Shapiro's first 55 days ... zero contract for Anthopoulos

By Bob Elliott

KANSAS CITY _ It has been 55 days since Rogers Communications hired Mark Shapiro as the new president of the Blue Jays. 

Not much has happened since Aug. 31 when the Jays hired Shapiro away from the Cleveland Indians ...

Day 1: The next afternoon after the Indians edged the Blue Jays 4-2 at the Rogers Centre, Shapiro was interviewed by Chris (Mad Dog) Russo on MLB Network.

“Who were you cheering for last night?” Russo asked, “the Indians or the Blue Jays? Your old team or your new team?”

Shapiro answered “my daughter asked me the same and my answer was Indians all the way -- until I walk out the door.”

That night, Ryan Goins hits a two-run homer off reliever Bryan Shaw for a walk-off win as Shapiro’s Jays beat Shapiro’s Indians 5-3 in 10 innings before 41,356 at the Rogers Centre.

Day 12: The Jays sweep a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium to move 4 1/2 games up on the New York Yankees. The Jays won the opener thanks to five walks and a bit batter, plus a Ben Revere single to score four times in the 11th. Liam Hendriks got the win, Ryan Tepera the save. You were expecting Duane Ward and Tom Henke?

Marcus Stoman made his debut after blowing out his ACL during pitcher’s fielding practice in Dunedin with four hitless innings in the nitecap. He allowed three runs in the fifth and got the win in a 10-7 Toronto victory.

Day 19: The one month anniversary of the Boston Red Sox hiring Dave Dombrowksi. The Jays interviewed Dombrowski before Shaprio. When Dombrowski arrived at Fenway Park he explained the new office struture to general manager Ben Cherington, who chose to resign. Cherington ran the Sox for four years going: last, winning the World Series in 2013, last and last this year. Could the same happen with the Jays?

Day 26: The Jays clinch a berth in the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Life is good. Old and young wear Blue Jays gear entering the building, most from the official Blue Jays store.

Day 27: Josh Donaldson hits a walk off home run off Steve Geltz on the final at-bat of the final home game of the regular season, a 5-4 win. There were 47,287 witnesses as the Jays finished eighth in the majors drawing 2.79 million for an average of 34,504 in 81 home dates.

Shapiro’s Indians were 29th this year -- took 28 good teams to beat them -- attracting 1.39 million for an average of 17,806 in 78 dates. 

A year ago the Jays were 17th with a 29,327 average and in 2012 they were 23rd averaging 25,921.

This year Shapiro’s Indians finished with a winning record (81-80), 13 1/2 games back of the Kansas City Royals. The Tribe was Sports Illustrated’s pre-season pick to win the World Series.

Day 30: Stroman pitches eight innings as Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and Justin Smoak all homer in a 15-2 win in the opener of a doubleheader in Baltimore clinching the American League East.

Day 44: The Jays beat the Texas Rangers in the fifth and deciding game of the American League Division Series. Sportsnet, owned by Rogers, draws the largest audience in network history: an average audience of 4.85 million viewers. Overall, 11.5 million Canadians watch part of the game.

Sportsnet’s previous all-time most-watched program occurred 48 hours earlier with 4.38 million viewers tuning into Texas/Blue Jays ALDS Game 4.

Day 53: Rogers Communications Inc. reports a jump in third-quarter profit exceeding analyst expectations, helped by higher revenue from its media and wireless. 
Few Bay Street anaylsts credit the Shapiro effect. The stock rises 4.3% from a target price of $46 to $50.

Day 49: The country was electrified with the Jays playing Game 3 of the ALCS the same night as the federal election. Would fans go to the ballot box or stay home to watch the game on TV?

Day 55: Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is still without a contract, his status for next season uncertain.

He holds his annual state of the union Monday.

The topic at these end of the season affairs -- aside from the year J.P. Ricciardi delivered a message on the Jumbotron and was booed -- is next season.

What are the chances of David Price or Marco Estrada returning at this early date? Who plays second? What about the bullpen?

Instead, the No. 1 question will be Anthopoulos.

Rogers has assured that.

Our Steve Simmons wrote Sunday the reason there is not a contract in place has nothing to do with a financial dispute. It’s all about job responsibilities.

The Anthopoulos contract expires on Oct. 31.

Happy Halloween.

Will it be trick or treat for the GM who airlifted in 24% of the post-season roster as the Jays went where no Jays team had gone since 1993?