After Kevin Pillar was thrown out trying to steal third base on Sunday, John Gibbons was seen scolding him. For a team that has plenty of reasons to check out, it was great thing to see from the Blue Jays’ skipper.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that Kevin Pillar has given up on the 2018, not at all. He wouldn’t have rushed back from a serious shoulder injury if he didn’t care, and there’s no point in suggesting otherwise, especially if you watch him play the game. The guy always puts an honest effort in on the field, and that’s the biggest reason I admire him.
That said, he made a base-running blunder on Sunday that we’ve seen before, and this time his manager wasn’t as patient with the speedy centre fielder. The broadcast showed John Gibbons scolding Pillar for the decision to try and steal third base with two out, something that’s in the “unwritten rules” of things you just don’t do. In this case, Pillar was thrown out while he was already in scoring position.
On one hand you can’t fault Pillar for trying to make something happen with his team down a bunch to the Yankees, but on the other you can’t blame Gibbons for wanting his players to play the game the right way either. There’s a reason this team is 14 games below .500 at 55-69, and it’s not just because of the injuries to their star players, even if that’s been a truly significant factor.
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All too often we’ve watched this team making needless mistakes, and obviously Gibbons had had enough and wanted to make a point to Pillar and his teammates. This is excellent to see for a number of reasons, especially because of the presence of younger players starting to filter on to the roster. Fostering an environment of accountability and playing the game the right way is crucial for organizational success, and Gibbons understands that and plans to continue to do his job, even if he might be on his way out after the season.
It should also help to further dismiss the notion that Gibbons has checked out on this season, which has been suggested by a section of the fan base. That said, there have been plenty of folks suggesting that’s been the case from the laid back Texan for years, so this isn’t exactly a new discussion. He may have a pretty chilled out disposition, but don’t mistake that for a man who doesn’t care.
For many of us, watching Gibbons get fired up after Pillar’s mistake, and even getting ejected afterward, was a sign of life from the manager on another tough day at the ballpark. Getting after Pillar and/or getting thrown out doesn’t change the score on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have an effect on his team going forward, and that’s exactly the idea.
With 38 games remaining in the 2018 season, the Blue Jays will spend a lot of time evaluating their in-house resources, and deciding what the best course of action going forward might be. Whether or not that includes John Gibbons, it was great to see that he’s still the leader this team needs, at least for the time being.