Volume 92, Issue 9

Thursday, September 17, 1998

service with a smile


Ash has little to do with Jays' success

By Ian Ross
The Gazette

The Toronto Blue Jays are back in the pennant race after a five year absence and everyone and their ailing grandmothers are rushing to jump on the bandwagon.

Unlike the Leafs, who could pack in fans at the Gardens year after year without winning a single game, Jays fans are much more critical and right now they like what they see.

Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado are finally showing their true potential. Roger Clemens is untouchable and Tony Fernandez is consistently making clutch hits when they're needed most.

All thanks to general manager Gord Ash right? I mean, he was the man who made all of those key transactions at the trading deadline back in July to give the team a needed boost heading into the dog days of summer.

Wrong. Unless too many nights at The Spoke have damaged your brain cells delegated to long term memory, you will recall that Ash made those moves to once again initiate a rebuilding process for next season. He believed his team would find themselves below .500 and far out of a playoff spot, just as they have for the past four years. So he dumped big name athletes for a bunch of nobodys.

Goodbye Juan Guzman, Tony Phillips, Ed Sprauge and Mike Stanley. Hello to some no name minor leaguers.

In fact, he was so convinced the Jays would end up in the cellar again he even traded Stanley to the Boston Red Sox to assist in their post season run.

In other words, Ash doesn't know what he is doing. He boasted at the beginning of the season that his team would return to 1993 glory only to see them struggle to win more then they lost. So he dumps his veterans and without any expectations the rookies start tearing up the American League.

Pat Gillick was a different sort of man. As Ash's predecessor, he built the Jays with precision and patience. Toronto fans had patience with him and he rewarded them by slowly building a team piece-by-piece that would eventually win two World Series. He knew when a blockbuster trade needed to be made or when a small adjustment was required.

Perhaps it is because of Gillick's success that Ash must work even harder. Toronto fans are not willing to give him the luxury of time to rebuild – they expect wins and titles and nothing else right now.

Then again a man in Ash's position needs to be able to deal with the pressure and stay on track to one game plan. He can't just dump players when times are bad and then consistently regroup.

This makes the Jays recent success almost seem comical. Ash attempted to unload in July and regroup in the upcoming off-season but has ended up with one of the hottest teams in baseball.

This whole bizarre series of events seems like a take-off of that old Seinfeld episode where George does the opposite of everything he would normally do and suddenly his pitiful existence becomes promising. He even lands a job with the New York Yankees to extend further this baseball analogy.

If only the Jays could be lucky enough to lose Ash to the Yankees.

Instead he will probably stick around for another half dozen years making a mess of a once storied Blue Jays franchise. Oh sure, he may flirt with expectations at times but in the end Toronto fans will always have to find something else to entertain them come October.

Be warned Toronto. Enjoy the excitement of baseball for now because it may not be back next season. It is almost a certainty that Ash will screw-up any chance of a promising Blue Jays future.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998