By Scoring Positions guest contributor, Shawn.
I greatly dislike Rogers Sportsnet analyst and former Toronto Blue Jay Gregg Zaun. I always have and I can’t foresee a future where that hate dissipates.
I don’t like to go around saying I hate people. I actually “hate” few people. But I hate Gregg Zaun.
Of course, this is in reference to Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia’s rant and shots fired at analysts Dirk Hayhurst and Zaun.
My hate affair with Zaun began when he was a player.
I sat through many games with Zaun behind the plate. He was an automatic out and a complete and utter liability as a defensive catcher. If I was inching off of first base, I knew Zaun stood no chance of throwing me out, and I’m no Rajai Davis.
So when Sportsnet started bringing Zaun in to comment on playoff games, I was surprised to see his ugly, toothless mug.
I wondered what a terrible player with zero physical ability would have to lend to baseball analysis. The answer, of course, was (and is) nothing.
So when Sportsnet refocused to take the Blue Jays seriously, carrying all of the team’s games and Zaun was brought in as a full-time analyst alongside Jamie Campbell, I was disappointed.
I felt a career .250 hitter with 88 home runs and fewer than 450 RBI over a 16-season career who threw out fewer than one quarter of runners who tried to steal on him had nothing to add to the world of baseball analysis.
The idea behind analysis, of course, is someone who knows how to do something analyzing the performance of others who don’t, explaining the adjustments that need to be made in order to do that something.
Instead, Sportsnet brought in a failure to analyze the failure of other (to be fair, the Blue Jays haven’t really set the baseball world on fire the last few years) failures.
Since that time, Zaun has taken on a persona that some seem to really like and has made others want to cram a wooden kitchen spoon down his toothless facehole until it comes out the back of his braincase.
Zaun has tried to become the brassy, no-nonsense, tells-it-like-it-is, controversial baseball version of hockey’s Don Cherry, even down to the horrible, gaudy couch-and-curtain-like blazers that he wears during telecasts.
Yes, Zaun has a World Series ring. That can’t be denied, but there are a lot of players out there who backed ass backwards into a championship too, so his ring can go the way of the aforementioned wooden spoon as I see it. (He played in three games during the 1997 Florida Marlins’ World Series-winning playoff run with two at-bats and no hits. Derek Jeter, he ain’t.)
Anyway, what I’m getting at (in a really roundabout way) is that I have never put any stock in anything Gregg Zaun has ever said.
His Zaun 101 segments inspire a particular brand of hilarity. Zaun shows all the young baseball players out there how to hit or field their position, neither of which he effectively did in one of his 16 years in Major League Baseball.
It should also be pointed out that Zaun was implicated in 2007’s Mitchell Report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, so there’s that credibility that comes from someone whose name was in that report as well.
So onto what happened today. Arencibia took to the airwaves to slam Hayhurst (who was no Pedro Martinez himself, pitching for two seasons with an ERA of nearly six) telling the world that no one on the Blue Jays respects the men, or their opinions and criticisms.
This is being seen as shots fired by Arencibia, but really, should it be a surprise to anyone? The current roster is full of players who have achieved major milestones in their careers. On the Blue Jays there is a two-time Major League home run leader, a batting champion, a Cy Young Award winner, a pitcher with two no-hitters, among others. Arencibia has already had the best offensive season by a catcher in Blue Jays history and is on pace to break that mark (according to home runs and RBI). So why, under any circumstances, is this group going to listen to anything this pair of complete and utter failures has to say about the game of baseball, an avenue of life in which they failed so miserably? Easy. They’re not going to. Ever.
Granted, Arencibia is not having the greatest season ever played, but he has 15 home runs and 38 RBI with over a week until the All-Star break, the unofficial halfway point of the season.
His on-base percentage isn’t great, he doesn’t take a lot of walks and he strikes out a ton, but this hardly warrants the kind of criticism Zaun and Hayhurst have piled on him.
Arencibia is right when he says “[Hayhurst and Zaun] quickly forget how hard this game is.”
I wonder what a pair of idiot talking heads such as Hayhurst and Zaun would have to say if they were watching players like themselves amble around aimlessly on the field of play as they did.
I remember when John Farrell left the Blue Jays to manage the Boston Red Sox and there was chatter on the internet after the Blue Jays’ blockbuster off-season of having Zaun coach the team and I lost my faith in humanity.
Unfortunately how brash he is has distracted the general Blue Jays baseball-watching public from the fact that he knows nothing about the game, as evidenced in his less-than-stellar playing career.
Thank God for Jack Morris, now when Sportsnet tells you to e-mail them for their ‘Ask The Experts’ segment, your e-mail might actually get to an expert, as they finally have one on staff.
This kind of behaviour isn’t tolerated anywhere else in the world except for sports analysis. Imagine if you and your neighbour are building a fence and his side is a complete mess that’s falling apart and full of examples of poor workmanship. Then he wanders over to your side and starts giving you advice, are you gonna take it? No chance.
The fact that Rogers pays Zaun to venture out beyond his side of the criticism fence is appalling. He’s just like any other loudmouth who tries to disguise his lack of knowledge with the volume of his voice.