Monday, October 5, 2009

The Man-Child: Today's Pro Athlete - Part 1

*I refuse to use the new logo*
Well, another Blue Jay season has come to an end.
On Friday, news broke that there were some unhappy campers at "Camp Blue Jay". Really? There are unhappy players on a team that had a losing record, and missed the playoffs...again! That's not news. News would be if the players held a weekend long victory bash to celebrate their 75 wins.
According to "sources", the reason for the teams collapse and subsequent "bad vibes", is none other than: Two-time World Series champion manager, Cito Gaston.
Now, I beg to differ. The problem is NOT Cito Gaston. The problem is a group of players that flat out haven't performed. And, I have a serious issue with crappy athletes blaming successful managers for their failures. At some point, a professional athlete needs to be accountable for their own level of production.

But when ever things go bad, most athletes are very quick to "toss the leader under the bus", rather than fall on their own sword. And, unfortunately, the whiny under-performing athlete usually "wins"...because it is simply easier for upper management to get rid of the coach.

Now, as this blog was being put together, I found out that General Manager JP Ricciardi had been fired already. That was certainly expected and a very reasonable decision. After all, he did assemble this collection of players. But, he is NOT to be blamed completely, for this season. Sometimes, as is the case here, the players simply don't do their job!

The "news" about Cito and his dysfunctional clubhouse, was brought to the public's attention by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports. When I first began writing a response to that article, it was to be a Blue Jay focused blog. However, I quickly realized that this wasn't so much a Blue Jay story, as it was a window into the minds of today's professional athelete, as a whole. And so, I found myself, not simply defending Cito Gaston, but ranting about athletes in general.

Now, there are a few players, in every sport, that are throwbacks to another generation. A generation where professional athletes, although playing a child's game, carried themselves like men. These "old school" players are NOT the ones I have issue with. It is the "new school" graduate - the whiny, spoiled, cowardly man-child - that I feel is ruining professional sports.

So, although I'll be referencing an article (which will be in italics) about MLB's Toronto Blue Jays, I think you'll find that my rant easily extends to every team in every sport.

Here are:
7 problems I have with today's professional athlete:

Problem #1: Today's athletes are cowards.

The players are fed up with Gaston and do not want him to return next season, according to multiple major-league sources. "It's nearly a mutiny right now," one source says. "He has lost the entire team."...

I am getting sick and tired of hearing anonymous sources complaining about things. Athletes love being able to hide behind the "off the record" promise. There is a place for when studying a police line-up, but if you're a professional athlete who has a beef with your manager, then stand up like a man, say it and claim it!

And actually, the "real man" way to do it, would be to approach the manager and tell him face to face. When someone speaks anonymously to the media, it is quite likely, that they have never approached the person they have issue with. Too many athletes orchestrate coups in private, only to act publicly surprised when their leader is be-headed. Cowards!

Problem #2: Today's athletes can't handle criticism.

The players' primary complaints are Gaston's lack of communication, old-school approach and negativism, sources say...(Gaston) led the Jays to a 51-37 finish last season after the team started 35-39 under Gibbons. This season, despite a reduction in payroll...the Jays were in first place on May 23. It didn't last. Once the team started losing, Gaston became impatient with his players, sources say. The players, in turn, began tuning him out...

From the time Gaston took over a losing team, until May 23 of this year, this collection of players put together a record of 78-51. Cito took over a floundering team and managed a .600 winning percentage over 129 games - and 91 wins over his first 162 (full season). That is no small sample size, and it is a pace that hasn't been seen since the championship years of '93 & '94. Then, all of a sudden...the wheels fell off. Cito's fault? Please.

Are you telling me that Gaston, became a different person after May 23? C'mon! The man is 65-years old. He's a baseball lifer. I don't think, for one moment, that his "old school" approach, his communication style or his demeanour changed one bit. Whoever he was being and whatever he was doing was working. So what happened?

Well, aside from a deficient pitching staff...I'd say it was a bunch of coddled professional baseball players who, while getting paid millions of dollars to play at a certain level...all of a sudden stopped performing (to go with those who never did perform)! And then...Gaston told them so!

And the players wilted! Criticism, even when warranted, is the Kryptonite of the modern professional athlete.

"You told me I'm doing good, so I'm not going to listen to you! Nah nah!" "Please, someone make the bad man go away!"

Problem #3: Today's athlete wants popular decisions, not right decisions.

Last Sunday, Gaston was critical of reliever B.J. Ryan, whom the Jays released on July 8. Ryan, despite his struggles, was popular with his teammates. Gaston was quoted as saying, "Even when I was here last year, he didn't excite me."...
Gaston's quote about BJ Ryan didn't go over well...with Ryan's "friends". After all, "He's a nice guy, how can you say that about him?". I know how he can say it. BJ Ryan didn't excite anyone last year. And he didn't intimidate anyone either. Ryan was no longer able to do his job effectively.

This is not a recreation league where you bring all your "buds" with ya. This is professional sports. The goal is to assemble talent, not a kumbyah circle.

It doesn't matter how popular a player is in the locker room. If Mother Teresa was my Closer, and she couldn't get people out anymore...she'd be packing her bags.

Well, this has become a much bigger rant than I thought it would be. So, you'll have to check in TOMORROW to read Part II of:

7 Problems I have with today's professional athleteHave a good one,

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