After enduring a week of criticism and backlash regarding the thumping he took at the hands of Danny Valencia, Butler finds himself in an ongoing battle in the media and with fans alike. A number of former teammates have come to the defense of Danny Valencia, including Eric Hosmer, and Mike Sweeney was added to the list of those going on the offense toward Billy.
“When I saw that Billy and Danny got in a fight, it did not surprise me. Billy is a great-hearted guy. He’s like a 31-year-old kid that can hit, that wakes up and says I’m going to go out and get two hits today. Sadly, whether we win or lose, it wasn’t at the top of the list for Billy, as far as my experiences with him. But he’s a great-hearted guy, he’s just not a team guy. I felt the same with Danny.”
Valenica himself, a known clubhouse cancer, as Sweeney alluded to – and multiple teams giving up on him despite producation is proof of that – but for whatever reason, Butler is the victim of mob mentality attacks, not Valencia. Something so small as a few quips at a sales rep have turned into a bona fide reason for the baseball community to continue its assault on Billy Butler’s reputation it seemed.
Whether deserved or not, the hits keep on coming while a mob mentality fuels the outburst of all of those who have ever had beef with him in the past.
There were a few hints of discord now and again during his playing years, but by and large, Billy was a well respected and mostly liked player throughout his tenure in Kansas City. So what has changed?
Butler did turn down a Royals offer following the 2014 season so that he could accept a much more lucrative one in the $30 million deal he accepted with the Oakland A’s, but it seemed a universal acceptance that the idea of paying an aging and declining Butler that kind of money was nothing short of ludicrous. In reality, Butler had no choice but to accept and the Royals had no choice but to say “see you later” to the former 1st round pick who managed 8 seasons in Royals Blue all while batting .295/.359/.449 during his career in KC.
With his declining numbers and advancing age, it seemed at worse an amicable split between two parties that were leaving with a mutual respect and admiration. One disagreement with a teammate in the tumultuous Oakland clubhouse and suddenly Royals fans and media alike are all to keen on throwing those years away.
This isn’t to say that anything his former teammates are saying isn’t TRUE. Its that it isn’t necessary.
There is no doubt that over the course of 8 years people will get rubbed the wrong way. But in the end, what did Butler actually do wrong? There has been very little talk of his ACTUAL crime, and a plethora of ongoing dialog about his demeanor and attitude years ago. Where was all of this hatred then?
Maybe it was he was good when the Royals were bad and not nearly as good when they were good? Maybe it was he was slow and had the physique of a beer league slow-pitch softball player, or that he never fit the bill of what Royals fans wanted him to be? Maybe he really was a dick and deserves every bit of what he is being dragged through now – including the punch to the face that put Butler on the shelf for a few days from Valencia?
Maybe it a bit of everything. But, I doubt it.
Much like when two divorced people look back and say “I never loved you” it is too obvious to look back through old photos and see differently. There was a twinkle…a spark…a mutual admiration. And I’m not going to let him getting punched change how I feel about Billy Butler. You can pretend you didn’t love him, and that he didn’t love you…but look back through those photos and its obvious that isn’t true.
It also won’t change my feelings that Butler was really good here and despite his regression his last two years here after a Silver Slugger and All-Star season in 2012, when it appeared Butler finally maybe reached his potential, that he’s likely a Royals Hall of Famer.
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