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Arguing with Mitch Williams II: Firing the KC Royals' Ned Yost

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Arguing with Mitch Williams II: Firing the KC Royals' Ned Yost
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On Monday, the Royals lost their 11th game in a row, dropping their season record to 3-13. They have lost 10 straight games at home, the first time a team has done that in nearly a hundred years.

Their .188 winning percentage, if somehow carried out over the full season, would work out to a final record of 30-132, or a whole lot worse than the 1962 Mets. In fact, it’s in the vicinity of the not-really-trying Cleveland Spiders, the team that finished up with some hotel counterman pitching their last game.

That in and of itself should be a hint that radical moves are not called for. Nature abhors a high-energy state, and extreme losing definitely qualifies as a high-energy state.

Everything relaxes back to average, and the Royals will be no different. That in no way is to suggest that they will actually be good, but they won’t be historically bad, either.

Mitch Williams’ argument, voiced Monday evening on the MLB Network, is that Royals manager Ned Yost needs to be fired just to make a point to the team that it can’t be doing things like going 3-13. Now, I’m taking liberties here—if there was a better reason than that, I didn’t catch it, so I’m inferring that was the reason.

I don’t know if Yost is a good manager or a bad one. He had six seasons with the Brewers in which that team didn’t go anywhere, and they finally let him go just as the team was on the verge of making the playoffs. The Royals haven’t done much in his time there, either, but the Royals have institutional problems far greater than who is in the manager’s office. Specifically, they have no pitching.

The Royals have run into a lot more outs than they could afford this year, and they’re 0-5 in one-run games, both of which may be a reflection on the manager.

This is what happens when Joakim Soria is pulled out of a group that is only so deep to begin with. As Sports Illustrated points out, they’re also not hitting in key situations:

In a column published yesterday in the Kansas City Star, Sam Mellinger calls the Royals’ current situation “Baseball Hell”:

He is the producer for the Royals’ television broadcasts, and maybe this is part of the job description. “Our Time” wasn’t his idea. Someone in marketing thought it up before Loverro came to Kansas City, but, as he says, “I definitely took some license and ran with it.”

The TV broadcasts have pulled back some on #OurTime, you might’ve noticed. Loverro says he doesn’t want to lose credibility, but the damage is done, especially as the club continues to roll out the videos at the stadium and the commercials on the broadcasts.

The whole thing might’ve worked just fine, in an alternative reality where the Royals weren’t playing the role as one of the city’s all-time sports buzzkills. “Our Time” was supposed to be a rallying cry. Now, it’s more like a reason to cry.

“The Our Time stuff,” Francoeur says, “if I could go back, I’d try to nip that in the bud.”

The bigger issue than a busted marketing plan, Mellinger says, is that the Royals can’t afford to alienate their ticket buyers this early in the season.

He’s correct about that, but there is no evidence that sacrificing the manager is going to assuage that group—there is no skipper so dynamic, so galvanizing, that he might drive ticket sales (except, perhaps, Bobby Valentine?) or, for that matter, make more than a small difference to a team that has Bruce Chen as its No. 1 starter.

Beyond what seems like an inherently unfair way to deprive Yost of his job, symbolic gestures would seem to lack power when a team loses 90-100 games a year and you’ve told your fanbase that this is “Our Time.” You don’t need to deliver another manager, you need to deliver, finally, on your promises.  

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