Shitty but unexpected news today for those of us who enjoy the Jays’ radio broadcast, as Bob Elliott (or is that Elloitt?) of the Toronto Sun presciently tweeted this gem early this morning:
He gone @tjhannigan Hey Elloitt – any update on Ashby’s movements?
— bob elliott (@elliottbaseball) January 4, 2013
He followed it up this afternoon with a proper piece on the matter, confirming that Ashby, one half of the club’s main radio broadcast crew, resigned his position on Monday, surely to take a job with the Houston Astros.
The Astros were granted permission to talk with Ashby last month, and given that they had three broadcast vacancies, and that Ashby’s exit in 2006 was involuntary and largely believed to be due to pettiness from ownership, this always seemed a foregone conclusion.
As I mentioned the first time we heard rumblings about it, I recall having him on the DJF podcast, and having to call a Houston-based number to reach him. Ashby makes his home there, spent the bulk of his playing career in Houston, was a sports anchor in Houston following his retirement, did some managing in the Astros organization, served as their bullpen coach, and then became the club’s colour commentator– a job he held from 1998 until 2006. He’s lived in the city in some capacity basically since 1979, when he first suited up for the Astros, having been dealt from the Jays the previous off-season for Joe Cannon, Pedro Hernandez and Mark Lemongello.
“I told Alan [when he extended his contract two years ago] that I wouldn’t stand in the way of him or anyone who wanted to move home,” said Fan 590 program director Don Kollins, according to Elloitt. “That’s where he wants to be. He’ll be a super star. I don’t believe in making people do something that they don’t want to do.”
It makes too much sense, and you can’t possibly not wish him well. Our loss is Houston’s gain, and it’s well-deserved homecoming for a fantastic, rational voice, who’ll be greatly missed here.
The next question, of course, is who replaces him. Elloitt is quick, for some fucking reason, to start banging the drum for fondly remembered mildly above-average 80s workhorse, Jack Morris. He also suggests– as we’ve speculated here before– that Dirk Hayhurst is a possibility, with the ex-Jay-turned-author-turned-broadcaster having taken some work in the booth during the season.
As I’ve said every time this comes up, third-man-in-the-booth Mike Wilner surely has paid his dues long enough, and though he does a fantastic job hosting JaysTalk, definitely deserves to be in conversation. I can’t help but wonder, though, if the belief from the Fan 590 is that they’re now looking to fill an analyst/ex-player role.
That seems to jibe with the names Elloitt puts forth, and wouldn’t bode well for Wilner’s chances. There isn’t an obvious, consensus frontrunner, though, so who knows?
Image via MLB.com.