The Toronto media, when it comes to the Maple Leafs, is notorious for planning parade routes after a win, screaming that the sky is falling after a loss, and doing its best to run superstars out of town (see Sundin, Mats).
To a lesser extent, the same is true of its coverage of your Toronto Blue Jays. The worst seems to always be expected of this team, regardless of how they’re playing and how the team is actually being run.
Mike Wilner, of course, is a notable exception. He provides balanced, realistic coverage of the team day in and day out. His thanks? Dealing with callers during his phone-in post game show who are all apparently brainwashed by the prevailing opinion of the local media.
One of the main themes, led by a certain former Montreal Expos P.R. flack, is that J.P. Ricciardi should be fired.
The media (and JaysTalk callers) say things like, “Ricciardi can’t sign the big free agents.”
“He’s a loose cannon. Just listen to what he said about Adam Dunn!”
“He doesn’t even live in Toronto!”
“He’s supposed to be good at drafting players, but he passed over Troy Tulowitzki!”
I’m no J.P. apologist, but some of the arguments levied against the man are just a bit ridiculous.
So now, with the Jays off to a great start and sitting in first place in the entirity of Major League Baseball, it’s good to see that a media figure (other than Wilner) has actually stepped up to give J.P. some credit, even if it is indirect.
Let’s run down some of the people that are doing great things in the first month of a new season.
First, Aaron Hill. He does things at second base that will remind you of Roberto Alomar, meaning his glove work can occasionally take your breath away.
He also leads the major league in hits and is one of several reasons the Toronto Blue Jays are in first place in the American League East. Teammates Ricky Romero and Jason Frasor are on that list, too.
The Blue Jays were only going to go as far as their young pitchers took them, and so far, Romero and Frasor are a combined 5-0, but Romero was placed on the 15-day disabled list this week.
All three players mentioned were brought in by J.P. — Frasor by trade, Hill and Romero through the draft. And yes, Romero is the guy J.P. drafted ahead of Tulowitzki.
But wait, there’s more!
The Blue Jays are a model organization in some ways. That is, they’re forced to build through player development because they don’t have the resources to spring for the big-ticket free agents.
When teams do it this way, even when their scouts are making good decisions, there can be frustration among fans because fans want everything done yesterday.
Once the talent pipeline starts flowing, teams like the Blue Jays — and the Marlins — have a chance to remain in contention for a long time. Nice going, Blue Jays.
Developing their own players, impatient fans, being set up really well for the future, this article pretty much nails the whole situation. (Although a certain “interim” president might disagree that the team is lacking resources.)
So who is this writer who has come to J.P.’s defence? His name, appropriately enough, is Richard Justice. And he’s based in Houston.
You didn’t think he’d be a Toronto writer, did you?