August 9, 2009
On numbers alone, J.P. must go
By STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA
Gord Ash was fired after finishing third four consecutive times with the Blue Jays. And nobody argued it wasn't the time.
J.P. Ricciardi, in his eighth season in Toronto, will finish no better than fourth out of five in the American League East for the second consecutive year.
And, should he be fired, no one will argue about that, either.
It does get old, all these seasons of spinning wheels, going nowhere.
Ash was on the job seven years, and left behind Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and Orlando Hudson for his successor. Twice Ash finished fifth with the Jays, fourth once and four times in third place.
Ricciardi will leave behind Adam Lind and Aaron Hill and Ricky Romero for his successor.
In eight seasons, his Jays have finished fifth once, fourth twice (we'll include this season), third four times and once in second place, and led the league in excuses just about every season.
The timing on Ash's firing was appropriate and necessary.
The time to get rid of Ricciardi is now.
This and that
Ricciardi is outraged because somebody breached confidentiality in the Rios waivers scenario. And well he should be. Ricciardi, for example, would never breach confidentiality by going public with trade demands, or making certain large news agencies are aware of his every move, or hanging his most popular out to dry by revealing private conversations. Nope, he wouldn't do that ... The NHL is in a no-win position with the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes. The league doesn't want anything to do with Jim Balsillie and the alternative is a lame-duck franchise in a dead market. So, what's the plan, Gary Bettman? ... What does it say about Nikolai Zherdev, when he's only 24 years old, is one goal shy of 100 in the National Hockey League, is a free agent, and only teams with 10-foot poles want to touch him? ... Things you didn't see coming: Ed Belfour, goalie coach; Todd Stottlemyre, financial market wizard; David Ortiz, druggie ... It's Halladay's desire to pitch in the post-season, and if that's the case he's going to have to toughen up and get used to being swamped by the media (something he detests) and get used to pitching under pressure (the Blue Jays are 1-7 in his past eight starts).
Hear and there
It isn't remarkable that the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992. What's remarkable is they repeated a year later without Tom Henke, Jimmy Key, David Cone or David Wells ... The Jays' World Series bullpen in '92: Henke, Duane Ward, Wells, Mike Timlin, Key (who started one game), Stottlemyre and Mark Eichhorn is as deep and complete as any bullpen in history ... Weird that Jack Morris is being honoured with his World Series pals in Toronto (assuming he has any) on the same day John Smoltz is released by the Boston Red Sox. Morris and Smoltz pitched against each other in just about the greatest Series game ever played: Game 7 1991, Minnesota vs. Atlanta. Morris went 11 innings for a 1-0 win ... One of the great summer trades ever made: Doyle Alexander to Detroit with kid pitcher Smoltz going to Atlanta ... The casting calls are over. The movie Moneyball, with Brad Pitt supposedly starring as Billy Beane, is off.
Scene and heard
Went for dinner downtown Friday night and the Real Madrid game was on every television set everywhere: No Blue Jay reunion screens, no Argos, no Yankees-Red Sox. All soccer exhibition all the time... It's never a good thing for the Argos to be outscored by TFC when both are playing on the same night ... The Argos' real problem: Lack of talent on offence. In a league of supposed playmakers, they don't have anyone who scares anybody ... And who is that imposter playing left tackle for the Argos? Clearly that's not the highly paid Rob Murphy, is it? ... Wally Buono is three wins away from becoming the Canadian Football League's winningest coach. When he gets to 232, only Don Shula, Tom Landry, Bud Grant (combined CFL and NFL numbers) and George Halas will have won more games in the history of pro football ... Another Argos question: Why is NFL star Darren Sproules on their secret negotiation list? Like, do they have any chance of getting a franchise player from the San Diego Chargers? ... I see where Robbie Alomar wants to work for the Blue Jays. Is this the same Alomar who left town insulting everybody and pointing fingers in 1995? Just wondering ... Yes, Jeremy Roenick could talk and make you laugh, but the guy could play, too. A bunch. He's borderline Hall of Fame and may be able to talk his way in.
And another thing
The Vancouver Olympic Committee must be reeling from the embarrassment of having to move the Canadian Olympic speed-skating trials to Calgary because its Richmond oval won't be ready in time for the December meet. The whole point of having an Olympics at home is to provide home-field advantage for your athletes. The fact they won't compete on the Richmond ice before the Games is beyond ridiculous ... Was fortunate to watch the best of Bruce Smith when he played defensive end for the Buffalo Bills. He was Hall of Fame, can't take your eye off him, from the first day he stepped on the field ... An update on Canadian Adam Loewen: The converted pitcher is starting to make some strides as a hitter, batting .313 in August and .284 in July after hitting .182 in May in class-A Dunedin ... The math on Jerry Reinsdorf's apparent offer for the Coyotes is somewhat startling. It goes something like this: He wants $23 million US, or thereabouts, in lease concessions from the City of Glendale, wants to deal Wayne Gretzky out of the game by not paying him his $8 million a year, and get some $15 million in revenue sharing annually from the NHL. In other words, he figures that, with $43 million in handouts, he has a chance to break even ... Wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the surging Tampa Bay Rays end up passing the sagging Red Sox for the wild card spot in the American League ... Happy birthday to Bob Cousy (81), Rod Laver (71), Ken Norton (64), Doug Williams (54), Brett Hull (45) and Deion Sanders (42) ... And hey, whatever became of Tom Underwood?