He is still probably not well-liked by Orioles fans, but despite that little Mike Mussina thing, I respect Cito Gaston.
He was just honored by commissioner Bud Selig here at the winter meetings along with Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre for their service in the game.
After the press conference, I asked Gaston his take on the economics of the game, especially as it applies to the AL East, where fans of his organization, Toronto, and fans of the O's can feel a hopelessness about competing with Boston and New York.
"Well, I would always remind them of what happened down in Tampa a couple of years ago and Tampa came up and won this year, too," he said.
"The Blue Jays have a pretty good rotation going over there and if they can get some guys in the bullpen to finish those games off for them, you never know with pitching. And Tampa has good pitching, too."
"When you talk Baltimore and the Blue Jays, they are going to have their hands full. That's because the Yankees will get better. Boston, if they are healthy next year, they will be much better. It's just tough, hope the fans continue to come out and support those two teams so perhaps they can go out and acquire some players so they can compete with those two ballclubs."
Can baseball take any steps to help the economic disparity?
"I don't think so. It is what it is, and I don't know if that's going to change. We'll see."
Gaston, after retiring as Jays' manager at the end of 2010, remains with the club as an advisor.
"I'm glad it ended (my career) with a win and a winning season. As time goes on, I will probably reflect a little more. You are going to miss the players and coaches, too. Right now I am enjoying myself and am still in the organization."