## Leadership, Early Exits, And… Don Cherry?

There was a real delicious bit of red meat for the mouth-breathers at the end of Bob Elliott’s piece in the Toronto Sun from late Sunday, which was ostensibly about Darren Oliver’s final moments in a big league uniform. While the nice thing for us to do would be to not just skip over the whole capping-off-a-great-career bit, who can get all maudlin about Black Magic riding off into the sunset when you read a thing like this?:

“I’ll tell you what the GM needs to do for next year, he needs to go get some grinders, some guys who want to play,” one player said. “Look around at all the these empty lockers. I’m no doctor but you can’t tell me all of these guys are so injured or all in Florida re-habbing that they can’t stay for the final weekend of the season.”

Empty lockers on the final weekend included Edwin Encarnacion (who had wrist surgery), Jose Bautista (currently treating his hip in Dunedin by jogging underwater), Melky Cabrera (knee, back surgery), Brett Cecil (elbow), Maicer Izturis (ankle), Josh Johnson (forearm), Brandon Morrow (forearm) and Colby Rasmus (hit in the eye last week at Fenway Park).

I’ll tell you who can’t get maudlin (unless, that is, you’re referring to his Sammy Maudlin-esque wardrobe*): Don Cherry.

Yes, everyone’s favourite incoherent, (formerly?) xenophobic, drunk uncle-like hockey commentator apparently couldn’t pass up the opportunity to keep pushing his pro-grinder agenda, while also taking a giant bit of poetic license about the source of the quote and what it supposedly tells us.

Oh yeah, if you weren’t previously aware, uh… Grapes hasn’t quite got the hang of Twitter’s format just yet.

Regardless, as anybody who remembers the pre-chorus to Lunchlady Land** knows, “grinder” is hardly an exclusively Canadian word. Of course, that’s a “grinder” of a different sense, but a cursory Google search shows that it’s used in poker, in video games, and other places in the same sense as hockey term we’re all familiar with.

But, of course, even if were exclusively a Canadian word, that would hardly mean that Sherlock Holmes here has cracked open the case. I mean, it’s not like these guys who play for the Toronto Blue Jays are entirely inexperienced with the words of Canada.

Hey, but who needs logic when you can see a list that’s half made up of four Dominicans who either signed here of their own volition, or chose to re-sign with the club and forgo a possibly more lucrative trip through free agency, and then suggest that they just plain don’t want to be in Canada for a single second longer than necessary.

Of course, I’m falling exactly into a trap by bothering to take anything that Cherry says seriously.

But the Elliott piece warrants attention… maybe. Nothing will get hopeless dolts talking out their asses faster than an invitation to discuss their fairy tale understanding of a nebulous concept they call “leadership,” and it’s always good to push back at that. But this, like yesterday’s hubbub over a player telling Jeff Blair that Jose Bautista’s histrionics with umpires was “a distraction”– which, naturally, led to hilariously asinine suggestions of Bautista and his spirit of entitlement overtaking the team and ruining the careers of Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, who just can’t let themselves listen to instruction because big, bad Jose put it into their minds that they’re special little perfect snowflakes who should always get their way– is really grasping.

There certainly isn’t the panache of clubhouse mutinies past in these reports. Which doesn’t mean that they’re false, but it’s so easy for them to get incredibly overblown. Maybe they’re not, but maybe consider that it could have been the same player speaking to both Blair and Elliott, and he may have an agenda of his own. We have no idea.

We only know the basic facts: one, or maybe two, players told Blair that Bautista’s complaining to umpires was a distraction. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were clouded with rage and unable to operate their brains because of how badly they wanted to punch him in the face, it just means it was a distraction; maybe it became too much of drain on focus as it overtook the dugout chatter, or… who knows? What we do know is that, as far as our information goes, this is only one person’s opinion, and that it is in reference to a small component of the relationship between Bautista and his teammates, the rest of which we have zero idea about.

Then we have Elliott’s player– who clearly isn’t Lawrie, which I think is obvious by the use of “I’m no doctor” and the lack of “getttittt” or the liberal use of “bro”– whose point is… odd. These injured players should be here for some meaningless games just to sit on the end of the bench trying to not get more hurt? The guy with the spinal tumour and the one who just was in the hospital after getting hit in the face aren’t grinders by not being there? Bautista, who tried his damnedest to come back from last year’s wrist injury, returning for two August games before having to shut it down, doesn’t want to play? Encarnacion, who at the end of a meaningless season was swinging the bat repeatedly in obvious, hard-to-watch pain, isn’t a grinder? Josh Johnson, who still had elbow pain when he visited Dr. James Andrews this week, and so immediately went under the knife, didn’t want to play? Brandon Morrow, who is under doctors orders not to throw until mid-October, doesn’t want to play?

Shit, I hope it wasn’t Brett Lawrie making those sorts of suggestions, because it sounds to me like whoever did, maybe he’s the problem.

But, of course, no matter how silly or petty or easily dismissed it all is, for some it’s all going to feed back into the leadership fairy tale– you know, the one full of war metaphors and players having little to no agency of their own over their own careers and lives? It’s just demeaning and lazy to look at it through that prism and to try to divine moral characteristics of certain men in the tiny amount of time we view them on our TV screens each week. And it’s just not reality.

Yes, leadership is thing– obviously– but the perception I think a lot of fans have of the locker room dynamic is just kinda silly. I don’t expect that everyone has worked with an ex-clubbie or spoken regularly to people who are always down at the park, but has no one read Dirk Hayhurst or Ball Four? There is a diversity of personalities, weird characters, all kinds of complex relationships and things going on, none of which we should have the fucking gall to believe we understand in the slightest from where we sit– especially when believing one thing or another is so often dependent on pre-existing assumptions or on the desperate need to find any sort of flimsy explanation of blame and escape the scawwy horribleness of the unknown.

Fans get egged into this kind of stuff by a media that pretends it sees the ghosts, too. Let’s maybe just give it all a rest.

Besides… I dunno, I’m not seeing a whole lot of tension:

*That one’s for the olds, FYI.
** That one too, probably, now that I think of it.

Image via Best Of Toronto.

1. I’m no doctor but……well then stop right there Don.

2. Ill add this to the conversation. All this talk about Bautista equating negative locker room presence by all the journalists in town (including the uninformed hockey ones too) means that Rogers probably wont be hanging their hat on him when they develop the new promos for next year. Too much negativity surrounding him now in the Toronto sports media.

• I doubt it’s noticed much except by those of us paying very close attention. I think he’s still the most recognizable face on the team, and so wouldn’t expect much change there, personally.

3. Maybe it was a distraction because the damn newspapers and media won’t stop talking about it as if it had some meaning beyond ???. Therefore, it doesn’t distract on the field of play. It doesn’t distract clubhouse atmosphere. It amounts to a distraction like a fly is a distraction to you on the beach.

4. Oh, fun, a guessing game? Okay, Cherry already picked Lawrie as the clubhouse anonymous gossip. Do we all get a pick? Dibs on JPA!

• JP’s probably a good guess, what about DeRosa?:

• No DeRosa is old – he understands this stuff. JP is already at war with the media – he wouldn’t feed their fire.

It’s Lind. \$10,000 it’s Lind.

• If I didn’t think we’ll never find out, making the bet pointless, I’d take this bet in a heartbeat. Since you’re so sure, would you give me 2:1 if I put my 10K on Janssen?

• It was definitely my J.P

• Definitely Lind.

5. Cherry’s rant was stupid, but you’re missing the point. There are clearly chemistry issues on this team. I don’t say that because guys weren’t there for the final series. I say that because someone on the team complained about guys not being there for the final series. Also because players have complained about the umpire bitching. Whether you agree with their complaints or not (and who the fuck are you to tell ball players what they should or shouldn’t be pissed off about), the problem is that they’re complaining at all. Teams with chemistry, teams that like each other, teams that are one unit and not a collection of individuals DO NOT COMPLAIN TO THE MEDIA about these in-house issues. Clearly there’s a problem here. Maybe it was Brett who complained. Maybe it was Oliver. But who cares who it was? The point is that guys are complaining. Guys aren’t happy. And unhappy teammates don’t make for a good team.

• Guys aren’t happy after a total dog shit bomb of a season after they were supposed to be in the playoffs. SHOCKER!

• Or, rather than “guys” who are unhappy, it could be just one guy, bitching and moaning to every reporter he can find, and there’s no real story here whatsoever.

• You clearly missed the point of my talking about fairy tales.

And unhappiness means exactly zero. What gets referred to as “chemistry” is a byproduct of winning, not the other way around.

• But they’re not just unhappy about losing. They’re unhappy about players complaining to umpires and leaving the team early. This stuff doesn’t get discussed to the media if everyone in the room is on the same page. I’m not saying all the players have to like each other and hang out together away from the field. But they should at least respect each other enough to not complain to the media about each other.

• The media also specifically seeks out these kinds of stories during a season like this one (see: Boston Red Sox, 2011-2012).

• Yes…and once the source of the problem is shipped out (see: Beckett, Josh) the team can make a drastic turn around (see: Boston Red Sox 2013). Also, see: stop using this lame shtick.

The other thing that all this bubbles up from is that these guys are loose and they joke around and generally seem to enjoy the fact that they get paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a game for a living. Fans want them to sit there all stoic and pissed off if they arent winning, which is ridiculous. Fact is, if they were winning, the media narrative would be how both Joses keep the team loose and thats why they win.

Finally no one wants to admit just how much luck factors into professional sports. Its hard to find an edge when the difference between an effective player and a bad but still major league worthy player is razor thin. The margins of success are even thinner. This Jays team – the exact one that entered the season in April – could have won it all. They faced a Mr. Burns Company Softball Team’s worth of injuries. I believe Melky Cabrerra literally suffered from Botulism. Rasmus, Lawrie, Jose, Jose, EE, and Cabrerra all suffered significant injuries. No one could have predicted how horrible JP would be and their pitching staff? Dicky, Johnson, Happ and Morrow all had injuries.

My point is if youre going to lay the blame for the lack of success on leadership, you should at least be willing to lay some of the blame on something like the bad luck of injuries which is ACTUALLY QUANTIFIABLE.

• @Zaun

If the player complaining was doing so out of the purity of his leadership heart, he would have discussed this with Alex and the team – and we would never even hear of it.

The problem lies with the guy complaining.

• @ Sons – 100% bang-on. If a guy is willing to air these issues to the media, chances are he isn’t planning on being back next year, otherwise he wouldn’t risk being a pariah in the clubhouse. I’m thinking this might have just been Darren Oliver letting off some steam – he might have been upset that the injured Jays didn’t stick around to see him off in his last series as a player, especially after he put off retirement to come back to a team that was supposed to take him to the post-season for one last shot at a ring.

But yeah, I agree – if a guy come back the next year took issue with things going on in the clubhouse, it would be a private conversation with the manager/GM.

• Happy players don’t create winning teams. Winning teams create happy players.

6. My guess is JPA or Dickey, probably JPA though.

• My money’s on JPA. Dickey doesn’t strike me as the type of guy that would bitch about problems to the press. Hell, he’s been a problem for most of his career. JPA, on the other hand, was a mess this year and anything to distract the media from focusing on his disasterpiece of a season is great for him.

Besides, he only plays ball for himself and Jesus, right? Fuck the team.

• Yeah the more I think about it, I’m pretty sure it was JPA . I remember the comments he made with the dirk and zaun saga about those guys never coming down to the field level or clubhouse, just wreeks of JPA and can’t wait untill this bad baseball player is gone.

• my money is on JPA… I think he actually watches hockey.. doubt Brett Lawrie gives flying fuck.

7. “Hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders”

• Me too, haha.

• Can’t forget the navy beans and the meatloaf sandwich.

• When do they serve the sloppy joes?

8. I’m old enough for the first one.
And I’m too old for the second one.

Fuck I’m old.

9. Or maybe the player said it sarcastically as in that old joke about Jesus and the water-walking:

“Yeah, Jesus walked on water”

“Yeah, it was a distraction”

Or maybe the player was just musing possibilities, like:

“Yeah, maybe it could have been a distraction, I’ve never really put my mind to it”

10. I don’t even know which part of this bullshit fairy tale makes me most angry – o, no wait, I totally do: it’s the barely concealed undercurrent of racism that imbues all of these ridiculous stories.

Seriously people, our team is too immature and ‘doesn’t care enough’? Why don’t you just own up to it and say they suck because Sky Dome doesn’t have any grass for them to cut? Fuck people! The upper echelon of this team are all major league veterans with AT LEAST 5-10 years of major league experience. Reyes, Bautista and Encarnacion are as fucking personable as it gets. Bautista is too “fiery” with the umps but when Brian McCann acts like a troglodyte he’s just “grinding” and “standing up for his boys.”

Look, there were a lot of problems with the 2013 Jays beyond the injuries; Bonifactio and, tumor or no tumor, Melky Cabrera started the season VISIBLY out of shape and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they were both terrible to start the year. The team, like last year, was 3 depth starters short in May when our injury prone starters got hurt. Our catcher completely forgot how to hit and Bautista had a pretty depressing visit from the regression fairy.

But if we’d started 14-5 in April Elliot’s dumb ass would have written about how we’re like Nationals North and how the loose atmosphere fostered by Gibby has allowed our veterans to take the lead and really create a family dynamic in the clubhouse. And Don Cherry would have forgotten that baseball even exists and just tweeted about Mike Zygomanis.

• *slow clap*

• Amazing post.

• Ray, you win the off season!

• Amazing post alright. Amazingly retarded.

The racist claim is bullshit. The difference between Bautista and McCann is that McCann stands up for his teammates, while Bautista stands up for himself. You don’t see Bautista bitching at the umpires because Edwin gets a bad call. It’s totally different.

I’m not saying there aren’t racist Jays fans though. That would be silly. There are lots of racist Jays fans. How else can you explain people liking Snider so much more than Thames? Or all the Cito hate? The Rajai jokes? Anybody who doesn’t fucking love the shit out of Kawasaki? But your grass cutting comment was the most racist thing I’ve seen on here in months. It would never cross my mind to make a comment like that, because I’m not racist.

• Change your name and you will be taken more seriously

• I’m going to go against my better judgement and answer this.

A) How often does the camera pan to Bautista after another player strikes out? You have literally no idea how he reacts.

B) It’s not specifically about Jays fans. It’s prevalent around baseball. When’s the last time you heard about a Latin American player described as a “scrappy, hard-working guy who gets the most out of his abilities”? (see also: Russian hockey players)

C) People hate Cito because he did stupid things as a manager.

D) What Rajai jokes have I been missing out on?

E) The people who love Kawasaki are the same people who loved Johnny Mac. Racist bastards.

• A) If he were complaining, the cameras would certainly point at him.
B) I agree. There are lots of racists out there.
C) Winning 2 World Series is stupid?
D) He’s lazy and dumb.
E) There are lots of people who loved Johnny Mac and dislike Kawasaki. I agree: Racist bastards.

• I’ve never once heard anyone call Rajai lazy. Not once.

Stealing third with two outs and Bautista up IS dumb.

What gives you the impression that Kawasaki isn’t loved in the same ‘glove-first futile hitter scrappy underdog’ way that Johnny Mac was? Listen to the ovations when he pinch hits.

And the lawn joke was satire, FFS.

• @Ray

Couldn’t agree more. I always go back to the Yunel incident. I encourage people to imagine fleeing an oppressive country and leaving behind family and friends. Going from a land where shampoo is special and new cars are 50 years old. Coming to a land with a language you don’t speak. A land full of people that will take a word of your language, translate it according to their own opinion of what it means and then decide that you intentionally sabotaged your own image to insult a group of people – even though you immediately state that you meant no offense.

Man the venom and rage that came out of Bob McCowan’s mouth for that. He was so utterly foaming and ridiculous that AA “dropped the call” and couldn’t get his signal back evidently.

I’m not trying to defend Yunel’s silly attempt at being clever with his eye black. But I’m saying there was very little attempt to understand Yunel or HIS culture. And plenty of people running him out of town.

And now there he is with the Rays, along with a rapist. And somehow they’ve overcome this to be a lot better team than the Jays.

• Yes…but the weird thing here is that the people on this website that were at the forefront of saying we should run Yunel out of town are the same ones now saying that the treatment of Bautista et. al. is racist.

• Which people?

• @Mark

There were many that saw it more seriously than I did – but it was not as venomous here as it was elsewhere. Of course 2 or 3 guys posting 5 times each can make it seem so.

11. WHY do we care what Don Cherry has to say about baseball? Hockey fans barely give a damn about him anymore.

I’m glad these players were given a rest and a head start on recuperating from injuries. 2013 was a disaster season and there’s zero point in having players “grind it out”, risking further injuries, when nothing can be accomplished.

12. Lawl, the pic at the end of the article is the best. love it. Btw who the fuck cares what Cherry has to say about baseball. Baseball aint hockey by a long shot.

13. I think the thing that sticks out to me, and has always struck me as odd, was why the Jays send their Major League players all the way to Florida to rehab? I suppose I understand why they’d send guys recovering from Tommy John, because of the facilities for throwing… But Bautista in Florida to run in a pool? Huh? They don’t have those types of facilities in Toronto? They sent Reyes to Florida as soon as it was time to end rest and start rehab.

I find it very strange. Don’t you want the guys around the team until its time to send them off. On assignments? We always hear from Hayhurst about the alienation guys feel when they’re on the DL bcs they’re not near their peers.

Don’t get it.

• There’s a rather good article about Jose wherein he talked about his experiences living in Toronto, I think it was for Toronto Life, and he explains, among other things, that there were problems with landlords and people breaking into his residence. With his family with him, he just didn’t feel safe. This is of course just wild speculation, but maybe his reason for rehabbing in Florida is more complicated than the proximity of pools vs. wanting to be around his teammates.

• Why Florida?
Probably a combination of things.
Firstly (and this is no order of importance, it’s my opinion) – they’ve got minor league training facilities there, with their own medical personnel…plus a more consistently warm climate throughout the year probably helps in rehabilitation, and getting back into some kind of game shape under real-life conditions.

14. When Jose Reyes laugh in the dugout, people complain that he’s not taking it seriously enough. When Jose Bautista gets pissed off about a bad call, people complain that he needs to calm down. When Colby Rasmus runs down the line, it looks effortless so people complain that he isn’t trying too hard. When Brett Lawrie runs down the line, he looks like he’s going to blow an artery, so people complain that he needs to tone it down a little.

This is what a season of shattered expectations will do to a fan base. If this all happened during a 90-win season, no one would care about any of these things.

15. Imagine if Don Cherry were the GM of this team. Just imagine.

16. Cherry is such a kook. What makes him so sure it wasn’t JPA who made the remark anyway? He fits Don’s idea of a ‘grinder’ too. He plays through lots of pain and all that gritty stuff. He’s just not “a good Canadian kid. *thumbs up*”

It’s well past time to send that man out to pasture.

17. MAYBE BASEBALL *SHOULD* BE MORE LIKE HOCKEY DID YOU GUYS EVER EVEN THINK OF THAT

18. The metric system is the tool of the devil! I get three rods to the hog’s head and that’s the way I likes it!!
Fucking Cherry.

Dominicans hate it here. Especially in the hayday when they all played here.
Everything Cherry says is nauseating. But the CBC loves their cash cow…..

19. This season was ruined the moment John Gibbons was hired to manage the Jays.

Ask Cleveland how important a manager is to guide a team to the post-season.

Ask Baltimore what a difference a good manager makes. Boston for that matter…

I honestly believe that had AA hired Sandy Alomar Jr, Dave Martinez or even just forced Farrell to honor his contract instead instead hiring Gibby… this season wouldn’t have been such a disaster. I think this team wasn’t able to gel because the manager was unable to control the locker room and get the best out of his players… period.

• Wow

• Troll much?

• Your mind works like that AND you share it with the world? You are a brave man.

• YOU’RE RIGHT! I mean shit, why didn’t we think of hiring John Farrell–oh wait. Wait, we did have him here… That’s right — managers aren’t magic! It’s almost like it has more to do with the team on the field than the guy in the ill-fitting pants.

20. First time i’ve seen the word volition used in context. Has someone been listening to new Protest the Hero?

21. I’m sorta reminded about last years BoSox.
Guys eating chickhen and drinking beer during a game and Francona gets fired.
Sox fans claimed if Farrell was there, it never woulda happened.
Farrell gets hired and Pedroia,Salty and Napoli go to Jays game on their off day.
According to Butterfield,this year unlike previous years,they do infield every day at home and every two days on the road,with all the vetrans buying into it.

Does that mean anything?
Are the Sox more focused on the prize?
Team dynamics and support produce more than individual goals and interests?

• never thought I’d do this for radar, but +1

loves me some fundamentals

• would anyone complain if the Jays put in this kind of work?

everyone would all be saying how much they liked it, so it’s not to say it’s irrelevant & inconsequential, we would love to have a team like that if we had one

• Even if it is a backhanded compliment, I’ll take it.
Just don’t let Stoeten see it.
LOL

• And so then what of the horseshit narrative about Francona magically making Cleveland great?

This nonsense all collapses under the tiniest scrutiny. It’s silly.

Where’s the Buttfield quote, by the way?

• @ Stoeten

Just posing the questions.
Did you see the question marks at the end of the sentences?

The Butterfield interview was conducted by Howarth the last time the Jays were in Boston.
Both Jerry and Jack have been on a mission,questioning the lack of fundamentals with the Jays.And Butterfield mentioned that all the vetrans had bought into the program.Jack was adamant that the repetition of infield everyday can do nothing but produce positives.
Don’t shoot me because they said it.I’m just repeating it.
Gotta go.
Interesting discussion.
Take care.

• If this is all true regarding the vets buying into infield practice, etc, does anyone out there happen to know if Butterfield did the same with the Jays when he was here?

This isn’t to advance any kind of argument, I’m just curious.

• I don’t believe that you’ve quoted him correctly, based on what Wilner had said about it, but I would have to listen myself.

22. Janssen?

23. stoeten – I can’t believe you are giving this nonsense the time of day…

the beat writers are trying to develop a narrative for the offseason.

you don’t get 25 testosterone fueled guys living in close proximity virtually every day for 6 months without guys getting on each others nerves. winning helps ease the tension… but that wasn’t the case in Toronto this year. end of story. the whole storyline is just background noise and doesn’t have anything to do with putting a winning team on the turf for next year.

the fact that blair thinks it is noteworthy that a player was somewhat annoyed by the antics of another player says more about blair than it does the state of the clubhouse.

• Well said. Those of us with wives can attest to the fact that no matter how much you love someone, they can still get on your nerves every now and then just due to the fact that you live with them and are often in close proximity to then. This is exacerbated if there is a frustrating situation brewing (getting lost while driving, tough financial situation, house in need of cleaning, etc).

Therefore, on a baseball team expected to do well and having the wheels fall off, it’s only natural that guys will get frustrated/pissed off/angry at others even with little or no provocation. Winning fixes a lot of the little things.

24. “Nothing will get hopeless dolts talking out their asses faster than an invitation to discuss their fairy tale understanding of a nebulous concept they call “leadership,” and it’s always good to push back at that. ”

OK. Can you name me a version of the Jays since 1993 that has had a ‘clubhouse leader’ or anything of that nature? The championship teams had plenty of them. And the veterans were known to get on the rookies if they thought they weren’t taking the game seriously enough. But since then, I can’t think of anyone. Delgado shied away from a leadership role I believe. So did Halladay.

And I can’t believe it’s a coincidence that, since that 1993 team broke up, we haven’t gone to the playoffs once.

• I don’t know if leadership the way you say they had in 92 and 93 is necessary or necessarily winning, but what I do know is that the reason they haven’t been to the playoffs since is that they haven’t been as good at baseball as the teams that have made it in. And it hasn’t even really been close, certainly not close enough that the extra couple of wins Winfield’s leadership, or whoever you have in mind, would have (dubiously) created would have been enough to put them in the playoffs.

• I don’t think it’s about some ‘leader’ emerging to bring the team to the promised land. To me, it’s more about the players’ expectations of each other, and an air of accountability that seems missing. ‘Leadership’ isn’t, on its face, a singular noun.

• This is a different thing. You specifically asked whether the Jays have had a clubhouse leader since 1993.

I don’t think we can know about accountability, but I don’t disagree with you about this – it seems to me as well that there is a lack of it. But I pin this more on management than on the players. For example, there were a couple of times when I would have liked to see JPA sent a message, most notably after his bum fight with the press – one would think that would have been a distraction.

Bautista deserved to be held to account for freaking out about being deprived an RBI when his hit was scored an error. But I don’t think guys of his stature are ever held accountable in the way we’re talking about.

Lawrie obviously deserved to be held accountable for yelling at Lind and Rivera. But it was my understanding that it was addressed. He had the one incident this year. There was a series of issues with Puig before he was sat down (by Mattingly) for something like 5 innings.

• Interestingly, if I recall correctly, Bautista did get involved in the Lawrie thing. He came into the dug-out yelling his head off, and Gibby sais something about ‘bullshit’ and then Bautista came along the row to calm Lawrie down. So he does take an interest in this kind of thing. You’re right, and I do sound like I’m asking for one leader. But I really don’t think it’s a question of one leader. I think the team needs a bunch of leaders from management and from the players themselves. Obviously Farrell has been able to do in Boston what he could not do here. And I think it might be a rewarding exercise to find out what he did differently–if anything–and what–if anything–we can learn from it.

• I really do think winning will breed the kind of thing you’re looking for. A “winning culture”, where everyone is expecting to win and expecting everyone to do everything to pull in that direction, and letting each other know about it and hear it when they’re not, I think this culture is created from winning consistently.

I’m not making excuses, but it is super annoying in a low-performing organization to have one or two people holding everyone accountable to a higher standard, when the resources just aren’t there. Even if Goins could play like Pedroia and getting there is just a matter of De Rosa getting in his ear after he strikes out, what difference does it make when you still have to rely on Happ/Rogers/Redmond, when you’re buried so deep due to injuries to key players and lack of depth and the GM not fixing the hole at 2B and Bonifacio and Izturis sucking so hard…

I think they can have that culture you seem to want. They have to get off to a better start, and it would help to have guys like Boegarts, Profar, Rios, Iglesias if they were to lose Lawrie or Reyes or another key player again. Then you’d see the club house showing the new guy what is expected of him and your desire for leadership would be fulfilled.

• What did Farrell do besides get hired by a better constructed team? Like, for fuck sakes, stop pretending this stuff you’re inventing means anything.

• I’m not suggesting Farrell did anything. And he certainly wasn’t a good leader here. But I am saying that maybe there were management-style things he did differently with the Sox and it’s worth seeing (a) if there were any and (b) if they could be worth implementing here. At this point if I were front office I would be examining *everything* with a very close lens to see if I could pin down everything that went wrong and to work out whether what did go wrong could have been prevented. A total mess like this last season is the kind of event that has a very long tail in a corporation.

• You have absolutely zero idea of who did what in that room, so your attempting to speak about it like you know is pretty ridiculous.

• Actually Stoeten,when Gillick was asked which was the best team he ever assembled for the Jays, the 92 or the 93 Jays?
He replied neither, the 91 team was superior to both.
He should know, he built them.
Then he went out and obtained Winfield.
Winfield rallied the team to 3 goals,1)winning the division,2) winng the AL,3) winning the WS.
Can you win without the talent? No
Did Winfield’s leadership help push them over the top?Can’t be quantified so nobody( including you) knows absolutely for sure,one way or the other.

• IT WAS HIS TALENT THAT HELPED, YOU DOPE! Are you fucking serious with this horseshit?

Plus, the ’91 team won their division. Short series’ are essentially crapshoots, so… holy shit, there is absolutely no rational reason to think that magical leadershippiness had anything to do with anything breaking the other way for the Jays in 1992. They were a very talented team, and things broke right.

• Jeez Stoeten,you sound pissed.
Sorry but I tend to give Gillick’s opinion a little bit more credibility than your’s.But I love your conviction.
BTW.I think he was in the locker room a little more than you were.

• Yeah. Winfield is the reason they wanted to win. No MLB player wants a World Series until a leader emerges to tell them championships are important. I guess Winfield’s spirit is what led to the ’93 championship.

• And that’s the problem. You really want to swallow whole hog the opinions of people who have reason to mythologize all that bullshit? If you don’t understand why someone in his position is unreliable, then… well, actually then I guess your cluelessness makes a little more sense.

Do you see why people like me have a problem with this? When you call it luck, you let EVERYBODY off the hook. Nobody is accountable for anything.
In your view, “players will play to their averages.” and “everybody has slumps”. It’s such an “Excel spreadsheet” way of looking at a very complex game, and it’s RIDICULOUS to deny the existence of things like chemistry, clutch and leadership.

• Yes, I see why you have a problem: you believe in ghosts and, based on your paraphrasing, can’t comprehend what I’m saying in the slightest. And that’s why you’ll continue to be hopeless.

Raging against “Excel spreadsheets” just shows how desperate you are to keep your mind closed.

• Ash signed Winfield. Totally his idea.

• The 91 squad was better than the 93 squad? What the hell is Gillick talking about? Go look at the starting lineup for ’93 WS Game 6 — Cito has Alomar batting 6th!!! Can you imagine a team where your 6th batter is HOFer Roberto Fucking Alomar?

• Actually, Andrew, I do. because it was extensively reported at the time. You were about 6 then, weren’t you? I wasn’t. I remember the commentators at the time–who would be Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez–talking about how the veterans on the team had really made a difference to the way the rookies prepared themselves. I wasn’t in the clubhouse but they were. This bunch of veterans don’t seem to be making the same impact on this bunch of rookies. You can yell and talk about ‘mouth-breathers’ all you want. But I will suggest that those of us who have been around long enough to be adults when the team was winning remember fondly that clubhouse and miss it. It is not ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ to assert that there is more to winning than just fielding a bunch of talented guys. Because this last version of the team was a bunch of really talented guys were they not? But they didn’t win. They started out bad and went into a tailspin from which they never recovered. Maybe a clubhouse leader or three could have pulled them out of that.

• Those people have absolutely zero idea, and what they were imparting to you was pure mythology. Sorry.

Martinez and Shulman were in the clubhouse minimally. Stop believing this nonsense.

What could have pulled the Jays out of their tailspin was a healthy Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson, and Dickey and Buehrle figuring it out sooner. Don’t be so blindly naive.

• I’m sorry I must have missed something. Were you in the clubhouse then? Why do we take your narrative at face value and theirs as ‘mythology’? Because it doesn’t seem to me like you spend any time in the clubhouse either so both you and they are dependent on other people’s narratives.

In any case, let’s look at what happened when they went on their 11-game win-streak.

Chien-Ming Wang pitched two excellent games. Mark Buehrle recovered his previous form and began to pitch reasonably well. Esmil Rogers pitched well. Josh Johnson pitched well. The hitters hit, the bullpen performed admirably. It was lovely! Then they went to Tampa Bay. (I was staying at the same hotel! Saw them arrive! What a thrill!!) Except they hit the skids. And stayed skidding. that is where they needed to be pulled back from the brink and by then Buehrle was pitching well, Esmil Rogers had stepped up. The bullpen was in great shape. But skid they did and they stayed skidding.

Honestly I don’t think leadership is The Answer. But I do think it’s a part of a team doing well. Maybe leadership is only a factor when it’s missing. Like managers. A reasonably good manager won’t make that much of an impact on wins and losses. A bad manager may well.

• Sorry, too many ‘skids’ there. An edit button please!!

• It’s guys like Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler (who are in the dressing room and all that) who suggested Kawasaki making everyone loose and relaxed was a huge part of the winning streak, too.

Jack Morris always talks about guys needing the “will to win” and how he would “pitch to the score”.

Just because someone on TV believes it doesn’t make it true.

• “pitching to the score” is an obvious concept. When you’re ahead, the pitcher throws more fastballs and aims for a bigger part of the plate. For several reasons. 1) You get more quick outs (hopefully), 2) You save the bullpen, 3) You minimize walks, 4) you make them hit you to get back in the game.

I dunno if I agree with it (to a certain extent I do), but I don’t see why people view it as such a strange concept.

• Because it has been clearly and unequivocally disproven.

Makes sense if you don’t want to actually think about it or look at the data, though, I guess.

• Stoten…you sound like a moron. How hard is it to understand? These players are human beings and character and leadership DOES play a part. understand, dink?

25. Was Lind there? He’s been a little weird lately with his talk of AA needing to see him face to face “like a man”.

• In fact, as much as I like Lind, he’s the only one dumb enough to stir that pot.

• Didn’t Janssen make some comments close to this line a couple of times during the season?

26. The biggest grinder on the team was Kawasaki, not Lawrie. Albeit not in the hockey sense.

27. I mean, I applaud Stoeten’s optimism and patience, I really do. But sometimes I wish for more of the “fan” Stoeten that was quick to call out bullshit and diagnose problems (as recently as last year).
So Bautista is an exemplary leader, we have no leadership / clubhouse issues, our team DNA is perfect, our training staff is great and has nothing to do with us losing the most man-games to injury for the past two years in a row, things will come around, just bad luck.
Soooo… there is no problem? Just catcher and 2B? I mean, I understand that uselessness in just being negative, but there is a fine line between that and realistic. I really can’t understand how you do it. Every piece is like an explanation for something. Does not all of this add up to the fact that we are just a very poor baseball team, comprised of the wrong players who may be “talented” but aren’t real big time performers? Because it sure as hell looks like it.

• You understand this is a sport right? A sport played against OTHER teams. A sport where injuries DO happen and where they happen randomly. Not random like in your MLB The Show video game – but really truly randomly. You understand that leadership is an undefined, let alone measured, quality. It is not a number next below “Hit points” in an RPG.

And you know that this same exact Jays team with the same exact injury troubles STILL would have probably had a chance at winning 3 or 4 of the other division titles? (Look at our inter vs inra divisional record, and then look at the record of other teams against the AL East.)

Stoeten is a big annoying complainer. And he answers half my comments with only the word “nonsense”. But the day he complains enough to satisfy puck heads like you is the day I leave.

• This is pathetic. That is the worst excuse ever.

“Hey, we’re a really, really good team…but unfortunately we never win because other teams are even better!! If only they stopped trying, we’d be amazing!!”

• So invent some complete bullshit to explain it then, right?

• It’s not an excuse. Excuse are what I use to save my own bacon. It’s just simple math dude. Sorry you don’t understand.

• Most of your points are nonsense. Did you ever hear anyone from the Jays say that the whole problem is that the other teams are just too gosh darn good? Hell, did you happen to have noticed the cabal of shitballers that were trotted out to start because 3/5 of the rotation was injured?

• Wilner says it doesn’t matter…..lossesdon’t count

• Talent wins baseball games, not these stupid ghosts you pretend exert massive influence.

The issue with the club in 2013 was entirely about talent and health, not anything else.

• Damn straight. You can’t convince me that the teams in the playoffs are there because they have a couple players that are true leaders. It’s talent, it’s staying healthy. I think the only real untangible that might help out as well is baseball IQ – knowing what to do when. I see the same thing on my softball team – when a player is missing from a game that isn’t good at knowing where to be or what to do on certian plays, it helps a lot.

But, I digress. Can we honestly look up and down the rosters of teams like the Braves, Dodgers, A’s, etc and say “wow, good thing they had this veteran on the team whose clubhouse presence I know nothing about; otherwise they’d have sucked!”? No. But, we CAN look at the rosters and say, “hey look, they weren’t completely fucked by injuries!” and “hey, that team is pretty good!” It’s baseball – it’s a fluid sport played over 6 months that requires a lot to break right – you can assemble a great team with great players and avoid injuries and STILL not win enough games to make it. Talk to teams like San Francisco and Washington and Baltimore about that.

Leadership is part of a narrative that exists when you’re talking about a team that ultimately wins. No one at all is talking about, on the eve of the AL and NL DSs, that Team X is going to win a 5-game baseball series because they have Players A, B and C with great leadership abilities. They’re talking about those teams being favoured to win because they have players A, B and C that are difference-makers in terms of TALENT. They’re talking about teams having less chance to win a series because a key TALENTED player is hurt (Matt Kemp, for example).

Stoeten, I feel your pain on this, I truly do.

• Man you gotta broaden your mind a little. Sports are not that simple.

28. Since people have been grasping at straws to explain why the season went south so here is my contribution. 2013 is a number with many characteristics….

It is an odd number.
It is composite and its prime factorization are 3 \times 11 \times 61.
Its binary representation is 111110011101.
It is an odious number.
It repeats a single digit is base 13 (bbb_{13}).
It divides 34^5 – 1.
Its Roman Numeral is MMXIII.

These characteristics of the number 2013 signify that the Jays were going to lose this season.

29. Interesting fact from Verducci at CNNSI – Jays had 15 more wins against teams with winning records than Indians.

• I found it interesting when I learned that the Rays had a losing record away from the Trop until winning in Arlington in the 163rd game.

30. Footnotes in the post. I love it!

31. Something happen please tired of this Chemistry talk

32. So let’s go through a process of elimination for who could have made that comment. Let’s assume this person is not a hypocrite and eliminate everyone who was injured at some point for any significant length of time. Continuing that logic, let’s assume it was not a bench player or someone from the minors who spent half the season or more not playing. Who does that leave us? Fortunately/unfortunately, not many people.

Pitchers: Buehrle, Dickey, Rogers, Janssen
Position Players: Arencibia, Lind

Next, let’s assume a pitcher is not ignorant enough to throw several every day position players under the bus when he only pitches every 5th day, or in Janssen’s case, a couple of innings a week.

That leaves Arencibia and Lind. I know people dislike JP and he’s brought a lot of that on himself with his behaviour, but do we really want to believe that he is so hopelessly dumb that he would risk making a comment like that to a member of the media after his disaster of a season? I’m willing to give him more credit than that.

So that leaves Lind. He had a good enough year to have some swagger about his own performance and has never come across as the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s also made some questionable satements to the media before. So Adam is our man. Solved.

• I’m still thinking it was Oliver. My guess is that his feelings were hurt that enough guys didn’t stick around to see him off after ending a 20-year career.

As folksy as Lind might seem at times, I don’t think someone returning would throw his teammates under the bus. The comments reek of someone knowing they won’t be back.

• Oliver makes sense. He’s got nothing to lose. It’s like Omar Vizquel last year. He said what he had to say then got out of Dodge. What’s tiresome is that it’s 2 years straight of snarky so moments from veterans at the end of the season. Tiresome for many reasons.

• Lind? Hasn’t he had a couple of injury-plagued years? I suppose it could be him. Especially if someone had forgotten to give him his catnip.

• It would not surprise me at all if it was Dickey or Buehrle

33. I started reading the Sun story about Don Cherry, but I stopped after 3 words.
Any story that starts with the words, “Don Cherry thinks…” .
I prefer my fiction less fantasical.

34. All that leadership talk gives me a headache. I just came here to say, I’m happy to see the reference to Ball Four, which everyone should read. The end.

35. Stoets, I can’t wait to see your post about Griffin’s article today. wow it should be a doozy.

• It’s gonna happen. Would have this afternoon if not for the bar across the street.

• Drinking in a bar when a column beckons to be written? I’m going to a website where the proprietor is a grinder and displays better leadership qualities.

36. What the fuck happened to the saying, “Leave it all on the field”. It’s not just a reference to effort. Professional athletes don’t throw their teammates under the bus, especially when the one being thrown under is a player who has the ability to carry this team at different points in the year. Does Jose argue with umpires because he doesn’t care about the game. If a player is ‘distracted ‘ by Jose’s antics, then maybe they’re the one who isn’t focused on their own performance. *cough*JP sucks*cough*

I don’t know what’s worse, players who think they know what the G.M. needs to do, or the local media trying to give them a huge platform for their “very un-team-like comments”. The Toronto media has a knack for blowing shit out of proportion, so this really doesn’t surprise me that they are trying to lay blame for what went wrong this season, when it’s pretty fucking obvious. Too many key player injured to field a competitive team. That’s why their journalist, and not scientist. Because science actually consists of real, accurate information, not some bullshit conjured up to sell newspapers.

37. Lmfao that pic is hilarious. Jose is gonna kill him for that one. Payback is coming

38. I think the anonymously quoted player is that prick, Kawasaki.

39. [...] I guess it had to happen at some point after the type of season the Jays had. Over at Drunk Jays Fans Andrew Stoeten did a piece earlier in the week referencing Bob Elliot’s piece in the Toronto [...]

40. FYI: Dan Schulman was not the play-by-play guy in 1991. It was Jim Hughson.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Toronto_Blue_Jays_season

41. Agree with you, Andrew. I think he bottomline is that this was an extremely disappointing season. A lot of things went wrong and maybe leadership or he lack of some players being willing to push through some pain has something to do with it. Or maybe not. All we know for sure is that the manager (or was it GM?) intimated as such during the year. R.A. Dickey came right out and said it (and if I had to barter a guess he source in he article might be him).

As for Bautista, who knows. I would guess it would be a distraction but that’s a completely uneducated guess.

At the end of the day, winning fixes everything and regardless of which way guys were pulling on the rope, fixing he “grit” wouldn’t have made the Jays a playoff team in 2013.

A lot of players need to be better and it starts with Bautista and moves on down.