June 27, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
One of the most entertaining new Canadian baseball series/webcasts this year has been Talking Points with John Gibbons, sponsored by Bodog Canada.
Each weekly episode has featured the former Toronto Blue Jays manager being interviewed by Canadian actor, producer and musician Stu Stone.
“I’m an open book,” Gibbons quipped to Stone in one episode. “You may not want to read it, but I’m an open book.”
Each episode has clocked in at around 30 minutes and Gibbons has been very candid with his opinions.
Here’s a look back at some of the best quotes from Gibbons during the first nine episodes:
On the addition of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays team he managed in 2015:
“Our defence was horrendous and that’s what was killing us,” recalled Gibbons of the 2015 Blue Jays who had a 50-51 record on July 28, the day they acquired Tulowitzki.
Gibbons thought Tulowitzki was a major upgrade at shortstop.
“Tulowitzki, I thought was the key because [Jose] Reyes, God bless him, couldn’t move anymore and balls would trickle through and we had more balls rolling through our infield . . . and now we had to get extra outs. And Tulowitzki came in and cleaned that right up.”
On pitcher Marco Estrada’s outstanding starts with the Blue Jays in the 2015 and 2016 postseasons :
“In the big games in the playoffs, when the adrenaline is flowing and the pressure is on and the whole world is watching, he’s got that unhittable change-up, so he plays off guys’ aggressiveness and that’s why he won,” said Gibbons. “You couldn’t rattle Marco. It was like, ‘Are you breathing? Is your heart elevated?’”
On managing Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista:
“Jose was good for the game,” said Gibbons. “He could be a real pain in the ass to some people. And his peers out in the game hated him because he was so good and he wore it on his sleeve. But you know what? He was good for the game. He was a good frickin’ guy . . . He would do anything for anybody. He was a true gentleman.”
On managing ex-Blue Jays reliever and now Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks in 2014 and 2015:
“Liam pitched for us and Liam was always . . . a great kid, but kind of nutty . . . and now I watch him every time he closes a game. And it’s like they’re going to put him in the insane asylum . . . But he’s got kind of the perfect makeup for that [closer’s role] because he lets things go.”
Watch the May 20th episode of Talking Points, sponsored by Bodog Canada, by clicking on this YouTube link.
On when he told Frank Thomas in 2008 that he was reducing the legend’s playing time due to a slow start:
“I remember I brought Brian Butterfield in there just to make sure because if Frank got pissed off at me, he could pinch my neck, you know? Snap my neck,” recalled Gibbons with a chuckle. “And plus I didn’t want anything to get lost in translation . . . So Butter’s sitting over there and I said, ‘Frank, listen, you’re still our DH, but against certain pitchers that you may struggle with, we may want to get some other guys some DH at bats.”
Thomas didn’t like the message being delivered.
“He said, ‘This is BS.’ He goes, ‘This about my money next year.’ And I said, ‘Frank, with all due respect, I don’t have a contract for next year and I’m sure as hell not worried about yours,” said Gibbons.
On MLB’s current rule that places a ghost runner on second base to start an extra inning:
“I think the biggest embarrassment in baseball right now is you get to extra innings and you start with a guy on second base. Is this Little League baseball or what? I mean, what are we doing?
On the Blue Jays’ changing their approach with runners in scoring position:
“There’s nothing wrong with a cheap-ass single to right field through the shift as long as it scores a run. I mean the name of the game is scoring runs and the team that scores the most runs wins.”
On Blue Jays developing young ace Alek Manoah:
“To dominate like that at such a young age with his experience level, that’s really hard. Usually guys get to the big leagues and it takes them a few years to get grounded, figure it all out, get established, learn the league [and] all that. Very rarely do you get these guys that come in and take it by storm and that’s kind of what he’s done . . . That’s what the great ones do. It’s not only because they have better arms and they might have better stuff. It’s because they got some of this up there [pointing at his head] and they got that right in their chest, right in their heart. They’re great competitors. And from everything I’ve heard about the guy, that’s who he is.”
On the shift:
“Get rid of that damn thing. That thing drives me crazy. You know, I understand the thinking . . . whatever it takes to win a game, whatever a team wants to do, do it. I’m all for it because it’s all about winning. But that shift drives me nuts, man . . . The game has kind of created that . . . It’s kind of like we want everybody to grip it and rip it and lean back and try to hit it as far as they can and if they strike out, so what?”
Host Stu Stone confessed that he yelled at his TV in 2015 and 2016 telling Gibbons to have his Blue Jays hitters bunt more:
“Who did you want to bunt? Bautista?” Gibbons responded. “Hey, did you look at our lineup? We had a bunch of grizzly, hairy asses . . . We had Ryan Goins bunt every now and then.”
Watch the June 20th episode of Talking Points, sponsored by Bodog Canada, by clicking on this YouTube link.