When addressing John Gibbons‘ forthcoming departure from the Blue Jays, Jamie Campbell summed it up perfectly when he said it’s hard to see players and coaches leave because they become such a big part of our lives.
Season after season, we watch them every day for six months a year. People we may never even meet, but still hold a place in our heart because of their character and what they do for our favourite ball team.
In two short years the Blue Jays have said goodbye to four of their most important players in recent memory. Now their longtime manager is moving on too. Baseball fans are creatures of habit. We’re not good with change. We get used to seeing Jose Bautista out in right field. Or Edwin Encarnacion rounding the bases with that classic parrot pose. Or Gibbons holding down the fort in his usual spot at the end of the bench.
From that memorable 2015 season, only nine players remain (Kevin Pillar, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Justin Smoak, Russell Martin, Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki, Marco Estrada, and Ryan Tepera). That was just three years ago. Some fans will blame the management team of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins for all these changes. But truth be told, this ball club wasn’t getting any younger, and moving on from Encarnacion, Bautista, and Josh Donaldson was the right thing to do. What happened with Roberto Osuna was most unfortunate, but we can’t blame them for deciding to move him either.
The Blue Jays have invested heavily into their youth movement. They’ve moved on from the heart and soul of this team and are now faced with what will inevitably be the most important decision they make during their Blue Jays tenure. Who to bring in as the new manager? Atkins and Shapiro have shown a tendency to slip-up when it comes to making the big decisions. Now their reputation and legacy with the Blue Jays is really on the line with respect to the manager they choose to lead this ball club into a new era.