2012 Villain: John Farrell
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.


2012 Villain: John Farrell

Nominated for: checking out even before he left the team.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. From December 10 to 19, we’ll unveil the nominees, grouped by category. Vote for your favourites from each batch, every single day! On December 19 and 20 the winners from each category go head-to-head in the final round of voting, and on December 21, we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

If you follow baseball, you weren’t surprised by the October 21 announcement that John Farrell was leaving his job as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays to take up the same position with the Boston Red Sox—the move had been rumoured for months. But did he have to go to a division rival? There is prestige in coaching a franchise with the Red Sox’s history, to be sure, and Farrell has a history with the team: he was previously the pitching coach in Boston. But as the Jays are already in a division that forces them to compete with the Red Sox and the Yankees every year, the departure stung a little bit more than it would have if Farrell went west or south instead. It didn’t help that shortly after his own departure, Farrell hired away respected third-base coach Brian Butterfield from his former team.

Farrell’s move to Boston seems inevitable in hindsight, though. His denials aside, reports are that Farrell wanted out of Toronto not just in October 2012 but also in October 2011, when the Red Sox job was also available. His comments during MLB’s winter meetings, where he called the Jays job an “opportunity,” haven’t done much to make Toronto feel better in retrospect about Farrell’s time here or his commitment to the team.

And when we look back on the season, it doesn’t seem so crazy that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was willing to let Farrell go the second time the Red Sox asked. The Jays lacked discipline from the start of the season, and players Colby Rasmus, José Bautista, and Ricky Romero all struggled with their performances. There was the incident where shortstop Yunel Escobar played an entire ballgame with a homophobic slur written in Spanish on his eyeblack. Farrell argued unconvincingly that he didn’t see it, and handled the situation poorly in the resulting press conference. Then veteran player Omar Vizquel, ending his career with the Jays, wound the season down by calling Farrell out in the press for his lack of leadership of the clubhouse.

In the end, it’s best that Farrell left. The upcoming season, with the Jays roster looking so promising, will be no time to have a manager whose heart isn’t in it. But as Adam Lind said on The Jeff Blair Show in November, it would have been nice for Farrell to “be a Blue Jay instead of a guy working for the Blue Jays.”

See the other nominees in the Culture and Sports category:

Margaret Wente

Plagiarism, and laziness of epic proportions.
  NHL Lockout

Taking hockey away from us.
  NFB Funding Cuts

Forcing the Mediatheque closure.

Factory Theatre Board of Directors

Losing their community’s trust.
  CBC Funding Cuts

Weakening one of our national institutions.
  Sedwick Hill

For the untimely death of the Toronto Underground Cinema.

Cast Your Ballot