Outside, it's raining. Cold, dreary, and gray. Mountains surround me in this beautiful place, but I can't see them. They are too obscured by the gray. I know the majesty is there. I know that, other days, people take trains, trams, and cars up into the mountains to see for miles, to bask in the glory of 12,000 feet. But not now...now is a time for weary rest...and the clouds don't seem to be going away anytime soon.
What I just described to you is the view outside my current hotel window in Interlaken, Switzerland (there is indeed good chocolate, but the weather prevents almost all sightseeing in the mountains). However, it might as well be about the current Royals. The last two games have put a huge gray damper on the hopes and dreams of Royals fans. Objectively, we know that these are just two games. The Royals could still win 100 more (or lose 100 more). It's not a big deal.
It's hard to think objectively though, isn't it?
As Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, said in Moneyball, "It's hard not to romanticize baseball." And that's certainly true. Our disappointment stems not from the fact that these two games are essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of the season, but because they reinforce our emotional views of the Royals as 'losers.' They function as a microcosm of what many of us have endured for years: smashed hopes, losing, and disappointment. We're tired, Royalsland. Are you listening, Yost and Moore? Are you listening, anyone? Will anyone with any influence or voice read this?
Probably not. Just gray.
Why not? These last two games continue to show glaring weaknesses in two areas the Royals cannot afford to cast by the wayside: managing and roster construction. Let's deal with the first one.
Ned Yost by all accounts seems like a good guy, even if he's a bit too southern. However, we are beginning to see why he was fired in the middle of a pennant race for the 2008 Brewers. His first mark against him is confusing and unhelpful bullpen usage. One should take a quick look at how many innings Tiny Tim Collins pitched last year, especially before the All-Star Break. Or take a look at Yost's non-use and subsequent roster waste in Nate Adcock. This, though, is not his biggest knock; every manager in baseball does some inexplicable use of the bullpen. Then there's Yost's stubborn cling to questionable ideas. Anyone who has watched the Royals this year knows that they have made a huge number of outs running the bases, yet Yost will not accept the possibility that overly aggressive baserunning is detrimental. He also seems to have a curious love for qualities which do not actually exhibit themselves in the real world. Chris Getz 'stinging' the ball is one; there's no evidence for it, but he's doing it. Yost also, strangely, values players like Getz, Kendall, and (ugh) Yuni. I don't know how much pull Yost has in playing time, but Moore never said anything about signing Yuni to start or platoon--that was Yost.
The second one is Moore. I refuse to give him any benefit of the doubt any more, and neither should any of you. He's been on the job for five full seasons and this is his sixth season on the job. The average wins/year in his tenure is 69. The average wins/year in Allard Baird's reign was 64. That number should jump out at you as being horrendous, but it should also jump out at you that Moore's teams still haven't hit the 70 mark despite the "Best Farm System Evuh." Moore hasn't done a single thing with the big league club yet--not one. Six years in, Yuniesky Betancourt is the starting 2B with Chris Getz and Luis Mendoza also on the team, not as filler, but what Moore sees as important pieces of the puzzle.
The beautiful thing about the gray is that it can break. It isn't the oppressive darkness of night, but it can quickly go that way if you're not paying attention. These past two games don't show the Royals' imminent demise. But, they highlight an alarmingly out-of-touch management, one that hasn't improved. It still can, and we should still root for the Royals with bombast and intensity. But these two games...they're just gray, man. Gray.