There’s good news and bad news on the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year front.
The bad news first: The horse is ahead again. Last week, the Royals fell behind in the fan vote, then pulled ahead. But American Pharoah has regained the lead.
But, whatever. Can’t do anything about the equine block of voting in this country.
Here’s the good news. Sports Illustrated has been running essays on all the contenders, and Art Stewart, the legendary scout with more than 60 years of experience, wrote a piece making the case for the Royals.
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This is part of his essay:
“They stand for so many things,” Stewart wrote. “They are a testament to building from within, to being patient with your young players. They are a testament to the faith of GM Dayton Moore, who never got off track, despite criticism from the media, stayed on course and stayed with it, and proved that it could be done that way — the way he wanted to do it. That to me was the greatest feeling after the World Series, to win it, and do it the way he wanted to do it — Dayton’s way. To watch these players grow up and develop together has been unbelievable. I saw Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer in high school. I saw Alex Gordon in college. I saw Salvador Perez when he was just a baby. Had we’d gone off course, what we’d given up on any single one of them, they wouldn’t be where they are today. Of course, now, all these kids will live on forever in Kansas City.
“The one thing Dayton talked about since the day he got here in 2006 was that makeup was a premier thing with him, along with talent. And I think in the end that what’s most special about these guys is the character. The character. There’s no selfishness. Even the players who’ve joined the team through the years, all the way to Ben Zobrist. Chris Young said it best: I’m so happy to be a part of this group, I’ve never seen a group with this kind of togetherness.”
You can read more of what Stewart wrote here.
But, Stewart wasn’t the only one to make a case for the Royals. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Chen also had some flattering things to say:
“(T)he baseball awakening in Kansas City is just part of why the Royals should be the 2015 Sportsmen of the Year. This Royals team did things impossible in this day and age in which everything in baseball is measured with NASA-levels of precision, at a time where there are no more mysteries. They refused to give in to convention, in everything they do, from Dayton Moore’s Process to Ned Yost’s lineup construction to Alcides Escobar’s insane first pitch approach. They made us rethink the game, to reconsider what we thought about the value of dominant 60-inning relievers, of aggressive base-running and the power of just putting the damn ball in play. They made us rethink the power of the immeasurable. Of mysteries like faith and belief, the importance of character, the effect of clubhouse guys: All those things that Moore and Yost have been talking about all these years, through all the losing seasons, all those things that were met with eye rolling and ridicule. After watching the Royals in October — night after night of slicing up pitchers and running wild on the bases and winning with late-inning drama that felt pre-scripted, and doing so with such intensity and joy — you had to acknowledge that those things, all those things, could maybe, possibly, mean something. That maybe all those things do play a small part in winning a one-run game in October, in coming back time and time again, in creating a culture where a team plays with such energy and hunger.”
There is more, and you can read all of what Chen wrote here.