It’s easy to overreact. It’s easy to look at the Kansas City Royals’ just-concluded West-coast trip and think that the sky is falling. It’s both upsetting for the fans and demoralizing for the players to leave Wednesday evening from Oakland thinking that the team should easily be 4-2 instead of 3-3.
Game 3 against the A’s was in the bag. After taking the lead in the 12th, the Royals watched their dream slip away like so much bacon-wrapped-sausage sliding down Broxton’s gullet.
Closer Jonathan Broxton, that is.
When the behemoth took the mound in the bottom of the inning, however, it didn’t feel good. Perhaps I’m conditioned by so many nervous hours spent watching Mike MacDougal’s hat fly across the infield as he uncorked a wild pitch in the bottom of the 9th; maybe I’m still troubled by nightmares of an aging, incompetent Roberto Hernandez laboring his way through yet another blown save. Whatever the case, it felt blown as soon as it began.
You already know the rest.
An error by normally-dependable shortstop Alcides Escobar. Two walks by the Gargantuan. A Coco Crisp (Hey! Hi Coco! Remember us?!) ground-out that brought in the tying run.
And then, history. Back-to-back hit batters to end the game.
First, the “as-phenomenal-as-advertised” Yeonis Cespedes (who gave an icy glare after the plunking; really, dipshit? You think that was intentional?) and then the “never-as-good-as-advertised” Jonny Gomes (somebody stole your “H,” bro!).
The Gomes HBP ended the game, and landed Broxton an ill piece of history: the first pitcher to “accomplish” such a “feat” since 1966. Somewhere (likely in an assisted living facility in Massachusetts), Stu Miller—the last man to lose in such irregular fashion—is laughing manically… it doesn’t matter that it’s at a gravy stain on his pants or possibly at the antics of an invisible clown at his bedside—just know that he’s laughing.
But I’m not.
And the several thousand other Royals fans across the world aren’t, either.
Because you shouldn’t LOSE games like this. As a young, inexperienced team who learns on the fly, this is a particularly sorrowful lump of shit to spoon down. It tastes like grease from fried fat-back, and hot-dogs stuffed into the crust of a pizza, and misery, and years of disappointment.
Therefore, I’m imploring Ned Yost to keep a tight-leash on Broxton.
You give him a month of save opportunities, max. If he manages to blow two saves within that period—and they needn’t be consecutive, either—you slide his ass down the depth chart. You’ve got two suitable replacements in Greg Holland and Aaron Crow, ol’ Neddy Boy. Don’t end up looking like an idiot.
If he succeeds, you keep running (briskly walking?) him out there.
Broxton’s a big boy (TWO REGULAR PLAYERS CAN FIT IN HIS PANTS! LOOK!), and he can take it. He’s been around long enough to know that it’s business, never personal, and if he loses his spot because of ineffectiveness, he’s got no one but himself to blame.
(He’s been there before, too. After a rocky second-half of the 2010 season closing for the Dodgers, he lost his gig to Hong-Chih Kuo. That’s right, THAT Hong-Chih Kuo).
I want two things this year: an exciting Royals season full of growth and encouraging results (I’m not going to get stupid and demand a postseason—not yet), and to complete this time machine I’ve been working on so I can go back to 1978 and make sweet, sweet love to Thelma Evans from Good Times.
The latter is coming along nicely. I’ll be damned if I let Jonathan Broxton fuck up the former.