BARKS & BITES
Date: Monday, December 31, 2001
Poll just in! 100% of Kansas City baseball fans would rather have Johnny Damon back instead of 33 year old has-been, Chuckie Knobbs
Is the Kansas City Star really paying you to scour the Boston online media for poll results? I wonder how the “aw shucks” crowd you seem to be touting from the friendly confines of the American League basement will respond to Chuck throwing balls into those empty box seats along the first base line. In fact, last I heard, Chuck might even be Kansas City’s new leadoff left fielder. Unless little Chucky Doll starts throwing like Raul Mondesi, I don’t think you have any room to judge Johnny Damon’s arm. Nice research job on that one, Flanny.
And why don’t you stop wasting your time defending multi-million dollar Tourette Syndrome athletes and start covering the disaster that IS the Kansas City Royals. The Royals couldn’t even sign Marty Cordova and your worried about how Johnny Damon is going to react to post-game media coverage after Boston rolls KC 9-2 on some forgettable summer afternoon somewhere in middle America!
Perhaps by then you will have pulled your head out of your ass just enough to realize that Damon (just like every other athlete and journalist) could not wait to bolt Kansas City. The fact is, The Red Sox got Damon for less than 8 million a year. If you know anything at all about baseball you would realize that even Kansas City could have afforded a leadoff hitter who can steal 30 bases and provide a great glove for less than 8 million a year. How soon you forget Johnny Damon’s 2000 season: .327 batting average, 136 runs scored, 46 stolen bases, 16 homeruns, .382 on-base percentage. Yeah, you’re right. Unorthodox swing. He sucks. Ain’t worth the money. Let’s go get Chuckie Knobbs and his “teetering career” instead. Knobbs batted .250 with a .339 on-base percentage last year with a miserable 66 runs scored (Damon scored 108 in an off year), but you wouldn’t want to point that out in your silly little column, would you? More Pulitzer Prize work there, Flanboy.
It's funny how small market beat writers who can’t find work in real cities have to find things like this to talk about. I wonder how many New York Times columnists or Boston Globe staffers are scouring the Kansas City Star and turning in essays predicting the June batting average for Carlos Febles? None. Because nobody cares what happens in Kansas City. Alan Baird is running that team into the ground and you’ve got nothing better to discuss than the ability of another team’s superstar to handle an “earful” from his fans. Compelling local coverage, Flanzie. You’ve really unearthed a story here.
And the only thing wrong with baseball today is that minor league teams like The Royals still exist. So enjoy “the easygoing conditions in Kansas City” while it lasts. Easy going conditions equals contraction in the business of baseball. So I wouldn’t be so concerned with taking polls on The Red Sox in June. Because when your sorry-ass team is finally whisked away like Dorothy and Toto, you will be writing engaging crop stories about the notorious boll weavel in our nation’s long forgotten belly of dust.
Let’s peek in and see what established ESPN Baseball Analyst and life-long Royals fan, Rob Neyer has to say about your New Look Royals:
I have a plea for Commissioner Selig, my newest and bestest phone buddy ... Save the Twins, but kill the Royals . Let's be honest here, folks. Milwaukee may be the worst market in the major leagues (Montreal notwithstanding), but the Brewers have a new ballpark so they're not going anywhere. And if you're looking for a franchise that's facing all sorts of problems, just look at Kansas City. The Royals have virtually no chance of generating significant revenues via their ballpark or their local broadcast rights, either now or in the future. It's a matter of public record that I'm not a fan of "contraction" (which is a pretty word for "extermination"). The Twins just need to get healthy, and the Expos probably need to be moved. But if the owners are dead-set on killing a couple of franchises, take my Royals. Please.
Because if I'm forced to watch Allard Baird run the franchise for another year or three, I'm going to have a lot of tension inside me, and writing columns like this one isn't nearly as therapeutic as it used to be. I just might have to start watching football games again, or shoot small animals on weekends.
What am I talking about?
Just this week, in the space of 48 hours, the (supposedly) cash-strapped (but profitable) Royals committed more than $4 million to a pair of players, Chuck Knoblauch and Michael Tucker, who don't have any business playing for a team that's only hope is its young players.
In acquiring Knoblauch, Baird referred to the ex-Yankee as an "experienced leadoff hitter." True enough. But would you like to guess how many players scored more runs in 2001 than "experienced leadoff hitter" Chuck Knoblauch?
That's right. Leading off for a team that won 95 games, Chuck Knoblauch scored 66 runs, which coincidentally made him No. 66 in runs scored ... and that's just in the American League. The list of American Leaguers who scored more runs in fewer games than Knoblauch includes superstars like Cristian Guzman, Roger Cedeno, Kenny Lofton, Frank Catalanotto, Gabe Kapler, Damion Easley, Chris Richard, Jose Valentin and Tony Clark.
Knoblauch's batting average will go up in 2002, but his OBP won't change much because Tony Muser doesn't like hitters who won't swing the bat. It's unmanly. The Royals are a bad team with a bad manager who thinks that stolen bases are more important than home runs and walks, so signing Chuck Knoblauch to a contract is roughly equivalent to dropping $2 million (plus incentives) into a wood chipper.
And then there's Michael Tucker, who is, if for no other reason, qualified to play for the Royals because he has played for them before. Tucker is due to make $2.25 million in 2002, which means that he and Knoblauch will account for $4.25 million, and that's assuming that Knoblauch doesn't reach any of his incentives. And then, at some point next season, the Royals will trade Mike Sweeney and/or Carlos Beltran, because they can't "afford" to pay them.
Dee Brown and Mark Quinn have both been huge disappointments, but both showed great talent in the minor leagues, and it's not too late for them to become solid major leaguers. Now, however, they're not going to get much of a chance to become anything, at least not in Kansas City. Because if Chuck Knoblauch is in the lineup every day (as planned) and Michael Tucker is in the lineup some days, then Brown and Quinn won't be. And that's not how you build a franchise.
So again, Commissioner Bud, if you're reading this, please, if you're in the holiday spirit at all, put me out of my misery. Kill my favorite team.
Yeah. Thanks for your insight, Flanzie, now go back to sleep under that pile of losses The Royals have stacked up in the cellar of The American League Central.
P.S. I like how you use that TOP OF THE MORNIN’ title for your weak-ass
article. How original to play up that Irish family roots nonsense and use
Gaelic sounding phrases like, “he's a decent sort” because after all, you are
Irish because your last name sounds Irish, right? And because of this, you
feel compelled to convince the reading masses in Prairieville that adding
phrases like TOP OF THE MORNIN’ is just a simple injection of culture into an
otherwise mundane way of life.