The firing of Royals manager Trey Hillman lost all drama the moment his replacement, Ned Yost, showed up in the dugout with a piece of chaw pressed against his cheek.
Yost slid easily into the role. So easily, you think, "Why all the fuss?"
The job, really, is not all that complicated. You fill out a lineup card. You change pitchers. You talk to the media.
Sure, the whole "leader of men" thing has nuances. Hillman did not succeed, one line of thinking goes, because he lacked the credibility that only a major-league playing or coaching career could have provided. But in the end, managing a major-league baseball team with a reasonable degree of competence is something hundreds of people can do.
When he hired Hillman, G.M. Dayton Moore thought he was getting someone exceptional. The results indicated that Hillman was just another guy. With the Royals sitting at 11-23 in Year Three of the experiment, his expendability became not only evident but a force unto itself.
Still, he was a fascinating creature. I liked to think of Hillman as the guy who seemed cool in high school -- you know, the good-looking athlete who was basically decent to people. But then you meet him 10, 15 years down the road. You leave the encounter thinking, "Wow, he's really kind of a dork."
This formerly popular individual is not a clown. He's not an asshole. There's just something stunted about him. He says something, and you think he's being ironic. Then you realize he's not.
days before he sacked him. Sports writers immediately labeled Moore's
words the "dreaded
vote of confidence."
It's a stupid convention. Inevitably, a reporter has asked a team
owner or general manager to comment on the future of
beleaguered employee. What answer is there to give other than a vote of
confidence? Yeah, the team's playing like crap. I'm thinking about
making a change. But I haven't settled on a replacement, so we're going
to limp along with Dead Man Walking until I figure it out. Good question, by the way.
Next up: @ Baltimore, @ Cleveland, Colorado.