Myth vs. Reality: Contract Lengths and Metaphysics

 

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When is a myth a myth? What is reality? Apparently, I’ve decided to delve into the realm of metaphysics for today’s post.

 

 

The simplest definition for metaphysics that I’ve found is this: “the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles, especially of being and knowing” (thanks to Dictionary.com).

 

Being and knowing is exactly what I want to talk about today because, after I read Andrew Stoeten’s post at DJF this morning, I was thinking about how we know things to be true or untrue.

 

I agree completely with Stoeten’s conclusions that the Jays are probably not going to land Tanaka (and I’ve written about it here). The issue that I had with his article is the fact that he went ragging on Bob Elliott about “lazy utterances of the completely bogus suggestion that the Jays’ fake policy limiting contract length will have anything to do with the club’s pursuit of Tanaka ultimately ending up futile.”

 

Stoeten’s point is that it’s total money and not contract length that is the real sticking point for the Blue Jays and he continues to insist that the Toronto Blue Jays’ self-admitted policy of only issuing a maximum contract length is a myth. While Anthopoulos has gone on the record to say that the policy is “flexible,” the basic notion that Stoeten is pushing forth that it is a myth is completely unfounded.

 

What is myth and what is reality? If we look at the evidence that we’ve been given by the Toronto Blue Jays by their actions (and not just their words), there is actually a lot of truth to this contract policy (or “preference” if you actually go by Anthopoulos’s words).

 

Action #1: The Blue Jays, under Alex Anthopoulos’s regime, have only signed one free agent to a contract of three years (Maicer Izturis).

 

Action #2: The longest contract extension that AA has signed with a player is five years with an option for a sixth (Jose Bautista).

 

Action #3: The Blue Jays have not signed any free agent pitchers to deals longer than one year since Alex Anthopoulos has taken over.

 

The first two actions are key in setting boundaries for what the Blue Jays have actually done. They’ve already proven (with Bautista’s contract) that they’re willing to be flexible on the “five-year” contract provided that they hold the option. Additionally, the Bautista contract was a huge risk at the time and, while the jury is still out in my mind as to whether Bautista’s been worth the money (because of time missed due to injury), it was still only a five-year guarantee.

 

The third action gives us evidence through a lack of action. By not going out and committing to ridiculous sums of money over more than five years on free agents, the Blue Jays’ contract policy can’t be shown not to exist. Yes, that’s a double negative which can be highly instructive in the philosophical world. By not handing out contracts of more than five years, AA is providing no evidence to support that the contract policy is a “myth.”

 

Despite some sound logic by Andrew Stoeten, he can’t actually prove that there isn’t a five-year policy that the Blue Jays operate under. There’s no hard evidence to support such a claim. The piece of evidence that gets closest to disproving the “myth” is Bautista’s contract which isn’t guaranteed past five years.

 

The key defining trait of a myth is that is fictitious. Myths, of course, rely on their lack of truth to exist as such. If a commonly held belief is perceived to be true by all then how can it be shown to be a myth? Much like the Matrix, the myth is truth to those who have no experience to disprove it. The Matrix is only a fictitious world to those who have the outside knowledge that is a construct.

 

Perhaps, since Alex Anthopoulos controls the world in which he operates fiscally (to some degree), he can change the way he wants to operate if it becomes prudent. To him, there may or may not be a truth to the five-year policy but it may just be a guiding principle when dealing players and agents. If it’s in his best interest to ignore the rules that he’s already set up for himself, he may very well do so. Much like the boy in the Oracle’s office in the Matrix, he can bend his own rules by admitting that “there is no spoon.”

 

In this way, we cannot call the Blue Jays’ five-year contract policy a myth unless we know for a fact that is untrue. We simply do not have enough evidence to actually say that there is no five-year policy. In fact, the Blue Jays themselves have said that, while it isn’t a policy, it’s a guideline in how they approach contracts. When the General Manager himself discusses it with the media, one can hardly say that it’s a “myth.”

  • Good article. I think it’s a great tool AA uses for negotiations. Of course, he can bend the rules; and will, if the right opportunity arises. I still believe AA is one of the best negotiators in the league and has had some unlucky results. Here’s hoping to better things in the future.