May 13

Big day: Greinke wins and Hillman’s fired

GreinkeBPain.jpgSometimes Zack Greinke pitches brilliantly and loses. Sometimes Zack Greinke pitches brilliantly and wins (but not this year). This was neither of those days, and Greinke won.

Those eight strikeouts were excellent, but Greinke was hardly in his finest form today. He threw too many pitches, and he walked a few guys, and he had to lean heavily on a defense that’s so flimsy that you or I could blow it over. But he got a win.

Pitcher wins are stupid – but team wins are not. Today’s game was a wild ride that was aggravating at its low points and very confusing at its high points. (I say confusing because I didn’t know what to do with successful events like “runs” and “hits.” What a weird day.)

The game summed up in my texts to my brother:

2:01 p.m. [word]ING [word]ITY [word] YOU ROYALS AAAUUUGH (when Cleveland scored their first runs)
Voice SMS, 2:45 BORT! BORT! BORT! BORT! AAAAAAHHHHHH! (I yelled this into the phone. Brother mentioned that he should remember to put in headphones before listening to my Voice SMS messages.)
2:46 p.m. I could also try: Not yelling. Sorry brother.
3:38 p.m. Player of the game is absolutely Bort. No doubt. (shortly after Bort’s catch in foul ground that saved runs and probably the game.)
3:57 p.m. DOUBLEYOO!

Anyway, it was a wild ride. Even without knowing Trey Hillman’s fate, it was great to see the offense come to life, even for just three innings. And Brayan Pena started, and he stole a base! What’s not to love?

After the game, I switched to MLB Network to see Mat Latos’ perfecto in progress. The Giants got a hit, but at the same time, the Big News was breaking in Kansas City. Trey Hillman, as you have no doubt heard, was fired.

I stand by everything I wrote this morning, except the ill-advised headline. It’s sweet that Hillman is clearing out his office so that Ned Yost will have his very own space from Day One, but the world’s cleanest office isn’t enough for the task that Yost has looming.

Dayton Moore was clearly upset by having to do this. A lot of people believe that the orders came from above, and I’m sure that’s right. But I’m also pretty sure Moore knew it had to happen too. He’s not stupid. But nobody wants to fire their friend, and no one wants to fire the person they were so sure was right that they went halfway around the world to make the hire. That’s not easy. Some people mocked Moore’s tears during the press conference, but that seems a little cruel.  I hope that one of the themes of this blog is that people in baseball are people. They’ve got kids and they know what we say about them and they have feelings about their work, too.

I don’t think that the work Dayton Moore has done is good work, but he is a person. Did you see his eyes in the presser today? His eyes were blood red and he looked exhausted. He said he was at the park talking things over with Trey until 2 this morning, and it looked like he lost sleep even after that. I’m sure he took no joy in executing this job, even if he knew, on a baseball/business level, that it was the thing he needed to do.

And I certainly don’t think that Trey Hillman was a good manager. He made me yell things. He made me want to drink heavily. He made Gil Meche’s arm fall off and he always said silly things like “force the envelope” that were always more than a little bit off.

But wow, what a classy exit. Think of it – he knew this was his last day as a manager, and he did not tell his players, and presumably he did not tell his coaching staff. He went out there and made this game about his team – the team that had fired him – and about Zack Greinke. It was only later, when we looked back at footage of him pacing in the dugout, that anyone knew anything so immediate was upon him. And when it was time for him to address the media, he talked about his players, his team – the team that had fired him – before he talked about his own situation. And when it was time to talk about himself, he thanked everyone who’s ever worked around him with the Royals. For perhaps the first time, he let his words flow freely and honestly, showing a candid side the media room has perhaps never seen. He said he could feel something was amiss, and I think he must have been ready for his late-night chat with Moore last night. Sometimes, the conversation after “we need to have a talk” is obvious as soon as that sentence is spoken.

He knew he was done, but he waited until he absolutely had to to make himself the story. He just went to the dugout like any other day, and hoped the losing streak could end on his last day. He wanted a tiny reprieve from failure, if not for him than for his best pitcher and for all the hungry fans. Hillman could not have been any more classy in his exit.  I gained a lot of respect for Trey Hillman the man today, even though Trey Hillman the manager was not the answer in Kansas City.

As I said this morning, a new manager is not the answer either. Ned Yost won’t magically make this a winning team; nobody could. But still – something turned today. The Process inched forward a teeeeny tiny bit.

Related posts:

  1. Trey Hillman won’t get fired, and that’s fine by me
  2. Gil Meche wins, and Husker nation waits
  3. DiNardo wins, Kila close to O-Royals record for walks

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