Dear Jim Balsillie, Please Buy the Toronto Blue Jays

Jeffrey RobertsCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 05:  Jim Balsillie Chairman and Co-CEO of Research In Motion and new owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins poses with his Blackberry in a press conference announcing the purchase of the team after the first period at Mellon Arena on October 5, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Before I begin hurling arguments and insults, please read this article.

"We think that we can bring costs reasonably under control and more in line with revenues."

Well Toronto Blue Jays fans, translated into Fanspeak the above statement means:

"We think we can spend less on our roster and still make enough money from TV and our new ballpark favorite the Fifty-Dollar Beer."

And that's why I'm typing this from a holding cell down at the precinct. I thought that since my team is run by crooks I should act accordingly.

Do you know how many times you have to jaywalk before you get arrested? Once, if you're already drunk and waving a handgun.

I'm kidding. I would never jaywalk.

In all seriousness, I'm at my wit's end with this franchise. In a single season I've experienced more highs and lows than a ghost that haunts a roller coaster.

Rogers Communication wants to keep its costs "reasonably under control"? The Jays are 15th in a 30 team league in payroll.


The Jays are already exactly average payroll-wise; by any sane person's logic spending less would be unreasonable, because that's below average.

I guess when you're dealing with a team that wants to trade the best pitcher in baseball, you're not exactly dealing with reasonable franchise though.

So maybe it's time for change.

Clearly Rogers isn't interested in having a winning baseball team. They're interested in having a baseball team, but only if it's giving them hundreds of millions dollars worth of TV revenue.

The Toronto Blue Jays were purchased in 2000 by Rogers for $137 million. The team is now worth $355 million. If I'm a corporation that has no interest in winning baseball games, I'm looking at a tidy profit upon sale (though let the record show Rogers has no intent to sell).

Enter Jim Balsillie.

Balsillie has made it no secret his desire for buying an NHL franchise and relocating it to Southern Ontario. He's got the cash and the drive, but Gary Bettman would sooner eat a hockey puck than acquiesce to Balsillie.

So Jim, how do you feel about baseball?

I mean, ask anyone around my apartment, it's pretty much the hockey of summertime. I'm sure you've seen it on TV or on one of your trendy Blackberries. Just picture hockey with no ice and it's baseball.

Balsillie offered $212.5 million to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. That's not even counting how much it would cost to relocate it to Hamilton or whatever a briefcase full of unmarked bills can get you.

Think of how much you'll save on midnight moving costs if you buy a team that's already in Southern Ontario. It's like stealing the Baltimore Colts without all the shame.

Then Mr. Balsillie, you could spend money on a floundering franchise and surround our good players with great players. Any free agent could be our free agent. You could even-dare I say it-bring playoff baseball back to Toronto.

Baseball is one of the untapped jewels of Canada. An empty SkyDome is a potential gold mine, fill those seats with people who are ready to believe again and you'll be richer than Jim Balsillie.

If you become Toronto's George Steinbrenner, Jays fans will love you forever. Platonically, of course, but you could always have "Jim Balsillie Appreciation Night" just for the hell of it.

And think of the fun you could have, Mr. Balsillie.

Your first press conference could be you drinking champagne and laughing in our faces. You could install a special Bat-phone from the owner's box to Cito Gaston. You could have your buddies throw out first pitches. You could pinch hit yourself in a meaningless situation.

The possibilities are endless.

The loss of Ted Rogers has stripped his company bare of people who actually think about winning. We need a face who can reassure us that all is well and that ownership cares. 

Of course I'm sure that logistically and legally and commercially and every other business term-ially, it's unfeasible. Deep down in my Bird Blue heart I know that it's far-fetched to think Jim Balsillie would buy the Jays.

I'm uncouth, I'm stupid, I'm impatient, and I'm quick to judge.

But I'm a believer.

I believe in this franchise and this team and I know that things can be better. Things can always be better.

And it starts at the top.


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