The best I could do for Mike Moustakas’ MLB debut was sneak a few peeks at the score on my phone during slow moments at work, and then read about the game later. (Thanks, though, to all of you on Twitter who offered to write a fake doctor’s note so I could get out of work and go to the game!)
A story on Royals.com included some quotes from Moose that might make you roll your eyes, if you didn’t know better. Specifically, he had this to say about the media attention:
“I could be doing so many other different things in life other than talking to you guys and getting ready to play a baseball game. It’s really a blessing to be able to come out here, put on this uniform and perform the game I love to play.”
That sounds like a carefully developed media persona, right? Like ole’ Scotty Boras put him through some rigorous PR training? But as far as I know from working with him in Omaha, he actually means it.
I admit, I have a habit of eavesdropping. Whether or not that makes me a terrible person is a debate for another time, but the point is: I eavesdrop. And on more than one occasion, I heard Moustakas talking to teammates – when he thought no media types were around – and he said things exactly like the quote above:
“I don’t know why so many guys don’t sign autographs. I love that stuff. It’s SO easy for me to make some kid’s day, just by writing my name on a ball? That’s awesome!”
“There’s no reason to be mean to fans. You just have to smile and say ‘hey.’ It’s not that hard. You have a choice, you can either be a mean guy or be nice to these fans, why not just be nice for 5 seconds?”
Again, these things were said in the dugout, in conversation with a teammate. There were no cameras or microphones, and he had no way of knowing that a nosy blogger would be quoting him. So I’m pretty sure this is actually how Mike Mosutakas feels. That’s why I tell people that I have never met a ballplayer like him. That’s why I can promise anyone in baseball who hasn’t worked with him before that they’re going to love having him around. That’s why I wrote this really terrible piece last year about how all of a sudden, I see what a difference a guy’s “clubhouse presence” can make.
I still worry about Moose’s discipline. He doesn’t have anywhere near as good of an eye for the strike zone as his bestie Hosmer. And I worry about his defense. I definitely saw him beat himself up over all the sloppy defensive miscues he had early in the season in Omaha. But I hope so desperately that he can succeed in spite of those concerns, because I want as many Kansas City fans as possible to love one of the only top prospects in all of baseball who will genuinely love them back.