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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Griffin: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons Unplugged

Yikes! This is longer than the full text of the Gibbons v. Ogden opinion! #toot-toot

RG: So you just didn’t go back to the Mets (after ‘01). You didn’t want to be there anymore.

JG: Yeah, I’d been with the Mets as Triple-A manager for three years. (Bobby) Valentine was managing at that time. Every year they were going through at least one coach, maybe two. I didn’t get one of the jobs and, I mean, that’s the way it goes. He wanted one of his people. But usually a Triple-A manager slides in there after a few years. That didn’t happen.

So, I applied again that following year after the 2001 season. I think Valentine was looking for a third-base coach. They called and said, we don’t need an interview. We interviewed the year before. Then I didn’t get it, so I told them, you know what, I’m going to move on. It’s time. It’s no big deal. (Mets beat writer) Marty Noble called me and wrote an article and (GM) Steve Phillips called me the day after it came out and said ‘I think we definitely need to part ways.’ I told him, ‘Well I told you that’ (laughs).

Billy Beane was out in Oakland and he always told me when I was in the Mets system as a coach, to keep in touch. He said if you ever want to come over and are looking for a job, just let me know. So I thought that was my ace in the hole. But around this time (when I quit), I hadn’t even checked with him. He told me and I didn’t think he was bullshitting me.

They were having some success at the time. I can remember with J.P. (an assistant at the time to Beane with the A’s), they were in New York playing the Yankees in the playoffs and I walked up and said, ‘Do you guys have anything over there?’ And he goes, ‘No, we don’t’ (JG laughs). I thought, well, OK. So J.P. started making some calls around the game for me. Nothing broke.

Let’s see, I had two weeks left on my contract with the Mets. I had been living in New Mexico for a couple of years and had just moved back to San Antonio. I had three kids and just bought a new house and had two weeks left on my job. So, yeah, I needed to find something.

Repoz Posted: February 10, 2013 at 07:42 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays

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   1. JE (Jason) Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4366503)
This was a really enjoyable interview.

Here's what preceded the above excerpt:
RG: I'd like to do a small exercise with you. I have a list here of John Gibbons post-playing career jobs that you have had. If you could respond whether you applied for each one or not.

JG: OK. I can do that.

RG: Jays bullpen catcher.

JG: No.

RG: Jays first base coach.

JG: No.

RG: Jays manager – first time.

JG: No.

RG: The contract extension with J.P.

JG: No.

RG: You didn't demand an extension?

JG: No (laughs).

RG: Royals' bench coach.

JG: Yes.

RG: San Antonio manager.

JG: Yes, I had a couple of people call (the Padres).

RG: This time around as Jays manager.

JG: No.

RG: That's pretty good. That's a pretty good record of landing on your feet.

JG: Yeah. You know that (Jays) bullpen catching job. When (J.P.) got the (Jays' GM) job, he was helping make calls for me because I'd walked away from the Mets and the Triple-A team because I wanted to get closer to home with my family. I would have taken an A-ball job, anything.

And here's what came after:
One day I called Beane and he told me, 'Hey, I'll call you back. J.P.'s having a press conference (in Toronto).' That's when (Ricciardi) got (the Toronto) job out of the blue. My thought was, you know he's been trying to help me find a job, he should at least have something over here for me. I don't know what it is but I need something. So, he called me back and he said, 'Hey, listen, we've got the third base coaching job here and the bullpen catcher.' I don't even remember if he said bullpen catcher right away. He said, 'I'm bringing in Carlos Tosca up here.' They had a connection from the Yankees. He said come on up and interview. I said alright.

So I went up there and met with him and Buck Martinez. At the end of the interview they say, 'Well we have the bullpen catching job. Do you have any interest there?' I said, 'No I can't do that.' I'm going a little better than that. Right then I realized, well, they've already settled on this (as the best offer). There goes my coaching interview. So I get home and I'm thinking, damn, you know I need a joB. I've got 10 days left. So, I called him back.”

RG: Basically at the time you would have qualified as a minority hire in that you're an idiot for quitting your Mets job before you had another one lined up.

JG: (laughs) Exactly. So I call him back and I say, hey, you know what, the more I think about it, it makes sense. I've spent my whole life as a bullpen catcher and now I'm going to do it again. So, he gave me that job. I go to spring training – I haven't squatted in 10 years – the first day my knee breaks down. So now I'm the only bullpen catcher in the big leagues that can't catch. I remember Greg Myers was there. He was ragging me too. Tom Wilson and those guys.

Honest to God, I'd be down in the bullpen catching, once the season starts and it's, man, we've got 10 guys (warming) up every game. We're getting beat down pretty good. Nobody can get anybody out and my knee's killing me. I'm catching on one knee. I thought, I might not be able to make it to June. I can't do this. Maybe I should get into scouting. I may have to go to J.P. and say something. Then June came around. He ended up firing Buck and putting in Tosca to manage. I took over at first base. That's how it all started. It was a relief physically and professionally.

RG: The good thing is you didn't have to go to one knee too often coaching first base.
   2. Ellis Valentine's Bright Future Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4366504)
Not usually a fan of RG - I have often found his stuff agenda-driven and he has been old school to the point of ridiculous in the past (especially when JP was GM). I vowed to stop reading him completely and have mostly stuck to this rule. However, this was a good article. Maybe he should stick to interviews and story telling.

There are probably very few people on the planet who have the knowledge base he does when it comes MLB in Canada (given his Expos time). I wonder if he could write a book that I would want to read.

As a Jays fan, I am pleased with the Gibbons hire. In the article he discusses how the biggest mistake he can make is trying to control every little thing. He seems a good fit for this team who will let the players play while still being very direct and building an open culture, It is February so blind optimism is absolutely called for.

Interesting story of a life in baseball.
   3. depletion Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4366506)
Every year they were going through at least one coach, maybe two. I didn’t get one of the jobs and, I mean, that’s the way it goes. He wanted one of his people. But usually a Triple-A manager slides in there after a few years. That didn’t happen.

This is the case for a lot of minor league managers, apparently. Ken Oberkfell was managing the Mets AAA for a number of years and never got a coaching job. This probably isn't a good sign for the organization. Either the man isn't major league coach/manager material and you've kept him on a long time, or he is and you can't pull the trigger and bring him up.
   4. Matthew E Posted: February 10, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4366775)
Not usually a fan of RG - I have often found his stuff agenda-driven and he has been old school to the point of ridiculous in the past (especially when JP was GM). I vowed to stop reading him completely and have mostly stuck to this rule. However, this was a good article. Maybe he should stick to interviews and story telling.
I've found that too. When he goes and talks to people, he writes very good stuff. Every spring, there's usually a few very decent Richard Griffin articles. I also like him when he talks about the Expos. It's his own analysis and commentary that gives him his well-deserved poor reputation.

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