I enjoy writing about Kansas City Royals history, and there have been many amazing moments in franchise history to make any fan proud. There have also been a great number of moments in franchise history that were absolutely, completely stupid. This series will look at those moments. And brother, there are a lot of them.
The first story I want to focus on is the namesake of the series. It is a stupid moment in Royals history, but far from the stupidest. It stems from a 2011 spring training interview between Nick Wright, then at 610 Sports in Kansas City, and Royals third base prospect Mike Moustakas. Wright begins with a fairly innocent question.
"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?"
Pretty standard, softball spring training question for a young rookie. The answer would likely be something like “I can’t think about all that, I just have to go out and play my game and hope it impresses the coaches. If I put my head down and play hard, I know I’ll be in the big leagues sooner rather than later.”
Moose was about to express just that, but veteran catcher Jason Kendall had to interject for his rookie. Kendall, who was just passing by, heard the question and took great umbrage at what he felt was an inane question.
"No, he wants to stay in the minor leagues all f---ing year. Are you s---ing me right now?"
Okay, so sports reporters do ask a lot of inane questions, particularly the “talk to us about....” variety. There is a reason why Crash Davis can teach Nuke Laloosh cliché answers, because sports reporters tend to ask the same kind of questions. But Jason Kendall seemed bent on making an example of Wright. He continued.
Nick Wright: Well, you heard the question, Jason?
Jason Kendall: Yes.
Wright: The question wasn’t...
Kendall: Do you wanna start in the big leagues this year?
Wright: Well hold on, is it not a legitimate question? I know he wants to start in the major leagues.
Kendall: He wants to start in the big leagues in this year.
Wright: That wasn’t the question, Jason.
Kendall: Rewind yourself.
Rewind yourself! That seems like such a Jason Kendall thing to say. “Did you even lift today, brah?” “Nah man, its leg day.” “What? Rewind yourself!”
Of course, Wright is correct in that he is not asking Moustakas if he wants to spend the year in the minors leagues, but what his thinking is about the fact he may begin the season in the minors. After some cross-chat, Moustakas finally is allowed to answer the question.
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."
If he takes it one day at a time, the good Lord willing, things will turn out alright.
Kendall gets praised for shenanigans like this, as evidence of leadership and desire. It seems like the same line of thought that gets Bobby Knight praise for winning so many games despite being a total blowhard and jerk, because how you treat people doesn’t matter because what matters is being focused on winning sports games.
Jason Kendall was a fantastic ballplayer - not so much when he was in Kansas City - but early in his career with the Pirates, he was not only a hard-nosed, gritty catcher, but an on-base machine with a solid bat. He is a pretty smart player - I have read his book Throwback, and while there it is drowning in old-school traditional baseball bromides, there are some nuggets of wisdom in there.
But he is prone to flying off the handle due to his INTENSE NATURE AT ALL TIMES. Maybe he has mellowed out since his playing days. But there is a serious possibility that he could one day be manager of the Royals, and if he is, we could have many more entries in this series to rewind ourselves with.
Thanks to former Royals Review editor Will McDonald, and readers kscoliny and bhwick for transcribing the 2011 Nick Wright interview and to GilMeche55 for the terrific Jason Kendall meme.