McCown: Ownership “Insisted” On the Bautista Signing

Massive grain of salt time here, but there was a somewhat interesting comment that Fan 590 host Bob McCown — aka good friend of Paul Beeston, Bob McCown *COUGH* — made in the four o’clock hour of his show on Tuesday that I think is worth exploring.

Speaking on the Jays’ offseason, which he is not particularly fond of, he laid this on us:

I am led to believe that they didn’t even want to get Bautista — it was ownership that insisted because they were afraid that there would be a rebellion among the fans. People would stop going, people would stop watching.

Now, McCown is hardly the first person to make such a suggestion, but he’s certainly the first person who has something vaguely resembling credibility on such matters to do so. How much credibility? Given his track record on Blue Jays “exclusives” in recent years, not a whole hell of a lot.

He said in November of 2014 that there might not be a limit to the Jays’ payroll, for example. It… uh… turns out that there was. (I also seem to recall a thing earlier that summer about John Gibbons’ imminent firing which, of course, didn’t happen.)

A year later, in November of 2015, with his buddy Beeston on his way out the door, McCown suggested that ownership was discussing slashing the Blue Jays payroll by as much as 35%. They didn’t.

And this summer, heading into the trade deadline, McCown tweeted that José Bautista had cancelled his charity golf tournament and expected that he was going to be traded. He hadn’t and he wasn’t.

On that last one, here’s what I wrote at the time:

When Beeston was still there this kind of stuff was worth at least listening to. But even after Beeston was unceremoniously (if justifiably) dumped, it still feels like McCown is acting as his mouthpiece sometimes, going negative and shit-disturbing while Beeston takes the high road.

Or maybe he simply does it on his own, chafing on his good friend’s behalf in a way that Beeston never would (or so the hagiography would have you believe).

Either way, it’s hard to see this as anything else — and therefore hard to take it seriously, since it’s more than a little implausible that McCown has sources like this with Beeston and Anthopoulos gone, and since we’ve seen so many rumours come from his direction and immediately turn to dust. That’s a shame, because I actually like McCown — though I’ve all but stopped listening to his show since Stephen Brunt left (I think it would be quite pleasant to have cheese and crackers with John Shannon, but I don’t need to listen to him on my radio) — and because sometimes his inside information can be quite interesting and valuable.

That’s all still very true, I think, and worth remembering with respect to the nugget he shared on Tuesday. 

In the piece about the cancelled golf tournament rumour, I quoted McCown as later drawing a line in the sand with some of the high-ups at Rogers, who he claimed had tried to keep him from having reporter Bob Elliott on his program. This was because, by McCown’s account, “Elliott, in the last couple of years, has written some things about Rogers and about the people at Rogers. He wrote something about a very close friend of mine, who is no longer at Rogers. And he wrote about ownership.”

The very close friend is surely Beeston. And Elliott, in addition to having written last winter the definitive timeline of the bunglefuckery that pushed Beeston out the door, had then recently written a tear-jerking flag-waver of a piece about the club’s dismissal of Stephen Brooks (something, it’s my understanding, was not a surprise, and likely had much to do with the Jays being behind the rest of the league on a thing dynamic ticket pricing — which, had such a system been in place at the time of the mid-2015 explosion of interest in the club, would have netted the Jays millions that instead went to scalpers and Stub Hub).

Whatever the particulars of all that, it’s clear that there is no shortage of hard feelings between the host and certain executives. Specifically, one might surmise, Edward Rogers, as he was so central to the move to shitcan Beeston.

On one hand, all this might actually lend McCown’s Tuesday statement some credibility. After all, why would he, of all people, cast ER3 as the hero of the Blue Jays off-season for many fans?

However, I think the effect of what he said is pretty much the same as in his other executive level griping: the front office looks weak and inept, Edward looks bad for having hand-picked such bozos, ownership looks like it’s scrambling and still pathologically focused on the bottom line, and the (mostly) beloved Bautista looks disrespected.

Grenade successfully lobbed!

And it doesn’t hurt that this is something that a certain subset of fans — let’s call them “the shitty ones” — already believed or have been dying to believe. 

Let’s not discount the possibility that it could be true, though, either. I had certainly heard whispers over the course of the winter (for what little those are worth) that the Jays didn’t have a whole lot of interest in bringing Bautista back, not just because of the draft pick, but also because it was suggested that he can be somewhat exhausting to be around in the clubhouse. It’s just, there are a couple different ways that it could be true, and I think the distinction is important.

If it’s true in the sense that Edward Rogers literally made a baseball decision over the heads of the front office, then Shapiro and Atkins should probably resign immediately and let Meddlin’ Eddie run this team into the ground. Whether you like the job they’re doing or not, they deserve autonomy to make baseball decisions, and if that’s been so massively compromised they should let him play with his toy alone and get their names and careers and reputations the hell away from whatever that would entail.

However, if it’s true in the sense that question was, “At what point does this deal make sense for you and your budget, and if we can get you extra budget dollars so that it’s as though you got him at the number you want, would you do it?” And if that turned the reunion with Bautista from being one of what they felt were many not-so-great possibilities into something that was rather palatable? I don’t think we mind that so much. I don’t think we mind that at all, actually.

I’d love to see that happen more often with this franchise, frankly, and I’m hopeful that’s what all the recent talk of Ed Rogers’ increased involvement is precisely about.

I don’t know if we’re ever going to get the answers on any of this, and I sure as hell know that we’re never going to be able to look straight at anything that comes from McCown when it comes to a subject he’s still so seemingly bitter about. Which is to say: I have no clue what to actually make of any of this. THANK FUCK BAUTISTA’S BACK THOUGH!