October 04, 2009


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.


Torgen said...

Twenty bucks says JP has a job in the Red Sox front office by the end of the offseason.

Ian H. said...

That was a heartfelt goodbye, my friend. We all knew this was coming, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon. Maybe J.P. can take over as GM for the Padres!

QJays said...

I think Torgen's right, although I think it's possible that other teams come knocking, and the Sox may not have a high enough position for JP. Hard to say -- if he's serious about being at home more, the Sox are probably his next employer.
I realize Cito's age means he's unlikely to seek work again, unless he truly feels he needs to prove something. That said, it's funny to think that the average Jays fan would probably wonder why any team would hire JP, since he's clearly a crappy GM, and at the same time think everyone else is crazy for not hiring Gaston, since he's so obviously a great manager.
Would you want to be at the helm for both trying to produce a winning team and also appeasing such a fan base? Ugh!

The Ack said...

I'm not sure I'm quite ready to talk about it. Not with Cito still on board to run the team as he sees fit. You think he'll bow to the new guy? The new 32 year old guy?

I only hope the "vote of confidence" was cermonial at most.

Oh, and the legacy of "the player" WILL live on.

psamms said...


"Dave Schultz" said...

"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."

This is why I love you Eyebleaf.

TOBOF said...

Where do I have to go to find coverage of the Jays' last series of the season? Way to miss the really important story, pal.

And here's something else that should be remembered about JP Retardi: he fired all the Jays' scouts in Canada. As an unabashed homer, you should take a look at the Canadian talent the Jays missed out on because that midget figured he could master player development with slide-rules and a clipboard packed with college
OBP charts.

I think getting the Jays involved in the Canadian baseball community again could actually yield some results for this crappy, crappy team. A sort of regional bonus.

Anyway, choke on your steak.

William said...

Geez, TOBOF, you are an ass, eh?

Eyeb, great, great post. Tremendous writing. And no swear words. heheheheh.

If Beeston keeps Gaston, it will be moot to fire Ricciardi. Gaston needs to go after this past week, whether it was a plant job or not. Even if it was, the fan base will be cool to him and that's not good.

kidkawartha said...

eye, if this makes you feel like you're a Republican, then who, pray tell is the team's Dick Cheney?
Also, if this is true, then wait a couple of months and you will have permanently deleted Ricciardi not only from your memory, but from existence altogether.

TOBOF said...

William: you wanted all the scouts in Canada fired?

eyebleaf said...

@ Torgen: It would bother me if J.P. signs with the BoSox. It would confirm that he's definitely become jaded, though. After reading "Chasing Steinbrenner" I know that Ricciardi was offered the GM post in Boston before Theo Epstein, but he wanted to stay, and wanted to win, in Toronto.

@ Ian: Thanks, mate. I figured J.P. was at least good to finish out the season. And I was thinking of a move to the NL for Ricciardi. He can get his confidence back up over there.

@ Q: Apparently the Mets are interested. As if they aren't dysfunctional enough. Cito has to go. It all seems half-assed if he stays. Also: producing a winning team and appeasing the fan base go hand in hand.

@ The Ack: For Alex Anth to set the tone, he has to hire his own manager. Him working with Cito is a death-wish, especially considering Cito has played the game, and is old enough to be his father. If the Jays keep Cito aboard, all bets are off.

@ psamms: The good Canadian boy cannot fail. Think about how happy Richard Griffin must have been Saturday night - a fired Ricciardi, and a 32-year-old Cdn replacement. Holy shit.

@ Schultzy: The logic is foolproof.

@ TOBOF (Toronto's Only Baltimore Orioles Fan): First and foremost, congrats on the sweep. That was clutch baseball. And I'm really not big on the "Retardi" moniker. In all seriousness, I don't care whether there is Canadian content/talent on the Blue Jays. I just want the best baseball players. And, when you look at J.P.'s record over the years, he's able to find talent. His talent is scouting. I'm not going to complain that the Jays missed out on great talent while he was at the helm, because I don't believe that's the case. But, I think you make a good point still, and I'm interested to see what GOOD CANADIAN BOY Alex Anthop will do on the Cdn side of things. Also: MMMM, STEAK.

@ William: I work with TOBOF; you guys play nice, or I will turn this car right around. And I agree: Gaston's gots to go. I don't believe it was J.P. who delivered the "plant job," but there's too much unrest in that clubhouse for Cito to continue. And at this point, I'm picking Butterfield and Arnsberg, as a tandem, over Cito.

@ KK: Dick Cheney's team...that's a good question. A scary question. I'm privy to pick either the Yanks or BoSox, b/c much like Cheney, they both represent evil.

Marge Schott said...

He looks too jewish.

eyebleaf said...

Oh, Marge. You'll never change.

William said...

Okay Eyeb, {{holding out a hand to TOBOF}} I apologize.

Marge Schott said...

I know a good doctor who can fix J.P.'s nose. He's the same one who "fixed" Theo's nose.

TOBOF said...

We cool, William.

Eye - there's still a regional advantage they could be taking care of. On top of finding players (who are likely to become huge favorites of the fans), the Jays having a greater presence in Canada's amateur baseball community certainly wouldn't hurt box office.

SP said...

To be fair, I've heard Beeston and one other person also using "the player". It might be some kind of fucked up Rogers thing.

Garrett Bauman said...

I'm with you, eyebleaf. JP was the easiest scapegoat for many to pick, but the problems with the team went far beyond him.

I am one of the extreme minority who think he handled the Halladay trade properly ... what people don't realize about that was, the media were going to break the story of him trying to deal Halladay. Either deny it and face the heat if you do deal him, or be up front about feeling out the market and face the heat for trying to move a star player. What's worse?

The contracts were a part of his downfall, although seriously, could he predict after making those deals that his budget would get slashed by 20mil a few years later? No. Did anyone call Vernon Wells' contract excessive at the time it was signed? No, it was actually praised at the time.

But, as we all know the glory of hindsight rules this town. Many a fan prefers to take the easy way out, and point to mistakes that could not have been seen as mistakes at the time those moves were made.

And on that note, when Lind and Hill, Snider, Romero, and all the other JP picks lead this club to the playoffs, will he receive any credit? Of course not, everyone will conveniently forget the good moves that were made (a la Floyd Smith with the Leafs) and simply heap the credit on whoever happens to be in charge at the time. The saddest part is it will be the media leading that charge ... so it goes.

I believed in JP Ricciardi, and I still do. Here's wishing him the best of success in his future baseball endeavors.

Ken Rosenthal said...

I feel like being a prick today, and this is the perfect place to be one, especially in response to this thread post.

I will now rank, and evaluate the long list of Jays bloggers, from worst to best:

1) Hum and Chuck: Joanna thinks she's smart. But she doesn't know shit about baseball. Neither does her Dad.

2) All Your Base Are Belong to Rios: Great name. Too bad the illiterate fuck can't write anything.

3) Blue Jay Hunter: A like-able little man, although his analysis is weak. Very weak.

4) Sports in the City: A parrot, like no other, who parrots the other, smarter bloggers, who are also parrots themselves. A wannabe "rudey", or "rude bwoy", if you will.

5) Bluebird Banter: A collection of stooges who think they know it all, but really know shit all.

6) Drunk Jays fans: Worn out, high-horse sitting motherfuckers, who breed more hate than a Sudanese militia during Ramadan.

7) Ghostrunner on First: Thinks he's super witty and smart, but his wit and dark humour are of the corny variety. And oh ya, FUCK ROCCO BALDELLI.

8) The Southpaw: Sound analysis and great minor league information, although he can't spell, or construct a proper sentence to save his fucking life.

9) Batter's Box: The oldest, and best Blue Jays blog, if you want to fall asleep or lapse into a coma like the old cunts who contribute to it already have.

10) Tao of Stieb: A real treat for anyone looking for a good mix of analysis and wit, although his multiple-personality disorder was getting old in 2008.

I know, there are many other Jays blogs, but they are less significant than a Ken Takahashi signing, and they can all fuck right off, because I don't read their shitty "articles" anyway.

I will however, give a big shout out to MLBastian and Mike Wilner, who actually have some clout, as opposed to you clowns who parrot them for attention. Oh ya, Go Jays Go is also legit, as its contributor knows how to shut the fuck up.

Thank you, and fuck off Parkes.

eyebleaf said...

I hope you feel much, much better now Ken.

Ken Rosenthal said...

Much better. Thank you.

eyebleaf said...

That's what the internet's here for, pal. To make people like you feel better about themselves.