Friday, July 24, 2009

VERITAS TD&F: FUMBLE- JAYS' WILD PITCH ON HALLADAY

Roy Halladay is a beloved figure among Toronto Blue Jays fans, one of the few bright spots who can be counted on every five days to restore some pride in the home side. So, clearly, any move to trade him would need to be handled carefully by the Blue Jays. It wasn’t handled carefully, or even particularly well. First of all: sports fans pay attention. They remember. The Jays GM knew when he said in response to a journalist’s question that no player was immune from being traded, and then asked specifically if that included Halladay replied “yes,” that it would ignite a firestorm. Communicators understand trial balloons. But when the Jays were pushed, predictably, by the sporting media, the team said they meant nothing by this comment and that they were just answering a question in a speculative way. That was mistake No. 1 – never speculate. But many fans took the team at its word that the beloved Halladay would be safe and sound. Fast forward to this week, when GM J.P. Riccardi actually set a deadline to trade Halladay July 28, prior to his next scheduled start July 29. Whoa. Many fans started trashing Riccardi on sports talk radio and bemoaning the usual “salary dump” trend toward mediocrity rather than the Jays being “buyers” at the trade deadline and building a contending team that Halladay would presumably be more interested in staying with. It was also inconsistent messaging from the Jays, which undermined the team’s credibility on the Halladay issue. As veteran Toronto Star baseball writer Richard Griffin noted: “This Halladay trade phenomenon has spun totally out of control now. It’s like a game of musical chairs played at last call by drunks.” The final note of inconsistency came when Riccardi was asked Thursday on The Fan 590 what changed to reverse the team’s plan to build a 2010 contender with Halladay on board. “What changed is that Roy told us he was going to test the free-agent market,” he replied. Smart fans sense this was the case all along. Sports communicators, like all communicators, just need to be real. Fans can tell when you’re not.

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