The central point in the public marketing campaign for the Kansas City Royals is “It all happens here”. If you take into account the memory of many Royals fans, an addendum could be added to that statement: “It all happens here… except postseason”.
The 2010 Royals season is heavily featuring the 25 year anniversary of their World Series championship over the St. Louis Cardinals. When a good portion of your team’s marketing is resting on the laurels of what they accomplished a quarter of a century ago, that’s never a good sign. Many Royals fans don’t even have clear memories of that series, that’s how long it’s been (thank goodness for video libraries, right?). The routine for the city always ends with Kauffman Stadium’s gates being closed for months after the first few days in October. When the Chicago Cubs, arguably baseball’s biggest curse/joke/etc., have more postseason success than you do, that’s not a good thing.
Royals fans are attached to 1985 like a newborn to a nipple. It’s been their only successful trip to baseball’s top position. Ask around and see who remembers other highlights like that other World Series appearance for Kansas City. Most everyone can tell you the jersey numbers that have been retired in KC, yet many are stumped if you ask them to rattle off other names belonging to the Royals Hall of Fame (either that, or many of my friends are bad examples of Royals fans). But I digress.
The memory of the average Royals fan is overshadowed with failure. Several seasons in the late 80s with winning records (yet no playoffs) get outnumbered and buried under seasons of sub-.500 baseball. The club built a reputation of getting rid of promising players – Beltran, Damon, Dye, to name a few. If they were to benefit as a result of dealing these sorts of players, it would be a different story. If.
Reality shows that the Royals and “benefit” don’t really fit. For years, it’s been average player after average player. One disappointment after another. I realize I sound like a broken record here, but there’s clearly a reason for that. Zack Greinke should be elevated to god-like status, because he’s the best thing to happen to the Royals since 1985. No disrespect to guys like Kevin Seitzer and Bo Jackson, but they were both individual parts of a machine that actually knew a little about success. Greinke is one of the only highlights to the era of “True New. Blue. Tradition.”. Tradition which, for far too many years, is defined by losing records and thousands of empty seats at the ballpark more often than not.
The Royals recently saw $250 million in renovations and improvements get sunk into Kauffman Stadium. Granted, The K was in need of a facelift, but imagine if that sort of money was sunk into the team instead. The bill for the stadium renovations was footed by taxpayers, who can at least appreciate what the result looks like. If the same taxpayers were asked to foot the bill for the Royals roster and overall staffing, there would be riots. Dayton Moore and David Glass have fumbled the ball for way too long, and it’s the same old song and dance each season. Inking Greinke to a long-term contract is a good start, but so much more still remains. Until they’re willing to go all out and be competitive off the field, the Royals will continue to come up short in being competitive on the field.
Welcome to Groundhog Day. The owners have seen their shadows, which means another six months of failure.