(Photo courtesy of @rallycap_andy...artsy!)
We weren't able to make it to the Rogers Centre in person for Monday night's State of the Franchise meeting between the team's brain trust, the season ticket holders and other superfans and hangers on.
We were able to check in via the live stream and follow along with the snarktacular tomfoolery of our Twitter pals who were in attendance, gazing up the pantlegs of President Paul Beeston, GM Alex Anthopoulos and Manager John Farrell. (Oh, and moderated Buck "Albert" Martinez, just for good measure.) From the tales of morning after woe from those who we know were in attendance last night, it sounds like a good time was had by some.
A few observations, if you'll indulge us.
Beestmode: They say: "Only speak when it improves on the silence."
At last year's State of the Franchise, Beeston let slip that the team could, in some conceivable universe, spend $120 million or more in player salaries. No sooner had that vague speculation slipped out than the cries of "when can the payroll get to $120 million?" began. Give people a fencepost off in the distance, and they'll train their eyes on it to the exclusion of all else.
This year, Beeston fed the future fixation by intimating that the team has been examining ways of playing baseball on grass in the Rogers Centre. It was a bit of a dumbfounding statement, especially since we were prepared to scoff at the notion when it was raised by a fan.
In spite of Beeston's subsequent assurances to the subsequent media scrum that the installation of natural turf is feasible, we're left feeling more than a bit skeptical. To install a grass field would require some sort of drainage system being installed into a 23 year-old stadium, which is no small feat. Subsequently, a grass field would require plenty of sunlight, which would mean keeping the roof open on cold days an in all sorts of other weather. And while Beeston floated the notion that a multi-use stadium could indeed accommodate multiple tenants and still preserve the precious new sod, we also remember hearing how well the current carpet was supposed to stand up in spite of all the non-baseball events.
Not to dismiss the notion outright, because the ideal situation for the Blue Jays is that the park is exclusively theirs and that they can find a way to spread out a luscious lawn with impunity. But by giving the idea just enough oxygen last night, Beeston has helped to make the rolls of turf look that much uglier for a large swath of the fans.
Compressed Timelines: Remember the "Five Year Plan"? Oh, how we wish we could forget that monolithic bit of rhetoric which overshadowed so much of the last regime. And yet, there was Beeston, assuring those in attendance that he expects the Jays to be in the playoffs "two-to-three times" in the next five years.
More tellingly, Beeston mentioned that while a postseason berth doesn't guarantee a World Series, that getting there gives you as much of an opportunity as "the other nine teams." We're not sure if that was a slip of the tongue, or if Beeston views the expanded post-season as a fait accompli.
Maybe we're just reading a lot into nothing, but it may be revealing that the team's president has oriented his impressions of future success around a ten-team playoff.
Succession Plans: Someone (whose identity I can't confirm, but you know who you are) posed a question with regards to the future planning in the Jays' executive offices, hinting at something that we've been carrying in our back pocket for a while: The notion that Alex Anthopoulos will eventually - maybe soon - take over the Jays' presidency from Paul Beeston.
Given Beeston's reticence to assume the position in the first place, we would assume that he's not looking to spend that many more years at the helm of the franchise. Moreover, the role of the president may well suit Anthopoulos as it provides for some greater personal security and an ability to set the long-term vision for the club.
How would AA do sitting around the table with his fellow senior executives at Rogers? We actually think this might be a perfect role for him. Eventually.
In Search of Authority: We've seen a lot of this in our years as a blogger and a longtime listener to the JaysTalk post-game shows, but it was great fun to hear the competition among the questioners when it came to the legitimacy of their fandom.
"I've been a fan since 1977!"
"I've been a season ticket holder for 32 years!"
Of course, most people who feel the need to air these bona fides do so immediately in advance of some angry screed with regards the direction of the franchise. As though watching Danny Ainge flail at the ball for a year or so in the early 1980's somehow equips the mind with a greater insight for the game than is possessed by those employed by the team.
Look, we get that people are going to be fans on their own terms, and we're going to do a better job at not telling you how to cheer for the Jays. If you feel as though the 30 years or however long you've been a fan gives you a license to be angry and impatient, have at it. Be that thing.
Just don't expect your presence at the home opener against the White Sox in 1977 to legitimize your views on Colby Rasmus' contract.