North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

A Completely unacceptable situation

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It was the same story all over again – but hopefully with a different resolution.

When Shea Hillenbrand exploded in the Jays clubhouse, it signaled the end of his tenure on the club. After all, calling the team a “sinking ship” and almost coming to blows with your manager would end your employment almost anywhere.

So when Ted Lilly got angry on the mound during the third inning of tonight’s game against the A’s, almost everybody had the same thought on their mind – “Not again!”.

(Although, there was a loud, bald man sitting right behind me whose thoughts were elsewhere – like how he felt it was necessary to explain to his kids that the Jays don’t matter because they’re “Never in the race”… Or to the 20-something guy next to me, who felt the need to talk to his girlfriend about everything – his at-bat music (Golddigger by Kanye West), what the K means on the scoresheet, what’s behind that wall with the 200 painted on it… )

But it didn’t look too bad – while I could see that Lilly wasn’t about to go down without a fight (okay, so maybe he pouted like a kid in house league – it’s still a fight, by baseball standards anyway) I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined what would happen next:

John Gibbons came out of the clubhouse with (allegedly) a bloody nose.

That’s right – Ted Lilly may have hit his manager – or at least that’s the angle that the media’s already jumped onto.

I refused to blow a fuse /
They even had it on the news /
Don’t believe the hype…

Public Enemy – Don’t believe the hype

For both his and John Gibbons part, Lilly has said that his behavior was completely unacceptable – and Gibbons has said that the fight never took place… But if indeed John had a bloody nose (from my spot on the foul line, on the A’s side of the field, I never saw anything that made me think Lilly was going to hit Gibbons, or even do anything more then sass him) then this is indeed a completely unacceptable situation.

For a team that went into this season with such high hopes – the Jays signed new pitchers, got some big bats and were finally looking like they could contend with the big boys of the AL East – this season has been less then spectacular. We’ve seen big names go away (Hillenbrand, Hinske). Major players have been gone with injuries (Chacin, Burnett). And some people have just been busts (Towers) or, at best, just hot-and-cold (Janssen). With all the fighting that’s been going on, it’s no wonder that Vernon Wells wants to leave – if it’s this bad in public, imagine how chaotic the clubhouse must get.

So yes, it’s not too soon to say the this season is pretty much wrapped up – the Jays are 10 games back of the Yankees as I write this for the AL East lead and are 7.5 (and behind LA, Minnesota and the Red Sox) games back of the Wild Card White Sox. And while it’s entirely possible that the Red Sox could go on a 14 game losing streak, the Twins could get stranded on a mountain and the Angels could vanish in Area 51 – the Jays still wouldn’t win the Wild Card – and the AL East… Well, let’s just say that it’s way beyond reach and leave it there since I can’t say positive things about the Yankees unless I’ve had a few drinks first.

It’s not as if the season has been a waste though – the Yankees and the Red Sox have had to whip out really good seasons just to be in the top two spots. Hell, with a little luck the Jays could very well go above the Red Sox in the standings (they’re only back by something like 3.5 games). Toronto has finally proven that they can compete with the big boys – and if they can get the clubhouse settled down, Toronto would seem to be a good place for a free agent to land: it’s not a media-centre like Boston, where even the smallest details get discussed to death by obsessive fans in the media… And it’s not New York, where you’re always in the spotlight (for better or worse).

And if Wells wants out – then maybe the Jays should make a move for a pitcher (I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: get Javier Vasquez. Sure, it’s not as if the White Sox want (or need) Vernon Wells, but at least put it out there. Try and get Wily Mo Pena as the “Player to be named later” in the Hinske trade. Bring back the Boomer – David Wells. He doesn’t have to pitch… But bring him back anyway. He can toss BP, drive the bullpen car or just be a spokesman – just bring him back, please.

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Written by M.

August 22, 2006 at 12:47 am

Posted in baseball, MLB, toronto

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