A few disclaimers to begin with... 1. I tend to drink a lot on gamedays when Zack pitches and loses/gets a no decision through no fault of his own. Today is no exception. 2. These ideas do not represent some epiphany I've had and everyone else should have too. Everyone else is already fully aware of this either consciously or subconsciously. I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence here by oversimplifying a simple point and making one think he/she didn't already know this. 3. Any ideas mentioned in this post or in the subsequent replies to it will not only never happen, it'll only make us as Royals fans more depressed in realizing that the underlying theme of this post will probably never happen.
During the one Royals game I've attended this year (the afforementioned Greinke bobblehead night), my best friend who I was attending the game with - a person who just moved to the KC area - was asking me about the game and about the Royals in general since he likes baseball (born a Cubs fan), and planned on attending a few Royals games and becoming a fan because he lives so close to the stadium. I told him that Hochevar at that point had even outpitched Greinke, and we had a good chance of seeing a good game and inching closer to .500. He laughed and said "Spoken like a true Royals fan; 1st place isn't the goal, .500 is". I laughed too, but it made me realize that a lot of times the true purpose of a franchise gets lost in the obsessing over wins and losses. A team is put together to try to win, but even a successful team is put together for one real goal that trumps a good season: franchise relevance. Franchise relevance is the key to everything. It's the reason reason that Yankees fans are insufferable and look down on everyone else despite what kind of year they're having. It's the reason that Twins fans - despite being the year-in, year-out favorite to represent the AL Central in the playoffs- have become a little annoying this year by no longer playing their games in the biggest joke of a stadium in the sport. It's the reason that Red Sox fans don't care that we make fun of their pink hat-laden pseudo fans. And it's the reason that we all collectively lose our shit when our lineup decides to take the day off and coast through a game or our bullpen blows another gem when our historically good ace takes another no decision or a loss.
Everything mentioned belies an "it" factor that gets fans of other franchises talking and therefore makes that franchise relevant. As sad as it sounds, I think a lot of us would describe last year as a "success" (for lack of a better term) because we got to witness one of the most dominating seasons by a pitcher in history with Zack Greinke- wins and losses be damned - and ESPN was forced to talk about the Royals. Now, say that we could actually catch lightning in a bottle this year and have a competent bullpen and not a dipshit smallball manager. I think we'd be above .500 this time and at least at this point have some guarded optimism about at least being in the conversation for a playoff push in September. But even if that were the case, it's still a case of catching lighting in a bottle, much like when we were relevant for the first 2 weeks of the 2003 season when we started 11-1. Even with a pristine GM and a competent manager, sustained relevance rivaling that of even the Twins is still a longshot in a market as small as KC.
Technically I've been alive for the Royals heyday since I was born in '82, but I've spent all of my conscious life waiting for real relevance in the baseball scene outside of Greinke and Saberhagen's pitching excellence, the Bo Jackson circus, Brett's 3000th, and the sad overhypedness that was 1991 (even looking now, how did that sad season happen with that roster??) In short, we've been waiting for 25 years to be really relevant again, and there's absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel for that.
So here's the million dollar question to the Royals. How do you make a once-proud franchise in one of the 3 or 4 smallest baseball markets in the league relevant again? They kinda did it with Greinke last year (hey, I saw Greinke jerseys being featured at the Mega Mall this weekend!), but even then half of the discussion was about how someone with such a meager win/loss record could win a Cy Young, and then the analysts would highlight how abysmal the run support the guy got was, further highlighting how much we suck as a franchise. This is where I'd like to hear opinions from the Royals fanbase. What semi-legitimate, creative, (albeit completely impossible) ideas do you all have for making us relevant again (by semi-legitimate, I mean we probably shouldn't be pushing for our team to be decked out in Royal-Man jerseys).
My idea? Let's make the Royals the first pseudo-democratic franchise in the league (and keep in mind, I'm kinda drunk and haven't worked out all of the logistics). Despite evidence to the contrary because we root for such an awful franchise, the Royals have a very baseball intelligent (and obviously inherently loyal) fanbase. We sit on here and bitch for hours about Trey and Dayton. Why not give us a little bit of say? In all honesty and sadness, this season's probably already lost at the beginning of May, why not give us say in who we want to see play in the minimal hope that we can develop for the future? Let's say we have to write an essay/application to the Royals front office as to why our opinion on the Royals should matter, and if they approve, we have to pay a small fee to have a majority-rules vote into what happens in accordance with the lineup and available pitchers? If they've already punted on this season, why can't we as fans demand to see what Gordon could do with sustained MLB at-bats over an entire season, coupled with Aviles taking Yuni's shot at short? Why can't we demote the entire bullpen (save Soria) and promote AAA (and I know that contracts and options are involved, I haven't gotten that in-depth yet, just bear with me) just to see if we're going to have to deal with a fresh turd or a fully-hardened one for the season? Why not give us a manager who can subjugate his ego enough to realize the concept that franchise relevance is the long-term plan towards getting the wins that every future manager and the franchise needs? As a franchise, this would make us relevant again! What's the worst that could happen, we'd end up being last in the AL Central?? We'd have a whole new stat to put on and debate on ESPN; passionate fans vs. career overmanaging baseball professionals?? Ouch! Not only that, but we'd have the Green Bay Packer thing going for us... Every season ticket holder in GB absolutely loves being a part "owner" in the team; if you don't believe me, find one and ask one. How much more relevant would we be if we could offer "part GM" as an incentive to a true fan? If nothing else, people would talk about us. And I know I'd that even if I was an outsider, I'd root for a franchise that went above and beyond to cater to its true fans.
Anyway, that's my first completely unrealistic idea at making the Royals relevant again. Please share yours.