Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi and Philadelphia GM Pat Gillick are dirty, stinking liars.
First Gillick lied about the severity of closer Tom Gordon’s shoulder injury, claiming in spring training that there was no injury and after a couple of reporters ran into Gordon on his way to the doctor.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Clearly, the Phillies’ 39-year-old closer was not right during spring training. As it happened, he flew home from Florida for a medical exam on the very same day a couple of reporters, including The Inquirer’s Jim Salisbury, were flying north to attend the memorial service for John Vukovich.
If the reporters hadn’t seen Gordon in the Tampa airport that day, no one would have known about his trip to Philadelphia.
The Phillies clearly planned to pretend it never happened. When they got caught trying to sneak Gordon to their team doctor, they pretended it was not a big deal.
More recently, Ricciardi revealed the Jays were not up front with the media and fans about closer B.J. Ryan’s injury, which he suffered during training camp. Ryan is now on the 60-day DL. When he was first diagnosed, the team claimed he had a back problem. Now, the story has changed.
From the Winnipeg Sun:
“First of all, it wasn’t B.J. Ryan’s back that was bothering him,” Ricciardi said on the radio. “It was his elbow that was bothering him. So we said it was his back so we could have a bit more time.
So what’s up with teams inventing stories to mask their players’ injuries? What’s to be gained?
In the Phillies case, it may be that they felt they needed to honor a promise to Gordon to give him every chance to close.
The Phillies promised Gordon he would be their closer when they signed him to a three-year contract that now appears a tad over-optimistic. If you break promises like that, word gets around. Future free agents might be less willing to come here if they don’t think they can take your word.
In the Neverland of guaranteed baseball contracts, no one seems to factor in harsh realities such as sore shoulders and diminishing returns. The Phillies felt obligated to honor the code until Gordon, following his own code, stopped trying to pitch through his physical problems and admitted he was hurting.
But why not tell the media that, yes, Gordon is hurting, but he’s going to try and pitch through it. Why lie?
Why did Ricciardi lie about the nature of Ryan’s injury?
Moreover, why do fans get upset when general managers lie? Do we feel we have a right to the truth? Why? Because we pay tickets? Because we pay taxes on stadiums?
All I can think of is, fans want teams to be honest about player injuries so that they can know how loud to boo when that player struggles. If a player is pitching through an injury, we’ll boo less heartily than if the player sucking for no good reason. If we boo a guy really loud and it turns out he was playing hurt, we feel bad. And GMs should do their best to spare us that guilt.
Is that too much to ask?