Paul Beeston, one of the country's top sports executives, and by the measure of championships the most successful, was not acting like a man with one foot out the door.
The 69-year-old Toronto Blue Jays president and chief executive officer greeted a visitor to his third-floor office at Rogers Centre last week at the reception desk, far more concerned about the erratic behaviour of his iPhone 4 than his future with a baseball team that has failed to live up to expectations in recent seasons.
Contrary to folklore, Beeston does carry a mobile phone; he just doesn't like to tell anyone. Rumour has it that Beeston won't give out the number because he doesn't know it.
"There's no question, I am some type of a geek," Beeston freely – and proudly – admitted.
A slightly bemused employee from technical support, whom Beeston introduced as the most important person in the Blue Jays' empire at that moment, trailed behind the CEO.
When the device suddenly chirped to signal an incoming call, Beeston turned to the tech person. "Just make it sound like a phone," he implored. When the "old phone" ringer was activated, Beeston asked the employee to wait as he dialled his mobile from his office land line just to make sure. It worked.
"Take the rest of the day off, the rest of the week," Beeston cackled.
If only every crisis could be handled with such ease.
The latest upheaval facing Beeston surfaced late Sunday, with multiple media reports that club owner Rogers Communications Inc. is hunting for a new CEO to head up baseball operations. Baltimore Orioles vice-president Dan Duquette and Chicago White Sox vice-president Kenny Williams are two baseball executives who the Blue Jays are said to have targeted as possible Beeston replacements.
"I've got nothing to report – zero," came Beeston's response on Monday when asked if he could comment on the validity of the reports.
When it was mentioned to Beeston that some are saying he is on his way out, he said: "Why am I leaving? I'm leaving for lunch."
The fact that Beeston, who was the first employee the Blue Jays hired back in 1976, has an exit plan from Toronto is one of the worst-kept secrets within the Rogers conglomerate. His current contract concluded at the end of the 2014 Major League Baseball season.
Club insiders will tell you that the man who helped steer the club to back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993 has agreed to steward the club for one more year and then get out of Dodge. So the idea that Rogers has started a process to identify a replacement for Beeston should not come as a surprise.
That the news leaked so early raises the possibility that Beeston's exit could come sooner than the end of 2015.
A Rogers official indicated Monday in an e-mail that the company would not offer any comment on the matter.
During a sit-down interview last week at his austere office at Rogers Centre, where his window shows a view of a parking lot, a relaxed Beeston provided no clues that a departure was imminent.
With an unlit cigar resting on the arm of an easy chair and his feet perched on a table, Beeston talked about the team and his plans for spring training in Florida with the Blue Jays in February.
Most of the Blue Jays' spring training contingent lives in condominiums at a swank resort in Palm Harbor during their stay in Florida. Beeston will check in, as he he usually does, at a chain motel in Dunedin, an easy stroll to the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium where the Blue Jays play their spring home games, a walk that allows him to enjoy a lit cigar.
Meanwhile, after being identified in reports as one of the Jays' targets, Williams spoke to reporters in San Diego on Monday at the start of baseball's annual winter meetings. He said Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf told him that now would not be the right time for him to pursue an opening with another team.
"As anybody would, you would want to try to flush out and see what the possibilities are for you, your life, your family and all the other things," Williams told reporters. "There's a time and a place for it. Right now, Jerry felt that this wasn't the time or the place. I completely get that and support that."