At long last, the Anthony Bass Saga with the Toronto Blue Jays has come to a close. After being designated for assignment on Friday, June 9, the Blue Jays have officially released the controversial reliever.
By now, the story of Bass and his downfall has been well-documented. After posting a tweet a few months back that called out United Airlines for making his wife pick up popcorn (that their children spilled), he was forced to delete his account from the insane amount of backlash he received.
After a quiet few months on social media, Bass then took to Instagram to share a video that called for a boycott of Target and Bud Light because they supported the LGBTQ community. In the video, the person speaking went on a verbal tirade about how these things are evil and demonic and that it "is not biblical". Naturally, people did not like this either. He made a half-hearted "apology" in which he started with "I'll make this short", and was later grilled even further after doubling down on his views just a few days before his DFA.
Of course, a situation like this becomes a massive distraction in the clubhouse. Whether his Blue Jays teammates agreed with his views or not, all of the drama became an issue amongst some of his fellow players. In fact, there are a handful of them that are unhappy with how the entire situation was handled by the Jays' front office. It took 10 days for the club to cut Bass after he first shared the controversial video. If the plan all along was to cut bait, why did they send him out to the mound to pitch and wait over a week to do so?
Per Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun, one player was quoted saying, "Can we just get on with baseball? All we want to do is focus on baseball and the ability to do that has been compromised. It’s a major distraction.”
Chris Bassitt echoed this, saying, "For us, we deal with so much chaos with so many things but yes, it’s a distraction. It’s a common thing in our workplace because we are so public about everything and everything is under a microscope, but it’s definitely a distraction. We’re human so it’s going to (affect) us a little bit, but overall we have to get a job done.”
The fact of the matter is that this issue is going to follow the Blue Jays for at least the rest of the 2023 season. Longley points out in his piece that there's a chance future free agents become skeptical to sign in Toronto thanks to their mishandling of the Bass drama. After GM Ross Atkins came out saying that this was more a "baseball decision" than anything, many were left confused as to what in the world was going on. The day prior, Atkins spoke to the media and essentially said that him and Bass had spoken and that the proper resources were being allocated to him to become more educated on the community he was bashing online.
It's worth noting that the 35-year-old pitcher no longer looked like the statistical darling he did as recently as last year. In 2022, he made 73 appearances of 1.54 ERA-ball between the Marlins and Jays, and was primed to build off of that in the current campaign. Instead, he made just 22 appearances and had a 4.95 ERA and 84 ERA+ across 20 innings of work, surrendering just under nine hits per nine innings and walking over four batters per nine. His poor numbers were more than enough to warrant the club moving on, but the trigger should've been pulled the instant he became an issue in the clubhouse.
Something has smelled funky here the entire time, and it's almost worth wondering if the plan all along was to let Bass go. Could the Blue Jays' front office have been cold-hearted enough to force him into more than one public appearance, as well as undergoing a sort of "sensitivity training", just to release him? It's possible, but that just adds another layer into the whole "what in the world are these guys doing" story.