“The last thing this eight-years-in-the-Processing Royals season needs is drama, but here it is anyway. One of the team’s highest-paid and longest-tenured players feels singled out and is going passive-aggressive to make his point and subtly call out a teammate.”
Sam Mellinger, sports columnist, in his lede for his Tuesday column in The Kansas City Star
GH: Mellinger took this column to a place not often ventured by The Kansas City Star’s sports section. Whether drama inside the Royals clubhouse between Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Ned Yost exists or not, having the lead sports columnist write about it in the newspaper creates the perception that it is real. I would prefer to read this kind of controversial column from Mellinger when the Royals are in town so their reaction is more immediate but I applaud the effort…but not the result.
“Somebody’s got to be that guy, and it’s sending a message to the rest of the guys. I can take it. I guess I’m a mentally tough guy. He could do it to somebody else, but I think he knows how I’ll take it.”
Billy Butler, in a story last Saturday by The Star’s Andy McCullough, on Ned Yost moving him down in the Royals lineup, Kansas City Star
GH: This is the quote from Butler that Mellinger was referencing when he stated the Royals demoted DH was being passive aggressive in calling out Hosmer. I love a good conspiracy theory but I didn’t get that from Butler’s comment when I read McCullough’s well-written story in Saturday’s paper. I took Butler’s “somebody else” comment as being more generic. Maybe Sam is right and I am wrong here. Maybe Billy was subtlety pointing a finger at Hosmer as a guy who can’t mentally take a demotion. If so, Mellinger’s column should have zoomed in on this point and stayed there.
“Ned Yost has final say on the lineup, which is put together with the input of the coaches and front office, including sabermetric specialists. None of them would say it publicly, but moving Butler down in the lineup while keeping Hosmer higher is as clear a sign as the team can give that — track record or not — they have more faith in Hosmer reaching his potential than in Butler regaining his past.”
Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star
GH: This is the kind of statement that can and will rip a clubhouse in half. Mellinger tells his readers that while Yost and his staff refuse to publicly say that they have more faith in Hosmer than Butler, it is basically what they are thinking and saying in closed-door meetings. This is strong stuff from Sam. Butler is not going to like reading this column. The Royals are REALLY not going to like reading this column. I loved reading this column.
“All other things equal, Butler is a great fit for Kansas City. He was the rare homegrown star from the sad pre-2006 era, so excited to be drafted in the first round that he signed below the going rate almost immediately. He married a nice girl he met during his first stop in the minor leagues, and she’s helped him become one of the city’s most charitable athletes, helping feed Kansas City’s hungry through the Bishop Sullivan Center.”
Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star GH: This is where Mellinger tosses Butler a treat and tries to make his column a bit easier for the big guy and his wife to digest. It’s the kind of stuff that does nothing more than maybe make Sam’s next trip to the Royals’ locker room a bit easier. Readers should skip over these kind of columnist curtseys.
“But all things are not equal, of course, and no matter the other stuff, these things are always about production. Kansas City is no different than anywhere else in that way, a town that cheered Andre Rison and booed Mike Sweeney.”
Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star GH: Just in case Butler or Hosmer or the Royals were still mad at Mellinger for writing this column, Sam assures them that Kansas City fans will pick the wrong guy to cheer. When in doubt, blame the dumb fans.
“Are you on Team Butler or Team Hoz?”
Steven St. John, while discussing Mellinger’s column on his Tuesday morning show, 810 AM GH: Mellinger’s column does seem to want you to pick a side – at least he defines two sides. What Sam doesn’t do is pick one. Mellinger just kind of built a few fences here and stepped back to watch the drama play out. I like my columnist to jump over that fence and defend his position.
“Butler and the Royals have been united for too long to let their last and most important season together be affected by any unnecessary drama.”
Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star
GH: So this is how Mellinger leaves us? With a less-fulfilling finale than the TV series Lost? Did Sam’s third-grade teacher write this note to Butler and the Royals? “Dear Boys, please play nice together.” A column that started with so much promise, intrigue and drama ended with a bow and a sucker – and I feel like the latter for expecting it to end differently.
GregHall24@yahoo.com and Twitter @greghall24