Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thanks and Farewell to Cito Gaston

By Charles Pascal, Toronto Star, September 29, 2010
There's something about Cito's reluctance regarding position power that makes him very special. Something about so many other “second-in-commands” who lust after being in charge, that doesn't always work out — in baseball, politics and just about every other kind of public or private organization.

When Cito took over, he seemed to have an instinctual understanding that leadership was about balance. He stayed away from the emotional highs and lows, understanding that 162 games was a marathon, not a sprint. He has treated players with respect, like great leaders do, adapting to the individual differences of those they lead.
He's been a remarkably fair leader and seems to understand that equity doesn't mean sameness, that, indeed, different people need different things from their leader.
But he's no patsy when it comes to addressing the tough stuff that arises from the ebb and flow of an occasional player's ├╝ber ego, fuelled by the combo of money and testosterone. Cito would do quite well dealing with the challenges of the egos and unfulfilled ambitions of occasional members of the political caucuses across Canada.
Reluctant, modest, moderate and obviously has only to read his letter to the fans on taking the Blue Jays to the field for the last time today as Manager.
It was this Cito Gaston, the first black manager to win a World Series Championship, and to do it in back-to-back years who evokes the praise that is being heaped upon him. Who can not recall his quiet and temperate and steady hand, especially with all those massive ball-player ego's winning those two rings with and for his players, and for his fans.
His is the stuff of the kind of magnanimity that Lincoln demonstrates, as portrayed by Doris Kearns Goodwin in his Lincoln biography. When things seemed the toughest, and when others had defeated Lincoln, he would show up at their victory party, gracious and honourable and respectful and even congratulatory beyond the perfunctory to their astonishment. And who can forget that kind of magnanimity.
Canadians think of the U.S., often, as the brash, bold, arrogant and take-no-prisoners macho archetype of nations, only jammed right up against the 49th parallel making for an uncomfortable continental bed-mate. And then there are Lincoln and Gaston, both sons of the republic we are so loath to despise.
And their models of leadership, without paying intense regard for their policies, is what shines when all is said and done.
Canada will do almost anything to avoid being considered "American" in the stereotypical way. And yet we gobble up their entertainment, their sports spectacles, their political debates, their consumer products, their movies and television programs, their fast food adn their fancy cars. And we love it when Americans pay us the compliment of coming to our country to actually live, even though we know our's is only their adopted country.
As adoptive parents, Canada is a haven for these displaced native Americans. When there is a war with which they can't agree, we historially have welcomed them, and they have paid us back a hundred fold. When they disagree with us, we try to push back, but our heart isn't in it because we know they are not going away, and like a big brother, we also know that if we are in trouble, they will always be there for us.
So as Cito Gaston expresses his unqualified gratitude for his welcome and his life in his adopted city of Toronto, we also want to express our unqualified gratitude for his leadership and mentorship and example in our slightly less "neon" of communities. He certainly fit right in!

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