Each Spring since 1969, I have high hopes for my Kansas City Royals. Ever the clear-eyed realist, I may have acknowledged on occasion that they might not win the World Series every year, but I am always convinced that this is the season they will at least be competitive again. And keep in mind this includes teams whose opening day roster has highlighted such baseball giants as Emil Brown, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Angel Berroa in starring roles. As Ricky Fitts said in American Beauty, “Never underestimate the power of denial.” Politicians and cheating spouses know that Ricky was right. And so do major league baseball executives.
Of course April of 2010 was no different than every other April. After the first couple of weeks, I was excited to see our much improved running game, hitting, and decent starting pitching, if not our win/loss record. Then reality reared its ugly, unwelcome head once again. Our defense is porous and sloppy. Our bullpen is shaky. And even when we get on base, we do a terrible job of situational hitting – a must for any small market team with hopes of winning. It’s obvious to me that this team has a better level of talent than is reflected in our record. Which leads me to conclude that we need a new manager.
I must admit that I’ve never been a big fan of Trey Hillman. He just rubs me the wrong way, I guess. My antenna always goes up whenever the subject of someone’s “faith” enters into the discourse about any public figure’s hiring or job performance, as Trey’s has on so many occasions. My first instinct is to wonder what they’re hiding from. But that says as much about me as it does about him. And to be fair, he may not have done anything over-the-top to precipitate those discussions. That’s probably just who he is.
The fact is, no manager needs to be likable in order to garner my respect. If Tammy Faye Baker (may she rest in peace) could have led the Royals to a pennant, I would have named my first child in her honor, even though that would have really ticked him off.
Managers do, however, need to instill confidence that eventually, they will get the job done. And I’ve never gotten that feeling from watching or listening to Trey Hillman. Or from his teams. He looks desperate to me. And that is the last thing we need right now.
I respect Dayton Moore’s stance that continuity and trust are vital for any sound organization. I believe that too. He has publicly stated his opinion that the coaching staff knows what they’re doing — something he has to say, as the guy who decided to hire them — and he intends to give them the proper amount of time to turn things around. But how much time is enough? Why not give someone else a chance to audition now, in consideration for the job next season? I realize Joe Maddons and Ron Gardenhires don’t grow on trees. But I feel Trey has had a fair chance to give at least some ray of hope to a loyal but beleaguered fan base. And he has failed.
As the Rockies discovered last year, a change at the helm can sometimes help right the ship. And what’s the worst that could happen? Another last place finish?