The Royals have decided to go without a slogan this season. "You gotta love these guys," the club's motto for the past two years, started to sound more like a threat than an upbeat suggestion.
David Woods of Shawnee is just the kind of 29-year-old fan the Royals should own. He's a rabid football and hockey fan. "I'll go see the Royals if somebody gives me a ticket," Woods says. "But I'm not going to pay money to see them." Is there any way he can be coerced to part with his cash to spend a night at the K? "If they won more games, I might go on Dollar Night when I can get a hot dog for a buck."
The Royals haven't had a winning April since 1989. Bo Jackson hit seventh for John Wathan back then. Tony Muser doesn't have anybody with Jackson's charisma or talent to plug into his lower lineup. But if the Royals get off to another slow start, Muser's reign of error might finally be snuffed out. "There's no question about it," says Royals general manager Allard Baird. "We need to come out of the chute and start off well."
David Glass, the former Wal-Mart CEO and current owner of the Royals, is on a mission to upgrade Kauffman Stadium by persuading Kansas City and the state of Missouri to pour nearly $300 million into the Truman Sports Complex over the next thirty years for restaurants, shops and bigger bathrooms. Glass says that without renovations, the Royals can't produce the revenue necessary to fund a contending team.
This guy's sense of timing is worse than his son Dan's -- who announced one week before the opener that Mike Sweeney might be traded. Glass is overlooking the fact that the owners and players are once again about to take a mutual shit in their Jacuzzi. Owners are threatening to lock out players in the next off season, so the players' union has discussed a midseason strike, which is how the game lost thousands of fans just a few years ago.
"My interest in the Royals is zero," says Tim Gilbert, a 39-year-old Raytown resident. "I used to play on three different softball teams, but I don't care about professional baseball much since the strike. The only time I think about the Royals now is when their game interrupts Rush Limbaugh's show."
Days after one of the most thrilling World Series in the game's history, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that two teams would be eliminated. This did not please the players. "This is the worst manner in which to begin the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement," says Donald Fehr, the players' union's representative.
How smart does the Missouri legislature need to be to avoid jumping into that Jacuzzi? Governor Bob Holden has already cut almost $400 million from the budget this year because revenues failed to meet projections. With Missouri's highway system showing little improvement since the days of the Pony Express, wider concourses at the K for crowds of 16,000 don't make sense.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Kauffman Stadium that a winning team couldn't cure. No one is asking Glass to spend $100 million on free agents. The best way he can put the buzz back in Kansas City baseball is through solid draft picks that mature into winning major leaguers like Sweeney and Carlos Beltran. Then we need assurances they won't be traded away because we don't have a TGI Friday's and a water slide behind right field.