John Gibbons turns 59 today.
Gibby was the Blue Jays manager for eleven seasons. Well, nine full seasons, two-part seasons. In total the team had a 793-789 record with him at the helm. And we made it to the playoffs twice during his time.
His first stint started in August of 2004, when the Jays tired of Carlos Tosca. Over the last 50 games, with Gibby pushing the buttons, we went 20-30. The next three seasons we finished third, second and third. In 2008 we had pretty high hopes, but things didn’t go well. Frank Thomas started slow, got grumpy about being sat and was released. We had the two-head Mencherson monster in the outfield and the signings of David Eckstein and Shannon Stewart turned out to be mistakes.
Deserved or not, the manager tends to take the blame when things don’t go as expected, and Gibbons was replaced by Cito Gaston.
Fast forward to 2013, some Farrelling jerk left us for his ‘dream job’ (didn’t that go well) and the team brought Gibby back. After a couple of disappointing seasons, Gibbons got us back to the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years. Two years in a row we made it to the ALCS.
Unfortunately, our team quickly got old. Two fourth place finishes had the team looking to rebuild and Gibbons said he wasn’t up for a rebuild. I’ll admit I think he could read the tea leaves, and knew that the team would want someone new to lead the team on the field.
Gibby was fun. He was a great interview, had a folksy way about him. He didn’t bunt much, so I was happy (I had to go check, Gibbons bunted 1.6% of opportunities, Montoyo 1.1% so far in his career). There were moments with the bullpen that weren’t what I would have liked, but find a manager that doesn’t have moments like that.
Last I saw Gibbons had been hired by the Braves for a scouting job. I hope that, if he wants it, he gets another chance to manage a team.
Happy Birthday, John. I hope it is a good one.