Writer Jonah Keri from well-trafficked sports site Grantland.com called the Kansas City Royals a “flawed contender” in a story published Monday. Keri considers the Royals the 11th best team in baseball after the first week of play.
After a 29-year playoff drought that is now the longest such stretch among U.S. major professional sports leagues, being any kind of contender is, I suppose, progress of a sort—flawed or otherwise.
It certainly beats irrelevance.
However, just after offering this crumb to long-suffering Kansas City Royals fans, Keri then bashes Manager Ned Yost’s decision-making:
The Tigers have been so tough in the early going that they even managed to pull off a feat of mind control. With two on and two out in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Royals, the Tigers somehow hypnotized Ned Yost into sticking with Tim Collins with the game on the line. Collins is a fine reliever who might’ve been a smart choice under normal circumstances, but not after he’d struggled to find the strike zone all inning long, and not going against lefty-masher Ian Kinsler, and not with righty closer Greg Holland, one of the five best relief pitchers on the planet, available. The result was a Tigers win, and a KC giveaway.9
Sounds like Jonah Keri would fit right in with every other Royals blogger on the web—especially those inclined toward sabermetrics. It’s a bit disconcerting to think Ned Yost is one reason why Keri calls the Kansas City Royals a “flawed contender”.
Tactical shortcoming aside, a manager’s job is more about getting players mentally ready to play on a consistent basis over what is the longest season in professional sports. Ned Yost proved he is good in this area after keeping his team in contention last season after a 4-23 May and a brutal losing streak just before the All-Star break. Yet, the closer the Royals get to a playoff berth, the more every little tactical mistake matters. One or two games can mean missing out on a post-season run.
I guess all us Royals fans can do is hope Ned Yost finds a way to break the whammy that has plagued this franchise since 1985.