Reprinted from the Rambling Moron Column at the Platte County Landmark.
PREDICTIONS: YOST GETS FIRED; TEAM FINISHES 80-82
Spring Training is here. No more talk of rushing yards or zone defenses. Talk now turns to “How does he look?” and “How fast is he pitching?” and “Oh, he’s put on some muscle.”
For the next several weeks, the buzz of Spring Training will mean very little. You can listen to radio hosts, and podcasters and read sportswriters who will empty gallons of ink and shred gigabytes of hard drive space and all of it — ALL of it — means nothing. Arguments on Twitter focus on the fight for the fifth starter. Arguments on Facebook focus on if Chris Getz has what it takes to take the starting second base position. But it will all, likely, be whizzing in the wind after a few more weeks.
The season won’t be won in the marketing room either. The new slogan “Come to Play” means very little, too. Unless you’re a player driving down from Omaha and actually need to use those as instructions.
The key to baseball is very simple. But it’s impossible to single out. It has been said that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a round ball with a round bat squarely. And history proves that the heroes in baseball are most likely the underdogs and the never-heard-ofs. The Aaron Boone who has a nondescript career until he finds himself as a New York Yankee and hits one of the most historic home runs in the 11th inning of the 2003 ALCS to beat the hated Red Sox. Boone never again made much of an impact, but then again, he never had to.
Baseball is about screaming loud moments in a sea of quiet. Stories of Willie Aikens, a man who never made an All-Star Game and who would later be incarcerated for cocaine possession. Aikens hit two home runs in two games in the 1980 World Series, a series the Royals would lose, but not due to the lack of effort by Aikens, who was never again the same player. But only two players in MLB history have had multiple home run games in a World Series. The other being Chase Utley in the 2009 World Series. Something that names like Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson never did.
Success in baseball isn’t in being the best, it’s in being the most clutch. That’s why George Brett‘s career was such an anomaly. Someone who consistently hit above .300, but was also at his most successful, when the game was on the line.
So during this Spring Training, don’t pay attention to those who bark the loudest, or predict records, very little of that can be counted on. The success of this Royals club will likely be made in a weight room, or in a batting cage without the tens of thousands of fans looking on and cheering. Wins and losses in baseball are made in January, running hills in a sand dune, or doing that 1,000th sit-up. And you might not ever hear of the next hero for the team again, until that key moment on Opening Day, or game 163 when that key pitch or that key hit “Comes To Play.”
My prediction, that you should squarely ignore, is that the Royals will continue to struggle early and fire their manager by mid-May. The team will rebound due to Duffy and Paulino coming back at the All-Star Break and finish 80-82 and in second place in the division.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly baseball-themed show on ESPN 1510 Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)