KC Royals fans expressed concern after the hiring of manager Mike Matheny. Now that he has had some time with the team, things look to be going well.
KC Royals fans will likely always remember when Ned Yost announced his retirement. It was the end of an era for the team. While there were some years of loss and decline associated with Yost’s decade as manager, there are also years of winning, progress, and championships.
Yost retiring was a moment that came with mixed emotions for some. Many still respected what Yost did for the team and that he helped bring a World Series to Kansas City, but some also saw the quick decline of the Royals and felt it was time for a change.
Now, the team has that change in manager Mike Matheny. When Yost first announced his retirement, Matheny’s name was immediately in the air as a replacement. He came into the organization through a similar route as Yost, and while he had a questionable past as a manager, he did have a decent record under his belt.
It wasn’t long after the season that the rumors became true and Matheny was named the Royals manager. There were a lot of concerns surrounding Matheny and his past managerial position in St. Louis, from which he was fired.
I’ll admit, I had concerns myself. Seeing and hearing concerns from Cardinals fans about his treatment of players and strange tactics had me worried about the future or Royals baseball, especially during a rebuild with young players.
As time has passed and spring training has started, the realization that it’s crucial to give Matheny a chance has grown. Assuming Matheny will fail or wanting him to fail is assuming or wanting the same about the team as a whole.
Since his hire, Matheny has said the right things. He seems to have learned from his mistakes and is embracing things such as analytics in baseball, something that would be fairly new to the Royals. While it may still take some time for fans to fully come around, he seems to be moving in the right direction. Jeffrey Flanagan always has some good quotes from the manager.
Maybe a small gesture, but being in the dugout also gives the idea of being with the team and a full part of the game. But even more important could be this one:
Treatment of players, especially young players was a concern that surrounded Matheny upon his hire. Statements like this go a long way to instill confidence and show that he truly has learned from past mistakes, and wants only the best for the Royals and the players.
And then, there is this tweet from Alec Lewis, containing a quote from pitcher Josh Staumont:
This tweet is my favorite of them all, but mostly because it reminds me of personal experience. So, I will keep it short, but, storytime.
On a weekend drill for the National Guard, the team I was on was limited as many other members of the unit were sent elsewhere for another task. We had to get our equipment up and running and didn’t have the normal amount of manpower. Along comes our fairly new Commander, a Captain.
He saw I was struggling to get my equipment together quickly by myself and offered a hand, doing dirty work and enlisting the help of the Lieutenants as well. While this may not mean much to some, those in the military will understand. This act of camaraderie made me feel not so far apart in terms of rank for a little while. No matter our positions, that of commander or that of a soldier, we were a team.
That’s the important message that I draw from Staumont’s quote on Matheny. He wants to create an atmosphere where players want to play with him as their manager. He has to put himself at their level and “clean cleats”, have that camaraderie, and will be rewarded with the respect from the players on the team, veterans down to prospects.
So, while I still want to see more of Matheny to ensure the major concerns are taken care of, I have realized the importance of allowing him his chance with the Royals. To this point, he looks like a manager who has made mistakes but admits this. He has taken the time to move forward and progress.
Some may still have concerns and may not be convinced of the changes, but as the players seem to have built a good relationship with him so far, that’s a telling and positive sign. If Matheney has changed, this is a fresh start for the Royals, a chance to progress with a new atmosphere, and a step in the direction back to contention. This is why it’s important to give Matheny his chance.
Continue keeping up with the Royals as they progress through spring training. Now is the time to get a good look at players for 2020 and for the future, and to see how successful the team may be under Matheny.