(AP)On June 20, 2008, the Toronto Blue Jays fired manager John Gibbons and brought back Cito Gaston for a second go-round.
But that was then and this is now, which some means it's Gibbons' turn for a second chance as the team announced him as its replacement for the recently traded John Farrell on Tuesday. The news was broken earlier in the morning by the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott.
During his first stint as Blue Jays skipper, Gibbons' teams posted a perfectly average 305-305 record over parts of five seasons. But his most memorable — or at least talked about — moments came away from the field during the 2006 season. That's when Gibbons admittedly confronted and challenged a disgruntled Shea Hillenbrand to a fight in his office after the infielder wrote "play for yourself" and "the ship is sinking" on the clubhouse whiteboard. Hillenbrand was traded to the San Francisco Giants two days later.
Later in the season, Gibbons and Ted Lilly had a physical confrontation in the tunnel moments after the veteran left-hander was removed from a start. According to reports at the time there were no punches thrown, but witnesses said Gibbons initiated the physicality with a shove and the scene quickly escalated into mayhem.
Though the ship didn't actually sink during that 87-win season, some players in the clubhouse saw Gibbons' actions as irresponsible and unprofessional. Once the team took a disappointing step back in 2007, and continued heading the wrong direction with a slow start in 2008, it was decided his personality wasn't the best fit for the situation.
It's safe to say very few, if anyone, saw Gibbons getting another chance to manage in the big leagues, let alone in Toronto, based on how his first tenure played out. In fact, over the weekend it was reported the decision could come down to Jim Tracy, who walked away from the Colorado Rockies with one year and $1.4 million left on his contract in November, and Jim Riggleman, who resigned from the Washington Nationals post during the 2011 season, with no hint of Gibbons being in the picture.
But hey, nobody saw the big 12-player blockbuster trade or Melky Cabrera signing coming either, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos showed no hesitation in pulling the trigger on either of those moves. Gibbons will be managing under a different regime at Rogers Centre and early indications from Jays fans are that they appreciate the accountability he'll bring to the dugout as well as a keen eye for handling a bullpen.
At this point, it's far too early to tell how all of the new parts will work and fit together, but Anthopoulos is acting aggressively and with one clear goal in mind: Win the American League East for the first time since 1993.
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