The Kansas City Royals tend to repeat their mistakes.
Last summer, the front office traded frustrating shortstop Ángel Berroa. His replacement, Tony Peña Jr., turned out to be even worse.
In 2006, the organization stripped two radio reporters of their credentials after they subjected team owner David Glass to a line of questioning that he found impertinent. A few weeks ago, the team's PR department went after a popular commentator who dared to suggest that the team's medical trainer should be fired.
Displaying the bunker mentality of a failing regime, team officials recently lashed out at Rany Jazayerli, a dermatologist who, in his spare time, writes about baseball and the Royals. His blog, Rany on the Royals, is full of wit and insight. (Frustrated by the team's lack of offense, Jazayerli has called the hitters' penchant for making outs "metronomic.") He also co-hosts a weekly program on WHB 810.
On June 24, Jazayerli posted a 3,000-word entry calling for the head of Nick Swartz, who has been the Royals' head athletic trainer for the last 19 years. Jazayerli documented numerous instances in which the Royals' medical staff appeared to diagnose or treat injuries improperly, including the bad shoulder that outfielder Coco Crisp finally carried to an operating table after weeks of poor play.
The Royals reacted defensively. During a pre-game huddle with reporters, Manager Trey Hillman made a point of praising "Nick and his crew" on the job they were doing.
Team officials also targeted 810, informing the station that shows featuring Jazayerli as a guest should expect less access to players and management. Mike Swanson, the team's vice president of communications, dressed down Jazayerli's radio producer in front of other media members, according to Kansas City Star sports writer Sam Mellinger.
Response to the Royals' freakout was predictable. "Ranyban" became a Twitter page where fans and other bloggers mocked the Royals for being so thin-skinned. The sports Web site Deadspin took notice, as did ESPN's Rob Neyer. "Royals' 'handling' of Dr. Jazayerli ... Real smart, guys: piss off an energetic writer," Neyer wrote in a tweet.
Tensions cooled. The Royals backed away from freezing out 810. Jazayerli conceded that his "laser-guided" takedown of Swartz might have neglected other factors, such as the role of the team's orthopedic surgeon.
As the storm clouds dissipated, Jazayerli was able to have a laugh. On his blog, he joked that the public-address announcer was due for a Swartzing. "Or maybe the guys who set off the fireworks on Friday nights. They suck."
Such mirthful page turning was unlikely to come from the Royals, however. But then, this is a tight-assed bunch.
Hillman and the man who hired him, General Manager Dayton Moore, take themselves very seriously. Moore nurtures an image of an Eagle Scout. Hillman sounds at times like a righteous man who has been forced to stand in a brothel all night.
These traits have been noted. Even Joe Posnanski, who sees the good in everyone, has remarked on Hillman's testiness.
What has received less attention is the way the organization seems to be re-creating the presidency of George W. Bush.
Bush believed that he was called by God to lead the nation. Hillman has said that God told him to move across the Pacific Ocean and manage a team in the Japanese baseball league.
The two leaders are alike in other ways.
Bush built a ranch in Crawford, Texas. Hillman lives on a ranch outside Austin, Texas.
Bush called himself the Decider. Hillman occasionally refers to himself as "Trey Hillman."
Political advisers would find Bush reading his Bible at breakfast. Hillman brings the biggest Bible to team chapel services.