Ned Yost, the manager of the Kansas City Royals and also the noted longtime goodwill ambassador for the City of Nedlands, a town in the Australian state of Western Australia, has been officially notified by the town that his time as goodwill ambassador could soon be coming to an end. Yost's appointment came in 2003, shortly after he was first named manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, and has continued unabated to this day. However, citing a continued failure to maintain the good name of Ned, city officials might soon be exploring other options for the position.
"Look, you hate to ever let a goodwill ambassador go," said Nedlands mayor Ned Quimby. "But we have a name and a reputation to uphold, and we can't let the stigma of failure be associated with our town. It is important that we very jealously guard the name of Ned. So, in light of that, I have officially notified Ned Yost that if his performance doesn't improve he will be let go."
In Australian, Nedlands literally means Lands of the Ned, which is named for Australian hero Ned Springfield. Australia started as an English penal colony, and Springfield was on the first ship sent to Australia. "So they arrive on shore and set up camp," explains Ned Brockman, anchorman for the Nedlands TV station, "and starting with the first night they are terrorized by an angry kangaroo. Among English criminals, tough as they otherwise are, there has always been a deep fear of marsupials. So day after day, night after night, this kangaroo is terrorizing the camp. They were unable to go inland and get any food. Supplies were running low and prospects for survival were not looking good. That's when Ned Springfield stepped up. He didn't listen to his fear, and in an act of heroic bravery, he fought off that kangaroo with his bare hands. His saved that first settlement and laid the foundation for Australia as we know it."
The spot of Springfield's fight is in the heart of modern day Nedlands, where the name Ned is highly revered. Nedlands Chief of Police Ned Wiggum explains, "We have some sayings here in Australia that show what we think of the name of Ned. In America you say 'Fortune favors the bold', but here in Australia we say, 'Fortune favors the Ned'. We have other sayings like 'Kill two birds with one Ned'; 'Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and Ned'; and 'One Ned with courage makes a majority', Occasionally a few of our rebels play Ned, Paper, Scissors, but we put a stop that because it is unrealistic that paper could ever cover Ned. So, as you can see, maintaining the good reputation of the name of Ned is important to us."
During his time as Royals manager Yost has compiled a 198-253 record, and has drawn criticism from some people for frequent bunting, having a "small ball" mentality, and playing some players day after day even as they are performing poorly.
"It's important then to be associated with a winner," continued Quimby. "We know he was fired while in Milwaukee, but at least they were in playoff contention at the time. Now he's in Kansas City, and what have they won? Look, he does have some good traits. Stealing a base while down three in the 9th? That is a bold move, or shall we way, a Ned move. But bunting in the first inning with no outs and Billy Butler on deck? That's an anti-Ned move. No real Ned would do that."
Dr. Ned Hibbert, a prominent physician in Nedlands, agrees with the building sentiment to let Ned Yost go. "Even my cousin in New Zealand, of all places, is making fun of me. Toward the end of last baseball season he would call me after each Royals loss and say, 'Fortune favors the Ned? How about bunting favors the Ned' and then he would hang up laughing. It's gotten to bad that whenever I am out of town and somebody asks me where I am from I tell them I am from the City of Franklands. We have got to do something."
When reached for comment, Yost remained defiant. "I cannot quit. I have done a very good job as ambassador. I open each post-game press conference with a drink of Fosters and I close it by saying, Well, I gotta go, it's time to put another shrimp on the barbie.' I also insist that Mad Max be shown at least once on each flight we take. Nedlands is a very beautiful city and I will do all I can to maintain its proper image."
"We'll see how this season goes," said Quimby. "But if Ned Springfield were manager, Jeff Francoeur would be bound and gagged in the janitor closet, not trotted out there day after day. The same goes for Luke Hochevar. So, if you want to keep on being a goodwill ambassador, then start generating good will, and you do that by winning. It is the official position of the City of Nedlands that if the Royals have a losing record on May 19th, it will be time to make a change."
May 19th is the day of the famous City of Nedlands Garage Sale at the Tresillian Community Center. It is the highlight of the year for Nedlands residents. Each year at the sale Yost calls in with his official greetings, and the top selling item is usually a t-shirt that says, "I'm With Ned." City official contend that another year with a losing Yost would cast a pall over the otherwise happy occasion, a pall which they fear would take years to recover from.
"I have grown to love the people of Nedlands," counters Yost. "I have given them the best I have and I find it hard to believe that they would discard me after a few non-winning seasons. Even if they let me go Nedlands will always have a special place in my heart."
"That's nice," said Ned Chalmers, superintendent of Nedlands schools, when informed of Yost's comments. "But what about the children? It's important that the children of Nedlands know that Nedlands is about winning. At some point in time you just have to win. If not this year, then when? We have a saying here in Australia, 'Never in the course of human events have so many owed so much to Ned' Well, does Ned Yost live up to that? If the answer is no, then something needs to be done."
Does Ned Yost live up to that? That is the question that Australians are asking. All eyes will be on Nedlands in the coming months for the answer.