This has little to do with the Reds, but it’s yet another example of why Joe Posnanski is the best baseball writer in the world.Ã‚Â And it did make me think about some of the moves the Reds have made over the past few years, Jerry Narron especially:
People often ask why Buddy Bell has lost so many games through the years as a manager. His record, 518-723, is one of the worst in baseball history. Why? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a reasonable question. Bell is a good baseball man. He relates well to his players. He knows the game and loves the game, players play hard for him, he is loyal and committed. Why all the losing?
There are those obvious reasons. The biggest is that Bell has inherited bad teams. No manager was going to win big with the 1996 Tigers or 2006 Royals. Beyond that, well, you could question his game management, his handling of pitchers, his karma. Or you could just blame the whole thing on Jason LaRue, who is now hitting .148 Ã¢â‚¬â€ this makes him either a super welterweight or a junior middleweight depending on your boxing organization of choice.
Well, my theory about BuddyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s losing actually involves LaRue. It also involves Chiefs president Carl Peterson. It really covers just about everything weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen in Kansas City sports the last decade or more. It has something to do with the way losing affects people.
Buddy Bell, of course, cannot stand losing. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s obvious. More, though, Bell cannot stand stupidity. The wide variety of stupid plays in baseball (someone kicks the ball in the field, overthrows a cutoff man, fails to get the bunt down, walks a weak batter when the Royals lead, etc.) gives Bell ulcers. He canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t eat. He sits in his office staring at walls.
My theory is that Bell despises stupidity so much he has come to believe that the way to win games is to eliminate stupid plays. This is a bit like believing that the way to create art is to color inside the lines.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the problem with that line of thinking: It isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t true.
Poz goes on to discuss how Bell (and Peterson) has stuck with “smart” players over talented ones — guys who avoid mistakes rather than guys who make plays, and the effect that sort of thinking has had on KC’s teams.
And so on. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strange, the more the Royals have lost, the more desperately Bell has gone into a shell and turned to those limited know-how-to-play-the-game guys. This might help explain why BellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s teams have had so many long losing streaks.
Bell, as mentioned in this space before, has done a lot of good in Kansas City. He never had a real chance. He took over a mess, and he did make things better. The Royals will get better over the next couple of years, and I think Bell will have played a role in that.
In the end, though, I think Bell Ã¢â‚¬â€ like Peterson Ã¢â‚¬â€ did not try to win. They both have tried not to lose. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the same thing.