Almost every Royals manager in the past 20 years has reached a point where there’s not much left to say or do about a losing streak — except for something ridiculous.
Ned Yost got there Tuesday night, when after the Royals’ 18th loss in their last 22 games, asked if he should “take my belt off and spank” his players for their poor performance. This comes days after he said he would stay patient with struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas because he couldn’t “go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman.”
A quick glance at the past reveals a mix of deadpan humor and furious rage from the manager when the Royals’ season inevitably turns south.
Buddy Bell: “I never say it can’t get worse”
On April 19, 2006, the Royals lost their 10th straight game and fell to 2-12 on the year in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The Royals were nearly no-hit by Javier Vazquez. Had one wild pitch. One passed ball. And one hit batter. All with the bases loaded.
It couldn’t get much worse. But Royals manager Buddy Bell knew better.
“I never say it can’t get worse,” Bell warned. “This game is too hard to play. There’s always something lurking around the corner.”
The Royals finished the 2006 season 62-100. And Bell would manage one more season before departing after the 2007 season.
Tony Pea: Hitting the showers
The Royals were a trendy pick to win the AL Central in 2004. By Saturday, April 17, they had lost five in a row, and manager Tony Pea tried to break the tension by stepping into the showers in Minnesota with his uniform still on.
He lathered himself up with soap, complimented Aaron Guiel’s hair, and then returned back to his office.
“I had to do something,” Pea explained. “Make them laugh. Well, they laughed. We know we’re better than this. We know that.”
“We’re going through a tough time,” Pea said, “but every team goes through a tough time. I’m not going to let my team get down. I want my team smiling. Nobody is going to knock the smile off of my face.”
Tony Muser: Milk and cookies
After a 9-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on May 3, 2001 — a game in which the Royals made four errors — the club dropped to 10-18 on the season. And Muser unleashed his now-famous dialogue on milk and cookies.
“Chewing on cookies and drinking milk and praying is not going to get it done,” Muser said.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and some mind-set. And I think there’s a lot of transition going on in that room. This is the first time that it’s been expected for certain people to perform. And expectations create pressure. And pressure does something to the mind-set, and they’re going to have to learn how to deal with that.
“We have to dig our way out of this,” Muser said. “The season is a long way from being over, and we’ve got the first-place Twins coming in.
“And I’d like to see ’em go out and pound tequila rather than cookies and milk, because nobody’s going to get us out of this but us.”
Later, after the comments created a stir in Kansas City, Muser said he’d received a bottle of tequila in the mail from a fan.
“It’s unopened,” he said, smiling. “And it will stay unopened. I’ll keep it as a trophy.”
It would be the only trophy Muser won in Kansas City. He was fired 23 games into 2002, finishing with a 317-431 record in parts of six seasons as Royals manager.
Hal McRae: Hold the phone
By almost all accounts, Hal McRae was mostly cordial as the Royals manager from 1991-94. But after an early-season loss against Detroit on April 26, 1993, McRae went off.
Two questions into his post-game interview, including one about pinch-hitting George Brett for Keith Miller, McRae stopped: “Don`t ask me such stupid (expletive) questions,” he said. That`s it.”
After flinging objects off his desk, including a phone, McRae emerged from his office with a bottle of vodka and began yelling at his players.
“I’m sick and tired of all this bull (expletive),” McRae yelled. “Now, put that in your (expletive pipe and smoke it).”
The Royals would rally to finish 84-78 that season, and McRae led the franchise to a 64-51 record in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He was fired in September 1994. The Royals’ only winning season since was an 83-79 finish in 2003.