Thursday, March 06, 2014

Ian Kinsler's Heel Turn

There's an important lesson for Ian Kinsler in all this:

Don't act like a complete jackass unless the local media really, really loves you.

Sure, former teammate Michael Young got away with it for years with the Rangers. At the same time that he was making all sorts of dire pronouncements about not wanting to switch positions for the good of the team (amidst declining defense and power production, no less), he was feted by the Dallas media as a consummate leader and professional, a guy who exemplified all the good in baseball and the right way to play the game.  

(If you're detecting some cognitive dissonance there, believe me, it's not you. It's them.)
Kinsler, on the other hand, waited until he was safely out of town to blast team management for A)forcing out former team president Nolan Ryan, B)asking him to change position to make way for a better defender (and seal a hole in the lineup at first base) C)asking him to be a leader in a clubhouse full of young players and D)trading the sainted Michael Young. While Kinsler's loyalty is nice, the fact that he didn't want to help the team by moving and helping younger players runs exactly counter to the narrative that late-career players are supposed to be on, i.e. "sharing the wisdom and doing anything to help the team win". 

Young got away with bucking it, but Kinsler didn't quite have that karma trust fund to burn, and so came off as a self-centered ass. Of course, announcing that you hope your friends on your former team go 0-162, and that the generally well-regarded GM of said team is a "sleazeball" won't win you any friends either. And the inevitable "I was misquoted/it was a joke" backpedal, well, that kind of stopped working once these magic boxes called "recording devices" got invented.

So here's the other lesson: If you're going to be an ass, own it. Recognize you're being an ass before the words come out of your mouth, and once they do, don't back down. Because that just makes you an ass and wishy-washy. A villain who says nasty things may be out of his gourd, but he at least has the courage of his convictions, and earns hate and maybe a little respect for "telling it like it is". (Even though it isn't.) A villain who just backs down when challenged earns only contempt. 

And contempt is what makes a team ask you to move off second base to make room for a rookie. Right, Ian? Right.

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