More On Frank White's Firing: Frank White Speaks Out, Dayton Moore's Role, Etc

The latest in grown men behaving badly:

This story broke Thursday night and slowly built towards an explosion Friday afternoon. Jeff Passan and Rustin Dodd let it be known that they were hearing that White was fired for being critical. Then White went on Nick Wright's radio show and it reached a new level.

  • As has been mentioned a few times in the comments, we are only hearing one side of the story here. I'm not sure the Royals have a great side of the story to offer, but in any case, right now, it's all Frank's side. For many fans, there's nothing that they can say that would placate them anyway. (Now, full disclosure, I am not in that camp. But I'm also a non-KCitian.)
  • I was going to write this morning something to the effect of "don't blame Dayton Moore." My assumption was that this was an ownership matter and couldn't quite see how the baseball side would care. That may be incorrect, however. Mellinger writes, "Royals general manager Dayton Moore is being blamed in many circles for White’s ouster from the broadcast booth, which multiple sources adamantly dispute and classify as a collaborative decision." In the same column, White isolates, "upper management" as the problem. Moreover, Mellinger spotlights the 2008 manager search, and Trey Hillman's hiring, as a key flashpoint in the Royals-White battle. Given that, I think that Moore likely is a player in this. Although maybe it is a one-sided animus. If I'm Frank and I see that Moore doesn't take me seriously as a candidate (in my mind) and brings in Trey freaking Hillman instead, I probably do get real bitter, real fast. But that still doesn't get us to Moore wanting White gone. Maybe after three years of sniping, Moore put in a call.
  • Importantly, I think the leaked explanation of White being critical or having the wrong tone on broadcasts is the team's attempt to spin this. They can't say, "we've had a toxic environment with Frank for years and everyone is just sick of it." FSKC also can't say, "you know what, Frank was pretty bad on TV fulltime." So they went with basically no explanation and then the behind the scenes thing about negativity. The problem is that Frank was rarely negative on camera, so the plausible explanation isn't really that plausible.
  • I believe that everything relevant in this matter was off camera. White may have been really negative, but it was all in the halls, media elevators, and suites of The K before and after games. What we're dealing with is a group of middle-aged men who just don't like each other. And really, that may just be the long and short of it. Here's what White said on 610, "I’m not going to miss going to the ballpark, having guys look at you with one eye. Guys who don’t wanna come up and talk to you. But then they do, they say, "hi, how you doin’ today?" And then go behind your back and talk about other stuff. I don’t like that. I don’t like people that lie."
  • Mellinger has written about the White-Royals split before and has made the point that White is probably not blameless here. Mellinger writes, "White is complicit in getting to this point. His reputation for privately badmouthing the Royals caught up to him, as well as a feeling from some that he’s a diva who longs to be treated as George Brett’s equal without the Hall of Fame status to justify it."
  • Now, the dot that isn't fully being connected here is that Ryan Lefebvre interviewed for the Twins radio job this off-season, seemingly a step down professionally. From what I've heard, he really wanted the Twins job: it wasn't just a contract ploy. Now, perhaps Ryan wanted the change for strictly personal reasons. However, given the last few days, there's no way we can't speculate about how Ryan fit into all of this. Was the environment getting so toxic that Ryan simply wanted out? Was he worried for his own job? Was he on the side of "upper management" against Frank?

On the one hand, you want to write, "how did it get this bad? How could the Royals get in this situation?" But, on the other hand, you can see how it happened. White wanted to be around and, inconveniently, he was the one guy in twenty that didn't move to Arizona/Florida/California and safely disappear. Awkward. And really, the qualifications to get baseball coaching and broadcasts jobs just aren't that high. White is simply looking at the industry he's spent his life in and wondering, "when is my turn?" The Royals -- if they never actually wanted White around in a prominent role -- did themselves no favors by having him manage AA or do part time broadcast work. They thought White would either quit or be satisfied with partial victories. But he wasn't and he called their bluff. So here we are.

I don't sentimentalize the situation here. I find it laughably immature and a poor reflection on all involved. A group of middle-aged men (I'll reference their supposed maturity again) all making good to great money and generally living amazing lives couldn't find a way to make it work. A group of guys who spend their lives in golf shirts talking to overgrown adolescents in baseball uniforms, couldn't keep it together and just let things be.

Once again, baseball does teach us quite a lot about character, leadership, and life.

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