1) Jose Bautista has kicked sand in the face of Blue Jays owners, Rogers Communications Inc. The story is that Jays management asked Bautista, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, what would be required to extend his contract, and he gave them a take-it-or-leave-it response, making it quite clear there was no room to negotiate. He also stated that, in his view, he’s already given the Jays five years of “home town discount,” and that there would be no more. Bautista’s view of a “home town discount” isn’t really valid. At the time he signed his current contract he had had only one great season. Even though he’s exceeded everyone’s expectations since then, his argument is 20/20 hindsight. Other than putting Rogers in an untenable position, it’s hard to see what Bautista sought to gain by going public; it’s rarely, if ever, in an athlete’s interest to do so. Bautista, showing that he was well informed about Rogers’ corporate structure and earnings, expressed disdain for any budget considerations Rogers might have vis a vis the Jays. (In case you’re wondering, Rogers had revenue of $12.7 billion and net profit of $1.77 billion in 2013.) Bautista’s point seems to be that whatever he’s asking for is just petty cash to Rogers. But that’s completely beside the point; the Jays’ finances have to be considered within their own context. One rumour is that Bautista asked for $150 million over five years; but Bautista has said that’s “false.” Bautista is as adept as Bill Clinton in parsing comments, so it’s impossible to know what he means by “false.” One thing certain about the situation is that Rogers and the Jays management can’t win this one. If they meet his terms, Bautista wins. If they trade him (which they can’t do without his permission) or lose him to free agency, the disdain many Blue Jays fans already have for Mark Shapiro will heighten considerably, and probably be extended to Rogers itself. Bautista’s manoeuvre has put on the back burner Edwin Encarnacion’s earlier stand that he wouldn’t negotiate during the regular season. Edwin, of course, will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. The conventional wisdom has been that Rogers won’t cough up the dough to keep them both, opting to trade Edwin, who is basically a one-dimensional player. It’ll be interesting to see if Bautista’s ploy changes this. Bautista is a highly-skilled baseball player, but he’s too often an angry, arrogant man with a seemingly permanent chip on his shoulder.
2) Marco Muzzo’s sentencing hearing took place this week in Justice Michelle Fuerst’s Newmarket, Ontario, courtroom. In case you’re not familiar with the case, last September 27th, Muzzo, while driving drunk (police said he had over three times the legal limit) crashed into a van, killing three children (aged 9, 5, and 2) and their grandfather and seriously injuring two other family members. Muzzo is not exactly a sympathetic figure. He’s the scion of an enormously rich family and, on that fateful Sunday afternoon, had just returned on a private jet from Miami where he had attended a bachelor party. It doesn’t stretch the imagination much to assume that, in addition to drinking extensively at the party, he likely continued to do so in the air on the way back to Toronto. It also transpired that he’s been convicted of twelve moving-vehicle infractions over the last decade or so (mostly speeding), and it’s been alleged that in addition to being drunk he was also speeding when he hit the van. Although Muzzo has pleaded guilty, and has expressed remorseful contrition that seems sincere, this guy really has to have the book thrown at him; not just for his egregiously egotistical selfish behaviour, but to set a serious precedent. (Drunk driving sentences in this country are ridiculously light.) Muzzo’s lawyer, the high profile and high-priced Brian Greenspan, has asked for an eight-year sentence. The Crown has asked for ten to twelve. From listening to legal pundits discussing this case I understand that drunk drivers tend to serve only about a third of their sentences. If that’s so, even if he gets twelve years (which I view as unlikely; it’ll probably be ten) he could be out in four. Not nearly enough for wiping out an entire generation and grandfather of an innocent family.