6:15 PM Eastern

As I wrote last night, I expected that yesterday was probably John Gibbons’ last game as Blue Jays manager.  I thought maybe the 9th inning rally would have shown that there was enough of a spark in the team to save him, but it was doubtful.

But my expectation was that Gibbons alone would walk the plank, that the coaching staff would remain virtually intact, and that Brian Butterfield or Marty Pevey would take the reins until a veteran manager was hired.  Man, was I wrong.

The Blue Jays instead looked ahead to the past, re-uniting half the coaching crew that took them to their last World Series win with Cito Gaston back as interim manager, Gene Tenace back as hitting coach and Nick Leyva back coaching third base.  Dismissed along with Gibby, Gary Denbo and Marty Pevey was heir-not-so-apparent Ernie Whitt, and Dwayne Murphy, the ex-Oakland centrefielder, takes over as first base coach.

It’s a stunning move.  Incredible and unprecedented.  So crazy that it just might work?  The jury’s out on that.

I have been unrelenting in saying that I don’t think the Jays’ current predicament is John Gibbons’ fault, and I didn’t think a managerial change would cure the team’s complete and utter inability to produce runs.  Those opinions are now put to the test (though chance alone says that the hitting with runners in scoring position is bound to improve).

I have also said in this very virtual space that Cito Gaston isn’t the right guy to take over long-term, that trying to re-create the past doesn’t work, and that the end of Cito’s time at the helm here was pretty rough (I think the words “train” and “wreck” were used).

I’m not backing off on that either, but I do agree with Bob McCown who said this afternoon that even though he was no fan of Gaston’s, he couldn’t think of a better guy to come in and run this thing for the next little while.

Cito has a ton of managerial experience, obviously, and has had a great deal of success.  He is the only one about whom that can be said who is also very familiar with the Jays’ players, having worked with them at Spring Training and served as a consultant to Paul Godfrey the last few years.  I’m interested to see how this works out.

My recollection of Cito as a manager was that he wasn’t a great tactician, but he was a fantastic communicator.  I wonder what, if anything, has changed about his management technique over the last 10 years.  I’m immediately thrilled by two things about the line-up for his re-debut:  Lyle Overbay is hitting second and John McDonald is playing shortstop with Roy Halladay on the mound.

I don’t love Overbay so high in the line-up against lefties, but I don’t remember Cito switching things around too much lefty-righty (I could be wrong).  I love McDonald in there against all lefties (no idea if that’s the plan or not), and in there with Halladay pitching.

I’m going to miss John Gibbons.  He got a pretty raw deal here (from his players), handed a team this season that had all the ingredients to succeed at a very high level, and the hitters just plain stopped hitting.  Gibby is a great guy and was a good manager.  I hope he gets another shot somewhere, though the last Blue Jays manager to wind up managing a different major-league team was Jimy Williams, who was fired 19 years and a couple of weeks ago.

One last note – this change has Paul Godfrey’s fingerprints all over it.  Not that the team President shouldn’t have a major input into big decisions, but it seems more a Godfrey move than a J.P. Ricciardi move to me.  Does this mean the clock is ticking on J.P.?  I don’t think so.  It may even mean his leash is longer, since this is Godfrey’s guy who has been put in place, not Ricciardi’s.  This is not to mean I believe that Godfrey forced Ricciardi into this hire, but I do think – just my opinion – that it was his firm suggestion that Gaston be the guy to take over for now.

Those of you who hate J.P. and everything he ever does should be right behind this move, I would think, and those of you who love him (though that number certainly seems to be dwindling lately) may be scratching your heads.  Isn’t this a great game?

Finally, to explain the reason this post is coming up so late and why I haven’t been on the air much today, I spent most of this afternoon attending the funeral of my great-uncle Jack Young.  A wonderful, warm, kind-hearted man, he passed away Wednesday at the age of 88.  It was very strange to have my phone ringing off the hook while I was on my way to and back from the cemetary, but I felt I did as much, work-wise, as I could have today.  He was a big sports fan, owned a few racehorses, so I think he’d have been happy to see how in-demand I was today.  But that was my deal this afternoon, spending time with family, dealing with the really important stuff, and trying to get the Jays news out as best I could.

Most heartfelt condolences to the whole family, my Great-Aunt Estelle and her children Arthur and Linda, Errol and Lorna, Karen and Jerry, David and Ellen, and all the grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins, etc.  It sucks when real life intrudes on our little fantasy world here.

59 Responses to “Memories Of Days To Come”
  1. 1.

    Hey Mike,

    Sounds like you are going to drop from the idealist school of management and analysis to the realist school.

    The realist school said that anything, which could potentially save this season had to be done. The Cito move was made purely because Rogers could not allow JP to hire another manager knowing that that JP is 95% gone at the end of the year.

    So Cito was the most convenient band-aid/miracle wish
    -close the organization
    -dying for a managerial role
    -willing to accept an interim tag and easily expendable at season’s end.

    And if things miraculously turn around then Cito and maybe JP can keep their job (by turn around I mean post seaons, but given the move these 2 may be able to escape with something close to post-season)

    Ah does it feel like 1993 again in Toronto. Fletcher doing the Leafs job, Cito back with the Jays (i was 12 and those were the glory days). You know what they say about trying to turn back the clock?

    MW: That it never works?

    - stephen
  2. 2.

    Hi Mike,

    My condolences regarding your uncle. I know what you mean about real life.

    I can’t remember, was it you or someone else that suggested the Mets should have hired Gaston. I agree wholeheartedly that New York missed the bus on that one. Cito is not the right manager for everyone, but he is a very good manager for the right group. I agree with you that the Jays’ problems couldn’t possibly be a fire-the-manager fix away.

    Quick question: If you could have anyone as, say, and expansion team, who’s the one player you’d start with and build around?

    MW: David Wright, probably. Maybe Josh Hamilton or Tim Lincecum. I’m probably missing a few somebodies, though.

    - Wong Kar Wai
  3. 3.

    I apologise ruining your post with a comment like this, but I’ve listening to Prime TIme Sports.. and I have to say that when it comes to Baseball, the gentlemen who were on the radio today are a bunch of idiots who don’t know the Blue Jays from a whole in the ground. They had absolutely nothing positive to say about the jays – especially Vernon Wells, who they essentially wrote off as a lazy bum. What happened to Vernon ripping the hide of the baseball since he came back? that he’s still amongst the leaders for RBIs if not leading the team in RBIs.

    I wonder when the last time that they bothered to watch a Jays game was – maybe June or July of 2007? They’re hacks.

    MW: Name-calling doesn’t help your cause a bit. The only real issue I had with the panel was the cliched repetition of the “J.P. can’t help the team through the draft” mantra, which isn’t true. One panelist (I don’t know who) even said that Ricciardi had traded some draft picks.

    - Sam McLean
  4. 4.

    Hey Mike….I knew sending you those Cito Gaston pics was an omen for Gibby…However, I must say I’m happy to have Cito back!!

    - Bernard Singh
  5. 5.

    I’m sorry about your great-uncle, Mike. Condolences from strangers don’t mean all that much, but my condolences anyway.

    As for Cito, this is an excellent PR move and should please the fans, of which I am one. I agree that this is Godfrey’s hire and I don’t agree that it makes Ricciardi safer. I think he’ll be gone at the end of the season whatever happens unless we win the ALCS.

    John MacDonald starts behind Halladay! How good is that!

    MW: I’m not as certain about Ricciardi’s future as you.

    - reyes
  6. 6.

    Hey Mike,

    With Cito now at the helm, do you think the line-up will be more consistent on a daily basis? I honestly don’t remember his managerial style at all as I was more interested in the broad strokes of the game than the managerial details at that time. Can you refresh my memory a little?

    Thanks and so sorry to hear about your loss.

    Sincerely,

    MW: From what I remember, the line-up will be a bit more consistent. And when a guy needs a day off, his defensive replacement will hit in the same spot, regardless of offensive ability.

    - Scott B
  7. 7.

    Now what will happen is the team’s hitting with RISP will regress to the mean, they will play 0.550-0.575 ball for the rest of the year and just miss the playoffs, Cito will be hailed as the greatest manager since Casey Stengel, Ricchiardi won’t get fired, and the mediocrity will continue.

    - GregJP
  8. 8.

    Wow!

    First day of summer and suddenly it’s spring all over again.

    MW: Don’t you mean suddenly it’s 1993 all over again?

    - Mikie
  9. 9.

    FINALLY! The Jays did what had to be done. Only yesterday I noted this quote from the M’s, and JP said virtually the same thing today –

    “John worked extremely hard, but our team continued to underperform compared to our expectations of them,” said Pelekoudas. “With 90 games left on our schedule, we owe it to ourselves and our fans to do everything we can to win as many games as possible.”

    Mike you of course dismissed the idea that the Jays situation was similar, but we all feel the same in Toronto in terms of how much this team has underachieved.

    It was the right move to dismiss the whole staff too, only because this move must be about getting a fresh start. So it was the right move all around.

    Does this mean they will start hitting?
    No.
    Does this mean we’re going on a winning streak? No.
    Does this mean the Jays will salvage their season? No.
    BUT it does mean they have a better chance of doing those things than they did yesterday. That’s all.

    Mike unfortunately you became a bit of a lightning rod for fans’ frustrations, including mine, because of your insistence that no dismissals were needed. I hope that now we can all get on board supporting the revamped coaching staff and hope that it revitalizes the team. That should mean enjoying your knowledge and insights, not focussing on your opinion about making a change.

    GO JAYS!

    MW: I doubt that will change, people will just change their focus now to firing J.P., as you’ve seen above. I still don’t see why they now have a better chance than they did yesterday.

    - John
  10. 10.

    Hey Mike

    my condolences to you and your family first and foremost..

    I was a gibbons fan i never thought he was a great coach but i did like him as a person..i have mixed emotions about cito being hired..i feel this was more of a move to try and get fans to remember the glory years and forget the present..cito had his time but he also was fired for having 4 losing seasons..for the rest of the year this is ok but at the end of the year i hope the jays brass sit down and do what the raps did and bring in a qualified g.m that can hopefully return some class back to this organization

    - jeff chynoweth
  11. 11.

    Mike,

    Just wanted to send my condolences to you and your family.

    Perhaps too early to look beyond this season (or not?), but what are the long-term plans at manager for the Jays. Is it going to be a wait and see approach, to see how Cito does for the rest of the year? Or are there names that are already being thrown around.

    Thanks.

    MW: I’m sure they’re throwing around names, but I think it’s Cito’s for the rest of the season, at least.

    - Alex
  12. 12.

    Best wishes to your family Mike, it is never easy to deal with that sort of thing.

    I did not want the Jays to fire Gibbons. I do not think that this horrible season is his fault, and it actually made me feel worse to listen to his conference call, as I think it accurately showed what type of person he is. His comments were about as classy as it gets, talking about how he doesn’t feel bad for himself but that he does about his other coaches that were let go.

    I don’t know how I feel about Cito as a replacement. I just can’t see it working any better than with Gibbons, but I guess only time will tell….

    MW: Indeed.

    - Mike M
  13. 13.

    Mike
    Don’t you think JP did this to cover his Adam Dunn comments up. It looks like hes trying to divert attention away from himself. Hes trying to put the blame on Gibbins when he’s the who should be canned.
    The last few days have shown the kind of guy JP is. Stupid (Adam Dunn will now not be a Jay) and hypocritical(“I’m behind Gibby 100%”)

    MW: Hey John, 4 comments up – see?

    - Howard
  14. 14.

    Anyone like any of these trades:
    A.Lind to KC for J.Gathright or A.Lind, D.Eckstien, G.Zaun, L.Overbay & prospect for J.Bay, A.Laroache & N.Morgan and finally A.Burnett, B.League, B.Ryan, C.Janseen & J.Accardo to Cinc for F.Cordero, E.Volquez & possibly J.Burton.

    The fist two trades would fix the LF problem & either give more power or more speed. The Cinc deal improves pitching in the starting rotation and bullpen.

    MW: The Royals would do that deal in a heartbeat, the Pirates and Reds would never do those trades.

    - D Mills
  15. 15.

    Hey Mike,
    First my condolences on your personal loss.
    Now. HURRAY!!!! It’s about time Gibbons got the hatchet. With any Luck Riccardi’s head will roll very soon to.
    WELCOME BACK CITO GASTON!
    Sorry to see you go Ernie Whitt!
    All that being said I don’t expect Cito to work miracles with a group of guys who for some reason don’t look like a team when they take the field. Maybe he can work some magic with them after the break, but I doubt it. It seems like this team, once again, or perhaps I should say as usual, is next year material already.
    Mike you mentioned the other day that you had not heard anything new from the Gibbons and Riccardi haters, and that it was getting kind of tiring. Obviously not your exact words. Anyway. To be straight with you I’d have to say your take on things, which hasn’t seemed to change from the outset is getting pretty tiring as well. At times you are coming off like you are a push pin mouthpiece for Riccardi and his agenda. It’s the sort of thing that causes people to begin to lose the respect they had for a media guy.
    Take it easy Mike.

    MW: It amazes me that someone can offer condolences to try to comfort someone who has just lost a family member and then immediately reference death by using terms like “got the hatchet” and “head will roll”. I mean, I’m not saying I’m offended or super-sensitive but honestly, do people even think anymore?

    - Kevin from Avonlea
  16. 16.

    When the jays gave up 5 homers the other day, don’t blame it all on the jays pitching. Yes, I understand it’s embarassing, but these are MLB hitters, not just some 10-year-old kids. Things happen like this, and hey you have to give credit to the Brewers, because they weren’t swinging with their eyes closed

    - SunkendPr0
  17. 17.

    In DP situation, and the ground ball comes to the pitcher, who covers the bag at second?

    MW: Usually the shortstop, because he’s moving up the middle and his momentum is carrying him towards first base, but it depends on the defensive postioning. It’s all set up ahead of time, though.

    - SunkendPr0
  18. 18.

    I’m sorry to see Gibbons go, largely as he has managed a more exciting game this year, with a fun emphasis on running. And I always struck by the directness of his post-game comments, and his apparent support of his players. He appears an honest man.
    I don’t know if Cito is the answer, and I’m largely surprised, but one thing i’ve loved about the organization; at its best, the Jays have made an effort to recognize their own people, those who have done well, its own well earned traditions. Think of this past openign day; not just the Yankees do that. Be proud of it. Cito deserves the opportunity to manage again, after such success; Godfrey may be cynically peddling nostalgia, but I’m pleased that Cito has been recognized. He has always been under estimated; he may just make it work. God, I hope so,

    - Sebastian Hanna
  19. 19.

    John Gibbons should have been able to manage this last game, so he could have given the “win just one for the gibby” speech.

    - Jay Money
  20. 20.

    First, condolences to all concerned on the death in the family…priorities and all that.

    On the Gibby/Cito matter, I think I would agree with most every point you made. Further, I se this as a “calculated desperation” move.

    A Hail Mary Pass if you will.

    I don’t think there is any intent of having Cito manage next year, this is simply (a) shock treatment for the whole organization and fan base; and (b) an effort to keep next year’s manager (Butterfield? some recycled veteran? maybe the “flavor of the month” Joey Cora that Olney mentioned on the Jays’ ESPN page?) from being sullied with the bad juju of this years cursed team.

    If that is the case, I think it’s a very sweet move. If Cito is retained for next season I’d have to ponder some more.

    By the way, I notted that some fans are speculating over the possibility that there may eventually be a move to return Paul Beeston to the driver’s seat…heard anything reliable on that point?

    (I gotta admit that particular move is, to quote the drunks, a b***rific idea)

    MW: I have heard nothing about Beeston, though he’s still very much a presence around the ballpark.

    - WillRain
  21. 21.

    Sad to hear about your great-uncle. I am sure he had one hell of a run. RIP.

    Welcome back Cito! What an immediate impact! As I write this Jays haven’t scored a run and it’s top of the 9th. Same old. They can’t score a single run for Doc of all people. What a shame!

    Maybe you could tell us young people(under 25) more about the third base, first base and hitting coaches.

    P.S: I am sure Mickey Brantley is laughing his you-know-what off right now.

    MW: Hey, at least the Jays got hits in the first three innings. That hasn’t happened for a while. Leyva managed the Phillies from 1989-91, coached five years under Whitey Herzog in St. Louis, was the Jays’ third-base coach from 1993-97 and coached third for the Brewers last year. Tenace was the World Series MVP in 1972 with six World Series rings and was the Jays hitting coach and bench coach from 1990-97. Murphy was the Jays’ roving minor-league hitting instructor, the hitting coach for Arizona when the D-Backs won the World Series in 2001 (beating Gary Denbo’s Yankees) and is a six-time Gold Glove winning outfielder.

    - Beburg
  22. 22.

    Gibby was fired because he failed as a manager. Plain and simple, dude.

    MW: He won as often as he lost. You’ll have to explain to me how his failings led the Jays to be the league’s worst team at hitting with runners in scoring position when they are one of the league’s best without.

    - Jamie
  23. 23.

    New idea how about Wilkerson, Overbay & Burnett for Thames & Willis. Then Lind for Gathright. Gathright can play left and Thames first.

    MW: You realize that Willis is in A-ball, right? And that Thames really isn’t very good? And Lind for Gathright wouldn’t exactly cure the Jays’ slugging problems.

    - D Mills
  24. 24.

    Yes, big day, big news! I agree that something had to give, not that any of the gentlemen that got fired actually deserved it. It only sends the message to the players that they played poorly enough to cost good people their jobs, that they should feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed by their failures. Whether or not it ignites the fire within remains to be seen. I hope it does, in a big way, we need to climb out of the basement and finish respectably.

    Do you think Cito is back next year, or someone else? are there any bona fide managers out there that are available?

    - bob
  25. 25.

    Mike,

    “Memories Of Days To Come” is good. “Days of Future Passed” is gooder.

    Sorry to hear about your Great-Uncle Jack. I hope that those of us here in the little fantasy world did not intrude too much on important family time. Best wishes and take care,

    MW: I wanted to keep going with the lyrics thing.

    - Tom the Intern
  26. 26.

    I woke up and thought I was in Groundhog Day; this nightmare will continue until all the wrongs are righted. And then we get Gaston back, and the time travel continues.

    Is Gaston the man? He is for the time being. I mean, someone has to do the job, and either way there will be I-told-you-soes aplenty.

    A question, if I may. An English Soccer fan friend of mine was wondering why clubs like the Yankees don’t just offer a ton of cash to an under performing club (such as our Jays) an cherry pick their best talent. For example, just offer $XX million to the Jays for the luxury of having Vernon Wells on their bench. I said it just isn’t done, but is there a rule about that someplace?

    And my condolences for your loss. Another reminder to us folks that it’s just a game, this game.

    MW: Yeah, you can’t do the trade players just for buckets of cash thing. See Bowie Kuhn vs. Charlie O. Finley, mid-70s.

    - Moyashi
  27. 27.

    My condolences Mike.

    MW: Thanks, Rat.

    - Tony (The Rat)
  28. 28.

    “My recollection of Cito as a manager was that he wasn’t a great tactician”

    Although he did have his moments. I remember in the 1992 Series when he deked Bobby Cox into pinch-hitting for the hot-hitting Deion Sanders. He must have remembered Cox’s tendencies from the ’85 ALCS when Dick Howser did the same thing to get… was it Mulliniks and Oliver?… out of the lineup.

    MW: He very definitely had his moments.

    - Matthew E
  29. 29.

    My condolences for your family’s loss Mike. That’s a very tough work day.
    I was one of the few loyal Gibbons supporters. In 2004 Tosca horribly mismanaged his bullpen and so his firing was warranted. Gibbons made no comparable errors this year. He’s a class act who got a raw deal, but he’s certainly not the first manager to be scapegoated.

    On Wed. night, Ricciardi sounded like a defeated man, almost resigned to his and this team’s fate. As far as the Cito hire, I think it’s purely a P.R. manoeuvre by Godfrey. Nostalgia has its place, but this gimmmick to placate the fans is short-sighted. Godfrey is many things, but he is not a baseball man and has no busineess hiring the manager. If Godfrey has lost faith in his G.M., then he should fire Ricciardi, not take over his duties. I’m no Ricciardi fan but at least he’s not blinded by nostalgia and never would have picked Gaston. Gaston commands respect, but he is a laid-back, easy-going player’s manager just like Gibbons. If a managerial change had to be made, bring in a manager who’s completely different like Buck Showalter. Players end up hating Showalter because of his micro-managing, but at least he would have represented real change in managerial philosophy. Instead, we got a desperate P.R. ploy. I think this organization is now officially dysfunctional.

    MW: Maybe the reason J.P. sounded so defeated on Wednesday was because that was when he found out he was going to have to let Gibby go and hire Cito.

    - Asher
  30. 30.

    MW, first off, sorry about your loss….its always tough to lose people and im just now getting to the age when i actually knew well family members that pass.

    on to baseball..what a PERFECT game for Cito’s first. the game should provide a little glimpse into what is wrong with this team. and it aint the manager. it aint the hitting coach. it aint the uniforms. it aint none of those things. im not even gonna mention what it is because its so obvious. these guys just arent getting it for whatever reason and i really think a rational move would be to trade some higher priced talent for younger prospects and bring up Lind. I actually dont think the team would be “giving up” by doing this. i think they could actually be a little better. at this point the status quo is not acceptable. changing the manager is like Phyllis Diller dying her hair (my second reference to her this year thank you very much)

    MW: Congrats on working Phyllis in twice. But you’re right – this game perfectly illustrated exactly what is wrong with this team, Cito found out up close and personal.

    - sammy jalalzai
  31. 31.

    I didn’t know Willis was in A ball and Thames is a decent power hitter is he not? But Gathright could help manufactuer runs as he can steal bases.

    MW: Thames is a decent power hitter, but really nothing special. Did you know that Willis has had three very bad years in a row? The Jays don’t need help getting runners to third base, as Gathright would help with, they need help getting them in.

    - D Mills
  32. 32.

    Condolences too.

    Sorry to see the end of Gibby’s reign, at least in so far as he seems a really nice guy and you always feel bad when nice guys lose their jobs. It won’t be the same not having to spend 5 minutes trying to work out what the heck he’s saying. Was it bad that I always called him Boomhauer?

    I don’t have a clue as to whether hiring Cito Gaston is good or not. I came to Canada three years(ish?) after he last was in the dugout, and ten years after the last World Series.

    But if nothing else, they’ve picked someone who has a genuine enthusiasm and affection for Toronto and the Blue Jays. Till now I’ve always felt that the management and a lot of the players would rather be working in almost any other baseball town. It perhaps creates a small genuine link between the ‘franchise’ and the city and nation.

    Not that that will save him if they still suck in September.

    A question that has bugged me for years and came up on TV during the game today: why did Gibby never wear the Jays shirt? Apparently he was #5, but nobody ever saw it.

    MW: Most managers seem to wear the windbreaker so they don’t have to wear the uniform top.

    - Ben
  33. 33.

    Mike, keep up the good blog and radio work.

    A quick complaint about the TV broadcasts. I don’t know if you watch the games on Rogers Sportsnet (I do, and generally mute the TV and listen to the radio), but this year Rogers started inserting these mini-ads *during* innings. You’re all caught up in the tension of an inning, and suddenly a 15-second or so spot comes on for Autotrader.ca. Man, is that annoying. I know at least one other fan agrees with me, because he posted on a different blog that he wrote to Autotrader to complain.

    A minor point, but really! Can Rogers not give the barrage of ads a teeny, teeny rest?

    MW: You just gave autotrade some nice free advertising, though. You’re now part of the problem!!!!

    - Geoff
  34. 34.

    im gonna strangle someone. just heard the caller on jays talk talking about the jays needing to play more “small ball”

    what on earth is “smaller ball” than 0 runs in 12 innings? you cant steal first. if you single and bunt a guy over, you STILL need a hit. most guys on this team are NOT gonna steal many bases. the team DOES work counts. the team DOES get on base and see a ton of pitches. but they dont get enough hits. PEOPLE GET YOUR HEAD AROUND THIS CONCEPT. THEY DONT GET ENOUGH HITS!!!! REPEAT……….NOT THE MANAGER, NOT SMALL BALL/VS EARL WEAVER BALL/VS MONEY BALL/JUST GET SOME HITS. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

    - sammy jalalzai
  35. 35.

    …About the game where Ernie hit 3 homeruns here’s what happened:

    On September 14, 1987, the Jays set the record for most homeruns in a game, crushing the Orioles 18-3. The homeruns hit were by Ernie Whitt (3), George Bell (2), Rance Mulliniks (2), Rob Ducey, Lloyd Moseby, and McGriff.

    I must have jumbled the Boston/Baltimore game together (forgive me I was 12 at the time!)

    anyway, more pressing than Cito – how is that ankle of yours?

    MW: It’s fine, thanks.

    - Aneez
  36. 36.

    What’s the point? 1-0 in 12? This might be the worst I’ve ever seen in Sports history. 12-34 in 2 months? Give me a break!

    MW: 12-34 in two months? No. If you’re eliminating May, which I assume is how you go to two months, they’re 15-30.

    - D.A. Weinbrign
  37. 37.

    Condolences to you and your family, Mike. Go Jays and clutch hits!!

    - Matt G
  38. 38.

    Speaking of managers who deserve another shot at managing, Mike do you know what’s up with Larry Dierker? He was always one of my favourites; bright, articulate, creative, and he even had a “passion for baseball”.

    I understand it would be too creative a choice for the Jays, I’m guessing Paul Godfrey doesn’t know Larry Dierker from Dr. Dre, but a fella can dream.

    Now that Cito’s back does that mean we can bring back the old powder blue uniforms for good? At least we’d look good losing. :)

    MW: That’d be awesome, but when Cito took over, the powder blues had already gone by the wayside.

    - Jason
  39. 39.

    Mike,

    Thanks for the congrats on me calling the Cito hiring. Please accept my condolences that Prokopec wasn’t named pitching coach.

    Now I’ll go one further:

    Cito insisted Ernie Whitt be canned.

    Truth is they never got along. Whitt was there because of Godfrey. He survived botching the line up cards last year because of Godfrey. Cito was hired because of Godfrey, but insisted on on Whitt going. JP was only too happy to oblige.

    Anyway I think this could really be a good move, depending on whether Cito is too old and maybe out of touch.

    He did look really awkward and tentative calling in Jason Frasor. Did you notice that? Almost reminded me of when Buck Martinez called in Pedro Borbon accidentally a couple of times. Anyway, I’ll overlook that for now.

    My hope is, Cito and Tennace exorcise this antiquated Moneyball hitting philosophy. Cito’s hitting approach is much more aggressive and i think better suited to the post Mitchell Report era.

    I have a really strong hunch its going to work out. So maybe I’m turning into the Blue Jay apologist now. Go Cito!

    MW: On what do you base your assertion that Cito and Ernie Whitt never got along?

    - Chris
  40. 40.

    Gaston pretty badly outmanaged Bobby Cox in the 1992 Series, actually, especially in Game 3, when he maneuvred Cox into walking his way into a bases-loaded situation that cost Atlanta the game.

    I always though Gaston was a fine tactician. He only used stolen bases with high percentage guys, for instance. He managed his pitching staff well enough. What got him fired was his loyalty-to-a-fault with players who were past their prime; by 1997 Joe Carter was one of the worst players in baseball and Cito didn’t want to play Shawn Green.

    But with a veteran team that’s supposed to have talent, maybe he can do some good. You’ve often cited 1989 as the big comeback yearl; who was it again they appointed midseason to manage that team?

    MW: Why, it was Clarence Edward Gaston.

    - Rick Jones
  41. 41.

    I spent some time with Ernie Whitt not too long ago, and I have to say it didn’t take much reading between the lines to understand Ernie wasn’t a big JP fan.

    Ernie is a proponent of the “strong up the middle” philosophy, and clearly this Jays squad – despite some obvious strengths – isn’t.

    So, I see Gibby’s dismissal as unfortunate, but not suprising – a typical sports lets-do-something-ANYTHING decision to pander to frustrated fans.

    But cleaning house under Gibby so “selectively”, sure looks to me like a signal JP isn’t going anywhere. “We gotta do something, so RI(s)P Gibby, and let’s clean the Whitt faction out while we’re at it.”

    Real leadership is making decisions with a clear-headed logic – identifying a specific problem, and implementing a change that will solve that problem. Change for change’s sake is an anti-pattern – a solution that seems obvious, but is in fact ineffective.

    Maybe Cito impressed management with his insight into why the bats are sleeping, and with the measures he would take to fix this.

    But I doubt it.

    MW: Pevey and Denbo were part of the Whitt faction?

    - TJ
  42. 42.

    Hey Mike,

    First off, sorry to hear about your great uncle.

    Secondly, glad to hear the DOC is ok. That guy is the heart and soul of this club and one of the best pitchers, if not the best, the Jays have ever had.

    Regarding John Gibbons, i feel bad for the guy because this mess is certainly not his fault. I hope he gets another chance to manage in the bigs sometime soon.

    I am happy to see Cito return, but it won’t make a damn bit of difference. This team is loaded with guys who would make great 5/6/7 hitters, but Cito will find no Alomar’s, Olerud’s, Molitor’s or Henderson’s on this club.

    JP’s motivation and timing on this move was great for a few reasons :
    1 – it takes the focus off his stupid comments on your show the other night
    2 – if you bring in a new guy and try for a fresh start, very clever to have Doc on the hill for the managers 1st game. Good chance of winning with Doc and starting out on a positive note (although it didn’t work out)
    3 – Cito is a fan favourite, so it may take the heat off JP for a bit.

    In the end, this move doesn’t address the problem, which is clearly the offense. The Jays need to add 1 or 2 big bats to this lineup and they would be great, but for some reason we have no interest in guys like Dunn or Bonds. The Giants were a decent offensive club even when Bonds had no supporting cast, imagine how great the Jays could be with Barry inserted into that lineup.

    With no big moves coming, and the Yanks and the Redsox playing well, we are dunn. The team will finish around .500, and hopefully they will fire the guy who is really responsible at the end of the season.

    MW: Why all the apostrophes? Why?

    - rick
  43. 43.

    Hey Mike,

    Sorry to hear about your great-uncle. I lost someone very dear to me as well recently. My condolences.

    Back to baseball…

    I can’t tell if I’m appalled or ecstatic by Cito’s promotion. It seems so cynically designed to win favour with the fans It’s like if the Dodgers had replaced Grady Little last year with Lasorda. Or the O’s brought back Earl Weaver… well, that last one actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. And it certainly helps distract from some of JP’s recent comments. But for those concerned about the Jays’ lineup woes, I still remember Cito as the guy who was batting Joe Carter 3rd not only when he was hitting .270/.330/.500 (borderline defensible) but even at the end when he was hitting .234/.284/.399. (Maybe having Rios there brings back good memories for Cito!) Or the way he jerked around poor Shawn Green.

    But then again, it’s Cito!

    The heart says yes! But the mind says no! (And this does smack of Godfrey.)

    You mentioned LaCava… do you think they look outside the organization at all, or is he promoted right away full time “if” J.P. is fired (assuming Tony doesn’t get the job in Seattle)?

    P.S. Halladay is a machine. Literally. He’s some kind of robot. I don’t know how he’s not dead.

    MW: I’m not sure how he’s not either. I think the Jays will do an exhaustive search outside the organization if they fire J.P., looking for a Colangelo type (or maybe even trying to bring back Pat Gillick!).

    - Michael
  44. 44.

    My assertion Whitt and Gaston never got along is based on many things, but a couple of incidents stand out:

    I remember a classic Jays-White Sox bean brawl game which ended with Robin Ventura’s forearm taking out Pat Borders helmetless/maskless head. I think it was in 91.

    Cito made a point of admonishing Borders for taking his mask off before home plate collisions but commended him for not being like Whitt and applying ole tags at home plate. Whitt never blocked the plate. He’d always wander out to catch the ball then dive back at the plate.

    Two, Whitt made headlines for including in his biography comments about umpire Joe Brinkman being incompetent. At the time Cito was vocal about this being a mistake.

    Many years after Whitt left in 89 (i think), Brinkman jobbed the Jays and Cito said something to the the effect that Brinkman should realize Whitt’s been gone for almost 10 years. Whitt responded harshly.

    All funny stuff, but I think its really rooted in the fact that Cito’s prized hitting protege — George Bell — hated Ernie Whitt.

    MW: Sounds pretty gossipy to me. And how do you know that Bell hated Whitt? In general, I would avoid making statements like that about people you’ve never met.

    - Chris
  45. 45.

    This is absolutely DISGUSTING!

    What else can you say getting shutout by a team who had given up 37 runs in their previous 3 games? In spite of that fact, I expect nothing but excuses from Wells, Rios, Overbay and co., who will evade taking responsibility by saying that the Pirates’ pitching staff were DEALIN’ tonight. Yep! They put it all together – just like Davey Bush!

    “It’s frustrating” and “it’s disappointing,” we’ll here.

    Ah, no! Frustration and disappointment are emotions. These guys are completely INDIFFERENT. I can only hope they reach a level of frustration. Then, and only then, can we expect them to change.

    We need to come up with a motto for this team. I’ll get things started with two…

    1. Blue Jays: We’re not up to the job

    2. Blue Jays: We’ll leave winning to the other teams

    Feel free to add your own in the comments.

    - Jean Tennis
  46. 46.

    Well even though it’s still early and there’s lots of time left in the season JP pulled the panic move. Who knew that Ernie Whitt was partly responsible for all this? I guess he wasn’t doing the fist pump properly when guys got to first base. His other role of timing the pitcher to help in stealing seemed to be working this year as the team was running more often than ever.

    I figure this is pure PR though to try and bring back memories of good years under Cito and divert attention away from the horrible season they’re having and additionally to take any spotlight away from JP after his outburst on Wednesday night. It also gives them the built in excuse of “well we’ve got the new coaching staff in place and they’re just getting used to the players and likewise the players are getting used to the coaching staff and that takes some time” so they can hold the media back for a month or so.

    Neither the shake up or any possible momentum they may have carried over from Thursday night’s 9th inning explosion seemed to light a spark in them tonight although they did get a hit before the 4th inning to break that ugly streak. This was an absolutely horrible game to watch of 2 pathetic teams resulting in a 1-0 extra inning loss for the Jays. Pittsburgh had just returned home after being swept and thoroughly embarassed by the White Sox 37-15 with Chicago hitting 10 home runs in the 3 games. Once again, the Jays made a middle of the raod pitcher look like a staff ace.

    - Peter B.
  47. 47.

    Perhaps shaming some of these players publicly is the way to go. A reporter with some bravado should ask Wells, Rios and Overbay if they agree with Stormin’ Normin’ who called them “overpaid underachievers” and if they will be open to the idea of opening up their contracts.

    I suspect not.

    How do any of these guys cash their paycheque with pride?

    MW: So many athletes tend to want to re-open their contracts when they’re having a bad year. The Jays are the only ones who don’t, sadly.

    - 2nd base coach
  48. 48.

    @Mike

    Thanks for the explanation. Kind of a dissapointing answer though. I was imagining some complex unwritten rule from the depths of time. Instead it seems managers have sensitive skin!

    Another question from a relative newbie. What does the 1st base coach actually do? Do they do stuff before/after the game, because it does not look too difficult during the game – what could you do to get fired? That’s not a loaded question – I really want to know.

    MW: The first base coach does plenty of stuff before the games, some pitch batting practice, some hit grounders in infield practice, some work with the outfielders. During the game, they’re required to help the runner with the pitchers move, keep the runners aware of the situation, let the batter/runner know if he has a shot at extra bases. What could they do to get fired? Not work hard, mostly, not get along with people, that sort of thing. Or, of course, have a new manager brought in who wants his own people.

    - ben
  49. 49.

    and … didn’t you mean apostrophe’s? That’s the sort of grammar up with which you must not put.

    - ben
  50. 50.

    Mike:

    And people think the Leafs have issues. The Jays’ season seems to be heading in a similar direction.

    Looks like you’re going to have to start reporting how far back the Jays are from 4th place in the East in order to make it sound respectable. We’re 4.5 games back of Baltimore at the moment. That sounds much better than 9 games out of a playoff spot and 12th place in the AL.

    MW: Kinda sad, isn’t it? But nothing like the Leafs.

    - Peter B.
  51. 51.

    RE Post #40

    Isn’t it Clarence Edwin Gaston, not Edward?

    MW: You’re right – I was going from memory. Teach me not to double-check.

    - Wesley
  52. 52.

    Sincere condolences to you and famly Mike as to your loss.

    You mentioned your Great Uncle had race horses (were they Standardbred Horses)- do you know if he raced at the old Greenwood Track in the late 70′s and into the 80′s. His name sounds very familiar as to when my late Dad raced there.

    Way way back there was a thoroughbred race horse named “Jack Young” – wonder if your Uncle knew of that horse!

    I listened to Swirsky interviewing Godfrey and there is no doubt his “finger prints” are all over this move for Cito. His tone of voice sounded very much like that of JP’s on Wednesday – wound up pretty tight!

    If anything I think a move to bring in Cito or GT as a hitting coach may have been enough – rather than go out and make the huge splash they did. As to Cito coming in – who else could they have gotten on an interim basis outside the organization – in hind-sight – the choice of manager was pretty obvious and not a tough one to make!

    What a class guy Gibbons is – his main concern was for the other guys that were let go!

    Not even a huge change such as what happened could inspire these guys to at least win a game on pumped up adrenaline alone! What the heck does it take to get them going – dumbfounding indeed.

    My prayers go out to the “Doc” for sure – man oh man I could not believe what I saw when he took a liner off the side of his head. What is this guy made of – takes a hit like that stays on his feet and walks off under his own steam – super human/athlete!

    Good to see Rios bounce back like he did both on the field and at the dish – just too bad he couldn’t muster up a hit with risp!

    Guess all we can do is give this move some time – even re-treading a tire only lasts for so long!

    Thanks.

    MW: At least they scored tonight. As for my great-uncle, I don’t know. I’ll try find out more about the horsemanness at the shiva.

    - Bob
  53. 53.

    “MW: It amazes me that someone can offer condolences to try to comfort someone who has just lost a family member and then immediately reference death by using terms like “got the hatchet” and “head will roll”. I mean, I’m not saying I’m offended or super-sensitive but honestly, do people even think anymore?”

    Mike!
    Your becoming even more pointless than usual. How about sticking to commenting on baseball matters rather than taking cheap shots. A**HOLE! Go f** yourself you pompous pr***! If your not offended or super sensitive then shut the hell up about it! I’ll withdraw my condolences. I could honestly care less about your loss!
    I think you should just stick to kissing Riccardi’s a** and leave the real reporting to the pros.
    You, The Fan, and the Blue Jays have become a big joke. I have hopes for the Blue Jays, but you appear to be a lost cause. Somebody needs to bump into you in a dark alley because you obviously need an attitude adjustment. Sadly it won’t be me who gets the chance to box your ears for you but you sure need it to happen.
    The Jays are rid of Gibbons. Now if Rogers will fire you that would be truly SWEET!

    MW: I just wanted everyone to see this. I didn’t think people like this actually existed.

    - Kevin from Avonlea
  54. 54.

    Mike,

    By “Colangelo type”, I assume you mean someone who’s already been successful as GM? (So, you’re saying Cashman?)

    It seems there are a lot of good candidates out there (Antonetti, Ng, Frost, Woodfork, White, Hoyer, Zduriencik, even our Tony) without having to go with a retread.

    (I’d like to see DePodesta get another chance, but there’s no way the Jays hire someone else with that Moneyball taint on him.)

    - Michael
  55. 55.

    Mike, my condolences regarding your uncle.

    MW: Thank you.

    - rb
  56. 56.

    Mike,

    My musings on Cito, JP, Godfrey, Whitt and Bell are definitely gossipy. Everything I wrote is true though.

    And why do you assume I’ve never met these people? Tsk, tsk.

    MW: Just assuming that most fans have never met them. But if you’re going to make statements like those, you should really back them up with facts.

    - Chris
  57. 57.

    Hey Mike,
    sorry about your Great Uncle…it’s good you’ve kept things in perspective.
    I’m not surprised they brought Cito back although I don’t necessarily think he’s the quick fix they need – only time will tell. My thought for a new Manager was a personality like Pinnella, Guillen, or Leyland. A guy that can light a fire under your a%$. What I’ve noticed the most from the Jays during this last difficult run was a lack of fire. It’s almost like they aren’t surprise how many DP’s they hit into. I wanted to see some anger, break a bat over your leg fire.
    Those manager types I mentioned aren’t long term fixes – Cito’s style is long term. I’m just not sure he will be the quick fix the Jays need.

    - Stan
  58. 58.

    Willis has only had 2 bad years in a row(if you include this season).

    #53 Mikes response: Bad grammar followed by “do people even think anymore?”.

    This statement reeks of pompousness, condescension, and all those traits which you are regularly called on and refuse to admit you have. If you fail to show respect, you normally won’t get it back. You fail to take the high ground yourself, yet seem surprised when others also fail to do so. Am I surprised when you don’t show me respect? Nope, because I don’t really treat you with respect, so why should I? Actually, at first I did because I assumed it was part of your job. You(and your bosses) obviously feel this isn’t the case, so I’m no longer surprised.

    #56: I have very little idea how that’s even possible in that situation. Do you want him to dig up paper archives from ’89 looking for quotes? I think that’s asking a little much.

    MW: I still don’t see the bad grammar in my response to #53, but the point was valid. “Hey, I’m sorry your relative died. By the way, did you see how that guy just got killed on that hit?” And as for #56 – what’s the answer, then? Just throw out idle gossip from 20 years ago because it can be neither proved nor disproved?

    - Dan W
  59. 59.

    I believe there should be a comma before the “but honestly”. It just sounds awkward to me the way it is. The point may be valid, but I wasn’t necessarily disputing that.

    And yeah, throw it out there and let people decide what they think. They should be able to take it with a grain of salt and put however much weight to it that they want.

    MW: I don’t want to, it doesn’t seem right.

    - Dan W
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