Yael T. Abouhalkah

Ned Yost the ‘dunce’ outmanages Buck Showalter the ‘chessmaster’

Lately Ned Yost has been doing some unusual things with his relievers.
Lately Ned Yost has been doing some unusual things with his relievers. The Kansas City Star

Suddenly, Ned Yost is the beloved manager of the World Series-bound Kansas City Royals.

Fans cheered madly for Yost Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium after his club swept the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series.

With class, Yost singled out the roaring fans for helping the Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985.

Yes, this is the same Yost that many of these same Royals fans wanted fired just a month or so ago, thanks to managerial moves that had seemed questionable at the time.

Indeed, Wall Street Journal reporter Brian Costa seemed to speak for much of the baseball world when he penned this column less than two weeks ago titled “Ned Yost and Buck Showalter: The Dunce and the Chessmaster.”

Part of the column:

“In Baltimore, where the Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers, 7-6, to take a 2-0 division-series lead on Friday, Showalter has been held up as a baseball Yoda. His deftness in managing his bullpen has become a focal point because the Orioles have an uninspiring starting rotation and a wealth of relievers. As a result, Orioles games inevitably become a question of how soon Showalter will yank his starter and how he will deploy his other pitchers.

“In Kansas City, Yost has become baseball’s accidental millionaire. His moves have backfired so often that fans have coined a new adjective to describe the Royals when they are doomed by one of them: #yosted. And yet, Yost is the first manager of a Royals playoff team since 1985. After they beat the Los Angeles Angels in Game 1 of their division series on Thursday night, he had them two wins away from the American League Championship Series entering Friday night’s Game 2.”

And we all know what happened after that.

Yost led the Royals to a three-game sweep of the Angels, the team with baseball’s best record in 2014.

Then, culminating with Wednesday’s 2-1 victory, Yost used his bullpen brilliantly as the Royals swept Showalter’s Orioles in four games. Baltimore had the second most wins in the American League this year.

Including the wild-card triumph over the Oakland Athletics, Yost is the first manager in baseball history to guide his team to eight straight victories to start the postseason.

By the way, all along this ride, Yost has pointed to his players as the reason for the team doing so well. He hasn’t tried to take the spotlight away from them.

And it’s just as well: The players are the ones who need to perform on the field. Sure, Yost can put them in position to succeed or fail, and he does have some responsibility for leading the team.

But in the end, it’s the players who really matter.

With the final win on Wednesday, Showalter the “chessmaster” ended up being checkmated by Yost, the supposed “dunce.”

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.