The debate over Lawrie’s lack of composure in high-energy situations received a major charge following a confrontation in last Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. Lawrie became irate following a strategic in-game decision of third base coach Luis Rivera to hold Adam Lind at third base. Lawrie, denied an RBI (which would push the Blue Jays within one of the Orioles), stormed of the field, slumped down heavily in the dugout like a child having a fit. Baustista and Gibbons addressed him immediately and the rest is history. Reporters diagnosed it as a ‘meltdown’. They said Lawrie does not understand the unwritten laws of the game he plays and that his display of emotions in the public light was inexcusable and may cost him his position on the team.
But when the time comes, if Anthopolous’ major gamble pays off and the Jays find themselves playing baseball in October, the fiery competitor in Lawrie, burning at both ends, may just be the answer the team is looking for. Yes, Lawrie’s outburst, yet again, was ill timed and unprofessional, but he is being paid half-a-million dollars to feel the urgency to win games, no matter. It should be the job of the manager, of John Gibbons, to control and harness Lawrie’s volatile energy to uplift his ability. After Gibbons’ reaction following the ‘meltdown’, I would say he understands his duties and is not shirking them.
Good managers are able to take the imperfections of their players’ characters and turn them around for the betterment of the team. Had Joe Torre not been able to focus David Wells on the task at hand, before Wells’ own agenda, the dynasty-bearing Yankees would have had a major problem. Torre had a similar problem with Wells. There were times when the infield might make an error on a hit and Wells would throw his arms in the air in open dismay. Selfishness, right? But on a good day, Wells had an indispensible gem of a left arm. He won games. He won a World Championship. Torre took Wells’ chemical imbalance and shoved it in other teams’ faces.
To simply call Lawrie selfish, is to overlook a major characteristic of what we expect our professional teams to be. We want our teams to win, but then we chastise our players when they demonstrate a mentality that is not complacent when they are losing. Maybe Lawrie is the only one to notice that this Blue Jays team, projected as a World Series contender at the beginning of the season, is not playing to its expectations.
I do not think there is anything to criticize with Lawrie’s display of emotion, other than it exhibits a metric ton of built up tensions. Tensions the entire team must be feeling, with a record under .500%.
Yes, maybe Lawrie is a mad dog, but the fans and the media should embrace his nature and be swept up in his ferocity to win, not sweep his actions under the rug and label them anger mismanagement. Let the Blue Jays deal with internal matters. And when the time is right, release the mad dog upon other competitors. Because Lawrie’s attitude towards winning can lift this team.