Black and Blue Jays
Just what Toronto needed: Another sideshow.
With the Blue Jays imploding the past few weeks, things really blew up last night, as manager John Gibbons and pitcher Ted Lilly fought in the dugout in the third inning of an ugly 12-10 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Let's go to Toronto Star veteran Chris Young, who has some solid thoughts, as always:
That must've been some choice epithet for Lilly to throw at Gibbons -- certainly the hardest stuff he's tossed all season, the way Gibbons dove down the tunnel after him. Most appropriate image to come out of it was Roy Halladay, almost alone in the emptied dugout. There's your Toronto pitching staff for you this season: Halladay and B.J. Ryan and four days of lyin'.The season was essentially over already, and with last night's rumble in the dugout, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Gibbons's time with the Jays is as well. How on earth can you defend two physical confrontations with players in a month (recall the Shea Hillenbrand fiasco)? And does the manager expect general manager J.P. Ricciardi to clean up his mess, yet again?
But back to Gibbons. What was most pathetic about this display was his postgame mea culpa: it's standard stuff in pro sports to do the "we've handled it, we're moving on" line of crap, to pretend that these things happen and there's no problem ... But to defend this as something that comes out of "athletic competition"? How about standing up and saying something about being responsible for your actions?
The main problem with Gibbons's trademark abrasive style is that the Jays are quickly gaining a reputation throughout the league as a team in turmoil — which isn't exactly the branding that will attract free agents in the off-season. On a team desperately in search of a few more solid arms, the Jays manager has essentially alienated one of his decent options and scared off any possible newcomers once this year's over.
Which is why, as I said, it won't be any great shocker if Gibbons gets a pink slip. Lilly's probably on his way out as well, if only to help the team try to save face as they close out another disappointing year.
For the baseball fans in this city, yesterday's fracas is just another kick to the groin from a season which began with so much potential. Sports radio is currently running wild with the story, this being the Dog Days of August, and, for the moment, the Jays are the city's most dysfunctional pro-sports franchise.
Come to think of it, with the Leafs looking ripe for another playoff miss, it could be the NBA's Raptors, with new general manager Bryan Colangelo at the helm, that climb to the head of the pack. (No small feat given this club was 27-55 last season.)
What a difference a year makes.
Financially, this has implications for the team, as Toronto's fickle baseball fans are going to look at a sideshow like this and say 'Why bother?' Why bother going down to Rogers Centre, especially if you're looking for a family environment, when the team's manager is going to spout expletives and skirmish with players?
Even with $9-tickets to sit in the 'Dome's upper bowl and a bulked-up payroll, the Jays are 21st in the league in attendance this season and could fall even further next time around.
Blame the sideshow.