Blue Jays: Have you forgiven John Farrell for leaving?

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 8: Manager John Gibbons
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 8: Manager John Gibbons /

It’s been five years since John Farrell left the manager’s seat in Toronto for a lateral move to the Boston Red Sox. Has the sting subsided at all in five years?

As a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s pretty common to dislike the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, two of the most storied franchises in baseball, who also happen to play in the American League East alongside the Jays. For years in the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was a war of who would spend the most money on payroll, with the rest of the division trying to piece together a roster on a shoestring budget. Those were pretty dark times in Blue Jays’ history.

There is a lot more parity in the division these days, even if the Yankees and Red Sox both qualified for the postseason while the rest of the teams missed out on the second season. However, all three of the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays have qualified for the postseason in the last four years, resulting in some exciting baseball.

There are always going to be rivalries, especially against division opponents, but what happened five seasons ago cemented my distain for the Red Sox, whether they were much to blame or not. They stole the Blue Jays’ manager.

More from Jays Journal

“Stole” might not be the right word, but I’m gonna use it here anyway, because that’s essentially what happened. In case you weren’t following the team back then, John Farrell was the manager of the Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, as he got his first kick at the cat as a head coach in baseball, something he had worked towards since pretty much the time he threw his final pitch as a player. He had been the pitching coaching in Boston from 2007-2010, hoping that once Terry Francona‘s time in the job was over that he would be the next one up. After the 2009 season there was an opening in Toronto, and Farrell was given the job he’d long dreamed of, just in a different jersey.

The Jays were 81-81 in his first year at the post in 2011, but fell to 73-89 during his second year. The Blue Jays were on the cusp of making some major changes to their organization, but were blindsided (in a way, I’ll get to that) by Farrell’s request to interview for the Red Sox position, even though he was under contract in Toronto until the end of the 2013 season. The reason I said “in a way” was because Farrell actually made the request at the end of the 2011 season, when Francona was removed from Boston’s managerial job. It wasn’t until after Bobby Valentine was a colossal mistake in Boston, that Farrell would go back to the well and eventually end up back in Boston. The Blue Jays ended up “trading” Farrell to Boston in exchange for Mike Aviles, who was eventually flipped to Cleveland.

There were two elements of this story that always bothered me. I want to come down on the Blue Jays and Alex Anthopoulos for the way this was handled, but in some ways I don’t blame them at all. At the time they were hiring a coveted baseball mind to be their manager, and I’m sure Anthopoulos and the brain trust never would have imagined that Farrell would come back a year later and say he wasn’t sure he wanted the gig anymore. When the conversation came to a head at the end of a second season, I don’t blame the team for cutting ties to him. It just always felt dirty that the Red Sox got the man they wanted, and the Blue Jays were left like a high school senior, watching his prom date walk away with the captain of the football team.

But what bothered me even more was the way that Farrell used the Blue Jays’ job as leverage to get what he ultimately wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. He has taken subtle shots at his former team, was quoted as calling the Blue Jays’ job an “opportunity”, and then jumped at the first chance for a better one, and probably worst of all he was managing the Blue Jays while wishing he was across the diamond. He’ll never admit it (and he’d be a fool to), but if you think it went down any other way, I’ve got some ocean-front property in Saskatchewan I’d like to show ya.

It has always left a bitter taste in my, and many other Blue Jays’ fans mouths, and rightfully so if you ask me. I backed off on my distaste for awhile when he was sick (he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015, which has since gone into remission), but as the Jays struggled this season while the Red Sox won the division, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what went down five years ago with the former manager.

So while Twitter fills up with #FireFarrell tweets (this guy in particular really loathes the Red Sox skipper), I can’t help but smirk a little bit, even if his World Series ring serves as the trump card. Some might call it petty, but I choose to see it as “fiercely loyal” as a fan of the team.

How about you? Without straight up attacking the man, have you gotten over his leaving for Boston? I hate to admit it, but it’s been five years and it still gets my goat when I think about it.

Next: Bichette won't be left behind by Vlad Jr.