Back to the Future

I joked on the weekend in a tweet that “These days, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a #bluejays press conf where AA, Doc Brown and new Mgr Sparky Anderson got out of the DeLorean.” And maybe I wasn’t far off. The Blue Jays reached into the past and pulled out John Gibbons from the Wayback Machine.

I admit it took me by surprise when the news broke by Bob Elliott, the Hall of Fame writer, with the credentials to trust enough that it was true. But then the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. And the press conference went way beyond my wildest expectations and made me feel even better.

We should’ve seen this coming. But only a couple of people did. But all along Alex Anthopoulos did lay the breadcrumbs for us to follow to at least indicate that Gibby should’ve been part of our speculation. But we missed it. All along he said last time with Farrell (in thinly veiled references) he perhaps made the hire because John Farrell checked off a lot of boxes that he felt he had to have to please the media, fans and the rest of baseball. But maybe the ‘feel’ wasn’t right, in hindsight. He also said that Pat Gillick advised him to always follow his gut and he would this time. He also said that he wanted someone with managerial experience at the ML level. And that “2nd chance guys sometimes work out” or something along those lines. That last statement alone should’ve been the kicker… But we missed it.

And Gibby, showing more charm and humour in a few minutes than Farrell did in two years here says to the media “You guys were way off”. And with that a giant exhale came across Toronto fans and media. Like a collective relaxing after two years of being in the Principal’s Office as Dirk Hayhurst referred to Farrell’s tenure. But it won’t all be fun and games with Gibbons, and I like that. Yes, he had what he called some “dust-ups” with players in the past. And although he was apologetic about it and said it was a black-eye, he pointed out that it didn’t lead to his firing and certainly sometimes players need a kick in the ass. Alex surprisingly echoed his sentiments by saying that he actually didn’t have a big problem with this part of Gibbons game. And with that, I think AA was admitting that Farrell was held accountable more than we thought for the antics in the clubhouse and on the field last year.

However I don’t think that’s the number one reason Gibbons was the choice. There are so many factors. Apparently, the players liked him. He handles a bullpen well. He communicates well. He and Alex get along very well as indicated by a final backslap and big smiles at the end of the presser between the two. These guys are on the same page. And the Jays need that.

And I certainly liked the way he said his job was basically to bring the clubhouse together and just “get out of the way”.

Gibbons looks excited and happy to be here. When Mike Wilner asked “Is this your dream job?”, Gibbons answer was honest, no bullshit and great. He said (and I’m going my memory so maybe not verbatim here) “Well, my dream job I had last year by managing in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas, and it didn’t go so well. But I left that job for this one, so that oughtta tell you something right there…”

And at the press conference, Gibby admitted he’s been following the team the last five years. And it reminded me of how John Farrell was doing that behind-the-scenes in following his first love, the Red Sox. This guy loves the Jays organization, AA, and the city and that also makes him the right guy. He’s devoted. And I’m not sure I can name another guy that would’ve had that going for him — not Ozzie, Acta, Wakamatsu, Cox (haha, great mcguffin there), Alomar Jr… Maybe Butterfield but that window closed long before he left for Boston. No, this makes sense.

So overall, a huge win today for the Jays, Rogers and Alex Anthopoulos. They’ve managed to turn the lowest point of Blue Jays fandom only a few weeks ago into the highest point, outside of Joe Carter jumping around uncontrollably twice, of optimism and excitement. Well done. I have to say I didn’t see it coming and I feel bad for doubting. But then again, maybe us crazy fans and our disappointment actually helped in some small way.

John Gibbons is like us, the fans who are crazy enough to devote so much time to this team and keep blogs, and talk baseball in November regardless of the events of the last week. We’re passionate. We want to win. We want to follow this team, in this city. And we get cranky sometimes, enough that we want to strangle the players sometimes too.

He’s perfect for us. Let’s get on board.

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