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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Even In Tragedy We Can’t Escape Our Awful Conversation

Bob Elliott is a legend, and I’m not going to win many friends by picking on him a little bit here, but let’s talk for a second about this passage in his Roy Halladay tribute piece for the Canadian Baseball Network:

This off season he wanted to work with Blue Jays minor leaguers. He applied — yes Roy Halladay was made to apply for a job with the Blue Jays — with the high performance committee.

And then the decision whether to hire him was kicked upstairs.

The Jays did not hire him. Instead, he was re-hired by the Phillies to work with their young pitchers.

Now, it’s not really relevant whether or not I think it’s appropriate to drop a bomb on the hated front office in the obituary of a franchise legend who was just killed at 40 years old, but it’s hard to argue that’s not what this is. I have a hard time believing Mr. Elliott is oblivious to how this information is going to read among the faction of mouth-breathing cretins in his audience who are constantly desperate to find any possible hint of fault in the people running the Blue Jays and explode it into a giant steaming shit-pile of resentment.

Granted, he can mostly be absolved of any malice here because it’s merely a fact (a disappointing fact, I’ll admit), and — hopefully — because a reasonable person would recognize that the Jays can hire whomever they want, no matter how loudly certain members of the media want to present themselves as self-appointed HR managers for the club. A reasonable person would also recognize that it’s entirely possible that Halladay’s views on working out or on sports psychology simply didn’t jibe with the methods or beliefs of the Jays’ High Performance team, and that the Blue Jays are under no obligation to give someone — even Roy Halladay — a job just because he wants it. Nor should their hiring practices be dictated by fear of what fans or media might freak out about. A reasonable person might recognize that no one in their right mind would have thought that last spring would have been the last time the Jays would have had the chance, too.

But, of course, the conversation around this front office these days makes it really difficult for a lot of people to be reasonable. Over and over and over fans are being told, sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly, and reinforcing among themselves, the idea that the people running the club they love don’t know the history, don’t respect the history, don’t respect the country, are not one of us, or simply don’t care.

It is really, really, really, really, really fucking tiresome.

And yet it persists.

Sure, it persists partly because of genuine missteps, but it persists even more so because what might be small missteps — or not missteps at all, just things that have the air of misstep, or can be spun as either misstep or tone deafness — get seized on because there’s such a receptive audience for all things negative about Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, and because with each “incident” the narrative grows louder.

Right now fans are understandably frustrated. This week in particular they’re hurting badly. Many have already lost their centre when it comes to thinking like actual human beings about the front office. And so when you nudge them in a particular direction, it’s not hard for what feels like half the herd to start stumbling to where you’re pointing.

The power to do that, as far as I’m concerned, is maybe a little too often not being used in a way to enlighten and serve those fans, but to reinforce their worst, shittiest instincts, and to continue to dehumanize the people running the club (i.e. to poison fans’ relationship with the thing they just want to fucking love and enjoy). I can’t say I believe that’s the intent most times, but it’s certainly sometimes the result. So much so that many of the worst things it’s believed about these people are practically taken as a given at this point. Look at how casually this nonsense was tossed off, for example:

Now, I’ve met Bruce, I like Bruce, and I think he’s great at what he does, but huh? The Jays were maybe a little oddly slow at first, but very much not absent, for one. And for two, the “heartless” trope? Seriously? And we’re really turning social media mourning into a litmus test? And declaring that the Blue Jays have not met some imaginary standard? (Fortunately there was some good push-back in the replies to these tweets, but still.)

Bruce and Bob, who I both have tremendous respect for, are far from the only voices in this conversation, so I hesitate to single them out, especially for such small things, but these are really just a couple very fresh examples. Examples of fans being all but openly invited to think the absolute worst about the people running the club — and, in these cases, at the a time when it couldn’t possibly look worse. And the thing is, it’s sometimes not so simple as a fact being a fact and therefore being fair game to send spinning out into the world. What gets highlighted, what doesn’t get highlighted, the way things are presented, and the way they’re allowed fit into the prevailing narrative about the club — it all matters. And it’s that stuff, more than the things we’re supposed to be angry about, that actually irks me here.

That’s because too often when it comes to this front office it feels like people — fans mostly, but sometimes media get in on it too — have been kicking and kicking and kicking for so long that they don’t even remember why they started kicking in the first place. There’s nothing particularly coherent about what a great many people think of this front office, it’s just constant unthinking bashing in one very easy, very obvious direction. I shouldn’t have to tell anybody why that’s bullshit.

Fans deserve a good faith conversation about what’s really going on with the team. I deserve to not feel I have to be out here on an island defending them. I don’t especially want to do it, and it’s not my job to do it. And reporters deserve the ability to say negative things about the team without me feeling the need to shit on them for it! Even I would love to be able to say, without worrying about what further dumpster fires of thought I’d empower or validate, that of course it’s dumb that the Jays didn’t hire Roy Halladay, and outrageous that they made him apply. I’d maybe even like to say that their initial response to Halladay’s death was disappointingly, yet predictably, underwhelming and perhaps indicative of the fact that the recent firings were a mistake and that they may genuinely have their heads up their asses when it comes to how to fix their enormous PR problem. But there are more than enough people out there willing to say all that anyway — and to say it far more often, and much more venomously — and not nearly enough saying what I think is the far more useful thing at this stage, which is: can we maybe lay off here, resist the urge to stoke fans’ resentments as they mourn, and then maybe actually think for a second about this stuff, and about the tenor of our conversation about the front office and whether it’s remotely fair, reasonable, or in any way makes sense?

Can we maybe not single out a couple choices we don’t like, play dumb as to how reasonable people may have come to them, ignore or dismiss everything about the front office that doesn’t fit what we want to think (like the barely reported fact that, after some recent additions, the club now has more Canadian scouts than at any point since 2002, for example), and then walk around acting like the people at the top of the organization are self-evidently some kind of force for everything negative and wrong and dreadful we can imagine?

That’s hyperbolic, obviously. But, seriously, It feels that way sometimes.

Now, believe me, I understand that there are a whole lot of people who are with me on all this, too. I don’t want to be just as cartoonish here in the other direction as some of the fans’ beliefs and pathologies I’m trying to describe. But it’s bad out there. It’s really rather frustrating and dispiriting sometimes. And — though these are far from the first people I have sympathy for this week — I can only imagine how it must feel to be in the front office, having to sit there and take this stuff — to have people who don’t know you at all constantly assume the worst, and to have it affect your job, your family, and perhaps even your mental well-being.

Some, I’m sure, would say here that the onus is on the front office to win back trust. And it’s absolutely true that the Blue Jays need to quit making it so easy for people to shit all over them — didn’t hire Roy Halladay! Jesus fuck, guys! — but I think that stopping there ignores how badly stacked against them the conversation has become in some corners, how much enjoyment some people get out of keeping it that way, and how comfortable so many fans have become in their total mistrust and willingness to believe the worst. It also takes time. So should we just accept that this is the way fans are going to think about these people for that indeterminate period? Maybe it’s inevitable that they will anyway — some I’ve interacted with I don’t think will ever come around — but, to me, that’s not reason enough to not call out bullshit when I see it.

Yes, I know, we can’t all appreciate this front office. We all don’t have to. There are always going to be people, rightly or wrongly, who can’t stand the things that any front office does, or who have legitimate disagreements. Shit, last month even I wrote a piece ranking the club’s trades and free agent signings in the Shapiro-Atkins era, and didn’t pull any punches when it came to the numerous bad ones. Bad things will happen. Mistakes will be made. But hopefully we can all appreciate that there’s a conversation about this team and the things it does that is worth having with everybody, not just those in our little faction, and that it’s not worth allowing that conversation to be poisoned by blind, unthinking negativity, and petty grievance, at what sometimes feels like every. single. fucking. turn.

We’re all much better off in our understanding of this sport, this team, where it’s going, and the people behind the Blue Jays, when we aren’t insisting that their motivations must either be completely inept or in atrocious bad faith — or feeling we have to drag people away from those notions and back to reality. But it’s hard when so many fans seem genuinely dead set against hearing anything but. And especially hard when such ideas are, if not being outwardly stoked, sometimes being allowed to fester in certain corners of the media.

What fixing it requires, I think, is diligence. Diligence in our willingness to avoid falling into the trap of lazy negativity, and diligence in contributing to the conversation in such a way as to avoid making this shit worse.

Yes, I’m sure the vast, vast majority of people are capable of being far more reasonable than I’m probably making it seem — especially among those actually on this website, reading this piece. But it truly sucks the way this conversation so often goes, and it sucks to watch the animosity people have for the people running the club they want nothing but to love continue to snowball over things that, with a little bit of effort, would look far more justifiable than they allow themselves, or are nudged to believe. A little understanding would go a long way toward changing all this. Maybe this is the wrong time to ask anything of fans, and maybe this is all too much to ask of them anyway. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of reporters, though.

  • Jayme

    This was a really good, impassioned read. Thanks Andrew.

    It’s a shitty situation all around. I don’t understand why Elliot would have sat on that info, or why he only came out with it the day after Halladay’s death. It’s awful reporting on his part as well as being a shit disturber at the most inappropriate time. The flip side of that coin is – it’s another ridiculously tone deaf decision by the front office. If Roy Halladay wants a job in any facet of the organization up to the importance of, say, field manager, you give him the damn job.

    There is plenty of blame to go around here, which is a recurring problem.

    • El Cabeza

      How do we know when Elliott received this intel? Maybe Doc’s tragic death pushed someone to loosen their lips to the media when they haven’t/wouldn’t otherwise. If he did know about it when it occurred this is definitely a really shitty time to bring it up. And you’re right – ridiculously tone deaf, starting with the application – who needs a resumé from one of the franchises’ GOAT especially after he signed a one day to retire a blue bird? I’m very interested in the FO’s explanation on this.

      • RationalJays

        If Mr. Elliot’s statement that Mr. Halladay was applying to work on the High Performance Staff, then a resume should be required regardless of who you are. This isn’t a guest instructor position, it is a position on a staff of highly-educated doctors and sports science experts.

        Here’s the team:
        Director: Angus Mugford, PhD and Master’s in counseling psycholgy and sports science
        Assistant Director: Clive Brewer, Master’s in sports science
        Head AT: George Poulis, Master’s in Sports Medicine, Doctorate of AT Education
        Head Physical Therapist: Nikki Huffman, Doctorate of PT
        Head of Mental Performance: Paddy Steinfort, Masters of Psychology
        Head of Nutrition: Stephanie Wilson, PhD in Psychology, Master’s in Sports Nutrition
        Head Physician: Jason Smith, Medical Doctor, residency with James Andrews

        I could go on, but my point is, anyone applying to be a member of the High Performance Staff (as Elliot states Mr. Halladay did) should have to send in a resume.

        • El Cabeza

          Dear Mr. RationalJays,

          You have no idea what the role under this department may have been. You can list more ‘heads’ with degrees, but that still doesn’t change anything. Again, I’m looking forward to the FO’s explanation.

          • Nice Guy Eddie

            Like the FO is going to issue an ‘explanation’ in the wake of a tragedy, and discuss why they chose not to hire a person, with a family, who just perished. Detached much from reality?

        • GuzmansCurls

          “I’ve always been hesitant to entertain a former player without any formal education doing this kind of work,” Miller said. “Sitting down with Roy, he really changed my mind about it. For a few reasons. One is the 13 years he spent with Harvey Dorfman. He knew Harvey’s work forward and backward. I don’t think many former players were that devoted to it. And the other piece is that he was so humble. He was very quick to recognize where his limits were in the work he was doing and to ask for help and seek additional knowledge. He was just so interested in helping others.”

          http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/roy-halladay-plane-crash-phillies-minor-league-players-mental-skills-coach-20171110.html

        • The Original Mark

          And none of them have won shit.

          If they didn’t want Halladay, that’s their prerogative, but you don’t make a legend hand in a resume. You know who the fuck he is and what his qualifications are.

      • Barry

        ” who needs a resumé from one of the franchises’ GOAT”

        Elliot says he was told to apply … but that doesn’t mean a resume was involved. “Apply” could mean he talked to someone and they said “You should talk to Mr/Ms X in the High Performance Department. Here’s the email address — send them an email and tell them what you’d like to do with young players. They make the call on this. Best of luck!” That would be, technically, asking him to apply.

        And also note that Elliot also says that Doc “applied” for the Phillies job.

  • RationalJays

    Thank you for this.

    There’s so much wrong with the reaction to Mr. Elliot’s statement (which is clearly in the article to intentionally mislead fans).

    First, he doesn’t mention that Mr. Halladay was a Blue Jays guest instructor before leaving for a job with the Phillies.

    Second, Mr. Halladay choosing to be re-hired does not in any way say the Blue Jays refused to hire him. Mr. Elliot seems to have intentionally worded his article so it would seem that way without actually saying it. If I applied for a job with two employers and then chose one opportunity over the other, that does not mean the other employer refused me.

    Third, the Blue Jays don’t have a ‘high performance committee’. They do have a High Performance Department made up of experts in the field of nutrition, sports medicine, and sports psychology. If Mr. Halladay was applying for the position of Head of Mental Performance and the team decided to retain their current Head, who has a master’s degree, is a best-selling author, and teaches Master’s level courses on Applied Psychology, I don’t blame them.

    Fourth, Mr. Halladay stated after being ‘re-hired’ by the Phillies that he was looking forward to continuing the part-time, volunteer position that allowed him lots of time to spend with his family, his charitable endeavors, his hobbies, and the teams he coached. A position with the Blue Jays High Performance Staff is an incredibly intensive position that requires constant travel with the team and relocation to Toronto.

    It simply doesn’t seem logical that Mr. Halladay was after a High Performance position with the Jays nor is there any evidence suggesting the Blue Jays refused to hire him. It seems very obvious that Mr. Elliot chose to put that dig at the Blue Jays in what was otherwise a nice tribute to the life of Mr. Halladay out of spite and to try to stir controversy, and he has succeeded.

    • RADAR

      Hmmm. Not so fast.
      Clearly intentionally misleading fans?
      I think Stoeten said in the post.- “Granted, he can mostly be absolved of any malice here because it’s merely a fact”.
      Elliott said he was made to apply, when rejected, he applied and was accepted by the Phillies.
      Shapiro has the right and obligation to hire whomever he wishes, that’s his prerogative.
      The rejection of a player, who signed a one day contract just because he wanted to retire a Blue Jay, does raise some eyebrows.
      Halladay didn’t have the resume to be the head of the HP Dept. I doubt that was the position he applied for.
      I find it curious that Shapiro rejected Halladay when other teams seek him out.
      Daniel Norris, of the Tigers, sought Halladay’s advice, on the recommendation of his pitching coach, to solve his problems. Out of all the people in baseball, out of all the people in the Tigers organization, the one person they determined who could help Norris was Halladay. But he’s not good enough to be part the Jays? It seems the Phillies disagree with that assessment.
      So here we are, Halladay’s celebration of life is being held at Spectrum Field, spring training home of the Phillies while Jays fans are left wondering which gate they can go to so they can offer a tribute to one of the greatest Jays ever to don the uniform.All because there is no direction from Jays front office.
      Instead of bashing those who question Shapiro, how about looking objectively at some of his inactions/actions.

      • Philbert

        While I don’t disagree with most of what you’ve said here, I think it would make sense for a lot of people to take the words “those who question” out of your last sentence.

      • RationalJays

        “Elliott said he was made to apply, when rejected, he applied and was accepted by the Phillies.”
        That timeline doesn’t make sense. Halladay was already working for the Phillies, so it simply isn’t logical that he applied for the Jays, didn’t get the job, then had to apply for a job he already had with the Phillies.

        More so, Elliot did not say that he was rejected by the Blue Jays. He said “The Blue Jays did not hire him. Instead, he was re-hired by the Phillies…”.

        If I was offered a job by two different companies, and chose to work for Company B over Company A, you could write the exact same sentence. “Company A did not hire me. I was hired by Company B.” I wasn’t rejected by Company A, they just weren’t the company that hired me.

        That’s why I said it was misleading. He doesn’t say nor offer any prove Halladay was ‘rejected’, but when you read it, it’s a conclusion easily made by an angry fan. It feels like a quite intentional dig against the front office in what was supposed to be a memorial to a fallen legend.

        “But he’s not good enough to be part of the Jays”…Halladay was a guest instructor for the Jays before taking a similar position with the Phillies. Take a look at the resumes of the High Performance Staff. It’s a collection of Masters Degrees and Doctorates. There’s a huge different between being a guest instructor and being a member of the High Performance Staff in Toronto. If that’s what he applied for, as Elliot states, then I’m not upset he was not hired. With Mr. Halladay stating himself that he enjoyed his part-time instructor position because it allowed him time to be with his family, charities, and hobbies, I frankly don’t think it’s accurate that he was trying to get a full-time, travel-intensive High Performance job that would have required relocation to Toronto.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        “So here we are, Halladay’s celebration of life is being held at Spectrum Field, spring training home of the Phillies while Jays fans are left wondering which gate they can go to so they can offer a tribute to one of the greatest Jays ever to don the uniform.All because there is no direction from Jays front office.
        Instead of bashing those who question Shapiro, how about looking objectively at some of his inactions/actions.”

        What complete hubris. You have no idea whatsoever why Brandy Halladay chose Spectrum Field and yet that is supposed to be the ‘fault’ of Mark Shapiro?

        What is really pathetic is people who use a tragedy to ride their petty little anti-FO hobby horse,. Ride Radar, Ride!

        • RADAR

          Ahh Eddie. You’re such a lovely little troll.
          The Jays, as an organization, could have taken the lead on this yet didn’t.
          Halladay identified himself as a Blue Jay.
          I’m disappointed in the response by the Jays especially when compared to what the Phillies have done.
          Get back under the bridge.

      • Oakville Jays

        It is very difficult to explain why the Jays refused to rehire Halladay or provide any public memorial for Halladay. Are they waiting till spring training?

          • drunk man walking

            If you have been to Dunedin Clearwater, FAES, and the Phillies ST stadium, you would know that Dunedin Borders Clearwater, and the Jays stadium is as close to the Scientology compound which is downtown Clearwater as the Phillies Stadium. (This is for Hentgen’s benefit) Tarpon Springs is a ways up the road. What this has to do with anything I’m not sure. He was employed and very much involved with the Phillies so of course they are involved. That is certainly not a reflection on the Jays

        • mktoronto

          Planning a memorial falls on the family. They make the arrangements. They decide the venue. A memorial is for the communities the deceased were involved in as a way to share stories and grieve communally. In this case, it will be people from their local charities, the teams he coached, and yes, his former coaches and teammates. Because it’s open to the public, fans can come but that’s not what this event is all about.

  • The Humungus

    “And we’re really turning social media mourning into a litmus test?”

    Didn’t we already turn social media mourning into a litmus test? I thought that was the whole point of the anti-mourning “I didn’t know so many people were fans of ‘so-&-so'” memes that shitheads were distributing after celebrities died in 2016. I was positive we’d reached a point in society where if you don’t immediately and aggressively react to everything on social media, it means you don’t care.

    Shitheads are going to be shitheads, no matter how you dress them up. Social media just made it easier for more people to act that way. Apparently we should simultaneously believe anything we read online that confirms our biases, but not be held accountable for anything we say because “it’s just the internet”. It’s a weird time. A bad time.

    RIP Harry Leroy Halladay III.

  • Jeff2sayshi

    I agree and disagree with the sentiment here. I think that it’s all one sided the other way. There is clearly a tone-deafness problem with what’s coming out of the FO, whether that’s intentional or not. They were late with responding to the news, and when they responded it WAS of lower quality than some of the other responses, which can likely be traced back to the firing of what was basically the entire PR team.

    The thing to remember is that it was in the offseason, so it’s not like the Jays could have done a video tribute right away, but it just seems when it comes to the PR stuff they are always shooting themselves in the foot.

    • Barry

      As I suggested in another thread, the slowness of their response may have been related to the mass shuffle in their communications department. That was quite recent, and this is the first “news” item they’ve had to deal with. Timing-wise, they might not have been prepared to deal with something like this, which, of course, couldn’t be anticipated.

      But at the time, sure, it looked a bit bad on them, because the MLB, the Phillies, and several Phillies players had been putting out statements and people were wondering where the Jays were in all this. It almost seemed like it was the Phillies story for a length of time.

      It wasn’t a good look for the Jays at the time, but any criticism should, I think, be mild, and my own criticism was intended to be on the mild side, though perhaps it didn’t come off as such. It was a fail for the Jays, but not one that should have lingering effects. What they should be judged on as an organization isn’t how late their statement was (or the fact that it contained a grammatical error when it finally did come out — ugh). That’s a moment that comes and passes, and it’s about a specific and relatively small part of the Blue Jays organization. What they should be judged on is how they respond going forward. Do they honour Doc in a meaningful and tasteful way? Do they treat his family well as they do so?

  • Buck's Hair

    Excellent piece.

    Being on Twitter as the news was breaking reminded me of why I rarely go on Twitter anymore. I don’t know how you do it man, but keep up the good work and the intelligent conversations.

  • Mission22

    I agree that fans seem to be ready to jump on the front office for every little thing, but I believe the front office brings it upon themselves.

    Shapiro and Atkins have made next to no effort to ingratiate themselves within the fan-base or integrate into the community. This has nothing to do with the fact that they’re Americans; it’s a reflection of their conduct since arriving here. Cancelling the long-running season ticket holder Q&A is Exhibit A of this. And it’s not just the media painting a false picture: they are partially to blame for coming across as cold and distant from the fans and the market itself.

    Look at how beloved Masai Ujiri is with Raptors fans. It’s not just because they’ve put a good product on the court. Masai is genuine, humble, forthright, and extremely active in the local community. By contrast, Shapiro is rarely heard from and comes across as a Gary Bettman prototype corporate-speak robot when he does speak. This regime has brought a lot of the animosity onto themselves.

        • The Humungus

          I missed it because I don’t live in Toronto and I have small kids, it’s not easy to get there on a weeknight.

          I’d love to hear about it, though. (seriously. No sarcasm.)

        • mktoronto

          Were you expecting him to dump secrets? I watched the live stream (which I know wasn’t the whole thing) and I saw someone who was doing his level best to inform fans while not giving away anything that would be detrimental to his dealings with players and other front offices.

    • mktoronto

      Shapiro is rarely heard from? He makes regular appearance on sports talk shows. He did Pitch Talks. There’s a bunch of stories out there about him interacting with fans. It seems more that people are holding against him the fact that he actually speaks using a business framework than looking at his actual interactions.

      • Barry

        Yeah, that’s a weird statement. We hear from Shapiro so often that he’s far better known that the GM … and how often is that the case? Even Beeston, who was not shy about making appearances, was more in the background than his GMs. Shapiro is front and centre to the point that Atkins is perceived as almost an assistant GM.

      • jerjapan

        How is this in any way confusing? Some fans don’t like that Shapiro obfuscates. You can make all the public appearances you want. The issue is obfuscation. Sorry to use big words around here, Stoeten usually has a problem with that.

  • willy112

    Remember when the Jays were bad, and how the narrative around the team was “The dome is a crappy stadium…the clubhouse is void of leadership…waa waa waa, piss on everything/everyone.” Then mid-2015 happened and all the sudden the discourse was rainbows and unicorns (not really, but let me make my point.) Now they’ve come off a poor season and the offseason so far has consisted of zero interesting news/rumours (sorry Jay Bruce) and now the death of a franchise icon.

    Retire Halladay’s number, put him on the level of excellence, have everybody wear his number 32 on March 29 vs the Yankees and sign Shohei Otani to be the majors only SP/OF/DH, and all of the sudden the whiners will be drowned out by a cacophonous roar of true Blue fans ready to rock the Dome in 2018, and win one for the Doc.

  • Hentgen

    Many of the issues that caused a stir I don’t really give a damn about and I have been willing to give the front office the benefit of the doubt more often than not.

    But.

    Not hiring Roy Halladay is as ridiculous as it is inexcusable. Of course the organization should care about what the fans think — without the fans, there is no team. The Jays are in the business of baseball entertainment, which comes with all sorts of obligations to kowtow to the irrational. The team can never survive down years if they don’t have an irrationally devoted fan base.

    That means keeping past greats in the organization and it means saying “Yes” when they offer to help out after retirement.

    Maybe Roy’s death wasn’t the time for ol’ Bob to bring out this nugget. But maybe ol’ Bob was — is — hurting just as much as the rest of us and upset that the team didn’t do right by Roy, the fans, or the prospects, and now it was too late. Now we’re going to get to hear Shapiro and Atkins go on about what a great guy Roy was even though they didn’t do the most simple, basic thing — which is keep a legend active in the organization.

    I have a hard time caring about an organization run by people who don’t care about that organization’s history. It really saps the fun out of it.

    • The Humungus

      Derek Jeter walked in to the Florida Marlins and fired Mr. Marlin.

      This sort of stuff happens all the time. It’s entirely possible that Roy’s philosophy didn’t fit with the organizations. You can’t possibly believe that the reason they did it was to shit on history. And no one knew he was about to die, so right now is literally the worst time to discuss the issue, as emotions are high.

    • RationalJays

      “Not hiring Roy Halladay is as ridiculous as it is inexcusable”

      Mr. Halladay worked previously as an instructor for the Blue Jays before taking a similar position with the Phillies.

      Elliot says Mr. Halladay applied to work for the High Performance Department. The lowest level of education that I have found looking over the staff list is a Masters Degree. Most on the staff have Doctorates and decades of experience. While I would have loved to see Mr. Halladay working for the organization in any capacity, if he truly did apply for the High Performance Staff, I don’t think it’s a black eye for the front office if he was not hired. If he simply wanted to be a guest instructor like he had been previously and was turned down, then I absolutely would join you in being upset.

      • Hentgen

        If Halladay was comically underqualified to work for the High Performance department, then why was he told to apply for them? Why was the application passed up the chain rather than simply saying no?

        And, I’m sorry, but this isn’t like a regular job opening. If Halladay wants to work for the Jays, they can say yes and find a way to do it.

        You’re hanging a lot on semantics and conjecture and you’re saying pretty much explicitly Elliot is misrepresenting things. It’s a lot of leaps of logic for someone claiming to be “rational.” What evidence do you have to prove that Elliot is misrepresenting the truth? Let me answer that for you: none.

        • Philbert

          It would be nice if Elliott could provide some more insight into what actually happened, because otherwise everyone will just believe things they want to believe.

          That first paragraph is a good example. Someone who believes management is always in the wrong will assume it was passed up the chain because he was qualified and they wanted Shapiro to make the final decision, while someone else might assume that they passed it up specifically because he wasn’t qualified but… he’s also Roy Halladay… so they wanted to let the top guys decide.

          • Hentgen

            I don’t really get all this equivocating about “what actually happened.” In either of your cases, the FO made the wrong decision.

            Sometimes greater context will matter, but not a soul here has even suggested a realistic possibility why the FO was right to not hire Halladay.

        • Nice Guy Eddie

          Make up facts much? The article says Halladay asked to work in the HPD, not just take any job with the Blue Jays. For all you know, another job was suggested to him. The point is you don’t know, and this is just making up facts to suit a nonsensical narrative (we’re supposed to believe the Blue Jays just wanted to be unkind to Halladay?? Is that the narrative?).

          • Hentgen

            This is amazing. You criticize me for making up facts (which I didn’t) and then you immediately make up facts.

            You’re right that we don’t know. But your counterfactual is built on the premise that Elliot is lying.

            Which is something that you have NO PROOF of. And yet I’m the one making up facts!

    • Barry

      Elliott fails to provide context. He doesn’t give a reason why the Jays felt they didn’t need his services. We can’t say it’s inexcusable if we don’t know what the process was like or what reasons were given, or what Doc specifically told them he wanted to do. None of that is in the article. It’s lazy journalism from a journalist who should know better. Unfortunately, while there’s a lot to like about Elliott, one thing I dislike is that when he isn’t fond of a front office, he can’t resist pot shots, and this poorly presented pot shot was, in my opinion, a bit of a low-blow in the context of the article he was writing.

      • RationalJays

        He doesn’t even say the Blue Jays felt they didn’t need his services. Being re-hired by the Phillies does not mean he was rejected by the Jays.

        It might just be lazy journalism, but from a writer who constantly attacks the front office, I lean towards the ambiguity being intentional to let fans make the conclusion he wants them to.

          • RationalJays

            And it’s a shame that it’s the one part of an otherwise touching tribute that the fans have latched on to. It’s a shame we’re more focused on bashing the front office than remembering a legend before his memorial service has even been held.

        • Philbert

          A small section of the media, primarily those who were close personal friends with Beeston, has made really effective use of ambiguity when putting out stories about management the last couple years. A lot of people were already riled up the second they found out Anthopoulos wasn’t returning, so, as a journalist, it’s really easy to push them further with nothing more than a vague comment about something to which the reasonable reaction would be “Meh.”

          • jerjapan

            There is one location on the internet where the ‘AA was a victim’ straw man gets repeated, and it’s right here. Years after the fact. Kudos to you, Stoeten, somehow the king of trolls has convinced his people he is the victim of some sort of trolling.

      • Hentgen

        Ah, so the reason the Jays “didn’t need” the services of their greatest pitcher was… maybe he asked to do something unreasonable!

        Right. One of the most respected players in the game was just asking to do something so craaaaaaaaaaazy that the Jays just couldn’t make it work! And Bob Elliot is covering it up while using the incident to attack Shapiro!

        While I’m all for giving the front office the benefit of the doubt, you’re beginning to venture into conspiracy theories to defend the FO. While I’m sure the possibility exists that Roy Halladay’s request was denied because he was being unreasonable… I honestly can’t say I see that being the most likely reason.

        Is that what you’re saying, though, Barry? That the reason it didn’t work wasn’t the FO? It was Halladay?

          • Hentgen

            Why so upset, Barry? I guess getting called out for nonsense hurts your tiny ego.

            No, we don’t have all the details, Barry! Great insight!

            Only problem with hiding behind that fact is that you’re exactly suggesting that the problem could have been Halladay.

            You’re just too much of a coward to actually say it.

            Go on, cuss me out some more. That’s all you have left.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        Barry, RationalJays, Philbert – all good points. Elliot’s article is clearly a ‘red meat’ article written for no other reason than to arouse anger and controversy, and draw attention to himself. Elliot’s retired now, so he’s not really a journalist anymore. If he was, he would have been obliged to investigate whether the explanation. But this is a ‘red meat’ situation – Doc isn’t even in the ground and it would be obviously tasteless and vulgar In that context to ask why he wasn’t hired – so instead Elliot chose a drive-by hit job. I used to respect Bob Elliot. This made me respect him less.

      • Alan

        Using the tragic death of a franchise icon to further his own agenda (regardless of whether the story is factual or not) has to be considered somewhat low brow, especially coming from someone as highly regarded and respected as Bob Elliott.

  • Player to Be Named Later

    I guess I’ll speak on behalf of the braying idiots since I was told summarily to go fuck myself for merely pointing out that the bomb dropped in Elliot’s piece made the Front Office look bad. But If I was guilty of something wasn’t it merely pointing out the patently fucking obvious? It looks terrible! Narratives are powerful. And they take on a life of their own, as you say. But perhaps you might reflect on the power of one of your own narratives — the one about the zombie hordes of brainless dipshits who, if they criticize Shapiro, must be doing it for no other reason than the glorious taste of bile. I think you need a break from Twitter, my man, we’re not all that bad! (I understand quitting Twitter is hardly possible in your profession.) The real issue here is Elliot. Can you really blame fans for reacting to his assertion? It’s a huge accusation, one that you’ve based a whole post on. There’s a very good chance that Elliot’s decision to drop it now was bound up in the PR firings of guys like Mal Romanin, which were clearly unpopular with the Toronto press corps. And you’re right that it was a weird time to let loose that particular tidbit, a decision that must have been calculated so as to hit with the maximum emotional force. Yet, you bend over backward to remain respectful to Elliot, while kinda’ shitting all over the fans who were simply reacting to a claim that no one can deny was pretty damn big. I’m not on Twitter – quite on purpose – so I can only imagine what hits you in the face everyday. Occupational hazard, I guess. But do keep in mind that we ain’t all that bad…

    • Philbert

      I don’t think people disliking the decision to not hire Halladay is what he’s lamenting here. He’s actually pretty clear about that being a reasonable reaction. It seems like that was just a jumping-off point to rant about the people who are actively looking for reasons to dislike management (oh no, they fired some Canadian people, oh no they hired Eric Wedge and he’s just waiting to replace Gibbons, oh no, they hired someone who used to work for Cleveland). Those people exist, and it’s insufferable.

      There are plenty of things management has done that are worth criticizing, just like Beeston and Anthopoulos and every other group to come before them. It’s just odd to have conversations with people who can’t get over the fact that, say, Shapiro/Atkins tried to trade Saunders for Bruce because it would have been a stupid move and they just got lucky that a prospect failed his physical, but they’re happy to turn around and defend the Dickey trade all day.

      I think this is more directed at those people.

        • The Humungus

          I’ll defend the Dickey trade literally any day. For real. Travis D’arnaud was a catching prospect with considerably less shine than the “Matt Weiters World Domination Tour”, thus making him a wildcard at best. Syndergaard was the lowest floor prospect out of the Lansing 3 because there were serious doubts about his ability to develop secondary stuff.

          They were a win now team getting the defending NL Cy Young winner.

          Boom. Trade defended. You can’t shit on trades in hindsight unless they were markedly stupid at the time, and the Dickey trade was not.

          • Philbert

            See, just describing the players in those terms shows a bias right off the bat.

            Your “wild card at best” was also a Top 20 prospect in baseball.
            Your “lowest floor prospect” was also the highest ceiling prospect and a Top 50 in baseball.
            Your “defending NL Cy Young” was also coming off his first above-average season as a 37-year-old and probably should have been viewed as a mid-rotation starter.

            It was an exciting time to be a Jays fan, and the even the Dickey trade itself was exciting, as it seemed like another piece to a bigger puzzle. Beyond the excitement of a team pushing all in, the reasonable reaction at the time should have been “might not look awful if Dickey helps the Jays contend”.

        • Philbert

          See below, apparently.

          Most people I’ve discussed it with seem to be more of the “Well it kinda made sense at the time…” variety. Acquiring Dickey made sense at the time. Giving up d’Arnaud made sense at the time. Giving up Syndergaard as a secondary piece never made sense. It doesn’t take hindsight. It was ALWAYS a bad trade.

          I’ll defend almost any move Anthopoulos made because I think he did a great job. I’ll also defend most of Shapiro/Atkins’s moves so far because most of them have been solid. It can be entertaining sometimes, but it’s frustrating when people seem to feel the need to take sides and ultimately end up with forming ridiculous, biased, factually incorrect opinions based on their love of Beeston and Anthopoulos.

          • Alan

            What is also funny about the hate for this front office is that prior to July 28th, 2015, EVERYONE would have dumped Anthopoulos/Beeston in a heartbeat for Shapiro/Atkins. Memories are short, huh?

  • drunk man walking

    There is an article up on FanGraphs which shows the Jays have the most disappointed fan base in all of baseball about how this season went. That is because they had a team that never looked like a contender. If this was Boston or NY or most any big market team the fans would be calling for blood after a similar season, because wins are the measuring stick for sports teams. Put a decent product on the field and all this goes away. I do not really understand why fans are not allowed to be pissed at the people responsible for putting a 76 win team on the field given 170 M dollars to spend on payroll. The fact that Shapiro has not connecting with the fan base is on him, because he is the face of the organization. If he was putting a better product on the field no one would be whining. Sports writers are in the business of selling content, not doing PR for the team. If the sports writers have issues that is not just a PR problem. They reflect their readers concerns, not the Jays PR department concerns.

    • mktoronto

      Shapiro said all the way along that the 2017 was going to be “threading the needle” precisely because there were so many players on the far side of 30. The moves made last off-season were an attempt to put a better product on the field. That so many got injured or went into the toilet isn’t Shapiro’s fault.

      • drunk man walking

        Since only 2 of them were players he inherited, the rest being on contracts his FO negotiated, I’m thinking that maybe he gets some of the blame, being the boss and all. If he is not responsible, who is?

  • Teddy Ballgame

    Pat Gillick was crapped on for years as “Stand Pat.” Gord Ash, JP, AA…it’s part of the job, and not just here in Toronto.

    You should stop trying to police Jays fandom. It can’t be fun to do and it’s no fun to read.

    • mktoronto

      I remember the Stand Pat years. It wasn’t like this. It’s like there’s a significant part of the media who is just looking for any excuse to paint the front office in a bad light. The other guys were a lot of the time given the benefit of the doubt by at least some of the media. Maybe it’s a product of the new media environment where clicks and impressions are everything, I don’t know. But it sure looks to me like the media want to punish these guys for not being their drinking buddy Beeston.

      • Teddy Ballgame

        I was there too, and the “Stand Pat” knickname did not appear out of thin air – it was coined and advanced by the local media, not to mention in bars across the city. The coverage is more pervasive now due to 24/7 sports networks and social media, but thinking the guy running the team is doing a crappy job is as old and common as the hills.

        The main point – if I am interested in whatever narrative the Sun is pushing about the Jays, I’d read the Sun. I choose not to, and I’m getting close to giving Blue Jays Nation a pass because it seems to be less and less the old DJF point of view, and more complaining about the points of view of other Jays writers and fans. I’m interested in reading what Stoeten thinks. I’m not interested in weekly whinges about what Simmons or Jays Journal or some schmuck on Twitter said. As I said, this trying to police other Jays narratives rather than only worrying about stating his own is tedious and to the detriment of this site.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Excellent article Andrew, and gutsy too. The easiest path would have been to trundle along the moron path – and pretend to be indignant because Roy Halladay wasn’t hired for the HPD, as though an HPD appointment is an honorary position. This FO has by all accounts hired better than well – Ben Cherington, Gil Kim, Steve Sanders, Eric Wedge etc. We’re lucky to have guys running a baseball franchise who actually know how to run a baseball franchise, for the first time since Ricciardi got rid of Tim Wilkens, Chris Buckley et al and replaced them with generic Canadians who wouldn’t be a challenge to him. And who are their critics? Guys who sound like they couldn’t run anything more complicated than a bath.

    It’s a tragedy that Doc died so young. But as one poster points out here, the HPD isn’t a guest lectureship (not that the critics would know what that is, either).

    We’re in a good space for the first time since Gillick left. The organization is being rebuilt, the drafts look good (certainly much better than they’ve looked for more than 20 years), and the franchise is healthier now than it’s been since the early 90’s. Roy Halladay was a great pitcher and a good man. That doesn’t mean that he should have been hired for a position in a department staffed by experts.

    Great article! The ‘Dunning-Kruger Chapter’ of the Blue Jays fanbase will have to move on and find something else inane to complain about.

    • Hentgen

      LOL @ this hilariously condescending comment.

      1. Halladay isn’t an expert, apparently.
      2. Halladay had no right to a job in a department he was told to apply to, apparently.
      3. This random user knows what the HPD does, apparently.
      4. Teams don’t frequently make a point to keep their greats in the organization after they retire, apparently.

      Stoeten, you’ve managed to assemble quite the group of front office sycophants. Are you sure this is preferable to the negative nellies you spill so much ink to counter?

  • chris3251206

    I’m the one who originally posted the link, so I suppose I should explain my rationale.

    First off, there was an additional part of Elliott’s article that Stoeten didn’t post:

    “Halladay was supposed to work with the Blue Jays minor league pitchers (“There are enough guys to help with arms and elbows, I’m going to try and help a pitcher’s head.”) in 2016. Instead he wound up working with the Phillies.”

    Could there be more to the story? Sure. Is the writing here intentionally ambiguous? Certainly a possibility. Is Elliott baiting many fans like me who were grieving the loss of their favourite ballplayer? Maybe.

    That being said, Stoeten’s argument here is a total strawman.

    All I was suggesting in my post is that, if what Elliott said is true, and Roy Halladay wanted to work for the Blue Jays the past two years, so much so that he formally applied for a job, and this organization could not find a position to hire Roy Halladay that was more attractive than the position offered to him by the Phillies, then it seems to me that management really dropped the ball. The adversity that Roy had to overcome in his career, his clear and evident work ethic, and the respect that he clearly had from both his contemporaries and the new generation of ballplayers, would make him seem like the type of person who would have significant value providing guidance to young minor league pitchers, and the type of person you go out of your way to find a spot for in your organization.

    Could there be more to the story that makes the decision more understandable? Certainly, there could be.

    But absolutely no one went on a diatribe against the head office. Myself and one other person who replied to my post questioned the wisdom of a baseball decision that was apparently made by the head office, the same way I would have questioned the wisdom of the head office if a report came out that they passed on signing a free agent player I thought could help the team who wanted to sign with the Jays for a discount.

    What’s so wrong about that?

  • fred2

    One of the things which doesn’t get mentioned by journalists talking about this kind of thing is the frigging *law*, and also the hypocrisy of expecting sportspeople to be treated in a way that we would think was completely outrageous in other walks of life. We accept in most areas that it’s extremely suspect to employ friends and allies without at least the appearance of a proper interview process. But in sport nobody is bothered by the fact that there are all sorts of former-player ‘special advisors’ employed around baseball, who are basically in sinecures to flatter their ego and keep them sweet with former teams.

    There’s also the difference between Canadian employment law and US employment law. The US is the wild west compared to Canada, and it’s much easier to hire and fire who you want for any reason at all. So, I’m not saying the Jays behaviour with Halladay wasn’t shitty, just, you’d need to go far beyond where Elliot went before you could be sure.

    That said, I don’t think journalists have the obligation to consider their dumbest readers when writing, as long as what they’re writing is attempting to be fair and not deliberately inflammatory. Not employing Halladay on the surface looks ‘wrong’ on the basis of baseball’s long tradition of finding ‘jobs for the boys’. I’d like to see Elliot go further and question the ethics of that tradition (but nobody ever does). But, to use a notorious phrase in this context, it’s not out of line to ‘ask the question’.

    • drunk man walking

      Central to your argument is the idea that a player like Halladay, who has spent his life studying baseball related mechanics, and put in famously endless hours watching video, taking notes and training, has in the process learned nothing which might be of use to someone trying to improve their own approach, mechanics or training programs. The assumption that people like Halliday have nothing useful to contribute is utter nonsense. And this has nothing to do with whether they should have hired him or not.

      • fred2

        At no point did I say that. I’m saying that even employing someone extremely knowledgeable without an interview process would be viewed as unethical or even illegal in many contexts, and that Elliot might consider that before jumping to the conclusion that interviewing Halladay was disrespectful.

        • drunk man walking

          I understand the point that you are making, I was just thinking that hiring celebrities to sell product is something that has a long established history. And hiring people who have exceptional skills related to your business is also commonplace. Anyway, sorry to sound dismissive. I was not finding your questioning the legality problematic. I was merely stating what I think is obvious, that the only reason they didn’t hire him was because they did not want too. If they had wanted to, there is no law that could have prevented them from doing so. If Shapiro wanted to hire Girardi, it would happen. If there were hoops to be jumped through they would be arranged, even if the outcome was preordained. City for example refused to be interviewed for manager just to fulfill the regulation that minority candidates be considered. Halliday strongly believed that a he had something to contribute. Essentially Philly agreed, and the Jays didn’t. Also your comment sounded like this was a show hire essentially for the benefit of the fans, as if ex ball players have little of value for money to contribute, which is something that I think is not, as a rule, an accurate description of such hirings.

    • Hentgen

      In point of fact, long-timers and those with distinguished careers are granted special consideration all the time in both the public and private sector and people help their ordinary friends and allies opportunities all the time, too, so I have no clue what you are talking about.

      • fred2

        At no point did I say that. I’m saying that even employing someone extremely knowledgeable without an interview process would be viewed as unethical or even illegal in many contexts, and that Elliot might consider that before jumping to the conclusion that interviewing Halladay was disrespectful.

      • fred2

        That other comment wasn’t meant for you sorry.

        People do it, and there are few effective ways to stop it, and when politicians do it we call it ‘patronage’ at best and ‘corruption’ at worst.

        • Hentgen

          Nonsense. Distinguished and accomplished people get special consideration because they’ve EARNED special consideration. Roy Halladay is an all-time great who had a lot to offer to young pitchers. Just as a former PM gets a job at a prestigious law firm or a top professor does not need to be vetted like a junior hire, this has nothing to do with patronage or corruption.

          It is called acquiring top talent — and a rigid application process is neither necessarily nor inherently a way to avoid “patronage” or “corruption” or any other sort of biases.

  • JonShell

    I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe this point had been made already. But this was a middle-middle fastball for the front office, and they swung through it. I find it so weird. Overwhelming the city with Halladay tributes would have been the easiest thing in the world to do. I just don’t get why they miss the easy ones, especially given how smart they clearly are. If Gilmour or Sundin had died, what would have happened? We’re they more important to the Leafs? Whatever you think about the response of fans or the media, it’s easy to understand why frustration had built up. And it’s impossible to understand why the front office missed such a clear opportunity to change the narrative. In a ten minute brainstorm we could all come up with obvious tributes that would have been seen by all the fans, even in the off season. That and, you know, the right thing to do.

  • jerjapan

    Why is the discourse so shitty round here? Because the name on the website is shitty. I recall taking a piss in the bathroom at the Silver Dollar when ‘drunk jays fan’ walked into the room and told everyone he was there. That guy, who made me uncomfortable as shit, is still the guy that runs this site.

  • bigfrank27

    A hell of a lot of wasted verbage here. Boils down to this. Human “feel” – emotions – likeability. These 2 guys just do NOT come across as honest, sincere, friendly. They come across as a pair of sheisters ! Fairly or unfairly fans do not like them despite your protestations. They will never be liked when the team is losing and only MIGHT be liked if/when the team wins. Give folks all the greatest facts and reasoning in the world but………………you can’t make anyone like someone else. Maybe (only with winning) they might grow on the fan base. But right now their likeability needle is sitting at zero. As I said at the outset – plain and NOT so simple human emotions. Call in the shrinks. So be it.