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Was Orlando Hudson once demoted for calling his GM a pimp?

April 04, 2012|By Brian Cronin
  • Orlando Hudson evades a ball while batting for the Padres in spring training this year.
Orlando Hudson evades a ball while batting for the Padres in spring training… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Orlando Hudson was sent to the minors as punishment for referring to the Toronto Blue Jays general manager as a "pimp."

In the spring of 2002, current San Diego Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson was still a prospect trying to make the Toronto Blue Jays. Hudson was the Blue Jays' fourth-best prospect in 2002 (according to Baseball America - Josh Phelps was their #1 prospect at the time. Jayson Werth was #2 and Gabe Gross was #3) but his spot on the major league squad was far from assured. Toward the end of spring training in 2002, Hudson (then 24 years old) was asked by a reporter about the Toronto Blue Jays then-brand new General Manager, John Paul ("J.P.") Ricciardi. Hudson responded, "When I first met J.P., I thought, 'Smooth car -- smooth-lookin' cat.' He looks like a pimp back in his day. He's a good dude." The following day, Hudson was sent down to the minor leagues.

So, simply put, was Orlando Hudson sent to the minors as punishment for saying his general manager looked like "a pimp in his day"?

I believe that, with all said and done, Hudson was not sent to the minors because of his comment about Ricciardi (although I bet Hudson believes that to be the root cause). Here are the four main reasons why:

1. The Blue Jays had four other players they were trying at second base for the 2002 season: the speedy Homer Bush (who had come to Toronto in the Roger Clemens trade a few years earlier and had been the regular second baseman for most of the second half of 2001), Dave Berg (who they had signed as a free agent before the 2002 season), Chris Woodward (who was mostly a utility guy) and converted catcher Joey Lawrence (who had had a good 2000 season in the minors but had struggled in 2001). Eventually, after they all failed to perform, Homer Bush was cut in May of 2002 and Hudson eventually won the job in July.

2. Orlando Hudson did not get a hit in 16 at-bats in spring training. He also looked ill at ease at second base, according to the Toronto front office. When you combine that with the other players the Blue Jays felt they needed to give a chance to, it was not a good combination for Hudson, who Toronto felt could use some more seasoning in the minors.

3. Ricciardi said that it was not the reason. He did, indeed, take issue with Hudson's comments and the two talked about the incident (Ricciardi noted to reporters that it was a matter of respect), but he stated that it did not play a role in his decision.

4. Finally, just recently, ESPN analyst Keith Law, who worked for Toronto in 2002, was asked about the incident in one of his ESPN online chats. Reader Jon Cook asked: "Do you think at any point in your lifetime you will share with your readers what it was like to work with JP Ricciardi. In addition to that do you think you'd ever provide the details on what really happened between JP and Orlando Hudson." Law replied, "Nothing happened. Hudson was 0-for-the-spring, wasn't playing well at second base, and needed to go to the minors, so we optioned him. Complete non-story blown up by the media."

Law has been quite candid when speaking of his time in Toronto and has not gone out of his way to shield Ricciardi from criticism at all, so I find no reason to believe Law would not be telling the truth in this situation. When you couple Law's statement with Ricciardi's denials at the time, plus the other players the Blue Jays had at second base plus Hudson's poor spring training performance, I don't think there is enough to support the contention that Hudson was demoted due to his comments.

Even the timing - yes, it was a day after Hudson was interviewed, but it was also the end of spring training. The season started less than a week later. That is when you send people back down to the minors. Other reports of the incident at the time sound more likely to me, like the Yahoo! report from the time that stated, "The Toronto Blue Jays settled their second base dilemma--for the time being, at least--by optioning Orlando Hudson to triple-A Syracuse. Hudson, expected to contend with Homer Bush for the starting job, had been hitless in 16 at-bats and said he has yet to find his rhythm this spring. Hudson, or 'O-Dog,' as he likes to be called, didn't help his cause by commenting to a reporter that Blue Jays GM was a 'smooth lookin' cat' and adding that 'he looks like he was a pimp back in his day.' "

I would agree that Hudson did not help himself with his comments, but I do not believe that they were the root cause of his demotion.

So I am going with....

STATUS: False.

Thanks to my pal Matthew E. for suggesting I feature this one. And thanks, of course, to Keith Law for the insight into his time in Toronto.


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Was Orlando Hudson once demoted for calling his GM a pimp?

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