When I was a boy, I sincerely believed that Ed Farmer stole something from me.
I believed that Farmer, then a Texas Rangers pitcher, stole a fourth straight division title from me.
Well, technically from the Kansas City Royals. But when I was a boy, I didn’t make a distinction between me and the Kansas City Royals; they were me and I was them. That’s what it’s like, when you’re a boy.
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In 1979, Farmer knocked out two of the Royals’ best players, Al Cowens and Frank White, in the same game. Cowens would miss three weeks; White, five. And I long assumed that those eight weeks cost the Royals the division title.
And they might have! The Royals finished three games behind the first-place Angels; considering the Royals were the best team in the A.L. West from 1976 through ’78, and again in ’80, we might guess they were fundamentally the best team in the division in 1979.
But the Royals didn’t lose in ’79 because Cowens and White missed some time; they lost because their top four starting pitchers suffered down years. Of course, you never know. Maybe Cowens and White would have chipped in with some key hits that their replacements didn’t. But if Ed Farmer bears some responsibility for the Royals’ failure to win five straight division titles, you’ll need a microscope to find it.
Still, (a) when I was 12, I was more into magnifying glasses, and (b) Farmer brought all this back over the weekend.
With Kansas City’s Paulo Orlando looking to bunt in the eighth inning, Farmer said, "My thing is this: If he squares around to bunt, and you think Dyson’s running, you throw right at Paulo Orlando. You throw it right at him."
Well, OK. Farmer’s not directly advising the pitcher to actually hit Orlando. Rather, he’s suggesting the pitcher prevent Orlando from bunting, which is actually standard advice in this situation. Then again, if the point is that Dyson’s running, why not pitch out? If you throw at Orlando, what sort of position will the catcher be in to throw out Dyson? It seems like maybe Farmer hasn’t thought this through all the way?
But it’s later that Farmer exposes his true colors. In extra innings, Lorenzo Cain teed off for a decisive home run, and on his way to first base he looked into the Royals’ dugout with, as you might imagine, some joy. It’s been one hell of a season for Cain and the Royals.
Here’s what Farmer thought about that: "That right there? If I’m on the mound, next time he comes up he’s gonna be looking up at the sky."
I think Keith’s distinction here is a good one: Ed Farmer is an employee of the Chicago White Sox, and speaks for the organization. Yes, most of us prefer at least a modicum of objectivity from our local broadcasters, but Farmer serves at the pleasure of the White Sox; if they win the World Series, Ed Farmer gets a ring. And it does seem inappropriate for team employees to publicly (or privately) advocate violent, potentially dangerous tactics.
Granted, managers often say the same sorts of things (if not as often as they used to). But that seems inappropriate, too. I’m all for candor, and if Ed Farmer really believes this tripe, then I’m glad to know it. But you can make an argument, I think, that a team employee should be discouraged from saying such things on the air. And that if a fine doesn’t work, more drastic measures might be in order.
Again, I’m all for free expression of ideas. But a team employee advocating violence in his official professional capacity? It might be entertaining, but that’s what talk radio’s for.
Or maybe this is just the 12-year-old in me talking.