KC and the little things

OK, well, I know what comes next. If you have been around the Kansas City Royals for any extended period of time, you do too. The Royals have lost 14 of their last 18 games. But more, much more, 11 of those 14 losses are by two runs or less. Oh yeah, we know what comes next.Lots and lots and lots of talk about … the little things.Get ready for it. There will be closed door meetings. There will be public proclamations. There will be quotes galore. People from the Royals organization will be lining up to tell us how they’ve got to start doing the little things, they can’t keep messing up the little things, they must concentrate on the little things. Those little things will become an obsession, at least for a little while. At some point manager Ned Yost will say he will not put up with players who don’t do the little things. General manager Dayton Moore will say that the team can’t panic, that it’s simply about getting those little things right. Team leaders will emerge to publicly challenge teammates to do those little things.In a way, I agree with the Royals. Unfortunately, we have very different views of what little things actually matter most. The Royals -- and, really, almost every baseball team -- think of the little things as getting the bunt down, moving runners over, getting them home from third, hitting the cutoff man, getting the sure out and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I believe these are all good things for a team to do, important in their own way. I tend to think of them like I think of the little twisty air blower above your seat on an airplane. It matters. If the plane is hot, that thing feels like an important device. But, you know, even when it’s hot, that little twisty blower doesn’t really power the plane.The Royals are always terrible at close games. Always. They have won just 44% of their one- and two-run games since the 1994 strike, by far the worst percentage in the American League.* They have also lost by far the most blowout games of any team since 1994, but let’s focus on one problem at a time. I believe those close games DO often come down to little things, but I just happen to think those little things have little to do with bunting, productive outs or saving/gaining the extra base.

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