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Royals might actually know what they are doing

Aug 20, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT


There was a time -– a time fewer and fewer people remember -– when the Kansas City Royals represented the cutting edge of baseball thinking. People often ask why Kansas City seems to have an inordinate number of advanced baseball thinkers and writers among its fan base (Bill James, Rob Neyer, Rany Jazayerli, Paul Rudd etc.). It’s easy to forget that, for a time anyway, Kansas City was the Athens of American baseball.

This may sound like an exaggeration to anyone who is younger than, say, 40 or 45 years old, but much in the same way that Oakland and Tampa Bay and St. Louis now seem to be the mecca of baseball thinking, well, that was Kansas City back in the 1970s. Before we get to the exciting Royals stuff of today, it is worth remembering.

In 1968, Charlie Finley moved the Kansas City Athletics to Oakland – this after many years of unrelenting Finley-inspired bleakness. Finley wanted to move the team, more or less, the day he bought it and so every day the newspapers were filled with threats of varying foreboding. Today it was Louisville. Yesterday it was Seattle. Tomorrow it would be Miami. By 1968, people in Kansas City were so sick of Finley’s moaning that they were happy to pack him sandwiches for the long trip to wherever.

Weariness wasn’t the only Kansas City reaction. Some people in Kansas City – led by my old friend and legendary local sportswriter Joe McGuff –- began laying the groundwork for a new team before Finley had even finished packing the trucks. Joe and company made a simple but irrefutable argument to the men who ran baseball: “You owe us. You stuck us with this nutjob owner and terrible baseball teams for a long, long time. You owe us a real baseball team now.”

The argument was persuasive. After one idle season, Kansas City was given an expansion team – the Royals. They would be owned by a level-headed man named Ewing Kauffman, who had started a pharmaceutical business in his basement and turned it into a billion-dollar industry.

The differences between the flamboyant and half-crazy Finley and the staid and utterly reasonable Kauffman are too lengthy to list, but they were apparent immediately. Finley famously loved gimmicks and promotions and schemes. He installed a mechanical rabbit in the stadium to bring new baseballs to umpires. He paid the Beatles some exorbitant fee to play after a game and then tried to pay them even more to play a little longer. He had a live mule at games, and he kept trying to move in the fences, and he designed gaudy multi-colored uniforms, and he fired any baseball announcer who did not sufficiently cover for the team’s awfulness, and he brought Satchel Paige out of retirement for one game at age 58 so he could pitch three innings.*

*This promotion should have been more fun than it was –- Paige was led to believe that he was being given a real chance to pitch again. When Paige threw three scoreless innings and allowed just one hit (to Carl Yastrzemski), his great competitive fire burned again. Satchel Paige was a showman –- that part Finley understood –- but Paige was also a proud athlete and that part Finley didn’t and couldn’t get. Finley just wanted the publicity and the photograph of Ol’ Satch in a rocking chair. Only nine thousand people attended the game.

Ewing Kauffman loathed gimmicks. He was a moderate baseball fan at most, and he watched Finley’s antics with detached disapproval. If THAT was what owning a baseball team was all about, he wanted no part of it. But people in Kansas City (again, with Joe McGuff taking the lead) convinced Kauffman that he could run the team his own way, based on his own ideals and principles. He had built his business on hard work and persistent innovation. He would build the Royals the same way.

When he hired baseball people, he made it very clear: “The Royals are NOT an expansion team.” He meant he did not want any excuses. He intended to win quickly, both on the field and in the box office. And it happened that way. The Royals had a winning record in their third season of existence, which was considered pretty miraculous at the time. They drew a million people in their fifth season which, considering Kansas City’s small market and the baseball attendances of the time, might have been even more remarkable.

Every move was inspired by Kauffman’s energy and his refusal to just do things the way others did. He created a group called the “Royal Lancers” –- this was a collection of prominent citizens who wore blue jackets and sold season tickets at every Optimists, Kiwanis and Chamber of Commerce meeting in town. He funded the Royals Academy, a program designed to find good athletes with limited baseball experience and teach them how to become ballplayers. He was the driving force behind what was then called Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium) –- a whole new kind of baseball stadium, without girders blocking the view, with a seemingly endless supply of parking and with fountains dancing beyond the outfield.

More, he engaged his baseball people –- led first by Cedric Tallis, then Joe Burke, then John Schuerholz –- to aggressively improve the ballclub. This mission led Tallis in particular to make a series of mind-blowing moves -– in a short span, Tallis traded for Amos Otis, Fred Patek, John Mayberry and Hal McRae. His baseball people drafted Al Cowens, George Brett and Dennis Leonard. The Baseball Academy produced Frank White. One year after Tallis was let go, the Royals drafted Willie Wilson, who might have been the fastest player ever in Major League Baseball. That was the core for a truly great baseball team that reached the postseason seven times, won two pennants and took one World Series.

Kansas City baseball was a phenomenon then. The Royals would routinely draw two million fans for the season when that was a big deal. People came from six states around, and it helped that the Royals rarely rained out (the artificial turf would just absorb rainwater) and that the Royals rarely lost at home. From 1976 to 1980, the Royals played .630 baseball at Kauffman Stadium; Earl Weaver used to talk about the nightmares he would have watching balls catapult off that springy artificial turf and seeing those Royals players sprint around the bases like 4 x 100 meter relay runners.

[RELATED: Home run hitters? They haven’t played in Kansas City]

Well, the team was built for that ballpark –- fast line-drive hitters, aggressive base-running, terrific infield defense, outfielders who could run down anything, pitchers who battled. Just about everything the Royals did in those days made sense. They unapologetically played a brand of slashing, attacking baseball — steal bases, take extra bases, break up the double play, catch everything. They gave Whitey Herzog his first real chance to express himself as a manager. They developed players; boy, did they develop players. Frank White came out of the Academy and evolved into an eight-time Gold Glove second baseman and offensive threat -– his number is retired now. Willie Wilson was a raw high school running back with impossible speed -– he hit just .268 in the minors. He hit .320 his first four full seasons with the Royals and won a batting title. Dan Quisenberry had no stuff at all –- he became the best reliever in the American League. Dennis Leonard became a 20-game winner. George Brett became a Hall of Famer. Players they acquired –- Darrell Porter, John Mayberry, Freddie Patek, Cookie Rojas, Larry Gura –- all had their best years while in Kansas City.

And here’s the larger point: Those Royals teams commanded faith. See, fans feel emotional extremes. It’s just what we do. We second-guess, we predict doom, we blame officials, we are blindly and absurdly optimistic. That, in a way, is what it means to be a fan. In our jobs, in our lives, we often must face reality. Yep, that job is going to take two months longer than we thought. Nope, the jury is not going to be sympathetic to your client. Sorry, next quarter is going to be rough for everybody. Life is a series of challenges, and to overcome them you generally have to see clearly.

But one of the joys of fanhood is not seeing clearly. You don’t have to be right. You don’t have to understand all the nuances. You don’t have to study. It’s like Dan Quisenberry said: “The best thing about baseball is there’s no homework.” The games are there for you to enjoy, and if you want to get mad at the manager for not intentionally walking someone or if you want to believe the backup quarterback is way better than the starter –- go ahead. True, the manager may have percentages on his side, and the coach might know a lot more about the quarterback situation than you do … but that’s THEIR problem. They are paid to do what they do. And you are not. You are in it for the fun.

Fans second-guessed those 1970s Royals too. They were ticked off when the Royals traded Roger Nelson for Hal McRae –- Roger Nelson was GOOD! They were not too happy when the Royals traded Joe Foy for some backup named Amos Otis –- Foy had power AND speed! They didn’t like it when the Royals hired Whitey Herzog –- that guy was a disaster with the Rangers!

But this is a final beautiful thing about being a fan –- it doesn’t matter how wrong you are (or right, for that matter) as long as the people actually running the team are right. And the Royals in the 1970s were right a lot. One of the best feelings in sports is knowing that the people running your team are going to be right. I imagine that’s how New England Patriots fans feel these days.

Those 1970s Royals did not fully cash in on their rightness -– they were a lot like Billy Beane’s A’s. They were really good in 1976, probably the best team in baseball in 1977, close to it in 1978, but they kept losing to the Yankees in the playoffs. The Royals finally beat the Yankees in 1980, but even then they lost to Philadelphia in the World Series.

[RELATED: Royals roll out the red carpet for fan from South Korea]

And, really, that was the beginning of the end. It’s a funny thing, Kansas City’s greatest moment –- the 1985 World Series –- came after, but I’ve always believed that the era when the Royals just did things better than other teams ended after the 1980 season. The team went through all sorts of turmoil in the early 1980s. There was a drug scandal. Kauffman began losing interest and sold half the team to Avron Fogelman (he eventually bought the team back after Fogelman had money troubles). There was some disillusionment, good players aged and faded and so on.

The 1985 Royals were not a great team, and they were certainly not like the great Royals teams. Otis and Patek were gone, guys like McRae, Wilson and White were very much in the homestretch of their careers. That Royals team won the World Series because:

source: AP Photo

Willie Wilson pours champagne over the head of George Brett after winning the 1985 AL playoffs.

(1) A remarkable group of young pitchers, led by Bret Saberhagen, came together.

(2) George Brett had a fantastic season.

(3) Their division stunk.

(4) They pulled off a crazy comeback when down three games to one against Toronto in the ALCS.

(5) They pulled off an even crazier comeback when down three games to win against St. Louis in the World Series.

I could put a Don Denkinger comment here to entertain Cardinals fans, but I wouldn’t. As I’ve written before: You have to catch foul pop-ups before you can complain about bad calls.

Anyway, that was the last time the Royals made the postseason. The Royals soon became known as the team with Bo Jackson –- that was a fun time, but the winning slowed. The fun began fading after 1989. The winning stopped completely after 1994.

So what does any of this have to do with the Royals’ resurgence? Well, after the 1994 strike -– 20 years and counting –- the Royals’ entire character has shifted. In the 1970s, they were the team that did everything right. In the 1980s, they were mercurial –- some spectacular years and moments and some very bad ones. After 1994, they played the fool. This has been chronicled in excruciating detail on my blog. The attitude around the Royals through these years ranged from earnest to hopeless but more than anything you could count on them to make the wrong decision. Always.

The wrongness grew so repetitive that after a while it seemed like the Royals were incapable of making anything BUT wrong decisions. This, by definition, means that any decision the Royals made was wrong just because they made it. Put another way: You will sometimes hear baseball people talk about the wonder of a winning streak -– everything seems better, the sun feels warmer, the days look brighter, the food tastes better, the music sounds happier. For two decades, everything about the Royals was the opposite of a winning streak. Sure, they did many dumb things. But, it went far beyond that. Good baseball people lost their way. Reasonable chances backfired horrendously. Solid decisions went flying off of cliffs. It was like the Royals bought all their products from Acme. Two decades of that will batter the hope out of most people.

That, I think, is part of what has made this year’s fantastic run into first place so memorable and wonderful for Kansas City fans. When Dayton Moore was hired as the Royals general manager in 2006, he made a conscious effort to not only change the Royals team on the field but to change their very character. He wanted Royals baseball people to wear ties to work. He demanded that the team improve countless small and seemingly unimportant things, such as how they treat visiting scouts. More than anything, perhaps, he impressed upon David and Dan Glass the necessity to invest real money -– in scouting, in development, in good people, in infrastructure, in Latin America. The previous GM, Allard Baird, was and is a superb baseball man, but he was never able to get those things across to the Glass family.

And so, more or less from the start, the Royals became a more professional operation under Moore. He hired some excellent people to work with him. He dazzled people inside baseball with the team’s commitment to building a farm system. And, in short order, the Royals were not the joke of baseball. The Royals lost 100 games four times between 2002 and 2006. They have not lost 100 since.

That, though, is not exactly something you brag about on your resume, and while Moore made the Royals slightly more respectable, he and his staff could not do much more. They continued to make horrendous blunders on the Major League roster. Moore hired Trey Hillman to be the manager. He signed Jose Guillen and Gil Meche to team-record contracts. The Royals talked a better game but continued to feature an allotment of aging Jason Kendalls and Ross Gloads and Miguel Olivos and Scott Podsedniks, while mixing in relatively-young versions of Yuniesky Betancourt and Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar. The results were, in their own way, as depressing as ever.

“We have to be patient,” Moore said.

“Trust the process,” Moore said.

“We are going to do this the right way, and it’s going to work,” Moore said.

In 2011, there were signs that Moore’s work was having an impact. That was the year I wrote my Sports Illustrated story about the Royals’ future dynasty, and the year various people around the sport began gushing about their minor league system. Then, last season, the Royals won 86 games, their most since the strike -– a season so promising that even Moore’s ill-advised “In a small way, I feel like we’ve won the World Series” quote at the end did not tarnish the optimism.

And then, yep, Royals style, Moore started acquiring old guys like Omar Infante and Nori Aoki. That didn’t seem too great. Then the Royals’ season began, and it was somewhat blah. Manager Ned Yost said something. Third baseman Mike Moustakas wasn’t hitting. The season offered more blah. Manager Ned Yost said something else. Moore offered words of encouragement. More blah. Eric Hosmer couldn’t buy a home run. More blah. The Royals talked about doing a lot at the trade deadline but they did nothing. More blah. The Royals were 48-50 on July 21 and a full eight games out of first place.

[RELATED: Lorde gets an autographed jersey from George Brett]

Everyone knew where this was going.

Only, no, it went a whole other way. They started winning. It was imperceptible at first. The Royals did not seem to be playing any better. They squeaked out a 2-1 win in Chicago after the White Sox catcher dropped a throw. The next day, they beat Cleveland 2-1 in 14 innings. Against Minnesota, they got out of a ninth-inning jam to win by a run, and in Oakland they beat Sonny Gray 1-0. Then they went into Arizona and beat the diamonds out of the Diamondbacks and came home to take five of six from the two Bay Area teams. After all that the Royals had won 18 of 22 games. And they were in first place. They have won six of eight since then and are now in first by two full games.

The surprise is the wonderful part. It’s not only the surprise of the team winning baseball games … it’s the surprise of Royals’ decisions actually working. It is notable that the Royals, for the most part, are NOT winning because of those talented young prospects I wrote about in 2011. Moustakas still isn’t hitting.  Hosmer’s power disappeared, and he’s hurt. Wil Myers is gone. John Lamb is on the comeback trail in Omaha.

No, they are winning because they made a series of quiet decisions that did not necessarily seem great at the time but are working. When they made the much-discussed Wil Myers trade, Moore said the key was acquiring pitcher Wade Davis, who they intended to make a starter. That idea flopped, but then they put him back in the bullpen where he has been a revelation -– the league is slugging .156 against him. Again, that’s their SLUGGING PERCENTAGE. He has given up two extra-base hits all year –- both of them doubles.

Then, it was the Royals’ plan to build an overpowering bullpen, and so they loaded it up with power arms and now they have a power bullpen. In their hot streak, they are 13-1 in games decided by two runs or less. That bullpen has been fantastic.

It was the Royals plan to have James Shields lead a solid five-man rotation that would give the Royals a chance to win every night. That may seem like an obvious thing, but in the bad years it was almost impossible for the Royals to find even one good starter, much less five. The Royals kept drafting pitchers and drafting pitchers and, other than Zack Greinke, it just didn’t work out. When the Royals traded Myers for Shields, Moore knew that he was potentially trading a future All-Star for a couple of years of good starting pitching. He believed that it would be worth it.

And … it is working. Shields has been the good pitcher the Royals expected. And the Royals’ rotation has been altered. Last year, the Royals led the American League in ERA. This year, they have five pitchers who are on pace to throw 170 innings and win 10-plus games. I’m no fan of the pitcher-win statistic, but it is telling that the last time the Royals had five pitchers with 10 wins was, yep, 1985.

It was also the Royals’ plan to build the best defensive team in the American League. People say that sort of thing all the time, just like basketball coaches like to say that they are going to play up-tempo. In the early years of the Moore regime, the talk about defense did not seem to match any of the actual moves the team made. But you know what? The Royals are now one of the best defensive teams in the American League. John Dewan’s Runs Saved statistic -– my favorite defensive team statistic –- has them third in the league with 24 runs saved behind Baltimore (43) and Oakland (28). But if you look even closer you see that the Royals outfield is by far the best in the league with MVP candidate Alex Gordon in left field and a couple of excellent fielding center fielders. Kauffman Stadium has one of the biggest outfields in baseball. The Royals’ defensive excellence out there matters.

So, yes, this too was part of the plan –- building a team to take advantage of the ballpark.

And what makes all of this so satisfying for Royals fans because most never saw it coming. They were the same old Royals until, suddenly, they weren’t. They were defined by their blunders until, suddenly, some of their plans actually worked.

There is a lot of baseball left in the 2014 season –- more than enough games left for the Royals to not only fall out of first place but fall far enough that nobody even remembers that they were there. But that’s old Royals pessimism. This is a team playing great baseball, and their confidence grows. Fans confidence grows too. It has been a long time since anyone thought this: The Royals might actually know what they’re doing.


  1. kcsam76 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    This read more like a book than an article. Anyhow, no, the Royals don’t know what they are doing. Ned Yost knows next to nothing as a manager and the GM knows just about as much. Funny how they win a few games and now the KC media and fans have them primed for the Series. Hilarious.

    • clemente2 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      I am not sure we ought to trust your judgment when you find a blog post to be a “book”.

      • byjiminy - Aug 20, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        or anyone who thinks the word “book” is an insult!

    • chill1184 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Heaven forbid a fan base can be happy in their current position in the standings at this late in the season.

      Anyway good article Joe, the Pirates (along with the Indians) were good story of 2013, looks like the Royals (along with the Brewers) will be 2014 version. I miss having a team to enjoy in late August instead of focusing on football and hockey.

    • geoknows - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      No, what’s really hilarious is that, since it’s the Royals, everybody has decided that it’s the blind squirrel finding the nut. Becuase, obviously, since it’s the Royals, it’s impossible that they did something right.

    • bellweather22 - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      The fact is, the Royals are in first place. As much as we think they aren’t that good and it will eventually fatal apart, look at the scoreboard. Scoreboard don’t lie.

  2. sdelmonte - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    I love it when GMs build a team to fit the park. I wish the Mets would do that, look for guys with speed who can hit to the distant gaps, fly ball pitchers, and outfielders who can handle the dimensions. (There is a reason Lagares seems like such a great fit.)

  3. SocraticGadfly - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Actually, they don’t totally, at least, know what they’re doing. As Jayzereli puts it at Grantland, they’re acting like the anti-Moneyball team. That said, despite the low walk rate and the low power, he also notes they’re high-contact hitters with speed.

    In other words, intentionally or not, they’ve gone back before Moneyball to Whiteyball, which they as well as the Cards played so much of in the 1980s.

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      To refudiate Joe in a bit more detail? Yes, the Royals are doing all these things, and have wound up fitting their park to a fair degree. Intentionality is an entirely different story.

    • randomjoeblow - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      So, the Royals don’t know what they’re doing…but a dermatologist in Naperville, IL, who doesn’t seem to have ever played baseball in his life, is the end-all, be-all of Royals knowledge. In *AND* off the field..

      • randomjoeblow - Aug 21, 2014 at 12:24 AM

        Good to know you can learn baseball online. Sort of like a correspondence course..

  4. simon94022 - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Thank you for the frank words about Charles O. Finley. There has been some revisionism lately that misremembers Finley as a far-sighted owner. In reality he built some good ballclubs on the field in Oakland, but from the very beginning he alienated Bay Area fans with his cheap gimmicks, insistence on bush league homerism from his broadcasters, and constant public tirades against his own players and customers, with annual threats to relocate the team yet again.

    Finley wrecked the Kansas City A’s, but as Senator Symington (D-Missouri) famously said, his decision to move the franchise made Oakland “the luckiest city since Hiroshima.”

    In the Bay Area, Finley managed the nearly incredible feat of winning 3 consecutive World Series and 5 consecutive division titles — without building any kind of permanent, viable fanbase for the A’s. The Giants have enjoyed complete dominance of Northern California for most of the last 45 years thanks in large part to Finley’s obnoxiousness and business incompetence. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and under Finley the A’s made an extremely bad one. KC was very lucky to replace him with a great owner like Ewing Kaufman.

    • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      The Giants have enjoyed complete dominance of Northern California for most of the last 45 years thanks in large part to Finley’s obnoxiousness and business incompetence.

      I’m sure that’s not the whole of it. Finley sold the club 33 years ago already. During the years of Haas’s ownership immediately afterward the A’s outdrew the Giants more often than not, I believe. The A’s ownership since then has undone all that, with one ownership group doing nothing about the ballpark situation and the next one insisting for years on an untenable plan to move to San Jose.

      • simon94022 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:38 PM

        The A’s brand did improve in the 1980s, and they outdrew the Giants mainly due to the impact of Candlestick Park on Giants attendance. But even in that era, the Giants had much stronger TV and radio ratings, typically double the audiences for A’s games. Since the Haas family sold the A’s and the current ownership group bought the Giants, the disparity has gotten even more extreme. There hasn’t been a two team market so completely dominated by one team — regardless of performance on the field — since the Browns left St Louis.

        Part of this is the fact that the Giants have a better ballpark. Part of it is due to the limited appeal of “Oakland” teams in Northern California. But a lot of it has to do with the disastrous way the Oakland A’s brand was rolled out decades ago by Charlie Finley.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:14 PM

        For the reasons you mentioned as well as others, the A’s were always going to have and will always have an uphill battle in the Bay Area. As you suggest, San Francisco itself is generally considered to have far more cachet than Oakland. In addition, the Giants had a 10-year head start in establishing a fanbase in the area. They came from a part of the country that also provides the Bay Area a far greater number of transplants than the part of the country the A’s came from, and the connection the Giants still have to their original home is still well remembered, while the A’s connection to their previous homes is not. The iconic Giant is Willie Mays, and his relatively brief tenure as a Met at the end of his career is quietly regretted. Whoever the iconic Athletic is, he’s somebody who also spent a significant portion of his career with one or more other teams.

        I just think there are so many things working against the A’s here that we don’t even need to consider the Finley factor. It’s just not significant anymore.

  5. randomjoeblow - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    And what makes all of this so satisfying for Royals fans because most never saw it coming. They were the same old Royals until, suddenly, they weren’t. They were defined by their blunders until, suddenly, some of their plans actually worked.

    It’s also for whiners like Posnanski, Jazayerli, and every other Royals commentator who couldn’t wait to not only rehash how bad they were a few years ago (they do it in every article they write), but how the Royals didn’t/don’t know what they’re doing, and how it’s destined to fail before the season is done. It got tiring, and it infected every local Royals website, where if you didn’t disagree with every single move the Royals made, you were the outsider. All of the sudden, the Royals are in the playoff race! Despite the GM, Manager, players, etc..

    • sportsdrenched - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      And 28 years, and 2/3 of this season they were right. On July 22nd, after being swept by Boston coming out of the All-Star break the Royals were 49-50. Then they went on this rampage of winning.

      I’m happy as hell, and it just might get them a playoff spot, but a month of ultra-hot baseball isn’t going to erase a generation and a half of terrible baseball. Especially when all the teams that win consistently year in and year out DON’T do it the way Dayton Moore has.

      • geoknows - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:58 PM

        They said the same thing about the Moneyball A’s.

        Perhaps this is the new market inefficiency.

      • randomjoeblow - Aug 20, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        I’ve been a Royals fan for a few decades now, so I know *all* about their history. Posnanski pretends like he’s this ultra-positive guy, but he just uses his time covering the Royals/Chiefs (and, before that, Indians/Browns) to constantly make fun of the teams and tell you all about how bad they are/were at every opportunity…then writes a bunch of stuff once they’re doing well to get his name back out there. I do notice he hasn’t written about how Penn State is doing lately.

        People like Rany spend years talking about how much smarter they are than the Royals front office, someone like Sam Mellinger meekly puppets these things, and Royals bloggers/message board people go crazy anytime you possibly say something positive about the team. Then, they find themselves in 1st place near the end of August, and suddenly no one’s ever given up on the team..

  6. thefugitivekind - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Ewing Kaufmann, Anthony Bosch.

    Both started pharmaceutical companies in a basement?

    ee cummings was right.

    Who you are is more important in life than what you do.

  7. Bob Loblaw - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Didn’t I just read like a bunch of articles by Joe around the trade deadline, where he basically destroyed the team? Now they are winning and he writes a book praising them? Wha wha what?????

    he says “Except … well, they could not quite break a few of the bad old habits. They did raise payroll, but mostly to bring in those 30-something veterans like Nori Aoki and Omar Infante that almost never actually help the team (and neither has helped much).” in that one. Then in this article, he PRAISES them for the same exact moves. I am pretty sure this is why LOL was created.

    He says “I did not like their bold trade of big prospect Wil Myers for temporary ace James Shields – still don’t like it ” and in this article, he PRAISES them for the trade??? Seriously Joe? Geeze.

    I like Joe’s writing, but this article makes him sound no better than most of the other hacks out there.

    • bellweather22 - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:08 AM

      Joe was busy telling us, over and over, how good Wrigley is.

  8. Mark Armour - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Actually, the creation of the Royals was a condition of Finley’s move to Oakland. This was not two steps with a group of people working on step two.

  9. moogro - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Thank you for using “squeaked out a win,” instead of the common malopropism of “eked out a win.”

    • moogro - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Oops. malapropism (sp)

  10. wogggs - Aug 20, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    Great article, Joe. As a long time Royals fan (I was in first grade in 1976), I am still skeptical that that the Royals will even make the play in game, but it is more fun to be in first place than not be in first place. Remember what Mellinger says, [paraphrasing] “Royals fans come by their skepticism honestly.”

  11. Bob - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    “The Giants have enjoyed complete dominance of Northern California for most of the last 45 years thanks in large part to Finley’s obnoxiousness and business incompetence.”

    You need to learn some history. The Giants almost moved to Toronto before the 1976 season. The Giants were a joke for most of the period from 1972-85. And the A’s did OK during the Haas era, especially in the late ’80s and early 90s.

    • Bob - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:33 PM

      The Giants also almost moved to St. Petersburg and had a deal in place to go there after the ’92 season.

      • simon94022 - Aug 21, 2014 at 4:19 AM

        And the A’s were sold to Denver businessman Marvin Davis in 1979 before the Colisseum lease proved unbreakable.

        The Giants near moves were both due to their unique stadium situation. They were still the Bay Area’s most popular team (and outside the immediate Bay Area, basically Northern California’s only team). In August and September 1992, for example, the ratings for A’s and Giants broadcasts were roughly equal for the first time ever. At the time the A’s were heading to a 4th division title in 5 years, while the Giants were in last place and had publicly announced a move to Florida. That’s what it took for the A’s to achieve parity. A few months later the Magowan group bought the Giants, and the Bay Area has been a Giants-only market ever since.

        And I go back to the fact that the root cause of the A’s trouble is Charles O. Finley, a man who combined the worst qualities of Jeff Loria (relocating teams, fire sales), Peter Angelos (litigious and obnoxious), and Frank McCourt (undercapitalized and universally despised). He never should have been allowed near the game of baseball.

    • randomjoeblow - Aug 21, 2014 at 3:30 AM

      If Buck O’Neil didn’t tell it to him (he was friends with Buck O’Neil, you know!), Posnanski doesn’t know anything about anything. Except that the Royals and Indians (and Browns and Chiefs) sucked for a while!

      And, of course, Joe Paterno is the best guy ever..

  12. JP - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    tl;dr – but I’m happy for the Royals.

  13. vp19 - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Kansas City’s situation sort of reminds me of Washington’s, though one summer without baseball is hardly similar to 33. Senators baseball, which hadn’t had a pennant winner since 1933 and two winning seasons post-WWII before the expansion Senators went off to the Metroplex, was invariably deemed a lost cause with cash-hampered and/or directionless ownership That heritage hung over the Nationals when they arrived in 2005, and while a .500 season that first year wiped some of that off the board, it returned when the team skidded and lost 100 games two years in a row. Mike Rizzo has singlehandedly changed D.C.’s baseball mindset — and #1 draft picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, both productive at times, really haven’t had that much to do with it. These are the most glittering days for MLB in Washington since the Senators’ “golden decade” of 1924-1933 (three AL pennants, one World Series). I just turned 59, and the past three seasons in Washington are things, I’ve never seen in my years.

  14. Mark - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    I’m not sure the article is technically correct. Davis was a key pitcher in the Myers trade, sure, but they thought he could start. Davis was an elite RP in Tampa, so no surprise he did well when KC moved him into the bullpen. But KC obviously didn’t know what they were doing, because it was clear to everyone else he couldn’t start. Was it a bad idea to try him in the rotation? Probably not, but let’s not praise them either for making him a reliever, when he had already proven he was a dominant reliever who struggled significantly in the rotation.

    The pitching, at least in the rotation, isn’t really good. Shields is, but Duffy/Vargas/Guthrie all have XFIP greater than 4. They play in a park that’s favourable to pitchers, and when that’s combined with their elite defence, the starters look much better than they really are. The bullpen is another story, as they’re absolutely lethal.

    They’re on absolute fire right now, and at a good time when Detroit is struggling. Good for the Royals, they haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time. I don’t know if 3 good weeks in August means they know what they’re doing though – as had it not been for August they’d be a 500 club and we’d all still be teasing “The Process”.

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