Not sure if you read Doug Smith’s stellar book or heard my interview with him but the issue of Toronto teams, especially the Blue Jays and Raptors having to pay a premium to land top free agents was a topic in both. In the book, Smith does a good job addressing the issues that American born players typically have with playing in Toronto, notes that the typical Canadian can’t understand why these things are an issue, recognizes that the teams have done well at mitigating the issues and still admits that they are in fact an issue. Smith notes, by the way, that many USA markets have similar issues and it’s not just a Toronto thing. While Toronto has issues unique to it, outside of a few select markets there are many American cities that for their own reasons would have to pay a premium to attract free agents.
There are technical solutions to get players ESPN access in their Toronto homes. The customs experience is vastly different than what you or I experience. The weather is no worse than in other US markets. For families, yes the kids would have to learn French. The tax issues are not what many believe that they are and the teams have all done a great job educating agents and unions on how to mitigate those perceived disadvantages of playing in Canada.
However, different is different. In each case over the last X number of years, Toronto teams have either lost or had to pay a Toronto premium to lure free agents. Read that again before you bring up examples of players re-signing in Toronto. Net new players on the free-agent market, despite what their social media accounts may say seek some sort of premium to come to Toronto. More money, extra term – whatever. It’s there.
Admitting so is not to be anti-Canadian or anti Torontonian.
Clearly, winning or the ability to sell the fact that winning is not only a goal but is achievable helps dramatically. Unless you are in Florida, California or a few other select markets (depending on the sport), with the money being SO big, players want to play where they have a chance to win and where they (and their families) will be happy.
So, when the Blue Jays landed the biggest offseason fish in George Springer, it was duly noted that the Blue Jays did in fact pay the Toronto premium. If the Blue Jays didn’t have the success of the past season, the stockpile of young talent it is unlikely that any premium would have worked but let’s admit that the current administration has done a really good job of putting the team in a position to compete or at least be considered by top talent to come to Toronto.
Ultimately, the premium was paid, the player signed – so who cares?
“Now that George Springer has donned a Toronto Blue Jays cap and jersey in public for the first time, with Marcus Semien soon to join him, let’s put the persistent narrative about players not wanting to come here to bed for good.
If the situation is right from a baseball perspective and the money is there, the Blue Jays have a legitimate shot at any free agent they want.
Toronto may not be a glamour destination like California, or home to a historic franchise like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers or Cubs, or native to wide swaths of the major-league populace, but let’s stop acting like the front office has to sell players on Milwaukee.”
Don’t the words “if the situation is right” mean exactly that?
This isn’t a knock on Milwaukee. Shi Davidi wrote the piece I am quoting not me.
“Tired whinges like the border and customs and taxes are weak crutches that are convenient when the Blue Jays are struggling, or can’t compete on the baseball front.”
I don’t get why so many of us have such a hard time admitting that these “weak crutches” are things that players consider. But for the realistic ability to win, players of a certain caliber who’ve earned the right to choose their next team consistently demonstrated resistance at playing North of the border. So while we may think that those issues are weak they are in fact, based on talking to many agents and broadcasters are a thing.
I will say it again, to say so and believe so is not anti-Canadian or anti-Toronto.
Players who come to Toronto tend to love it. As Smith told us in my interview, almost without exception every player of note who has been drafted by the Raptors signed at least one extension. Getting a player to love Toronto once they arrive is easy.
Getting them to come is, and always will be a challenge and at times, even the premium is not enough.
“The signing of Springer to a club-record $150-million, six-year deal, and the looming arrival of Semien, who agreed to an $18-million, one-year contract pending a physical, reinforces what’s possible when the Blue Jays build an enticing core and are willing to pay market rates.”
Except, it is commonly agreed that they had to go beyond market rates.
That is totally okay. There is nothing wrong with that.
We bash Rogers all the time. They’ve earned the respect here.
While I do believe that Jr. wants to win, I know that the powers that be at Rogers are aware of the massive upside of having a competitive team. Ratings, marketing, and yes attendance when the Jays are in the thick of things is on par with the vast majority of the top teams in baseball. When they made their last run the Jays were a license to print money. The market size of 30+m will spend and spend BIG on a team in contention. So while winning is a goal, it’s also a very profitable endeavor.
Where Rogers deserves credit is making the commitment, as Blair noted in the absence of any meaningful revenue over the last 12 months with no promise of that revenue anytime soon.
“To be clear, the Blue Jays’ decision to offer an extra year at a higher average annual value than what the New York Mets reportedly had on the table is ultimately what tipped the scales – in free agency, money almost always trumps all.
But it’s the other parts of the package that have allowed the Blue Jays to overcome the usual excuses that come up in their pursuit of players.”
Toronto first has to be in a position to make a pitch to a player. That comes with the ability to win. If they get past the first hurdle then they likely have to pay the premium. Factors like customs, taxes, weather, ESPN, or whatever may seem trivial but they are legitimate issues for players. The fact is, Toronto and Canada are different. When given a choice, we don’t tend to like change, unfamiliar or different and we certainly don’t go seek it when rewarded with the ability to chose where we want to go.
Those things are not a knock on Toronto.
Still, with the Blue Jays, did you see this article pouring some cold water on the notion of a new stadium?
“The proposed teardown of the Rogers Centre, the team’s stadium. “From a climate perspective, it’s criminal,” Canadian architect Kelly Doran says. “That building has 55,000 tonnes of carbon baked into it.”
I didn’t see much out there so I am guessing not too many people have seen it.
“There are commercial reasons why its owners want to tear it down. But after barely three decades, should those reasons be allowed to take precedence, leading to a redevelopment that is heavy with concrete? Similar questions could be asked of more typical building projects. Should it become harder and more expensive to tear down a house, only to replace it with another house”?
This is not the typical place to debate issues of the environment but it does provide a lens into the issues the idea of a new stadium is going to face in the coming months.
What I don’t get is what the city and province are supposed to do with the building should the Blue Jays decide to vacate the stadium. The answer can’t just be, well you built it, now we are stuck with it forever, can it? I know that’s over-simplistic, but the article seems to suggest that. at least to me. I don’t see them tearing down the dome to reuse that site for a baseball facility. The Jays will move on and eventually, future use of that land will come to be.
If you don’t follow Barstool President Dave Portnoy on Twitter you are missing out:
Only absolute assholes threaten family and children. But that doesn’t change the fact it would be idiotic not to question Steve Cohen’s involvement in the $gme fiasco. His career and ties to the major players involved demand it. He unequivocally denied it. So has everybody https://t.co/HeHDyoy3BC
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) January 30, 2021
His laser focuses on the New York Mets new owner and his role on the Robinhood mess this week has been refreshing, to say the least.
While you may not care about the Seattle Kraken and their coverage, I do. I will say I am concerned about the quality coverage the team is going to get given the coverage thus far (or lack thereof) on a greater scale. I’ll say this, at least the Athletic has someone here in Ryan Clark. Reading stories like this one make me very uneasy. Regurgitation and the absence of original thought seem to be a theme in the stories I have seen thus far. The only unique work thus far has been from Geoff Baker. With sand slipping through the hourglass I hope things get better. As we told you first, by the way, the team has hired John Forslund as their TV voice. A brilliant choice.
The Athletic has announced their new coverage of sports betting.
Sean Fitz-Gerald has an interesting article on sports highlight shows and the creativity being injected to keep audiences engaged. Only problem I have is that the shows aren’t all that entertaining and the material is old by the time someone sits to watch it in the era of social media. Whenever a highlight happens I have it 10 seconds after – about 400 times.
Steve Simmons and his sleep issues and Bruce Garrioch’s own story with mental illness are really good examples of some of the work being done associated with Bell Lets Talk. Congrats to Michael Landsberg and others on an incredible run doing good. A friend I know was going through a tough time a few years back and it got to the point where I was scared for the person well being. I reached to Michael on Twitter and he called me in 30 seconds offering to help. That’s admirable. He called me back about a month later to see what was happening with my friend. That’s love. Michael is a good person.
Not sure if you follow any media types on Linkedin, but many of those at Rogers have been banging the, ‘we are hiring 100 people’ drum since the venture was announced (thankfully). Interesting to me that the one knock on Rogers, at least in sports as it relates to on-air talent is that they do not grow and foster the development of new (female or minority especially) talent all that well. To wit I offer:
Whether it’s Angelo Fracassi, Frank Andrews, or Zig Fracassi SiriusXM long-time radio host has been on the air for over 30 years. From the Niagara region to Las Vegas and back, Zig has built a reputation as the perennial sports radio talk show host. He covers all sports, however, he currently focuses on NFL and NHL, a rarity in the USA. Zig is a late-night owl developing audiences of all ages with a keep love from those who are up late and on the road a lot. Passionate about what he does, how he does it and the sports fan in general Zig talks about his career, the Boston Bruins, NFL in Las Vegas, Buffalo Sabres, and of course the upcoming Super Bowl with Tom Brady.