Bulls and Bears: Blue Jays back in business; Goodell back in the crosshairs

 

 
 
 
 
Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks to the media regarding his recent trades before the Jays play against the Kansas City Royals during an AL baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
 

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks to the media regarding his recent trades before the Jays play against the Kansas City Royals during an AL baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Photograph by: Nathan Denette, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports.

BULLS OF THE WEEK

It’s anything but the dog days of summer for the Toronto Blue Jays. The moves Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos made last week have continued to make his Major League Baseball club the talk of the business of sport. On the field, Toronto has gone from 50-51 to 59-52 going into the weekend, winning nine of 10 and going 9-0 in games in which newly acquired shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has started. The team with the longest post-season drought in North American professional team sport — 21 seasons since they won back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993 — has moved squarely into wild-card position and fuelled talk that this may indeed be the year they give Canadian baseball fans something to cheer about in October.

Yet Anthopoulos is our bull of the week for the second straight week because of what his moves have triggered off the field: Spikes in home attendance, television audiences, media impressions, social media mentions and merchandise sales. The 10-game homestand that ended Thursday at Rogers Centre produced back-to-back sellouts of more than 45,000 fans and saw the Jays’ season attendance average climb from 26,500 to 29,500. At 1.68 million fans in 57 home dates, they’re well off the pace they set in the glory years of annual attendance of four million, but a good run in August and September could see them approach 2.5 million fans for the season and finish among the top 16 or 17 clubs in ticket sales.

The David Price debut last Monday delivered a core national television audience of 1.39 million on Rogers Sportsnet, more than twice the team’s average of 639,000 viewers this year. American media hubs have devoted time and space this week to a franchise that rarely draws attention in the U.S. The Jays have even gained some traction in the fantasy sports sweepstakes, with newly minted Canadian entry Fantasy 6 headlining Price — who starts today at Yankee Stadium — as its best-value pick this week. None of this is possible without the way Anthopoulos has managed his drafting, minor league system and major league payroll going into this, the last year of his contract as Toronto’s GM.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL repeat for being so bearish on the crisis management front. Last fall, we figured the pratfalls Goodell took in his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence file would lead to change in the way the NFL handles discipline. It didn’t, but watch the “Deflategate” lawsuit closely. By putting the league’s arbitration process squarely in the crosshairs, it could be the tipping point that the Rice saga wasn’t. If Tom Brady and the NFLPA win, the outcome could be third-party arbitration or even a new commissioner in the not too distant future.

Listen to The Sport Market on TSN 1040 AM Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bulls & Bears airs at 9 a.m., followed by Weekend Extra with Sun Sports at 9:30 a.m. Follow Tom Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/thesportmarket

 
 
 
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Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks to the media regarding his recent trades before the Jays play against the Kansas City Royals during an AL baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
 

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks to the media regarding his recent trades before the Jays play against the Kansas City Royals during an AL baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Photograph by: Nathan Denette, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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