We all handle breakups differently. Whether personally or professionally, all splits leave two or more parties looking to exit as the winner, shifting the blame across the table to leave their hands and heads free of guilt. As Rogers ownership and the Toronto Blue Jays part ways with former general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the blame game has begun.
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In an interview with Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi on Friday, Blue Jays chairman Edward Rogers insists that he and Rick Brace, president of the Rogers Media Business Unit, did everything possible to retain the services of Anthopoulos. Rogers has been caught with their pants around their ankles throughout this entire presidential search, stretching back to the Dan Duquette saga, and they’re continuing to make a mess by pointing a finger. Nobody should be fooled here, and judging by the reaction, nobody is.
This began with their innitial press release on the matter, which made a point of mentioning the 5-year contract they had offered Anthopoulos. That was unnecessary. “We really wanted Alex to lead the Jays into the future and tried very hard to do that, and we were sincere in our efforts and we couldn’t come to something that was of his satisfaction,” Rogers told Davidi. His satisfaction.
“His job had not changed at all. His direct manager will change, but his breadth of scope and responsibility had not changed. We had full confidence in him.”
This does align with what Anthopoulos said in his marathon of exit interviews, repeatedly asking that all fans and media put this decision solely on him. That’s playing the PR game correctly, and his tact in tiptoeing around some potentially dangerous questions will further appeal Anthopoulos to other MLB organizations in search of a front office type.
While the politically correct, “classic press conference” answers give us very little and snuff out narratives, they’re often the right move. At the simplest and most basic levels of this conversation, the approach that Rogers is taking does not benefit anything. Do they expect the fan base to be fooled into believing their side of the story, assuming it will trump over and discount the statements from Anthopoulos or myriad of other swirling rumors? Their track record suggests they might just believe that, but again, that’s downright bizarre.
“I was very hopeful that we would continue with Alex as the general manager with the success we had. Unfortunately our best didn’t make it so, and that’s OK, that’s the decision he took, I support that, we respect that,” Rogers continues. Again: the decision he took.
This should not change anyone’s factual understanding of what went on between Anthopoulos, Rogers and Shapiro. It’s an issue of optics from ownership, and in a situation where they have zero to gain, they continue to dig expecting to strike oil. Instead, their shovel continues to ping against rocks.
If anything, this blankets another layer of confusion over a situation that’s becoming a loud game of he-said, he-said. Frankly, this whole mess becomes easier to wrap your head around when you join me in throwing your hands in the air and deciding “I don’t have a clue, and I may never.” The truth lies somewhere in the grey and mysterious middle, here, so that’s where it’s best to stay.
Don’t be surprised if the not-so-subtle Anthopoulos smear continues over the coming months. Nothing damning, of course, but more drops in the bucket like this. As Anthopoulos leaves the relationship saying “It’s not you, it’s me”, Rogers leans back on the leaky defense as old as time. “I didn’t do it!”