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Much of the attraction of fantasy baseball (for me, at least) is testing my talent evaluation skills against fellow baseball fans. Many people sincerely believe they could do a better job than the GM of "their" local major-league team, and if they live in Denver or Kansas City, they might be right.

Toronto Star columnist Richard Griffin hates all general managers, it seems. Rich has a short memory, though. He led the mudslinging against former Blue Jay honcho Gord Ash, but now that his cross-hairs are trained on J.P. Ricciardi, has begun to praise the previous administration. In today's asinine column attacking the Red Sox for hiring 28-year-old Theo Epstein, Griffin actually suggests Dave Stewart would have been a better choice.

In another BB thread, Craig B posted his thoughts on Griffin's dubious "logic," and here's my response. I've resisted the obvious temptation to make "Epstein's Mother" jokes, but Griffin isn't kidding. Whatever credibility the man once had, he is systematically destroying with his transparent jealousy and irresponsible vendettas. Count me as one "rotisserie dweeb" who has had enough.
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_Shrike - Thursday, November 28 2002 @ 10:29 PM EST (#101986) #
Wow. You know, it's columns like this that make me glad that I'm located in Vancouver and don't read this columnist--except when his latest hatchet job is brought to my attention.

Now, I'm not saying that the Globe and Mail has a stellar sports section--far from it!--but at least I can get *some* objectivity when I read about the Jays in a mainstream media organ.

It seems that Richard Griffin has only mastered a few cheap rhetorical tricks in his clumsy attempt to chastise the Boston Red Sox organization. He certainly doesn't consider the structure of the Yankees [hire young 31 year-old GM, surround him with experienced advisors] as a success--despite the plethora of World Series championships they've won in the past five years--because the obvious parallels to the strategy the Red Sox are now taking with Epstein detract from the force of his argument.
_Jordan - Thursday, November 28 2002 @ 10:43 PM EST (#101987) #
I think there should be certain preconditions to being a professional baseball writer:

1. You've read Lords of the Realm, the most recent Baseball Prospectus, and any anthology of Roger Angell and Tom Boswell.
2. You never, under any circumstances, refer to the home team as "we."
3. You don't really believe you could do better than anyone whose performance you're reporting.

Even if you could find a writer who met the first two tests, you'd be hard-pressed to find one who could pass the third.

To an extent, of course, every fan is guilty of this: whenever we second-guess a trade or a contract offer, we're at least implying that we know better than the guy who has to make the decisions for real. But it's one thing for kibbitzers like us to play-act the role for fun. For a newspaper writer to (apparently) believe the same thing is a dangerous delusion in his line of work. I think Griffin has convinced himself he could run this franchise more successfully than the current administration (just as he seemed convinced he could outdo Gord Ash). If it was up to him, Tim Johnson would still be managing and Dave Stewart would be the GM, and a better one-two death combo for this franchise I could not envision. I read Griffin now for the same reason I'd read Mother Jones and the National Review: I want to know what the reactionaries are saying. He is relentlessly negative, as is the fashion these days, and after a while that just wears you down.

I have great hopes that this entire Cult of Negativity that seems to afflict society will soon pass away, one way or another. It would be nice if the media led the effort; more likely, though, they'll be trailing the wave, as they always are -- just as Richard Griffin is missing the revival, right before his eyes, of the organization he's supposed to be covering.
_Shrike - Thursday, November 28 2002 @ 11:03 PM EST (#101988) #
Nicely put, Jordan--from his written work it *is* fair to conclude that Richard Griffin thinks he knows the "right" answers to successfully run the Blue Jays. Undoubtedly, this is a delusion, as the mythical "reasonable person" would conclude in a court of law.

But you know what: If you're going to have a delusion . . . why not have a delusion of grandeur? At least it's a really satisfying one, most of the time.

A really good satirical cartoon could be drawn about this. Imagine a fictional courtroom with Griffin as defendant for libel, with the Red Sox as the plaintiff. Counsel for the defense can't use any of the usual justifications (truth, etc.), so tries to establish that her client shouldn't be found liable due to incompetence!
_Matthew Elmslie - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 10:46 AM EST (#101989) #
"If it was up to him, Tim Johnson would still be managing and Dave Stewart would be the GM"

No, if it was up to him Griffin himself would be the GM. Didn't he once write a column to that effect? I just spent a couple of minutes trying to find it, but couldn't.
_Jordan - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 11:23 AM EST (#101990) #
No, if it was up to him Griffin himself would be the GM.

Oof. I'd rather have Dave Stewart. Hell, I'd rather have Annie Lennox. Actually, that would be just fine.... :-)
_Kent - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 11:27 AM EST (#101991) #
Hi Matthew; I enjoy your Blue Jay Way columns and Clutch Hit comments. It's good to know we're being noticed across town.

Griffin's attacks on J.P. are indirect; he went after El Gordo like a hungry predator. Even though I agree that Ash was a "beancounter" who (as anything above assistant GM) epitomizes the Peter Principle, my pre-blog friends will attest that I frequently complained about Rich's relentless, self-serving assault in the guise of criticism.

I am happy that Gord's in Milwaukee. Not only will we be spared his "analysis" on local TV this year, he's a decent guy who is better suited than I am to the dotting of tees and crossing of eyes, or whatever that contract stuff entails. But he can't tell a Frankie Rodriguez slider from a grooved Esteban Loaiza fastball, and worse, for those of us who endured the regime, he believed Dave Stewart could.

My vote for most offensive Griffin column, until he inevitably surpasses it, goes to this one, where he ignores many of Ricciardi's best moves, slips in his first career plug for Ash, and compares J.P. to the "one-hit wonder" scout who found Fernando Valenzuela. The ink was barely dry when the Lidle trade was announced, and it took a few days for the embarrassed Griffin to rev up enough vitriol to portray that deal as insignificant.
_Ryan Adams - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 02:34 PM EST (#101992) #
I remember during the offseason one column where Griffin wanted to become the president and CEO of the Expos (which would have been fine with me, since he would no longer be able to cover the Blue Jays).

What really bugged me was his handling of the Ricciardi out-clause. Anyone who spent two minutes thinking about it realized that it was a non-issue because of the six month waiting period. Ricciardi could have only left for the Red Sox with Paul Godfrey's blessing, and that was something he was not prepared to give. Griffin knew the details of the clause (he reported them himself numerous times), but he never seemed to understand what everything meant. If he had tried to understand it, we would have been spared the witch hunt we had to endure during the second half of the season. It's probably no surprise that Griffin has hardly said a word about the extension Ricciardi received.
_Matthew Elmslie - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 03:11 PM EST (#101993) #
"Hi Matthew; I enjoy your Blue Jay Way columns and Clutch Hit comments. It's good to know we're being noticed across town."

Thanks; I appreciate it. Nice place here.

"What really bugged me was his handling of the Ricciardi out-clause."

The thing that bugs me the most about that is the way some columnists - I can't say for sure that Griffin is one of them, and I don't have the stomach to do the research - are now saying that Ricciardi, by not letting the story drop, used the media attention to pressure the Jays into extending his contract. Uh, guys, it wasn't Ricciardi who wouldn't let it drop; IT WAS YOU. YOU put pressure on the Jays to extend his contract. The smoking gun would be if I could find columns by the same guy, one dredging up the out clause again, and the other one trying to pin it on Ricciardi. But, again, I don't want to go through all that.
Dave Till - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 03:48 PM EST (#101994) #
Hi, everybody - nice setup you've got here, and I'm looking forward to discussing Blue Jays baseball in excruciating depth with all of you. :-)

I have no idea whether Ricciardi was seriously considering jumping to Boston, since Richard Griffin is my only source for this, and Griffin is about as reliable as Worldcom. But I wouldn't be surprised if Ricciardi was shrewd enough to use a potential Sox offer as leverage for a contract extension. J.P. is also smart enough to realize that bailing out of Toronto after only a year would look bad.

If J.P. is shrewd enough to maximize his own earnings, he's shrewd enough to maximize the Jays' potential. (And I like the fact that he seems to have a direct line to Billy Beane.)

As for Gordo: he wasn't *that* bad. He's a poor horsetrader, and he misguessed the market (as did many other GM's). But all the young talent currently bubbling up through the system was developed by Ash, and he resisted the temptation to trade any of his best prospects for immediate help in 1999 and 2000. (Remember when the papers were begging him to trade Halladay for Fernando Vina?)

But, on the other hand, if Gordo were still here, Alex Gonzalez would still be the shortstop, and Raul Mondesi would still be in right field.
_Kent - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 05:06 PM EST (#101995) #
My guess? The Jays wouldn't have forced their GM to be an unwilling lame-duck for six months (taking a player in compensation, perhaps) and the mutual interest was legitimate until J.P. changed his mind.

Ricciardi has dreamed of the Red Sox job for years, but the more he examined the gutted farm system, and considered how much less autonomy he would have, the more he appreciated his current situation. I can't imagine Paul Godfrey interfering with J.P.'s player assessments, or "pulling rank" if the GM insisted a player deserved a lucrative deal. Larry Lucchino is more hands-on, and likes to surround himself with a lot of advisors. Ricciardi pal Brian Cashman has navigated similar waters quite well, and it may be an ideal situation for Theo Epstein, but J.P. clearly prefers his responsibility (and accountability) to being part of a committee.

Also, the Toronto rebuilding plan succeeded, beyond his most optimistic projections. Hinske, Phelps, Wells and Hudson all became regulars, trades saved millions of dollars, and they are winning back bored and frustrated fans. What looked like a massive overhaul is mostly complete, and the remaining concerns will be addressed far ahead of schedule.

Dave (thanks for joining us) seems pretty sure J.P. is "shrewd enough to use a potential Sox offer as leverage" and he's also clever enough to know where the artificial turf is greenest.
_Ryan Adams - Friday, November 29 2002 @ 05:38 PM EST (#101996) #
I saw Ricciardi's ambiguity this way: since he's been in Toronto, he's been very honest, almost to a fault. We've seen this in his dealings with the players and with Buck Martinez. When asked about the Red Sox job late in the season, Ricciardi's response would always be something like "they haven't discussed that with me yet or approached me with an offer." Based on what we know now, that was the truth. I think his honest nature prevented him from ruling out the Red Sox job completely, since there was a good chance they would be knocking on Toronto's door at some point and there was no way of knowing what exactly would happen.

Based on what I've seen from Ricciardi so far, I don't think he used Boston to get a better deal for himself in Toronto -- I think he was just being himself by trying to be as truthful as he could be.
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