I grew up on a small street close to downtown St. Catharines, near Collegiate – an old high school that had a smoking section built within the actual school’s walls. All the cool teenagers hung out there in the eighties; they smoked tobacco, had mohawks, piercings, tattoos and wore 12-hole Dr. Martens. Actually, thinking about it now, it sounds a lot like the set for a John Hughes film.
It was a bit intimidating to walk past them as a 7-year-old boy to get to Alexandra – my old elementary school - where I would learn how to read, write, locate regions on a map, and fiddle around with mathematics. Never really liked math, and still don't know how to write…but I digress.
It was the late eighties and like every other little squirt, I loved Star Wars, E.T., Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, Clark Griswold, Robert Munsch, John Hughes films, Marty Moose, G.I. Joe, WWF Wrestling, Calvin and Hobbes, Nintendo, and, of course, the Toronto Blue Jays.
It was a fun time to grow up back then because we all rode our bikes for hours, and came home with bruises and cuts, which became scars that we still have today. There was nothing better than jumping on my Norco Spitfire and cruising up and down the streets wearing fluorescent jammers and a tank top in the summer while thinking I was some kind of neighbourhood cool kid.
I really don’t have any bad memories of that decade – or the early nineties, as life just seemed easier: video games were getting cool, Nintendo released Game Boy, the Berlin Wall fell, and the whole world was starting to enjoy their McDonald’s Happy Meals, sort of – while watching eighties sitcoms.
No one who is old enough can forget John Goodman, who played Dan Conner in Roseanne – probably the greatest TV sitcom Dad of the eighties. And there was, of course, Al Bundy - the Polk High legend, who was always good for a laugh, too. And since I’m getting a bit maudlin here, let’s not forget Craig T. Nelson, who was Coach and, I believe, is often overlooked in the great TV Dad discussion.
And the thing is that today, with Spring Training about to kick off and Jays fans getting excited for their favourite TV drama of all, there is one TV Dad who might be even better than any eighties sitcom Dad and that, of course, is the greatest skip in Blue Jays’ history: Mr. John Gibbons.
Last year, Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins gave John Gibbons a 2-year extension, which begins this season with an option for 2020, so the great skip will be in our lives for at least a couple more seasons. Sorry all you FYRE GIBBONS people out there, but 3 different Blue Jays GMs and front-offices in Toronto all seem to see something good in ol’ Gibbers – just sayin’.
John Gibbons has been in our baseball rodeo lives for over a decade and it has been fun hootin’ and hollerin’ with him along the way. It’s definitely been one hell of a ride so far with good ol’ Gibbers, as he always stands up for his players who aren’t absolute hot head dipshits like Ted Lilly or Shea Hillenbrand. And let’s not forget how the good ol’ Texan is always able to turn a nickel steak into something positive.
A prime example was when an ol’ fashion Texas bar fight broke out in May of 2016 between the Blue Jays and the shitty Rangers. Good ol’ Gibbers re-swaggered onto the field after being ejected and then received a 3-game suspension. If you don’t remember the game, Gibbons had already been tossed in the third inning after arguing with dipshit home plate umpire Dan Iassogna, who thought Aaron Sanchez yelled at him. Remember that? Yup.
All of this was the lead up to the infamous eighth inning, where Jose the GOAT Bautista slid hard into second, leading to the trash punch by Rougned Odor. And it was then that good ol’ Gibbers came back out onto the field, 3-game suspension be damned. But, of course, the skip was able to make light of the harsh dumb ruling and see it as nice little vacation.
It was after that game that I think John Gibbons delivered one of my all-time favourite quotes. When he was asked about the incident during the eighth inning Texas brawl after having already been tossed, he said that he didn’t want to sit there and drink too much wine. And cue the eighties sitcom laugh track.
The truth is I could probably write up pages of great John Gibbons episodes – some good, some bad, but always entertaining. He has definitely had us all laughing with his “I need a beer’ one liners – or calling out Barry Davis – or sending ‘no comment’ notes to him. Maybe ol’ Gibbers wasn’t a fan of Barry Davis? But I’m sure they’re all good now. It’s ol’ Gibbers - he’s too cool for a grudge.
Gibbons was born in Great Falls, Montana, a small city with a population smaller than lil’ old St. Catharines. He was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where he would hoot and holler with the boys, flirt with the ladies, play baseball, and eventually end up in the big leagues, winning the World Series with the 1986 New York Mets – no one on that team was interested in Tom Ford cologne.
When ol’ Gibbers was playing for the Mets, I was just a kid in the eighties doing kid things that kids in the eighties did. And now here we are again approaching another baseball season, staring at the blank canvas that it presents. And I’d bet that ol’ Gibbers will add some good ol’ colour to it this season.
I don’t think that the modern TV Dads are as cool as the Al Bundy’s or Dan Conner’s, but they are alright – I guess. I mean, Coach Taylor was pretty damn awesome in Friday Night Lights, as he taught us all that ‘clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose’, but he definitely isn’t as great as John Gibbons, who has taught us many lessons over the years, the main one being not to take ourselves too seriously. And ain’t that the goddamn Texas truth y’all?
The 2018 Blue Jays season is fast approaching and we are in for many story lines, cusses, laughs, and cheers, so I say let’s enjoy another season with the greatest goddamn TV Dad in Canada: Mr. John Gibbons.