What else could possibly happen?
Toronto’s season has been marred by the Shea Hillenbrand saga, Bengie Molina’s vent session about playing time, J.P. Ricciardi’s published rant that criticized the team’s effort, the recent report that claimed Vernon Wells said he did not want to come back to Toronto after next year, and now a heated confrontation between manager John Gibbons and Ted Lilly.
Isn’t this kind of stuff supposed to be limited to the Bronx?
Not a whole lot is being said (liked we’d expect otherwise) about what exactly took place between Gibbons and Lilly in the tunnel behind the dugout. All I know is seeing one lone Blue Jay sitting on the bench, while the others scurried to see what all the fuss was about in the tunnel, was a classic camera shot.
Some photographers near the dugout said they saw Gibbons shove Lilly, grab at his shirt, or something to that effect, and then the pitcher appeared to take a swing at the manager. Both Gibbons and Lilly said no punches were thrown.
There was a TV shot that showed Gibbons wiping his mouth with a towel, while team trainer George Poulis stood by him and looked on. Gibbons said having Poulis talking to him in the dugout was no big deal and team officials said the towel wipe looked like it had more to do with the tobacco in Gibbons mouth than anything else.
There’s one thing that’s certain: Gibbons is gaining national attention for all the wrong reasons. Before this year, he’s kind of flown under the radar as far as big league managers go. Now, it’s been written in papers across Canada and in the States and reported on TV all over that he, A) Challenged Hillenbrand to a fight on July 19 and, B) Got into a fight — whether it was a physical one or not — with Lilly on Monday night.
I don’t think that’s the kind of reputation Gibbons should be gaining. From talking to some of Toronto’s players last night, though, they don’t seem to feel his anger is an issue. Vernon Wells said it shows that he is just a fierce competitor he has a strong desire to win. Jays President and CEO Paul Godfrey said he didn’t see similarities between the Hillenbrand and Lilly incidents.
Many people will probably say this latest episode could cost Gibbons his job, but honestly, I don’t think it will. After the Hillenbrand confrontation, Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi (who wasn’t available for comment on Monday) said Gibby’s job was more secure than ever. If the Lilly incident was merely two guys whose emotions were firing on all cylinders and the fight was a mutual one, which Lilly said he believed it was, then I don’t see Gibbons’ job security slipping much. Besides, Lilly isn’t considered to be part of the plans for 2007.
Anyway, that’s my brief take on the whole situation, which will probably continue to unfold over the next couple days. I’m curious to see what some of you fans think about Gibbons’ outbursts. Keep the comments flowing…