Royals owner David Glass loves socialism. Taxpayers in Jackson County are paying most of the costs associated with the renovation of Kauffman Stadium, which makes it possible for the Royals to charge $95 for Diamond Club seats (food and bev not included).
Glass can also count on the kindness of his fellow owners, who share their revenue with the Royals and other low-achieving, small-market teams. The bad news for Glass and his fellow welfare recipients is that these gag-inducing numbers became public last week.
The leaked financial documents indicate that the Pittsburgh Pirates made almost $30 million in profit in 2007 and 2008. The profit was not a reward for satisfying customers. The Pirates compiled a Royalsesque 135-189 record as they were counting their millions. (Pittsburgh, in fact, has not had a winning season since 1992, when a sleek-looking Barry Bonds was in town.)
It's collectivism that allows the game's also-rans to flourish financially. In an effort to foster competitive balance, the Yankees and Dodgers and Cubs share some of their revenue with the game's pipsqueaks. For the Pirates, the payout amounted to $39 million in 2008, which is more than the team made at the gate of their lovely, always-dark-in-October ballpark.
It stands to reason that the Royals are receiving checks of similar size from the home office. Throw in the money MLB teams share from licensing and Fox, Glass, in all likelihood, could pay his players without selling a ticket.
Glass, over the years, has tried to downplay the team's profitability. "All we're trying to do is break even," he said in 2005, the year taxpayers approved the sales tax for the Truman Sports Complex. But surely the team has done better than that, once the accounting tricks -- the Florida Marlins paid their owners "management fees," according to the leaked documents -- are stripped away.
In the end, the release of some of baseball's financial secrets may be bad for the Royals. The notion that loser organizations like Pirates are generating healthy returns does not sit well with the game's competently run clubs, who may want to rejigger the revenue-sharing forumula when the current labor deal expires. There may come a day when all of Glass' poor-mouthing has merit.
Sweet Willie: The Royals went 2-4 last week, getting wins in the final game of each series. The most unlikely win came in the getaway game of the Detroit set, which featured Ned Yost's longshot bet that Willie Bloomquist could handle the No. 3 hole. Just Happy to Be Here Willie came up huge, hitting a double and a home run in the 4-3 victory.
After the game, Yost talked about batting order and how it's not that big of a deal. There's data to back this up. So how about it, Ned. Why don't we try Jason Kendall: Bat Handler in the No. 9 spot for a while, just for funsies?
Next up: Texas, Detroit.