Friday, May 31, 2013

Number Five on the top step of the dugout; brilliant baseball move, brilliant public relations move... Moore to fans and radio talkers: Now shut up

Dammit, Dayton Moore beat me to the punch.
But only because I’m in the middle of a big writing project. Otherwise, I’d have filed this piece Wednesday morning and beaten him to the punch.
Hiring George Brett as hitting coach for the local boys Thursday morning was a stroke of genius. Well, put it this way: Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is the most obvious thing you can do.
Or, as a Texas politician once said: When you realize you are digging a hole for yourself, stop digging.
The Royals have dug one helluva hole for themselves as an organization. And, from the beginning they’ve had some of the answers right under their noses but refused to turn to them. My guess is every  general manager and every manager wanted to do this thing by himself, make his own name, put his own stamp on the turnarounds that never came. To bring in Brett was to introduce into the current equation the fiercely competitive impulses of those brief shining moments in Royal’s history. That could be dangerous for the brain trust.
And George said it himself in interviews yesterday, though not in these exact words. How can you be the one to fire George Brett?
Now, I’m going to expand the discussion a bit. What I would have posted Wednesday morning would have been this. Dayton Moore should start by driving over to Community America Ballpark today with a five year contract in his hands, walk up to Frank White between innings, apologize, then hand him the contract. Frank White should be the manager with a guaranteed five years to work.
And Kevin Seitzer should return.
Well, I’ll stop there for now. I sound like a damned homer.
The public relations brilliance of this is difficult to overestimate. In essence, what Moore is saying to the fans – would be saying if he took my advice – is, ‘OK, stop complaining, stop whining, stop yelping. Here. Here are your guys. The guys you want in the dugout. They’re here for five years, at least. I don’t want to hear another word about it. I can’t fire them and neither can you. They ARE the franchise. I’ll put my full attention on getting them the players they need. But, in the meantime, shut up.’
Well, something like that. This move alone will stick a sock in the radio sports talkers for a while. Which is fine. They can yodel all they want about how brilliant this move was. They can take credit for it, if they like. It’s their job. It’s how they make a living. Everybody wins.
And, winning is what this is about, as much as public relations. Or, should be. Did you see new life in the dugout last night when the television cameras focused there – which they did a lot with Number Five on the top step? Did you see smiles? Did you see that, ‘What did I tell you look?’ pass between the worst hitting right fielder in baseball and the man with 3,114 career hits after the ninth inning home run?
No, it can’t last forever. But, then again, did you ever think anyone could take Goose deep when George did?
Well, one more thing. When you read Brett’s comments in the paper this morning, you realized what has been missing in that dugout this season. The man who could always choose the right pitch to hit into the alley has trouble choosing the safest words to say politically. His words this morning could lead to only one conclusion. The current manager doesn’t have it. Maybe never did. He has to go. The two cannot co-exist in the Royals’ dugout for long. They see the game, the players, the spirit of winning, to say nothing of the craft of hitting a baseball, from completely different angles, and those angles are incompatible.

Who's faster: Billy Butler or Alcides Excobar?

A club run by the likes of Brett and White would not tolerate the play of some of the current nine. While Alcides Escobar can make brilliant plays a short -- and muff the easy ones just as often -- Billy Butler beats him to first base every time on a pop up to the outfield or a ground ball to second. In the scorebook, the result is the same. But in the spirit of the nine, such things make all the difference.
Now, Dayton Moore needs to take my advice and get himself out to a T-Bones game. The reclamation work has only begun.

--Lofflin, feeling strangely energized this soggy morning…

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