For those who don’t remember Fire Joe Morgan, a blog that ceased publishing new material back in 2008, it was the gold standard in hilarious sports media criticism, and was ripped off countless times on this site, and many, many others over the years.
They’d take the worst baseball columns they could find and rip them to shreds line-by-line, and today– though it seems somewhat pointless now, since, according to a tweet from Jamie Campbell, we know that Alex Anthopoulos says John Gibbons will return next season– for old times sake I’ve hijacked their classic format to go through (er… almost– I’ve excised a few chunks of it) a certain article from the Toronto Star, if for no other reason than because it’s pretty seriously great fun (even when I half-ass and swear my way through a pale imitation).
Also, y’know, because I feel bad for people who read this stuff and take it seriously, and would like to use my little outlet to help wrestle the discourse back towards sanity in any way that I can.
So, here we go with more John Gibbons babble. For those not familiar with the format, it should become obvious real quick, but I’ll give you a hint: the lines from the original piece are in bold, and my comments are below. Enjoy!
If the Boston Red Sox had taken the approach many suggest the Blue Jays must now take, Bobby Valentine would still be the manager.
Really? Because… shit, I must have missed it when managers became so completely irrelevant and interchangeable that we could talk about them in such binary terms. One manager on a team that struggled to win is completely identical to another manager on a team that struggled to win, regardless of whatever demonstrable dumbfuckery– y’know, throwing Kevin Youkilis under the bus and other “clumsy handling of his players [that] forced him into frequent apologies that undermined his authority in the clubhouse” (per ESPN)– each man engaged in during his year at the helm. Got it.
But would the Bosox be in first place?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
Yes. Yes they would. Clay Buchholz was a fucking wizard when healthy in 2013. John Lackey came back from the dead. Felix Doubront was beyond serviceable. David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury were healthy. Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew were nice additions. The team traded for Jake Peavy. Yeah, they were pretty good. Like many people, I suggested it was completely plausible they could take the division back in early April. John Farrell was… there.
What of it?
In a city where there’s a lot more pressure for the baseball team to win, the Red Sox, and GM Ben Cherington, decided that one tumultuous year of Valentine was all they needed to see before moving on.
Because Valentine proved himself pretty inept at handling, among other things, the media pressures in Boston. Plus, the guy they wanted all along seemed gettable. So what?
There was no “oh, this isn’t fair, give him another year.” None of this “what could he possibly have done” on a team that struggled with injuries and underachieving players and every manner of controversy.
Right. Because it seemed pretty fair, and it seemed a reasonable assumption that, even with a team that was actually healthy and performing– or that, you know, liked or respected him– he might somehow find a way to fuck it all up. That has to do with John Gibbons how?
The Red Sox just wanted to win. They made a massive, bold trade with the Dodgers to off-load salary and re-set the team. Then they decided Valentine couldn’t help them win with their new roster.
So they moved on. And are now winning.
And Valentine’s absence is exactly how fucking big in that, do you think?
Take your time, I’ll wait. Answer at your leisure.
. . .
No? Nothing? Nothing like, “Bobby Valentine was some kind of an evil demon and now magic John Farrell has come along and– shock!– with a significantly different roster, with significantly different health, has found significantly different results! YOU DON’T FUCKING SAY!”?
In Toronto, a team with some similarities but many differences with Boston, the defence of John Gibbons has become predictable, but at least the chorus is now singing the same song from the same excuse handbook.
Listen and read. You’ll hear and see the same refrain everywhere.
“The starting pitching has been terrible. What could he have done about that?”
The same excuse handbook that nobody used when Valentine got shitcanned? Got it.
At least Team Defend Gibby (never heard a manager or coach other than Pinball Clemons referred so often in the media by his nickname, a dead giveaway) is organized and has found a rallying point.
Common sense, yes. Avoidance of blind faith to managerial record as some kind of serious indicator of a manager’s fitness for his job in absence of any hint of contemplation of available talent and health? Sure.
The other rallying point is “well, you can’t hang this all on him.”
Well, of course you can’t. This is a multi-faceted issue for which management and players share some responsibility.
As does the manager. Again, a share of responsibility, not blame for everything that has happened.
Are we clear on that?
Crystal clear. You want to fire a manager based on reasoning you admit is impossibly nebulous, just because of some superstition that has to do with the Red Sox playing better with one manager– and a better, healthier roster– than they did under some other guy.
Sounds dumb as fuck to me, but please do go on.
No one is advocating the simpleminded, just fire the manager and all-will-be-well approach.
You don’t hang it all on Gibbons and nobody is suggesting that should be the case. Changing managers is just ONE of the things this team needs to do.
Based on??? Still waiting for, you know, anything to suggest how the manager contributed in any kind of major, fireable way to what I agree are myriad problems with this year’s squad.
But a manager who was here before and didn’t win much, and then was inexplicably re-hired by a GM who seemed to be looking for a path of least resistance after the John Farrell debacle, has returned and hasn’t won.
Wait, he didn’t win much before??!?!!? So you’re telling me there was never evidence of his magical powers??? SO WHY THE FUCK DID WE HIRE HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE???
Not all his fault. But the record is the record.
The record is the record. But not his fault.
And it hasn’t just been the starting pitching. It’s been lazy, dumb baseball.
Except, it’s mostly been the starting pitching.
Bad defensive baseball. Tons of strikeouts by players who won’t change their approach.
Fire the manager!
An alarming number of passed balls.
Fire the manager who kept running that knuckleballer out there!
Idiotic baserunning. An inability to move runners along and even bunt. Players more focussed on Twitter criticism than improving their game.
Fire the manager! Fire the manager! Fire the manager!
Hitters staring down teammates at third base for falling to score on short fly balls and thus denying the hitter an RBI.
Fire the manager! You know, the manager WHO FUCKING REPRIMANDED SAID PLAYER THE FUCKING INSTANT THAT HAPPENED.
It’s some of all of this, and if the manager couldn’t impact any of it, why have a manager at all, for goodness sakes?
To run the bullpen? To put together the lineup? To strategize during the course of the games? To provide as positive a work environment as possible? To… I don’t know… deflect from baseless media horseshit that might otherwise prove distracting?
There are those who want to praise his handling of the bullpen, and suggest his approach was exactly what Lawrie needed and has helped turn his season around.
That’s fine. Give Gibbons credit for those things, but if you’re going to do that you can’t just look at the team’s shortcomings and say he couldn’t have possibly impacted those areas.
You can’t have it both ways.
Exactly. You can’t pretend that important, tangible things like running the bullpen well and having the staff help make a positive impact on Brett Lawrie are the same as horseshit that can’t possibly be expected of a manager, like preventing high strikeout guys from striking out, knuckleball pitchers from being difficult to catch, players from getting hurt, or confused from time to time on the base paths, or making mistakes that had nowhere near the bearing on the outcome of games that the awful starting pitching did. Totally can’t have it both ways– I agree 100%.
There should be no second chance for Gibbons because this WAS his second chance, this time with what most everybody in baseball seemed to believe was a very talented team.
And clearly since they couldn’t have just been wrong, or the Jays undone by circumstances that couldn’t possibly have been foreseen– like 21 wins above replacement of value vanishing into thin air through injury and underperformance– the shittiest deductive fucking reasoning in the universe tells us that it must be Gibbons cocking all this up!
I’m guessing GM Alex Anthopoulos won’t be swayed one way or another by media opinion. He’s watched the team all year. He doesn’t strike me as an executive afraid to coldly cut bait on a manager when he knows it isn’t working, but then again, he’ll undercut his own credibility by having to axe a manager he handpicked.
Tough call for AA.
Except that, not being too hopelessly reductive to breathe without assistance, Anthopoulos demonstrated last winter, when he re-hired Gibbons, that he clearly doesn’t believe in the same kind of wholly baseless nonsense that casual Toronto Star readers probably eat up– like drawing a straight line from a team’s record to the manager’s office, as though he alone should have found a way to make wins happen no matter what.
Valentine, by the way, won 69 games for the Red Sox last season.
Will this year’s Jays win that many?
[Crosses arms. Smug, satisfied grin crosses his face.] [Sound of toilet flushing.]