Sunday, June 3, 2012

MLB Draft note to AM610 radio talkers: What the Royals need now is not anger; they need players who hate to lose... and a little pitching, well, maybe Billy Martin, too

Billy Martin circa 1979 at Royal's Stadium... Photo/Lofflin

Anger is what the Royals need. Lou Piniella uprooting bases. Billy Martin spitting garlic juice in umpires' faces. George Brett ballistic.

Listening to a couple of radio talkers on AM 610 last week. Of course they were arguing over what the hapless Royals need. They need guys who get mad, get angry, get thrown out of games, come into the game with attitude, Al Hrabosky-esque.

Maybe you need angry people in football. Not in baseball. If you’ve ever played the game, you know the immediate danger anger poses in your ability to put a bat squarely on a ball or make a good pitch in a jam. Baseball and angry just don’t go together.

But, what the Royals do need, are players who absolutely hate losing. They haven’t had such players in a quarter century.

Most of the players they’ve brought through the minors in this most recent five-year plan knew about winning. They won at every level they played. Until they got to the majors. It usually takes a couple of months in the major league uniform to beat winning out of them. They go from expecting to win, to trying not to lose.

Luke Hochevar’s comments in the Kansas City Star this morning about another dismal pitching performance illustrate the mindset. “It was a 1-0 count,” Hochevar said, “and I was trying to go curveball middle down for an aggressive first strike — and it just hung up. It didn’t break or do anything. He put a good swing on it.” The blame here is on the ball. “It just hung up…”

Nothing speaks more eloquently about the dismal Royal’s franchise. At Kauffman Gardens yesterday I made sure to apologize to the grand old man who is buried there in the midst of his other fine gift to the city. At least this one -- the garden -- has people with expertise ... and financial backing ... to keep it lush and elegant.


Photograph: John Lofflin... Billy Martin, they say, liked to eat a clove of garlic before a game to punish the umpires he argued with. He figured they would think twice before letting a close call go against him.

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