Royals owner David Glass has apparently decided to extend Dayton Moore’s contract as general manager of the Royals for four additional years until 2014. Like most fans who follow the team closely for me this is not welcome news. Personally I thought Dayton Moore’s job security should be leaning towards dismissal, not extension, after his willfully misguided performance these last twelve months. But I guess that point of view was not shared by the ownership. It would seem the Glass family is well pleased with Dayton Moore and have no intention of replacing him.
So, that is going to happen. We don’t like it, but we can’t stop it. Where do we, as fans, go from here?
Our situation is rather stark. The Royals are a bad team, a team not likely to become even average in the foreseeable future; but, even under those circumstances, baseball can still be enjoyed. Maybe if we just accept that the Royals are bad we can get past the "hopes for success" and "expectations of improvement" that have been poisoning our fandom these last few years.
We have to face up to certain facts about this team. There is no strong reason to suspect that the players on the current roster will ever gel into a team capable of winning the division. There is no strong reason to suspect there are enough strong prospects in the minor league system to provide a wave of young talent which will lift the franchise in the next several years. Dayton Moore has not been doing a good job as general manager for a while and he appears to be particularly reluctant to admit past mistakes or alter his thinking when confronted with failure. He seems pretty set in his ways. There is no strong reason to suspect that Dayton Moore will spend the team’s money more wisely on free agents in the future than he has in the past. There is no strong reason to suspect he will become better at evaluating talent and start to get the better end of trades in the future. There is no strong reason to suspect Moore will become better than other general managers at identifying talent on draft day. There simply is no strong reason to suspect that, as long as Dayton Moore is general manager, the Royals will be a sucsessful team. Maybe random events will coincided with luck and somehow the Royals will enjoy a freakish winning season as they did in 2003. If that happens, great!, but we shouldn’t count on it.
I want to be clear; I am not advocating that fans stop following the team. I’ve been following the Royals for five particularly rough years and I fully plan to continue to listen to the team most nights on the radio and read about them most days. What I am suggesting is that it might be best for the fans if they give up hopes that the Royals will be competitive anytime in the near future. I’ve found that following a bad team can still be an enjoyable experience. You just have to find other ways to enjoy baseball that do not involve winning games often.
In some ways following a bad team can even be more fun than following a successful team. The daily stress over winning or losing goes away. All minor achievements bring about some cheer. When the team is particularly bad they take on a certain lovable quality in their haplessness. Tickets for games will remain cheap and freely available. Every few years a real star will emerge who we will all enjoy following for a few years before they move on. There will always be a few competent players on the team to whom you’ll grow attached. I still like seeing DeJesus and Tehean most nights, and am growing fond of Mitch Maier. Bad teams always provide office laughs and bond fans in a community of shared light-hearted misery.
I think it would be good if Royals fans keep these things in mind over the coming months and not let the lack of hope ruin the pastime. Baseball is a good thing and somehow we all became Royals fans so let’s enjoy it. If we can find a way to love the team unconditionally, no matter how bad they are and how long they stay bad, I think we will all get more out of being a Royals fan than if we set success as a condition of our fandom. Following the Royals in this way will help us put all the negativity and disappointment aside and simply enjoy the Royals for what they can provide, nightly baseball in Kansas City.