The last thing that the Toronto Blue Jays need is a feud between catchers — especially when one of them is a former backstop for the team working in the broadcast booth.
Look, we get it. Gregg Zaun and J.P. Arencibia aren’t the best of friends right now. After the former player-turned-broadcaster criticized the bluebirds’ current backstop for his struggles in 2013, JPA then fired back with an interview on the Sportsnet The Fan 590 that included such hits like Zaun being a below-average player over his career, even going for the jugular by alluding to the analyst’s link to the Mitchell Report.
Sure enough, Zaun fired back with his own slams, even hinting a the possibility of an libel suit. To and fro we go …
It all makes for some pretty engrossing drama, but aside from the general awkwardness of both Arencibia and Zaun being employees of Rogers (who owns Sportsnet) and the Blue Jays umbrella in general, the distraction created by the drama is simply unnecessary.
Not that there should be any excuses for the embarrassing way that the team fell against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers by a score of 11-1 on July 4, but I can’t imagine that the distraction caused by the conflict between one of the team’s players and one of the team’s broadcasters could have help any (JPA recorded a hit and a pair of strikeouts, if you were wondering).
If anything, all its done is create a divide to an already-deepening mess.
This is no more apparent than in the Blue Jays fan base on Twitter, where fans have essentially taken sides, either using Zaun’s criticisms to fuel the continued hate-on for the designated bluebirds whipping boy of the season (because we need one every year), or as motivation to continue defending JPA despite his struggles at the plate.
Regardless of what your position on the matter is, however, there is one common thread.
This kind of polarizing effect on the fan base can’t possibly be healthy for the team’s long-term future, especially as the buzz from the offseason acquisitions (that surely lured a good number of new fans and ticket buyers) turns into vitrol, further alienating and spurning those who may have already regretted putting their expendable income into this team.
In short, it’s bad enough that there are enough unhappy fans out there that think the team is a mess, but for the organization and ownership to seemingly enforce the idea?
It’s not the first time that a team broadcaster has had a little fight with a player, and it probably won’t be the last but … well, to avoid repeating myself: