Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Who wears the pants?

Anyone who has been following/blogging/obsessing over the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club over the past few years knows of and understands the unique dynamic that exists between the general manager and the field manager. One is the downhome, aw shucks, good ole boy that the players all love. The other is, of course, the prince of lies. Satan himself even.

It is the classic good cop/bad cop scenario, which usually plays out in the local media thusly:
    Gibby: Player X is my guy in role Y.
    JP: Player X is "in the mix" <-- JP's favorite phrase aside from "don't bite it"
    Gibby: It is Player A's job to lose
    JP: We have a few guys in mind for a variety of roles.
    Gibby: Golly gee fellas, I think we're in a good position this season
    JP: If you ask me that question again I'll use your head as a bucket and paint my house with your brains.
This very exchange played out today with the local scribes, as Wilner details.

I imagine it plays very similarly within the clubhouse. Gibby, the softbellyed players coach that he is, gives numerous votes of confidence and publicly backs his players at almost all costs. The players love him and enjoy his support. JP, however, is a realist. Despite the abuse often heaped upon him, he is a good GM that has improved the team and gotten out from under some horrible contracts. He speaks for the organization, and they are always looking to get a proper return on their investment.

So JP is the visionary and Gibbons is the patsy, assembling his lineup at the whim of the higher ups. In exchange for his dignity, Gibby gets to call JP a cocksucker behind closed doors, and play the "assholes in management/suits upstairs" card with a player once the writing is on the wall. It seems to work, as most players enjoy the atmosphere and rave about the organization.

I believe most of this back-and-forth to be a highly choreographed dance for the sake of little more than optics. Much has been written about JP's casual relationship with the truth and barely masked disdain for the ink-stained wretches who tail his team around the continent. We fans clamber for truth (not that we'd know what we'd do with), raising our ire when we feel deceived or unappreciated, as though we'd been considered at any point during the proceedings. Not that anyone would care were there a parade scheduled for late October.

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