So Nick Wright of 610 AM is interviewing Mike Moustakas about character. It's all very positive. The Royals value character, the team is full of high-character guys, that kind of thing. Then Wright asks Moustakas about the fact that he might start the year in the minors, because of baseball's service time system.
For whatever reason, Jason Kendall strongly objected to this question. (Audio here.)
Wright: (To Moustakas) "There’s a decent chance that no matter how well you do this Spring Training, you might still start the year off in the minors just because of Baseball’s rules and wanting to hold on to eligibility, all that stuff. Do you think about that?"
Kendall: (Jumping in) "No, he wants to stay in the minor leagues all f---ing year. Are you s---ing me right now?"
NW: "Well, you heard the question, Jason?"
NW: "The Question wasn’t-"
JK: "Do you wanna start in the big leagues this year?"
NW: "Well hold on, is it not a legitimate question? I know he wants to start in the major leagues."
JK: "He wants to start in the big leagues in this year."
NW: "That wasn’t the question, Jason."
JK: "Rewind yourself."
NW: "Ok, we can rewind it and play it. The question is of course he wants to start in the big leagues, right? But with baseball, how it is, they probably wait til June so they can hold on to him for another year. The question is, would that bother you"
JK: "You asked him if he wanted to start in the big leagues this year."
NW: "Ok, if that’s what I asked you, Mike, my apologies. Let me back it up for a moment. No matter how you do this Spring Training, you might still start in the minors, would that bother you?"
(cross-chat between Moustakas, Kendall, and Wright for a few seconds)
Moustakas: "It wouldn’t bother me one bit just because it’s what’s best for the Royals organization. Dayton’s on board with the plan, the plan is to win a championship, and whatever he says goes ya know."
(hat tip to kscoliny and bhwick here)
My absolute favorite part is Kendall's "rewind yourself." Hands down. Wright's entire interview with Moose was so laudatory, so easy-going, so filled with Spring Training softballs, yet somehow Kendall, who wasn't even a part of it, still managed to jump in with great hostility. If you listen to the entire audio, you'll eventually hear Wright apologize for his question. Amazing. His question was essentially: "you are really awesome and might be screwed by an antiquated system, does that bother you?"
Look, this is a misunderstanding, I think. (Kendall's response is so illogical that it's almost impossible to analyze.) We shouldn't make too much of it. Nevertheless, it's another example of how silly the Sports World's notion of "leadership" is. You see, Jason Kendall is leadership. He's probably only matched by Jeff Francoeur as a player who is endlessly praised, by media and organization members, as a leader, a gamer, a warrior, as someone who plays the right way. Nevermind that he can't play. Nevermind that the details of his private life, at best, suggest an alternative understanding.
It's all silly. It's all a fantasy land of unprovables and reasoning that never gets verified. Sometimes leadership is being funny, being "loose", keeping the guys relaxed. Two days later, it's acting insane, starting a brawl, calling a players only meeting. Unrelated events happen, we create a false narrative, everyone forgets all of it anyway, and we move on. 162 games. Day after day. Nobody ever goes back and writes about the losing streak that wasn't stopped by a fiery speech, the slump that didn't end with a toxin-releasing brawl, the comeback that never came after the manager was ejected.
The game can never just be about the game, because we've all got to imbue an essentially meaningless activity, really no different at its core than an episode of Real Housewives or any other form of entertainment, with all manner of emotional, cultural, political, and psychological importance. For some reason we have to pretend that it actually would make sense for a baseball player to be "a warrior" or whatever else we want to call him. All that myth, which has seduced just about every supposedly literary account of sports, is hands down my least favorite aspect of being a fan.
We aren't charging up San Juan Hill, Jason. Nick Wright isn't an enemy soldier and Moustakas doesn't need to be protected. He wasn't even being attacked. Go oil your mitt somewhere and work on posting an OBP over .300 in your soul-crushing and needless final year with the Royals.