I love Zack Greinke.
Not sure how I’d respond to a team, or a family, full of Greinkes, but to have one straight-talking player in the clubhouse is more than a breath of fresh air, it’s an occasional windstorm of honesty.
Greinke answers questions as if the questioner was actually interested in hearing a truthful response. There’s no politically correct filter to muddle up the response. No needless dancing or reading between the lines.
So ESPN’s Mark Saxon asked Greinke how he felt about the Dodgers opening the season in Australia, and he had his usual direct reply:
“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it. There just isn't any excitement to it. I can't think of one reason to be excited for it.”
Greinke was saying what probably most every player was thinking but not espousing publicly. This Australia trip is one major injury away from being a complete disaster.
They have to prepare in an abbreviated camp, travel halfway around the world to play two games down under against the Arizona Diamondbacks, fly 17 hours home, suddenly play three practice games and then start the regular season again in San Diego.
What’s not to love?
It’s nothing against wanting to help expand baseball internationally, and certainly nothing against Australia. Told it’s a swell place to vacation. Probably all the players would like to give it a visit. Just not officially begin their season there in a chopped-up start that could leave them less than ready to resume it eight days later.
You’ll be absolutely stunned to learn organizers in Australia were less than thrilled with what the Sydney Morning Herald termed “Greinke’s outburst.” Looks like Greinke just made this a road game.
But he was only giving a coherent response to the situation. If the Dodgers return home weary and disjointed, get swept by the Padres and end up losing the National League West by one game to the San Francisco Giants, wonder where the outcry will come from.
Officially the Dodgers as an organization, of course, remain just all giddy about the trip. President Stan Kasten told Saxon:
“Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him. He's famously focused and meticulous about his training regimen. It's what makes him so good and such a great teammate. This is clearly going to alter his routine. I understand that aspect of it.
“But my problem right now is trying to make room for all the people that want to go -- players, family, front-office people. As an organization, we couldn't be more excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Sure, families and front-office types want to go. They don’t have to play in two games that count in the standings, return home to play exhibition games, and then turn it on again in San Diego.
It’s weird and impractical, and with precious little reason for a player to get excited about. You could ask one, or if you really wanted the truth, you could ask Greinke.