What Is Rogers Waiting For?

TORONTO (May 22) — With the Maple Leafs (we think) committing to a seismic shift in philosophy, when might the Toronto Blue Jays acknowledge their own mismanaged structure?

Or, is this all about putting lipstick on Rogers Centre?

The awkward similarity between the local teams is uncanny. Both are built to entertain around a handful of skilled components. One (the Leafs) prevails beyond hope and expectation in the 82–game regular schedule. The other (Blue Jays) has simply gone splatttt!!! Neither possesses the character to achieve when the curtain truly rises. Both have choked spectacularly in the playoffs. It required nearly a decade of “insanity” and a figurative clunk over the head from an incoming Chief Executive Officer to finally nudge the Maple Leafs from their destructive path. We’ll assume that management, in the future, will reserve the right to actually manage. Rather than bestowing that privilege on five players, none of whom can propel or galvanize the team when it matters. For now, general manager Brad Treliving will need to await the salary cap relief provided by Mitch Marner and John Tavares — nearly $22 million coming off the books… but not until after next season. The Leafs can waste their time groveling at the feet of both players, but neither will (or should) waive the full, no–movement clause provided by the Brendan Shanahan administration. Each was negotiated and provided in good faith; the hockey club needs to stop approaching its players to fix managerial blunders. Once Marner and Tavares walk, Treliving and Craig Berube can attempt to build a roster compatible to the Stanley Cup slog. The tough guy (Berube) has arrived on the heels of the good guy (Sheldon Keefe). Who relieved the previous tough guy (Mike Babcock). The Leafs cycle continues.

The Blue Jays, on the other hand, seem paralyzed. Which is odd, because the club is owned by a party (Rogers Communications) that controls 37.5% of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. You’d think that Peter, at some point, would follow Paul. That Edward Rogers, in all his wisdom, would recognize that an honest attempt to build a World Series–caliber team around Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette has failed. Miserably and repeatedly.


That the architect, Ross Atkins, needs to be replaced. Not because he’s a bad guy or is prone to tormenting observers with clichés and false promises. But, that he’s had more than enough time to remodel around the long–ago remnants of the Alex Anthopoulos playoff teams. And, so much like Shanahan, has obstinately refused to acknowledge a losing hand. Atkins, too, has gotten the Blue Jays to the post season. But, what an adventure it’s been. First, spitting up an 8–1 lead at home against Seattle… then allowing silly analytics to prevail over heart and visual performance in a careless loss to Minnesota. Both in the wild card or “play in” series. A point beyond which the Blue Jays have not advanced since Edwin Encarnacion walked off the Orioles at Rogers Centre in 2016.

That’s eight years ago. Just about the time Auston Matthews began wearing a Maple Leafs jersey.

Again, the similarities.

In the endless cycle of baseball, the Blue Jays are careening toward a massive sell–off at the trade deadline that could feature ace starter Kevin Gausman. When you lose, 5–0, at home to a double–A team like the White Sox, antennae perk. Should Atkins — and, by extension, his boss, Mark Shapiro — be entrusted with that responsibility? Or, should another restructuring be accorded a baseball person devoid of emotional and professional attachment to the current roster? In Leafs Land, it required a new GM (Treliving); a new CEO (Keith Pelley) and another crushing playoff defeat to finally convince the tall thinkers of a backup plan. What is Rogers waiting for? Clearly, not for a third post–season humiliation; this club won’t be anywhere near the playoffs in September. And, baseball in Toronto isn’t hockey. Which means there is a limit to exasperation from those that watch and buy tickets. Unless something reroutes the unimpeded path of the ball club, this could be a long, irrelevant summer under the big top.

Blue Jays fans need to know — deserve to know — ownership is seeing what they see.

Not turning a blind eye to the obvious. As did the Leafs for eight, long years.


For an old goat like yours truly, it is difficult to comprehend that half–a–century has passed since the Philadelphia Flyers — on May 19, 1974 — became the first of the 1967 National Hockey League expansion clubs to win the Stanley Cup. Defeating favored Boston in six games. Prompting the Bruins to fire coach Armand (Bep) Guidolin and bring in a fellow named Donald S. Cherry. In my collection (above and below) is the June 1974 issue of The Hockey News, featuring the historic triumph by Philadelphia. Which repeated, by the way, in 1975.


4 comments on “What Is Rogers Waiting For?

  1. Everyone talks about accountability here but that never seems to extend to management.
    Kyle left after a power struggle otherwise he would still be here. Can’t even talk about Shanahan without my blood pressure peaking. As for the Jays, Shapiro was brought here because his expertise was in fielding a team that looked like it might win someday but ultimately never does. Mission accomplished.
    Until the architects of these failures are gone, I’m not interested.

  2. The Leafs and Jays are twins. High hopes and expectations but ridiculous disappointments every season. Management. Remember Pat Gillick! Best GM this town has ever had. Raptors do it right, too. Win and lose. When they won they won it all. Now that they’ve sunk they are sinking low so that they will be able to build up again. Mediocre is not what you want to be. Be either good or bad.

  3. Shapiro is too busy investing money in the ball park, rather than investing in the future of the team. Just like Keefe, coach Schneider’s days are numbered.

    1. Well said Howard!! I’ve been asking the same question. When will they make a move? In my opinion, Shapiro, Atkins and Schneider need to be replaced to rejuvenate the team and put them on a pro-active and ambitious track towards the post season and beyond.
      Keep up the excellent work, Howard. Let’s hope ROGERS takes heed!
      Peter Murray

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