I've had 40-odd hours to mourn. I'm ready to talk about it. The loud music you heard Saturday night? Yep, party at Richard Griffin's house.
J.P. Ricciardi had to go. It was clear he'd run his course in Toronto. But not without one final public relations nightmare to pave his exit. According to Dave Perkins at The Star, the infamous Paul Beeston, he of "the plan," went to the moguls of the Rogers empire during the middle of last week seeking "the okay to fire Ricciardi." Clearly the interim president wanted to send a message to Jays fans that, you know, he's actually doing something.
Before he could, the Beest had to help put out the fire that was CitoCity (TM Ghostrunner on First) burning. And after an apparent "mutiny" in the clubhouse, I believe Cito Gaston will once again be an ex-Blue Jay manager. Which means he will have to retire from baseball. Because if the past is any indication, he might be out of a job for a while.
It's been a helluva second go-round with Cito. In 2008 he came and saved the day, yet only 14 months later it seems just about everyone - fans, players, fellow coaches - is sick of him. I hope he'll one day pen a memoir, aptly titled "The Cito Effect," so I can learn what Jeremy Accardo did to him, the logic behind playing Kevin Millar, and why he hates Randy Ruiz.
Anyway, J.P. I've said my piece about him. Many times. And people noticed. I've also made peace with his departure. It was inevitable. Ricciardi said it: "... it just wasn't quite enough." And he's right. Under Ricciardi's name, the Blue Jays finished in second spot in the AL East only once. In eight years, the team never finished a season within single digits of the division winner; 10 games was the closest they got, back in 2006. J.P. isn't a robot from the future, sent back in time to destroy the Toronto Blue Jays, as some in this crazy city will have you believe. But it's time for a change. (So, this is what it feels like to be a Republican.)
It hurts because I believe J.P. leaves Toronto a jaded man. A jaded general manager, at least. He believed he could succeed. He believed in what he'd learned in Oakland. He believed in Moneyball. He then believed in money, period. He believed he was the man able to scale Mount AL East. I did too. But he failed.
By all accounts, Ricciardi was as passionate as they come. He wanted badly to win, and he leaves Toronto with Roy Halladay giving him the respect he deserves. I'll miss his love for the game. I'll miss his feud with the media. Even his Boston accent. Most of all, I'll miss him referring to guys as "the player."
Ricciardi's legacy will live on. Unfairly, it is tied to Vernon Wells, and the anchor that is his contract. But on the other side are Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Ricky Romero, Travis Snider, Brett Cecil, Mark Rzepczynski, Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch, J.P. Arincibia, Jake Marisnick, and more. J.P. has left his mark on this team. For the better.
That's not to say his replacement, Alex Anthopoulos, doesn't have his work cut out for him. He does. But Anthopoulos doesn't have to tear down the foundation, like Ricciardi did. What he needs is direction from ownership, and long-term vision, something sorely lacking around these parts of late. I'm not worried, though, because Anthopoulos is CANADIAN, which can only mean that he will undoubtedly be the best general manager in the history of all baseball general managers.
In a sick and twisted way, for all the hate leveled at Ricciardi over the past couple of years, I want Anthopoulos to fail. Because it became far too easy in this town for people to point the finger at Ricciardi for all that is wrong with the Toronto Blue Jays. It isn't, and never was, that simple.
In all seriousness, Anthopoulos's story is, straight up, an inspiring one. At 23, an unpaid intern with the Montreal Expos. At 32, general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Here's hoping he can apply some of his life's trajectory onto the Blue Jays.
The winds of change are upon us. We wait for the next domino to fall.
So long, J.P. Ricciardi. It was a pleasure. You did good.