Blue Jays fans have not exactly warmed up to the club’s new president, Mark Shapiro. But, it’s definitely time to cool it on the negativity sent his way.
The start to Mark Shapiro’s time in Toronto hasn’t exactly been pleasant. It seems that he has been the go to target for disappointment and anger among Blue Jays fans. Right from the very beginning, we didn’t like him. He was an outsider coming in to Canada and replacing Canadians. But, it wasn’t until former GM, Alex Anthopoulos left that we really turned up the heat, though. AA leaving? Blame Shapiro. Lost David Price? Blame Shapiro. Signed J.A. Happ? Blame Shapiro. Falling Canadian Dollar? Heck, let’s blame Mark Shapiro. Actually, that last one probably should be reversed. Shapiro can blame the dollar for a lot right now.
Regardless, It seems that we’ve forgotten that the Blue Jays are run by anyone other than Mark Shapiro. There is a GM in place. His name is Ross Atkins. Oh, I know. He’s Shapiro’s boy who got the job over long time Blue Jay man, Tony LaCava. So, we should probably blame Shapiro for that crony-favoring behaviour, too. Never mind that the new president conducted an open and honest search for the new GM. Right form the start, we have chosen to see the negative in everything that happens.
Brendan Kennedy of The Star presented an excellent article on the way Shapiro has been received by Blue Jays fans. In it, we hear that he’s being compared to Darth Vader, the face of the original “Evil Empire”. It seems a comical, flippant reference to the way Shapiro has been coming in and making decisions based on his idea of “efficiency and improvement” without regard to the whims and wants of the fan base. We want grass. “It’s not a priority”. We want Price. “Here’s Happ. We don’t need Price”. Oddly, when he was in Cleveland, he was once compared to Osama Bin Laden. And, yet, Shapiro feels like the perception of him in Toronto “is a little more personal than that.”
I’ve got a pretty good track record of who I am as a person and who I am as a leader. So it’s a little strange to all of a sudden go from a guy who was considered to be a nice guy to a guy who’s Darth Vader.
Shapiro is making decisions in a cold, calculating manner that just comes across as stingy and unfeeling. Heck, he even tells us that it is inefficient to worry about what fans think of him; he’s going to run the team the best way he knows how. And, that is what he was hired to do.
I don’t know if I can communicate any differently,” he tells The Star. “I feel like I’ve been an effective communicator throughout my career and that’s only by being honest. I think if you spin things and weave a creative version of the truth, it’s hard to stay consistent; you don’t remember what you said last. I’m being who I am.
It is easy to see Shapiro as the overlord of a team that has failed to follow up on their 2015 hype. But, it isn’t really fair. At the end of the day, do we care more about putting a winning team on the field or about having warm and fuzzy feelings about the president? If you’re thinking it is the latter, we might want to rewind things a bit and remember the “Fire AA” cries from mere months ago. We didn’t always see the Ninja GM as The Second Coming. But, after winning the division in 2015, we feel much differently about the lead up to it. The wait was painful at the time, but we quickly got over it. Because winning is more important.
Perhaps that is what needs to happen for Shapiro. While his methodology and decisions may not get us excited, if they pay off, he’ll be forgiven and labeled a genius. But, for now, he is the symbol of change in a time when we want more of the same. We want the euphoria of 2015 to continue. We think we know how to attain that. But, as a business man, Shapiro sees things differently. He is showing that he is trying to win, but not going to cripple the team to do so. The Happ signing wasn’t bad. It wasn’t amazing, either. It is smart. Trading for Drew Storen was smart, too. It shows a willingness to compete now. Perhaps the issue is that it feels like it took so long for these moves. That can come across as sitting on your hands.
That is one thing that we really shouldn’t get trapped into thinking. Do we really think that Shapiro’s just going to nap on a sofa in his office while the offseason is passing him by? Take his own words:
Everything I do is a reflection of who I am, so I’m not going to cheat the process. I’m going to give a full effort. I’m going to go to bed feeling good about the effort I’m giving — always.
Kennedy tells us that Shapiro gets up at 5am everyday and goes about his business in a methodical manner. It’s how he works. Some may complain about it coming across robotic. But, who cares?! In management, you want someone who is dedicated to doing the best job they can. Someone who says things like this:
I’m someone that cares deeply about winning and is going to wake up thinking about how to make the Jays better, is going to go to bed thinking about how to make the Jays better, is going to be consumed with only two things in life: my family and this organization, and that’s it. I don’t have a hobby; I don’t ski, I don’t play cards, I don’t play golf — nothing. It’s work and family for me. I’m a pretty boring guy, but if you love the team and you want someone that is working for the team that cares deeply and is going to work tirelessly, that’s who I am.
We’re making this relationship with our favorite sports team too personal. We’re looking for the wrong things. We need to take a step back and analyze things logically. It is what Mark Shapiro would do.
*Featured Image Credit: freaktography UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.