73464178CP016_San_Diego_PadFantasy baseball fans and bloggers (ourselves included) sometimes fail to appreciate the human toll that baseball takes on its participants.  They are not just statistics, commodities, and tabloid stories.  They are flesh and blood.

Joe Torre and SI’s Tom Verducci recently penned ‘The Yankee Years’, a book that provided a glimpse into the challenges that a manager on a high-profile team must endure – the pressure to succeed, the delicate balance of egos, the difficulties in finding relievers that can pitch 120 games a year and still perform in the postseason, etc.

The career paths of Buddy Bell and Joe Torre had many parallels.  Both followed up 18-year playing careers with some unsuccessful coaching stints (Torre @ NYM + ATL + STL, Buddy @ DET + COL, ) before surprisingly being tapped for the coaching job in which they are most synonymous:  Torre with the Yankees and Bell with the Royals.

Perhaps, then, it is only fitting that Buddy Bell is releasing his first book only a couple months after Joe Torre released his book.  We enjoy learning from coaches – see Tony LaRussa – and were overjoyed to receive an advanced copy of Bell’s memoir on his time with the Kansas City Royals (2005-2007).

Following are excerpts from ‘The Royal Years’ By Buddy Bell and SI (and formerly Kansas City Star) journalist Joe Posnanski:

Dealing with player egos:

Every player on the roster has a different personality and a manager needs to be able to push the right buttons.  In 2006 Spring Training, our star outfielder Emil Brown was coming off a monster season (17 HR / 86 RBI ) and felt a sense of entitlement over some of the other players.  I brought him into my office and told him, “You may be the best outfielder on the Royals but I can think of 29 major league teams and several AAA squads that wouldn’t sign you off waivers if we dropped you.”  He found his edge and had another blockbuster season for us (15 HR / 81 RBI)…….We had a tight squad in 2005.  A team that wasn’t built around stars.  But everything changed when ownership made a big splash in the free agent market and signed Doug Mientkiewicz and Reggie Sanders.  Mientkiewicz, in particular, created a strain in the clubhouse with his 2004 championship ring (from the Red Sox) and expectation of winning.  He just rubbed guys the wrong way and it became progressively worse as he tried to ingratiate himself.  The guys in the clubhouse started calling him ‘Make-a-Wish’ because he always insisted on buying rounds of drinks or paying for dinners and the players felt he was doing it out of pity…

Battling with GMs/front office:

I had been hired by Allard Baird and I always knew where he stood.  If we had a blue-chip outfielder that we weren’t sure we could afford to sign, I knew Billy Beane would take him out for ribs and get him to accept a crappy shortstop in return (see Damon and Dye trades).  But I never had that same chemistry with Dayton Moore.  From the first time we met and I accidentally called him Dinty, I felt he never trusted me.  He’d send me notes throughout games like “Is Mike Sweeney sitting on the specially designed ergonomic clubhouse seat?” or “Can you go to the bullpen and see if Zack is okay?”….I remember in June 2007 when we were already out of the playoff race and ticket sales were down so the board decided on a 5% layoff in every division.  Next thing I know, our ’25-man roster’ was cut to 24 men and Dayton came down to the clubhouse and was giving a pep talk about “doing more with less” and “try to use less pitchers per game so we can keep the water bill down”.

Managing relationship with a difficult owner (ex-Walmart CEO David Glass):

I had our training staff take a look at a sore neck I developed from watching our pitching staff in action and they wrote me a bill saying that I wasn’t covered under the team’s health insurance plan.  I marched into The Boss’s office and asked whether this was a mistake and he told me, “Buddy, I think you’re a great manager but I’ve managed plenty of managers over at Wal*Mart.  These guys worked 60 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.  You work only a little more than 6 months a year.  If I start giving you health insurance, all the part-time employees are going to want health insurance.  You know how much it would cost to provide health insurance to all the peanut slingers and grounds crew we employ?”  Sometimes there was no getting through to him……When I went in at the end of 2007, I told Dayton, “Look, this was a tough year.  This isn’t about the money.  I can’t go through another year as a lame duck.  Just tell David to give me a two year contract but I’ll probably be committed to a psyche ward after the first year.”  But when I got into the meeting, they came back with a 1 year offer at minimum wage with incentives based on overtime and time-and-a-half on weekends.  I was flabbergasted.  I mentioned how demeaning it would be for a major league coach to accept an hourly wage – let alone minimum wage – and David replied, “You said it wasn’t about the money.”  I suppose he had me there but at least they could’ve offered the 2nd year!

  1. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    This is truly excellent.

  2. Smooth Lever says:

    David Glass sounds like a real prick.

  3. Griff says:

    Agreed, Baron. Glorious satire.

    You guys have any info on Brett Andersen in Oakland? Someone just picked him up in one of my leagues.

  4. Tony says:

    Great excerpts….

  5. Mike says:

    I’m actually now interested in reading this book! Problem will be trying to find it over here in England…

  6. @Baron Von Vulturewins: @Griff: @Tony: Thanks!

    @Smooth Lever: Find me a CEO that isn’t at least a partial prick and I’ll short-sell his company’s stock.

    @Mike: I can guarantee that you will not be able to find this book at your local British bookseller.

  7. AL KOHOLIC says:

    great material here rudy,we always new it was cutthrote pricks running the show but to here it one on one is wild,,

  8. Zoner says:

    This is all kinds of awesome!!!

  9. Adam K says:

    you mean this isn’t april fools? the walmart bit is just a bit beyond believable.

  10. Billy says:

    The part about an hourly wage is OUTRAGEOUS. I will have to buy that book right when it comes out.

    Also, how long do you think Scott Downs will be closing? I have a decent trade offer for him (Abreu, Ryan Zimmerman and Downs for Broxton), but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with people saying that “Billy has Downs.” Thanks.

  11. Eric W says:

    Little known fact the Royals used to be good. Great stuff Rudy.

  12. Now that, sir, was a fine April Fool’s Day post.

  13. Tony says:

    @Billy: you’d get zimm, abreu, and downs for Broxton? Is the owner sniffing gas? Do that deal. You should be able to deal Abreau for another closer if you need later… just really depends what you have to drop, thats way too much IMO for broxton.

  14. Billy says:

    The only thing stopping me is that the only other closer I have is Health Bell, and my outfield right now is Beltran, Ellsbury and Milton Bradley with Burrell or Choo-Choo in the UTL. Also, I have Wright at 3B. You still think I should do that? Thanks for your response btw.

  15. Tony says:

    @Billy: yeah I think you’re getting too much in return…. Trade an OF’er to a team then for a closer later? I guess its not really something you need, but it is good value. Tough. If he’ll deal that much see if he’d deal a better stick plus downs and do that? a 2 for 1 would be better IMO

  16. Tony says:

    closers are a dime a dozen look how much the closers have changed already this season and there hasn’t been one real game played!

  17. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Billy: good problem to have,how many bench spot you have,,start hitting on the backup closers and stashem,surely abreau or ellsbury can bring you something,but downs isnt in yet?zimm isnt going to start for you?with your lineup ,i dont like it,be different if you need sb`s or zimm

  18. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    Several years ago I found myself in Kansas City, and decided to catch a ball game. The best symbol of the tightwadedness (made of word) of the owners was that half of the lighting on the Royals logo in center field was out. However, the ticket price was only a few bucks more then I pay to see my local Single A team. Another sign of their penurious ways was when they traded away Ricky from my so-called life for Tiehan, Buck, and another yawnstapating player whom I can’t recall. And yes, the offer of an hourly wage was outrageous! At any rate, I must end this missive, as I need to go to the FA list to pick up Sid Finch, with his 168 MPH fastball.

    PS – thanks, Rudy. Sounds a lot more interesting than Torre’s book.

  19. AL KOHOLIC says:

    sid finch retired 10 years ago

  20. nmdunkel says:

    I marched into The Boss’s office and asked whether this was a mistake and he told me, “Buddy, I think you’re a great manager but I’ve managed plenty of managers over at Wal*Mart. These guys worked 60 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. You work only a little more than 6 months a year.

    lulz……I can’t even think of a witty comment on this. I can’t even handle that line……..the true lesson here is….Never Manage At A Walmart (52 weeks a year?)

    Thanks for the laughs, Rudy. Great stuff!

  21. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    Al-K – You forget that Sid Finch is a Buddhist. He has recently been re-incarnated as Stephen Strasburg. Boras even made a reference that Strasburg IS SID FINCH! Boras is said to be asking 50 Mill , which is about 400% more then the highest previous rook signing. Perhaps Rudy Plimpton could write a post about Steve Strazztastic.

  22. AL KOHOLIC says:

    i heard his arm fell off and now he`s throwing even better left handed

  23. Adan says:

    “He found his edge and had another blockbuster season for us (15 HR / 81 RBI)”

    HAHA thats friggin great.

  24. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    If Max Scherzer is Jocacum, perhaps Stever Strassburg could by Cyhobbs , a combination of Cy Young and Roy Hobbs, the flavor of a cybernetic organism, and idiomatically referential to Ty Cobb,

  25. AL KOHOLIC says:

    yes really,he just broke into the 100 range of of`s

  26. Smooth Lever says:

    @Adnan: Yeah, that shit about monster seasons was pretty great. Def got a laugh out of that.

  27. I'm Keith Hernandez says:

    Rodney was just named the opening day closer, any chance he keeps the job over Lyon?

  28. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @I’m Keith Hernandez: I think there’s some action on this over in the other thread — the round-up from earlier today.

  29. Tom says:

    Not going to lie, you had me there for a while.

  30. AL KOHOLIC says:

    12×12- roney worth dropping backup fontenot for,already han nathan,motten,hoffman and downs,12 teams,3 bench spots

  31. AL KOHOLIC says:

    sorry,thats rodney for post 31 not roney

  32. AL KOHOLIC says:

    rudy ,rodney worth owning??

  33. JR says:

    Nice work, Rudy. Has JoePa seen this?

  34. AL KOHOLIC says:

    ,ill pass on rodney,,getting mixed vibes,,will be better options yet to come with sub 5.00 era and 1.70 whip

  35. @AL KOHOLIC: I think Rodney is awful. Deserves no respect. I guess SAGNOF still applies but man he’s awful.

    @JR: Not sure. Probably not.

  36. JR says:

    If you can actually sit through an entire ninth-inning Rodney appearance without leaving the room — and that’s like fifteen minutes or so — then you have the right to own him.

  37. BigFatHippo says:

    Rudy, did conficker just take over my Razzball site?

    It was nice while it lasted, but I’m sure gonna miss you guys………

Comments are closed.