The bitter rivalry between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays received a fresh dose of controversy on Tuesday when Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette called out Jose Bautista in an interview.
Dan Duquette made headlines back in December when he went public with the news that the Orioles would not be pursuing Jose Bautista, who was then a free agent, because of the All-Star sluggers less than stellar reputation amongst Baltimore fans.
More than three months after his initial comments, Duquette had the following to say on the topic of Bautista in a Q&A with MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand.
"MLB.com: You expressed no interest in Jose Bautista this offseason, saying, “Jose is a villain in Baltimore and I’m not going to go tell our fans that we’re courting Jose Bautista for the Orioles, because they’re not going to be happy.” How often do you consider something like fan reaction when considering potential acquisitions?Duquette: (Laughs) Well that was an easy one; our fans just don’t like Jose. We play those guys 25 times a year and he’s the face of the Blue Jays. He’s the villain in the play whenever we play the Blue Jays. I like our guys. Our guys are good. [Mark] Trumbo is like a working-class-type baseball player. If he was going to work every day on a construction site, you would understand that he brings that kind of work ethic every day. That’s the kind of player that our fans identify with. We try to get gritty players that work hard every day and give their best effort every day. Our fans seem to like that and respond to it."
The first question that comes to mind, is what could Duquette possibly have to gain by breathing new life back into this artificial controversy? Was there a calculated reason for him to fan the fire, or was he just responding to a question asked of him in an interview?
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His ‘villain’ comments made for some good press during the winter meetings and helped further stoke the competitive fires between the two American League East rivals.
But that was three months ago.
Duquette was provided a perfect opportunity to finally put the controversy to rest on Tuesday. Something that would have been achieved had he ended his answer at “he’s the villain in the play whenever we play the Blue Jays.”
Instead, he decided to escalate the matter further by expanding on his previous comments and indirectly inferring that Bautista was a lazy player who working-class fans would be unable to relate to. The polar opposite of a player like Mark Trumbo, who in all of one season playing for the Orioles, has apparently become the organizational mold for all future signings.
At the end of the day, the insinuations voiced by Duquette in his veiled offensive, stand in sharp contrast to the numerous achievements Bautista has amassed over the course of his decorated career.
If nothing else, Duquette’s words will ensure that there will be plenty of fireworks when the two clubs renew their rivalry on April 13th at Rogers Centre.