Wrong fingers, Omar.
It feels like every time I start a new post I’m doing so with a snarky remark about this wretchedly slow off-season hitting some kind of a new low. As much as I’d like to avoid doing that again right now, it’s kinda hard not to, because we’re about to rehash a bunch of 2012 bullshit involving people who are no longer even in the Jays organization. (Yay?)
But actually, this is somewhat interesting, as last night we got some excellent — albeit curiously 18 months late — insight from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun about the breakdown of the relationship between John Farrell and Omar Vizquel back at the end of both of their tenures as Blue Jays.
The short version of Elliott’s piece is that Vizquel paid for Henderson Alvarez’s family to fly from Venezuela to Miami so they could watch the then-Jays pitcher’s scheduled start against the Marlins in June of that year. However, a flurry of injuries hit the club’s rotation (as you may recall), and at some point after both the team and the Alvarez family had landed in Florida, Farrell bumped Henderson’s start back a game, which put him into the next series, in Boston. This angered Vizquel, who went to the manager’s office to complain, though he was rebuked, Elliott explains, with something like, “I’m not running a Little League team here, I’m doing what’s best for the team.”
Vizquel thought he had been slighted, began second guessing Farrell and 13 weeks later knocked Farrell’s failure to “jump on mistakes” by young players telling our Steve Simmons:
“It’s part of the inexperience. If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over. We have to stand up and say something right after a mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
“Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.”
The next day Farrell screamed at Vizquel behind closed doors and wanted to release him.
With less than a week remaining in the season, the Jays did not think it was appropriate to release the future hall of famer.
There are some interesting strands to pull from this, especially looking back on what was being said at the time, the first of which is to reiterate — gauche as it may be in some circles at this point — that Farrell is absolutely fucking bang on. That doesn’t mean, however, that the disarray of his final weeks as skipper here isn’t in abundant evidence when looking back.
When the breakup eventually became inevitable, we heard about possible tensions between the manager and the front office. That became clearer near the end of the 2013 season, when Farrell contrasted his former and current employers, speaking about the difference between a “scouting-based organization, and one based on player development.
Acrimonious as it came off, those comments actually made it sound a rather cordial, academic split, like a band claiming after the fact that they broke up over “creative differences,” when the reality suggested by the Vizquel stuff makes it look closer to being about petty jealousies, or, to complete the analogy, sleeping with each other’s girlfriends.