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No apology from Jays manager Gibbons over ‘dresses’ comment

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons says his comments about playing in dresses from Tuesday evening were meant in jest.

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Everyone, calm down.

That was the message conveyed by Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons Wednesday morning for anybody who might feel the least bit offended by the now-infamous "dresses" comment he made the previous night.

"It was meant as a little humour," Gibbons told a group of reporters here in advance of Toronto's final opening-series game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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"My mom, my wife, my daughter found it kind of funny. They know me," Gibbons continued. "I do think the world might need to lighten up a little bit. I've moved on from that."

So does that mean that an apology will not be forthcoming, Gibbons was asked?

"I can't understand how that would offend anybody, to be honest with you," Gibbons said, once again invoking the judgment of his immediate family as being his barometer of what is and what isn't considered in good taste.

"I didn't expect, don't understand, any uproar," Gibbons said. "I don't get that, I never have. That's not the way I think.

"I try to inject a little humour into kind of a tense situation, that's kind of who I am. You guys know me. That's just kind of who I am, no intent. But I do think we need to lighten up in the world."

The bizarre ending to Tuesday night's contest was still very much a topic of discussion within the Blue Jays clubhouse some 16 hours later, with players like Josh Donaldson weighing in loudly about the perceived injustice of it.

One team staff member was getting plenty of yuks after waltzing around the room for a bit outfitted in a dress.

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The play that created this tempest in a teapot occurred in the top of the ninth inning when the Rays were battling their way to what would be a controversial 3-2 triumph over the Blue Jays.

But the Blue Jays were threatening, loading the bases with one out for slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who hit a chopper down the third baseline towards Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria.

Longoria threw to second baseman Logan Forsythe for the easy force-out on Jose Bautista, who was sliding into the bag after breaking from first on the play.

With Bautista bearing in on him at the bag at second and lightly clasping his opponent's right leg, Forsythe made an awkward throw to first for the attempted double play that would have ended the game.

But the ball skipped away from Rays' first baseman Steve Pearce for what was originally ruled a throwing error by the on-field umpiring crew, resulting in Toronto scoring two runs to take a 4-3 lead.

Toronto's elation, however, was short-lived.

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The Rays asked the umpires for a review of the play believing it to be in contravention of the new safe-sliding guidelines that came into play for the start of the season.

After a 90-second delay, the "replay official" determined that Bautista had hindered Forsythe's ability to complete the play. As a result, both Bautista and Encarnacion were ruled out on the play and the Rays celebrated their one-run victory.

"I guess we'll come out wearing dresses tomorrow, maybe that's what everybody's looking for," a heated Gibbons would proclaim after the game in his manager's office.

Gibbons believes – and still does – that the new rule goes overboard when it comes to the integrity of the game and protecting players.

"There's certain things in sports, that's a big entertaining play in sports that's really vital to an outcome of a game," Gibbons said. "Guys are trying to stay out of a double play, things like that.

"They're taught, they learn from young ages. You slide hard, it's a part of the game. Guys who play middle infield, they're well aware of it. They choose to play those positions, they're all trained how to get out of the way of certain things.

"But I think they anticipated going in with this new rule that there's probably going to be some controversy along the way, kind of similar to what happened when they did that with the catchers, too."

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