Every morning the alarm on my Blackberry wakes me up. I turn it off and proceed to do my morning routine of checking Arrowhead Pride, Kansas City.com, and ESPN.com (usually in that order). I woke up on Sunday morning in St. Louis eagerly looking forward to putting on my DJ jersey, going downtown and doing some day drinking with some friends, my future brother in law, and watching the Chiefs win. I went to Arrowhead Pride, no news since I had last compulsively checked it before I had gone to bed 6 hours prior. I went to Kansas City.com and saw the second headline, “Greinke traded to Brewers”. I wasn’t shocked that it happened. When players complain about wanting a trade in today’s sports world they usually get it. I was more dismayed and taken back that this trade even needed to take place – and above all, I was shocked that Zack Greinke would turn his back on a franchise that has bent over backwards for him. Zack Greinke is a good major league pitcher. I still don’t believe he’s great. He’s done very little in his short major league career to garner a request to be “traded to a contender”. Who does he think he is? Tony Gonzalez?
From day 1 in Kansas City Tony Gonzalez was everything the Chiefs thought he could be and paid him to do. He shut his mouth, was great in the community, put butts in the seats at Arrowhead, and became the greatest TE to ever play the game. Tony Gonzalez was revered as one of the hardest working players in the NFL. Staying an hour after practice was over and catching passes was a thing of the norm. Taking young rookie players under his wing and showing them how to be a professional was something he enjoyed doing. Tony Gonzalez will retire in another couple of seasons – and when he does he will be enshrined in the Chiefs Hall of Honor at the New Arrowhead. 5 years later he will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee and take his place amongst the greatest players to ever step on a football field – and he will go into the Hall of Fame as a Kansas City Chief. There will be a “Tony Gonzalez” day at Arrowhead. The Chiefs will do a halftime ceremony and video montage of his playing days here. People will tear up, the fans will chant “Tony, Tony, Tony”, and all will be forgiven. Zack Greinke isn’t Tony Gonzalez.
For those who know very little about Zack Greinke here’s the scoop, I’ll keep this short since this is a football blog.
Zack Greinke was a highly touted draft pick by the Kansas City Royals. He was the 2002 Gatorade High School player of the year and was selected in the first round of the MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals. He breezed through the minors. He absolute owned opposing batters and gathered plenty of minor league awards on his path to the big leagues. After 2 seasons in the minors he made his MLB debut in the 2004 season but was nothing special. He struggled at first, he wasn’t dominating, and the fans in KC weren’t on his side. After a couple mediocre years he left the team at the beginning of Spring Training in 2006. During this time away it was discovered that he suffers from social anxiety and depression. The Royals bent over backwards for him during this time. They told him to take as much time as he needed. They got him treatment, put him in touch with doctors, and gave him his space. Nobody knew if he’d even play baseball again.
He came back to the Royals in 2007 and split time between the bullpen and starting rotation. He had more command on the mound and of his mind. He wasn’t dominating opposing players, but he was starting to show signs of being a competitive MLB pitcher. 2008 came around and he was easily the Royals best pitcher – he was rewarded with a very fair 4 year contract extension.
In 2009 Zack Greinke was simply amazing. His medication was working, and his changeup was working even better. He was gross. Nobody could hit him and he won the Cy Young award.
He filled Kauffman stadium every time he pitched at home. All was fine, Zack liked being here, fans loved him, the Royals still sucked.
The 2010 season got started and Zack Greinke wasn’t dominating like he did in 2009. He wasn’t the same pitcher. His ERA doubled, he was losing games, fans still loved him, and the Royals sucked. There’s some speculation amongst KC writers that Greinke quit on the Royals last year, that he wasn’t preparing like he had in 2009. He wasn’t talking to the media, he wasn’t around the club house as often, he was pulling away from the organization, and he stopped taking his medication.
Zack Greinke then stated he wanted out of KC towards the end of the 2010 season. He wanted to play for someone with a chance of competing for a World Series. Royals GM Dayton Moore granted him his wish on Sunday by trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers for 4 prospects.
Zack Greinke, the 27 year old pitcher who is just 3 years removed from walking away from the organization who drafted him, who stuck by him, who helped get him back to the big leagues, who gave him a contract extension - now wants to win more. Yes Zack, everyone wants to win more. There isn’t a single player (baseball, football, tennis, curling) who doesn’t want to win more and lose less.
35 year old future Hall of Fame players earn and deserve the right to be picky. They have the right to request a trade in the twilight of their playing career. 27 year old kids who are impatient, pout, and quit on their teams when things aren’t going perfect do not garner the same respect in my opinion.
There will be no “Zack Greinke” day at Kauffman Stadium, they won’t pass out Zack Greinke bobble head dolls 20 years from now, and I’m not even convinced Zack Greinke ends up in the MLB Hall of Fame. Without the 2009 season Zack Greinke is Gil Meche, he’s Kevin Appier. Zack Greinke is Rich Gannon. Zack Greinke is not Tony Gonzalez.