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Ned Yost calls out Royals fans for some reason

Aug 27, 2014, 8:32 AM EDT

Ned Yost Getty Images

Your team is in first place, apparently playoff-bound for the first time in many fans’ lifetimes and you just won with a dramatic walkoff homer. What do you do? Well, if you’re Ned Yost you complain about attendance:

“I mean, what, 13,000 people got to see a great game? . . . We’re in a pennant race, yeah. We’ve been working on trying to build this team for the last three or four years to put ourselves in a position where we can contend for a championship. And not only the division, but we want to contend for a world championship. It’s really, really important we have our fans behind us at the stadium . . . I know there’s different things you can do. You can watch it on the Internet. You can watch it on TV. But there’s a real need for our fans to be a part of this. We had a great crowd last night, and I was kind of hoping we’d have another great crowd tonight, and we really didn’t.”

Sam Mellinger of the KC Star eviscerates Yost over his comments, showing that Yost’s claim that the team performs better with more fans in the seats is simply false. And noting that, hey, you just had a pretty electric win with a small crowd. Showing that, contrary to some of Yost’s other comments (which you can read at the Star) those Braves teams for whom he coached in the early 90s did NOT have tons of people in the stands every night. Mellinger also not-at-all-subtly reminds everyone that the Royals have sucked for ages, that maybe, just maybe, it takes a bit more than a nice run in August to convince the fans to all come back and that shaming fans despite decades of disappointment by the team they love is not exactly cool.

It’s a justified evisceration. Mellinger is not the kind of guy who just spouts off for no reason. He’s not a sportswriter who looks for stuff to be mad about. He’s legitimately irked here, and it’s very hard to blame him.

There’s cool stuff going on in Kansas City right now. Maybe Yost should focus on the cool stuff.

  1. succulentnipples - Aug 27, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Big Johnathon Football will call you out.

    • Ren - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Is that the only thing you’ll say around here?

      • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        Ignore the grunting.

  2. tomtravis76 - Aug 27, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    Not since George Brett and Bo Jackson have the Royals been relevant to anyone outside of the dwindling fan base. The Royals organization need to treat this like trying get back with your ex, take it slow and continue to build trust while trickling in things like winning consistently to make them remember the good times. You can’t call out the fans for not spending money after decades of not providing the fans with anything noteworthy.

    • blacksables - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      The fan base isn’t dwindling. It’s as strong as ever. They average over 23,000 a night, with a team that hasn’t won anything in 30 years.

      When Moore proves he’s actually building a winner, or when David Glass sells the team, the stadium will be full again.

      • blacksables - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Also, the Royals draw a regional fan base. Go to any game and the parking lot is full of cars from Western Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

        Now that school has started again, those fans aren’t going to drive 4-5 hours for a Tuesday night game.

        A friend of mine went to the game on Saturday, and bought a new Royals cap. The 18 year old sales person commented that it was a good time to buy a new cap. My friend corrected the sales person, and explained that he had been wearing Royals caps for 37 years, and has never stopped.

  3. jinx21fan - Aug 27, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Absolutely two sides to this. If you’re a fan of a franchise that has struggled for years (Blue Jays fan here) it is very hard to buy into modest and recent success. You do have a wait and see attitude, money is tight and people have options. If you’re the manager or players, a lot of you haven’t been there for the entire stink-the-joint-out era. It’s hard to understand the fan’s frustration and reluctance.

    The whole argument about how a team plays relative to attendance seems idiotic to me. In theory, butts in the seats = dollars to sign/keep better players.

  4. Old Gator - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Just when they need all their resources and agility, the Royals are developing a Yost infection.

  5. pete2112 - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    You earn fans and the Royals haven’t given much to the fans for many years. You can’t expect fans to come back in droves just because they’re playing their first meaningful games this late in the summer in almost two decades. I think Yost is way out of line with this. There was a lot of winning tradition with the Royals in the 70’s and 80’s, but that was a long time ago and it will take time to get those fans back.

    • bitlrc - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      “You can’t expect fans to come back in droves just because they’re playing their first meaningful games this late in the summer in almost two decades.”

      i would argue the exact opposite. as a phillies fan, i am familiar with what it’s like to go 10+ years without anything to look forward to. and i remember how the fans flocked to the Vet in 93, despite a decade of irrelevance, just because they finally had something to get excited about.

      this run is the reward for royals fans who have stayed loyal these past few decades. you finally have a contending team—go out and enjoy it. who knows if/when it’ll happen again.

      • pete2112 - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        As a lifetime Yankees fan, I can also remember the late 80’s and early 90’s when the old stadium was practically empty and when the Mets were drawing far more fans to see games. If you start putting a winning team on the field year after year it will put fans in the seats. It took a few years for the Yankees to get those fans back and that’s for a team that has an incredible winning legacy. I just think with the cost to see a game for a family, a team needs to give the fans a reason to come. It’s a much cheaper and probably more fun for young kids to go see a minor league game, so I stand by what I said. The Royals need to earn their fans back.

    • simon94022 - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Exactly. We have more than a century of data on major league attendance. Contrary to popular belief:

      1. Fans do not turn out in big numbers to watch star players.
      2. Fans do not turn out in big numbers just because the home team is having an unexpectedly great year or a hot streak.

      Attendance goes up when a team has BOTH recent accomplishments the fans are proud of AND preseason hopes of contending this year.

      The Royals did not have these things at the start of the season, which is when most major league tickets are sold. Yost seems to expect people in Kansas City to look at the standings and buy tens of thousands of individual game tickets every day. It does not work that way — in any city — and it never has.

  6. 1998yanks - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    The reason there was a great crowd Monday night was because it was a Yankees make up game. People still had tickets from when the Yankees were actually decent, and of course to see Jeter.

  7. brewcrewfan54 - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Yost sucks. He was Nervous Ned in Milwaukee and it got him fired. Now he’s going to criticize fans in KC when things are going well. Just keep playing well and fans will show up. There’s still plenty of time to give the division back to the Tigers, although Detroit isn’t helping themselves much lately.

  8. pwshrugged - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    It’s poor timing and not the classiest move, but some of what Yost says holds up as a general observation of baseball today, not as a judgement of Royals’ fans.

    The accessibility of games via TV and the Internet certainly change the go-to-the-ballpark mentality; but then again, the “cheap seats” costing $20 per ticket, not to mention food/beverage/parking costs, might have a lot to do with that, too. It’s a bad combination that has probably driven some people away. I know I’d rather watch the game on TV most of the time rather than pay $30-40/each for my wife and I to catch a game downtown at the park.

    So I understand his frustration about that, maybe about losing a bit of that old-school atmosphere at the park in the dog days of summer; that said, he shouldn’t be calling out Royals’ fans specifically, and I’m sure he and his players can find some comfort in the higher salaries of today relative to those old-school days of $5 bleacher seats.

    • simon94022 - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      That would be a great argument if not for the fact that baseball attendance today is exponentially higher than it was a generation ago, or at any other time in history.

      • Paper Lions - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:48 AM

        First, saying something is “exponentially” greater than something else means nothing, any steady pattern of growth or decline can be effectively modeled exponentially.

        Second, teams with good attendance are usually teams that have a history of winning or being competitive on a regular basis. Even Pittsburgh has only averaged 5K more fans/game than KC. Fans don’t suddenly start showing up in droves because you win a few games, especially when there is a long history of failure and an owner that has made it clear that he prefers to guarantee his own profits rather than investing in the team an potentially making more money by fielding a winning product.

      • simon94022 - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Paper Lions,

        I completely agree that fans in any city do not show up just because the home team gets hot for half a season. It is unreasonable to expect attendance in KC to be any higher than it is.

        But the reason the Royals get 13,000 for a weeknight game is because they have been the most inept organization in baseball for the past generation, giving fans no reason for much hope before this year. It’s NOT because of a General MLB-wide problem of ticket prices or greater availability of games on TV.

        I like lower ticket prices too. But it’s hard to argue that prices are keeping fans away from ballparks in general, when more tickets are being sold today than anyone imagined possible 25 years ago.

  9. toodrunktotastethischicken - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Somewhere Joe Maddon chuckles.

  10. sportsdrenched - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    To be fair. Ned was asked about the attendance by a media type, so he was answering the question.

    However, This organization is thinned skinned and traditionally tone deaf to the fans. There were even rumblings about attendance dissatisfaction from Ownership earlier in year when the Royals were hovering just under .500.
    To that I say you’re going to have to do better than 5 weeks of good baseball to correct 29 years of no playoffs, and 13 years of being comically terrible.

    I also don’t like being fan shamed by sport talk show hosts that don’t ever pay for parking or tickets and don’t have children at home.

    Look, I like the Royals, and I like baseball. But at the end of the day I’m not going to neglect my real life in favor of a distraction.

    • Paper Lions - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      Exactly. This is like the Stanton comments. Stanton might as well have said, “Hey, we’re .500, how is that “success”? We still have a horrible owner who no player with viable options would choose to play for.”

      Similar things can be said about the Glass ownership. They have made it clear that they prefer to guarantee how much money they make and hope to win to make more money, rather than investing in a fashion that will enhance the chance of winning as well as increase profits. How does that approach excite fans?

    • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      On the other hand, it stinks for Gordon, Infante, et al to play to win and no one shows up to see it. And, I can see where Yost and the team feel a bit of a chip with the Chiefs overshadowing them. It’s hard to fight back against the baseball is dying talk if you’re the Royals. Certainly, KC fans aren’t the only ones who face costs in going to games (or personal life issues). Quite frankly, if you want them to give you a good product, you kind of need to reward them when they do. Plus, you only have so much baseball left this season!!!!! Cram it all in!

      • sportsdrenched - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        I get that part of it. If this were a weekend game, or we’re getting close to magic numbers on a week night, I might see your point. But at this stage, I consider the burden of “show me something” to still be in the Royals court.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        The team probably feels they are.

        If it really was just 13,000 people at the game — well, the Tigers averaged more than that per game in 2003 when we went 43-119 and hadn’t been to the ALCS since like ’87.

  11. Ren - Aug 27, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    If they continue this winnin season this year and the next, surely fans would like to see that.

  12. Bob - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    What some media types, players, managers, coaches, etc., don’t realize is that fans get charged way too much money for tickets, parking, concessions and the like. And that doesn’t take into account that some stadiums are a hassle to get in and out and back to the house. The worst is when the media, all of whom get in free and a lot of whom eat free, rip fans for not showing up. So it was good to see Mellinger rip Yost rather than the fans.

    And if I’m a Royals fan with the crappy ownership they’ve had for 20+ years, I’d wait until they got into the playoffs before I considered any game a must-attend event.

    • Ren - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      I also think television is probably the reason for this attendance lag for the Royals. I mean, if some guys can’t afford it they can just watch it in tv… Same also for the ones who’re currently at work,… If there isn’t any tv there’s always the internet.

  13. historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Maybe it’s that Royals fans don’t provide winning electricity — unlike, ahem, say…Tigers fans. Meanwhile, another sellout in the D last night. Per the Tigers’ feed: 23rd of the season and 8th in a row. They even chanted for Nathan. We’re gonna pump (clap) you up.

    • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Going to see the Tigers/Indians games on Sept 12 and 13. After that, I’ll have seen as many Indians games in Detroit as I did in Cleveland, for this year at least. I would have seen more in Cleveland, but I disagree with their “airline” pricing policy, whereby ticket prices increase closer to game day. I usually don’t make a decision to attend a game until the day of, and I shouldn’t be penalized for waiting to see if the weather is going to be a factor. Prices are about the same in the two stadia, though Indians prices will crater if they fall out of the race.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        I hope you enjoy your time at Comerica!

  14. janessa31888 - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Be glad you don’t manage the Indians, Ned. You’d be miserable.

  15. mrgdawg - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Taken out of context, listen to the interview! Just another instance of taking an off-stance to stay relevant as a reporter!

  16. timmons94 - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    shame on you Ned…Most Royals fans and baseball fans don’t have your income…10 game home stand, i am sure 30k plus fri, sat, at least 25k sun night…

    let’s do the math-i believe 10 to park- was just there, already forgot
    family of 4 in cheap seats 20 plus fees, 100…or 80 if u buy that day
    concessions, merchandise etc..100.
    most people can’t drop 200-300 depending on how good of seats u want all the time..

    throw in high gas prices, high heating and cooling bills, high cost of groceries- meat prices are insane, kids back to school- so parents paid school fees, bought school supplies, bought school clothes…

    pretty pathetic Ned…

    • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      You know Yankees and Red Sox fans have no sympathy for you. Their parks are more expensive. The Royals do not cost more to see than many other teams. Everyone feels the crunch. I doubt that Chiefs games are any cheaper.

  17. timmons94 - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Well there’s a huge difference between 8 regular season games and 81
    Fenway is smaller than the k and population much larger. So move along . I am sure u voted for the liberal killing this country…

    • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      Hold on there, Sparky. You seem to have popped out to the wall there. I don’t have any idea how that became a liberal agenda thing, but it sure does make you less credible as a reasonable person with that mini-rant.

  18. azvikefan - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Tuesday night game against the Twins. I’m a Twins fan and wouldn’t go.

  19. timmons94 - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Typical liberal response. Meanwhile those not on welfare see increased prices across the board, less in paycheck. To pay for the liberal handouts. Good for Burger King..

    • historiophiliac - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      If you’re interested in liberal handouts, I suggest you aim higher than Burger King.

  20. randygnyc - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    The cost of attending games has literally skyrocketed in the last decade. I was a full season ticket holder at Yankee stadium before I gave up my tickets after the 96 season. It was too damn expensive and it’s only gotten much worse. The best seats in the house behind the dugout at KC cost the same as they do in Minnesota (around $70 per seat). At Yankee stadium the face value of those tickets are over $400. The seats behind home plate? Those are $1400 per seat. Even going on a budget with a halfway decent seat is going to cost a family of 4 more than $500. Sure you can sit upstairs, in the outfield and bring the same family for $200. But for that, you may as well stay home and watch it on the big screen

  21. Tyree Studio - Aug 27, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Weeknight game, school started back up, 90+ degrees outside, tickets, drive to stadium, parking, concessions, 20 + year history of heartbreak.

    Or stay at home, eat and drink for cheap, no bathroom line, pause (dvr) game, HD bigscreen tv, replays, follow along game with social media, no drive home.

    Can’t really blame the fans. Now if they are still drawing under 25k a month from now while in first place then rip away.

    I think I’m not alone as a KC fan to say, we are just one 3 game losing streak away from saying “here we go again”. Going to take some time for KC fans to learn how to follow a contending team. I’m still not sure I completely “buy-in” yet. 1985 was a long time ago…

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