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“How’s your dream job?”
That is the one chant that will unquestionably be chanted by over 40,000 Blue Jays fans tonight. And rightfully so … John Farrell has officially become public enemy number one in Toronto.
John Farrell returns to the scene of the crime this evening, coming back to the place where he cut his teeth as a manager. Needless to say he’ll receive anything but a warm welcome, as some are attending this game for the sole purpose to give Farrell a piece of their mind.
Not very often does one person alone bring people down to the ballpark, but tonight will be the exception to the rule. In previous years, some former Blue Jays have received their fair share of jeers, but often times it wasn’t all that warranted.
The most recent one I can recall was Alex Rios’ return at the Blue Jays Home Opener in 2009. The funny thing the Blue Jays were the ones that traded him away, and yet he was booed as if he asked for a trade. Let’s not forget … Alex Rios being dealt to the White Sox lead to Jose Bautista becoming the everyday right fielder.
Then there was A.J. Burnett, who opted out of the final two years of his contract with the Blue Jays could test free agency. To be honest, at the time I harboured a little anger towards Burnett for the decision, but frankly now I can’t blame him for doing what he did.
Despite the dislike for former Blue Jays like Alex Rios, A.J. Burnett and even Eric Hinske, it pales in comparison for the vitriol that exists for John Farrell. The difference is the disdain for John Farrell is completely warranted.
Whether Farrell wants to admit it or not, he essentially turned his back on the Blue Jays. I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment his heart left Toronto for Boston, but you could argue that it was never in Toronto in the first place.
It may have been difficult for Alex Anthopoulos to sniff that out in John Farrell’s initial interview with the Blue Jays, but AA must have had some inkling that Farrell would at some point want to head back to Boston down the line.
Perhaps the front office was a little preoccupied with hiring the next big baseball mind rather than going for the guy who was the best fit for the job. Anthopoulos even noted that the second time around, he went with his gut in hiring John Gibbons.
In retrospect, looking back at some of the events that transpired with the Blue Jays last year, it’s clearly that John Farrell lost control of the clubhouse. So when players like Omar Vizquel were taking flack for not stepping up and policing the team, the finger should really have been pointed squarely at John Farrell.
One thing I wanted to ask Alex Anthopoulos at the State of the Franchise back in January is “what was the tipping point was for the 2012 season”. I wanted to know what the catalyst was for the blockbuster trade with the Marlins and the acquisition of R.A. Dickey.
What was the one thing that set it all off? Personally, I believe it was the John Farrell trade that set the wheels in motion.
It wasn’t necessarily one of the lowest points in the Toronto Blue Jays franchise, but the optics of it were horrible. 2012 was a season where anything that could do wrong, did go wrong; and the cherry on top was John Farrell all but asking for a trade to division rival.
Things don’t get much worse than that.
But maybe that low point in the franchise was the catalyst for everything else that happened this offseason. Because the Blue Jays certainly owed it to the fans to go out and do something after that nightmare of a season and the Farrell debacle.
I think the reason why so people have so much hate for John Farrell is not that he took the Blue Jays manager job in the first place, but that he pit the Blue Jays and Red Sox against each other for his services.
Farrell put the Blue Jays in an impossible situation; either they had to carry on with a manager who clearly didn’t want to be there, or they had to trade him away to the Boston Red Sox.
John Farrell simply used the Blue Jays as a stepping stone to get to his dream job in Boston. And that kind of move deserves every boo, jeer and hiss it gets this evening … and beyond.
For the first time in a long time, there is a certified villain in Blue Jays Land; and his name is John Edward Farrell.