Zack Greinke is far, far away from Kansas City, and he won’t be coming back.
Most of the rank and file Royals fans have reacted with resigned disgust. There’s a terrible feeling of having seen this before. To many, this trade seems like another Johnny Damon or Carlos Beltran experience where our most beloved player got wrenched away from us for a nothing more than a handful of magic beans. But as most of the blog-reading public knows, there was really no way of keeping Greinke around for long.
The Royals and the fans will miss Greinke immensely. He gave us four amazing years after he came back from a mental breakdown and brought home the AL Cy Young after an putting up an amazing 2.16 ERA in the 2009 season. He was adored by the fans, put butts in the seats and made every 5th game a must-see event.
Then Greinke started to show his doubts about the team’s direction, stopped putting in 100 percent on the mound and publicly demanded a trade. I guess I can’t blame the guy for wanting to win and being tired of sitting through losing season after losing season, but I can blame him for giving up on his team.
Through May and April of last year, Greinke stayed on line with his previous campaign and posted a 3.33 ERA, but as the team fell out of contention his monthly ERA steadily rose until it topped out at 5.92 in September.
By the end of the year, his talk matched his play and the pitcher who said, “I don’t want to play anywhere else,” only a year before looked like he would rather be playing anywhere but Kansas City.
Greinke took it one step further when he made it public he wanted out.
His social anxiety issues and his general dislike of the media were well known, and the Royals went out of their way to make sure Greinke didn’t have to live in the public spotlight. The organization gave him a special set of rules. Even though he was the face of the franchise, Greinke didn’t have to make public appearances or grant interviews if he didn’t want to. But when he wanted out, he had no problem going right to the Star to complain about The Process and talk about trades.
Once the Royals realized he was already gone, Moore (perhaps too quickly) started to openly shop him, and Greinke promptly switched agents to make the trade go faster. After being so eager to leave, Greinke turned around and vetoed what the Royals considered to be the best trade out there. When he found a trade he liked, he broke his no-trade clause and just left without so much as a good-bye or thanks for all the time and trouble the organization invested in his young career.
I guess I should be happy that Greinke did his best to keep the whole process quiet rather than doing the whole Terrell Owens routine, but I’m not. I should feel better because Greinke didn’t care about the money and only left to win, but I don’t. This feels more like a bad breakup than anything else. The organization did what they could to keep him. They gave him a wide swath, kept him far from attention of the media and the fans that bothered him so much, and at the end of the day he still walked.
I’m not saying we should blindly hate Greinke for leaving. He did put more into this team than it deserved. Before the end of this year, he brought the heat every start and played like the Royals were pushing for the playoffs, rather than racing Cleveland to the bottom of the division.
We should never forget the magical things Greinke did in a Royals uniform. He came back from the depths of depression and played his tail off for some of the worst teams the Royals have ever fielded. He routinely made the best hitters in the game look like frightened double A batters and kept us in awe all summer long.
Greinke was one of the best pitchers in the game and he was ours. Now, he’s someone else’s to have and to cherish. As painful as it is to think, Greinke will probably go on to do bigger and better things without his years in Kansas City so much as crossing his mind.
Baseball is a business, and players don’t want to lose. Things don’t always work out for the fans, and players sometimes don’t always live up to our expectations. We might have thought it would be different with homegrown talent, but at the end of the day it’s all about chasing titles. That’s a hard truth to live with.
I’ll miss you Zack, you son of a b*tch.