Former Royal Zack Greinke offered a glimpse of his annoying and endearing self during a 40-minute chat with baseball writers on Monday. Alternately prickly and adorable, Greinke admitted that his effort fell off last year as the Royals slumped to yet another bad finish.
Greinke doesn't speak in clichés, which makes him fascinating to sports writers who have heard them all. But is the right-hander "over-the-top honest," as one Milwaukee columnist sees it, or just kind of a jerk?
During yesterday's interview, Greinke spoke openly about his use of antidepressants and his social awkwardness. He took cracks at reporters who try to butter him up and then ask stupid questions. He thinks autograph hounds are losers. He keeps a distance from his teammates in an effort to keep from being aggravated. "I haven't seen anyone who's annoying to me yet," he said of his fellow Brewers.
Misanthropic Zack is a lot of fun. Because he's right. Reporters can be exasperating. Adults who wear XXXL jersies and stand outside stadiums and hotels, Sharpies poised, are lame. Baseball clubhouses do contain an inordinate number of meatheads.
What's grating about Greinke is that he can't deal with these things without giving up and casting blame. In 2006, he left spring training and took a job mowing grass -- his Holden Caufield-in-flip-flops phase. Last year, he says, he asked on four different occasions to be traded.
Speaking of 2010, Greinke says he and the club appeared to be going in "different directions." But why did he sign a four-year contract before the 2009 season if he wasn't prepared for some rough times? Did he really think the addition of Mike Jacobs and Kyle Farnsworth were going to make the Royals -- the Royals! -- an elite team?
Worse that wanting out of his commitment to KC, Greinke went public with his unhappiness, robbing Royals G.M. Dayton Moore of any leverage in trade negotiations. It was a "screw you" to an organization that let him go on a walkabout and made him a multimillionaire.
Greinke would have been eligible for free agency after the 2010 season if he hadn't signed the four-year deal with the Royals. Regretting the decision, he pissed and moaned his way out of town.
Image via Flickr: Rock Chalk Jayhawk Cartographer.