Ned Yost bans fraternizing on the basepaths because it angers Rex Hudler

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Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but what’s meeting the eye here seems pretty dumb: Royals announcer Rex Hudler has made it his personal mission to stop Royals players from being friendly with opposing players during games, so Ned Yost has put a stop to it.

I’m sure cause and effect will be denied by Yost if he’s asked, but the story about all of this from Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports Kansas City lays it out thusly:

  • Royals infielders have been friendly with opposing baserunners, even after some big hits by the opposition.
  • Royals announcers Rex Hudler and Ryan Lefebvre have gone on-and-on about it on the air and on recent radio spots, saying it’s disrespectful and not old school and whatnot, and that Ned Yost should do something about it.
  • Ned Yost held a closed door meeting and has instructed his players to no longer fraternize with the opposition.

This despite the fact that Royals GM Dayton Moore said when asked about it all that he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

This all seems so silly. Players on every team chat up players on the opposing teams. It’s a state of affairs that has existed for a long time. Probably longer than most of the old timers who claim that it was unheard of back in their day will admit.  Why this is bothersome to anyone now is a mystery.

What’s worse, though, is this bit from Hudler:

Hudler commented on Kansas City radio station WHB: “You can stand 10 feet away from a player and smooth out the dirt and still talk to a player without giving the appearance that you’re in his back pocket. When you’re in uniform out there, respect the game of baseball and respect your teammates. And stay out of the back pockets of opponents when people are watching. It makes me want to vomit.”

So it’s not that Hudler is opposed to players talking to one another. He’s just opposed to them looking like they are because “people are watching.” So who is it, exactly, that Hudler thinks the players should be deceiving?

Whatever the case, here’s a great tip to any major league organization: don’t let your broadcasters dictate team policy. You’re unlikely to get good results.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.