In the aftermath of Tony Pena's resignation, I can't help but feel sorry for the man.
The front page of today's Kansas City Star had a picture of Pena outside of the airport waiting for a ride. The caption said that Pena wants to get back to the Dominican Republic "right away."
We're now learning that Pena did not address his team. He simply walked up to Allard Baird and said he was quitting, and left. It is now being reported that Pena is inlvolved in a divorce case involving his neighbors in Kansas City. Suddenly, things seem to be crashing in around him.
Pena worked his butt off to become an All Star catcher. After his playing career, he managed in the minors, worked his way up to bench coach for the Houston Astros, and answered the call when the Royals needed a new manager after firing Tony Muser. His first full season was a successful one, and Pena won the American League Manager of the Year award.
But something went wrong. The Royals surrounded Pena with a group of veterans to supplement the promising young players and the Royals were expected to win the AL Central in 2004. But the players never seemed interested in playing hard and winning. Those Royals stumbled to their worst season in the Royals history, losing 104 games.
The Royals started over in 2005, dispatching the veterans and going with youth. They stressed the fundamentals in spring training and promised a hard working young team. But when the season started, they played terrible baseball and have gotten off to one of the worst starts in all of baseball history.
Apparently, Pena could no longer stand up to the pressure. Late in the night, he left the team to head home. What once seemed such a promising career is now left in shambles. A sad departure indeed.