Now for a little “North of the Border” talk that has nothing to do about trolling the Blue Jays for giving up way too easily, too quickly, and way too little, on and for Yan Gomes.
It appears the Blue Jays are serious about this contention thing, with their lineup that makes me so insanely jealous. So much so, that they want a respected name in to lead them into the future. Current Indians president Mark Shapiro deserves a cushier job for a change, so he should find his passport and run. Enjoy the Swiss Chalet, Mark.
Ever since Mark Shapiro joined the Cleveland Indians organization, rival executives routinely touted Shapiro as a brilliant mind for what it takes to helm a baseball team. To Shapiro’s credit, he’s been tasked with the thankless and inglorious directive to all too often make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what, in which he’s been able to mostly turn the Indians into a respectable on-field product more than not. While the pinnacle was never reached, the fact that a middling market team usually found themselves in shouting distance of contention when things have seemed bleaker than expected speaks to Shapiro’s acumen and quiet leadership.
Seeing what Braves’ current President of Baseball Operations John Hart once saw in his former protégé, the mighty Toronto Blue Jays are making a play for Shapiro for their team president position, who recently allowed longtime president Paul Beeston to walk away from the post. For Shapiro, he would be walking into a situation that he could’ve only dreamed of. Should Shapiro take the job as it seems increasingly likely that he will, he would a cable mogul in Ted Rogers who knows that the Blue Jays are on the cusp of becoming a feared entity throughout the American League, if not all of baseball for more than just the next two months. If nothing else, Shapiro would now be armed with more wiggle room to keep the Blue Jays a playoff threat for the foreseeable future; a luxury that Shapiro was never afforded under Larry and Paul Dolan, where the cost of winning seemed to be rooted in hope with no real edict to win or else.
(Just as luck would have it, or maybe by pure fate, the Tribe is in baseball-mad Toronto this week. To paint a picture of how overnight this thing has happened, the Maple Leafs are nowhere to be found in the news right now. Typically, if the Leafs are an afterthought for whatever reason, it’s because something awful has happened. This is a very rare occurrence where one of the city’s other pro franchises told the hockey team to go its room and don’t come out until they’re asked to. The monster trade with the Marlins of 2013 barely comes close to the excitement that is enrapturing the General Toronto Area right now. If Shapiro is to be feted and the Jays want to make it a really big deal, this would be the time to do it.)
Of course, it’s possible that Shapiro isn’t the true story at all, because Shapiro is more of an overall businessman now. Shapiro’s exit, however, leads to the elephant in the room of Terry Francona’s supposed opt-out clause in his contract that he can exercise should Shapiro and/or Chris Antonetti leave the organization. Francona did his best to squash any further speculation, coolly and adeptly saying all the right things yesterday, as he usually does. So who knows where this leads until October 5. For some, the Francona shine has worn off, especially after failing to lead the team to the lofty expectations set for the season. Should the break-up of the Shapiro/Antonetti/Francona bromance lead to another organizational facelift, not everyone would be upset about the reset.
There are more questions than answers right now as the Indians’ playoff hopes are barely flickering. While we hold to the hope that a five-game deficit, Mark Shapiro appears on his way for a step up in weight class. After toiling in throes of tight budgets and risk-taking, maybe Shapiro is ready for what feels like a sure thing.