"Look at the 1970s Oakland As," Jonah Keri says. "All those guys hated each other and they were fantastic. With Cito, you can be sure everything's going to be okay, there won't be discord in the clubhouse. You don't hear too many stories that Adam Lind stabbed Aaron Hill with a fork at dinner last night, that just doesn't happen with the Jays. So I think Cito's fine, he's a good shepherd for a team that has pretty good talent."
At the same time, Keri understands the criticism that the self-contained Gaston isn't busy enough on the bench. "It's a valid point. People who watch the game closely want managers to be tacticians and you want them to give good quote. So Cito's boring in multiple ways, because he doesn't make a lot of moves and he's not that charismatic either. Which means there'll be a lot of backlash when the team's not going well."
But right now the team's going well, or well enough for Gaston's swan song to be a sweet one. "I think Cito got the best out of these players and became something of a statesman," Beeston says. "When he reflects back on his career, I think he'll reflect favourably on the way he left this team in a position to go forward."
The breathless message boards disagree. They want him to play J.P. Arencibia, giving him room to grow this season even at the cost of a few wins. But that's not Gaston's style. In his mind, he's playing the game the way it was meant to be played, putting the best team on the field to challenge the New York Yankees as they fight to win the division, supporting his young pitchers, "who've busted their ass all season to pitch the way they have."
The Hall of Fame can take care of itself.
"The only way I'm going into Cooperstown is after I'm dead," Gaston says with trademark stoicism. "That's okay, it's just one of those things. But somebody's going to wake up and realize that I was the first black manager ever to win the World Series."