With the St. Louis Cardinals ready to invade Kansas City like locusts again this weekend, I thought it was worthy to go back a little over a year ago to the last time the Cards came into town, back when the team pleaded with fans to “Keep the K Blue!”
During that series, to my horror, it finally settled on me just how much of fan-friendly experience the Royals wanted their games to be…for the opposing fans. And not just any fans, mind you. St. Louis fans. The fans and team that is supposed to be a major rivalry. (Funny how a lot of that talk has subsided since then.) “Keep the K blue” was a last-second, desperate plea from the team to buy up tickets and keep those red-wearing brutes out of your ballpark.
Uh, yeah, except the Royals then rolled out a gift shop stuffed full of Cardinals merchandise.
Either way, below is a post from last year, with several photos… I wonder if the same will happen again starting tomorrow out at Kauffman Stadium. I wonder if Mr. K. has stopped rolling over even once since the last time…
And remember, this is our time.
Keep the K Blue? Royals just want the green
Spent the entire weekend at Kansas City’s Busch Stadium West…and after watching the Kansas City Royals drop two of three to the St. Louis Cardinals, in front of a very healthy St. Louis home crowd, all I can say is…stop the rivalry talk.
Stop it right now, Royals fans, because if you were out at the K at all during the series (I was there for all three games) you saw your own team doesn’t consider it a rivalry, or even an opponent for that matter – and that’s the real problem. Want to get real angry instead of the faux angry that KC fans (of all sorts, not just Royals) have overused as a source of motivation?
All you had to do was look in the gift shop.
The Royals organization wasn’t mad that nearly 80 percent of its crowd, and I’m likely being kind, was red. Hell no they weren’t mad. They were ecstatic because while you were told in a half-assed, last-second marketing campaign to keep the K blue, all the Royals saw was green.
Forget the Royals lost two of three to the home team in Kansas City. Forget that they gave up 13 walks (again) in the third game. Forget Billy Butler continues to be “aggressive” at exactly the wrong times and destroys a chance to win a ballgame. Forget Joakim Soria’s cold-weather excuse has melted with the rising spring temperatures as he still continues to struggle with his command.
Just pretend that stuff doesn’t happen. Pretend like Toby Cook, the Kansas City Royals Vice President-Community Affairs & Publicity, goes on local sports radio and pretends not to know that the gift shop was selling red-foam fingers and overall was stuffed with St. Louis merchandise.
But now? Here the team sits on the edge of years of work. It’s just close enough that instead of thinking “well, maybe someday…” fans find themselves realistically thinking about winning series. It is almost Memorial Day Weekend and the standings in the local paper don’t read like a Stephen King novel.I blame myself.
When the bullpen broke camp with its litany of more-talented rookies, and Alex Gordon was ripping the cover off the ball, and Jeff Francoeur appeared, finally, ready to regain his early Atlanta form, and Jeff Francis only needed a little run support, and Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago bombed their starts… I believed a little.
Then Eric Hosmer came up to the Majors and I believed a little more. Danny Duffy made his debut, and even though some of the luster was off, you still thought “hey, a little more talent, a couple of breaks, and we can hang…”
And all the while, the comparisons floated both locally and nationally – that this Kansas City club was beginning to show the fruits of some really hard work in the scouting and player development program just like Tampa Bay did when it broke open the New York and Boston stranglehold in the AL East.
You know what’s missing from the Royals that the Rays flashed early and often after they legitimately got good?
The Yankees found out the hard way when the Rays showed their teeth and heart by taking the fight to them in 2008… in a couple of spring training games. Remember that? I sure do.
But Kansas City? You know what you could find inside the heart of the Royals gift shop? Red. Lots of it.
This is one of those adult no-Santa Claus moments, or maybe more like Charlie Brown – staring up into the sky, contemplating what went wrong with the football this time…only to have Lucy come into view over the top of you and laugh.
Then again, what do I know. Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Royals, and perhaps I’m not being fair. The team didn’t quite get it done this weekend, dropping the series.I would laugh too, but I can’t. Laughter may come at times to block pain or sadness, but I’m neither of those. I’m disgusted. The Royals can argue the economics of baseball – and boy didn’t they for almost 20 years – and I guess you could at times see their point. Maybe, if you looked hard enough past the silly personnel moves and a cheap owner, you could even sympathize with the little engine that couldn’t for so many years.
The Royals could matter, and I’m sure they want to. If anything, they’re smart enough to know it would be good for business if they were. But look, organization guys, yeah you, Dayton Moore and Toby Cook and the Glasses and the rest of the suits, it starts at the top and works its way down.
True, the players have to perform. But, let’s think of them for a moment. The Royals have one of the youngest teams in the league. And even if they were the oldest, it isn’t their place to set the tone for the way the organization conducts itself. That job isn’t for the kids. That’s for the grownups.
In one of my favorite exchanges in real-life or cinema, Bull Durham’s Crash Davis tells young Nuke LaLoosh: “Think classy, and you’ll be classy.”
Selling other teams’ merchandise in your house is not thinking classy. Neither are ushers not allowing you to move down into open sections later in games, or only opening a fraction of your concession stands. It’s thinking small-market, and “poor little ol’ us, hope we can make a few extra dollars this weekend.” That is not doing things the right way. That is not a championship approach.
But hey, getting one out of three on the road isn’t necessarily terrible.