This isn't so much an opinion one way or the other on the departure of Frank White; we only have spin to go on and it isn't even direct spin, at least not from the Royals' side of things. The only information we're getting from the Royals comes in the form of a broad 'White's reputation for privately badmouthing the Royals' comment from Mellinger. Who knows which side is right--more importantly, who knows what you would do in David Glass' shoes here. Maybe you'd fire him too, or maybe you'd apologize and give him a front office job, there's just not enough information to say.
What we can say, though, is that White represented a precious resource that the Royals ought to value. It's important to evaluate the Royals as a business as much as a baseball club because the better they perform in the business department, the more leverage they have to put a good team on the field.
The better the Royals build their brand and manage their image, the better they recruit internationally (although that matters less now with the newly instituted spending cap), the easier it is to lure in free agents, the easier it is reel in fans and broaden the fan base, get bigger TV contracts, and make people outside of KC interested in watching a Royals game on Sunday Night baseball. It's all tied together.
Part of the reason we've got this Frank White issue so squarely under the microscope is because it's early December. We're in the baseball desert. We're John Glenn on the dark side of the moon. Out here in the void, we've got Greg Schaum talking about the 53rd best prospect (no disrespect to Schaum at all, love the website), we've got a Dominican showdown between Licey and Aguilas featuring Hector Carrasco or some such as your starter for game 1. We've got the Winter Meetings! where we refresh MLBTradeRumors every four and half minutes to find out if Moore was able to sign Mac Suzuki to a minor league deal.
And we've got the fact that the Royals chose not to renew Frank White's broadcasting contract (I love the "Royals Fire Frank White" headlines. Wouldn't that be the case if his contract wasn't finished? I guess "Royals Don't Offer Frank White a New Contract" doesn't inspire as much web traffic).
To a fan who has zero contact with the team and utterly no idea of what's being said in the hallways of Kauffman stadium or whether Nate from Gossip Girl is actually sleeping with Dan's girlfriend, I find the absence of White in the booth disappointing. It has me wondering who they are going to replace him with--I think this is really important. And I can't conjure a suitable answer off the top of my head (except for George Brett of course; more on this in a minute).
Here's the thing, going back to my comment on the Royals brand. Every team should have a guy like Frank White in the booth. It's been almost 27 years now since the Royals have had anything to cheer about. With a few exceptions, they haven't built much in the way of legacy since 1985. And legacy is important. For reasons that are probably better left to my psychologist to explain, it's important for me as a fan to have the weight of history behind me as I root for Danny Duffy to become a good starting pitcher. I want the question--does Duffy deserve to be wearing Royals blue?-- simmering in the back of my mind when I watch him pitch next season.
Frank White was an important tie, in my experience as a fan, to Royals history. Now, if he was an awful announcer, if he inspired a Fire-Joe-Morgan-esque website, then this connection wouldn't be worth the trouble. I never found White to be a bad color commentator. Not as good as Splitt, of course, but not bad. And I enjoyed the references to 1985, the stories from the Royals' glory days, the comparisons of our new players to our legends (that sounds a bit over the top, doesn't it? Just go with it).
Again, I'm not saying the Royals shouldn't have parted ways with Frank. Maybe there was something going on there that would have motivated me to do the same were I team president or whoever makes these decisions. But, I consider the role Frank played so important that I would have been willing to tolerate an awful lot before I made that decision. I think the Royals really need someone from the '85 team in the booth--more than they realize--and it seems to me the options are few.
What you want is for the Royals to portray themselves as a Kansas City institution, sort of like a Gates or Arthur Bryants or the Savoy or Harry's Bar and Tables. You want to project tradition and pride. If you think those things are overrated, surface-level cheese in and of themselves, then consider the impact on the brand, and how that might affect ticket sales, revenues from parphernalia, and the ability to attract talent.
Picture a Royals game with White in the booth. Or how about George Brett? Now picture a Royals game with Lefebvre and, I don't know, John Kruk. There's a really big difference isn't there?
Am I making too much of this?