For most of this season, we'd totally shut Richard Griffin out of our mind and out of our life.
Sure, he's the baseball beat writer for the daily newspaper with the largest circulation in Toronto and, indeed, in all of Canada. But that doesn't make his petty ramblings informative, enlightening, or even the slightest bit entertaining.
Reading Dick Griff is a lot like listening to a drunk blowhard loutalker at the end of the bar who has lots of opinions and conspiracy theories to share. Mostly, though, they offer up a pathetic defense of their own shortcomings and a litany of excuses for why they've ended up at the end of the bar, a sodden mess.
Having said that, I really should not have been as shocked as I was to read Griffin's post on his "blog" yesterday, wherein he alleges that J.P. Ricciardi and the Blue Jays organization have begun a preemptive public relations campaign against Roy Halladay. The accusation stems from J.P.'s clarifications to reporters on a statement that he made on Wednesdays's edition of Jim Rome is Burning, where he stated that Doc has already indicated his intention to file for free agency.
"The first salvo has been fired in the battle to sully Halladay's image as a loyal soldier," Griff writes with wisened gravitas.
What a pathetic load of horseshit. What an absurd attempt to create tension and melodrama where none exisits. What a huckster.
Griffin would probably have you believe that the many years that he put in as the PR guy for the Expos (in case anyone forgot) makes him hip to J.P.'s jive. Griff would have you believe that his impecable qualifications as a one-time professional sophist has provided him with the insight into the cynical mindset of the man in the GM's seat, for whom he has never had a generous word.
It's Griffin's bile and inanities that have come screaming out of the radio through the voices of simple-minded JaysTalk callers for much of the past eight years, as the repeat verbatim the infinite fatuous judgements Griffin has cast out - all with the benefit of hindsight, mind you - on J.P.'s record. "Five year plans"...always, the talk of the "Five year plans."
But now this: To insinuate that the Jays are playing a game to win the hearts and minds of the fanbase by casting aspersions at the most beloved player. Really?
Could anybody even fathom that such a thing would work?And moreover, could anyone imagine that the Jays' braintrust would think that tarring their most morally upright citizen would be a reasonable PR strategy? It seems as though Griffin could read that scenario into this (and out of nothing), but mostly because his assumption is that J.P. and all who surround him are bumbling idiots who aren't smart enough to have mastered the flack's craft.
The thing about what J.P. said on Rome and reiterated to Mike Wilner on the Fan 590 was that it really wasn't particularly dramatic. If you were observant enough, you could see that Halladay's intention to leave sooner or later was something that went unsaid, laying just beneath the surface all along.
If J.P. is to be castigated for anything, it would be revealing that Halladay will likely be on the free agent market regardless in 18 months. Ricciardi's flaw has always been that he's not nearly guarded enough in what he says publicly and to the media, and revealing Halladay's intentions could serve to lessen his leverage in these crucial days.
Does that sound like the work of an evil genius PR practitioner to you?
More defending J.P. (Joanna, you should probably stop reading here.)
Griffin insists that Halladay may have stayed if the Jays had proven that they were serious about winning. What he forgets to mention is that some of the worst moves that J.P. has made in recent years were completely about creating that impression. The single worst move that J.P. has made (likely pushed by Paul Godfrey) was to sign Venon Wells to a spectacular contract that would demonstrate to the fans, the team and to other players that the Jays were committed to keeping their talent, competing with the Yanks and Sox and ultimately winning.
But here's the thing: In an ideal world, J.P. already has assembled the makings of a team that could compete. If the Jays' rotation had not been decimated to the extent that it has been over the past 12 months, we would ideally be looking at a rotation of Halladay, McGowan, Marcum, Litsch and possibly Romero, with plenty of depth from which Ricciardi could have dealt to bring in help for the bullpen or offense. Instead, a patchwork rotation has been assembled, made up of players who barely registered with most Jays fans last year at this time.
I know these all read like excuses. Maybe it's just that I feel sorry for the Jays' front office these days. It's a lot more difficult to piece together a winning baseball team than it is to sit back and pull it apart after the fact.