I heard for the first time last night on Baseball Tonight that Brian Bannister is smart. It was very informative. I hope there is more discussion of this going forward. Better still, they also discussed the Mitchell Report. I hope more can be said on that topic as well. The use of steroids has been a very under-reported story.
Fernando Vina pointed out that the Royals love playing hard for Brian Bannister. That is great! Its good that they play hard for Bannister, because he deserves it the most because he did well on his SAT. Why play hard for someone like Odalis Perez? Is he even American? Na, you can slack on those days. But, I don't think that is the whole story. First, on the Royals: it isn't just that the players love Bannister, they love Hillman too. In Japan, you have to play the game the right way. Selfless, you know? They don't play for the home run there, and the Royals won't either. They will do the little things. But you know what, they aren't so little! Trey Hillman is also a winner. Winners win for a reason, because they accept nothing else. You don't come out of the Yankees organization, win big in Japan and then just start losing. Winning is an attitude, and Hillman instilled that attitude from day one. So did Dayton Moore. In the past, you could tell this team was complacent. They didn't pay attention to detail, they didn't care. Now they do. By moving on the basepaths, the Royals have kept the pressure on the Detroit pitchers, which has in turn made the Tiger hitters uncomfortable at the plate, which has, Q.E.D., helped keep them almost scoreless for two games. When you have to play the half-inning worrying about baserunners in motion, you lose concentration that you need to be thinking about the next at bat. That is why the Angels have had such good pitching in recent years.
But, onto the Tigers. The story is the Royals, but also the Tigers. You see this a lot with big payroll teams: they're a bunch of fatcats who spent the off-season chillin' out. You can't win with too many stars on your team, you have to have role players. Look at Alex Rodriguez. He hurts your chances to win because a) he isn't clutch and 2) he isn't a team player. TEAM. Ask Derek Jeter about TEAM. Actually, role players are often the real MVPs, because of what they do in the locker room and in the dugout. The Tigers won in 2006 when they were nobodies. Look at them now. It is sad to watch. In 2006, the Tigers played the game the way it was meant to be played. They replaced good character guys like Sean Casey with bad men like Gary Sheffield. How has that worked out?
Haha, jokes on them.
It's Zack Greinke against Jeremy Bonderman this afternoon as the Royals go for a surprising season opening sweep of the Tigers.
For Jayhawks talk, check out Rock Chalk Talk.
A reader named Tim sent me this link, which is worth clicking. Clearly, they're still the same old Royals to many outsiders.