Dear Mr. Glass,
Look, we need to talk. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it’s time for us to face facts and make some big decisions. It’s time for us to be truthful about how things have been going for the last few years. It’s time for us to take a serious look in the mirror and choose what we want for the future. You see, I think I’ve been pretty patient. I think I’ve looked the other way about a lot of things. I think I’ve listened to your words and I’ve really tried to believe them. But, after a lot of thought, plenty of frustration and more than a few sleepless nights, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are just not ever going to change.
Here are the facts, as I see them. You are the owner of a Major League Baseball team – the Kansas City Royals. I am a fan of that team. For the here and now, that means we are connected. In three of the last four years, that team has set franchise records for losses – all three in triple digits. With your team’s 4-13 start this year, you are well on your way to setting yet another record for futility. Based on this start, you are projected to go 41-121 this year. Yet, even though your team finished with the worst record in all of baseball last year and earned the number one pick in this year’s draft, you are one of only a few owners that actually made money in 2005. In fact, one publication indicates your operating income was more than $20,000,000 last year. To put that in perspective, that same publication indicates the New York Yankees lost $50,000,000 last year. However, the only reason you made money in 2005 is because you received $55,000,000 from the MLB central fund and from the revenue sharing plan currently in place. With a current combined salary of less than $45,000,000, you don’t have to pay a dime of your own money to put a team on the field. And despite these astounding figures, the citizens of Jackson County still saw fit to give you $275,000,000 for stadium renovations just to keep you at the Truman Sports Complex.
And that takes us to the product you are willing to put in front of the fans 162 times a year. You have yet to hire a coach with a winning record while with the Royals. The 2006 edition of the Royals has been swept in four of the six series they’ve played. Not just lost the series – SWEPT! Your general manager has tried to sell the same tired, old Three Year Plan song and dance since he got here six years ago. The product you put on the field is barely able to fill the stands and the franchise seems to be a permanent fixture in the bottom third of the league attendance marks. Let me know if I have missed anything!
Those are the facts, but what about the emotion. You see, Mr. Glass, you’ve sucked the joy out of Kansas City baseball. Since the Royals came to town in the late 60s, Kansas City has been supportive. The Kaufman family is revered here because of their love of the area and their efforts to put a winner on the field. They weren’t afraid to spend because, for Ewing Kaufman, owning a baseball team wasn’t about putting money back in his pocket. He had other business ventures to do that. Owning the Royals was about pride in the area and love of the game itself. And that was obvious in how he treated the team and the fans. There’s a reason his statue stands outside the stadium that bears his name – and why yours will most likely never join him.
I grew up watching the Royals battle the Yankees in the late 70s and early 80s. There were fights on my little league team over who would wear George Brett’s number 5 on their uniform. We watched in frustration as the Phillies beat us in 1980 for the World Series crown, than jumped up and down five years later as we knocked off the Cardinals for a World Series of our own. We cheered Brett, Frank White, John Wathan, Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Seitzer, Mike MacFarland and so many others. We hurt for Willie as he battled drug problems. We laughed when Brett came charging out of the dugout in the Pine Tar Game. We cried when Dick Howser lost his battle with cancer. In the early 90s, we watched the unbelievable power and skill of Bo Jackson. I remember in high school going out to games during the week and grabbing G.A. seats in left field, then hanging over the wall during pitching changes because Bo would come over and talk with us. Going to the ballpark was one of the great places to hangout as friends or family. It was a place to be, then brag to your friends that you were at the game where Balboni hit that monster home run, where Quiz came on for another save, where Damon and Dye used speed and power to terrorize the other team.
What do we look forward to now? I think a co-worker of mine said it best the other day, “As long as they don’t lose every series. . .” That’s what we’ve come to? Hoping they can pull out a series win here or there? That makes me feel sick, sad and angry all at once. 200 miles down I-70, St. Louis has billed itself as Baseball Town, USA. They claim to have the greatest fans in the world and play in an amazing new ballpark. And every time I hear an announcer gush over the fun of watching baseball in St. Louis, there’s a part of me that believes they stole that title from us. But, we got duped. We got a new owner that ran one of the richest corporations in the world. He was loaded! Money would not be a problem. We’d be competitive. We’d bring another title to Kansas City. That owner vowed to move to Kansas City and run the team from here, instead of jetting back and forth in the company jet. But, it was all a lie. You had no intention of moving and money was always the object.
You are a business man and an excellent one, at that. I respect that. I work in the corporate world and Wal-Mart is the model to follow for maximizing income and cutting costs. And you’ve approached the Royals in the same way. For the last six years, Royals’ baseball hasn’t been focused on wins and losses. The focus from you and your family has always been the bottom line. You’ve cut payroll, raised prices and collected the handouts from Major League Baseball. You trade high salary for low salary, veterans for youth, excitement for stability. As a business model, your plan should be commended. But, in your haste to make sure the Kansas City Royals can turn a profit no matter what, you’ve overlooked one simple factor: By simply putting a competitive product on the field, you’d fill the stadium. Weekends would be sold out. People would be paying for parking, buying concessions, snatching up merchandise. The money would be rolling in.
You see, Mr. Glass, we want to support baseball in Kansas City. A couple of years ago, when Tony Pena’s Royals were mildly competitive into the later part of summer, the fans came out to the ballpark in droves. We wanted to see a team with a chance. We wanted to yell and cheer for Beltran, Randa and Sweeney and the others. It was fun. But, even then, you didn’t get it. Payroll got slashed and we started a new rebuilding phase the following year. And the losses started to grow.
Now, here we sit. We are the laughing stock of Major League Baseball. The Marlins might have more youth and a lower payroll, but they also have two World Series titles in the last ten years. No, people look at this once proud franchise and shake there heads in pity. Poor Royals fans. Another year of poor coaching, of weak talent, of no chance of winning. Talk radio began the season full of anger. But the anger is gone. It’s been replaced by disgust and resentment and that feeling you get when you know you don’t have a chance. My kids are young enough to root for the Royals because I do. I want them to fall in love with the Royals like I did. But, at the rate things are going right now, my kids are going to seek a winner. I’m afraid I’m raising Red Sox fans, Cardinal fans or, and it pains me to say this, Yankee fans.
Mr. Glass, you can change that. I don’t pretend to be the voice of the people. Not everyone may share my views. But, I think we can all support this one initiative. Mr. Glass, please step aside. Sell the Royals. Think of the time and the public relations headaches you would save? No more awkward visits to Kansas City when you’d rather be anywhere else. You’ve got plenty of money. You don’t need the Yankees and MLB to keep filling your pockets. Take up a hobby. See if you can win a BBQ contest in your true hometown – Bentonville, Arkansas. Go see a show in Branson. Spend some time at the Lake of the Ozarks. Play some golf on one of the many gorgeous courses down there. But, before you do any of that, please leave us alone. Consider this your unconditional release. We won’t be upset. Just walk away! Don’t keep tormenting us. Don’t keep claiming love for something we truly cherish. You’ve taken your shot and more than doubled your investment. It’s time to get out.
There are plenty of local investors that would love to own the Royals. Go to George Brett and ask him to lead a group that is ready to buy. Talk to Bud Selig about the importance of keeping the team in Kansas City. He’ll listen to you. Let him know that it is vital that the Kansas City Royals stay with an owner that is focused on winning. Let Major League Baseball put us to the test to see if we will support a competitive team. If we don’t, then we don’t deserve to have Major League Baseball here. But until there is a competitive product on the field, it won’t be a fair test.
Remember that silly old saying, “If you love something, set it free”? This is your chance to prove you love the Royals. Our relationship is irreparable. But you can do the honorable thing and leave us alone. You have all the leverage here. All I want is my baseball team back.
The race for 63! The Royals finished off their road trip in extremely meek style, scoring only one run in a three game sweep to the White Sox. After dropping their eleventh straight to the Indians to start the home stand, they finally showed some backbone and some offense in taking the last two from Cleveland to finish the week 2-4. Current Record: 4-13.
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