Michael Young: the teflon All-Star

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A big star is coming off a down year. Management brings in someone to take his place, and the big star freaks out about it. Talks to the media about how unhappy he is. Demands a trade. When the trade doesn’t happen, he makes a point to snub his general manager when camp starts.  That guy is no good, right?  We tend to pile on guys like that, don’t we?

Not if it’s Michael Young we don’t.

Over at FoxSportsSouthwest Jen Floyd Engel has a feature on Young who has apparently been forgiven for his behavior last spring.  And not just forgiven: he’s considered “a consummate professional” and that discord is now a part of his legend as King Intangibles. A man who, according to Engel anyway, should be seriously considered for the AL MVP.  Go for the analysis, stay for the gratuitous swipes at “Moneyballers” who just don’t understand Michael Young because he can’t be placed on a spread sheet.

The shots at the stat-set are amusing at this point. The early-season strife stuff, however, genuinely confuses me.  I can’t recall any player getting such a free pass on it like Young has. And he was getting it even before he put up his nice season, so it’s not like this is solely a case of good play absolving sins.  People were talking about Young as a “consummate professional” back in the first part of the season, mere weeks after he acted in ways that, however understandable, are not what is typically called professional.

Don’t get me wrong: Young is a fine player. He had a nice bounceback season.  It’s good that he turned his lemons into lemonade and didn’t let it affect his play. But I have to ask: when was the last time a guy demanded a trade because he stood to lose playing time to a superior player and was so quickly and easily forgiven for it?

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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