WS G3: Piazza, Shapiro, Syndergaard, Wright

Former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos in happier times with slugger Jose Bautista.

Former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos in happier times with slugger Jose Bautista.

By Bob Elliott

NEW YORK _ The Toronto Blue Jays drew 2,794,891 fans to the Rogers Centre this season, averaging 34,504 fans per game in 81 home dates.

Not one single ticket was purchased to watch former general manager Alex Anthopoulos walk around or talk on his cell phone. His family had free tickets.

And next season not one person will buy a ticket to watch Mark Shapiro preside. The Shapiro family will have tickets courtesy of Rogers.

So, if the on-field product is not affected, why so much angst from fans?

Why have some, caught up in the excitement of the 42-14 run, the playoff comeback against the Texas Rangers so much so that they bought season’s tickets for 2016, already phoned the ticket booth at 1 Blue Jays Way and asked to cancel?

Why is there a petition to fire Shapiro and re-hire Anthopoulos? That’s a “hang with ‘em” as they say around the cage.

Well, if the Jays team payroll decreases, which is the rumble at Citi Field, the product Rogers puts on the field could be affected under the new administration.

This season the Jays had a payroll of $138,309,664 US (10th over-all) according to spotrac.com which calculates out-of-pocket monies spent by each team. 

For example, the $7.54 million paid to Troy Tulowitzki after he was acquired from the Colorado Rockies (less than what Jose Reyes earned) and the $7.23 million to David Price after he was added from the Detroit Tigers shows on the books.

Do you think there is any chance of Price returning if the Jays downscale the team payroll?

We’re sure that all will become clear when the new president is unveiled Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock. 

As Billy Red Lyons used to say “don’t you dare miss it.”

Getting back to the angst among fans ...

Not all are sorry to see Anthopoulos go recalling the 12-player deal with the Florida Marlins which all started when the Jays inquired about Josh Johnson. 

Others are not thrilled watching former Jays farmhands Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud in the World Series. The Jays sent the pair of minor leaguers to the New York Mets for R.A. Dickey.

Those in Anthopoulos camp -- not because they wanted to come and buy tickets to watch him next year -- are there because he gave Jays fans hope and above all, he delivered.

Bringing the first post-season in 22 years to Toronto -- two wins from the World Series appearance -- in a city shy on sporting success can do that. 

Last January at the annual state of the union Stephen Brooks, senior vice-president of business operations, was booed when he got up to explain the Jays new print-your-own ticket plan to season ticket holders.

Shapiro will have him beat this January.

Unless of course Edward Rogers sits atop the first base dugout to handle Buck Martinez’s questions from the crowd.

Take a breath for a second and think is it Shapiro’s fault he took a job that Rogers Communications offered? 

No, not at all.

It is the fault of Rogers UnCommunications for creating the mess that led to running off the most successful Jays GM since Hall of Famer Pat Gillick. Anthopoulos received an initial one-year-offer plus an option, was told that the Price trade was paying too much and was questioned about manager John Gibbons in his first conversation, according to scouts.

Anthopoulos must have seen a change coming in mid September because 2016 contracts went out to scouts with instructions to “sign them and get them back quickly.”

There has been a lot of speculation as to whom will be the next GM of the Jays.

Our guess is that is that the Jays have someone who will conduct the day-to-day baseball duties of the GM or else the former would not have left.

The man handling the GM duties will be Shapiro.

It’s a model in vogue nowadays.

Titles do not matter.

They don’t matter at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Atlanta, San Francisco, Phoenix or Dodger Stadium.

Theo Epstien, president of the Chicago Cubs, makes baseball decisions and Jed Hoyer holds the title of GM.

President David Dombrowksi, who Edward Rogers and others interviewed in August, runs the Boston Red Sox operation, while Mike Hazen is the GM.

John Hart, former Cleveland GM, is the president of baseball operations with the Atlanta Braves, while John Coppolella is the GM.

Brian Sabean remains the brains behind the San Francisco Giants, although Bobby Evans is now the GM.

Hall of Famer Tony La Russa runs the show with the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Dave Stewart is the GM.

Andrew Friedman is the president of the Los Angeles Dodgers show, while former Oakland A’s assistant GM, Farhan Zaidi is the GM.

However, they stack it up whether the new president is the president and GM, a culture change was needed (yes we thought the same thing during Game 5 against Texas, har-har) or whatever ...

The fact remains there was more goodwill built up towards the Blue Jays in August, September and October than in 22 years through four general managers, 10 managerial changes and countless phenoms. The only thing close would be Robbie Alomar and Gillick’s induction into Cooperstown in 2011.

Now within days of being eliminated in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, when the Jays had runners on first and third down a run in the ninth, a great deal of the good will has been eroded.

Next season will be 2016 on the calendar.

It may as well be 1997.

 

NOAH BY THE STARS: Mets Game 3 starter Syndergaard came into this world at 6:23 a.m., on Aug. 29, 1992, the day David Cone made his first start for the Jays 

We asked an astrologer to look at his birth date, the time of day each was born, and came up with this prediction using East Indian astrology: 

“Noah is a born leader, self confident and enjoys the spotlight. He has a rather expansive personality. He will not suffer fools lightly. He will earn a lot of money from his career and is generous, perhaps supporting family, friends, or causes. I predict Noah’s Rahu period looks like a very good for him to rise to a high position and have success. It is interesting to note that Rahu has an aspect of Mars on it making him very ambitious. It accentuates leadership qualities and makes him quite feisty. The overall prospect is very good. Noah is someone who could attain a high position in government or business, or a good adviser when his career is over.” 

Facing hit leader and lead off man Alcides Escobar to start Game 3, Syndergaard threw a 98 mph fastball to the screen a la Ryne Duren and then came back with two breaking balls before striking him out on a 99 mph fastball.

Royals third baseman Mike Mousaktas, who could be seen chirping Syndergaard on the pit to the screen, grounded back to the mound for the final out of the first.

Jays scout Steve Miller, now with the Tampa Bay Rays, tells of scouting the long, tall Texan May 20 in his draft year, 2010.

Syndergaard had his no-hit bid broken up in the seventh and hit a homer to win a must-win regional game.

Toronto scouts left thinking, “Did we see him on his best day ever?” 

They went back for his next game and he pitched a no-hitter, where he “struck out the final hitter and walked off the field like Nolan Ryan,” according to Miller. 

Game 3 of the World Series wasn’t as easy. Syndergaard did his job after giving up a run to the Kansas City Royals in the first and two in the second to fall behind 3-2. But he gave his team a chance to win.

His third inning single put him aboard to score on a Curtis Granderson homer as Syndergaard became only the hit Met to collect a base hit and score a run joining Tug McGraw and Dwight Gooden.

Back on the mound, he set down the next 12 Royals in order until a Moustakas single and a five-pitch walk to Sal Perez. Out came pitching coach Dan Warthen for a visit. No success there: a seven pitch walk to Alex Gordon.

Now, the bases were royally loaded and the Mets leading 5-3, Syndergaard got ahead 0-1 and then retired Alex Rios on a grounder to short.

And while he did not walk off the mound like Hall of Famer Ryan, there was a purposeful stride in his step. 

Juan Uribe pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth as the Mets scored four times.

Syndergaard worked six innings allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out six in his 104-pitch (68 strikes) outing.

 

TEXTING: One ex-Toronto scout, who never worked for Anthopoulos, but has a pair of World Series rings from his Toronto time, sends word he sent the out-going GM a text how happy he was to root for the Jays again this October:

“Alex: Great job this year. You put a team on the field that was good enough to win the World Series. You are well respected and liked not only within the Blue Jays organization but also in our industry.” 

 

WRIGHT STUFF: David Wright, the Mets captain, who homered when Citi Field opened on April 13, 2009, hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. Back in 2009, Jose Reyes was leading off and Carlos Delgado was hitting clean up. It wasn’t the best of openings for the Mets way back then: Jody Gerut led off for the San Diego Padres with a homer -- the first to ever open a new yard. Wright hit a three-run homer off Walter Silva to tie the score 5-5. The Padres won 6-5 ... And after missing 116 games this season, Wright returned to the lineup and homered in his first at-bat facing Adam Morgan in a 16-7 Mets win at Philadelphia. 

 

PRE-GAME: Mike Piazza, who played 16 seasons, eight with the Mets, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He hit 427 homers in his career, 220 as a Met, and received 69.9% of the required 75% by voting member of the Baseball Writers of America Association. With only Ken Griffey coming onto the ballot this year he should get elected in January ... Billy Joel sang the U.S. national anthem. The best concert I ever went to was not George Strait, but rather Joel at the Montreal Forum. He came out for an encore singing “Uptown Girl,” while riding a Harley with his wife Christie Brinkley sitting side saddle on the back of the bike.