Thursday, August 11, 2005

Am I finished as a Royals fan?

This is the saddest day of my life as a baseball fan.

I’ve lived my entire life in Kansas City, and I have been fortunate enough to live in a city with a major league baseball team. I grew up a Royals fan. I remember when it was a given that our team would be in the playoffs every year. I remember when we didn’t really care about the regular season – we were just waiting for the playoffs to start.

The joy of a World Series championship is now a distant memory as the team celebrates the 20 year anniversary of that wonderful fall. But it seems since game seven of that series, this team has been snake-bitten.

Tragedy struck. Manager Dick Howser was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Owner Ewing Kauffman’s health declined. The Royals went ownerless for several years as a committee ran the team until a buyer could be secured under the terms that Kauffman defined before his death. With no real owner and no real direction, the Royals floundered.

David Glass finally bought the team and fans were encouraged that finally something good could happen. It hasn’t.

Questionable trades, signings, hirings and firings have peppered this team. This season, manager Tony Pena quit. They hired Buddy Bell. They’ve tried veterans. They’ve tried rookies. They’ve changed medical staff. They’ve moved the fences in, then out. Nothing matters. The one constant has been the losing. (the only bright spot was 2003 when they played above their Pythagorean record and was in contention in late August).

I went to Tuesday night’s Royals game. The Royals had a 7-2 lead going into the ninth inning. They gave up 11 runs and lost 13-7. It was demoralizing. It was sickening. It was rotten. It extended their losing streak to 11 games, and last night they made it 12, tying the team’s longest losing streak in their history. They’ll attempt to break that record tonight. (see Dan's blog for a play-by-play of that ugly ninth inning.)

I’ve always been an optimistic fan. I’ve always defended the Royals and bought into their “plan.” But now I can only shake my head. What does this team need? New owner? New general manager? New manager? New players? New stadium? New city? All of the above? I don’t know, but I don’t think I can afford to invest any more of my time following this team with no reward in sight. Not even a little reward – how about playing .500 ball? Ten years is enough wasted time.

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