Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro has drawn the ire of his new market. He’s not oblivious to this though, he’s just distracted with more important manners
The evolution of Toronto’s relationship with Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro over the next 12 months will be must-see TV. A great deal of fans have solidified their longterm opinion on the former Cleveland executive already, locked the door and thrown the key off a cruise ship in the mid-Atlantic. Among those more distraught, the most common recurring complaint has been some reiteration of: “He doesn’t care about us. Not like Alex did.”
We’ve been down that rabbit hole a dozen times already this offseason, but my opinion on the matter has remained that if Toronto wins baseball games, people will stop being irritated by an American wearing a business suit (both of which have grown into detrimental personality traits in the Toronto baseball scene this winter.)
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Earlier today, John Lott of the National Post published an excellent interview with Shapiro in which he addressed that relationship between Shapiro and the market. If you don’t have a moment for it now, make one for it later. Shapiro doesn’t seem terribly concerned with his popularity, though that shouldn’t surprise you. He is, however, very much aware of the situation in Toronto. I’m just not sure he cares. And really, should he?
“I think it’s just inefficient for me to spend a lot of time and energy on that. What I think fans ultimately want is for me to work for this team and make it as good as it can possibly be. If I spend my energy worrying about how to be popular, it’ll be time away from doing the job. That’s not what I’m going to do.”
He also seems to have a grasp on what this is all about. This baseball…thing? About fans looking for something to be loud about, whether it be in jubilation or anger.
“They just want to have fun,” he tells Lott. “Or they want to yell and be angry because things didn’t work out the way they wanted.”
Lott’s interview also takes a look at Shapiro’s background with the Cleveland Indians, where he got his start in professional ball after growing up the son of a player agent. Essentially, I feel this is what Toronto fans are looking for from Shapiro in a sense. Some sort of human connection. Some sort of proof that he did not arrive here in a “Borg cube” like some have been ridiculous enough to suggest.
His business-focused vocabulary will keep him lost on a large number of Blue Jays faithful, but for someone who still remains a relative mystery, any pulling-back of the curtain is welcome. I continue to run the risk of being labeled a Shapiro supporter (ask me next Christmas), but I was glad to see him touch on the one point that gives me some level of solace: He’s not here to be an intentionally unsuccessful human being.
“I’m not in this to be mediocre. I’m not in this to lose. I’m going to take the circumstance given to me – the operating parameters, the situation – and do everything humanly possible to win as frequently as possible. I’m not in it for any other reason. It’s miserable to be in a losing environment – miserable.”
Seems like a simple concept, but the idea that Shapiro is set on purposefully failing continues to buzz around Toronto like a one-winged bird.
So while a 9-3 start to the season in April may not turn the angry millions into Shapiro ‘fans’, I do feel that it would push him from the crosshairs. And deservedly so. Whether it’s on grass or concrete, with Alex or with “under a unique set of circumstances” under Shapiro, having more runs than the other team by 10:00PM Eastern Time is what matters most summer nights.