“Gritty Gibby” – A One-of-a-Kind Beauty

John Gibbons is set to depart the Blue Jays organization at the conclusion of this season, one that will see the Blue Birds miss the postseason for a second consecutive year.

It seems like only yesterday Jose Bautista was taking Sam Dyson deep to left, no? Preceded by Russ Martin’s off-the-bat throw that resulted in Texas stealing a run and had an entire country demanding an on-the-spot rule amendment — DON’T CHEAT US LIKE THAT, MLB! A year later, who could forget watching Edwin jump all over Ubaldo Jimenez, sending a muffin fastball to Scarborough as Zach Britton watched comfortably from the Oriole’s bullpen?

…the following series, a rematch with the Rangers, ended with Josh Donaldson’s miraculous headfirst slide into home, resulting in a sweep and marking the true beginning of what is still a one-sided playoff rivalry.

Three glorious memories. One not-so-good, though thankfully Joey Bats was there to save the day.

In every case, the Rogers Centre crowd could be heard from outer space. What a wild f*cking ride it was, two years of playoff magic on the heels of 21 straight seasons spent on the outside looking in. Watching Estrada pitch what was likely his final game in a Jays jersey yesterday brought back memories of his clutch 2015 ALCS Game 5 performance:

Anyways… – *wipes away tears*

What I’m struggling to come to terms with the most is the impending departure of “Good Guy” John Gibbons…for a second time! Admittedly, this time is harder because there were more positives that came from the tenure, compared to the first.

For all his faults — none of which I am willing to address here — John Gibbons is a genuine dude. Going off what I see, not what I know. I’ve never met the man but I have a hard time believing he isn’t a first-class beauty, top-to-bottom, start-to-finish. He’s a Texan and as such I’m sure we’d have our differences, but the fact remains we’d have plenty more in common.

As a baseball manager, Gibby is an acquired taste though many players have spoken at lengths about his ability to relate and connect with them, making their daily lives as pro athletes easier and as stress-free as possible. Like I said, he just seems like a good ****ing dude. Something tells me he’d struggle to stay on top of things in the National League; too many on-the-fly decisions required…not ideal for JG, a man unquestionably in favour of a more methodical pace:

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I can only speak for myself, but I was always interested in what he had to say, before, during, and especially after a game. Most managers — and players — are boring, preferring to feed gazing eyes and ears the same tired old clichés and verbiage, rather than share their true feelings and opinions on relevant matters. Not John Gibbons.

Gibbons, like most coaches and managers nowadays, was blamed in times of grief and turmoil, and largely ignored when “the sun was out” and all was fine. Players often get credit for wins but when things take a turn for the worse, suddenly it’s the manager or coach not pulling their weight. Welcome to professional sports. Even golfers fire their swing coaches and caddies when they see their game regressing…remind me again who’s swinging the club?

Ultimately, results are dictated not by a manager, a coach, or somebody with a yardage book, but by those wielding the actual ball-hitting device. In Gibbons’ case, success came down to how his cast of professional baseball players performed each and every game. For the most part, they competed, say with the possible exceptions of Ted Lilly and Shea Hillenbrand.

To his credit, Gibbons understood when it was appropriate to call out a player by name to the media, and every time he did such a thing, it was a move made with his ballclub’s best intentions in mind.

He won’t be remembered as a tireless student of the game, even if such praise is inherently deserved, thanks to one very simple fact — the man, for a time, played baseball at the highest possible level on planet Earth (so what if he only had 57 plate appearances).

John Gibbons’ legacy in Toronto comes down to authenticity. He came as advertised. He never hid his true self, going so far as to fight one of his players after a dispute on the mound, hence the term “Gritty Gibby” — throwing down with one of your players in the clubhouse is, by definition, grittyyyy.

Could the native of San Antonio have spent more time studying advanced metrics? Sure, it’s possible, but that would’ve given him less time to do YouTube’able interviews. Plus, baseball, at its core, is a simple game. Hit the ball…catch the ball. Screw WAR. And bunting is for pu**ies by the way. I’m finally ready to admit that, after years of calling for Gibby to “MOVE THE RUNNER OVER!”

Whoever takes over the team next season will have big shoes to fill, and how they are judged will ultimately come down to wins and losses, I get that. But I’ll be paying close attention to how they navigate the complex landscape of Toronto along the way, as it by no means is an easy thing to do, day in and day out. Winning another World Series is the ultimate goal, and when the day comes, Toronto will celebrate accordingly. I guess all I’m saying is it would’ve been oh so sweet to have won one with Gibby at the helm. To me, I can think of no cooler “boss” to party with after winning your chosen sports’ grandest prize.

Toronto is gonna miss John Gibbons, regardless of where their baseball team goes in 2019, and beyond.

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