Mark Shapiro says the Blue Jays really don’t need natural grass


In 2014 reports began to circulate that the Blue Jays were looking into putting natural grass in Rogers Centre once the stadium stops being used for football as well as baseball. Which seems like an excellent idea. Baseball is better on grass than on turf and, perhaps more importantly, a lot of Jays players and would-be Jays players have cited the wear and tear artificial turf puts on their bodies. It’s something that gets mentioned often enough that you have to wonder if having the fake stuff puts the Jays at a competitive disadvantage.

While putting natural grass in Rogers Centre would be a pretty complicated undertaking, the impression left, based on multiple reports over the past year or two, was that it was going to happen. Yesterday, however, team president Mark Shapiro sounded like it’s not a done deal at all and may not, in fact, go down:

“In my opinion, we don’t need it. My opinion is clearly it would be better. It’s just a question of the alternatives and what are we going to have to choose between,” he said. “I like the game better, I think everyone likes the game better on natural grass. Do we need it? No.”

One can assume the “choose between” comment is a reference to the cost involved in putting in natural grass. Tradeoffs, you know.

Which might make some Jays fans a bit anxious. Jays fans who got super excited last year when Alex Anthopoulos traded for David Price and the Blue Jays surged in the second half. Then, as soon as Shapiro took over, word circulated that he criticized Anthopoulos for trading away prospects. Under Shapiro, the Jays were reported to have not even made an offer to Price in free agency.

In Cleveland, Shapiro was popular with ownership for his handling of the Indians finances. He kept costs low, at least, while attendance and win totals fell. Given the Jays’ approach to things over the past couple of months, you wonder if that’s what the Blue Jays wanted him for too. And whether the same results which were acceptable to ownership in Cleveland will be acceptable to ownership in Toronto.