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.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.
“My only comment is that I have the weekend off,” Wilner said in response to an email seeking comment.
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