Toronto Baseball Guys
Monday, October 12, 2009
  ALDS Game 3 - St. Jeter Strikes Again
Nick Punto had barely been tagged out at third when the words were out of Chip Caray's mouth that Derek Jeter had made yet another spectacular play.

That's just wrong.

Al Gionfriddo robbing Joe DiMaggio at the fence is a spectacular play.
Willie Mays tracking Vic Wertz' drive 460 feet is a spectacular play.
Devon White slamming into the wall to start a near triple play is a spectacular play.
Pretty much anything Brooks Robinson did in the postseason is a spectacular play.

Spotting an idiot baserunner and then throwing him out does not qualify as a spectacular play.

Jeter's already a god in New York, will be a 3,000 hit man, and is a deserving Hall of Famer. He really doesn't need to pad his resume with such fluff.

Thankfully, the TBS colour guy - Ron Darling, I believe - was rational enough to realize that the play was far more about Nick Punto's mistake than it was about Jeter's inherent greatness.

It helped that Carlos Gomez had run the Twins out of an inning in Game 2, thus providing the TV pundits with an easy, connect-the-dots narrative for the series:

Simply put, the Twins would likely still be playing baseball if not for their own bad baserunning...

... and the inability of the umpire whose sole job it is to call fair and foul balls to do so correctly
... and the fact that the Yankees play in a park with the approximate dimensions of a phone booth
... and A-Rod's new masking agent

Ok, so there are SEVERAL reasons the Twins aren't playing baseball any more. Derek Jeter's defensive wizardry is not among them.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009
  Job Tips For J.P.
It's unlikely that J.P. Ricciardi will land another position as a major league General Manager, but if he should find himself in such a media-intensive situation again, here are some pointers on how to answer certain questions:

Scenario #1) Radio show caller asks about the possibility of acquiring Adam Dunn.

Recommended Answer: He's a talented player, but we've had no discussions regarding him, and we like the make-up of our outfield... (continue to praise the efforts of your personnel at the major league level, while touting the potential of those in your minor league chain).

NOT: Oh no, you don't want him - that guy has no heart, he'd be a terrible fit.

Sure, answer #1 is kind of boring, but it doesn't a) offend a player and his organization, thus making that player an unacquirable asset, and b) force you to spend a lot of time and energy making apologies and clarifying the ways in which you acted stupidly. What if the market had gone soft this past winter, and the Jays had had the opportunity to land Dunn on a 1-year/$6 million type of deal? Those 38 homers would have looked awfully good in left field and more than compensated for the fact that he's a blundering lummox in the outfield. Of course, that could never have happened, because now Adam Dunn hates you.

Scenario #2) The trade deadline is coming up and you guys aren't in contention. Would you trade Roy Halladay?

Recommended Answer: Roy Halladay is the heart and soul of our organization. We're not remotely interested in trading him.

NOT: Well, we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't listen to offers.

Answer #2 has the benefit of being absolutely true. It also chums the water for rampant media speculation and results in relentless trade questions and rumours for almost a month. Of course it's your job to listen to trade offers, but you don't have to broadcast that. You simply dismiss all rumours flatly. Then, if you manage to land Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ and other shiny objects, you can grudgingly give the "they blew us away with an offer we simply couldn't refuse" mea culpa at the post-trade press conference.

Scenario #3) B.J. Ryan is listed as day-to-day. Is it anything serious? And isn't that Dr. James Andrews standing over there?

Recommended Answer: It started off as some mild discomfort. We're concerned that it may be something more serious and we're taking all precautions and exploring all avenues.

NOT: Nah, he's fine. Dr. Andrews? Oh, he's helping me install some drywall this weekend. (to be followed two days later with:) Oh, B.J.? Yeah, he should be getting out of surgery about now.

Lying about Ryan's condition wasn't going to make it any better, but it helped to alienate a group of reporters who didn't care much for Ricciardi in the first place. Some of them had been calling for his head since about the 3rd minute after he arrived back in 2001.

Ironically, he was too honest and too deceptive, just at the wrong times. He was a Moneyball guy, a book whose premise was "you can win without money if you're smarter than everyone else." Coming from that background, you had better win or be really likeable, or you're going to be the butt of jokes about computers and spreadsheets.

Ricciardi came off as too slick and too confident for media tastes (and based on his treatment in the Toronto Sun, he may have skullfu**ed Steve Simmons' cat). He downsized the scouting department, axing many of the traditional scouts that beat writers love.

None of the scenarios above cost Ricciardi his job - but they certainly complicated it. Ultimately, he was fired because the big moves he made - the high-risk, high-reward moves - failed. He was gutsy with a pretty good eye for talent, but in the end he just didn't win.

Ricciardi did make out better than fellow Oakland alum Paul DePodesta, dubbed "Google Boy" by the L.A. media and run out of town after just a year helming the Dodgers. With no playoff appearances in eight years running the Jays, and Moneyball a fading memory, J.P will be hard-pressed to land as prominent a post again. If he does, he'll have to watch his mouth.

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