OTC: KC Star’s Mellinger Alludes To Drama Inside Royals’ Clubhouse But Delivers Lollipops

“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

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.

45 Responses to OTC: KC Star’s Mellinger Alludes To Drama Inside Royals’ Clubhouse But Delivers Lollipops

  1. JS says:

    I think about Jason Whitlock writing the same article and how “over the top” it would be. I kind of miss a columnist who will take a stand and not be on the fence all the time.

    • freestateskc says:

      I thought of Whitlock too. He really knew how to stir the pot. A more nuanced analysis is nice but Mellinger can be afraid to take an opinion which is kind of the point of an opinion column.

      • Joe Blow says:

        Mellinger isn’t even afraid to take an opinion…he’s absolutely allergic to it.

        He’s tried a couple of times, and it was really embarrassing. So he’s pretty much given up..

    • Mike says:

      The problem with your Whitlock parallel here is that Whitlock is totally, 100% un-curious about baseball. He couldn’t give a shit about it even if he tried. So to say that JW would go further than Sam and take a bold stand completely ignores the fact that JW would bypass information and nuance, background and context, before he just napalmed everything in sight.
      And then all of us would bitch because he took a strong stand that didn’t make one ounce of sense.
      Or, knowing his limitation, he’d trot out a B.A. Homer column.

      • The Word. says:

        Mike agree, remember Whitlock’s “Stand” on UMKC Athletics? Or how about Mark Mangino’s weight?

        Whitlock took a lot of stands that were he did it just to take the unpopular side so he could debate it on his radio show.

        Mostly, Whitlock Stands were BS.

  2. Jim says:

    GH, what do you expect anyone to write about the Royals at this point in the season? A team that continues to bounce around the .500 mark, doesn’t have any power and most likely won’t sniff the post season………again.

    if you ask me, Sam’s whole column was pretty transparent. His attempt at stirring the pot was done with a baby spoon and won’t generate near the discussion that I’m sure he hoped for.

    All things being equal, at least Hosmer can contribute on defense. If BB can’t he…..he can’t help at all. He’s got ONE job. He ain’t doing it. Period. How can Yost not move him down? He’s hurting the team more than he’s helping.

    • Steve says:

      How can Yost not move him down? While I agree that Butler isn’t helping the team all that much, the article focuses on the lineup and both players’ contributions at the plate, and right now, Hosmer is more of a black hole, and he has been the last month-plus. Defense doesn’t have anything to do with who should be hitting where in the lineup. So just because Hosmer plays a good first base he doesn’t deserver to move down in the lineup? Hosmer was hitting .320 on May 11 and is currently at .256. Butler, after his slow start, hit .296 combined in May and June before a bit of a slow start in July.

      While I agree that neither player is hitting well, the fact that Hosmer is still getting the second-most AB on this team is just plain stupid. We can at least agree on that, right?

      I like this lineup:

      Cain
      Escobar or Infante
      Gordon
      Perez
      Hosmer
      Butler
      Moose
      Escobar or Infante
      Dyson

      Hell, I’d be fine with putting Moose in the five-hole right now. At least he’s hitting with some pop.

      Just wish the organization would stop treating Hosmer with kid gloves.

      • Jim says:

        No argument with any of that. Right now, they both suck. Neither is doing what the Royals need them to do at the plate. Not sure it makes much difference which one is moved down in the order.

        • Steve says:

          True. I guess it just frustrates me that Butler is getting thrown under the bus despite the fact that he at least has a track record of sustained success.

  3. JimmyD says:

    It’s no surprise Butler has been moved down. He won’t be a Royal next year. Why hurt the already damaged psyche of Hosmer who will be a Royal for a few more years? Billy brings almost nothing to the table at this point. Let him ground into double plays from the seven hole.

    • Sirr Parker says:

      100 percent correct. The Royals think/hope they can salvage something out of OmaHosmer’s career. On the flip side, when it comes to Butler, David Glass is already counting the $12 million he’s not going to pay him next year.

  4. Alphonse Tooty says:

    I’m willing to bet Butler and Hosmer have already talked about this and it amounts to diddly squat. Greg has no idea what “can and will rip a clubhouse in half” and him advising Mellinger on how to write a column is like me telling Greg how to sell software (that’s something you’re good at, I presume?). Another laughable effort from Mr. Hall. But I read it. And, that’s what counts, right?

    • Kyle R says:

      You should do a guest OTC sometime; I bet Greg would love to have a day off and you could show everybody how easy it is.

      • Kyle Fan says:

        You’re right, buddy! I would love it as long as it focused on how awesome KU is! Kyle, you’re still the best.

      • Kyle Fan says:

        Kyle, you should write a column about your awesomeness…why didn’t I think of this before??

      • Alphonse Tooty says:

        So, you’re saying taking quotes from area columnists, announcers, talk show hosts, etc. and leveling the same criticisms time after time after time is difficult? Or, are you saying, “yeah, Greg’s blog is pretty lame from time to time. Think you could do better?”

        • Kyle R says:

          Nope, I’m saying it’s exceedingly time-consuming and difficult to post to a blog, day after day, especially when that also includes the time to listen to sports radio and/or read the paper too. My blog, which is mediocre at best, gets a new post every month if I’m lucky because I don’t have enough to say and get too busy with other stuff. And sometimes you guys act like Greg is paid to write this blog we all enjoy coming to day in and day out, even when trolls do their best to ruin it.

          • Kyle Fan says:

            You’re the best, Kyle. Put them in their place!

          • Alphonse Tooty says:

            So, you’re saying this would be a better place if we all supported Greg’s opinions and blew smoke up his ass like you do all the time? I believe I’ve said previously I come here most days so I obviously enjoy the content, even though I consider Greg to be a major assclown.

          • TiberiusGracchus says:

            That is something I have always wondered about. All the local sports radio programming adds up to least 24 hrs(counting commercials). How does GH listen to all this? Is there radio tivo? Even if there is, wouldn’t listening to much of this rubbish cause one to become suicidal?

            • Mike says:

              Most stations save their show segments on their web or mobile sites in a podcast form.
              It’s how I catch up to some segments at night when I go to bed.

    • Jared says:

      We are all consumers of a columnist’s work. As such, it’s not out of line to suggest what we, as that consumer, might prefer to read. At least, I don’t think so. I can’t build a car, shoot and produce a movie or code a smartphone app, but I still have opinions about those things.

      And maybe Greg’s preferences and assessments differ from yours. That doesn’t mean they’re inherently invalid.

  5. Phaedrus says:

    I think Gordon and Butler have a legitimate gripe. They were both sent down even though they weren’t struggling as much (or as long) as Moose was. They were also sent down at a time when the Royals had no chance of making the playoffs, so Butler/Gordon’s struggles weren’t really affecting the team.

    It’s pretty clear that Moore’s guys are coddled. Wasn’t there talk of some friction a month or two ago? Back before Moose was sent down?

  6. Jeff Gelski says:

    Two years later, it appears Robinson Cano was right.

    • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

      Cano was right then, and he’s right now. I laughed heartily while Seattle was in town and Cano routinely jammed the Royals’ fans boos right back in their face with big hits and rbis.

  7. Joe Blow says:

    Butler can’t hit this year. When they sent Butler & Gordon down, they at least had people they kind of thought could sort of man their positions. If they sent Hosmer down, Butler would be the primary guy…and he can’t play the field either. When he came up, he seemed like at least a hitting machine, but he can’t even do that now. He’s never got himself in shape, and he’s possibly the slowest and crappiest baserunner I’ve seen…I hate to talk shit on a guy, but he could be a *lot* better than he is. Hosmer can play a good 1st base and at least seems to be willing to get better at this point. Butler whined when they sent him down, whined when they made him a DH, and is still whining. Clubhouse cancer.

    And, of course, Mellinger is so middle of the road he’s never even seen the lane lines..

  8. Tigerpiper says:

    Who are these “sabermetric” specialists at the Royals? Why aren’t they working on OBP and bunting?

  9. I would like my columnist not to handle your barbs like a pro, but rather to handle them like a KK or a Whitlock would. Life’s so much more interesting with pompous jackasses, Fountain Moms, and #stripperproblems running wild. Sam could use a good bender, or maybe pull a few bank jobs or something, in order to loosen up.

    • mike t says:

      You mean something along these lines…. “So Butler comes to KC, anxious to be in the big leagues and with a power stroke that some say was reminiscent of Brett, only to lose himself in illusions of grandeur, lost himself in a bottle of bbq sauce, then lost his swing and forgot how to lose weight and run faster. And he’s earning million$ to do it!”

    • Joe Blow says:

      Woah woah woah…Sam likes Boulevard Tank 7, wings at the Peanut, and the Z-Man at OK Joes — he only mentions them in every article — so he’s your guy!

    • Phaedrus says:

      Rage, thank you for gracing us with your presence. I hope my fellow readers can uphold their sacred duty to intelligently respond to your comment.

  10. Edward says:

    I heard the same sort of comments by TJ Carpenter over the weekend, talking about how the Royals’ clubhouse is no fun for the media to cover due to some kind of undefined split in there. Because, you know, seeing your decades-awful team above .500 at the halfway point of the season and in wild-card contention is horrid and should be denigrated at every opportunity.

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