even when he knows any real answer will be totally meaningless and Rogers Speak…

The Blue Jays are privately owned, and Rogers owns the team, the building, the radio station, the tv stations, (multiple ones in fact), the TV rights and the local radio rights. The vertical nature of their business model allows them to deflate or inflate costs and prices inside their own organization between wholey owned entities in so many different ways, the numbers can say anything they want them to, and still be legal and according to GAAP.

The question that REALLY needs to be answered is where does the $80-90M+ that every MLB team gets from the national MLB TV contract go?? Jays actually get more even more for revenue sharing and for currency valuations, so where does that big lump of cash go??

And memo to Paul Beeston…enough already with the “best farm system/international draft in MLB” red herring bullshit !! At the very best, 20% of the players in your great august system will EVER wear a Blue Jays uniform and contribute beyond replacement value, your own sabremetric/smallball/moneyball/billybeanball numbers tell you that, stop selling it as a cure-all.

The only way it matters to Rogers is to stop going and stop watching…

Curt
Curt
February 18, 2012 4:58 pm

Truth hurts, eh Beast? Thou doth protest too much? Like most columnists, Dowbiggin is hit and miss, but he threw a bulls-eye this time. And Beeston came off as a petulant, half-nuts, old man with something to hide.

Look, Rogers blew their wad on MLSE, and Jays fans (I’ve been one since attending their first spring training in 1977) better get used to our team being very much a junior asset in the Rogers empire. They could invest in payroll and still be a hugely profitable company, but they won’t. Rogers now have other interests that rank higher the the lowly Blue Jays.

Chef Mike in Burlington
February 18, 2012 5:04 pm

…one last thing to ponder…I have a client who is a senior partner at a big Toronto firm, and for the first time since the mid 90’s, they will not be renewing their 4 season tickets.

Apparently, other then the NYY, BoSox and the odd weekend series, they would sit empty 50% of the time… “we have far better uses for those dollars then to see the Jays…”

Yeesh…

Curt
Curt
February 18, 2012 5:05 pm

“The only way it matters to Rogers is to stop going and stop watching…”

Yup.

Daniel
Daniel
February 18, 2012 6:15 pm

I think Ami’s point about Beeston maybe being a bit out of touch is a fair question to raise.

And I definitely think there’s something to Dowbiggin’s column. The Jays get very strong ratings. 162 blocks of 4 hour programming averaging 500k. And basically PVR proof. It’s extremely valuable in this day and age, and the benefits from that should find their way back into payroll.

But I have to say, I struggle to understand being derisive about the team having great minor league rankings, and a great system. My goodness. That is how you get better! This team was in TERRIBLE shape after 09. Aging overpaid core, few young pieces, one of the worst systems in MLB. You simply could not sign a couple FAs and hope to make the playoffs.

That was two years ago guys. I know the team has done diddly in 18 years, and we’re all tired of waiting. But you can’t erase those years, and you need to build a core. Literally ALL of the great MLB teams right now were built through developing strong young players, then adding free agents. Literally all of them (Yanks included).

Of course not all of them will pan out, but they have currency as trade pieces.

Anyway, my point is – if you want to argue that pieces from this young core should have been moved this offseason in trade to improve the MLB team – I think that is a totally fair argument. But to say ‘meh. who cares they supposedly have the best system in the game two years after having one of the worst’ is a real lack of understanding of how playoff teams core’s are developed. You can’t snap your fingers and make the 09 Jays a playoff team in two years without developing a young core. And unlike in hockey and basketball, you don’t necessarily see the fruits of this too quickly.

Daniel
Daniel
February 18, 2012 6:18 pm

“…one last thing to ponder…I have a client who is a senior partner at a big Toronto firm, and for the first time since the mid 90′s, they will not be renewing their 4 season tickets.”

That’s fair anecdotal evidence, Chef. And there’s NO doubt there’s plenty of fans in the city who are fed up.

But it is worth noting that the home opener did sell out yesterday. I cannot remember a time I couldn’t get a ticket to the game before late March. And I go every year. (Not this year I guess).

I’m sure there will still be midweek games against KC with 12K there, but I believe attendance and interest is slowly trending upward. 2010, immediately post Halladay, was the bottom in terms of fan interest.

Daniel
Daniel
February 18, 2012 6:25 pm

Worth noting one more point – it’s not as though the Jays have had a great minor league system the last ten years.

The Jays had poor farm systems under Riccardi (thanks to his strategy of drafting safe, lower ceiling, college players). And frankly – it showed! You didn’t see star type players rise up through the system very often, and the MLB team suffered as a result.

The farm only became top notch in 2010/2011 thanks to risky, expensive signings, and AA basically manipulating the compensation draft.

So, in being excited about these young players being developed, it’s not like we’re hearing the same old story here.

Mike
Mike
February 18, 2012 6:27 pm

Bruce Dowbiggin likes to provoke a reaction. Hes similar to idiots like Joe Warmington and others in the Toronto media. They make things up citing “unnamed sources” and then pen it on a column. Its shocking Dowbiggin still is around tho the guy wasnt good enough for CBC Radio and they terminated him. For some reason the Globe & Mail and parent owner Bell Media thought he was a legit “sports columnist”…. a big WTF……

Daniel
Daniel
February 18, 2012 6:36 pm

(Sorry, not to fly off the handle at you Chef – I definitely do totally understand where you’re coming from. 19 years without even a playoff race is absolutely ridiculous – and frankly pathetic. Even though I really support the direction the team is going, it’s hard to argue with anyone who’s tired of waiting. It’s been an absurdly long time).

Chef Mike in Burlington
February 18, 2012 11:45 pm

My last thoughs on this…first, Daniel, chill, its all good…

Nothing is PVR proof, VCR yes, but not PVR. I always put an hour or so into memory for everything I watch and use that to zip through commercials to turn a 3 hour game into 1.5h, so that largely negates my eyeballs to advertisers, and I everyone with a PVR does this.

As to the 500k watching we hear about, can someone show me the measureing metrics for that? Not just for Jays games, but overall? Are cable rating also done the same way as network stuff, I don’t know how its done and just how real the published numbers are.

The farm and the draft are important parts of the system, but only parts, and unlike Beeston, I think they are much smaller parts then they once were. Nowadays, everyone has tape on everyone, everyone knows everything, it’s how the modern information age works in sports, baseball included.

Is Beeston stuck in 1996 thinking? I don’t know that either, but I think we are truly at a tipping point in Blue Jays history. Fan interest seems to be the highest it’s been in many years, and I think there is general agreement in the MSM (and here) that Rogers and AA have botched this offseason badly, mismanaged expectations and disappointing their shrinking base far beyond their own expectations.

I don’t know how bad the damage is, but I know from my own business that bringing bring customers is FAR harder than making new ones, and the Jays play to under half full houses most nights. Todays younger fans have 10X the viewing/sports options I had in 1990, and with this team making no significant changes to go above 81 wins, I expect that barring 6 guys having career years at the same time, outside of the NYY and BoSox, it could lead to a lot of empty nights in SkyDome…

Daniel
Daniel
February 19, 2012 1:16 am

I’m not sure how they get the ratings exactly. This is their press release on it: http://www.sportsnet.ca/pressroom/2011/09/30/bluejays_audiencesup/.

Zelkovich used to post ratings comparing the sports, and IIRC correctly, Leaf regional games do something like 800,000 (with national Leaf games on HNIC doing well over a million). I believe national Raps games are somewhere in the 150,000/200,000 range. And the FC are pretty low, around the 100K mark or below. I’m sure it’s all google-able.

So as TV ratings go, the Jays do compare very well. Particularly factoring in the hefty 162 games.

“I don’t know how bad the damage is, but I know from my own business that bringing bring customers is FAR harder than making new ones, and the Jays play to under half full houses most nights. Todays younger fans have 10X the viewing/sports options I had in 1990, and with this team making no significant changes to go above 81 wins, I expect that barring 6 guys having career years at the same time, outside of the NYY and BoSox, it could lead to a lot of empty nights in SkyDome…”

People have definitely been annoyed, and I’m sure we’ll still see plenty of rough crowds. But at the same time there’s been more baseball talk this winter than I can remember in ages. I’m not sure exactly how that translates, but I’m certain it’s better than apathy (which there was A LOT of here in 2009 and 2010 .. actually a lot of the 2000s.) Apathy is way more damaging. I mean, look at the Argos.

Realistically, it’s all going to boil down to how they play. If they play well, fans will be happy, come out and feel good about them. If they don’t, fans will probably go hibernate again.

alex
alex
February 19, 2012 1:29 am

At least the jays have 2 world series and rarely have to sell off their players.

/sad padres fan 🙂

itchy butt
itchy butt
February 19, 2012 9:49 am

I wish you guys got this passionate about ragging on the Leafs….a team with NO future stars ( and if someone says Kadri you get a kick in the nuts!), NO future #1 goalie, a GM that thinks it’s 1975 and a coach that flips a coin every morning to see who is in the lineup.

But I forgot, you guys all piss Leaf blue.

Sam
Sam
February 19, 2012 10:52 am

itchy butt – I don’t even like the Leafs… the issue with the Jays is that they are arrogant and full of BS. Even though Beeston and AA are likable.

Food for thought – if you assume Beeston doesn’t need to work, if he thought Rogers really wasn’t willing to open the wallet, would he still be around just to lie to people / catch shit for Rogers?

Curt
Curt
February 19, 2012 11:47 am

“Food for thought – if you assume Beeston doesn’t need to work, if he thought Rogers really wasn’t willing to open the wallet, would he still be around just to lie to people / catch shit for Rogers?”

This is the last year of his contract…

Brad
Brad
February 19, 2012 12:10 pm

Time for Mr. Burke to start EARNING his $3M+ salary. Makes me sick that he makes that much$$!
1. Keeping your “buddy” employed is NOT YOU EARNING your $$. (I agreed with it back at Christmas, but no more)
2. How in the hell, can YOU NOT SEE that you NEED a proven goalie? Especially after this horrendous road trip. You were LUCKY to get even 2 points.
3. Go get a tough-power forward who will GO INTO THE CORNERS to get the puck!. It doesn’t have to be Rick Nash, someone like him.
4. The team you have made this year IS NOT GOING TO GET INTO THE PLAYOFFS!!
I think deep down inside yourself, YOU even know that.
5. You have 8 days, including today, to CHANGE this team around. If it doesn’t, and Leaf Nation is left out of playoffs again, you NEED to do the RIGHT THING, and RESIGN.
As of this date, you have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to make this team a contender since you have arrived in Toronto.
In my opinion, A HUGE WASTE OF MONEY SPENT TO BRING YOU TO T.O!

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
February 19, 2012 2:46 pm

Is it just me or can anyone else can’t wait for the NHL trade deadline to be over??
I am so sick & tired of talking heads on radio and tv (and there are many) whom sit in their high chairs eating cheerios and just making up things..(a source says X team is shopping this guy) or (“the asking price is too high”)..and my favorite is (they are looking for a top 6 forward) PLEASE tell me what hockey team on the planet from 6 year old house league to old timers beer league hockey is not looking for a top 6 forward) ?
Please let this be OVER !! “Jane stop this crazy thing”

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
February 19, 2012 5:15 pm

I was going to post that I am betting we hear about Beeston’s retirement, and the exhaustive search for his replacement early on in the season.

Some have alluded to him not being able to communicate, but I don’t think he just got dumb. He’s a smart guy who I have a lot of respect for.

I suspect that he simply can’t spin whatever has changed at Rogers, which is likely the MLSE acqusition.

Those who follow the team closely have commented on the distinct change in direction at the winter meetings, one week after the acqusition was announced.

I say he retires – he doesn’t need to be the front man for Rogers.

Ami Angelwings
February 19, 2012 6:13 pm

@ItchyButt maybe people have just stopped caring about the Leafs? The Jays seem to have much more hope and baseball seems to be making a comeback in the public consciousness. I know for myself, year after year of the Leafs being in the same rut, with a coach I can’t stand listening to has made me tune out of the Leafs. I don’t have that much experience with the Leafs winning >_> My only experience is during the 00s with the Quinn/Cujo/Belfour/Roberts/Sundin/etc teams that made the playoffs regularly and I remembered the excitement of people during those times and people actually caring about the Leafs, and it was so fun :3 Now it’s 😐 Like, people just don’t care :\ This year, it seems things have picked up a little (I actually heard people talking about the Leafs at the coffee shop!), but it’s dying again 🙁

People are angry about the Jays because they see hope that’s being squandered. People don’t see hope in the Leafs, so there’s no point yelling at them.

Ami Angelwings
February 19, 2012 6:17 pm

I (barely) remember the World Series years… but I don’t remember anything before that, so I have no real attachment to Paul Beeston, but it appears he has a lot of cache with the people who do remember those years. I like him, because he sounds friendly and he’s very charismatic and likeable and I can see why he wins people over, but I wonder if the backlash against him and the Jays right now is that fans who like him feel deceived, or betrayed. Like, they trust him, they trust what he says, and they’re starting to feel like a faceless corporation that might not care about spending to win put a likeable old face to be their President and played off of that cache. And if people feel like that, that’s when you get a backlash, because it’s not just a realization of “you’re not going to spend money” (if that’s true), it’s a realization that you might have been played for a fool. :\

Daniel
Daniel
February 20, 2012 1:37 am

The Canadiens did a great Gary Carter tribute tonight:

http://deadspin.com/5886411/heres-the-canadiens-gary-carter-tribute-that-didnt-air-in-the-united-states

Nice job. They carry the Expos’ memory well.

Also – if you haven’t seen the video of Carter’s last MLB hit, you really, really should:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20086255&source=MLB&gid=1992_09_27_chnmlb_monmlb_1

Chef Mike in Burlington
February 20, 2012 9:23 am

Yo itchy… I’ve stopped watching any hockey unless its playoff hockey since before the strike, and since the Leafs have not played in the played in the playoffs since, no Leafs hockey for me.

Baseball is different because it’s uncapped, and with a market this big and rich, and with an ownership group as rich, (but seemingly inept) as Rogers is, their continued mediorcity and failure is simply more frustrating.

With the Leafs, their building is full despite being mediorce to poor for most fo the last 40 years, and they have no incentive to improve, so they seem to have stopped even trying, especially since Mr.Truculence has arrived.

Ami Angelwings
February 20, 2012 5:21 pm

@Chef Mike I feel the same way since the lock out :\ It’s not really about whether the Leafs have made the playoffs or not, I just hate this new system where there’s so little flexibility for teams to do things, whether it’s swing trades, or keep their star players or anything, so the NHL has not felt very exciting to me in a while. :\

(oh, also, just to clarify, that was a lock out, not a strike 🙂 )

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