“Loves Toronto” Say it Ain’t Dough

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How often have we heard “Loves Toronto,” “Fans are the Best,” Teammates, like Family”, when a player is negotiating to resign with one of our teams? This could apply to any free agent in any city but we only care about Toronto teams in our case. Unlike AJ Burnett, who signed a big ticket with the Jays in 2006 and failed miserably, citing nagging injuries from delivering, until miraculously his final year with the Jays and free agency looming. Suddenly those nuisance injuries became footnotes; astonishingly this stiff posts a 18 – 10 record in 35 starts, a career high! That was quickly parlayed into a fat contract with the Yankees. He didn’t “love” us anymore, he just floated through his time in Toronto.

Al Leiter was another beaut with limited outings for the Jays because of a nagging blister on his finger. Really? Toronto stuck with him and when he finally put up a decent season, how does he pay the patient Jays back? He bolted as fast as he could, for a bigger payday. These guys are a few examples of players over the years that showed absolutely no loyalty to a team that believed in their talents yet exhibited no “Love” when it counted. Which brings me to our latest fleeing free agent, Edwin Encarnacion.

Without a doubt, double “E’s” posted great number after arriving from Cincinnati in 2009. Early in his tenure with the Jays, he was brutal, labeled “E5,” sent to the minors, and a 0-fer day from an out right release.

After a scolding from his father, a loss of 40 pounds, weight training, confidence from Jay’s management, and a Major League career was saved.

It was very enjoyable watching the mild mannered Encarnacion develop his game into superstar status with the Jays. However, is it a coincidence that double E’s never played more than 134 games (2011) until 2012 (151) when his contract was up for renewal? Hmmmm. The next 3 years those nagging injuries (ball players wouldn’t last a week in the NHL, save Josh Donaldson) returned until you guessed it, last year and with a big pay increase due, played the most games of his career (160).

I will not slam the player for milking all he can from the owners because if their dumb enough to sign players to David Price numbers, God Bless Them! (Boston will be choking on 4 years of that idiotic contract and as a Jays fan, couldn’t be happier).

But what irks me is Edwin’s agent Paul Kinzer speaking on behalf of his client, how much “He Loves Toronto” and Toronto management blew it. Really?? What’s not to like? Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America, located in the best country in the World, with a fan base second to none in sports.

What’s more disturbing is the media and fans blaming Jay’s management for double “E’s” departure because they offered Edwin a contract too soon. Seriously?

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Shapario or Aitkins to start and believe Alex Anthopoulos should still be running the club, but I’m slowly coming around. This is a business and the Jays cannot afford to sit, waiting for a player to decide; they did the right thing and it’s about time. They made Edwin a great offer (the most lucrative it turns out) and when he delayed, the Jays moved on, signed Kendrys Morales who hit 30 home runs last year in a bigger park than the hitter friendly Rogers Center. Great move.

Anyone knocking Steve Yzerman for the way he handled Steven Stamkos? He’s in a more precarious situation in a non-hockey market like Tampa Bay than Toronto concerning baseball; yet he offered Stamkos the exact contract he eventually signed, months before he spoke to anyone else.

Despite what players like LeBron James and Michael Jordan think, they are not bigger than the game. The game will be around long after they are much to Lebron’s chagrin (you knew I couldn’t go a blog without dissing this clown did you).

The real culprit is agent’s like Kinzer who remember, gets paid a percentage on the size of the contract. This dope misread the market and when failing to do his job, used the lame excuse, Edwin “Loves Toronto” card again.

Why is it that Edwin remained silent? Keep in mind this guy cashed cheques totaling $50 million during his tenure in Toronto and unless he has more STD lawsuits outstanding, I’m guessing he’ll be comfortable upon retirement. Of course he “Loves Toronto” but its time for players to own up and be clear of their intentions. If he loved Toronto so much he’d still be here. This is on Encarnacion as much as the agent and yes I know they were playing the game of negotiations. Jays management realized they were being played and made their own move. With no leverage Encarnacion was left no choice, and his agent to save face, signed with Cleveland.

The key to success for the Jays is to uncover the next Edwin and Jose. Jose is another of our favourites who unfortunately epitomizes the ego of today’s athlete. In spring training he stated the number he expected to remain a Jay going forward. He arrogantly stated what a bargain he’d been the last 5 years, because he outplayed his contract. This coming from a guy who hasn’t played a full season since 2010; yes folks you guessed it, his last contract renewal year. Jose should think back to that last contract made possible as a result of one great year. Anthopoulos received considerable pressure for signing this possible “one year wonder” “another Brady Anderson”, “steroid infused season?” “Guy’s been a dud most of career;” to a lucrative five year deal.

Coming off a 116 game season producing the weakest numbers in his tenure with the Jays, on the strongest club since arriving in 2008, didn’t make for a strong case, sorry 19. Jose must come to the realization when he arrives in Dunedin this winter, he has that incurable disease befalling us all, A G E.

Except for the qualifying offer of 17.2 million he flatly refused from the Jays, 19 never saw another bid for his services. All was forgiven and Bautista resigned for one year at 18.5 million with Toronto. Jose “Loves Toronto” and is “were he always wanted to be.”

What athlete isn’t going to say he “Loves Toronto” playing here (well maybe Larry Murphy) with a new contract at stake? Who would be stupid enough to ostracize themselves from the fan base while negotiating a new contract?

Edwin may have another bang up year (I doubt it) but regardless; I like the fact Jays management made a stand and set the bar. The inmates have run the asylum for too long and it’s the fan base that suffers in the long run. One thing is true in business, you get the most out of an employee when you control their head and the quickest way to control someone’s head is through their wallet.

It certainly doesn’t help matters when a dumb ass like the Orioles GM Dan Duquette suggests that Baltimore couldn’t sign Jose Bautista because the fans hate him. Hate Him? He’s a walk off game winning hit, or homerun from them loving him and him “Loving Baltimore.”

We should remember one quality about players “Loving Us” can be summed up with this Mumford and Sons quote, “Love will not betray you, dismay you or enslave you-it will set you free”.