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It was the top of the ninth in the Bronx. The Royals owned a 3-2 lead. Their leadoff man walked, which brought banjo-hitting Josh Anderson to the plate. Sure, Trey Hillman could have ordered up a pinch-hitter, but (in case you haven't been paying attention) the Royals aren't exactly swimming in hitters this season. Instead, Hillman ordered up a bunt.
Anderson bunted, all right ... straight into the air, giving Jerry Hairston plenty of time to make the catch.
But Anderson didn't run. Hairston noticed, and -- this is the part I'm always begging to see -- he let the ball drop, picked up and fired to second for the out there, after which the shortstop relayed the ball to first base to complete the double play (Anderson did finally run, but was a couple of steps too late.
Yankee broadcaster John Flaherty attributed the play to a veteran (Hairston) who "knows the game" and "a young kid just got caught making a bad baserunning mistake."
Josh Anderson is 27, and last night marked his 900th professional game. If he hasn't already learned that you have to run to first base every time, he probably never will.
But we can hardly blame Anderson's gaffe on the Royals, right? After all, Anderson's been a Royal for less than two months. Maybe he just hasn't been indoctrinated yet. Maybe a winter of contemplation and a spring training of stern managing will convince him to adopt the Ways of the Royal.
Except ... Well, there was this. Flaherty continued, "You talk to people around the Royals who watch them play every day, and they say they do some of these things. You know, they don't play the game the right way, missing cutoffs, situational hitting hasn't been great..."
I don't know about the situational hitting. I do know that it's easy to pick on the worst team in the league, and that fewer mistakes are forgiven when you're losing. I also know that if you're managing the worst team in the league and you've not convinced your players to do even the little things right, you're not much use.
Oh, and the punch line? With Joakim Soria unavailable, Hillman called upon Kyle Farnsworth to preserve the Royals' slim lead in the bottom of the ninth. Thanks largely to his failure to field two ground balls hit right to him, Farnsworth gave up two runs and lost, thus snatching defeat from the jaws of Anthony Lerew's first major league victory. And so the beat goes on. On and on and on.