Friday, June 4, 2010

Credibility Pouring from Every Orifice

By now you've likely read about The Fan's curious decision to "bench" Mike Wilner for the weekend after an "altercation" with "The Manager" during a pre-game scrum. John Lott of the National Post has the story and it's a eye-opener. To wit:
Friday, Wilner was absent from the game and his usual post-game call-in show. A source close to the situation said management had “benched” him for the weekend. It was unclear when he would return to his post-game show.

“My only comment is that I have the weekend off,” Wilner said in response to an email seeking comment.
The Toronto chapter of the BBWAA expressed concern to Paul Beeston in a letter, which Beeston promptly ignited and used to light his $40 cigar. When asked for comment on the matter, Beeston claimed he would look into the matter as soon as he finished gazing longingly at the full-sized image of Cito (in full 1992 regalia) adorning his office wall.

It isn't all that surprising that a guy known for petty grudge-holding like Clarence would ask the media relations arm of the ROGERS TORONTO BLUE JAYS BASEBALL PARTNERSHIP to keep Wilner at a distance, but it is baffling that any of the witless suits at The Fan would acquiesce to such pathetic request. The flagship station is clearly more interested in stooges like Eric Smith, Roger Lajoie, and The Enunciator David Alter; who read the commercial copy on time and bend over backwards to agree with every caller.

Wilner certainly has his detractors, and I'm generally sympathetic to him here though I don't accept his version of the events as gospel. If a reporter wants to hector The Manager to his face, that's fine. Publishing a "full" record of the confrontation on his company blog leaves him exposed for this type of corporate backlash. Criticize Clarence the manager fine, but once you start encroaching on the Black Dad Brand, then you're in trouble.

Peep the Segue

The Brand that is Cito Gaston is a tricky thing to pin down. Call me crazy, but were we not sold his ability to coach and instruct young hitters? A guy that would teach them how to play the game at this level while offering his patented confidence boost via consistent playing time. Which makes this quote from The Manager about Fred Lewis a little odd:
“I can see sometimes that he needs some work here or there, but I think that’s something that whoever’s here next year will address,” Gaston said. “The only thing we’ve told Fred is that when the ball’s hit right at you, just make sure you go to your strong side.”
Umm, why wait until next year? Is this part of the lose one now, win two later" ethos? Is the concern filling Fred Lewis's head with so much knowledge that other important things like "remember to come to the ballpark before game time" and "shoes go on feet" might fall clean out of his head?

Lewis has shown, on a few occasions, lapses in judgment or attentiveness; his calling cards back in San Fran. I'm not going to lie to you: I don't give a good god damn. His routes are wacky bordering on cringe-worthy in the field (and his metrics back it up) but I'm having a grand old time with the Fred Lewis Era.

At the risk of venturing off on a dangerous tangent, does the lack of "heady" play by uber-athletic ballplayers like Lewis and Alex Rios speak to a lifetime of poor coaching? Not bad coaches necessarily, but as if often mentioned in the discussion of black quarterbacks, coaches don't devote the required time to guys who make the game look so easy.

Why spend 45 minutes working on outfield positioning minutiae with Fred Lewis when he'll just outrun the fly balls anyway? Why fix the million moving parts and bizarre weight shifts in Alex Rios's swing when he hits one-handed home runs off his back foot? Why teach Vernon Wells to lay off the high fastball when he gets on top of it and drives it out of the park? A dangerous can of worms indeed, one Cito has no interest upsetting.

Shout out to reader Kevin for the tip on the Globe piece. Follow him on twitter @allisauce24


  1. I guess Friday's game is the last one I'll be attending for a while. I'm sick of the way that Rogers Baseball Operations treats its fans, with $5.25 "ticket charges" and $2.50 "print-your-own-ticket charge". Seriously, every online store will ship products to my door for free, but MLB charges to send me an EMAIL?!?

    It's bad enough they brought back Clarence for another eye-rolling, hair-pulling year, but now they deprive us of Wilner for the biggest weekend of the year? His JaysTalk is often more entertaining than the game, and his blog is sometimes the only thing that keeps me sane.

    And to listeners that inexplicably dislike Wilner, get over yourselves. He's right 99% of the time, and you're just bitter that he cut you off.

  2. Exactly. Absolutely no need to write a blog gossiping about what took place. But that's what Wilner does everytime someone in the organization doesn't appreciate something he has done. When Burnett refused to talk to him a few years back he whined and whined about it as if IIII was missing out on something.

    Interesting points on Lewis. Where's Butter at? He seems obsessed with these kind of details...

  3. Although I could never be "for" suspending a member of the media for asking tough questions, part of me can't help but laugh at the situation Wilner has fallen into.

    Don't get me wrong - the guy knows his baseball and I can understand his frustration trying to do a baseball show in a hockey town, but lately I find myself increasingly annoyed with him. His condescending attitude on the air, his whiny blog posts about his medical ailments (sniffles and cysts, if I remember correctly), and last summer's play by plays of his amazing feats in his softball league. It's like he's been a huge nerd his whole life, but now that he's found some "fame" in Toronto's niche baseball market, it's gone a bit to his head....

    I know, I know - I don't need to listen if I don't like his show. But, really, how many other options does a baseball fan have in Toronto?

  4. I was struck by that very quote re: Lewis. It seems like we never hear about work being done in the outfield on defense like we do with Butter and his infielders. Murphy is the outfield coach. Is he conflicted, with the hitting coach tag and too much on his plate? I'd like to know someone is working hard (Players on their own!) to see Lewis and Lind improve out there,

  5. The real story here is not Wilner getting the suspension; where my concern lies is that Rogers is censoring one of its own reporters to satiate their own private motives. Fox News, anyone?

  6. Sports reporters like wilner aren't really reporters... they are just one step above guys like rush limbaugh

  7. Okay, then why would The Fan muzzle somebody they pay to stir up controversy and provoke the audience?


  8. because they don't want people provoked against the blue jays


Send forth the witticisms from on high